EU and CoE enhance capacity of judges and legal professionals in Azerbaijan

Published in Society
Thursday, 28 July 2016 11:10
Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association were the focus of two training sessions for lawyers and judges held in the Azerbaijani capital Baku last week. The event gathered 32 members of the country’s Collegium of Advocates and 21 judges from first instance courts in Baku and outside to enhance their knowledge on Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
The event was organised by two projects that fall under the Programmatic Co-operation Framework for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe (EU/CoE PCF).
The joint EU/CoE PCF aims to provide extensive and substantial expertise on strengthening the capacity of institutions in the six Eastern Partnership countries to implement domestic reforms and bring them closer to Council of Europe and European Union standards in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and improve the lives of citizens. The EU’s contribution to the PCF is EUR 30 million.

Public service media in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan – the current situation

Published in Society
Monday, 25 July 2016 13:57

European Audiovisual Observatory publishes a new free report on PSM in the Transcaucasian countries

Strasbourg, 25.07.2016 – It’s twenty five years since Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan – the Transcaucasian countries – came out from under Soviet rule and were able to develop their own independent public media. But twenty five years on, how are they dealing with the challenges of maintaining a credible system of public service media? The European Audiovisual Observatory, part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, has just relased a unique new report free to download here entitled Public service media in Transcaucasian countries.

This new IRIS Extra report is authored by Ekaterina Abashina, a researcher at Lomonosov Moscow State University. She opens by analysing the evolution of the public service broadcasting concept in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Public service companies were first established in this region in the early 2000s, replacing the Soviet model state-run broadcasters.

Moving on to look at the governance of public service broadcasting, Abashina makes a useful comparison of the three systems. Common elements emerge from her analysis such as a declaration of commitment to public service broadcasting values through their stipulation in the relevant legal framework; the application of state funding, detailed regulation of appointment procedures of governing bodies and general content requirements (though these are formulated more as guidance principles).

The following chapter focuses on programming policies in these three countries. In the cases of Armenia and Azerbaijan their respective Boards are entitled to approve programming schedules and programme structures but they do not communicate these to the public and do not announce or present them in any way. The Georgian PSB Board issues quite a detailed and annually updated programming concept (“Programming Priorities”) – made available on the website of the broadcaster every year; the “Programming Priorities” of the Georgian PSB are indeed purely advisory in nature.

It is clear that the creation of PSB companies in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan was fostered by their joining the Council of Europe (CoE). The author focuses her penultimate chapter on the role of international organisations such as the CoE and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (OSCE RFOM). Their membership of the CoE has imposed upon these countries the adoption of or amendments to existing national broadcasting laws to incorporate the CoE principles on PSB. In addition, regular evaluative CoE reports are written about the media in all of their member states; although these rather play an interpretative and explanatory role for the regulation and operation of public broadcasting. For its part, the OSCE RFOM has designed specific recommendations for the development of PSB in this region and on the creation of an inter-regional platform for the exchange of ideas and experience on PSB practice within the region.

Abashina concludes that PSB in these countries has suffered from “common weak spots” such as “the lack of safeguards for the independence of PSB companies from political interests due to loopholes in appointment mechanisms for the governing bodies […]; unstable funding sources; lack of specific legal programming requirements; and absence of effective mechanisms of interaction with its audiences and audience research.” She does however underline the role of international organisations like the CoE and the OSCE who, while they cannot directly influence PSB systems, “are active and consistent promoters of PSB values and best practice in the Transcaucasian region.”

A unique analysis of the current legal structures and governance of PSM in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Prime Minister of Georgia held a meeting with the Minister of Transport and Communications of Armenia

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 17:30

Prime Minister of Georgia held a meeting with the Minister of Transport and Communications of Armenia Gagik Beglaryan. During the conversation the parties touched upon shipping of cargo through transit corridor as well as highways - their development in accordance with the international standards is a state priority. E-60 transit corridor, as well as Mtskheta-Stepantsminda_Larsi and Tbilisi-Bakurtsikhe-Lagodekhi directions were discussed in this context.
Sides underlined that Rustavi-Sadakhlo and Tbilisi-Guguti routes are optimal in view of shipping cargo through Georgia. Perspectives of development of route covering Kashuri-Akhaltsikhe-Ninotsminda and the border of Armenia were also discussed.
The first Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Dimitry Kumsishvili, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Nodar Javakhishvili and the head of the Road Department Giorgi Seturidze attended the meeting.

The President met with the newly appointed Ambassadors

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 14:47

The President of Georgia has met with the newly appointed ambassadors, who will Head the Diplomatic Missions of the country in Armenia, Egypt, Sweden, Finland, and India. The corresponding decree was issued by the President, on June 20.
Mr. Giorgi Saganelidze will start fulfilling the official duties on the position of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Republic of Armenia from the 1st of July. Mr. Alexandre Nalbandov will also assume the office from the 1st of July as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr. Malkhaz Kakabadze as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Kingdom of Sweden and the Republic of Finland, while Archil Dzuliashvili as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Republic of India.
The newly appointed Ambassadors have introduced their visions to the President of Georgia on their future activities and on reinforcing diplomatic relations and enhancing cooperation with the mission states.
The President and the Ambassadors also discussed current developments in Georgia and the situation in the region in general. The President of Georgia wished them success in their future endeavors.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Republic of Armenia Mr. Giorgi Saganelidze has started working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1998 year.
During 2005-2008 and 2013-2015 years he served as Georgian Envoy to the Republic of Armenia.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Arab Republic of Egypt Mr. Alexander Nalbandov, in 2008-2010, was worked as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. From May 2, 2011, until May 1, 2014, he was served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Slovak Republic, as well as the Republic of Slovenia, while in 2014-2016 years worked as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Slovak Republic. In 2014 year, Mr. Alexander Nalbandov was awarded with the highest diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. 
In 1990 – 1998 years, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Kingdom of Sweden and the Republic of Finland Mr. Malkhaz Kakabadze was served as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. During 1998-2000 years was the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Russian Federation, while in 2000-2004 years worked as the Minister of Special Affairs of Georgia. In 1993 year, Mr. Malkhaz Kakabadze was awarded with the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. 
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Republic of India Mr. Archil Dzuliashvili started work in 1995 year at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where worked in leading positions for a long time. During 2011-2016 was served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Arab Republic of Egypt, while since 2016 year serves as an ambassador-at-large. In 2015 years Mr. Archil Dzuliashvili was awarded with the highest diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

EU looks at criminal justice responses to prison overcrowding in EaP region

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 14 June 2016 14:53
Ways of preventing prison overcrowding in Eastern Partnership countries will be the focus of the regional workshop for officials from the Justice Ministries of Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine, and the Corrections Ministry of Georgia, in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv between 22 and 23 June. The participants will look at criminal justice responses to prison overcrowding in the region, as well as discuss draft strategies on implementation of country specific recommendations in this area.
The event is organised in the framework of a program on promoting penitentiary reforms, implemented within the joint EU/CoE Programmatic Cooperation Framework (PCF) for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.
The joint EU/CoE PCF aims to provide extensive and substantial expertise on strengthening the capacity of institutions in the six Eastern Partnership countries to implement domestic reforms and bring them closer to Council of Europe and European Union standards in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and improve the lives of citizens. The EU’s contribution to the PCF is EUR 30 million

Eastern Partnership study: civil participation in decision making

Published in Society
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 15:00
Challenges and opportunities in the field of participatory policy making in the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) are featured in a new study on civil participation in decision-making in this region, supported by the joint EU/Council of Europe (CoE) Programmatic Cooperation Framework (PCF). The publication examines existing laws, agencies and procedures governing civil participation in political decision-making at national and local level in the six countries.
It will be complemented by a second study conducted in 2016 that will examine the experience of implementation of civil participation in political decision making, an EU/CoE PCF press release said. The whole publication will be later translated into the languages of the Eastern Partnership countries to ensure as wide a dissemination as possible.

Georgia to be transit country for Iran and Russia project

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 14:25
Iran and Russia are holding final discussions on transportation of electric power, head of export Committee of Iran’s Iranian Electricity Industry Union Payam Bagiri told APA’s Tehran bureau.
Bagiri noted the electric power will be transported through Azerbaijan in the current situation: “Iran and Russia have been negotiating for long period. According to the negotiations, Russia will transport energy to Iran in summer, Iran to Russia in winter. One of the significant issues is a route. There are two routes: Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Russia and Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Russia. Basing on perspectives of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Iran, the transportation will be carried through Azerbaijan, not Armenia”.
According to him, the power lines between Azerbaijan and Iran have been synchronized and this project will be extended.
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