EU supports constitutional reform in GeorgiaWednesday, 11 October 2017 18:02
On 10 October, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia released a statement on the constitutional reform in the country. In the statement, it expressed its agreement with the opinion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which positively assessed the reform.
“From early this year, the European Union voiced its expectation that the introduction of extensive amendments to the Constitution of Georgia would strengthen democracy and the rule of law, based on wide-ranging and inclusive consultations,” the EU said.
“We welcomed the commitment of the Georgian Parliament to consult the Venice Commission and fully incorporate its recommendations.”
The full text of the statement, which the EU Delegation issued in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Georgia, can be accessed here.
Pedro Agramunt resigns as PACE President
Strasbourg, 06.10.2017 - In a letter, Pedro Agramunt today announced his resignation as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
A motion for his dismissal had been scheduled for debate at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg on 9 October. This debate will not take place.
Following his resignation, the most senior Vice-President of the Assembly, Sir Roger Gale, automatically becomes Acting President. In line with the PACE Rules, he shall act until the election of a new President at the following part-session of the Assembly.
33rd Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of EuropeSunday, 01 October 2017 16:21
The members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities will meet from 18 to 20 October 2017, in Strasbourg, France, at their 33rd session, under this year’s heading of “Decentralised policies for the successful integration of migrants”. At this session, they will hold an exchange of views with young refugees and prominent political figures, who will talk about the specific problem of integrating child migrants.
In the context of its monitoring activities, the Congress will examine reports on the situation of local and regional democracy in Switzerland, Italy and Serbia. A recommendation on the observation of the local elections in Finland (9 April 2017) will be presented for adoption. Members will also be informed of the conclusions of the report on the elections to the Council of Elders in Yerevan, Armenia (14 May 2017) and they will discuss the outcome of the fact-finding mission conducted in Belgium. A round table on the situation in Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also scheduled.
The agenda includes three thematic debates: the first is debate on young people and open government in the fight against corruption, which includes the presentation of a report on transparent public procurement at local and regional level and an exchange of views on the youth perspective on the fight against corruption. The other two debates concern the role of European regional associations and organisations in co-operation and regional democracy in Europe and women’s participation in political life at regional level. Several reports will also be examined for adoption, in particular those on “Regional and minority languages in Europe today” and “A better future for Europe’s rural areas”.
The 33rd of Session the Congress will offer the opportunity to celebrate two anniversaries: the 10th anniversary of European Local Democracy Week and the 10th anniversary of the Congress’ Dosta! Prize for municipalities, which will be awarded, for the 6th time, to municipalities which have conducted ground-breaking projects to foster the integration of Roma.
The guest-speakers at the 33e Session include Milan CHOVANEC, Minister of the Interior of the Czech Republic, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, and Thorbjorn JAGLAND, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
At this session, the Congress will also welcome some forty youth delegates, who will be invited to take part in all of the debates and meetings.
GEORGIA - Revision of the Constitution - Statement by the Venice Commission President Gianni BUQUICCHIO
Strasbourg, Council of Europe – The revision of the Constitution of Georgia is a major reform meant to transform the current political system into a genuine parliamentary democracy.
In June this year, the Venice Commission issued a positive assessment of the draft revised Constitution, including the declared move towards the fully proportional system of the election of all the members of Parliament. Moreover, we specifically welcomed active co-operation and the commitment of the Georgian parliament not to adopt any amendments negatively assessed by the Venice Commission.
Therefore, the postponement of the introduction of the proportional system to 2024, as well as the repeated failure of the Georgian parties to reach consensus on the revised Constitution through negotiations is disappointing.
The meeting on 6 September 2017 in Strasbourg has been cancelled. I would like to stress that it is essentially up to the Georgian parties themselves to conduct further negotiations and the involvement of the Venice Commission is not required for this process. We encourage all the parties to come to a large consensus on the text through constructive dialogue.
We expect to receive shortly the revised draft of the Constitution from the Georgian authorities and will issue an opinion on it in one month, at the October plenary session (6-7 October in Venice). We encourage the Georgian parliament, before finally adopting the revised draft, to make changes in the light of this opinion and of the dialogue with all Georgian political parties.
A comment by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils MuižnieksWednesday, 31 May 2017 19:08
I am appalled by what happened to Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani journalist and activist, who has reportedly been abducted in Georgia and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan, where he is now facing prosecution for illegal crossing of the border and smuggling. Mr. Mukhtarli had been living in Georgia since 2015, when he left Azerbaijan to escape the government’s repression of critical voices.
According to his lawyer, Mr Mukhtarli affirms that money was put in his pocket by his abductors and alleges that they also ill-treated him. These are very serious allegations that require the utmost attention and urgent reaction by the Georgian authorities, which should carry out an effective, rapid and independent investigation into the events and take the necessary measures to act upon the results of the enquiry. In the meantime, Azerbaijan’s authorities must release Mr Mukhtarli without delay and ensure that he fully enjoys his human rights, including the protection from torture and ill-treatment.
Georgia: no tangible progress achieved in implementation of recommendations on transparency of political party funding, GRECO saysFriday, 02 December 2016 18:14
Today, the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) published a new report on how Georgia has been following up on its recommendations on ensuring transparency of party funding.
The initial set of recommendations was given to Georgia back in 2011. They concerned incriminations (criminalization of corruption offences) and transparency of political funding. In 2013 and in 2015 GRECO already issued reports about the compliance of Georgia with these recommendations, and concluded that all of its recommendations on criminalization of corruption has been satisfactorily implemented, but seven recommendations on political funding had been implemented only partially.
In the report published today, GRECO concludes that no tangible progress has been achieved by Georgia as regards the implementation of the outstanding recommendations on political party funding. The pending seven recommendations remain partly implemented.
Therefore, the third evaluation round focusing on incriminations and the transparency of party funding in Georgia continues. GRECO asked the Georgian authorities to submit the information about addressing the outstanding recommendations on party funding by the 30th of September 2017.
However, GRECO has already started the next evaluation round for Georgia that focuses on preventing corruption among members of parliament, judges and prosecutors. A GRECO report evaluating the current situation in this field and providing a set of recommendations to Georgian authorities is to be published on 12 December 2016.
Council of Europe and European Union to present mid-term results of projects for Georgia
Strasbourg/Tbilisi, 24 October 2016 – On Friday, 28 October, the Council of Europe and European Union will present to media in Tbilisi the mid-term results of projects for Eastern Partnership countries. The focus will be on the eight country-specific projects for Georgia dealing with the application of the European Convention on Human Rights, healthcare and human rights in prisons, freedom and pluralism of media, internet freedom, combating money laundering and terrorism financing, support to the Georgian Bar Association, as well as electoral assistance and integration of national minorities.
The eight projects are carried out in Georgia under the Programmatic Cooperation Framework in 2015-2017 are funded by the EU and the Council of Europe, and are implemented by the Council of Europe. The total budget of the projects in Georgia is 3.6 million Euros. In addition to these country-specific projects, Georgia also participates in 14 regional initiatives covering all Eastern Partnership countries.
Cristian Urse, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, Janos Herman, Head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia, Tea Maisuradze, the Director of the International Organizations' Department and Inga Kubetsia, Programmatic Co-operation Framework National Coordinator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Eva Konecna, Programmatic Co-operation Framework Co-ordinator for the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe, will address the participants. Journalists will be able to pose questions to the speakers during the break.
The part of the event during which the project results will be presented is open to media from 10:00-10:30 local time on Friday, 28 October 2016, at Tbilisi Marriot Hotel Ballroom, 13 Shota Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi 0108, Georgia. Language regime: English – Georgian.
For more information see http://eap-pcf-eu.coe.int
PACE to observe the 2nd round of the parliamentary elections in GeorgiaTuesday, 25 October 2016 18:58
A 5-member delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), will travel to Georgia from 28 to 31 October to observe the conduct of the second round of the parliamentary elections alongside observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The delegation will meet leaders of political parties, the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission, as well as representatives of civil society and the media, before observing the ballot on 30 October.
A joint press conference is scheduled on Monday 31 October (place and time to be confirmed).
List of delegation members
Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), Chairperson of the delegation
Alfred Heer (Switzerland, ALDE)
Mark Pritchard (United Kingdom, EC)
Co-rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee:
Boriss Cilevičs (Latvia, SOC)
Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden, ALDE)
Moldova: EU and Council of Europe showcase achievements in justice and human rightsWednesday, 19 October 2016 09:56
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu: values of Council of Europe should inspire further reforms in TurkeyThursday, 13 October 2016 10:40
“The Council of Europe has had a significant role in Turkey’s progress in the past 15 years. We will press ahead with our plans for constitutional and institutional reform and will continue to heed the Council of Europe’s recommendations,” said Mevlüt Çavusoglu, Turkey’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“Our country has demonstrated its ability to reform itself,” he pointed out, “by introducing numerous mechanisms to protect rights, by making it easier for political parties to expand, by allowing schools to educate people in languages other than Turkish, by stepping up our efforts to combat discrimination, by ratifying the revised Social Charter, by signing up to a whole series of Council of Europe conventions and protocols, enabling us to strengthen democracy and the rule of law.” “By implementing the recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly, we have managed to open a number of chapters in the European Union negotiation process,” he added.
He also paid tribute to the victims of the attempted coup d’état which took place on 14 and 15 July and to the Turkish citizens “who took to the streets to stop the attempted coup”. “All the political parties, both ruling and opposition parties, came together and rose up to condemn the attempted coup and to reiterate their belief in democracy,” he said, adding that the state of emergency had been introduced in line with the Constitution to eliminate the threat to the country, its institutions and citizens.
“Since the failed coup, we have further strengthened our ties with the Council of Europe. The threat has not gone away, however. Terrorist movements are seeking to destabilize our democracies and undermine our values. We cannot allow terrorists to take control of our lives.”
Referring to the migrant crisis Mr Çavusoglu pointed out that Turkey had taken in more refugees than any other country, 2.7 million people who fled the hostilities. “We are doing our utmost to meet their needs and provide basic services, including health care and education, but everyone should make an effort and share the burden,” he said.
“By the end of the year, we also hope to reach an agreement on the subject of Cyprus, and a status for the island that is acceptable to everyone. In this context, the Council of Europe must play an ever more important role,” he indicated.
“We must press ahead with our efforts to build peace and stability in Europe,” he emphasised, expressing support for the proposal to hold another Council of Europe summit. “Together we can overcome our common problems, by drawing on our common values, and Turkey will continue to play its part in this context,” concluded Mr Çavusoglu.