The Prime Minister’s visit to the EU is yet another proof of the irreversibility of Georgia’s EU integration path

Published in Politics
Monday, 30 July 2018 14:22

“The Prime Minister’s visit to the European Union is yet another proof that Georgia is irreversibly on the path of EU integration that is confirmed by the Prime Minister’s new programme” – Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said when commenting on the Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels and high-level meetings. 
According to David Zalkaliani, during the meetings held at the European Commission, Council of Europe and NATO Headquarters, the European Partners recognized Georgia’s ambitious plans for EU integration and the reforms implemented in the country in this regard.
According to the Minister, discussions during the high-level meetings focused on the road map envisaging greater sectoral integration with the EU and more active involvement in the EU agencies and programmes.

Monitoring visit by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities to Georgia

Published in World
Monday, 16 April 2018 15:46

Strasbourg, 16 April 2018 - A delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe will carry out a monitoring visit to Georgia from 17 to 18 April 2018. The delegation will examine the situation of local and regional democracy in the light of the provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, ratified by the country in 2004. 

Rapporteurs on local and regional democracy, Mr Michail ANGELOPOULOS (Greece, EPP/CCE) and Mr Stewart DICKSON (United-Kingdom, ILDG) will focus on the developments in the field of local and regional democracy occurred since the adoption of the last Congress recommendation, on 19 March 2013.

Meetings are scheduled, in particular, with the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Ms Maia TSKITISHVILI, the Minister of Finance, Mr Mamuka BAKHTADZE, the Speaker of the Parliament, Mr Irakli KOBAKHIDZE, the Deputy Auditor General, Ms Ekaterine GHAZADZE, and the First Deputy Public Defender, Ms Tamar GVARAMADZE.

The delegation will hold discussions with the National Delegation of Georgia to the Congress and members of the executive board of the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG). The rapporteurs will also exchange views with the Mayor of Tbilisi, Mr Kakha KALADZE, members of Tbilisi City Hall, and the Chairman of the City Council of the Mtskheta Municipality, Mr Gela BAKRADZE.

The delegation will also meet with representatives of the opposition.

The draft report and recommendation will be examined and submitted for approval at the Monitoring Committee at one of its next meetings before its submission for adoption by the Congress Session.

Georgia ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 2004. The countries which have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires compliance with a minimum number of rights, which form the European bedrock of local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities makes sure that these principles are observed.    

EU supports development of online course on women's access to justice

Published in Justice
Wednesday, 11 April 2018 10:59

On 28-29 March, a group of experts from the United Kingdom, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova came together to kick off the development of a new e-learning course on women’s access to justice. The course will promote gender-sensitive justice in the Council of Europe’s Member States, which also include five of the EU’s Eastern Partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

Course participants such as lawyers, judges, prosecutors and members of civil society will be able to improve their knowledge and skills in relation to relevant United Nations, Council of Europe and European Union standards on women’s human rights and gender equality, relevant case law and established good practices.

The new online course will be developed within the EU and Council of Europe-supported project “Strengthening access to justice for women victims of violence in the Eastern Partnership countries”, which is part of the Partnership for Good Governance, and the Council of Europe’s HELP (Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals) programme.

Michele Nicoletti from Italy elected new PACE President

Published in World
Tuesday, 23 January 2018 10:41

Michele Nicoletti (Italy, SOC) was today elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Taking over from Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), he is the 31st President of the Assembly since 1949 and the second Italian to hold this office.

There was only one candidate. Under the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, the President serves for a one-year term of office, which may be renewed once.

In his inaugural address, the newly-elected President called for increased unity of the Council of Europe “as the only European institution that brings together 47 countries around the values of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and acceptance of its European Court”.

“At a time of great and dramatic challenges – from terrorism to migration, from poverty old and new to mistrust in representative institutions, from the re-emergence of racism and xenophobia to the desperate solitude of so many people – we must offer a response to nationalist and chauvinistic temptations to close ranks, to centrifugal pressures and to conflicts by reasserting the need for peace and justice on our continent,” he said.

” As a pan-European political forum and a statutory body of our Organisation, the Assembly should fully play its role in addressing these challenges. This requires the active involvement of all members and delegations from all 47 member States. In this context, I regret that the Russian Parliament has not put forward a delegation for the 2018 Ordinary Session. Nevertheless, dialogue with Russian parliamentarians – as well as with all other delegations – continues, with due respect to our rules and obligations.”

“This reflection on our identity, which the Assembly will decide how to develop, appears to me to represent an extraordinary opportunity for our institution to reassert forcefully its own role as the guardian of European unity. I strongly believe that all member States of the Council of Europe must participate in this process,” the newly-elected PACE President underlined.

“In performing this task, we must not cease to openly denounce any violation of human rights committed in any part of our continent and by any authority. There cannot and must not be any free zones. However, this defence of human rights will be even stronger if we are able to combine it with an ever increasing unity between our peoples. We must tirelessly seek to emphasise what unites us,” he said.

Conference on strategies and tools for ethics and transparency at local levels

Published in Society
Saturday, 02 December 2017 16:06

The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is organising a regional conference on 6 - 7 December 2017 in Tbilisi, Georgia, which will bring together around 100 mayors and local elected representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. Numerous newly-elected Georgian mayors are to take part in the event, as well as representatives of national associations of local authorities, civil society organisations and expert.

The aim of the conference is to enable peer-to peer exchange on good practices to promote and strengthen ethics, transparency and citizen participation at local level in these countries. Participants will address these questions through concrete examples of local initiatives that were implemented in 2017, by twelve local authorities from Armenia, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

The conference will be opened by the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Zurab ALAVIDZE, the Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha KALADZE, the Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Andreas KIEFER, and the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Tbilisi, Cristian URSE, as well as a representative of the European Union.

On the eve of the conference, 5 December 2017, a workshop on ‘Local initiatives: managing and communicating the change’ will bring together the mayors and project co-ordinators implementing initiatives on ethical governance.

In addition, on 8 December 2017, the Secretary General of the Congress will intervene at the 6th General Assembly of the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG).

The conference is organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the thematic programme “Strengthening institutional frameworks for local governance”, implemented jointly with the Council of Europe Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform, Directorate General of Democracy. This programme is funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe, and implemented by the Council of Europe, through the Partnership for Good Governance (PGG) 2015-2017 for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.

Results of Council of Europe/European Union joint projects in Georgia

Published in Society
Friday, 03 November 2017 18:25

Today, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia and the Council of Europe have presented the results of their eight joint projects in Georgia conducted in 2015-2017 with a total budget of 3.7 million euros, funded by the EU (90%) and Council of Europe (10%) and implemented by the Council of Europe.

The country-specific projects have assisted with the application of the European Convention on Human Rights; civic integration of national minorities; strengthening the Georgian Bar Association; improving healthcare in prisons; countering money laundering; promoting freedom, professionalism and pluralism of the media; protecting internet freedom; as well as ensuring free and fair elections.

“Such projects and active co-operation with European institutions are very important for the reform process in Georgia, especially on its way towards the European and Euro-Atlantic integration,” said David Zalkaliani, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia who opened the event.

Cristian Urse, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, said: "We are taking stock of three years of extensive cooperation with the EU in Georgia, and the results are very positive. Our Partnership for Good Governance has enabled the Council of Europe and the EU to develop and implement cooperation activities with many national partners – ministries and public institutions, media or law professionals, and NGOs. As a result, the Georgian stakeholders' capacity to upheld and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in many fields has been raised and consolidated." He underlined the readiness of the Council of Europe to continue co-operation with the Georgian authorities and other actors in the years to come.

Vincent Rey, Head of Co-operation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, stressed: “These projects and co-operation are based on our shared goal to promote European values in Georgia in line with the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. Across the eight areas, we have already recorded tangible results – from improved health in prison to training of law professionals on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the training of media regulators.”

  • Among the results of the country-specific projects are the following:
  • More than 1,300 judges, prosecutors and lawyers have been trained on European Human Rights Convention provisions, and the database of the European Court case law in Georgian is to become operational by the end of 2017;
  • Georgian Bar Association has received operational support, with electronic examination procedure for conducting the Bar entrance exam having been updated;
  • Some 100 journalists have received training on fighting cultural and gender stereotypes, responsible reporting during pre-election campaign and on the mission and role of regional broadcasters;
  • Expert advice has been given to the Georgian authorities in developing strategies for improving healthcare quality control in prisons and managing crises in the penitentiary system;
  • Legal support was provided in the run-up to the October 2016 parliamentary elections and September 2017 local elections; 
  • Three sessions of Georgia’s Internet Governance Forum were supported;
  • Work to combat money laundering has intensified and will continue in 2018 when a National Risk Assessment is to be finalised.

In April 2014, the European Union and the Council of Europe agreed to implement targeted cooperation activities with EU’s Eastern Partnership countries to bring them closer to European standards in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In addition to eight country-specific projects, Georgia has also participated in 14 regional initiatives.

 Factsheet on results of projects in Georgia
 Factsheet on results of regional projects in which Georgia participated

 

The Congress concludes an Electoral Assessment Mission to Georgia

Published in Society
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 11:11

Tbilisi, 23 October 2017 – Yesterday, an Electoral Assessment Mission of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe has been concluded by a joint press conference with OSCE/ODIHR in Tbilisi (Georgia). The Delegation was composed of the two Thematic Spokespersons of the Congress on election observation, Stewart DICKSON (United Kingdom, ILDG) and Jos WIENEN (Netherlands, EPP-CCE) , and Vice-President Barbara TOCE (Italy, SOC) and it  joined forces with the Election Observation Mission deployed by OSCE-ODIHR in order to evaluate the local elections held on 21 October in Georgia.

Presenting the preliminary conclusions from the perspective of the Congress, Stewart Dickson confirmed that the electoral procedures were followed carefully by the electoral commissions in the large majority  of the 30 polling stations visited by the three teams of the Congress.  “However, it appears that there was some confusion in certain polling stations about the collection of information  by domestic observers, or rather party proxies,  with regard to individuals who had cast their vote", he stated. He also drew the attention of the Georgian authorities to the misuse of public resources during the campaign which seemed to be of specific relevance at the local level. 

Concerning the Georgian law that currently allows voters who are registered at a permanent or a temporary address to cast a ballot in local elections, DICKSON referred to Congress Recommendation 369 (2015) which provides that only voters who are permanently residing in a specific municipality should be enfranchised at the local level. “We would welcome if the Georgian authorities could take this into consideration for future reforms and this would also complement their efforts to establish the accuracy of voters' lists which is very welcome by the Congress” he added.

In addition, he mentioned the situation of local self-government in Georgia which was at the center of these elections. “Decentralisation and the strengthening of municipalities and regions are still in the early stages of development, all the more it's important for Georgia to develop the capacities of local authorities and continue decentralisation also in terms of financial devolution” DICKSON concluded and underlined the willingness of the Congress to further support the Georgian authorities in their endeavours.

***

Observing local and regional elections is one of the action priorities of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. This activity complements the political monitoring of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which constitutes the cornerstone of local and regional democracy in Europe. It contributes to ensuring the integrity of elections and building voters’ confidence at grassroots’ level. Since 1990, the Congress has conducted about 100 election observation missions in some of the 47 Council of Europe member states and beyond.

PACE elects Lado Chanturia judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Georgia

Published in World
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 18:11

The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today elected Lado Chanturia as judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Georgia.

Mr Chanturia, having obtained an absolute majority of votes cast, is elected a judge of the European Court of Human Rights for a term of office of nine years which shall commence no later than three months after his election.

Judges are elected by PACE from a list of three candidates nominated by each State which has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights.

Voting result
List and curricula vitae of candidates submitted by the Government of Georgia

EU supports constitutional reform in Georgia

Published in World
Wednesday, 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

Published in Politics
Friday, 06 October 2017 17:04

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.

 

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