EU and Georgian Government launch pilot green waste separation, collection and recycling project in Marneuli
A new waste separation, collection and recycling pilot project was launched in the Georgian city of Marneuli last week.
The aim of the project is to assist the Marneuli composting plant in improving the collection of green waste from local residents and municipal institutions.
This will be done by purchasing 30 containers, to be placed in different areas of the Marneuli, as well as 120 bins to be distributed among target residents and kindergartens for the collection of food waste.
The goal is to effectively utilise the green waste that currently goes into regional landfills – approximately 50% of total landfill – as compost, thereby also cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.
The project was launched by Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia, and Khatia Tsilosani, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, as well as local government representatives including the Deputy of the State Representative-Governor in Kvemo Kartli Region and the Mayor of Marneuli.
The pilot initiative was designed and is supported by the EU-funded "Technical assistance for the improvement of waste management systems in Georgia" project, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Marneuli Composting Plant and the local government.
For modern Georgia, wine is among the country’s top exports. Together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the EU helps Georgian winemakers invest in better equipment, standards and processes.
A new EBRD video talks about the meaning of wine production to the country and the opportunities that free trade with the EU can bring.
In 2018 alone, according to Georgia’s National Wine Agency, over 86 million bottles were exported to 53 countries worldwide, an increase of 13% compared to 2017.
The EU and EBRD, through the EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line, support Georgian enterprises in their ambition to trade with their European counterparts with confidence by investing in better equipment, standards and processes.
The companies are assisted in their efforts to improve their environmental footprint, the working conditions for their employees and to offer their local customers services and products of better quality.
Beyond Georgia, the programme runs in the Republic of Moldova and is soon to be launched in Ukraine. All three countries are signatories of free trade agreements with the EU, the world's largest trading block.
On 6 March, Energy Community experts in close cooperation with the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission (GNERC) and the Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) launched EU4Energy technical assistance aimed at developing a natural gas storage tariff methodology. The overall objective of the project is to enhance Georgia’s energy security, ensure an uninterrupted supply of natural gas in case of any temporary disruption and to contribute to the improvement of legislative and regulatory environment of the Georgian natural gas market.
The draft methodology compliant with the provisions of Directive 2009/73/EC and Regulation (EC) No 715/2009 and a tariff calculation tool will be delivered with EU4Energy assistance by April 2019.
Last week, members of Georgia’s Keda Local Action Group and winemakers from the region participated in a study visit to Poland.
The study tour was organised by Poland’s Malopolska Region’s self-government and aimed to exchange experiences and plan future cooperation between winemakers from Poland and Georgia.
The participants visited wine cellars, met with local winemakers, learned about their activities and shared their respective experiences in winemaking and vineyard maintenance.
In addition, meetings were held with the president of the Winemakers’ Association of the Malopolska Region and members of Polish Local Action Groups. A partnership between the winemakers’ associations of Malopolska and Adjara was initiated in the meeting with the chairman of the association and joint activities were planned in both Poland and Georgia.
The visit was organised with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture of Adjara, Georgia and the EU’s European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD).
The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through its ENPARD programme. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of €179.5 million, the main goal of the programme is to reduce rural poverty in Georgia.
The 5th Association Council Meeting, chaired by Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, discussed 2018 Association Implementation Report on Georgia and positively assessed the state of the EU-Georgia relations.
The sides reaffirmed their continued commitment to advance Georgia's deeper political association and economic integration with the EU. Both sides acknowledged Georgia's European aspirations, its European choice and the common objective to continue building a democratic, stable and prosperous country. The Association Council took note of Georgia's "Roadmap 2EU" which aims at enhancing Georgia's integration with the EU.
Both sides reaffirmed their continued commitments to bring tangible benefits to the lives of Georgian citizens in line with the Association Agenda's four key areas of cooperation: economic development and market opportunities; strengthening institutions and good governance; connectivity, energy efficiency, environment and climate change; enhancing mobility and people-to-people contacts.
The Association Council welcomed the fact that the Presidential elections, on 28 October and 28 November 2018, were held in an overall competitive environment. It also acknowledged some shortcomings and agreed on the importance of addressing all OSCE/ODIHR recommendations in order to further strengthen the environment favorable for the democratic conduct of elections, especially in view of the parliamentary elections in 2020. The Association Council welcomed the entry into force of the revised Constitution in December 2018 which concluded Georgia's transition to a full parliamentarian system. The Association Council encouraged all political actors to work together and to maintain an open dialogue, including with civil society, in order to further strengthen democratic institutions, consolidate pluralistic democracy in Georgia and advance reforms. Both sides stressed the need to continue the successful cooperation established between the EU and Georgia on Strategic Communication and countering disinformation.
The Association Council welcomed the progress made over the year by Georgia in the implementation of comprehensive reforms in the rule of law; it also noted some areas where further progress was needed and encouraged Georgia to move ahead with the 4th wave of judiciary reform and to continue strengthening its judicial institutions by upholding, inter alia, transparency and meritocracy in the appointment of judges. The EU underlined its commitment to continue assisting Georgia in its efforts to further reform the judiciary and safeguard the rule of law.
The Association Council welcomed that a great number of Georgian citizens have benefited from short term visa free travel with Schengen countries. It welcomed continuous efforts of the Georgian Government to address violations of the visa-free travel requirement and encouraged Georgia to continue its commitment to counter the increased numbers of unfounded asylum seekers in some Schengen countries. The EU encouraged Georgia to further enhance cooperation with the EU Member States to fight against irregular migration and organized crime.
The Association Council welcomed progress made in the implementation of the Human Rights Strategy and its Action Plan, as well as the establishment of Human Rights Protection Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The EU recognized Georgia's efforts and encouraged to continue preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, gender based violence, as well as promoting gender equality, including by strengthening national institutional capacities. The Council stressed the commitment to the universality of human rights for all, regardless of religion or belief, race, sex, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability or other. The Association Council commended Georgia on the adoption of the law on Occupational Health and Safety applying to all spheres of economic activity and encouraged Georgia to continue its work to create an effective labor inspection system in order to further improve working conditions.
Both sides welcomed the progress made by Georgia in the implementation of the Association Agreement, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). The EU continued to be the most important partner of Georgia; the total bilateral trade amounted to EUR 2.76 billion in 2018. The EU invited Georgia to identify concrete products having export potential to the EU, on the basis of which assistance will be provided. Both sides welcomed successful implementation of structural reforms and underlined the importance of ongoing reforms related to the improvement of the investment climate in Georgia.
The Association Council welcomed the first disbursement of the Macro-Financial Assistance to Georgia in December 2018 and encouraged Georgia to continue the implementation of outstanding agreed policy measures in order to enable the disbursement of the second installment. The EU encouraged Georgia to ensure sustainability of the already implemented reforms and maintain macro-economic stability.
The Association Council reiterated Georgia's strategic role in the field of energy, transport and connectivity and increasingly as a transportation and logistics hub in the region. The EU committed to continue engaging closely with Georgia on the connectivity agenda and on the further extension of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The Association Council welcomed the first EU-Georgia High Level Transport Dialogue on 29 January 2019. Both sides also highlighted the importance of Black Sea cooperation as a step towards enhancing connectivity and international trade between Europe and Asia.
The Association Council reiterated Georgia's key role as a partner for European energy security and stressed the country's transit role for Caspian hydrocarbon resources to reach European markets, notably via the Southern Gas Corridor and the Black Sea. The EU stressed its commitment to further support the roll-out of energy efficiency standards in public buildings, based on legislative reforms in key areas. The EU reiterated its continuous support for reinvigorating Georgia's agriculture and rural sector to improve living conditions in rural areas as well as to boost export opportunities through better food safety systems. The Association Council noted the importance of enhanced cooperation in the area of civil protection. The EU welcomed the successful implementation of the first European School in Tbilisi as a crucial milestone in the EU's relations with its Eastern partner countries and Georgia's commitment to education reforms.
The EU acknowledged the importance of EU-Georgia cooperation in the field of foreign and security policy and underlined that Georgia continued consolidating its position of a strategic partner of the EU in the region. The Association Council reflected on the issues discussed during the second EU-Georgia Strategic Security Dialogue that took place October on 23 October 2018. The EU expressed appreciation for Georgia's continued contribution to EU-led crisis management operations and missions in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Mali, as well as readiness to support strengthening of Georgia's respective capacities.
The EU reiterated its firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. The EU reiterated its firm commitment to peaceful conflict resolution in Georgia by using all instruments at its disposal including the policy of non-recognition and engagement. The EU delegation, led by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, emphasized that the work of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, and the extension of the mandate of the EU Monitoring Mission demonstrate this strong commitment.
The Association Council stressed the crucial importance of the Geneva International Discussions for addressing and resolving the challenges stemming from the conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008. It also reiterated that full and effective Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRMs) is essential for addressing the safety and humanitarian needs of conflict-affected population on the ground. In this regard, the Council emphasized the urgency of resuming the Gali IPRM without preconditions.
The Association Council was deeply concerned with the continued implementation of so-called "treaties" signed between the Russian Federation and Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, as well as with other illegal activities of Russia in these regions, in violation of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, including intensified military build-up, installation of barbed wire fences and artificial barriers along the administrative boundary lines, closure of "crossing points" and restriction of freedom of movement. The Association Council expressed concern over deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in both Georgian regions, with particular emphasis on ethnic discrimination of Georgians, prohibition of education in native language, and deprivation of life of Archil Tatunashvili and Giga Otkhozoria. In this regard, the Association Council reiterated that justice should be applied.
The Association Council reiterated the obligation for the Russian Federation to fulfil its international obligations including under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, notably to withdraw its military forces from the territory of Georgia and remove all impediments for establishment of international security mechanisms therein. The Association Council further urged the Russian Federation to provide EUMM access to the whole territory of Georgia, in line with the mandate of the Mission. The Council stressed the obligation to ensure safe and dignified return of all internally displaced persons and refugees to their homes.
The Association Council stressed the importance of increasing support to people-to-people contacts and confidence building measures across the divides. In this respect, the Association Council expressed support for the Georgian peace initiative "A Step to a Better Future".
The EU commended Georgia's active participation in the multilateral dimension of the Eastern Partnership and underlined that continued reform efforts in the partner countries are key to the success of the Eastern Partnership and to the EaP 10th anniversary celebrations scheduled for this year.
Prime Minister's Press Office
In Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, the first steps are being made towards developing cycling infrastructure alongside the expansion of the automotive industry. Cycling activist Lika Merabishvili is striving to promote cycling in the city with the EU’s support.
Cycling is known to be beneficial for joints, bone strength, the heart, brain and blood vessels. It also develops muscles and contributes to better health and mood. According to Lika, who is also project coordinator of the NGO Safe Drive (“Partnership for Road Safety”), this is a healthy, “green” and cost-effective mode of transport.
Unfortunately, not many people choose a bicycle as their means of transportation. Due to various factors, they prefer to use public transport or cars instead. This is also the case in Tbilisi, where traffic is very busy.
Lika explains that the city is overloaded with cars, and promoting the use of bicycles is one way to change this. However, in order to enable more people to use bicycles, the city should have appropriate infrastructure in place and cycling should become safe.
“In order to reduce the number of cars in the city, public transport and cycling have to be developed”, says Lika, who received a fellowship from the EU-funded Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship Programme to promote this issue.
On a couple of occasions, dozens of cyclists have moved together in the central streets of Tbilisi and forced surprised car drivers to give way to them – an unusual scene to witness in the city. This happened when two cycling demonstrations were organised in the framework of Lika’s project, aiming at bicycle promotion. “Cycling Club” members, representatives of the Mayor’s Office and others participated in the demonstration.
Lika recalls that the project implementation period coincided with the time when the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office was setting up cycle paths in Saburtalo district. She sees this as a step forward, although she adds that more such cycle paths need to be set up. As well as promoting it, her project aims to advocate for the topic together with the Mayor’s Office.
“On the Mtkvari river embankment there is another old cycle path but it does not meet any of the European standards… At the meeting with the Mayor’s Office staff we presented a plan for how to arrange a cycle path on University Street at the University ‘High Block’.”
She says that this should be part of a complex policy with a focus on the well-being of citizens.
Author: Luka Pertaia
Article published by Netgazeti.ge in Georgian.
Georgia will be better connected to the EU and enjoy safer travel conditions within the country thanks to financial and technical aid from the EU.
On 19 February, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other EU institutions announced their support for a wide-ranging programme of transport infrastructure upgrading, approved by the government of Georgia, which includes key works on the country’s East-West Highway.
The EIB will lend €250 million to finance an extended upgrade of Georgia’s East-West Highway, which is the main artery for long-distance road traffic in Georgia and is also a direct part of Europe’s TEN-T (Trans-European Network – Transport) infrastructure.
This will include road sections with a total length of around 100 km, which are the focus of one of the Georgian Government’s priority projects.
Following its implementation, the project will have multiple benefits. It will increase Georgia’s global connectivity to Europe by improving road safety and travel conditions, lowering travel times and reducing vehicle operation and maintenance costs.
It will also enhance the Georgian population’s local mobility and access to social services and economic activities.
The EIB loan is fully covered by the EU’s Comprehensive Guarantee.
On 5-6 February, the members of the Georgian Association of Local Action Groups (GALAG) discussed environmental challenges in their municipalities at a workshop organised within the EU-funded Eastern Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD).
The participants shared modern approaches to sustainable development and discussed how to assist the GALAG Environmental Group in putting acquired environmental knowledge into practice at a local level.
The workshop covered the most pressing environmental topics such as climate change and narrowed down the topic from a global to a local context. The participants also discussed the necessity of forest management and climate smart agriculture in sustainable rural development, as well as challenges in the waste management sector in Georgia.
The EU is supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia through ENPARD. Implemented since 2013 with a total budget of €179.5 million, the main goal of the programme is to reduce rural poverty in Georgia.
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Last week, the EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell travelled to Borjomi and Bakuriani to explore the results of the EU’s support to rural development in Borjomi municipality. During the trip, the Ambassador met with Borjomi Local Action Group (LAG) members and visited a rural development initiative in Bakuriani.
The Borjomi LAG is one of eight LAGs established with EU support across different regions in Georgia with the aim of encouraging diversified local economic growth based on the best European practices.
It represents a platform for partnership between local private sectors, civil society and public sector representatives, who contribute to the municipality’s social and economic development and support the participation of the local population.
“I am glad to see the enthusiasm and dedication of the members of Borjomi LAG, who serve diligently for the better future of the municipality,” said Ambassador Hartzell. “I really believe in these kinds of projects. They bring out talent and entrepreneurship from those best suited to assess the needs and opportunities of their local communities.”
After the meeting, Ambassador Hartzell visited one of the municipality’s EU-funded rural development initiatives: a ski rental shop in Bakuriani.
On 30 January, the EU presented the “2019 Association Implementation Report on Georgia”. In line with the revised European Neighbourhood Policy, the report sets out the state of play of Georgia’s commitments under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA) since the meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Council of 5 February 2018 and ahead of its next meeting of 5 March 2019.
According to the report, the implementation of commitments stemming from the AA, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), has overall continued within the agreed timelines. The revised Association Agenda (2017-2020) sets jointly agreed priorities for the further implementation of the AA.
The EU is supporting the AA implementation process through several programmes and projects. The EU-funded Facility for the Implementation of the Association Agreement is one of the agreement’s flagship projects.
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