Team Europe: EU and EIB invest in fast internet connection for rural Georgia

Published in Economics
Friday, 17 December 2021 11:39

The European Investment Bank, the Bank of the European Union, will invest up to EUR 34 million in the expanding a high-speed internet network bringing fast and reliable internet services to some 500,000 Georgians living in 1000 rural and remote settlements in Georgia. The investment from the EU bank will finance the installation of 5000 km of fiber optics telecommunications network and provide open-access infrastructure for Georgian telecom operators to provide their fast-internet services. The EU has provided a guarantee through the External Lending Mandate.
This project supports improved digital connectivity as one of the five flagship initiatives for Georgia under the European Union’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership
This new EIB operation is a part of broader Team Europe efforts to support Georgia in digitalising, accelerating green and sustainable social and economic growth, and increasing nationwide resilience to natural disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, said: “Investing in the digital transition in Georgia is key to stimulate jobs and growth and bring about prosperity. Through the EU Economic and Investment Plan, we have already started to deliver real benefits on the ground. This flagship programme will assist in bringing new opportunities and reduce digital inequalities between rural and urban areas by developing high-speed broadband infrastructure for around 1,000 rural settlements. I consider this an important contribution to Georgia’s modernisation and economic development and recovery, while promoting digital inclusion in line with its national broadband strategy.”
Teresa Czerwinska, Vice President of the EIB, who is in charge of operations in Georgia, said: “Our investment in fast and reliable internet services for rural Georgia is more than another Team Europe investment to improve quality of life and doing business for Georgians. It supports digitalisation, the key to the long-term competitiveness of the Georgian economy and its sustainable and green development. Finally, this investment reinforces the recovery of the national economy from the pandemic. Together with Team Europe, EU4Digital the World Bank and the Government of Georgia, we are building modern infrastructure, a cornerstone for a modern and thriving Georgia. The EIB is proud to have contributed yet again towards this goal the whole of Team Europe shares with Georgia.”
Lasha Khutsishvili, Minister of Finance of Georgia said: “One of the main priorities of the Government of Georgia is the development of the digital economy. The improvement of broadband infrastructure is of the utmost importance in this regard. With the support of our international partner institutions such as the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank, we are aiming for this goal. This aspiration is demonstrated by the “Rural Fibre Network Georgia” project financed by the European Investment Bank. As one of the flagship projects within the Eastern Partnership priorities, it will promote digital development of rural settlements, that will ultimately be reflected in their economic growth. In addition it is in full compliance with Georgia’s National Broadband Strategy and Government’s programme for 2021-2024. I would like to express my gratitude to the European Union for its continued support and willingness to provide assistance in supporting and advancing the priority sectors of Georgia“.

Press Release of EU

Team Europe: EIB provides €6 million for COVID-19 recovery for Georgian businesses

Published in Economics
Thursday, 21 October 2021 10:04

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the European Union, has provided a €6 million loan to Terabank Georgia to support its local currency lending to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. 

The loan is part of the EIB’s SME Outreach Initiative, which promotes access to finance for MSMEs in Georgia by helping smaller banks in the country to offer tailor-made services and financial products to their clients.

Covered by a guarantee from the European Union, the EIB financing aims to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to contribute to an economic recovery that puts Georgia on a long-term sustainable growth track. As part of Team Europe, the EIB works hand in hand with other EU projects implemented in Georgia under the EU4Business brand.

MSMEs are the backbone of the Georgian economy, and access to finance is one of the major challenges they face. To date, the EIB has invested over €300 million in credit lines for Georgian businesses, sustaining more than 54,000 jobs in the country.

The material is prepared within the project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"

Irakli Garibashvili: World Bank Study of Corruption Control ranks Georgia 45th among 189 countries and captures it at 45th Position in Top 50 of the World and 19th in Top 20 of Europe

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 28 September 2021 11:45

According to the World Bank study on Corruption Control, Georgia is ranked 45th among 189 countries and is captured at 45th position in Top 50 of the world and 19th in Top 20 of Europe. It was announced by Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia at the press-briefing held at the Government Administration today.

According to the Head of Government of Georgia, it has been the fourth time in a row that Georgia got captured in the Top 20. The Prime Minister also noted that in the assessment of Freedom House, Georgia is ranked 11th among corruption-free countries of the world.

"I wish to start with a just released piece of information. It relates a World Bank study on governance and indicators summarising the analysis performed by dozens of research institutions and international organizations. Thus, I wish to let the public know that Georgia truly has a very significant progress and advancement towards this end. According to this report, Georgia has a leading and exemplary position in Europe and throughout the world by corruption-free and effective governance.

More specifically, let me say that by the effective control of corruption, Georgia is ranked 45th in 189 countries of the world and is captured in the Top 50. In the European context, Georgia is ranked 19th. It is worth noting that it has been the fourth successive position occupied by Georgia in the referred Top 20.

For the purposes of comparison, let me say that Georgia was ranked 62nd in the study published in 2012. Naturally, we were positioned outside the Top 20 of Europe.

By effective control of corruption, our country is ahead of 10 EU member states: Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, Cyprus, Malta, Croatia, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria. Georgia is preceded by countries of non-continental part of Europe: Ireland, UK, Iceland and some leading states of Europe.

Out of NATO member states, Georgia is ahead of 14 by the effective control of corruption. Our country leads in the region, while it is preceded only by Baltic countries from the post-soviet bloc.

As for the corruption-free index, Georgia is perceived to be at the 11th position in the assessment of Freedom House.

According to the global survey of The Gallup Organization, Georgia has been captured at 14th position in the Top 20 of Europe among 122 economies of the world" stated Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia.

The Head of Government of Georgia also noted that by effective governance, Georgia has been ranked 38th in the best 20% of 189 countries, according to the World Bank. Our country has been named at 19th position in the Top 20 of Europe among the continental member countries of the World Bank.

"For comparison, it is worth noting that Georgia was ranked 50th by effective governance in the study published by the World Bank on October 1, 2012. We have had truly great progress towards this end as well. Georgia is ahead of 8 EU member states: Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. Out of NATO member states, Georgia is ahead of 12 by effective governance and occupies the first place in the Caucasus and Black Sea region.

I wish to note that the Economic Intelligence Unit carried out a study as well and assessed countries with a methodology deploying global governance indicators. Bureaucracy was measured in 180 countries and territorial units of the world in two dimensions: (a) degree of bureaucracy and institutional effectiveness and (b) freedom from excessive bureaucracy.

Georgia received 75 out of 100 percentile assessment for the fourth time in a row this year, thus progressing to 17th position among the member countries of the World Bank and 12th in Europe.

Also, I wish to note that Georgia precedes 1 country of G7, 2 member states of the EU and 5 member states of NATO by the rule of law. It is worth noting that in 2008-2012 Georgia fell outside several dozens of positions in the assessments of bureaucracy and received 62.5% at that time" noted the Prime Minister of Georgia.

As noted by the Head of Government of Georgia, rule of law is at a higher level in Georgia than in Italy, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro in the international rating. According to him, Georgia ranks fourth in the post soviet block, right after the Baltic countries.

"By the corruption of civil servants and government officials, Georgia has been ranked at 20th position among 180 countries of the world and 12th among European countries.

Georgia has also gone forward to many leading countries of the world. Our assessment is one and a half times higher than 9 European countries: Spain, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Malta, Cyprus as well as South Korea and twice higher than in Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. With these measurement results, Georgia has been equalised with such leading countries of the world as the USA, Japan, France, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Slovenia, Croatia and others.

For comparison, it should be noted that the current assessment of Georgia is 3 times higher than the results demonstrated in 2011-2012.

And lastly, by the degree of regulation, the World Bank ranks Georgia 19th among 189 countries of the world and captures it in the Top 20 of Europe. Hence, I wish to once again thank every cabinet member and civil servant for this success" added Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia.

Press Service of the Government Administration

Joint Statement of U.S. Army Europe and Africa and the Georgian Ministry of Defense

Published in military
Friday, 19 March 2021 13:52

As part of the United States’ commitment to strengthening the Georgian Defense Forces (GDF), Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Commanding General, made an official visit to Tbilisi. Minister of Defense Juansher Burchuladze welcomed Gen. Cavoli March 15-17 and reaffirmed the shared commitment to security cooperation.
The visit provided an opportunity for Gen. Cavoli and Minister Burchuladze to discuss regional security challenges, mutual security cooperation initiatives and perspectives of future cooperation. Joint training and exercises were highlighted, including plans for upcoming multinational exercise Agile Spirit, which is scheduled to be held in the summer of 2021 in Georgia.
Gen. Cavoli also met with Georgian Chief of Defense Major General Giorgi Matiashvili and discussed the successful progress of the GDF within the Georgia Defense Readiness Program (GDRP), which focuses on enhancing Georgia’s ability to staff, equip and train its forces, as well as post-GDRP security cooperation priorities. Gen. Cavoli praised the growing leadership role and enhanced capabilities of the Georgians in the U.S. - Georgia military relationship.
In addition, Gen. Cavoli visited the Vaziani training area where the GDRP –Training (GDRP-T) team focuses specifically on enhancing Georgia’s ability to train its forces. The Georgian Defense Forces maintain a high-level of training for its international missions and the GDRP-T mission enhances Georgia’s interoperability and strengthens the country’s territorial defense capabilities. U.S. and Georgian forces are proud to serve side-by-side in the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and around the world.

Press Service of the MOD

"Team Europe" global response to COVID-19: Council welcomes the mobilisation of almost €36 billion and approves conclusions

Published in Economics
Thursday, 18 June 2020 12:24

The European Council approved conclusions on the "Team Europe" package that is part of the EU's global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its conclusions the Council expresses its deep concern about the global spread of the COVID‑19 pandemic, which continues to claim lives worldwide and have far-reaching social and economic effects.

The Council stresses the urgency of protecting the lives and livelihoods of all people, leaving no-one behind, and of prioritising efforts in partner countries that are most in need. In light of that the Council fully supports the "Team Europe" approach and welcomes the announcement that almost 36 billion euro have now been mobilised and will be used to address the devastating effects of the COVID-19 crisis in partner countries and regions.

The "Team Europe" package was launched on 8 April 2020 to support EU partner countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. The financial support initially pledged was around 20 billion euro and combined resources from the EU, its member states, and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

source: https://www.euneighbours.eu/en/east-south/stay-informed/news/team-europe-global-response-covid-19-council-welcomes-mobilisation

 

Preventing COVID-19: Council of Europe supports prison systems in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro and North Macedonia

Published in World
Tuesday, 09 June 2020 15:42

In response to the emergency of COVID-19 pandemic and to the need of providing urgent support to inmates and prison staff, in the context of its cooperation programmes, the Council of Europe has donated protective materials to five member States: Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

In Georgia, donations included 6,500 masks, 2,500 face shields and 500 litres of sanitizer and antiseptic liquid, 20 pulse oximeters; 5,000 disposable plastic shoe covers; and 3,000 medical disposable headcovers.

A total of 13,760 masks; 2,500 facial shields; 1,240 litters of disinfectant/sanitizer for hands and surfaces; 84,000 gloves; 99 infrared thermometers; 2 oxygen generators; 5 portable saturometers; 10 bactericide lamps; 50 medical uniforms; 100 protective glasses, 20 pulse oximeters; 3,000 head covers; 5,000 shoe covers were delivered to prison administrations in the mentioned countries. 850 pieces of disinfectants and 5,000 gloves are also under way of delivery in North Macedonia, and additional items are expected to be purchased in Montenegro and Azerbaijan until end of June 2020.

These donations aim at supporting the commitment of the Council of Europe member States and their national prison administrations to adhere to the CPT statement of principles for the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty (see the statement also in Georgian here), in accordance with the World Health Organization guidelines in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The donations were delivered following requests from the Ministries of Justice and prison administrations within the framework of the cooperation activities implemented by the Criminal Law Cooperation Unit, Action against Crime Department, Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law.

The donation to Georgia was possible in the framework of the project Enhancement of Human Rights and Health-Care Support to Penitentiary System (financed through CoE Action Plan for Georgia 2016-2019).

End of WWII: Statement by David Zalkaliani

Published in World
Tuesday, 12 May 2020 16:55

David Zalkaliani, President of the Committee of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, made the following statement to mark 75 years since the end of the Second World War:

“Today we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe - the most devastating war in history, which claimed millions of lives and brought immense suffering.

“This day of commemoration and remembrance offers an opportunity for us to express our profound respect and admiration to all who gave their lives for humanity.

“We have to make sure that such atrocities do not take place again. The best way to achieve this is to adhere to international law and recommit ourselves to the universal principles we all embraced in the aftermath of the war.

“By commemorating this important anniversary, it is of utmost importance to reaffirm our commitment to a peaceful, secure and stable Europe, as it still faces conflicts and other serious challenges that require immediate cooperation and joint efforts.”

Source: https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/end-of-wwii-statement-by-david-zalkaliani

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has issued a toolkit for governments across Europe on respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19 crisis

Published in Politics
Friday, 24 April 2020 13:44

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, has issued a toolkit for governments across Europe on respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19 crisis.


The Information Document was sent to all 47 Council of Europe member states yesterday.
The toolkit is designed to help ensure that measures taken by member states during the current crisis remain proportional to the threat posed by the spread of the virus and are limited in time.
The document covers four key areas:

•             Derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights in times of emergency


•             Respect for the rule of law and democratic principles in times of emergency, including limits on the scope and duration of emergency measures


•             Fundamental human rights standards including freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, protection of vulnerable groups from discrimination and the right to education


•             Protection from crime and the protection of victims of crime, in particular regarding gender-based violence.


The Information Document also refers to new advice from the Committee of the Parties of the Council of Europe’s MEDICRIME Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes.

https://rm.coe.int/sg-inf-2020-11-respecting-democracy-rule-of-law-and-human-rights-in-th/16809e1f40

Europe’s Donbas: How Western Capital Industrialized Eastern Ukraine

Published in World
Saturday, 08 June 2019 12:38

Russian aggression in Donbas in 2014 drew Europe's attention to this forgotten region. We would like to remind you, however, that the industrial potential of Donbas was built up in 19th-early 20th century and thanks in the main to Western European money.

In the 15th-17th centuries, these territories, previously known as the Wild Steppe, became part of the lands of the Ukrainian Cossacks(link to "Why Are Cossacks the Key to Understanding the Ukrainian Nation?"). As a result of the Russian-Turkish wars of the 17th-18th centuries, these lands were fully incorporated into the Russian Empire. Donbas began to be industrialized in the second half of the 19th century.

According to historians, in the late 19th - early 20th century, more than 800 million gold francs from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, and Switzerland were invested in the economic development of this Ukrainian region. It was part of the Russian Empire at that time.

Cities like Donetsk, Luhansk, Druzhkivka, Yenakiieve, Selidove, Mariupol, Kostyantynivka, Horlivka, Debaltseve, Torez, Kramatorsk, Lysychansk and other cities in the Donbas region received an industrial boost from Europeans during that period.

DONBAS: FOUR SPHERES OF INFLUENCE

In the 19th century, which was when the Donetsk coalfield was discovered (the actual name 'Donbas' only became widespread at the beginning of the 20th century), foreign investment flooded it immediately. The Russian Empire needed new technologies and up-to-date heavy industry to re-equip its military-industrial complex. And in the 1890's Belgium became the first country – an official partner – to create an entire network of coal and steel enterprises, a unified system of rail connections, and even the newest fittings.

Belgian investors put 550 million gold francs in this steppe (and almost desert) region. To recalculate this into today's more, this would be more than 5.5 billion Euro.

Following the Belgians, investors from other European countries came to Ukraine's Donbas. Thus, there were four nominal spheres of influence – the so-called "Belgian province" with its centre in the city of Luhanskthe "German land" in the south of Donetsk Region, the "French region" in its eastern part, and the "English region" in the center.

The Belgians and French owned 90% of the foreign capital in Ukraine's Katerynoslav (now - Dnipro city) province, a large part of which was called Donbas. In 1900, there were about 300 enterprises in Donbas; foreign investors owned most of them. In 1913, the share of foreign capital reached 70% of total coal mining in Donbas and 86% of total ore mining in the Kryvyi Rih basin.

BELGIUM: ⅔ OF ALL INVESTMENTS IN THE COALFIELD

Nowadays, Belgium is a small country, but at that time it was the third biggest nation in the world in terms of its industrial capacity. It had also big colonial ambitions (remember Belgium's Congo in Africa). At the beginning of the 20th century, Belgium was fourth in terms of investment in the Russian Empire and had ⅔ of total investment in the Donetsk coalfield. There was a direct train to Donbas from Brussels.

In 1895, the Russian-Belgian Metallurgical Society was organized in Donbas at the initiative of several Belgian businessmen. In 1914, 31 Belgian companies were already operating there. Ten of them operated in metallurgy, seven – in the mining industry, six – in trams, and five – in producing construction materials and glass.

In Belgium, there were nine provinces at the time, and they called Donbas "the 10th province".

The participation of Belgian investors in the region's development was interrupted by the Bolshevik revolution, which destroyed the concept of "capitalist property"for decades. This fact supposedly became one of the reasons why Belgium recognized the Soviet regime only in 1935.

FRANCE: HUGE INJECTION OF FUNDS BEFORE THE REVOLUTION

The fastest French investments penetrated into the sphere of heavy industry before the Russian Bolshevik revolution. For example, in November 1914, at a meeting of shareholders of the Donetsk-Yuriivsk Metallurgical Society, 36,726 shares were presented. 510 of them belonged to the French, 61 – to Germans, 25 – to Belgians, 75 – to American capitalists, and the remainder belonged to domestic industrialists and bankers. The Alchevsk Iron and Steel Works, as founded in 1895, is one of the most famous enterprises of this society.

Before WWI, according to the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Empire, 159.1 million rubles of foreign capital were invested in the coal mining industry of the country. The share held by coal enterprises located in the Donetsk coalfield amounted to 118.6 million rubles, i.e. 74%. French capital invested 82 million of the figure, Belgian 24 million, and the capital of other countries of Western Europe reached 12.6 million rubles.

As for the metalworking and machine-building industry of Ukraine, at that time foreign capital reached 44.6 million Rubles there. Among them, Belgium invested 20.2 million, England – 12.2 million, Germany – 6.7 million, France – at least 5 million, and other countries – 0.5 million Rubles.

DONETSK: A BRITISH CITY WITH EUROPEAN SALARIES

The heart of the "English region" was the village of Yuzivka, which was founded in 1869, which turned into an industrial city after the construction of a metallurgical plant there. Nowadays this British-based city is known as the city of Donetsk.

In 1869, John Hughes, a British mining engineer from South Wales, founded the Russian-British Novorossiysk (Metallurgical) Society of coal, iron and rail production to raise a capital. In 1870, he moved to the Donbas region where he started to build a plant.

In 1872, the first blast furnace was in operation, and soon, despite the difficult start, the company demonstrated huge success. In 1910, John Hughes launched a new progressive production technology, based on anthracite. By that time, it was used only in the United States. In 1913, 74% of iron of the entire Russian Empire was produced in Yuzivka. Initially, the plant employed six thousand workers from the locals, and for 25 years their number had reached 50 thousand people.

At that time, salaries in the Donbas were also European level salaries.

In 1959, during his visit to the USA, the Soviet Secretary General Nikita Khrushchev mentioned that he worked as a mechanic of a machine-building plant in Yuzivka in 1914. Its owner was Edward Boss, an Estonian. The 20-year-old Khrushchev earned 40-45 Rubles a month. In today's figures that is more than one thousand Euros.

KOSTYANTYNIVKA: BELGIAN ARCHITECTURE AND CHEMICAL PLANTS

Kostyantynivka was built by immigrants from Belgium. As a result, this city can also boast Belgian architectural monuments from those times. The entire city infrastructure is a sequel of initial constructions.

Unfortunately, one of the most interesting architectural monuments of the city -- the house of the Gomon -- was destroyedrecently. It was built by JSC Belgian Society of Kostyantynivka's glass and chemical plants in 1902 for the manager of the bottle factory named Gomon. Anyway, the stable near this house is still kept in good condition. The Belgian office has also remained.

The secret of preserving architectural heritage is quite simple. If it is used, its owner maintains it in a decent condition.

LUHANSK: GERMAN LOCOMOTIVES

German investment came preferably to Luhansk Region.

For example, one of the most famous Luhansk enterprises – the Luhansk steam locomotive plant – was founded by the German industrialist Gustav Hartmann in 1896as Russische Maschinenbaugesellschaft Hartmann and renamed Lokomotive factory Octoberrevolution in 1918 after the Russian revolution.

LYSYCHANSK: BELGIAN HERITAGE ABROAD AWARD

At the end of the 19th century, a big part of the city of Lysychansk belonged to the village of Verhnie. Here in 1887 the Belgian engineer Ernest Solve launched the production of soda with his Belgian chemical company Solway and a merchant from Perm called Ivan Lyubimov. Unfortunately, the factory is no longer operational – it was destroyed in 2013 before the very beginning of Russian military aggression in Ukraine.

Along with that, company built houses for factory workers, gymnasium buildings, hospitals, and a church. For example, an up-to-date four-floor hospital in Lysychansk was built by the Belgians.

The Belgians built a total of 33 objects in Lysychansk. 30 of them have been preserved to this day.

In February 2018, the architecture of Lysychanskreceived the Belgian Heritage Abroad Award (2017).

________________________________________________________________

Europeans brought not only the technology of industrial productionto Ukraine, but also business skills, management experienceof large enterprises, connections with banking and industrial groups, and the spirit of capitalist entrepreneurship, thereby contributing to the industrialization of Ukraine.

By the time of the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the Donbas, previously known as "Russian America" and the flagship of industrial Europe, was in a state of decline. The economic ignorance of the Soviet authorities had led to Donbas becoming a backward region in ther 1980s with loss-making production. Today, most of its factories are located on territories occupied by the Russian Federation. Some of them are either ruined or still operate using the equipment installed at the end of the 19th century.

Sources used in this article:

Valentyna Lazebnyk, "Steel in the Steppe. View from Ukraine".

Wim Peeters, "Steel on the steppe".

Materials from the exhibitions "Foreign investments in Ukraine, end of the ХІХ – beginning of the XX century. Part I: Belgium" and "Foreign investments in Ukraine, end of the ХІХ – beginning of the XX century. Part II: France", organized by the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Sources used in this article:

Valentyna Lazebnyk, "Steel in the Steppe. View from Ukraine".

Wim Peeters, "Steel on the steppe".

Materials from the exhibitions "Foreign investments in Ukraine, end of the ХІХ – beginning of the XX century. Part I: Belgium" and "Foreign investments in Ukraine, end of the ХІХ – beginning of the XX century. Part II: France", organized by the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

TETYANA MATYCHAK

 

Commissioner Mijatović highlights main human rights challenges in Europe

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 09 April 2019 16:13

Today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, presented her first annual activity report in a debate before the Parliamentary Assembly of the organisation.

While the report covers a variety of the most pressing human rights issues in the Council of Europe member states, the Commissioner highlights migration, women’s rights, human rights of persons with disability, the protection of human rights defenders and the safety of journalists as the most recurrent topics of her work.

“Migration is among the most pressing human rights issues on my agenda”, she says. “National authorities should improve the treatment of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and put human rights and the principle of responsibility sharing at the centre of their migration and asylum policies”.

As regards women’s rights, the Commissioner underscores the need to tackle gender stereotypes and prejudices and to put an end to violence against women. She also calls on national authorities to reduce the gender pay gap, which remains a “major obstacle to effective equality between men and women, and a widespread problem all over Council of Europe member states, both in the public and private sectors.”

The protection of human rights defenders and of journalists also requires more attention by the authorities of member states. “Violent physical attacks, as well as laws and practices significantly reduce the ability of human rights defenders and journalists to provide their contribution to the democratic fabric of our society.

Another problem that the report highlights is the difficulty that many member states still face in tackling discrimination or deep rooted prejudices against persons with disabilities, children, older persons, Roma and LGBTI people. The Commissioner notes that long-standing cultural, social and economic problems continue to breed inequalities and segregation.

“There is still much work to be done in order to protect human rights throughout Europe. I am determined to commit my energy to this task, and I fully intend to develop constructive co-operation with governments and civil society for the common goal of upholding human rights.”

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