From growing saplings to harvesting grapes: EU and FAO conduct training for Georgian winemakers

Published in Economics
Friday, 21 January 2022 12:48

Two dozen Georgian grapevine producers have taken part in a training recently held at several locations in Kakheti, a traditional winemaking region of Georgia. 

The training was conducted by an expert from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the European Union and FAO in the framework of the EU4Business programme.

The learning sessions covered the entire vineyard cultivation process and the complete cycle of grapevine production from growing saplings to harvesting grapes, and included such topics as general management of various types of vineyards, planning of pruning, fertilisation, irrigation, organic grapevine production and Integrated Pest Management.

EU Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia is a joint initiative of the EU and four UN Agencies, which was launched in 2019 with a budget of €5 million. The project aims at enhancing entrepreneurship and business sophistication by strengthening the capacities of government and local entities.

Source: https://euneighbourseast.eu/news-and-stories/latest-news/from-growing-saplings-to-harvesting-grapes-eu-and-fao-conduct-training-for-georgian-winemakers/

EU for Integrity: grants up to €40,000 for CSOs from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine

Published in Economics
Thursday, 20 January 2022 13:47

With the support of the European Union, the Open Government Partnership under the EU for Integrity programme has launched an ongoing call for project proposals for its members from the Eastern Partnership – registered civil society organisations and consortia from Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

Applicants should focus on using the OGP platform for expanding civil society engagement and building cross-sectoral partnerships in the areas of integrity, anti-corruption, public service delivery, justice, COVID-19 response and recovery, and civic space. 

Grants up to €40,000 will cover 4-12 months of the implementation period.

Unlike regular OGP competitions, this call for proposals does not have a specific due date. The proposals are reviewed quarterly.

The call is announced as part of the EU for Integrity Programme for the Eastern Partnership, funded by the EU and jointly implemented by the Open Government Partnership and the OECD Anti-Corruption Network.

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

Eastern Partnership Summit paves the way for Recovery, Resilience and Reform in the region

Published in World
Thursday, 16 December 2021 18:26

The heads of state or government of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the representatives of the European Union and the heads of state or government of its member states met in Brussels on 15 December 2021.

The Summit focused on support to five key areas – economy, governance, the environment, digital and society. These priorities build on the past achievements of the European Neighbourhood instrument, taking into account new challenges and opportunities – notably the green and digital transition, as well as the post-pandemic recovery.

During the Eastern Partnership Summit, the leaders agreed a joint declaration, in which they reconfirmed commitments from previous Summits and bilateral agreements, as well as their determination to carry them forward. On this path, our ambitious reform agenda and enhanced cooperation remains the necessary condition for progress and support: increasing prosperity and fostering peace, stability, sustainability and resilience in the region, notably in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the declaration.

The document also expresses the participants’ deep concern about the continuous destabilisation and violations of the principles of international law in many parts of the Eastern Partnership region that pose a threat to peace, security and stability.

The declaration also says that the EU regrets the decision of the Belarusian authorities to suspend their participation in the Eastern Partnership. In the meantime, the comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus, of up to €3 billion, reflects the EU’s commitment to support the democratic choice of the Belarusian people.

Besides, the EU acknowledged the initiative of the trio of associated partners – Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine – to enhance their cooperation with the EU. The European Union also took good note of the increased coordination amongst them on matters of common interest related to the implementation of the Association Agreements and DCFTAs, and on cooperation within the Eastern Partnership. At the same time, the EU and interested partners commended the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the EU and Armenia in March 2021, and welcomed progress in the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Azerbaijan on a new comprehensive Agreement.

The declaration also reminds that the new agenda for the Eastern Partnership ‘Recovery, Resilience and Reform’ is structured around the two pillars of governance and investment. This agenda will be underpinned by the €2.3 billion regional Economic and Investment Plan with a potential to mobilise up to €17 billion in public and private investments for the region.

The Summit participants stressed that they look forward to the next Eastern Partnership Summit in 2023, which will be the first milestone for the evaluation and review of the implementation of the new generation of priorities and targets.”

European Union

Partisan divisions define election reporting in Georgian media

Published in Society
Tuesday, 14 December 2021 16:03

The EU and UNDP release the final media monitoring report of the 2021 local self-governance elections in Georgia

TBILISI. 14 December 2021 – The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics, Internews Georgia and CRRC-Georgia, are monitoring media coverage of the 2021 municipal elections in Georgia. The interim reports released today analyse the coverage across 54 media outlets (27 national and 27 regional) from 5 July through 14 November 2021.

Findings show that, in the monitoring period, Georgian media was efficient and swift in covering electoral developments. Journalists provided voters with timely and diverse information, closely followed the events and reached out to a wide circle of respondents.

The rise in partisan polarization affected election reporting across almost all media sectors. Events surrounding homophobic pogroms in July, violent attacks on journalists and the imprisonment of Georgia’s third President in October dominated the media agenda. Interpretation of these developments varied depending on the editorial preferences of media outlets.

Tensions between media camps have been especially evident in broadcast media – televisions and radios. Most of the monitored media outlets manipulated their audiences by backing certain political forces and demeaning others.

Two televisions hosted election debates in the runup to election day. This achievement was somewhat diminished by the reluctance to ask critical questions and by the lack of an adequate response to homophobic and xenophobic statements by some of the candidates.

Ethical journalism standards were relatively respected during the pre-election period but dropped down closer to election day and runoffs. Unethical reporting prevailed in the national print media which used offensive language and unverified sources of information. In contrast to that, regional and local newspapers offered a more balanced account of events and a diversity of opinions.

Fewer cases of gender-discriminatory language were registered during the monitoring period across all media sectors.

Political bias was notably less evident across the digital media sector. Most of the national and regional digital media outlets maintained editorial independence and provided their audiences with relatively balanced, though fragmented and superficial, information.

“Despite the pluralistic media landscape, polarisation has been one of the dominant themes in Georgian election coverage in recent years. Accurate and well-balanced information is essential for voters to make an informed choice at the ballot boxes,” said Asunción Sánchez Ruiz, Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Georgia / Head of Political, Press and Information Section.

“Georgian media is a dynamic, diverse and fast-growing environment. It stirs public debate and acts as a crucial watchdog to democratic elections, even though political bias, unethical reporting and unverified sources of information remain an issue in some of the media sectors,” said Nick Beresford, UNDP Head in Georgia.

Media research will continue through March 2022 to cover the entire electoral cycle – election campaign, election day, runoffs and post-election period.

All reports are available on the website: mediamonitor.ge 

Georgia: Statement by the Spokesperson on the appointment of Supreme Court judges

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 07 December 2021 10:41

On Wednesday, the Parliament of Georgia appointed four Supreme Court judges for a life-long term. Such appointments, made before the existing shortcomings in the nomination process were addressed, are not in line with the recommendations of the OSCE/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.

These latest appointments contradict the commitment to ambitious judicial reform made by Georgia’s leaders in the political agreement of 19 April this year, and restated on 28 July. This included addressing issues in the Supreme Court nomination process before proceeding with appointments of the judges. These actions risks further undermining judicial independence and public trust in the Georgian justice system. 

The European Union reiterates its calls on the Georgian authorities to strengthen the independence, accountability, and quality of the judicial system, including of the High Council of Justice, through a broad, inclusive and cross party reform process. The European Union reminds that, while it remains fully committed to support Georgia’s reforms in line with the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, the EU’s assistance to Georgia remains conditional on progress on key reforms, including on judiciary.

Statement by the EU Spokesperson

EU4Culture awards grants to three cities to promote cultural development in Georgia

Published in Culture
Monday, 29 November 2021 18:50

On December 1 at 11:00 in Tbilisi, EU4Culture with the support of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia will organize a press conference and an award ceremony to officially announce three selected cities that will receive EUR 30 000 grant to prepare the Cultural Development Strategies.

The call for grant applications was launched in May 2021. It aims to support non-capital cities and towns to develop and implement Cultural Development Strategies, following the approach of the European Capitals of Culture. Overall, 70 cities from 5 Eastern Partnership countries participated in the call. After evaluation of the submitted applications, the following 3 cities from Georgia were selected: Zugdidi, Kutaisi, Poti.

Selected cities will receive up to 30 000 EUR grants to develop the Cultural Development Strategies. The 6-month working period for preparing the document starts on December 1. At the final stage of the call, one town or city out of these 3 will be awarded a grant of up to €300,000 to implement its strategy.

Mr. Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Georgia; mayors of the three cities, project partners, EU4Culture project representatives will attend the event. The event will open with welcoming speeches and an award ceremony, where the mayors of the selected cities will officially receive grant certificates, followed by the Q&A session for the media.

EU4Culture is a four-year project funded by the European Union to support culture and creative sector with a special focus on non-capital cities and towns in the Eastern Partnership Countries. The project is implemented by the Goethe Institut (lead), Institut Francais Georgie, Danish Cultural Institute, Czech Centers.

EU Delegation to Georgia

European Union and Georgia hold their fourth Strategic Security Dialogue

Published in Economics
Monday, 29 November 2021 12:28

The fourth high-level EU–Georgia Strategic Security Dialogue took place on 25 November 2021 in Brussels. The meeting reflected the commitment and interest of both the EU and Georgia to take forward their cooperation in the area of foreign and security policy, in line with the EU-Georgia Association Agreement.
The participants discussed the conflict dynamics in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, including recent developments on the ground in relation with Russia, and stressed the importance of the implementation of the EU mediated 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement. Both sides once again highlighted the important role of the EU Monitoring Mission for peace and security in Georgia, and underlined the necessity of full implementation of its mandate. The European Union reaffirmed its unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
They also discussed a number of topical foreign policy issues, including the state of affairs and increasing security challenges in the South Caucasus and the wider region.
The EU expressed appreciation for Georgia's continued and valuable contribution to the EU Common Security and Defence Policy, particularly through Georgia’s participation in EU-led crisis management operations and missions in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Mali. The participants also discussed avenues for increased cooperation in the field of security and defence, including in relation to addressing hybrid threats and increasing Georgia's capacities and resilience. The European Union commended Georgia’s role as a transit hub during the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The dialogue was co-chaired by Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs / Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora and First Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Lasha Darsalia. First Deputy Defence Minister of Georgia Lela Chikovani also participated in the meeting.
Deputy Secretary-General Mora said:
"The EU continues to remain strongly engaged in efforts to achieve peaceful conflict resolution in Georgia by using all instruments at its disposal. The EU also values the role of Georgia as an important partner in promoting security both regionally and internationally. The EU has a clear interest in a secure, stable and prosperous Georgia. We want to actively contribute to durable and comprehensive settlements of all conflicts in the region, including where possible through support for confidence-building, stabilisation, and post-conflict rehabilitation measures. The EU stands ready to provide further impetus for regional cooperation and economic development of the South Caucasus, including as appropriate through the opportunities available under the Eastern Partnership."
Deputy Foreign Minister Darsalia said:
“Georgia and the EU share a common goal of promoting security and stability in Europe and beyond. This interest has been manifested in the high-level Strategic Dialogue that Georgia and EU launched in 2017. Today’s meeting is yet another confirmation that EU and Georgia stand together to strengthen our resilience to hybrid threats and counter through joint efforts challenges such as cyber threats or disinformation. We have also had an exchange on new possibilities to upgrade our security cooperation. Georgia has reaffirmed its interest to engage in the EU PESCO projects. Georgia condemns continuous provocations in and around the occupied territories of Georgia. We updated the EU on the work of the Government Commission on the Georgia’s State Strategy for De-occupation and Peaceful Conflict Resolution. We raised the issue of “Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili” List and recalled the landmark judgement of the European Court of Human Rights. Georgia emphasizes the necessity of peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict and, in this regard, underlined the importance of reaching tangible results in the Geneva International Discussions.”
The meetings of the high-level EU–Georgia Strategic Security Dialogue are held once a year and cover issues of common interest in the field of foreign and security policy, including the CSDP.

MFA Georgia

EU helped make three kindergartens in Rustavi energy efficient

Published in Economics
Thursday, 25 November 2021 14:54

Most buildings in Georgia fail to meet European energy efficiency standards. Energy-efficient reconstruction helps improve energy security, reduce energy consumption and avoid negative impacts on the environment. Even routine heating of buildings is otherwise quite a challenge and is associated with a number of problems.

In order to meet these challenges, three kindergartens in Rustavi, N6, N40 and N41, have been reconstructed to make the buildings energy efficient and compliant with modern standards. The projects were supported by the European Union, and halved electricity consumption in all three buildings and reduced carbon emissions.

The project started in 2015, and the situation in the kindergartens was really challenging: for example, nine natural gas heaters were used to heat the N6 kindergarten building, with eight heaters installed in playrooms and bedrooms, and one placed in the principal’s office. There was no hot water system, so the staff had to heat the water themselves.

The building rehabilitation included covering of the walls, roof, floor and basement with thermal insulation tiles, and installation of a new lighting system equipped with energy efficient bulbs. A new heating and hot water supply system was installed, supported by solar panels, and 8m₂ solar panels were mounted in each kindergarten. In view of the geographical location of Rustavi, a square meter of a solar panel can generate 1050 kWh of power per year.

Old, wooden window and doorframes were replaced with energy-efficient ones. The new low emission, double-glazed PVC windows prevent heat leakages from the building.

The project developers also equipped the buildings with modern ventilation systems to supply filtered, fresh air for better health of the kindergarten beneficiaries and staff.

The Sustainable Development and Policy Centre (SDAP) implemented the “Reconstruction of three kindergartens in the city of Rustavi for achieving high energy efficiency standard and reducing carbon emissions” with the support and funding of the European Union and the Municipality of Rustavi. This initiative is part of a demonstration project under the Covenant of Mayors.

Thus, the old Soviet infrastructure in Rustavi was replaced with modern energy efficient technologies, and the EU’s support has helped achieve the main goal of the project – to reduce heating and electricity costs for all three kindergartens, and to create a clean environment for children.

European Solidarity Corps: over €138 million to support volunteering activities by young people in 2022

Published in Economics
Monday, 22 November 2021 15:47

The European Commission launched the call for proposals under the European Solidarity Corps for 2022, providing for the first time opportunities to contribute to humanitarian aid operations across the globe. This new strand of international projects is called the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps.

The call makes available almost €139 million to fund volunteering, youth-led solidarity projects, teams in high priority areas focussing on promoting healthy lifestyles and the preservation of cultural heritage, and the new European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps.

The European Solidarity Corps is open to young people between 18 and 30 for solidarity activities addressing societal challenges and between 18 and 35 for international humanitarian aid activities. Young people wishing to engage in European Solidarity Corps activities need to register in the European Solidarity Corps portal where they can browse and find organisations implementing projects. Groups of young people registered in the European Solidarity Corps Portal may also apply for funding for solidarity projects led by themselves.

Any public or private body may apply for funding to carry out activities under the European Solidarity Corps. Such organisations need to obtain a quality label, which certifies that they are able to carry out high quality solidarity activities in compliance with the principles, objectives and requirements of the programme. They can apply with the help of European Solidarity Corps National Agencies based in all EU Member States and third countries associated to the programme or of the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) for centralised actions.

The call is open until 23 February for projects taking place the same year, and until 4 October for the ones in the following year.

The European Solidarity Corps is an EU programme for young people wishing to engage in solidarity activities in a variety of areas ranging from helping disadvantaged people to contributing to health and environmental action, across the EU and beyond. The total budget of the European Solidarity Corps programme for 2021-2027 is €1 billion.

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

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