Switzerland and Georgia are strengthening their respective efforts to tackle irregular migration. State Secretary Mario Gattiker and Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs Vakhtang Gomelauri signed a joint declaration in Tbilisi on 16 September. Since 2018 Georgia is 5th on the list of countries of origin for asylum applications in Switzerland.However, Georgian nationals have almost no chance of being granted asylum in Switzerland. To resolve the challenge related to unfounded asylum applications, Switzerland and Georgia have implemented different measures andare closely collaborating in the field of migration.
On Monday, 16 September, State Secretary Mario Gattiker and Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri signed a joint declaration aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries in tackling irregular migration. Since Georgian citizens are exempted from the visa requirement for the Schengen area, Switzerland has registered a sharp increase in unfounded asylum applications from Georgia (+87% in 2018 compared to 2016).
These applications have almost no chance of being accepted (refugee status recognition rate:0%). Moreover, certain persons lodging applications for asylum suffer from severe medical issues requiring urgent care, which complicates the return process.Since the visa liberalization, Switzerland has called on Georgia to take appropriate measures.On its side, Switzerland pursues a swift and consistent policy of return to the country of origin.
To address this phenomenon,Switzerland has, in collaboration with Georgia, put in place a number of measures. A process of cooperation has been established in May of this year between the State Secretariat for Migration,the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi and the Georgian Health Ministry,to enable the swift processing of asylum applications by Georgian nationals suffering from complex health issues. This cooperation process helps to swiftly identify the possibility of medical treatment in Georgia and consequently assess the person’s return. In that regard, after the talks with the Ministry of Health, Mario Gattiker visited an intensive care oncology unit at a hospital in the capital to see for himself the level of care in treating cancer patients.
Moreover, Switzerland and Georgia are committed to tightening border controls. In June, Switzerland seconded an official to the airport at Kutaisi (second largest city)for a month to support the local authorities in their tasks and to provide additional technical assistance on border controls at departure within the framework of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
On28 August, the Federal Council decided to add Georgia to the list of ‘safe countries’. As of 1 October 2019, Georgia will join the list of countries to which the return of asylum seekers whose applications have been denied is considered reasonable.
The State Secretary’s visit to Georgia was rounded off with talks with the Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, a further meeting is planned with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Zalkaliani.
In response to the rise of asylum applications from Georgian nationals, Switzerland and Georgia had already taken measures in 2018, but these had limited impact. In particular, Switzerland has strengthened protection at external borders and imposed entry bans in cases where the asylum claim was clearly unfounded. For its part, Georgia has made efforts to strengthen borders controls and has conducted several information campaigns on the rights and obligations of visa-travel in the Schengen area. Finally, Georgia has tightened its criminal code to combat irregular migration.
In this September, the “2019 HWPL World Peace Summit” was held in over 110 locations of 200 countries in cooperation between an international peace NGO named HWPL, government officials, and the global civil society worldwide. In Tbilisi of Georgia citizens from various social stratum gathered to call for a legislation of an international law for peace.
On September 9th, the event was also held in Tbilisi, under the theme of the “Legislate Peace (LP)" - Implementation of the DPCW for Sustainable Development”. About 20 participants including Vakhtang Bolotashvili from the Civil Movement, Elbrus Mammadov, the chairman of Human Rights Monitoring Group of National, Giorgi Jashiashili, the president of European Youth Organization. The participants joined the “Peace Letter Campaign”, as a part of the “LP” project which was held in 200 places of 110 countries and “LP” urges the head of state to support the establishment of international law for peace based on the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW).
DPCW is a document that specified the roles of international society to prevent and resolve conflicts around the world and currently in the process of being introduced to the UN as a draft resolution. Around 1.5 million citizens from 195 countries have taken part in the LP project by writing support letters and collecting support signatures.
Responses from leaders including the Presidents of USA, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, and Prime Ministers of Canada and North Macedonia have shown the support for the DPCW advocated by citizens in each country
There also was a time for case presentation by Tamar Lolishvili, an English teacher from Gymnasium AIA-GESSof Peace Education which is being practiced in accordance with the 10th article of DPCW, ‘Spread a Culture of Peace’ Choosing peace education is about creative problem solving, carefully understanding the problem itself and its various dimensions, and adopting new ways of thinking, perceiving and handling situations.”“Virtual Peace Camp invites children to think about what peace means to them and where they feel peaceful. The activities encourage children to think about what they can do to build peace, helping to develop interpersonal peace. The project also encourages children to think critically about war and to explore its human cost; they will learn about how children – so often the innocent victims of war – can work together for peace.
The host organization, HWPL, is an international NGO associated with UN DGC and in consultative status with UN ECOSOC. ‘9.18 HWPL World Peace Summit’ was annually held since 2014 and is a field of opportunity where figures from politics, religions, media, youth and women gather and discuss on peace.
Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Claude Kern (France, ADLE), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Georgia, will make a fact-finding visit to the country from 17 to 18 September 2019.
Discussions will mainly focus on recent political developments, the independence of the judiciary, the judicial reform, the functioning of the High Council of Justice, and the organisation of elections.
In Tbilisi, Mr Corlatean and Mr Kern are due to meet, in particular, the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs, as well as the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality. Talks are also scheduled with various parliamentary committees, the political groups represented in Parliament, and the Georgian delegation to PACE.
The co-rapporteurs will also meet the Chair of the Central Election Commission, representatives of the judicial authorities, the Public Defender, and representatives of the diplomatic community and NGOs.
On 13–14 June, the Bolnisi Municipality of Georgia hosted an international forum bringing together rural development actors from Georgia and other countries of the Eastern Neighbourhood region.
The event was attended by around 150 participants representing national and local governments, civil society, business and microfinance organisations from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
They shared their experience and perspectives on challenges and opportunities for local rural economy development, with a primary focus on the role of local administrations in supporting agricultural businesses.
The event was co-organised by the Bolnisi Municipality and the Mayors for Economic Growth Secretariat.
Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) is an initiative of the European Union, established in 2017 to support mayors and municipalities of the Eastern partner countries to become active facilitators for economic growth and job creation at local level.
On 11 June, Chief Veterinary Officers and experts from the Republic of Moldova and Georgia will join their counterparts from some of the EU’s other Neighbourhood countries at a seminar in Bucharest, Romania, to discuss animal welfare during transportation by sea.
This multi-country workshop aims to identify good practices and facilitate exchanges of experience between experts in the field of animal welfare during transportation by sea of live animals from the EU to third countries.
The workshop is being organised by the European Commission’s Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX), in cooperation with the National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority in Romania.
According to TAIEX, the communication of standards on animal welfare during transportation are relevant to international trade and cooperation with partners across the world, who play a significant role in promoting and implementing them. Such standards are included in the provisions of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
In 2004, the EU adopted a regulation through which harmonised rules were set for animal welfare during transport in and between the Member States. Moreover, in 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that, for the transportation of animals involving a long journey starting from EU territory and continuing outside of it, the organiser of the transport from the EU is responsible for the welfare of animals for the entire journey, up to the final point in the third country.
29 March, 2019 - The closing ceremony was held at the NATO-Georgia Joint-Training and Evaluation Center (JTEC). First Deputy Chief of the Defence Forces Colonel Nikoloz Janjgava, the U.S. Army Lieutenant General John C. Thomson III and Deputy Commander/Chief of Staff of the NATO Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) Brigadier General Ladislav Jung attended the ceremony.
During the ceremony, First Deputy Chief of the Defence Forces congratulated the exercise participants on the successful accomplishment of the exercise and outlined that the exercise was an excellent example of the productive cooperation.
“We all worked hard to make this remarkable event happen. We are able to conclude that the Exercise fulfilled its objectives which are, among others, to enhance our capabilities and improve our interoperability with the Allied staffs.”- stated Colonel Nikoloz Janjgava.
In his address, Lieutenant General Thomson congratulated the exercise participants on their successful accomplishment, and thanked the Georgian soldiers for their teamwork and collective efforts. Additionally, Lieutenant General Thomson stated that: “The successful conclusion of an exercise that has made us stronger. History teaches us that strength deters aggression.”
The official closing ceremony of the exercise concluded with an award ceremony. First Deputy Chief of the Defence Forces Colonel Janjgava and Lieutenant General Thomson presented certificates to the participants.
“NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019” (Computer Assisted/Command Post Exercise - CAX/CPX), held from 18-29 March, 2019 at the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC) at National Centre “Krtsanisi” and involved around 350 personnel. “NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019” was the first NATO multinational brigade-level command post exercise conducted and led by the Georgian Defence Forces.
This exercise was designed to train a Georgian-led multinational brigade headquarters staff to plan, coordinate and execute scenario-based military responses to humanitarian crises. It was also testing the interoperability of Georgian, Allied and Partner Forces, as well as Georgian command and control capabilities. Additionally, it tested the ability to adopt a comprehensive approach to a non-article 5 crisis response, involving civil-military cooperation with international organizations and non-governmental organizations. Humanitarian bodies like the inter-governmental organizations: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) - were represented during the exercise, providing direct feedback and mentorship to exercise participants.
This was the second NATO-Georgia Exercise to take place through the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) framework - a set of 15 defence capacity building Initiatives agreed between Georgia and NATO at the Wales Summit in 2014, and reinforced at the Warsaw Summit in 2016. The first NATO-Georgia Exercise was conducted in 2016 involving 15 NATO allied and partner nations.
“NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019” was scheduled by NATO Allied Command Transformation, conducted by the Georgian General Staff with mentoring from NATO Allied Land Command. It was directed by the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center, and mentored by the NATO Joint Force Training Centre.
This exercise was comprised of 21 Allied Nations (Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States) and 3 Partner Nations (Azerbaijan, Georgia as the Host Nation and Sweden).
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze met with Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland within the framework of his working visit in Strasbourg.
Georgia’s new action plan was discussed during the meeting. Thorbjørn Jagland said that it was an honor for him to host Georgian Prime Minister and underlined on the high quality of Georgia-CoE relations.
He said that CoE was publishing a consolidated report about Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia twice a year. “We discussed ways to how to improve accessibility to these regions and continue working on missions targeted at restoration of trust,” Thorbjørn Jagland said.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe said that Georgia was a good example of fruitful cooperation and experience sharing.
Avtandil Otinashvili, Strasbourg
Mamuka Bakhtadze: Georgia’s independence and the restoration of Georgia’s statehood is tied to the name of Zviad GamsakhurdiaMonday, 01 April 2019 15:50
Georgia's independence and the restoration of Georgia's statehood is tied to the name of Zviad Gamsakhurdia; I join my friends and bow my head to his eternal memory, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stated at the exhibition held today to commemorate the 80th birth anniversary of Georgia's first President Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
To honor the first President's anniversary, the National Library displays Zviad Gamsakhurdia's photos and translations, and books about him.
"Georgia's first President Zviad Gamsakhurdia would have turned 80 today. To commemorate this date, various events are planned in Georgia's regions. His merit in Georgia's millennia-old history is extraordinary. Georgian Post has been instructed to issue anniversary stamps. That this tragedy has yet to be investigated is a shame, of course, and the investigation must be finalized," Mamuka Bakhtadze stated.
The exhibition also displays Zviad Gamsakhurdia's five-volume work from the series The Leaders of the Georgian State. The stamp issued by Georgian Post to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Zviad Gamsakhurdia was also presented.
In his visit to the exhibition, the Prime Minister was accompanied by the Speaker of Georgian Parliament and the Tbilisi Mayor.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will hold its spring session in Strasbourg from 8 to 12 April 2019, with addresses expected by the Prime Ministers of Georgia and Armenia.
The Assembly will hold joint debates on stopping hate speech and acts of hatred in sport - as well as the role of political leaders in combating hate speech - and on strengthening co-operation with the UN and implementation of the sustainable development goals.
There has been a request for an urgent debate on "The budgetary crisis at the Council of Europe".
Other topics to be discussed include promoting parliaments free of sexism and sexual harassment, the implications for human rights of social media, and a report on balancing the rights of parents, donors and children during the anonymous donation of sperm and oocytes.
The Assembly will also look at so-called “laundromats” and new challenges in combating organised crime and money-laundering, and will take a stand on the creation of a new EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights will present her annual activity report for 2018 and take questions, while there will be the usual exchange of views with the current head of the Council of Europe’s ministerial body, Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Timo Soini, and question time with Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.
The Assembly will decide its final agenda on the opening day of the session.
Georgian grocery store will be opened in Belarus and tractors will be assembled at a joint venture that will operate in Georgia. It was announced at a meeting of Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia with Mikhail Rusy, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus today.
Joint production of elevators for residential blocks is also under consideration, along with a cooperation in the sector of transportation. Namely ferry transfer has a development prospect, along with a transit of cargo originating in Belarus through Ukraine and Georgia. Need of specific steps to be made for the development of logistics was underlined at the meeting. Head of Government of Georgia instructed the cabinet to discuss and agree ways on improving the logistics with the Belarussian colleagues within a Work Group format to significantly increase the bilateral trade.
Belarussian side is also interested in incorporating a joint venture to assemble tractors in Georgia. It was agreed at the meeting today that relevant partners will be solicited with support of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.
Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus also expressed readiness to have Belarussian manufacturers bid in tenders announced for the substitution of municipal busses in Tbilisi and Batumi, along with a keen interest in providing elevators with any specific configuration to an interested buyer at the Georgian market.
It was also agreed at the meeting that Belarussian side will work on the allocation of a special place in Minsk for a Georgian grocery store with a concept of AgroHub.