In a joint statement, MEPs deplore that Georgia’s political leaders did not agree to EU mediator Christian Danielsson’s proposal and announce consequences in terms of EU-Georgia relations.
Following a meeting on 1 April with Christian Danielsson, personal envoy of European Council President Charles Michel for the EU-mediated political dialogue in Georgia, leading MEPs issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply disappointed with the political leaders in Georgia for their inability to reach an agreement last Tuesday despite the best efforts deployed by the European Union to help put an end to the current political crisis. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties taking part in the discussions are to be blamed for this outcome and a special responsibility lies with the party in government.
We reiterate our strong support to Christian Danielsson’s tireless work and welcome the publication of the proposal he made to the political parties, which further increased the transparency of the mediation process. It is essential to rebuild confidence between political party actors. The content of this proposal is indeed the right way ahead for Georgia: ambitious electoral and judicial reforms, meaningful sharing of responsibilities in the Georgian Parliament and, most importantly, a solution on future elections and on two cases of politicised justice. This solution is politically balanced and respects both the rule of law and the international assessment of the 2020 elections. We also welcome the idea of a Jean-Monnet Dialogue process supported by the European Parliament, when the political situation allows.
Following the refusal from the political parties to compromise, Georgia’s leaders should not expect a return to business as usual from the European Union. The European Parliament in particular will call for consequences in terms of EU financial assistance, including both a suspension of further disbursements of and an increase in conditionality linked to EU Macro Financial Assistance and budget support programmes.
In the meantime, the adoption of ongoing electoral and judicial reforms in the Georgian Parliament requires broad political support and the need to fully implement the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. These reforms are key to rebuild trust. We call on the ruling party to ensure a genuinely inclusive process to avoid the further undermining of both future elections and the judiciary, as well as unnecessarily closing the door to a possible agreement in the future.
We call on Georgia’s leaders to take action immediately. The future of EU-Georgia relations is at stake.”
The increasing frictions between political parties in Georgia following the November 2020 parliamentary elections and the arrest of the opposition leader in mid-February have sparked a major political crisis in Georgia. The EU is actively engaged to help overcome the tensions among Georgia's political parties. Christian Danielsson, European Council President Charles Michel's personal envoy, conducted in Tbilisi two rounds of mediation among the parties and presented a proposal for a way ahead for Georgia. The European Parliament strongly supports his efforts.
Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (The Greens/EFA, Germany), lead member of the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group for Georgia;
Sven Mikser (S&D, Estonia), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Georgia;
Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine;
Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Belarus.
Georgia: progress made in fighting human trafficking, but improved victim identification and strengthened criminal justice response required
Strasbourg, 16.03.2021 – In its third report on Georgia’s implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Council of Europe’s anti-human trafficking monitoring body, GRETA, focuses on trafficking victims’ access to justice and effective remedies. The report acknowledges progress in implementing the Convention but calls on the authorities to step up their efforts to investigate cases of human trafficking and bring the perpetrators to justice, making sure that victims receive compensation and support towards their rehabilitation.
Since the previous evaluation by GRETA, the Criminal Code of Georgia has been amended to ensure proper qualification of human trafficking offences. Further, the number of special mobile groups set up to carry out the preliminary identification of victims of trafficking was increased from three to four. The number of labour inspectors was also increased, and they received training on detecting cases of human trafficking and forced labour.
Victims of trafficking are entitled to free legal aid during criminal proceedings, which is provided by specifically trained lawyers. GRETA welcomes the existence of a specific legal provision on the non-punishment of victims of trafficking for offences they were compelled to commit, as well as the expansion of the victim and witness co-ordinator services.
However, GRETA considers that additional steps should be taken to ensure that victims and witnesses of human trafficking are provided with effective and appropriate protection from potential retaliation or intimidation. The authorities should further ensure that access to legal aid is guaranteed as soon as there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person is a victim of trafficking, before the persons concerned have to decide whether or not they want to co-operate with the authorities.
Only three victims of human trafficking have received compensation from perpetrators through civil proceedings, and there has been only one judgement in human trafficking cases resulting in the confiscation of assets, the report says. GRETA urges the authorities to take vigorous measures to facilitate and guarantee access to compensation for victims of trafficking, including by introducing a procedure through which victims are entitled to obtain a decision on compensation from the offender as part of the criminal trial, and making full use of the legislation on the freezing and forfeiture of offenders’ assets to secure compensation to victims of trafficking.
In the period 2015-2018, a total of 80 investigations were conducted into human trafficking cases, and there were 15 convictions. GRETA notes with concern that there have been no convictions for trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation and urges the Georgian authorities to ensure that human trafficking cases are not re-qualified as other offences which carry lighter penalties.
GRETA is concerned by the decrease in the number of victims identified and the high threshold required to grant the status of victim of human trafficking. GRETA urges the authorities to take further steps to proactively identify victims of trafficking, including amongst foreign workers, asylum seekers and persons placed in immigration detention centres.
The Georgian authorities should also strengthen their efforts in the areas of prevention of child trafficking, paying increased attention to the link between trafficking in children and the use of information and communications technology.
Georgia is primarily a country of origin and, to a lesser extent, a country of destination and transit of victims of trafficking in human beings, according to the report. The total number of victims identified in the period 2015-2019 was 66. Until 2018, the majority of the identified victims were women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but in 2019 all identified victims were Georgian children, trafficked for the purpose of production of child sexual abuse images (23 girls aged from 8 to 18 years) or exploitation of begging (two boys and four girls).
The Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) is an independent body which monitors the way countries implement the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. So far, forty-six of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe are bound by the Convention, as well as Belarus, a non-member state.
The Court has delivered its judgment in the inter-State case of Georgia v. Russia (II) concerning allegations by the Georgian government that certain administrative practices of the Russian Federation had breached the Convention, in the context of the armed conflict between the two States in August 2008.
In the Court’s view, the events which took place during the active phase of the hostilities (8 to 12 August 2008) did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. However, it held that the Russian Federation had exercised “effective control” over South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the “buffer zone” during the period from 12 August to 10 October 2008, the date of the official withdrawal of the Russian troops. After that period, the strong Russian presence and the South Ossetian and Abkhazian authorities’ dependency on the Russian Federation indicated that there had been continued “effective control” over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Court therefore concluded that the events occurring after the cessation of hostilities – that is, following the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 – had fallen within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. It found a number of violations of the Convention.
Civilization of grape vines and the brand-new energetic best tourism destination: An exclusive interview featuring Archil Kalandia, the Georgian Ambassador to China
With a history of 3000 years, Georgia is reputed as "God's Forgotten Backyard". For anyone that has visited Georgia has experienced the landscape's gorgeous mountains and rivers, the people's sincere and honest local customs and the country's exceptionally fragrant wine and unforgettable nature.
Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, which joined the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) in 2019 becoming a member city, is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Europe. The city is now among the "European Best Destinations" since its overwhelming uniqueness never ceases to impress tourists, due to its long history, abundance in cuisine, diversity of architecture and numerous attractions. This alluring city shows the public the perfect fusion of the past and the present.
Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, named Tbilisi as the "World Book Capital 2021". Around the slogan "Ok. So your next book is…?", the program focuses on the use of modern technologies as powerful tools for encouraging young people to read.
So, what are the unique charms that Georgia possesses to make itself a favored destination? Archil Kalandia, the Georgian Ambassador to China, unveiled the mystery of this country for us this autumn in the Embassy of Georgia in China.
"Tbilisi is a part of my life"
Tbilisi is one of the oldest capitals in Europe. The name of the city is first mentioned in historical sources from the fourth century; however, it was not a capital then, but a fortified city. Convenient geographical location has contributed to the development of Tbilisi, turning it into a prominent hub between Europe and Asia.
Ambassador Kalandia was born in Tbilisi which is not simply the capital of Georgia but also a part of his life. Tbilisi is a city of rich culture and diversity. "You can visit Orthodox church, Jewish synagogue and Muslim mosque on one street in Tbilisi. This is because the diversity of people and culture in Tbilisi is profound." Tbilisi has been an open, inclusive and friendly city where Jews, Armenians, Azerbaijanis and other ethnic minorities live along with Georgians. A fervent historical and cultural atmosphere is displayed throughout the avenues and streets of Tbilisi. Colorful architecture blending the elements of the past and present shows the casual and simple lifestyle of this city. All the traits of human civilizations tell the history of Tbilisi.
"We are two of the most ancient countries in the world. That is why mutual understanding is much easier for two countries. As an ambassador, a long record of cultural and historical ties between two countries makes my duty more meaningful and easier." Ambassador Kalandia also stated that, due to the aforementioned advantages, Georgia is also playing an important role in the modern Belt and Road Initiative.
7 million bottles of wine exported from Georgia to China
As you have never expected, Georgia is the oldest wine region of the world and, therefore hailed "the cradle of wine". Wine is an integral part of Georgians' lives. They "raise their glasses and toast to celebrate the birth of a new life and bid farewell to the deceased by raising another glass of wine".
Speaking of wine, Ambassador Kalandia introduced to us with passion that "Georgia has uninterrupted history of viticulture and Winemaking which counts 8000 years. We also have special technology for wine-making "Qvevri", which is on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. In Georgia, especially the eastern part, you can find self-produced wine in many families with very special winemaking methodologies. This is why one of the symbols of Georgia is the vine. Georgia is home to at least 525 distinct grape varieties."
The Majority of linguists agree that semantic meaning of the word "wine" is rooted only in Georgian language. The root of the word "ghv" is purely Georgian and is found in many Georgian words. GVINO and then vino, vin, wine and etc.
Nowadays, China has become one of the major importers of Georgian wine. With its traditional and unique wine-making technology and delicate, diverse tastes, wine produced in Georgia is gradually becoming the new normal on Chinese tables. Ambassador Kalandia said, "When I first came to Beijing in 2005, wine culture was becoming more and more popular in this country. Georgia is the only country in the Region with free trade agreement with China. 7 million bottles of wine were exported from Georgia into Chinese market last year and we are trying to increase the amount in the post-pandemic era."
After we completed the interview, the ambassador also invited us to sample collected Georgian wine of various kinds.
"It's a huge responsibility to represent my country here in China"
In total Ambassador Kalandia has lived in Beijing more than 10 years. While being asked to choose a word to describe the Chinese capital, Ambassador Kalandia used "powerful". "Beijing is the political center of China where historical events have taken place. The city is developing very rapidly. It is an amazing place and I can see the power of this city every day."
Ambassador Kalandia has also visited many Chinese cities besides Beijing, with Kunming, Chengdu and Hangzhou being his favorite. As for the features of these cities, Ambassador Kalandia remarked in a familiar tone: "Kunming is a city with amiable climate, hospitable people and a long history. Many historical locations can be found in Sichuan, a place that highly resembles Georgia. Like Georgians, people there can see beautiful mountains and enjoy savoring wine. I like Hangzhou for its historical, modern and interesting features." He finished the talk by saying "but definitely Beijing is number one."
Ambassador Kalandia belongs to the post-80s generation. While being asked about his work as an ambassador in China, he replied: "I am very privileged. For me, it's a huge responsibility to represent my country here in China. My daily life is dedicated to strengthening and deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation between two countries." He also admitted that his backgrounds of being a sinologist (Ambassador had published Monography - Transformation of China in XXI Century and more than 10 articles regarding the Reforms and Opening Up Policy of China) and a professional economist of oriental countries have contributed a lot to his daily work and life. "As an ambassador, I can say that my work is full of challenges".
Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on approval of the programme on creation of common socio-economic space between the Russian Federation and the occupied Abkhazia region of GeorgiaFriday, 27 November 2020 10:18
Approval of the programme on creation of common socio-economic space between the Russian Federation and the occupied Abkhazia region of Georgia represents another illegal step towards de-facto annexation that envisages gradual integration of Georgia’s indivisible regions into Russia’s military, political, economic and social systems.
The so-called “treaty on alliance and strategic partnership” concluded between the Russian Federation and its occupation regime in Sokhumi in November 2014 as well as all subsequent so-called “agreements”, “memoranda” or “programmes” are illegal and cannot have any legal effect. Through such provocative steps and hybrid warfare instruments, the Russian Federation blatantly violates the fundamental norms and principles of international law, undermines the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, and poses a serious threat to peace and security on the European continent.
We call upon the Russian Federation to cease its destructive actions and illegal steps directed towards de-facto annexation of Georgia’s occupied territories, implement its obligations under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, withdraw its military forces from Georgia’s territory and not to impede creation of international security mechanisms on the ground.
On 22 June, the EU Delegation to Georgia launched the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) campaign. The campaign consists of tips for citizens on saving energy and money, caring about the environment and making their homes more energy efficient.
This year, the EUSEW will run from 22 to 26 June. The event will be held virtually, and the topic will be Beyond the crisis: Clean energy for green recovery and growth.
The EUSEW is the biggest event dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use in Europe. It is organised by the European Commission and brings together public authorities, private companies, non-government organisations and consumers to promote initiatives to save energy and move towards renewables for clean, secure and efficient power.
Find out more
Presidents of EBRD and ADB Confirm Readiness To Help Georgia Return to High Rate of Economic Development in Video Conference With Giorgi GakhariaThursday, 09 April 2020 12:03
Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia held a video conference with the presidents of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) regarding the possible assistance and financial resources to be allocated to Georgia due to the challenges associated with the global pandemic.
Economic problems caused by the global spread of COVID-19 were emphasized during the video conference. Funding allocated by EBRD and ADB to the Georgian private sector, Georgian banks, and other business entities was noted in particular.
The sides also discussed post-crisis measures and the assistance that Georgia might receive from the financial institutions, which would enable the government to continue the state funding programs that are being implemented today to support citizens and private businesses.
It was noted that the government team is actively working with the local representatives, as well as the head offices of both EBRD and ADB to jointly develop a package of measures that will focus on overcoming the ongoing challenges.
According to the assessment of the presidents of the financial institutions, the fact that Georgia is successfully coping with the crisis constitutes sufficient grounds to say that the country will very quickly regain the rate and positions of economic development that it possessed at the beginning of 2020. Suma Chakrabarti and Masatsugu Asakawa confirmed their readiness to actively support Georgia in this area.
The Georgian side stressed that EBRD and ADB are very strong and serious partners for Georgia. It was noted that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development Bank have financed extremely important projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Georgia, including in the area of infrastructure. It was noted that all major systemic infrastructural projects funded by them are still in the active phase of implementation today, despite the ongoing crisis.
The head of government thanked EBRD and ADB for their active cooperation and their support of Georgia.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maia Tskitishvili and Minister of Finance Ivane Machavariani participated in the video conference.
On March 3-4, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will hold an official visit to Georgia. An official welcoming ceremony will be held at the Government Administration. Head of Georgian Government Giorgi Gakharia will host his Armenian counterpart. A face-to-face meeting between the Prime Minister of Georgia and Armenia will be held along with an enhanced format meeting, followed by Giorgi Gakharia and Nikol Pashinyan making statements for the press.
During his official visit, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia will hold meetings with Georgian president Salome Zourabichvili and Chairman of Parliament Archil Talakvadze.
Nikol Pashinyan, together with the Armenian delegation, will visit Heroes Square to pay homage to the memory of the heroes fallen for Georgia's unity.
The official visit of the Armenian governmental delegation to Georgia will conclude on March 4.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Georgia 's work for developing and promoting its tourist potential has been recognised at northern Europe's largest travel industry event with the Foreign Destination of the Year award for the country's representation at the Matka 2020 fair.
The Georgian delegation at the 2019 Travel Awards of the fair, held earlier today within its Matka Trade Day that caters to industry professionals, collected the prize in Helsinki from the Finnish Guild of Travel Journalists.
Matka 2020 targets not only the Finnish tourist segment, but Nordic and Baltic countries as well. Nine companies and organizations represented at the Matka 2020 fair includes: Adjara Tourism and Resorts Department, Adjara-Tour Ltd, Georgia in Contact, Caucasus Travel, World Express, Georgian Travel Group, Voyage Tours, APG, Iberia Tours Plus.