The Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia welcomes the adoption of the constitutional amendments and trusts that the new electoral system will increase the representation of the different layers of society, including the minorities, within the new Parliament. Switzerland will assist Georgia to set up a fair and transparent electoral campaign, based on mutual respect and constructive compromise, and calls on all political actors and media to refrain from personal attacks, including against the members of the diplomatic corps.
Republic Day is a significant date in the life of Azerbaijan. On May 28, 1918, the Declaration of Independence of Azerbaijan was proclaimed in the historical Viceroy’s Palace in that time Tiflis. Thus, the centuries-old tradition of statehood of the Azerbaijani people was revived in a new form of secular democratic republic. Becoming the first republic in the Muslim East, Azerbaijan affirmed the equal rights of all its citizens, regardless of gender, religious, ethnic or social affiliation. In the country, earlier than among many leading European nations, women's suffrage was guaranteed. All ethnic groups were represented in the Parliament of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR).
Noteworthy is such an important circumstance as – ADR closely coordinated its efforts in the foreign policy arena with the Georgian Democratic Republic. So, in 1919, our countries concluded a defensive pact against the common threat posed by Denikin’s troops. The independence of both states was de facto recognized by the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers under a decision of January 11, 1920. It is truly symbolic that the sketch of the ADR coat of arms, taken as the basis of the current coat of arms of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was proposed by Prince Alexander Shervashidze, who was then in Baku.
Alas, that time global political situation did not allow Azerbaijan to maintain its independence. In April 1920, Baku was occupied by the Red Army. And less than a year later, the Georgian Democratic Republic fell under the blows of the Bolsheviks. All this once again demonstrated that the destinies of our countries are intertwined with history. The successes of one lead to the good of the other. And vice versa, the trouble of one is reflected in the next.
Being a part of the USSR, Azerbaijan also strove to develop friendly contacts with Georgia; outstanding representatives of the intelligentsia of both countries were connected by warm and close relations. Our peoples continued to crave for each other. The crown of this cooperation was the friendship between the leaders of the republics – Heydar Aliyev and Eduard Shevardnadze, whose activities laid the foundations for the restoration of the countries’ independence.
Returning to the leadership in Azerbaijan after the collapse of the Soviet Union and taking the country away from the edge of the abyss in 1993, Heydar Aliyev began to systematically strengthen the foundations of statehood. He became a true architect of the today’s Republic of Azerbaijan, identifying key areas and a strategy for its development. It is no coincidence that the main export pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, the construction of which through the territory of Georgia became the triumph of Heydar Aliyev’s oil diplomacy, is inextricably linked with his name.
Relying on the strong foundation of modern effective statehood, the Republic of Azerbaijan, under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, has developed successes in all areas: reducing poverty from almost 45% in 2003 to less than 5% by now, developing social infrastructure, technological modernization, stimulating the non-oil sector, ensuring dynamic stability within the country and strengthening its prestige in the international arena. In this connection, it’s enough to recall at least such momentous events as the election of Azerbaijan as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from a group of Eastern European states for 2012-2013 and the country's chairmanship in the Non-Aligned Movement, uniting 120 states, which began in 2019.
Azerbaijan is successfully building up cooperation in all significant vectors: from the European Union to the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the Council of Europe, from NATO to UNESCO, etc. Of course, the strengthening of strategic partnership with neighboring countries occupies a special place in the system of priorities, and among them Georgia traditionally plays the role of our closest good neighbor, whose brotherhood has passed the test of the long history and the collisions of the present stage.
Our countries, like a hundred years ago, continue to coordinate their activities, invariably provide mutual support to each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Like a hundred years ago, we have similar problems, we feel common pain. One fifth of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan is under occupation. A fifth of Georgia’s territory has also been occupied.
The people and the state of Azerbaijan are determined to restore international law and justice, to ensure the violated rights of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons who have been subjected to ethnic cleansing in their own country and forcibly expelled from their homes. Strengthening the Azerbaijani state’s power significantly increased the ability to assert its rights and eliminate the consequences of the illegal use of force against it. And everyone can be sure that the success of Azerbaijan in this direction will create conditions for improving the situation in the region as a whole.
Today, celebrating Republic Day, the Azerbaijani people rely on their own strengths and actively use the potential of international cooperation. We are convinced that only by developing a mutually beneficial partnership it’s possible to confidently continue forwarding on the path of progress and prosperity. In its turn, the progress and prosperity of Azerbaijan will always benefit its good neighbors and Georgia, of course, in the first instance.
Press Service of the Embassy
of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Georgia
Archil Talakvadze, Leader of the Parliamentary Majority has been elected Chairman of the Georgian Parliament. The 94 MPs voted for Talakvadze’s election on the post and 1 – against.
The 101 lawmakers underwent registration for the balloting. MPs of the National Movement and European Georgia parties did not participate in the voting process.
Archil Talakvadze replaced Irakli Kobakhidze on the post of Chairman of Parliament. Kobakhidze quit the post several days ago amid protests after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov took the seat in the Georgian parliament.
Talakvadze served as Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs in 2014-2016. He was Deputy Minister of Penitentiary, Probation and Legal Assistance in 2012-2014.
Speaking at the solemn ceremony to mark Georgia’s 20 years as a member of the Council of Europe, Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), congratulated the country for having progressed far along the path of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
“Georgia’s accession to the Council of Europe 20 years ago was a major step in consolidating democratic institutions and a huge boost for reforms in several important areas. I highly congratulate Georgia for the significant progress made over 20 years: it is a more stable Georgia, based on strong democratic institutions, that is preparing to chair the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from November 2019 to May 2020,” said the President.
Ms Maury Pasquier welcomed, in particular, the significant progress made in a number of key areas, including the fight against corruption, reform of the judiciary and the smooth functioning of Parliament. She emphasised that this progress was made possible thanks to the political will and constant efforts of all Georgia’s institutions and political players, along with input from Council of Europe bodies and experts.
“I am proud that Council of Europe bodies and institutions – including the Venice Commission, the Human Rights Commissioner, GRECO and also our Assembly – have been associated with the most important reforms in order to provide the most appropriate expertise. I am sure that this close co-operation will be further strengthened over the next 20 years, and that Georgia will continue to take advantage of our expertise and put our recommendations into action, and that the Council of Europe will continue to benefit from Georgia’s experience and achievements,” she said.
“Georgia now needs to preserve and further develop this democratic acquis, and I am sure that, with the support of the Council of Europe, it will be able to meet the remaining challenges and continue to make progress. In the same way, I hope that with Georgia’s support and input into our organisation, we will also be able to meet the challenges we face,” she concluded.
During her working visit to Georgia, Ms Maury Pasquier met with the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze, President Salome Zourabichvili, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and the members of the Georgian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly.
This week, the Parliament of Georgia presented an Action Plan that outlines key parliamentary activities for 2019-2020 designed to support the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement.
Organised with the assistance of the EU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the presentation event brought together Georgian law-makers and representatives of civil society, diplomatic missions and international organizations.
Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the EU to Georgia, noted the increased role of the parliament in the implementation of the Association Agreement.
“The EU acknowledges Georgia’s good progress in the implementation of the country’s commitments under the Association Agreement,” Ambassador Hartzell said. “The Parliament of Georgia, as a key institution in this parliamentary democracy, plays an indispensable role in overseeing the implementation process and ensuring further democratic and other reforms.”
The Action Plan has been developed based on the findings of a baseline study supported by the EU and UNDP in 2017.
The Action Plan was adopted by the Parliament Bureau on 19 March 2019. It aims to streamline parliamentary activities and foster a strategic and uniform approach to the process across all involved committees. Three strategic goals described in the Action Plan refer to law-making and legislative approximation, oversight of the implementation of the Association Agreement, and effective public outreach and communication.
The Assembly today called for a series of measures aimed at stopping sexism and sexual harassment in politics, including in parliaments. These recommendations are addressed to national parliaments, but also to political parties and governments.
They focus on raising awareness of this phenomenon (which is commonplace but widespread and systematic) through surveys and public debate, as well as the introduction of effective complaint procedures and mechanisms for parliaments with effective sanctions that are proportional to the seriousness of the facts and accessible to both Members and staff. Data collection, monitoring and research in this area should also be intensified.
Following the proposals of the rapporteur, Thorhildur Sunna AEvarsdottir (Iceland, SOC), the Assembly also called for the modification of its Code of Conduct to introduce an explicit ban on sexism, sexual harassment and sexual violence, and a reference to the protection of dignity.
As the extent of the problem of violence against women in politics has started to be understood only very recently - as part of the #MeToo movement and following a joint IPU/PACE study - all parliaments are invited to join and support the #NotInMyParliament initiative.
Overcoming of the “Hate Speech” in Georgia must start by the active engagement of the parliament, such narratives were mentioned on a meeting at Shota Rustaveli Hall of the Parliament of Georgia on January 15, where it was presented the publication by “XXI Century” and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Publication emphases the aforementioned problem and the European experience how to deal with it.
Our new book -"Hate Speech" - The book, the first publication in Georgia involving comprehensive materials on hate speech, deals with general information on hate speech and its definition, respective international legal documents and recommendations, relevant decisions by the European Court of Human Rights, hate speech in the laws of the EU member states and ECRI recommendations for Georgia.
The publication has been prepared by the Union Century 21, within the scope of the project "The Problem of Hate Speech and Facilitation to its Resolution in Georgia".
The project was implemented with the support of Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung.
The Georgian Parliament has approved the state budget for the upcoming year of 2018.
The document presented by new Financial Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, was unanimously approved by the MPs with 111 votes in favor.
Debates and discussion preceded the voting all day long.
The total volume of the state budget increases reaching 12,441 billion GEL.
The hereby Agreement will allow Georgian entrepreneurs introducing own goods and services to the largest world market without bureaucratic impediments.
Besides, the agreement will facilitate to increase of trade turnover between the signatory countries. The document provides active cooperation in various directions and defines free trade conditions.
The Agreement facilitates to economic development of the country and better employment. Besides, the document will encourage entry of potential foreign investors to Georgia.
The negotiations on the agreement started on November 10, 2015 in China within the World Economic Forum after the meeting of the Prime Ministers of Georgia and China. Georgia is the first country in the region with free trade agreement with China.
The European Commission for Democracy through Law (the “Venice Commission”) published today its new draft opinion on the draft Constitution of Georgia as adopted in the second reading in June 2017, as well as on the letter submitted by the Georgian authorities to the Venice Commission on 20 September 2017, in which they committed themselves to consider new amendments.
The Venice Commission in its draft opinion reiterated its previous positive assessment of the draft Constitution, but once again underlined that any major constitutional reform must reach the widest possible consensus.
A major obstacle to reaching consensus, the report says, is the postponement to October 2024 of the entry into force of the proportional system for election of the Parliament. The Venice Commission called it “undoubtedly highly regrettable” as the passage to the proportional system is “the most important aspect of the reform”. “However, the commitment of the parliamentary majority in the letter of 20 September 2017 to consider allowing party blocks, together with the reduction of the election threshold to 3% at the 2020 elections is to be welcomed, since those amendments aim to alleviate the negative effects of the postponement.”
The new complex system for the distribution of unallocated mandates adopted in the second reading reduces the effects of the bonus for the winning party, but still very much favours the strongest party in the country. The bonus system is also a main obstacle to the acceptance of the Constitution by opposition parties and civil society, and the Venice Commission therefore strongly welcomes the commitment of the parliamentary majority to consider abandoning the bonus system altogether and adopting the full proportional distribution system as from 2024. “Such a system would favour pluralism in parliament and be fully in line with European standards. The Venice Commission expects that this step will not only be considered but immediately adopted,” the document says.
The Venice Commission has also welcomed, inter alia, the introduction of the requirement of a qualified majority of 2/3 of the votes of the Election Board in a presidential election; the lifetime appointment for the judges of the Supreme Court; the abolition of probationary periods for judges as from 31 December 2024; and the election of the Public Defender for a longer term (6 years instead of 5) by a qualified majority in parliament.
Additional recommendations provided by the Venice Commission include removing the prohibition of “creation of political parties on territorial grounds”, reconsidering the rules limiting the role of the Constitutional Court in reviewing electoral legislation; and modifying the process of the appointment of Supreme Court judges to better guarantee their independence.