Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 22 February 2022 11:48

Georgia is following with concern the latest developments around Ukraine, which pose yet another serious challenge for the European and Global security.
Recognizing Ukraine’s territories - Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states by Russia represents yet another flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international law, and in fact repeats the scenario of Russia’s military intervention into Georgia’s Tskhinvali region in 2008 and subsequent recognition of the independence of this region and of Abkhazia/Georgia, and their occupation. 
Georgia unequivocally supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We express the hope that the international community will give its strict assessment and response to this yet another violation of the fundamental principles of international law, and to the absolutely unacceptable attempt to redraw forcefully the state borders in East Europe.

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the statement made by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Published in Politics
Monday, 13 December 2021 10:41

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers unacceptable the statement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, according to which the Russian Federation "considers it necessary to disavow the 2008 Bucharest Summit decision - that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members".

On April 3, 2008, at the NATO Bucharest Summit the leaders of the NATO member states decided that Georgia (and Ukraine) will become a NATO member. The above-mentioned is an extremely important, consensus-based political decision in line with the fundamental principle of international law that all states have the sovereign right to choose their own foreign policy course. Moreover, this decision is based on Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, according to which any European state, which will further the principles of the Treaty and contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area can become a member of NATO.

NATO integration is a sovereign decision of Georgia, based on the unwavering will of the majority of the Georgian population. This goal is also enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia.

It should be noted that the 2008 Bucharest Summit decision was reiterated at all consequent NATO summits held after 2008. Furthermore, NATO 2021 Brussels summit communiqué underscored that the Allies consider it unacceptable for any third party to interfere in the determination of the countries’ foreign policy priorities.

According to all above-mentioned, any statement made by a third party regarding the revision of the Bucharest Summit decision, which is contrary to the fundamental principles and norms of international law, is unacceptable for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At the same time, it should be emphasized that today the main challenge of the European and Euro-Atlantic security architecture are the actions of the Russian Federation, which has occupied and annexed the territories of neighboring sovereign states, neglected the basic principles of international law and has not fulfilled its own international obligations.

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

U.S. Embassy Statement on Supreme Court Appointments

Published in Justice
Monday, 29 November 2021 13:42

The U.S. Embassy is disappointed that, once again, Parliament is moving forward with Supreme Court appointments before it has completed an independent assessment of the previous waves of judicial reform, as Parliament’s leaders agreed to do.  We are also concerned that judicial appointments are proceeding without the participation of non-judge members of the High Council of Justice. While the High Council and Parliament have rushed through appointment of judges over the past year, there has been no action on non-judge appointments despite the positions being vacant for months. The people of Georgia, through the non-judge High Council members, are supposed to have a voice in the selection of these influential and important judges, who are being appointed to lifetime positions on the Supreme Court. The exclusion of independent voices from this process adds to the impression that Supreme Court judicial appointments are being made without meaningful transparency, accountability, or impartiality.

Before any further Supreme Court judges are appointed, we strongly encourage Parliament to prioritize the appointment of impartial, independent, non-judge members to the High Council of Justice, and complete an independent assessment of the previous waves of reform by Spring 2022. Important work has been done since independence to strengthen Georgia’s judicial branch, with the assistance of the United States and others.  Georgia’s closest partners and supporters, as well as Georgia’s political leaders, are united in agreeing that judicial reform needs to continue. The goal now must be to build an impartial, transparent, merit-based judicial system that the people of Georgia can have full confidence in and that allows the full participation of the many qualified, ethical judges and lawyers who work with integrity to promote the rule of law.  

US Embassy in Tbilisi

Statement by President Salome Zourabichvili

Published in Politics
Monday, 22 November 2021 15:36

I welcome the plan to transfer the former President to the Gori Military Hospital as a place that meets all medical and security standards.

This decision fully responds to the request of the European Court of Human Rights, to which the former President agreed to end his hunger strike if transferred to a multidisciplinary clinic.

I also welcome Elene Khoshtaria's decision to end her hunger strike.

The readiness of the opposition to not hold protests in the vicinity of the clinic is important and the right thing to do, as is the decision of some parties to end their parliamentary boycott.

Today's decisions are steps forward that will ensure the peace of society and the stability of the country.

U.S. Embassy Statement on Conference of Judges

Published in Justice
Thursday, 04 November 2021 10:31

On October 31, while the country was focused on the municipal elections, the Judiciary selected two new members to the High Council of Justice, replacing the previously unannounced early resignation of two sitting members. The process was neither competitive nor transparent. A single candidate was offered for each vacancy. There was little advance notice of the intent to fill the seats left open by the pre-term resignations. There was no opportunity for consultations or participation by a broad range of qualified candidates, nor for meaningful engagement by relevant interlocutors and civil society. It is disappointing that the Judiciary missed the opportunity to show transparency and failed again to elect its representatives through a competitive and democratic election process.

The United States has long sought to build the capacity of qualified and dedicated judges while calling for reforms that would allow for accountability for judges who undermine the legitimacy of the judicial system. This includes seeking legislative amendments to avoid corporatism and to safeguard the principles of democracy, equality, and adherence to the Rule of Law. Judiciary leaders maintain the judiciary is unfairly criticized for the lack of transparent and merit-based appointments, promotions, and transfers. Yet when the Conference of Judges rushes through important decisions without competition or transparency, it demonstrates unwillingness to embrace reforms that would increase transparency, accountability and public trust in the appointment process, the candidates, and in the High Council of Justice. The many qualified, professional members of the judiciary who are shut out by such a closed system deserve better.

An ethical Judiciary is the backbone of a country’s adherence to Rule of Law. An independent and professional judicial system that is trusted by and serves the people is essential to promoting equitable growth and attracting investment by Georgian and foreign businesses. The United States will continue to advocate for and support reforms that will increase accountability, professionalism, and transparency to help Georgia attain the system of justice its people deserve and that is fundamental for Georgia’s chosen path of Euro-Atlantic integration.

U.S. Embassy Statement Following the Second Round of Georgian Municipal Elections

Published in Society
Tuesday, 02 November 2021 11:31

After a long and divisive campaign, the people of Georgia cast their votes in the second round of municipal elections on October 30.  We commend the voters, and dedicated election workers, representatives of Georgia’s professional domestic election observation organizations and NGOs, and international monitors who participated despite the COVID pandemic and a tense election environment.    

We share ODIHR’s assessment that the elections were generally calm and well-administered but allegations of intimidation and pressure on voters persisted and continued polarization, coupled with the escalation of negative rhetoric, adversely affected the process.  Sharp imbalances of resources and an undue advantage of incumbency further tilted the playing field.  ODIHR also noted concerns with the persistent practice of representatives of observer organizations acting as party supporters, at times interfering with the process, and groups of individuals potentially influencing voters outside some polling stations.  While ODIHR found that the CEC organized the second round in a professional and transparent manner, concerns over the impartiality of the lower-level election commissions persisted.  U.S. Embassy election observation teams witnessed similar interference and bias at several precincts.  

As these elections have shown, democracy is a work in progress.  It requires dedication to the highest international standards and vigilance to ensure citizens’ rights and freedoms are protected.  Some of the reforms enacted by Georgia’s political leaders through an inclusive, multiparty process earlier this year, such as automatic recounts and electronic vote counting, largely succeeded in increasing the transparency of the voting process.   

These positive steps forward were undermined, unfortunately, by wide-spread violations in the pre-election period and on both election days that adversely affected the ability of citizens to vote freely.  Rather than improving the atmosphere by addressing problems identified by election observers in the first round, intimidation, offensive rhetoric, misuse of administrative resources, and reports of blatant vote-buying and other violations continued, and a politicized media further inflamed the polarized atmosphere. 

We are particularly troubled by credible reports of violence against election observers and the media during both rounds of the election.  These groups are the cornerstone of any democracy, and attacks against members of the media and election observers must be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Their reports should be viewed as providing valuable information that can improve the electoral process.    

The election process now continues with random recounts of at least 140 precincts and the adjudication of hundreds of complaints.  This phase is both a test and an opportunity for the Central Election Commission and the courts, and it will be critical for these institutions to perform their duties transparently and impartially.  We call on the parties to use the legal mechanisms available and pursue peaceful means to adjudicate election disputes.  Democracy in Georgia will not be strengthened by resorting to violence or pursuing solutions outside the law.  

Each election – even imperfect ones – offers lessons learned and an opportunity to address persistent abuses that have degraded recent elections and eroded the public’s trust in their democratic institutions.  As a start, we urge Georgia’s leaders to enact and implement all the remaining reforms recommended by ODIHR, the Venice Commission, and other international experts.  These recommendations were provided at Parliament’s request and would be a significant step toward ensuring the next elections are an improvement over the last.  

The American people have supported Georgia’s efforts throughout the long, challenging process of building strong institutions, a robust civil society, a professional, pluralistic media, and a government that is responsive to the people.   The recent elections and Georgia’s deeply divisive political environment show much more work is urgently needed.  The United States has offered our friendship as an honest partner to the people and government of Georgia because we believe in Georgia’s future as a stable, prosperous democracy that respects the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.  We remain committed to helping Georgia achieve those goals.  

U.S. Embassy Statement 

Public Defender’s Statement on Mikheil Saakashvili's Detention Conditions

Published in Society
Thursday, 14 October 2021 11:56

The Public Defender's Office has visited the third President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is placed in Penitentiary Establishment No. 12, several times. We have been observing in detail the state of his health and conditions in the penitentiary establishment. We have intensive communication with the administration of the penitentiary system, as well as medical personnel, regarding Saakashvili’s health condition, with the consent of the latter.

It should be noted that no breaches have been reported so far in terms of provision of living conditions for the third President; adequate attention is paid to him by the medical staff of the penitentiary facility.

At the same time, the Public Defender of Georgia would like to respond to the information spread by the Special Penitentiary Service about Mikheil Saakashvili's health condition (blood pressure, pulse, saturation, glucose) and other personal data (items purchased by him). While it is clear that there is a high public interest in the health condition of the third President of the country, the agency has an obligation to inform the public only within reasonable limits. Health-related information belongs to special category data and its disclosure in detail, without the permission of the person concerned, poses a risk of violation of the law on the one hand and may contribute to the prisoner’s distrust towards the penitentiary system on the other hand, including towards the medical personnel.

The issuance of such statements by the Penitentiary Service or high political officials poses an additional risk that the prisoner, who is on a hunger strike, may also refuse to receive medical care. Therefore, we negatively evaluate any statement that pushes the prisoner to resort to a more severe form of hunger strike and further aggravates his health condition.

The Public Defender's Office will continue to monitor the rights situation of the third President of Georgia and will periodically provide information to the public.

Statement of EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell to mark World Car Free Day

Published in Society
Wednesday, 22 September 2021 09:51

In the midst of everything else that is going on these days, I would like to remind you that today is Car Free Day – an annual event organised in numerous cities all around Europe!
The idea of this day is to take a moment and reflect on the future of our cities and towns, and how to make them greener, calmer and more healthy places to live in.
In Georgia, 70% of air pollution is caused by cars and trucks. Here in Tbilisi, the number is even higher, making up for some 90% of total pollution.
Air pollution has a negative impact on health, increasing the risk of respiratory infections, fatigue, and heart and lung diseases.
To clean up the air is a key objective of the European Union, both within the EU itself and here in Georgia. We have been working in Georgia for many years to this end and our ambition remains high, including plans to invest in further equipment to better control air pollution.
We will also continue to invest in more sustainable transport alternatives, all with a view to allow all of us to breathe cleaner air and lead healthier lives.
I hope you will join us!
And with that let me wish you all a carefree Car Free Day.
 
See video at: https://bit.ly/2XD20pg

Statement by president Charles Michel on the political situation in Georgia

Published in Politics
Thursday, 29 July 2021 15:34

Statement by president Charles Michel on the political situation in Georgia: "I have taken note of the decision by the Georgian Dream as regards the 19 April Agreement. This agreement continues to offer a European way towards building a stronger democracy and rule of law in Georgia in the interest of the Georgian people. I have equally taken note of the continued non-signature by United National Movement of the agreement.

I remain convinced that this agreement is the best way to advance a reform agenda which would strengthen the democratic institutions of Georgia and help bring about prosperity, jobs and growth - all much needed to the benefit of the people of Georgia.

I see no alternative to continued in-depth electoral and judicial reforms, and free and fair local elections.

I call on all parties to put the interests of the citizens first and to commit to advancing Georgia’s political discourse within the framework of the country’s democratic institutions. Consultations with a number of political actors in Georgia are starting. Yesterday I met with President Zourabichvili to discuss the situation and EU-Georgia relations".

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