U.S. Embassy Statement on the Appointment of Judges

Published in Justice
Thursday, 15 July 2021 17:23

Parliament’s July 12 decision to approve six Supreme Court judicial nominations, despite an explicit agreement by Georgia’s political leaders in the April 19 Agreement to “refrain from making appointments to the Supreme Court under existing rules”, is extremely disappointing. Unfortunately, this nomination and appointment process, and the failure to undertake inclusive, comprehensive judicial reform, fell short of the commitment Georgia’s leaders, including the ruling party, made to implement the April 19 Agreement in good faith.

The parties agreed to conduct ambitious judicial reform through a broad, transparent process that includes legal experts, civil society, and opposition parties. Unilateral legislative changes, including those adopted against the advice of international partners while the April 19 Agreement was being negotiated, are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Agreement. In particular, the early April amendments to the Organic Law on Common Courts failed to fully address Venice Commission recommendations, including a key recommendation related to staggering judicial appointments. 

The failure to pause the appointment process until after comprehensive judicial reform could take place has real consequences. Legal experts and civil society organizations have highlighted that Parliament’s flawed process did not advance the most qualified nominees, resulting in less-qualified judges receiving lifetime appointments on the court. As a July 9 report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) found, this nomination process, “took place in an environment where there is a lack of public trust in the independence of the judiciary,” and “applications, background checks, and interviews established by the High Council of Justice for these nominations fell short of international standards.” Given this context, it was imperative that Parliament pause the appointment process to allow for inclusive, comprehensive reform reflecting the input of legal experts, civil society, and opposition. Parliament had the authority to do so and a pause would not have unduly burdened the judiciary’s operation. The decision not to do so is therefore very concerning and constitutes a significant missed opportunity to strengthen confidence in Georgia’s judiciary and advance its democratic development.      

The United States stands ready to continue our efforts to support Parliament and the people of Georgia in credible efforts to strengthen the judicial system and the rule of law in Georgia.

Statement by the Spokesperson on the appointments of Supreme Court judges

Published in Justice
Wednesday, 14 July 2021 11:13
The Georgian Parliament endorsed six Supreme Court judges on Monday, despite calls by the European Union to pause and revise the appointment process to bring it in line with European standards. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recently expressed concerns over the fairness and equality of the nomination process in its interim report.
The appointments go against key provisions of the 19 April Agreement to pause all ongoing appointments, comply fully with all recommendations made by the Venice Commission, and overall to increase the independence, accountability and quality of the justice system in a broad, inclusive and cross-party reform process.
Revising the selection process of Supreme Court judges in line with Venice Commission recommendations before proceeding with appointments, is also a mutually agreed condition for the disbursement of the second tranche of EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia under its current programme, which could be negatively affected by this step.
The vote is therefore a missed opportunity for the Georgian authorities to prove their commitment to a genuine and comprehensive reform of the judiciary. These developments carry a risk of damaging judicial independence and public trust.
The EU is open to further talks at the highest levels to discuss justice reform and the way ahead following these developments, notably in the context of the 19 April Agreement and decisions regarding EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia.
 

Statement of the Prime Minister of Georgia

Published in Politics
Monday, 12 July 2021 15:06

"Let me greet our fellow citizens!

I wish to make several statements in reference with the development of events in recent days.

First of all, of course, I would like to once again express my sincere condolences and share the grief of the family of Alexander Lashkarava, his relatives, colleagues and everyone else. Death of any human being is of course a tragedy. It does not matter what the reason may be behind this.

I want to tell the public that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia is working actively. All the relevant actions were taken very efficiency already yesterday. In addition, an appropriate forensic examination is scheduled, at the initiative of the family of the deceased and at the request of the television company, an independent expert is involved in the process and all questions will be answered fully, in the shortest possible time. In addition, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia led by Vakhtang Gomelauri made a statement yesterday, noting that an independent, international expert will be engaged in the process to make sure that no questions are left unanswered.

I also wish to share with you my assessment of the issue in general, on the development of events in recent days.

Of course, it was yet another failed conspiracy against the State, masterminded by anti-state and anti-church forces, which failed and will never be successful in our country.

We all saw that the tragedy of this person was attempted to be used for their own political agenda. What may be more immoral than using the tragedy of a deceased person for one's own political goals?!

Of course, it does not matter what led to the death of Alexander Lashkarava. Every offender will be punished absolutely with full force of the law. Police have already detained 4 individuals, who participated in the beating of the referred individual.

I wish to once again state that any and all forms of violence are intolerable. We condemn and have always condemned, we will further prevent any form of violence in the country. We will not let violence reign in our state!

As for my response measures in general, I condemned the fact of violence on the following morning of course. Violence targeted against journalists and cameramen is of course absolutely unacceptable. It is an unimaginable fact and we of course condemn it. Police efficiently responded to the matter on the following day.

Secondly, I wish to once again remind the public how the events were developing prior to the fact and how we reached that day.

You may well be aware that I made a statement in advance to the event on July 5, announcing that a very large, wide-scale provocation was planned against our country and our population. I indicated the specific name and surname of the person behind the revenging, radical conspiracy. It is Mr. Saakashvili and his radical groups. Questions were asked on the linkage of the LGBT community and event organized by them specifically with Saakashvili. One of the co-organizers and supporters of the referred event was NGO Shame, which is absolutely managed by organizations of Saakashvili. It is a confirmed fact, my friends. I also wish to tell you that a wide-scale civil collision was masterminded with an engagement of police army and the perpetrators were aiming at making the State use its power against our own people and citizens. Of course, we prevented it. We had all the risks assessed well in advance and we did not make it happen. However, what actually happened - let me repeat - is utterly bad and unfortunate, however I wish to remind everyone that violence happens everywhere and in any country of the world. Let me remind several facts to our public: in the heart of Europe - France and not only, in Great Britain, everywhere - we remember uninterrupted violent, aggressive street rallies and demonstrations lasting weeks and wounding dozens and hundreds of people. Many died or were wounded. We also remember the violent, aggressive street rallies in the USA that lasted months. Private cars were set on fire and private property got damaged in many cities, people were killed... Let me repeat that we assessed these risks well in advance in our country and said that this is impermissible. We told the LGBT community and Ambassadors of our partner countries prior to the event that the so-called parade on Rustaveli Avenue contained provocative signs and nature, thus making it unjustified to be held downtown. Violence, offences and crime happening in a state may not be generalized. Of course, it may happen any time, in any country, but it does not mean that it should ultimately lead to chaos and disorder. I wish to once again state that I personally guarantee that all the offenders participating in the referred provocation will be exemplary punished. I do not want to talk about speculations as the investigation is working on several versions, covering the insights on how the mentioned aggressive individuals happened to be targeting journalists and cameramen in their attacks. This is a legitimate question, which should be addressed by the investigation. There is a version that the referred provocation may have been masterminded by the revenging, radical power. We remember it well and nobody will forget the methods with which the referred offenders and killers were governing our country, when even terrorist attacks were planned to achieve their political goals against our population.

As for the rally held yesterday in general, I wish to share my own opinion and assessment with the public. There were classic anti-state, anti-church and therefore anti-national messages that were voiced yesterday. We witnessed aggressive calls for jailing the Patriarch. I do apologize for repeating it publicly. They were also calling for our resignation. This is understandable. It is normal. It is their dream. However, I wish to tell the public who was calling for all these. In general, we welcome the presence of an independent, unbiased media in our country and we do our best to develop a free and unbiased media community in the country to have unbiased journalists. We will do everything required to make it happen. I once again express my respect to them, as many professionals are working in media, but let us stay away from being deceived - without extra coquetry - let us say straight - opposition television companies well known by public - Mtavari Arkhi, TV Pirveli and Formula - are directly managed by Saakashvili and embezzled public funds. Respectively, agendas of the UNM and revenging, radical power are absolutely identical. They have one common goal to somehow overthrow the government and come to power by violence again, which is of course unachievable. We will not let it happen! I wish to remind them that the only way to come to power is through elections, my friends. You are well aware that several elections are ahead. They have been losing all the previous ones and will lose the upcoming one again. We will have a convincing victory at the upcoming elections.

I wish to once again share my own assessment of why we went against the so-called parade. Well, why is it called a parade, to start with? I know only one parade that is held in our country and that is of our army. Other names and locations exist for any other event that may be held for the freedom of expression. Police did offer them several. Let me remind the public that LGBT community was gathering prior to that for 3 days absolutely with no barriers and celebrating this week. No restrictions or aggression were witnessed. Police prevented all of the latter. However, when 95% of our population is against a demonstratively promotional march or parade, we should all comply with it, my friends. It is the viewpoint of an absolute majority of our population. Being an elected choice of our people, our authorities need to be considerate of it. We will always do so. It will no longer happen that minorities decide the fate of the majority in this country, when any decision was taken in a violent manner. This is not a signature of future.

Let me remind the public that we did our best to assure the freedom of expression as promulgated in the Constitution of Georgia and guaranteed by law. Inter alia, we passed an Anti-Discrimination Law to eradicate discrimination of any form and our citizens have no problem towards people of different orientation in ordinary, daily life, however when events get organized in a provocative manner with a political agenda - it is unacceptable. We will contradict this as we know who is behind it. Political agenda is backing this, nothing else. Police have detained offenders. No compromise will be made from our side. We should not let it happen. We remind every abuser that they will be held accountable. On the other hand, police worked at a very high level when there was a risk of clash between the conflicting sides on the following day and 100 individuals were detained at the rally. Almost 3500 policemen were deployed in the capital city on July 5. Let me remind you that we expected the main event to start from 17:00 to 18:00. Of course, these violent facts were not in the intestates of the Government or Church either. Respectively, it was only within the interests of one individual and one revenging political power. It may be said quite freely that it was within the interests of Russia as well to instill national division. Perpetrators wanted to see a split in the society again by even presenting the European values in a wrong manner, by discrediting it. All of these, of course, are well conceptualized by our opponents, but they intentionally repeat and do what is not within the interests of our country.

Thus, I wish to once again tell our public that we have absolutely full control over the situation. Any individual has the right to gather at any time - be it media representative, opposition media or other - and express own opinion within the frameworks of the law and Constitution of Georgia. However, I wish to say herewith that any attempt of going beyond the law or Constitution, will be prevented with maximum severity. Everyone will be punished most harshly in the name of the State and law, if and when they go beyond the law or Constitution of Georgia.

We now have a new main agenda to advance our country and quickly recover our economy. We have a positive trend and you may well agree that a very high economic growth was achieved in the volume of 45%, while 25% was witnessed in May. Our economy grew by 11% in the first 5 months of the year.

We are launching very significant renovation programs in every municipality of the country in the coming 1-2 weeks.

Sadly, destructive opposition forces want to derail all these plans. They will not be able to prevent this. We stand as a guarantee to making this process and development path continue in future. Of course, we will have elections in October and we should all - the entire State - be mobilized and we are indeed to hold elections in the most open and peaceful manner so that our citizens once again make their choice.

Herewith, let me share information on the most recent decision: We are appointing two Deputy Prime Ministers of Georgia today. Ms. Thea Tsulukiani and Mr. Levan Davitashvili will serve as Deputy Prime Ministers from now on.

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan

Published in World
Monday, 12 July 2021 10:38

In recent days, a number of Russian media outlets have been spreading unproven and plainly biased reports about the situation on the Turkmen-Afghan border.

In particular, RBC TV channel spread untrue information about the alleged deployment of Turkmenistan's military equipment and artillery to the border with Afghanistan, which means nothing but false information in the pursuit of cheap sensation.

In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan declares that thanks to the brotherly relations of the two neighboring states and their peoples, the Turkmen-Afghan border is the border of friendship and cooperation. According to the Ministry of Defense of Turkmenistan, all military units, their personnel and military equipment at Ministry’s disposal are remaining in the place of permanent basing and continue to carry out planned training in accordance with the program.

In accordance with the old traditions of good-neighborliness, and with strict adherence to the inviolable principles of the international law and obligations enshrined in bilateral agreements, Turkmenistan is committed to maintaining and strengthening peace-loving and good-neighborly relations with the fraternal Afghanistan.

The Turkmen side was and remains committed to objectivity and honesty in the media space, to dissemination of only verified and thoroughly weighted information. This is extremely important under the current conditions of actualization of a number of aspects of international affairs, including the issues of peaceful settlement of the situation in Afghanistan. Turkmenistan stands for the search and implementation of political-diplomatic mechanisms and instruments to restore peace in the long-suffering Afghan land.

 

Press-service of the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan

STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS

Published in Justice
Monday, 05 July 2021 17:51

First of all, the Ministry of Internal Affairs condemns actions motivated by violence, including any form of violence against media representatives. We call on citizens gathered in the streets of the capital to observe law and order, adhere to the rightful requests of the police and protest any issue within the frames of the law. 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation with regard to illegal activities carried out at the offices of the “Shame Movement” and “Tbilisi Pride” in Tbilisi under the Article 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which envisages damage or destruction of another person’s property.

Some of the citizens gathered on Rustaveli Avenue tried to break into the office of the “Shame Movement” behind the Parliament building. Journalists were in the office and were covering the current events. Rally participants also damaged their equipment.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia launched an investigation under the Article 187 (Damage or Destruction of another Person’s Property) on the fact of removal of a flag, destruction and damage of inventory by demonstrators from the “Tbilisi Pride” office located at N17 Akhvlediani Street in Tbilisi.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has already informed the society that, in addition to already mentioned violations, the investigation was also launched on the facts of violence against media representatives and illegal interference in their professional activities occurred today on Rustaveli Avenue. All relevant investigative activities will be carried out on the stated facts and all materials reflecting incidents will be examined.
We call on the mass media members, taking into account the existing risks to cooperate with the police, to take into account the instructions and recommendations of the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The police forces remain mobilized in the streets of the capital and continue maintenance of public order. We once again call on everyone to follow the requirements of the law. Otherwise, the police will act within its’ own mandate and each case of violation will be prevented and a strict legal response will be followed.

Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the 2021 NATO Brussels Summit

Published in military
Wednesday, 16 June 2021 11:49

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the NATO Summit conducted in Brussels on June 14, which resulted in the adoption of important decisions both in the context of Georgia's NATO integration, as well as NATO adaptation to new challenges.
It is important that the communiqué reiterates the 2008 Bucharest Summit decision that “Georgia will become a member of the Alliance” and that Georgia has all "practical tools to prepare for eventual membership."
We welcome the unequivocal and direct reiteration by the Allies that they support Georgia’s sovereign right to choose its foreign policy priorities and no third party can interfere in this process. It is noteworthy that Allies positively assess the progress made by aspirant Georgia in the implementation of reforms in different areas and emphasize Georgia's ability to make a significant contribution to the common Euro-Atlantic security.
It is of special importance for Georgia that the Allies give a proper assessment to Russia's destructive policy in the Black Sea region and express their readiness to further deepen cooperation with Georgia on Black Sea security. Georgia greatly appreciates the firm, consistent and effective support of the Allies to the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-recognition policy. Allies adequately assessed Russian Federation’s attempts to “forcibly separate” the two occupied regions from the rest of Georgia. Allies especially underlined the frequent cases of “borderization”, arbitrary detentions and harassment of Georgian citizens. We welcome the Alliance’s call on the Russian Federation to comply with the August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement. Georgia also welcomes Allies' support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. For Georgia, as a future member of the Alliance, the Summit decisions aimed at strengthening NATO and at addressing modern security challenges, are of special importance. Georgia welcomes the Alliance's decision to update NATO strategic concept, which will be adopted at the NATO’s 2022 Summit. The new concept will be better suited for modern security challenges. It will reaffirm the Alliance's commitment to its core values and set out future directions of NATO's development. Georgia hopes that the issues related to Open Door policy will be adequately reflected in NATO’s new strategic concept and that the concept will take on board the recommendations related to the enlargement policy and Bucharest Summit decision contained in the document "NATO 2030-United for a New Era". Georgia hopes that a clear and concrete strategy of the Alliance on the Black Sea region will be a part of the new strategic concept of NATO. The Allies paid particular attention to the issue of support towards the rule-based international order. It was underlined that Russia, through its illegal actions, constitutes a threat to such an order through undermining the security, stability and democratic values of Allied and partner nations. Importantly the issue of Georgia was discussed under this agenda item as well. We welcome the Alliance's decisions to strengthen its deterrence and defense policy. Since 2014, NATO began to reinforce its south-eastern flank by increasing the readiness of the armed forces and deploying new battlegroups on its territory. It is in this context that NATO has been boosting its presence in the Black Sea region. It is noteworthy that at the Summit, the Allies agreed to improve NATO’s readiness, response and defense. The Georgian side welcomes this decision and hopes that NATO's engagement in the Black Sea region will further increase, which will be a significant deterrent factor and further strengthen security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Member States paid particular attention to strengthening resilience, which is crucial to the Alliance's three core objectives - collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security. Taking into consideration that destructive actors often use conventional and hybrid warfare methods to destabilize Allied and partner nations, Georgia welcomes the strengthening of the Alliance's capabilities in this area and deepening of cooperation with non-member countries in this regard. As an aspirant country Georgia especially values the transatlantic unity principle and the steps taken to strengthen this unity, which constituted one of the main objectives of the NATO 2021 Summit.

Parliamentary parties to sign joint statement in support of Georgia’s NATO Integration

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 08 June 2021 14:21

Georgian parliamentary political parties today will sign a joint statement in support of Georgia’s NATO integration ahead of the June 14 Brussels NATO Summit.

“We, the undersigned parliamentary political parties of Georgia: Guided by the national interests of Georgia and the Constitution of Georgia; Reaffirming the Resolution of the Parliament of Georgia on the Foreign Policy of Georgia adopted on December 29, 2020; Adhering to the principles of the rules-based international order; Adhering fully to the values on which the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is founded; Taking into account that the sustained commitment of NATO Member States to collective defense has ensured ‘Europe whole, free, and at peace’. Noting that the NATO Open Door policy has been a major contributing factor to the democratic transformation of Central and Eastern Europe; Taking into account the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit decision that Georgia will become a member of NATO; Noting that Georgia has all practical tools for NATO membership, continues to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities and progresses in achieving full interoperability with NATO; Taking into consideration that Georgia has demonstrated its commitment to being an important contributor to Euro-Atlantic security through participating in NATO peacekeeping missions and operations. Stand united in supporting Georgia’s NATO membership and declare the following:

  1. We unanimously reaffirm that NATO membership remains a vital national security interest of Georgia, enjoying broad consensual political and societal support.
  2. We express appreciation to the Alliance and its Member States for the essential political and practical support, which allows Georgia to boost its resilience and interoperability with the Alliance as well as to prepare Georgia for the membership in NATO.
  3. We call on NATO and its Member States to continue their close partnership with Georgia as it prepares to implement ambitious reforms jointly agreed by parliamentary political parties to complete democratic consolidation, as well as to provide more vigorous assistance and experience sharing in the fight against emerging and hybrid threats.
  4. We underline the importance of deepening cooperation on Black Sea security. The wider Black Sea security environment has significantly deteriorated in recent years, given that Russian activities threaten regional security and democracies in this region. Taking this into account, NATO’s engagement in the Black Sea as an essential deterring and stabilising factor, has acquired more significance than ever.
  5. We welcome the ambitious report NATO 2030: United for a New Era and express hope that the new Strategic Concept of the Alliance will properly reflect the report’s recommendations on the Open Door Policy as well as NATO’s vision regarding the Black Sea and its role in ensuring Euro-Atlantic security.
  6. We express our joint commitment to stronger NATO acting in defense of peace, democracy and prosperity of freedom-loving nations, including Georgia.
  7. We underscore the importance of moving forward with the political decision bringing Georgia closer to membership in the Alliance. Extending NATO membership to Georgia and other aspiring countries in Eastern Europe will reinforce security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area, deter potential aggressors and bring us closer to a ‘Europe that is whole, free, and at peace’.
  8. We believe that the upcoming NATO Brussels Summit provides an opportunity to register progress on Georgia’s NATO membership path. Since Georgia is not represented at the summit, we ask our NATO partners to take this joint statement of the parliamentary political parties as an explicit multi-party support towards Georgia’s NATO membership.
  9. We stand ready to use all available platforms, including international inter-parliamentary assemblies, to support deeper integration and eventual NATO membership of Georgia,” reads the statement.

The NATO 2030 initiative will be the main issue for discussion at the upcoming Summit of NATO leaders on June 14 in Brussels.

“The goal of our NATO 2030 initiative is to prepare our Alliance for the future. Over the past months, Allies have been consulting closely and constructively; we still have some work to do, but we all agree that we must take ambitious and forward-looking decisions to show transatlantic unity not just in words, but in deeds,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a virtual press conference on June 1.

Source: https://1tv.ge/en/news/parliamentary-parties-to-sign-joint-statement-in-support-of-georgias-nato-integration/

Global Youth Issued Joint Statement on Myanmar’s Human Rights Crisis

Published in World
Wednesday, 28 April 2021 10:25

252 youth organizations with 1.7 million members from 65 countries joined in joint statement advocating peaceful solutions to the human rights crisis in Myanmar. Through this “Joint Statement of World’s Civil Society and Youth on Myanmar’s Human Rights Crisis,” youth organizations take into account international cooperation to increase the collective voice for seeking solutions through talks among the stakeholders of the country.

In the statement, it said, “We urge the head of state of each country and the international community to actively pursue peaceful measures to safeguard the lives of Myanmar’s citizens.” It added, “We urge people and media worldwide to raise their voices in support of finding peaceful resolutions to the current crisis.”

The statement highlighted that global youth’s “commitment to work toward ceasing conflicts, countering violence and establishing sustainable peace through the 2018’s UN Youth Declaration.” Mr. Mainza M Hiyamwa, Chairperson of Chosen Generation Youth Club Solwezi (CGYC) of Zambia, said, “The UN and international society are being the main pillars of peace and security, human rights, and development. It's more vital that we gain access and disseminate information on the range of issues affecting the people of Myanmar. By so doing it would carry more impact and help in the restoration of peace, human rights promotion, and development of the country.”

Mr. Alemayehu Menta, President of Gato Development Association said that the peace of youth should be protected. Also, Mr. Shirwan, Chairman of Peace Generations Iraqi Network told, "I really appreciate that I can do something for world peace."

Facing the current deadlock of counteractions against the humanitarian crisis from the deaths and injuries continually occurring in Myanmar, this global movement by youth organizations has been led by the International Peace Youth Group, an affiliated organization of Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light registered in the UN ECOSOC.

This joint statement was sent to the UN Secretary General, international organizations, governments and civil society organizations.

Press-release of the HWPL

 

Joint statement of the Spokespersons of the EU High Representative/Vice-President and of the US Department of State on the EU mediation

Published in Politics
Monday, 19 April 2021 11:42

After nearly six months of negotiations, the citizens of Georgia have made clear that they want the political crisis to end, and for all elected Members to work together in Parliament and address the serious challenges facing the country, including the regional challenges, COVID, and the economic crisis.

With this in mind, the European Union and the United States call on all Members of Georgia’s Parliament to sign the agreement that European Council President Michel will propose today. This is an agreement all Members can sign in good faith rather than a unilateral action that undermines the goal of a broad-based agreement.

The institutional reforms in the agreement represent important progress for Georgia’s democratic development and are of significant benefit for its citizens, helping to create a more independent judiciary, stronger electoral processes, and a Parliament that can better reflect the voices of all people of Georgia.

Accepting this compromise demonstrates courage and a commitment by all parties to put the needs of the citizens of Georgia first, ahead of the interests of any one political party.

Statement of the President at the Joint Press Points with President Armen Sarkissian of Armenia

Published in Politics
Friday, 16 April 2021 10:29

President Salome Zourabichvili and H.E. Armen Sarkissian, President of the Republic of Armenia, held a face-to-face meeting, followed by an expanded format meeting, after which they issued statements at a joint press point. Below is President Zourabichvili’s statement.

“Mr. President, I am glad to host you in our country. This visit was planned long ago and unfortunately could not be carried out. The pandemic and the conflict in the region have greatly hindered us and we have not been able to organize this visit so far, so I am very happy to have the opportunity to receive you today at the Orbeliani Palace.

“Since our last meeting, we have faced very difficult challenges in the Caucasus.

“On the one hand, the pandemic affected the economies of all three countries, shutting down the world and claiming human lives. However, the casualties caused by the war were much greater for the region and the individual country. I would like to express my condolences and sympathies to the families of those killed during this war, Mr. President.

“As it was during the conflict, Georgia is on the side of peace. As a sign of this, our offer for a platform for meetings, dialogue and to ease the situation remains in place.

“I briefed the President of Armenia, Mr. Sarkissian, on the situation in the occupied territories of Georgia, including illegal borderization, kidnappings, human rights abuses, and the aggravated humanitarian situation and escalations during the pandemic.

“We all understand that any conflict in the region affects the whole region, so peace and cooperation have no alternative for the development of the Caucasus.

“Given the importance of stability in the region, we also discussed the alarming situation in Ukraine. The Black Sea region (and not only) is threatened with escalation and destabilization. We understand how important de-escalation is today for this region as well.

“We discussed the unique future economic potential of our region, with increased interest from various external actors, new plans or platforms. All this proves the great importance of this region. However, the role of the Caucasus countries remains crucial. The countries of the Caucasus must jointly define their future, considering the Caucasus in terms of its transit and other potential, I see it only as an open region.

“The implementation of large-scale projects to bring Asia and Europe across the Caucasus and the Black Sea requires the active participation of the EU, one of the main players, together with everyone and other stakeholders.

“It is important for the EU to be involved in the final settlement of the conflict, as well as in the implementation of following infrastructure plans within the Eastern Partnership.

“We also talked about our bilateral relations to strengthen and implement economic, touristic, and cultural projects.

“We are also proud of the fact that the Georgian citizens of Armenian origin have all the means to preserve the language and culture of their ancestors in this country. At the same time, more needs to be done, mainly by the State, so that they can fully master the state language and thus be able to integrate fully and participate in the economic or political development of the country.

“I am very happy with your visit today. We also discussed some of the initiatives that can be taken at our level, how to encourage business actors to start thinking and working together on specific projects. This will arouse the interest of investors not only for each country but also collectively, as such a format may be much more attractive.

“We started discussing this today, which will continue and which we will give a specific form. I have high hopes for this.

“Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your visit, and I am happy that such a close, friendly relationship has been and will be maintained over time!”

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