Gayle Smith: Democracy is hard work and it never ends

Published in Politics
Friday, 10 June 2016 15:57

Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development Gayle Smith congratulated the Georgian people on the Day of Independence at an official reception held to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Georgia’s independence in Washington, on 8 June 2016.
“I am truly honoured to be here, to convey you my warmest and deepest congratulations on important and historic occasion. It is not a coincidence that today we are celebrating Georgia’s independence day and the strategic partnership between Georgia and the U.S.”,   Gayle Smith said, addressing the attending guests, “We always support and continue to support Georgia. That matters to you, matters to us. That’s why we work together so long, promoting the development of democratic institutions”. Gayle Smith focused on the Parliamentary elections to be held in Georgia in October.
The USAID Administrator underlined that Georgia is a model, an example of development of the democracy and economy.  “Democracy is hard work and it never ends” Gayle Smith said.
The reception dedicated to the restoration of Georgia’s independence was organised by the Embassy of Georgia in the U.S. and was attended by more than 900 guests. From the Georgian side, the reception was hosted by Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, Ambassador of Georgia in the United State Archil Gegeshidze. From the U.S. side the guests were addressed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin.
 

Tony Blinken: Georgia remains a source of democratic inspiration to the entire region

Published in Politics
Thursday, 09 June 2016 17:27

The Deputy Secretary of State, Tony Blinken congratulated the Georgian people on the Day of Independence at an official reception held to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Georgia’s independence in Washington, on 8 June 2016. The Deputy Secretary of State spoke about the long-standing friendship between Georgia and the United States based on common values of democracy and freedom.According to Tony Blinken, Georgia has served as an example of progress and development for the entire region:
“Your strategic position at the crossroads between Europe and Asia is a critical component of our new Silk Road Policy the United States strongly supports Georgia’s regional leadership to create a web of friendly nations along the transCaspian  corridor to connect the European and Asian markets. Georgia is a key partner in the diversification of trade process across Asia.
We also know that the inclusive road cannot be sustained without the foundations of freedom, pluralism and the rule of law. Today Georgia remains a source of democratic inspiration to the entire region. This is especially remarkable for the fact that Georgia has to tackle Russia’s occupation and borderization. Parliamentary elections this fall provide another opportunity to show the residents of the occupied territories and the wider neighbourhood that democracy, openness and tolerance is the best guarantee towards peace prosperity and stability. The world is watching. We know that Georgia will rise to the occasion”. Tony Blinken once again reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
„We look forward to the day when Georgia is unified once again, because the citizens of Georgia and no one else should make the decisions about Georgia’s future. We stand by the commitment made in Bucharest that Georgia will become a member of NATO and we continue to strongly support its aspirations. When called to meet the challenges of 21st century Georgia never hesitates.  Georgia continues to serve with remarkable honour in Afghanistan as the biggest non-NATO contributor nation to the Resolute Support mission together with the U.S. and Germany. That is extraordinary and Georgia deserves extraordinary credit. And I wish to express my gratitude for their role to make our world just a little better safer”, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State said. Tony Blinken highlighted the strong friendship of the U.S. and Georgian people and wished Georgia success on its path towards development.
“This year a young woman from Tbilisi became among ten young leaders from around the entire world recognized at the State Department for their extraordinary contributions to their communities. Reviewing the achievements over the past 25 years, I have no doubt that those young people will lead the next 25 years and many, many more. On behalf of the people of the United States, I am honoured to offer you all best wishes”, Tony Blinken said.   
 The reception dedicated to the restoration of Georgia’s independence was organised by the Embassy of Georgia in the U.S. and was attended by more than 900 guests. From the Georgian side, the reception was hosted by Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, Ambassador of Georgia in the United State Archil Gegeshidze. From the U.S. side the guests were addressed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin and USAID Administrator Gayle Smith.
 

10 years of cultivating new frontiers in Georgian agriculture

Published in Economics
Monday, 06 June 2016 17:27

Our government works hard to create favorable environment for developing business oriented sustainable agriculture and to turning Georgia into a leading exporter of agricultural products, - Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili noted in his speech CNFA Conference marking the 10th anniversary of presence of the said organization in Georgia. Giorgi Kvirikashvili thanked international organization for the continued service the Georgian agriculture industry and assessed the importance of the projects undertaken by the CNFA. Pursuant to him, the organization has been not only a partner, but a true friend to Georgian farmers.
"Over 10 years, Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) has played a vital role in transforming our country's agriculture. Through the support of the U.S. Government, especially USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Georgia has had the opportunity of being introduced to organizations like CNFA. When conflict erupted in 2008 with Russia, it was through a USAID program that CNFA offered immediate support. There were thousands of displaced persons and farming came to a halt in the conflict zones. Through the USAID Georgia Agriculture Risk Reduction Program (GARRP), CNFA provided essential assistance to local farmers, helped resettle internally displaced persons (IDPs), and ensured a successful spring crop planting and orchard assistance.
In addition, CNFA operated an electronic voucher card system for orchards, in partnership with Cartu Bank. These cards were distributed to more than 17,000 farmers who were able to purchase more than $5.8 million of plant protection products," - Prime Minister noted. According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, in total CNFA supported implementing 8 projects in Georgia. Through USAID and MCC, the US government provided help to more than 430 agricultural enterprises, created over 3,500 jobs and trained more than 140,000 persons.
"Due to this generous assistance, production of agribusiness enterprises, funded in the framework of CNFA projects, exceeded 51 million US dollars.
I am proud of the work that we have been able to do as a result of these kind of partnerships. But I am even more proud to state that CNFA is more than a partner, they are a true friend of Georgia," - was stated by the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister also updated the attendees of the conference on the activities undertaken by the Government of Georgia in the agriculture industry. According to him, over the past four years the Government invested in central features of the agriculture sector. More than 120 irrigation system rehabilitation and renovation projects have been successfully completed. Water supplied agriculture area doubled since 2012.
"After coming to power in 2012, the new government launched new policies for the systematic reform of the agriculture sector, designed to boost exports, create jobs, and increase production. My government works hard to create favorable environment for developing business oriented sustainable agriculture and to turning Georgia into a leading exporter of agricultural products.
Georgia enjoys free trade regimes with the EU, Turkey and the CIS countries. We have completed FTA negotiations with EFTA and are negotiating an FTA with China. This means that Georgia will soon have free excess to more than 2 billion consumers," - Giorgi Kvirikashvili noted.
Prime Minister also outlined the project aimed to foster development of farming cooperatives. Over 800,000 small farmers receive help from state through numerous assistance projects. "Since 2014 almost 1,400 cooperatives were established with more than 12.000 members.
We have launched Preferential Agro Credit and other co-financing projects to create new enterprises and promote geographic diversification in agricultural sector. 148 new enterprises were established and almost 700 expanded through preferential agro-loans and state has co-funded 28 agri-product enterprises. Various new projects as "Plant the Future" help to increase the quality of agriculture products by co-financing seeding nurseries and orchards. A new scientific research center was opened to bring cutting edge research and innovation into local farming practices. To increase local agri-product competitiveness and their compliance with EU standards, a world class phytosanitary laboratory has been recently established.
These are only a few examples of our efforts to revitalize and develop Georgian agriculture. Of course, all this would not have been possible without strong support and dedication of many people sitting in this room. I can say on my government's behalf, that we are ready to work even harder and believe that, together with our international partners, we will make Georgian agriculture a sustainable part of a well-developed economy," - Prime Minister noted. 
In his speech Prime Minister congratulated former CNFA President and CEO and current CNFA Board of Directors member John H. Costello on being awarded with the very distinguished Golden Fleece Order from the President of Georgia for his contribution in the development of Georgian agriculture sector. He also thanked former Ministers of Agriculture of Georgia - David Kirvalidze and Shalva Phiphia. He expressed hope that with the support of international partners, Georgian agriculture will become a sustainable part of a well-developed economy. The opening speech was delivered by the President and the CEO of CNFA Sylvain Roy.
Prime Minister's Press Office

Gela Samkharauli studied the activity of the Cooperatives

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 16:55

Mr. Gela Samkharauli visited the Cooperatives in Telavi and Gurjaani regions accompanied by the Chair of the Agency for Development of Agrarian Cooperatives, Giorgi Misheladze to study the activity of the Cooperatives related to gardening, bee-keeping, vinery and crop cultures. The Cooperative “Gile” members started production with American thornless blackberry. The initial 50 plants gave 4 hectares of harvest. They also have peach and apricot gardens. The Cooperative was established in 2014 in Gurjaani with 5 shareholders. As the “Gile” Chair, Izolda Kitesashvili stated, the Cooperative obtained the grant by USAID for fruit dehydrator. “State support and cheap credit were very important for us. It facilitate us to arrange fruit dehydrator and we already have interest from abroad and after due documentation, Georgian blackberry will enter the European market”.
The Bee-keeping Cooperative “Agro AP” consists of 11 members and is located in the village Vazisubani, Gurjaani region. The members enjoy the grant within ENPARD program consumed on small manufacture of ready-made honey. The Cooperative “Bekebi” in the village Vardisubani, Telavi region, consisting of 5 members, holds activity related to vinery and crop cultures.
“Cooperatives are the most important segment of agrarian development. It allows solution of small farm problems, simplifies relations with fiscal institutions. Consolidation of land, financial resource and experience of Cooperative members is positively reflected on production and increased quality means increased incomes. The executive and legislative authorities try to support activation of this process. We try to provide preferences in all state programs. We try to assure the farmers that this is the way to advance”, - G. Samkharauli stated.
“Agriculture is a long-term sphere and this period is not enough to have complete picture but we already witness successful examples. We saw the incomes of the farmers from berry cultures. I would like to recommend to think in this direction as the world market has vast demand on berry and out country has real potential of berry culture production. We can be successful in this direction and not only enter the internal market and substitute import but to think of expert markets”. There are 121 agrarian cooperatives in Kakheti region and 1474 cooperatives country-wide.

2016-2020 Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and Action Plan

Published in Justice
Tuesday, 24 May 2016 16:13

Criminal Justice Reform Interagency Coordinating Council held its working session. The meeting was chaired by Minister of Justice, Thea Tsulukiani. Participants of the meeting also included: Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Nino Gvenetadze; Chairperson of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, Eka Beselia; Also, First Deputy Justice Minister, Alexandre Baramidze, Deputy Minister of Corrections, Tamar Khulordava, and Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Lia Gigauri.
The Interagency Council members assessed the progress made during 2015, and discussed and approved the revised 2016-2020 Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and Action Plan. 
In 2015 and 2016, the Council has been working intensively and fruitfully. Within its framework, the Council initiated and implemented a number of reforms, including:

  • Judicial reform;
  • Prosecutorial reform;
  • Institutional reform of the police - police and security functions have been separated and separate structural units of the State Security Service has been established;
  • Juvenile Justice Code;
  • Reform of the Criminal Code;
  • Reform of the Criminal Procedure Code;
  • Jury trial reform;
  • The legislative package for the pre-trial probation service;
  • The legislative package for tightening of arms trafficking;
  • Classification of prisoners according to the risk in - low, medium, and high risk categories, for the purpose of ensuring better security conditions in the penitentiary system;
  • A new concept for substitution of imprisonment with house arrests.

 
The Council approved today the revised 2016-2020 Criminal Justice Reform Strategy and Action Plan, which covers the following areas:
 

  • Criminal legislation reform;
  • Juvenile justice reform;
  • Judicial reform;
  • Prison reform;
  • Probation system reform;
  • Police reform;
  • Prosecutorial reform;
  • Legal aid service reform;
  • Re-socialization and rehabilitation of the criminal justice system;
  • Legal education reform;
  • Public Defender's Office.

 
The members of the Criminal Justice Reform Inter-Agency Coordinating Council are the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, representatives of the Georgian Bar Association, the Young Lawyers Association, the Constitution Article 42, the fund - Global Initiative on Psychiatry - Tbilisi, 21st Century Union, the Penal Reform International (PRI), the Public Defender's Office, the UNDP, the UN Children's Fund, the US Department of Justice, the US Bar Association, the European Union Delegation to Georgia, the EU project - Support to Criminal Justice Reform in Georgia, the Council of Europe in Georgia.
 The workshop of the Criminal Justice Reform Inter-Agency Coordinating Council was held with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) project - Promoting the Rule of Law (PROLOG) in Georgia.

Mediation – Dispute Resolution Alternative

Published in Society
Thursday, 31 March 2016 16:26

Mediation as a way to resolve disputes without the need to go to court was in focus of a discussion on 31 March 2016, which brought together mediators, judges, lawyers, Members of Parliament and international experts.
The meeting participants reviewed the achievements and challenges of mediation in Georgia in recent years and agreed about potential amendments to the legislation need for developing effective mediation practices.
The discussion was opened by Shombi Sharp, Deputy Head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Georgia.  
Vakhtang Tordia, Member of the High Council of Justice of Georgia; Peter Danis, Programme Manager of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia; and Giorgi Ckheidze, Head of the USAID-ProLoG, addressed the participants.    
The discussion was organized by the Georgian associations of mediators with assistance from the European Union, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the UN Joint Programme “Enhancing Access to Justice and Development of a Child-Friendly Justice System in Georgia”.  

Additional information:
Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes without the need to go to court. It involves an independent third party – a mediator – who helps both sides come to an agreement. Mediation is a flexible process that can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations such as consumer disputes.
The Georgian legislation regulates a court-annexed mediation (Chapter XXI1 of the Civil Procedure Code) leaving private mediation out of the legal framework. The regulations on mediation do not specify the requirements for mediators, ethics standards and mechanisms for the enforcement of decisions.
The associations of mediators are working with the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia, Parliament of Georgia and international organizations to amend the legislation and introduce a new law on mediation.

Mediation – an alternative way of dispute resolution

Published in Society
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 13:15

Mediation as a way to resolve disputes without the need to go to court will be in focus of a discussion tomorrow, 31 March 2016, 11:00, Tbilisi Marriott Hotel (13 Rustaveli Ave., Tbilisi).
The discussion will bring together mediators, judges, lawyers, Members of Parliament and international experts to review the achievements and challenges of mediation in Georgia in recent years and agree about potential amendments to the legislation.
Nino Gvenetadze, Chairperson of the Supreme Court of Georgia, will open the conference.
Shombi Sharp, Deputy Head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Georgia, and Peter Danis, Programme Manager of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, will address the participants.    
The discussion is organized by the Georgian associations of mediators with assistance from the European Union, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the UN Joint Programme “Enhancing Access to Justice and Development of a Child-Friendly Justice System in Georgia”.  

Additional information:
Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes without the need to go to court. It involves an independent third party – a mediator – who helps both sides come to an agreement. Mediation is a flexible process that can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations such as consumer disputes.
The Georgian legislation regulates a court-annexed mediation (Chapter XXI1 of the Civil Procedure Code) leaving private mediation out of the legal framework. The regulations on mediation do not specify the requirements for mediators, ethics standards and mechanisms for the enforcement of decisions.
The associations of mediators are working with the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia, Parliament of Georgia and international organizations to amend the legislation and introduce a new law on mediation.

Sitting of the Sector Economy and Sports and Youth Issues Committees

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 14:15

The Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee supported consideration of the issue of election of Koba Gvenetadze to the vacant position of the Member of the National Bank Council. The Parliamentary Secretary of the President, Giorgi Kverenchkhiladze introduced the biographic data of the candidate.
The Committee heard the candidate himself, speaking about the role and capacities of the Bank in economic development of the country, about fiscal and monetary policies and activity plans. He answered the questions, outlining that one of the most important issues for him is protection of consumers’ rights, requiring increase of public awareness on financial issues to let the consumers know about the conditions of the loans, factors to be considered etc. He abstained from evaluating the President of the NB when asked about as considers that it is the Parliamentary prerogative.
In response to the “provocative” question by the Chair of the Sector Committee, Zurab Tkemaladzewheter veto by the President on the law on Supervision was a justified step, he emphasized practice of various countries, though Z. Tkemaladze did not allow him to speak, stating that the answer was diplomatic.
The Parliament will discuss election of K. Gvenetadze at the plenary session.
The Committees should jointly consider the draft by UNM Faction on Tax Code but the initiators asked to postpone consideration.
The Sports and Youth Issues Committee members left the hall and the Sector Committee resumed with agenda issues, starting with the draft on State Property, allowing the Ministry of Economics and Sustainable Development and LEPL National Agency for State Property therein to obtain via e-system and publish individual administrative-legal acts. The draft defines the term of conclusion of the agreement upon conveyance of state property under usage as 3 months.
The draft on Entrepreneurs and the draft on Securities Market will protect the rights of petty shareholders and will develop the entrepreneurial environ by means of legislative guarantees. The Committee supported the drafts with the I reading.
The Committee considered the documents for ratification on: Change N2 to the Loan Agreement between Georgia and EBRD of June 27, 2008 on Kobuleti Sewerate project, aiming at construction of sewerage cleaning facility with allocated 1,5 ml EURO by EBRD and design and equipment of the facility with allocated 1,814 ml EURO by the Dutch Government. The change is entailed with the circumstances: the secondary settler for cleaning facility efficiency, as well as installment of silt dehydration system with extra 2,2 ml EURO allocation; the Development Goal Agreement between Georgia and USA on Increasingly Stable, Integrated and Healthy Life, envisaging civil involvement of minorities, women, disabled persons and protection of human rights; the Agreement between Georgia and Slovakia on Passenger and Cargo International Transportation regulates international transit of cargo and passengers by of one of the signatory forwarder by means of one of the registered vehicles through one of the signatory states. The Committee supported the documents.
The Committee did not support the draft by Energy sphere Trade Union on Highland Regions, establishing the preferences to the categories of energy specialists employed in highlands under the law on Development of Highland Regions. As the Committee noted, the preferences are already prescribed under the law on Highland Regions.The Committee heard the action plan for 2016 by the Sector Committee developed with support by USAID and GGI, reflecting the visions and the mission of the Committee, evaluating the legislative activity, strategic goals and tasks, transparency of activity and communication.

 

The EU rates highly the Public Administration reform conducted in Georgia

Published in Politics
Friday, 29 January 2016 14:17

In terms of Public Administration reform, Georgia is a region-wide leader, - was noted at the regional conference taking place in the hotel "Radisson" 
The main theme of the Conference is "Reform of the Public Service: Elaboration and Implementation of the Legislation Regulating Public Service". It was opened by the Deputy Head of the Administration of the Government Nino Kobakhidze, Head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia Janos Herman, UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia Niels Scott.
The Head of the Bureau of Public Service Ekaterine Kardava, Georgia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Khatuna Totladze, the first Deputy State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Archil Karaulashvili, USAID Caucasus Mission Director Douglas Ball, Head of the NATO liaison office William Lahue, representatives of local self-government, NGOs and foreign guests, including representatives of Eastern Partnership states and international experts participate in the Conference.
During the Conference, representatives of the EU have rated highly the Public Administration reform conducted in Georgia.
The Public Service Reform process, need for adopting relevant Public Service regulations and their implementation, as well as necessity to share foreign practice are among the discussion topics for the conference. Debates are also planned to be held within the frames of the event.
The Conference was organized by the Public Service Bureau with the support of the EU, NATO-Georgia Professional Development Programme (PDP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The U.S. Government commits $69.3 million to Georgia

Published in Economics
Thursday, 24 December 2015 18:42

The U.S. Government commits $69.3 million to Georgia’s democratic and economic development. On December 22, the USAID Caucasus Director Douglass Ball signed two development assistance agreements with Georgia’s Minister of Finance Nodar Khaduri. The agreements will support the following two projects over the next five years: Democratic Control, Balance and Accountable Government; and Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth.

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