Grassroots organisations in Georgia and Armenia meet to develop energy efficiency

Published in Economics
Friday, 16 September 2016 10:47
A regional grassroots network of organisations will meet to discuss energy efficiency and climate change, under the EU-funded Civil society Local Energy Efficiency Network (CLEEN) project, in partnership with the Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) network. Two meetings are being organised with the aim of increasing citizen participation in decentralised energy production, to establish cooperation between local grassroots organisations and to give citizens a stronger voice in policy making.
A meeting on energy efficiency takes place on 19-21 September in Bakuriani, Georgia and a workshop on energy cooperatives will take place on 26-28 September in the Armenian city of Ashtarak. Anna Samwel, head of WECF branch office Georgia, said: “We see grassroots organisations grow strong, self-confident and more professional with the CLEEN programme, working with the local governance and making a real difference in their communities.“ CLEEN (Civil society Local Energy Efficient Network) is a 3-year EU-funded project that aims to build a partnership of civil society organisations (CSOs), as well as to strengthen CSOs’ capacities in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The project focuses on energy efficiency and cost savings, and increased accountability of local and national authorities on this issue. WECF coordinates this project, and provide technical expertise. 

Ukraine’s women soldiers launch new trend

Published in World
Wednesday, 14 September 2016 15:00

Army haircuts are not just the usual closely-cropped heads, crew cuts or buzz jobs. Military hairstyles can change as every national army wants to look original. A new trend has been launched by Ukrainian female soldiers whose braids or buns interwoven with blue and yellow flowers have surprised many people for the third consecutive year.
Neatly set hair, braided tresses of different shapes and sizes, interwoven blue and yellow flowers – this is the current trend for all the female cadets of the Petro Sahaidachny National Academy of Ground Forces.
It all started in 2014 when more and more officers were being trained due to Russia’s invasion in the Donbas. Since this time, this symbolic expression of patriotism has become a tradition which has been regularly picked up by other female enlistees.
The army is the army: the demands are the same as in most armies – long hair cannot lie on the collar, so it should be neatly styled and perfectly set.
The cadets do their hair themselves, helping each other at times. All of them know how to braid hair from childhood.

Marathon under “Agile Spirit 2016” Held in Akhaltsikhe

Published in military
Monday, 12 September 2016 17:21

Marathon in the framework of the multinational exercise “Agile Spirit 2016” was held in Akhaltsikhe. Except for the participants of the multinational exercise of GAF, the U.S., Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine, five military personnel, wounded in international missions and in fights for the territorial integrity of Georgia were involved in the race as well.  
The sport event was dedicated to the memory of the Georgian military personnel fallen for the territorial integrity of Georgia and in international missions. The race started from the territory of Orpolo firing-ground and finished at the Bridge named after Sergeant Anzor Geldiashvili who died in the August War in 2008.
The military exercise is conducted by the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces and the U.S. Marines. Agile Spirit 2016 included CPX and field exercises. The exercise officially closed on September 9 at the Orpolo firing range.

 

Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine get ready for free trade area

Published in Economics
Monday, 12 September 2016 17:16
Moldova and Ukraine have significantly improved, according to an article on the website of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). EU funding has provided support to help businesses in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, allowing them to take full advantage of unrestricted access to the world’s largest market, the EBRD says, adding that the €400 million funding has helped local entrepreneurs to grow their business, train local partner banks and improve the business environment through policy dialogue with relevant government authorities.
These efforts have resulted in significant improving of production, adaptation to EU standards and  opening new export markets for local enterprises.
The three countries signed Association Agreements with the EU that foresee the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between each country and the EU.
This development is expected to provide businesses and the economy - from farming to the IT sector - with a vital boost. The EBRD is providing finance to small and medium-sized enterprises in all three countries, supported by the EU with a risk-sharing model. The loans  provided by the EBRD and EU not only help to increase the share of exports, but support the local economy through creating new job opportunities and discovering new market opportunities.
The EBRD started in May 2016 to provide €380 million in loans and trade guarantees to local partner banks and other financial institutions for on-lending to businesses, while the EU is making available €19 million for technical assistance, investment incentives and risk-sharing.
The EU funds are part of the EU4Business initiative, which provides a comprehensive package of support to attract new investments and improve services and products to the benefits of all citizens and consumers across the Eastern partnership region.

Multinational Military Exercise Agile Spirit 2016 Launched

Published in military
Friday, 02 September 2016 15:30

The multinational military exercise Agile Spirit 2016 has started today on Orpolo firing range in Akhaltsikhe. Chief of General Staff, Major-General Vakhtang Kapanadze opened the international exercise and congratulated the Georgian and foreign military personnel on the beginning of training.
“It is a great honor for me to open this exercise.  I am very delightful that our brothers from Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and the U.S. Navy Forces are here with us.  I am very glad that people represented here and their countries appreciate peace. This training is a symbol that Georgia, Urkaine, Romania, Bulgaria and the U.S. are not standing alone and we are doing great job. Heroism does not have nationality and religion. I am very glad that friendship will be forged here that is very important for future success,” said General Kapanadze.
The representatives of the Georgian Armed Forces and local government of Samtskhe-Javakheti region attended the official opening ceremony. Following the official part of event, Chief of General Staff got familiar with the infrastructure of the exercise and was briefed by the Exercise Commander Colonel Malkhaz Makaradze about the scheduled activities and future plans within Agile Spirit 2016.
The military exercise is conducted by the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces and the U.S. Marines. Participating nations of the exercise also are: Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and   Latvia.
The goal of the exercises is to maintain and strengthen relations with the U.S. and partner countries, support the regional security, improve defensive and offensive operation skills.
Agile Spirit 2016 includes the command post and field exercises.  The CPX will start on the territory of the IV Mechanized Brigade in Vaziani on September 3. The exercise will be officially closed on September 9.

US will not sacrifice Georgia to Russia –Daniel Fried

Published in Politics
Monday, 29 August 2016 10:25

US will not sacrifice Georgia to Russia – this statement was made by the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy of US State Department Daniel Fried. According to him, US attempt of relations with Russia is not a mistake.
“This is natural trend for Americans. We are trying to reach what we want. This is not a mistake. The mistake would be if we change the interests of other countries in the relation with Russia. We didn’t offered Poland and Baltic countries to Russia. We didn’t change Ukraine and Georgia in relations with Russia. We said that we want only normal coordination with Kremlin,”- Daniel Fried said. 

Google bows to Russian pressure, reverses changes to names of Crimean towns on its maps

Published in World
Friday, 29 July 2016 17:11

Google changed the names of towns, villages and districts in Russian-occupied Crimea on its Google Maps mapping service in accordance with Ukraine’s decommunization law. But on July 29, after an outcry from Russian officials, it changed them right back again.
The day before, Google had renamed 75 settlements and five districts on its maps of the Russian-annexed Ukrainian territory in line with a list of names approved by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada on May 12.Most of the renamed settlements acquired Crimean-Tatar names. The town of Krasnoperekopsk was renamed as Yany Kapu, and the district center towns of Krasnohvardiyske and Kirovske were renamed as Kurman and Isliam-Terek respectively.
Although Russian users see Crimea on Google Maps as part of Russia and Ukrainians see the peninsula as Ukrainian, the newly introduced names were displayed to all internet users around the world, including those in Ukraine, Russia and Crimea.  But then the Russian authorities started to raise a fuss.
Russian Minister of Communications Nikolay Nikiforov late on July 28 warned the U.S. tech giant it might have problems doing business in Russia.
“If Google so casually ignores Russian legislation on names of settlements, it will be very difficult for the company to conduct business on Russian territory,” Russian News Agency TASS quoted Nikiforov as saying. "I think it's a short-sighted policy," Nikiforov said.
Sergey Aksyonov, who was appointed by Russian Federation as Crimea’s prime minister after Moscow seized the Ukrainian territory, also questioned Google’s decision to make the changes. “It is hard to say why the company (Google) is indulging Kyiv’s Russophobic hysteria,” Aksyonov wrote on his Facebook page on July 28. “But that's not the point. The thing is such decisions made by a foreign state (Ukraine) have nothing to do with Crimean reality and will never be implemented.”
Shortly after, Google reversed all of the name changes. However, it promised to create two different versions of Google maps, one for Russia and one for Ukraine. "We are actively working on giving (localities) their old names in the Russian version of Google Maps," a Google spokesman told the Russian financial daily RBK.Representatives of Google in Ukraine told the Kyiv Post they could not comment on the issue at the moment.
source: http://www.kyivpost.com/ 

TAIEX to help EN Countries deal with tax evasion

Published in Politics
Thursday, 28 July 2016 11:25
Tax fraud as a criminal offence will be discussed by experts from Austria, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova and Russia in the Belarusian capital Minsk this week. The two-day workshop is organised by the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission (TAIEX) in cooperation with the Department of Financial Investigations of the State Control Committee of Belarus.
The event aims to help improve Belarusian legislation concerning the activities of financial investigations bodies against tax fraud and evasion in the country. International experts will advise on how to improve the implementation of the legislation on the activities of FIBs against organised crime connected with the tax fraud. The participants will also discuss new schemes and innovative approaches such as horizontal monitoring.
TAIEX is a demand-driven tool that supports partner countries with the approximation of national laws, regulations and quality standards to those of EU Member States in the framework of Cooperation or Association agreements signed with the EU. In the Eastern Neighbourhood, TAIEX works with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

EU and CoE enhance capacity of judges and legal professionals in Azerbaijan

Published in Society
Thursday, 28 July 2016 11:10
Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association were the focus of two training sessions for lawyers and judges held in the Azerbaijani capital Baku last week. The event gathered 32 members of the country’s Collegium of Advocates and 21 judges from first instance courts in Baku and outside to enhance their knowledge on Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
The event was organised by two projects that fall under the Programmatic Co-operation Framework for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe (EU/CoE PCF).
The joint EU/CoE PCF aims to provide extensive and substantial expertise on strengthening the capacity of institutions in the six Eastern Partnership countries to implement domestic reforms and bring them closer to Council of Europe and European Union standards in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and improve the lives of citizens. The EU’s contribution to the PCF is EUR 30 million.

Why the Warsaw Summit matters-Jens Stoltenberg's Speech

Published in World
Friday, 08 July 2016 16:47

Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Warsaw Summit Experts' Forum
Mister President, Minister, Secretary Albright, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Let me first of all thank the Polish Institute of International Affairs and GLOBSEC for organizing this very important event.
And let me add a special welcome and word of appreciation to all of you being present here and a special word of appreciation to you, President Duda, for your strong personal commitment to the Allinace and to our shared security and to keeping the Alliance strong. And I very well remember when we met in June last year after you were elected but before you had taken up your post as President, and I immediately understood that we were going to have an excellent cooperation in the preperations for the summit and now we are here at the eve of the summit and I’m looking forward to be together with you at the summit and addressing all the different challenges we are going to face and address at the summit.
Let me also thank Poland for hosting our summit in this vibrant city.
And I appreciate this opportunity to address so many experts, policymakers and opinion leaders from around the world.
You play an important role. Because in our open societies, public understanding and support are vital for NATO’s success.
And let me in particular recognise Madeleine Albright, because you have played such an important role in working for our ambition for a Europe whole, free and at peace. So it’s great to have you here and it’s great also to know that you still so committed to this Alliance.
A few hours from now, NATO leaders will gather here to chart  the future of our Alliance. Guided by our common values of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.
The Warsaw Summit comes at a defining moment in the history of our Alliance. With unpredictable threats and complex challenges from many directions.  NATO has responded. We have launched a wholesale reinforcement of our collective defence and deterrence. The biggest since the end of the Cold War.
And I am personally very proud of the determination shown by all Allies since our summit in Wales. We have done what we said we would do.
The NATO Response Force is now three times bigger, with a brigade-sized Spearhead Force at its core. Able to move within days.
We have set up a series of small headquarters in the eastern part of our Alliance, including here in Poland. They make it easier for us to plan and exercise, and to reinforce if needed. We have augmented Turkey’s air defences with AWACS surveillance planes and defensive missile systems.
We have increased the number of exercises, sped up our decision-making,and developed a strategy to deal with hybrid threats. We have bolstered NATO’s ability and readiness to defend our territory and our citizens.
Here in Warsaw, we will take decisions to further strengthen our collective defence and deterrence. And to project stability beyond our borders.
Today, we will agree to enhance our forward presence in the east of the Alliance. In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and here in Poland. We will deploy, by rotation, a robust, multinational battalion in each of the countries. Making clear that an attack against one Ally will be met by forces from across the Alliance.
Let me thank Canada, Germany, the UK and the US, for deciding to lead these battalions.
And let me thank Poland, and the three Baltic states, for hosting and supporting these NATO forces, and for strengthening their own.
We will also transform a Romanian brigade into a multinational brigade to strengthen our posture in the south-eastern part of the Alliance.
And we will increase our defences against hybrid threats, cyber-attacks, and ballistic missile attacks from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
Everything we do is defensive, proportionate and transparent.
And fully consistent with our international obligations Our position is clear.
NATO does not seek confrontation. We do not want a new Cold War. The Cold War is history. And it should remain history.
We will continue to seek constructive and meaningful dialogue with Russia. To make our intentions clear. To dispel any misunderstandings. And to reduce the risk of military incidents or accidents spiralling out of control. Russia is our biggest neighbour and an integral part of European security. So sustaining dialogue is essential.
That is why we established the NATO-Russia Council, as an all-weather forum for dialogue. So it is especially important that we use this tool now.
For our nations to be safe, it is not enough to keep our defence strong. We must also help our partners become stronger.
And the second theme of the Warsaw Summit is projecting stability beyond our borders.
We will help our partners in the Middle East and North Africa to tackle the root causes of instability. To secure their own countries. And to fight terrorism. Training local forces is often our best weapon against violent extremism.
We have learned a great deal from our operations in the Balkans and in Afghanistan.
We remain committed to training Afghan forces. We will also put together a financing package to sustain them through 2020.
All NATO Allies already contribute individually to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.
We will decide at the summit that NATO’s AWACS planes will share information with the Coalition.  We will start to train Iraqi officers in Iraq. And we will continue to support Jordan and Tunisia. And we stand ready to assist Libya.
We will also affirm our commitment to our partners in the east – to Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova – to help them resist outside pressures and to advance reforms.
Everything we do – to defend ourselves, and to project stability – is magnified when we work with others.
This is especially true when we speak about the European Union. We share common values and interests. And we face common threats.
While Brexit will change the UK’s relationship with the EU, it will not change the UK’s leading position within NATO.
Unity and cooperation between NATO and the EU remains as important as ever.
In these times of uncertainty, our partnership is increasingly essential.
So at this summit, we will take our partnership to a new level. To counter hybrid threats. To increase our resilience against cyber-attacks. And to address maritime security in the central Mediterranean – as we have already in the Aegean Sea.
Because our citizens demand that we keep them safe.  This requires resources.
Last year, after many years of decline, we saw a small increase in defence spending by NATO’s European Allies and Canada.
And this year, we expect a real increase of 3%in defence spending among European Allies and Canada.
Poland has led by example. Spending more, and spending better. As an Alliance, we are starting to move in the right direction.
But there is a long way to go. And we must spare no effort to sustain the momentum.Our security depends on it.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For nearly 70 years, NATO has helped to keep the peace in Europe. By forging an unbreakable bond between Allies on both sides of the Atlantic. In recent years, the world has changed dramatically. We continue to change with it.
What will not change is the enduring bond between Europe and North America on which our Alliance is founded. What will not change is our resolve to defend each other. To uphold our shared values. And to preserve peace and security for future generations.

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