Georgia will be the focus of Europalia Arts Festival in 2022

Published in Culture
Wednesday, 19 December 2018 11:42

Georgian art and culture will be in focus of European institutions and citizens in the 2022 edition of Europalia Arts Festival, a major biennial event hosted in Brussels.
All facets of the country’s creative potential and cultural legacy will be highlighted for Festival visitors by a representation of Georgia as the official Guest Country between October 2022 and January 2023.
Europalia editions involve hundreds of events and activities showcasing guest countries during the biennial occasions run under the patronage of the royal family of Belgium.
Speaking to reporters Georgia’s Ambassador to Belgium Natalie Sabanadze said that the Festival would bring a “celebration of Georgian culture” to Brussels, Belgium and European capitals.

All facets of the country’s creative potential and cultural legacy will be highlighted for Festival visitors by a representation of Georgia as the official Guest Country between October 2022 and January 2023.
Europalia editions involve hundreds of events and activities showcasing guest countries during the biennial occasions run under the patronage of the royal family of Belgium.
Speaking to reporters Georgia’s Ambassador to Belgium Natalie Sabanadze said that the Festival would bring a “celebration of Georgian culture” to Brussels, Belgium and European capitals.

Biopic about Lesya Ukrainka to be directed by Nana Janelidze

Published in Culture
Tuesday, 18 December 2018 14:51

Biopic (biographical movie) about Lesya Ukrainka will be directed by Georgian movie director and scriptwriter - Nana Janelidze. Also, casting will be held shortly and the project team will start filming a teaser.

Cinematic portfolio of Nana Janelidze includes 5 feature-length works directed by her and 6 works in which she is the author of the script. In particular, she wrote the script of Repentance (მონანიება) (directed by Tengiz Abuladze, 1987). The movie received the Grand Prix of the Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.The movie about Lesya Ukrainka will be the first filmstrip of Nana Janelidze made in Ukraine.

“Lesya Ukrainka – it is a dusty portrait on a school wall, this is a live, passionate, jealous and dedicated woman who is fighting a deadly disease. She spent greedily and “felt” each moment, given to her by her fate, in order to depict in her work the heavy burden of her big talent. As soon as I heard about the project, I instantly felt that I wanted to work on it because this is really inspiring” – Nana Janelidze says.

The movie with the working title “Lesya Ukrainka. Forest Edge (Uzlisia)” is the story of a great poetess from her early years until her last days of life. The two realities – daily life and Lesya’s inner world are closely intertwined and depict all key turns of her fate. Alexander Lavrenchuk is working on the script of the biopic. Experts of the life and work of Lesya Ukrainka are actively involved in the process of work on the picture by the team. Julia Sinkevych (JS Films, General Producer of Odessa International Film Festival) is the creative producer and author of the idea, and Maria Moskalenko (FX FILM Georgia) is a co-producer of the movie.

"To us, the story of Lesya Ukrainka is very personal. We wanted it to be filmed by a woman. We discussed directors from Ukraine and from Georgia – because Lesya Ukrainka’s life is closely linked to these countries. We needed a director with a new and unbiased view and all these characteristics are wonderfully combined in Nana Janelidze. The script inspired her from the first lines – and now we are actively working on it and will soon start filming a teaser” – say the producers: Julia Sinkevych and Maria Mosalenko.

On September 12, a grant agreement on the support of the project was signed between the company JS Film and Ukrainian Cultural Foundation. The project “Lesya Ukrainka, Forest Edge (Uzlisia)” won the competition of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation and took the first place among international cooperation projects in the category of audiovisual art and the 3rd place among all international projects.    

Notably, the biopic script was selected for participation in the program ScripTeast.

Ukrainian Cultural Foundation is a state organization established in 2017 in accordance with Ukrainian law. It is aimed at promoting development of national culture and art in the country, ensuring favorable conditions for intellectual and spiritual development of the society, wide accessibility of national cultural heritage for the citizens, promoting cultural diversity and integration of Ukrainian culture in the world cultural space. In accordance with the effective legislation, Ukrainian Ministry of Culture carries out management and coordination of the foundation activity.

Tbilisi will host Ambassadors’ Conference 2018 – Georgian Diplomacy: Advancing Freedom, Prosperity and Development from 18 to 21 December 2018 bringing together heads of Georgia’s diplomatic representations and consular offices abroad. 

Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani will open the Conference. President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili and Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze will speak before the attending audience.
The participants will assess the activities of the Georgian Foreign Ministry over the past year, will bring forward new initiatives and will discuss draft of the Foreign Policy Strategy for 2019-22.

Within the framework of the Conference, working sessions will be held, with the participation of ministers and MPs.

Participants of the Ambassadors’ Conference will meet with representatives of civil society and will take part in the round table with representatives of business communities.

The President of Georgia, the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Parliament will hold working meetings with heads of the diplomatic represenattions abroad.

Ambassadors’ Conference 2018 will be closed by the Foreign Minister’s concluding press conference on 21 December.

Salome Zurabishvili Sworn-in as New President

Published in Politics
Sunday, 16 December 2018 20:54

Salome Zurabishvili, 66, was sworn in as Georgia’s fifth president for a six-year term on December 16 in an oath-taking ceremony in the eastern Georgian town of Telavi.

“I, the President of Georgia, before the God and the Nation, declare to observe the Constitution of Georgia, defend the independence, unity and indivisibility of the country, to perform faithfully the duties of the President, to take care for the security and welfare of the citizens of my country and for the revival and might of my nation and homeland,” Zurabishvili said, holding her hand on the Georgian constitution.

After the oath-taking, Zurabishvili delivered the inauguration speech in presence of invited guests, foreign dignitaries, government members and lawmakers from the ruling party and Georgian soldiers. President Giorgi Margvelashvili attended the ceremony as well.

The oath-taking ceremony marked entry into force of the new constitution, which completes the country’s transition from semi-presidential to parliamentary system of governance.

The new constitution will further reduce president’s executive powers, a process launched in the 2010 constitutional amendments and finalized in the 2017 constitutional changes.

This also marked the last time the head of state was elected through direct ballot. According to the new constitution, which entered into force upon Zurabishvili’s inauguration, the head of state will be elected by a 300-member Electoral College for a term of five years starting from 2024.

A day before the oath-taking ceremony, on December 15, President-elect Salome Zurabishvili laid a wreath at the memorial of fallen Georgian soldiers at Heroes’ Square in Tbilisi. She also visited the Mtatsminda Pantheon, a cemetery of public figures in Tbilisi.

The Presidential runoff was held on November 28. The ruling party-backed candidate Salome Zurabishvili obtained 59.52% of the votes, while her challenger – Grigol Vashadze of the United Opposition finished with 40.48% of the votes. Vashadze did not accept the election results, citing mass election fraud.

https://civil.ge/archives/271167

After taking the presidential oath in the historic castle of Telavi Salome Zurabishvili has been sworn in as the fifth and first ever female president of Georgia.

She will hold office for a six-year term.

In her oath, she promised to defend the Georgian constitution, independence and unity, provide for the security of the Georgian people and the prosperity of the entire country.

“I take responsibility to be the president of each citizen of Georgia. I appreciate those who did not vote for me. I am also aware some parties have a different position towards the recognition of my presidency. I will defend the freedom and rights of the citizens, I will be the guarantor of the rule of law. I will be sure to strengthen civil society and improve the political culture. Now, when I am the fifth president of Georgia, I am proud that we have managed to carry out the transfer process peacefully. One more democratic step has been made,” Salome Zurabishvili said at the ceremony which was attended by 150 high level guests from 55 countries.

She has also pledged to do all for Georgia's development and help the country achieve its major goals including Euro-Atlantic integration.
In her speech Salome Zurabishvili has emphasised that every former president has made their contribution to the advancement process of the country.

“Georgia is facing a great challenge now - Abkhazia and South Ossetia are occupied by Russia. There is the occupation line inside the country where our citizens are being kidnapped. This is not acceptable for a sovereign state. We are not going to tolerate this,” President Zurabishvili said.

A number of new regulations, including constitutional amendments, also came into force today.

The constitutional reform carried out in 2017 introduces a new model of government which is characteristic for a parliamentary republic, meaning that the next president will not be elected directly by the people. The new president after Zurabishvili will be elected for a five-year term by a special 300-member council starting in 2024.

President Salome Zurabishvili’s Inauguration Speech

After being sworn-in as Georgia’s fifth President at a ceremony held in the eastern Georgian town of Telavi, Salome Zurabishvili delivered her 25-minute inauguration speech.

Below is the official translation of Zurabishvili’s inauguration speech as provided by her office:

“Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Chairman of Parliament,

Your Holiness, Spiritual Leader of our Nation,

Excellencies and Distinguished guests,

My fellow Georgians, my fellow Abkhazian and Ossetian brothers,

My fellow compatriots living abroad, in particular those who came for this occasion and are here with us today.

I want to take this moment to welcome those who represent the descendants of our first political emigration. It is a powerful symbol that I have become President of Georgia as we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Georgia’s independence.

History’s circle has turned. A descendant of Georgia’s first emigration, forced into exile following the Soviet Red Army’s invasion has returned to this country to be sworn in as commander-in-chief.

As many times throughout its history, Georgia stands at the crossroads. Once again, we are facing great challenges. Telavi, the place we are gathered embodies this country’s history: its battles, its challenges and its achievements. The place I have chosen is somehow regarded as a historical “memory card” for the Georgian Nation. King Erekle fought for our country’s development and unity. He created the modern Georgian army and won numerous battles. He laid the groundwork for the creation of a modern European nation.

But it is also here in Telavi, that King Erekle’s plans to create a modern state, establish new standards and put our country on the path towards Europe, were shattered. It is here in Telavi that the country’s western progress was halted. Georgia’s opportunity to develop as an independent, united and strong country was blocked. Many factors were involved, including foreign interference.

Nevertheless, after restoring independence Georgia resumed its journey towards building a truly European state. We are now in a critical phase of this development.

Standing here in Telavi, our way forward is also clearly visible. Uniting the country, pacifying society, strengthening and establishing our place in Europe – these are our primary goals.

We wasted too many years in political divisions. As President, I will lead by example. I will demonstrate to my fellow citizens that national consensus is of utmost importance for Georgia’s development and unification.

It is not a political coincidence if I decided to take the oath of office in this city. I have decided to address the wider society from the very place where I failed to win a majority of votes in the election runoff.

I am thankful to everyone who trusted me with their vote in the elections.

I am grateful to the “Georgian Dream” party for supporting me as an independent presidential candidate. In doing so, it took a vital democratic step towards a Presidency that strives to stand above the fray of party politics.

I respect voters who did not cast their ballot for me. I am also aware that different parties have taken controversial positions, even regarding my recognition as President.

Regardless, I have a constitutional duty to be the President of all Georgians, to be the President of every citizen of Georgia from this day forward. Inclusiveness is of the main principles of democracy. The modern state is based on the premise that an elected President is duty-bound to serve each and every citizen.

I will do everything in my power to guarantee individual rights and freedoms. I will defend the rule of law. I will strive to strengthen civil society and further improve the country’s political culture.

But we should all work in the same direction. The independent media, the non-governmental sector, and every citizen can and should play a positive role in building a more united country.

Today, I have become the fifth President of Georgia. I am proud that the transition and transfer of power processes were managed in a peaceful and orderly fashion. In this regard, we have taken an additional step in this country’s democratic history.

I want to emphasize that all previous Presidents have made a contribution towards the creation of an independent and democratic Georgia:

One century ago, the leaders of the First Republic adopted a constitution which was regarded as modern and progressive for the time.

President Zviad Gamsakhurdia played the greatest role when he called for a referendum and proclaimed the act restoring Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union.

Eduard Shevardnadze was the first to initiate the path towards Europe and the Euro-Atlantic space.

Mikheil Saakashvili, during the first stage of his presidency, laid the foundations of numerous significant reforms.

During the presidency of Giorgi Margvelashvili, new steps were taken towards strengthening the democratic process and reinforcing stability.

My promise is to take all necessary steps to make our country’s democratic development and its European future irreversible. Nothing can nor will hinder my determination to achieve these objectives.

The development of a modern state rests upon strong and lively regions. I made a defining decision in this regard. I choose to hold the presidential inauguration, not in the capital of Georgia, but in one of its regions, in the region of Kakheti.

A modern, European country requires the balanced development of the regions and the capital. Throughout our history in fact, Georgia’s provinces were its pillar and underpinned its strength. We should merge this historical experience with the modern European example.

The regions of Georgia have great potential. It is therefore important that we maximize regional opportunities for progress and open up new prospects.

My dream, a dream shared by all Georgians, is that as many people as possible, as many emigrants as possible, will return to their villages, to their abandoned homes.

This is an issue which entails great effort. It is premised on preserving ongoing relationships with those who live in those regions. Just as I am here today, with the people of Telavi, I will come to every region throughout my presidency. I will be with my people.

Georgian society is united around the issue of its European future. By electing me, the Georgian people yet again voted for the European path.

The EU association agreement and visa liberalization have opened up great opportunities for us, and we have solid support from our western friends and partners.

This process should be accelerated. The will of the Georgian people is expressed in the new Constitution: a forward path towards the European Union and NATO. Together with our strategic partners – the United States of America and European nations – I will take this process forward. I will make use of all my experience and contacts in international organizations and the European Union to achieve our common purpose.

We will consistently take active steps to reach those aims. We will deal with internal and external challenges honorably, accomplish reforms important to our country, and consolidate democratic institutions. Our goal is to reinforce our democratic credentials and become an increasingly mature democracy.

We will join Europe. But we must join Europe with our values, our identity and our culture.

We Georgians, with our ancient, rich and unique culture, based on Christianity, can make a contribution to the world. Georgian civilization can and should proudly take its place on the international stage.

The essence of Georgian identity is tolerance. Throughout centuries our tradition has been one of peaceful co-existence with religious and ethnic minorities. Georgia is uniquely known for never having experienced antisemitism. Because we live in a world where tolerance is increasingly challenged, we should strengthen this tradition of tolerance to inspire others. With this in mind, we should make Georgian culture and identity better known.

Culture is what a nation is based on. While our culture provides a strong foundation, it needs to be protected and attended to. Culture will be one of my main priorities. But culture without education is unthinkable. I therefore want to express my deepest respect to all teachers and educators. You are those who raise our children. In other words, you hold our future in your hands.

I will be the first woman president in the history of Georgia.

By electing me as President, we have demonstrated that Georgia is a progressive nation. 100 years ago, in the first elections of democratic Georgia in 1918, women enjoyed equal rights. 5 women were even elected as members of Parliament. These were exceptional achievements even by European standards.

Today, we have broken a new glass ceiling in Georgia’s longstanding history of women’s rights. We have taken another bold step – an example which still stands out as an exception in a world with only 11 sitting women Presidents. By taking this historical decision, we confirm that the role of women in Georgia is expanding. We demonstrate that equality is not a strange word.

Georgia is up against big challenges. Abkhazia and Tskhinvali* are occupied by Russia. The occupation line penetrates deeply into our country’s territory. Our citizens are abducted every day by a foreign power. This is unacceptable for any sovereign state. We will not tolerate this.

People living in these areas need more attention and security. We need to achieve a higher level of security. For this reason, we continue to closely cooperate with our partners and with the European Union’s Monitoring Mission. Cooperation with NATO needs to be increased and strengthened.

Reinforcing security in the Black Sea region is also one of our main priorities and will entail a higher degree of support from our western partners.

I will be actively involved in negotiations with our American and European partners to achieve our long-espoused goals as soon as possible.

Georgia’s defense capability depends on the professionalism of its armed forces, on their operational readiness and on modern equipment. Strong national unity is a political condition for all of the above.

I have the deepest admiration and full confidence in the armed forces of Georgia. I respect our soldiers and veterans. I want you to be sure that I will be fully involved in increasing the defense capabilities of our armed forces. Reinforcing the army and enhancing the defense of our country is my priority.

As Commander-in-chief, I condemn all recent attempts to divide the army on ideological and political grounds. They are totally unacceptable. Such actions damage our country and strengthen our enemy.

I will visit our soldiers in Afghanistan who fight side by side with our foreign partners. They are fighting against global challenges which present a threat to international, regional and national peace and security. Our soldiers fulfill their mission with dignity. Some have paid the heaviest price by giving their life in this battle.

Peace and stability are the main preconditions for the advancement of human society. A peaceful and stable Caucasus is necessary, not only for this region, but for the entire world. Georgia will have to strengthen its position in the Caucasus. We can regain our historical role in this region. We should shoulder our share of this collective responsibility.

As our neighbor in the Caucasus region, Russia has an obligation to fully recognize and implement international law and internationally recognized borders. That is the condition for it to be accepted as a full member of the international community and normalize relations in the region. That is the condition for it to establish equal and peaceful relations with its neighbors.

Georgia is located in a region that offers opportunities to implement interesting economic projects. We have to become the regional center of economic security and stability. To achieve this aim, it falls upon us to make our country even more attractive.

To implement this vision, we will need more initiative and innovation. This is the function and the obligation of our youth towards this country. This presents a positive prospect for the next generation. I am ready to support them fully by helping to attract foreign investment and promote the implementation of new ideas.

Keeping our society together entails solidarity.

Solidarity between generations has been a historical trait of this Nation. It should not be lost.

Social solidarity is a prerequisite of a healthy and stable society. Where there is mutual compassion, assistance, and support, there is stability. And with stability comes opportunities.

Solidarity means that we remember and support those who need to be cared for: vulnerable people, single mothers, people with disabilities.

I will stand with our refugees. I will stand with those families whose children have only heard about their roots from their parents. I know only too well the values that help these families survive – immense patience, steadfastness and hope. This very notion of hope is what binds us together as a society.

I do believe that Georgia will restore its territorial integrity. We have to remember that our fellow citizens are living in occupied territories. It is our duty to find a way forward and strive for reconciliation. We have a long shared history with both Abkhazians and Ossetians. We are relatives. We have families in common. We have no alternative but to find a way forward to help future generations in these regions. Today, as never before, the Abkhazian language and identity need protection.

Our country needs to stabilize and develop. We have strong human resources, economic potential, and a talented new generation. But we have to believe in ourselves and our abilities, and take responsibility for our future. I came to Georgia, I came back to Georgia, because I believed in my country. I believe in it now more than ever. It is our national duty to believe in Georgia’s future: an independent, strong, free, modern, tolerant and European country. That is the future of Georgia!

God Bless Georgia!”

Minister of Defence of Georgia Levan Izoria met with the Secretary of Defence of the United States of America, James Mattis in the framework of his official visit to the United States of America. The Georgian and U.S. counterparts discussed bilateral cooperation issues in defence sphere and regional security issues after official ceremony held in the Pentagon. Levan Izoria thanked the Secretary of Defence for the political and practical support of Georgia from the United States of America.

James Mattis commended the ongoing defence reforms in Georgia: “As we look to the future, the U.S. strongly supports Georgia’s devotion to strengthening and modernizing its military capabilities with 2.2% of your GDP dedicated to defense spending. This shows your commitment to your military defense. Your military reforms are well-tuned to significantly improve the Georgian military’s increasing effectiveness, and we endorse them.”

U.S. Secretary of Defence expressed appreciation for Georgia’s contribution to the mission in Afghanistan: “We recognize your nation as the largest per capita and non-NATO force contributor to the mission. With 871 troops continuously deployed, Georgia is an example for all.” Georgia’s Defence Minister reiterated Georgia’s commitment to continue participation in the mission alongside the United States.

James Mattis recalled the words of Vice President Pence said during his visit to Tbilisi this summer - “America stands with Georgia.” “This commitment is underpinned by our nations’ shared values of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and respect for the rules-based international order”, - Mattis said.

Bilateral cooperation issues and ways of strengthening defence capabilities were also discussed at the meeting. According to Levan Izoria, Georgia appreciates the U.S. support in Georgia Defence Readiness Program that will start in 2018 and contribute to resilience of the country and strengthen military capabilities of Georgia.

U.S. Secretary of Defence wished happy St. George Day to the Georgian people: “We meet this week as our two countries prepare for celebratory feasts next Thursday – St. George’s day in Georgia and Thanksgiving here. I wish your nation a very happy holiday in honor of your patron saint – immortalized as a defender of the Georgian people.”

In the framework of the visit Defence Ministry Delegation will have meetings with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Herbert Raymond McMaster and Senator Lindsay Graham.

Meeting with the US Special Representative for Afghanistan

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 12 December 2018 12:01

On December 11, 2018, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan R. Meredov, held talks with the delegation of the United States of America led by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad.

During the meeting, noting the positive results of joint cooperation in enhancing bilateral relations between Turkmenistan and the United States of America, the sides expressed interest in their further diversification. After exchanging views on the development of the political situation around Afghanistan, the parties considered the possibilities of intensifying bilateral political and diplomatic cooperation. In particular, it was stated that Neutral Turkmenistan, being an active participant in international formats for Afghanistan, for a number of years regularly takes steps to establish peace in Afghanistan. In this context, special attention was paid to the initiative of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, about the readiness of our country to provide a political and diplomatic space to prepare for the establishment of a peace process in neighboring Afghanistan.

Waving the Afghan theme, Z. Khalilzad praised the infrastructure projects being implemented in Afghanistan and noted their importance in strengthening the security of neighboring Afghanistan and in the region as a whole. The implementation of the gas pipeline (TAPI), power lines and fiber-optic communications on the route Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP), as well as the Serhektabat-Turgundi-Herat, Imamnazar-Akina-Andkhoy railways, are designed to seriously change the geopolitical map of the region.

Stressing the need for further progressive expansion of Turkmen-American cooperation, the sides discussed issues of its further expansion on a mutually beneficial basis.

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

Geneva (6 December 2018) - On 10 December, we mark the 70th anniversary of that extraordinary document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It is, I firmly believe, as relevant today as it was when it was adopted 70 years ago.

Arguably even more so, as over the passing decades, it has passed from being an aspirational treatise into a set of standards that has permeated virtually every area of international law.

It has withstood the tests of the passing years, and the advent of dramatic new technologies and social, political and economic developments that its drafters could not have foreseen.

Its precepts are so fundamental that they can be applied to every new dilemma.

The Universal Declaration gives us the principles we need to govern artificial intelligence and the digital world.

It lays out a framework of responses that can be used to counter the effects of climate change on people, if not on the planet.

It provides us with the basis for ensuring equal rights for groups, such as LGBTI people, whom few would even dare name in 1948.

Everyone is entitled to all the freedoms listed in the Universal Declaration "without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."

The last words of that sentence – "other status" – have frequently been cited to expand the list of people specifically protected. Not just LGBTI people, but also persons with disabilities – who now have a Convention of their own, adopted in 2006. Elderly people, who may get one as well.  Indigenous peoples.  Minorities of all sorts. 
Everyone.

Gender is a concept that is addressed in almost every clause of the Declaration. For its time, the document was remarkably lacking in sexist language. The document refers to "everyone," "all" or "no one" throughout its 30 Articles.

This trailblazing usage reflects the fact that, for the first time in the history of international law-making, women played a prominent role in drafting the Universal Declaration.

The role of Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired the drafting committee is well known. Less well known is the fact that women from Denmark, Pakistan, the Communist bloc and other countries around the world also made crucial contributions. 

Indeed it is thanks primarily to the Indian drafter Hansa Mehta, that the French phrase "all men are born free and equal," taken from the Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen, became in the Universal Declaration "all human beings are born free and equal." 

A simple but – in terms of women’s rights and of minority rights – revolutionary phrase. 

Hansa Mehta objected to Eleanor Roosevelt’s assertion that "men" was understood to include women – the widely-accepted idea at that time. She argued that countries could use this wording to restrict the rights of women, rather than expand them. 

Born out of the devastation of two World Wars, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Holocaust, the Universal Declaration is geared to prevent similar disasters, and the tyranny and violations which caused them. It sets out ways to prevent us from continuing to harm each other, and aims to provide us with "freedom from fear and want."

It sets limits on the powerful, and inspires hope among the powerless.

Over the seven decades since its adoption, the Universal Declaration has underpinned countless beneficial changes in the lives of millions of people across the world, permeating some 90 national Constitutions and numerous national, regional and international laws and institutions.

But, 70 years after its adoption, the work the Universal Declaration lays down for us to do is far from over. And it never will be. 

In 30 crystal-clear articles, the Universal Declaration shows us the measures which will end extreme poverty, and provide food, housing, health, education, jobs and opportunities for everyone.

It lights the path to a world without wars and Holocausts, without torture or famine or injustice. A world where misery is minimized and no one is too rich or powerful to evade justice.

A world where every human has the same worth as every other human, not just at birth but for the duration of their entire lives.

The drafters wanted to prevent another war by tackling the root causes, by setting down the rights everyone on the planet could expect and demand simply because they exist – and to spell out in no uncertain terms what cannot be done to human beings.

The poor, the hungry, the displaced and the marginalized – drafters aimed to establish systems to support and protect them.

The right to food and to development is crucial. But this has to be achieved without discrimination on the basis of race, gender or other status. You cannot say to your people – I will feed you, but I won’t let you speak or enjoy your religion or culture.

The rights to land and adequate housing are absolutely basic – and yet in some countries, austerity measures are eroding those very rights for the most vulnerable.

Climate change can undermine the right to life, to food, to shelter and to health. These are all related – and the Universal Declaration and international human rights conventions provide a roadmap to their achievement.

I am convinced that the human rights ideal, laid down in this Declaration, has been one of the most constructive advances of ideas in human history – as well as one of the most successful.

But today, that progress is under threat.

We are born ‘free and equal,’ but millions of people on this planet do not stay free and equal. Their dignity is trampled and their rights are violated on a daily basis.

In many countries, the fundamental recognition that all human beings are equal, and have inherent rights, is under attack. The institutions so painstakingly set up by States to achieve common solutions to common problems are being undermined.

And the comprehensive web of international, regional and national laws and treaties that gave teeth to the vision of the Universal Declaration is also being chipped away by governments and politicians increasingly focused on narrow, nationalist interests. 

We all need to stand up more energetically for the rights it showed us everyone should have – not just ourselves, but all our fellow human beings – and which we are at constant risk of eroding through our own, and our leaders’ forgetfulness, neglect or wanton disregard.

I will end, where the Universal Declaration begins, with the powerful promise – and warning – contained in the first lines of its Preamble:
"…Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

"…Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief, and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.

"…It is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse as a last resort to rebellion against tyranny and oppression that human rights should be protected by the rule of law."

And we would do well to pay more attention to the final words of that same Preamble:

"…every individual and every organ of society keeping this Declaration constantly in mind shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms  and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction."

We have come a long way down this path since 1948. We have taken many of progressive measures prescribed by the Universal Declaration at the national and international levels.

But we still have a long way to go, and too many of our leaders seem to have forgotten these powerful and prophetic words. We need to rectify that, not just today, not just on the 70th anniversary next Monday, but every day, every year.

Human rights defenders the world over are on the frontlines of defending the Universal Declaration through their work, their dedication and their sacrifice. No matter where we live or what our circumstances are, most of us do have the power to make a difference – to make our homes, communities, countries, and our world better – or worse – for others. Each of us needs to do our part to breathe life into the beautiful dream of the Universal Declaration.

For this was the gift of our ancestors, to help us avoid ever having to go through what they went through.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris three years after the end of World War II. It was the product of 18 months’ work by a drafting committee, with members and advisers from all across the world, and – in the words of one of its principal architects, René Cassin – "at the end of one hundred sessions of elevated, often impassioned discussion, was adopted in the form of 30 articles on December 10, 1948."

The International Conference Lapis Lazuli completed its work

Published in World
Sunday, 09 December 2018 15:44

On November 28, 2018, the International Conference of Ministers of Transport of the States-Parties to the Agreement on Transit and Transport Cooperation (Lapis Lazuli) continued its work in the format of plenary sessions in the National tourist zone “Avaza”.

During the speeches at the meeting, participants touched on the role of international cooperation in the development of transport and transit corridors, multimodal transport and their prospects in the transport corridor of Lapis-Lazuli and international transit corridors, as well as the importance of logistics companies in the development of transport corridors.

Following the results of the conference, the heads of the delegations adopted the Final Declaration of the International Conference of Ministers of Transport of the States Parties to the Agreement on Transit and Transport Cooperation (Lapis Lazuli).

Also participants of the International Conference of Ministers of Transport left for the International Sea Port of Turkmenbashi, where a program was organized to familiarize them with the capabilities of this new port, and a presentation of the International Sea Port was held.

The Constitutional Court of Georgia declared unconstitutional the moratorium imposed by the Government of Georgia regarding the alienation of agricultural lands to foreign citizens.

The lawsuit were filed by the citizens of Greece, who failed to register heritable land plots in Georgia.

The court has announced the decision without a trial, as the court made the similar decision in 2012 and 2014.

The moratorium on alienation of agricultural lands to foreigners has been declared void, although the restrictions were withdrawn only until December 16, the Inauguration Day when a new Constitution comes into effect. The new Constitution will again impose restrictions envisaged by the moratorium. Foreign citizens have a nine-day deadline to register lands.

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