INTERIM REPORT OF THE CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION OF GEORGIA
Tamar Zhvania, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia presented the interim report of October 8, 2016 Parliamentary Elections to the representatives of local NGOs and international organizations.
The report covers the period from the date of appointing elections - June 8, to September 8, 2016 and reflects the activities implemented by the Election Administration (EA).
“Election Administration (EA) adopted a new standard in terms of reporting. Following the presentation held for media, today, we present the interim report to NGOs and international organizations. It is worth noting that during recent three months, we put a lot of effort and EA publishes information on its activities through this interim report and informs the society about the implemented work”- noted Tamar Zhvania.
During the presentation, Tamar Zhvania paid attention to several important issues, including, voters, Precinct Elections Commissions, observers, CEC information campaigns, cooperation with the stakeholders and CEC Gender Policy.
According to the CEC Chairperson, one of the most important innovations EA will offer to the society during the October 8 elections, is the online broadcasting of the election results counting process at the CEC. Every interested person will have possibility to observe the election results counting process via social networks - Facebook, YouTube and the CEC official webpage by using 360 degree video camera at the CEC.
As the CEC Chairperson noted, EA will maintain the current policy and actively cooperate with the election stakeholders and inform them accordingly about important activities in the future which are essential for ensuring transparency of election processes and election environment in line with international standards
Prime Minister of Georgia Gets Debriefed About the Performance Report of the Intelligence Service of Georgia for 2022
Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia met Shalva Lomidze, Head of the Intelligence Service of Georgia (ISG) today. The Head of Government of Georgia was debriefed about the Performance Report of the ISG for 2022 at the meeting.The Prime Minister of Georgia and ISG Head discussed the institutional plans and development priorities for 2023.Meeting held at the Government Administration was also focused on the geo-political situation in the region and challenges faced in the area of security at large.Press Service of the Government Administration
Performance Report of Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia for 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen,Let me greet you all! First of all, I wish to thank you all for being here today. I wanted to report back to our society and you. Once again, it is a great honor to be here. We have all been through a very challenging time and the Government, along with Parliament and society at large were engaged in the management of this process. Ultimately, our country has exited victoriously at this point in time.Initially, I wish to start with an overview of the region. Unprecedented challenge and crisis is faced on the continent of Europe. War in Ukraine is, of course, a huge challenge to us all. It has made a voluminous impact on the continent of Europe itself and our region and our country – everyone and global politics.It may be said that the entire world is experiencing a huge challenge, which has not been witnessed since WWII. We understand it well and it is a tremendous challenge. Therefore, it requires very prudent management. We pursue our policies accordingly. From day one, we are following the right policy and have been implementing it since then. I have said it many times and it is a shared approach of our team that we should be predominantly guided by the best interests of our country. We have been acting with this key motivation and idea, by pursuing the policy needed for our people in the first place and our national interests.Once again, I wish to state that we are very concerned with this war. I wish to once again demonstrate my support to the Ukrainian people, wishing them peace and quick ending of this war. We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. I once again wish to note that this war needs to end as soon as possible.Meanwhile, I wish to once again remind our public that during the pandemic, as well as in the post-pandemic phase, our country combatted a number of challenges. You may well remember that our country was not yet out of the pandemic, when the devastating war started, which gave rise to major problems of course. Nevertheless, with our joint efforts, we – together with our team, Parliament and authorities at large – managed to achieve a 10% economic growth for the second year in a row. This achievement and abundance is, of course, translated into the benefit of our people and reflected on our country, people and society.I wish to touch upon the main development of the year, which is a decision made by the EU on granting the European Perspective to Georgia, which was hard to imagine before. This war has accelerated the process. We understand it well. I wish to note that we were expecting the candidacy status, but we understand that it was only a political decision, rather than being a merit-based one. Georgia thus did not receive the candidacy status, though we believe that it will be granted to our country very soon. Reasons for thinking this way are the developments and successful reforms that we have all implemented, along with 12 recommendations defined for our country, implemented with high precision with engagement of us all – government, parliament, all of us. We are now expecting a decision to be made by our European colleagues. I wish to remind our society hereby that every achievement, every progress made in the past 10 years on the path of European integration is great merits to our team only – be that the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, DCFTA, Visa-Free Travel Arrangement and now an official application for EU membership with European Perspective granted to our country – all of these are great merits to the Georgian Dream!Now as for the economy, I wish to report on several specific results. First of all, let me repeat again that we are thrilled that economic growth will be 10% this year again. Last year it was 10.5%. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Per Capita in 2020 – for comparison – was around 4200 USD. It grew in 2021 and this year is expected to be about 6700 USD. Our forecast for 2023 will reach 8000 USD.Economy of our country in 2020 was around 50 BLN GEL, while it will be 80 BLN GEL in 2023, i.e. we have achieved a growth of 30 billion in 3 years. You may agree that it is quite significant progress. However, we understand that this pace should not stop and more needs to be done with greater responsibility, higher speed. We should continue with our progress and reforms.External Debt – for your information – was increased to 60% of GDP in 2020, while we succeeded in reducing it to 39% in 2022 and it will further decline next year and reach 38%. External Debt volume has been reduced by over 22% within 2 years. During the pandemic – you may recall – the budget deficit was very high at 9.3%. When I was appointed as the Prime Minister of Georgia last year, it was reduced to 6.1% and later – this year – to under 3%. Next year it will be 2.8%, which is also a considerable progress. I wish to thank everyone [engaged in this process].Now, as for the export indicators: you may be aware that in the past 2 years we substantially increased exports from the country. Jan-Nov (11 months of 2022) data evidence that it has been increased by 32%, amounting to over 5 BLN USD. Domestic exports increased by 21%, amounting to 3.4 BLN USD. Trade volumes in Jan-Nov (11 months of 2022) reached 17 BLN USD, which – compared to the previous year – evidenced a 32% increase. I wish to hereby note that trade volume in the first 10 months of the year exceeds the annual indicator of the previous one.Tourism has recovered at a high speed. It could be said that it recovered completely. We have more room to increase it further next year. Proceeds from tourism amount to 3.2 BLN USD.I wish to note herewith that transportation of cargo by road, rail and other means is record-high amounting 25 billion tons, which is almost 20% higher than the respective indicator of the previous year.Dear Friends, it was a positive year for the foreign direct investments (FDI) as well. Indicator for 2022 increased by 100%, amounting to about 1.7 BLN USD during the first 10 months of the year. If we compare this indicator with that of 2021, the increase will be 100%, as I told you already, and 72% in contrast with 2019. I wish to note that the share of the EU in the FDI is 47%.Poverty and unemployment, naturally, is our main challenge for our government in the country. Our declared policy is to overcome poverty and reduction of unemployment in the most efficient manner. Q3 of the year stood out in this context as well. Unemployment level dropped to the historic minimum and amounted 15.6%. I also wish to tell you that 229 000 new jobs were created within 2 years – from Q2 of 2021 through Q3 of 2022. Thus, 229 000 people got employed within almost 2 years, out of which 209 000 jobs were created in the private sector and you may be aware that several months ago we launched a program of public works, which envisaged the employment of socially vulnerable, but otherwise capable individuals. Over 30 000 socially vulnerable people got employed in the past 6-7 months. Resources are wide-ranging as you may well be aware that 200 000 individuals in the country are regarded as socially vulnerable, but otherwise capable individuals. Our aim is to get them all employed both in the public and private sectors.Very briefly, I also wish to say that – as I told you – we expect a 10% economic growth this year and according to the medium-term forecast Georgia will have one of the highest economic growth indicators in the region and throughout Europe. These are projections of our partners – IMF and World Bank.Now, as for the energy sector: it is one of the key sectors, which should be developed further and with greater effort. We need to attract more investments. Past 5 years were almost idle in terms of investments to the sector. Under my instructions, active work was pursued with the IMF and we agreed to introduce a new scheme. It has already been approved at the Executive Government Meeting. Tenders will be announced for 1500 megawatts in total. Apart from this, there are the 800 megawatts already committed under the PPA (Power Purchase Agreement). That will be commissioned as well. So, overall, we are referring to at least 2300 megawatts of energy capacity a year that will be generated at hydro power plants (HPP). It translates into an investment of almost 3 BLN USD. It includes hydro, wind and solar energy, which is so important for our energy security and energy independence.I wish to clarify for our society once again that development of energy generation has a tremendous importance for the energy security and energy independence of Georgia, especially against the background of what is happening now in Europe – energy crisis, price increase, when an average price per kilowatt of power energy is 20 cents in European countries. It even went up to 80 cents in Germany in summer. Other countries had 50 and 60, but the average price is 20 cents. Price on energy is very cheap in Georgia. That is why I highlight that more efforts need to be taken towards this end. For that very purpose, we approved a new scheme, as I told you. Besides, we made a successful step forward within this domain. You may well be aware that I was visiting Bucharest a few weeks ago and we launched a historic project. It is an entirely Georgian initiative. We brought it to the EU, to our partners, to our friendly Azerbaijan and Romania. We started to implement it together with Romania, which was joined by Azerbaijan, Hungary and acquired full support of the EU. You have seen that Mrs. Von der Leyen was with us in Bucharest and we celebrated the launch of the project. Feasibility Study will be completed and made readily available in a few months. We will then move to active work towards this end. What will it bring to the country? One may ask. It may be said that it is similar by scale and magnitude to Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC). It is a means of guaranteed sales of power directly linking our grid to the EU grid and market. It is a project of truly historic significance! It will cost about 2-3 BLN USD and we will implement it together with all those countries who signed the Memorandum. That is why, I once again wish to note that it is essential for Georgia to have the relevant energy generation capacity and that is why we need the power energy generation facilities to be built in terms of wind, solar and hydro, as well as thermal power plants to make sure that we sell our share of power energy to the EU, which will generate hundreds of millions in revenues for our country and be ultimately reflected on our people as an overwhelming benefit. I wish to note herewith that when economic growth is ahead of energy generation, it is essential to change the proportion and correlation. Energy generation should be ahead of economic growth in the country. It is believed to be the right sequence.Very briefly, I also wish to say that we had a discussion on this topic. You may recall that several weeks ago I announced that Anaklia Port will be built by our – Government – decision. State should be the owner of this strategic asset. State will thus own 51% of Anaklia Port. Poti Port is privatized. Batumi Port is privatized as well. We have no leverage to regulate the tariffs or other aspects of their operation. Especially when Central Asian countries agree that diversification and identification of new routes is essential, our corridor acquires a special importance. Particular focus is made on our corridor and that is why ports, infrastructure and railway need to operate smoothly. That is why we pay special attention and will make efforts and investments. On the remaining 49% we wish to announce an international tender. Many companies are expressing their interest and in the coming months we will have the result known.
Findings and Recommendations of CPT Report on Ad Hoc Monitoring Carried out in Georgian Penitentiary Establishments
On July 11, 2022, the Public Defender of Georgia organized a public discussion of the findings and recommendations of the report on the ad hoc monitoring carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in the penitentiary establishments of Georgia.
The ad hoc visit was conditioned by specific circumstances, including and primarily by the report published by the Public Defender in 2020, which referred to informal governance in the penitentiary system and frequent cases of inter-prisoner violence.
In her opening remarks, the Public Defender of Georgia spoke about the importance of the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and thanked the organization for its activities in Georgia. She also noted that the findings of the Committee's report were actually identical to the problems indicated in the Public Defender's reports. The findings include the prison criminal subculture reflected in the annual reports of the Public Defender, shortage of staff and their low qualifications, lack of rehabilitation services and the need to establish a fair and transparent parole mechanism.
The Public Defender emphasized that violence against prisoners by prison staff no longer has a systematic character in Georgia. However, unfortunately, the repressive methods of the management of prisoners by prison staff has been replaced by the repressive management of prisoners by a small group of prisoners privileged by the prison administrations (the so-called prison watchers).
According to Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, the reports and recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the Public Defender of Georgia will help the penitentiary system improve its work; He expressed satisfaction with the fact that violence in prisons no longer has a systemic character and spoke about the supervision of the reforms in the penitentiary system by the Parliament.
Deputy Minister of Justice Tornike Cheishvili emphasized the challenges in the penitentiary system and the readiness to solve them; He reviewed the planned legislative changes and spoke about the importance of focusing on the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the Public Defender of Georgia.
The monitoring report was presented by Borys Wodz, head of the CPT division responsible for visits. According to him, it is difficult to control large prisons, especially given that more than a thousand prisoners are controlled by 20-30 employees in some of the institutions. He noted that Georgian prisons do not ensure reasonable differentiation of inmates based on their criminal record and the possibility of correction (recidivists and first-time offenders are placed together).
He also spoke about improper living conditions, saying that some prisoners repair their cells, buy furniture and equipment, but other cells are in a very bad condition. Nor is the quantitative distribution equal - different numbers of prisoners live in cells of the same size.
Borys Wodz emphasized the lack of opportunities for engagement in activities. The vast majority of prisoners have nothing to do nor the opportunity to get an education that would have helped them avoid criminal subculture. The inadequate level of treatment of persons with mental health problems is also clearly visible.
Deputy Public Defender Giorgi Burjanadze reviewed the activities of the National Preventive Mechanism of Georgia and noted that the main task of the Office was to find ways to solve problems. He spoke about the necessary changes, including the common issues referred to both by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the Public Defender of Georgia, such as dividing the penitentiary system into relatively small institutions and creating a balanced infrastructure, reducing the number of prisoners, shortage of staff, their working conditions, operational capabilities and accountability.
He singled out the issue of rehabilitation, noting that prisoners do not see the importance of engaging in activities, since the most important thing for them - parole mechanism is flawed and constant unjustified decisions cause their just dissatisfaction. The Public Defender thinks that improving the parole mechanism and focusing more on individual characteristics when making decisions would be a simple and quick method of encouraging prisoners to engage in rehabilitation activities. At the same time, this change would also reduce the influence of criminal subculture.
Performance Report of the Prime Minister of Georgia
"Dear Speaker of the Parliament! Dear Members of Parliament! Dear Members of Government! Mr. Mayor! Let me greet you all and media representatives. I am honored to present our Annual Performance Report, which has been submitted in writing prior to this meeting. I wish to speak in detail about the achievements that our country had in the past year. Naturally, I wish to start with our main achievement, which we all witnessed several days ago. Namely, the European Commission made a historic decision on June 17 by a much desired entry in an official document. I wish to remind everyone again that this entry was indeed a historic decision of the European Commission. First time ever, entry on our European Perspective. The European Commission clearly worded out its recommendation addressed to the European Council in a document for granting a European Perspective to Georgia to eventually let us accede to the European Union. It is a historic decision of the European Commission.
Secondly, what I wish to say is that our expectation was a candidacy status to be granted to Georgia, as Ukraine and Moldova did. It is understandable that we witnessed a different approach. I wish to explain it in detail for our people and honorable MPs.
Our team in the authorities did its best to address the heavy legacy what we witnessed when coming to power: dictatorship, authoritatian regime used to be practiced in real terms, whereby people were slautered, tortured, raped, while businesses and assets were foreclosed, families were smitten. After such a heavy legacy with no sign of democracy and no media freedom in the country, no independent judiciary existed before we came to power and the entire governing scheme and system was operating as a repressive system to suppress and destroy people and their livelihood. This was a legacy we witnessed when coming to power on October 1, 2012. I wish to remind everyone that the judiciary operated as a mere notary service and whatever instructions came from the prosecution the same court rulings would be issued by judges. It was the legacy you left us, honorable ones. As for media freedom, no opposition channel existed in the country back then.
I heard a complaint that we should talk with ordinary people about what we did during the past 10 years. Of course, we will once again remind them and our dear people what we have been doing during these 10 years. However, I wish to remind it to all within a context of EU integration. We need to remind our population and partners - foreign friends - that we truly inherited a most devastated legacy. Of course, we know it well that no sign of democracy existed in the country. No real, strong opposition channel existed in the media landscape of the country, but we hear the same people talking about media freedom. It is great merits to our planned and implemented reforms that any broadcasting company may be incorporated within 10 business days nowadays. With this indicator we are much ahead of others, including some of the EU member states.
Press Service of the Government Administration
Report on Impact of Covid 19 on Health and Other Rights of Prisoners and Staff of Penitentiary System
On May 11, 2022, the Public Defender of Georgia and Prevention for Progress, a non-governmental organization, presented a joint report “Impact of Covid 19 on the Health and Other Rights of Prisoners and Staff of the Penitentiary System." The study assesses the impact of special measures taken by the Special Penitentiary Service from March 2020 through 2021 on the rights situation of prisoners.
According to the study, the measures taken to stop the spread of the virus had a positive impact on the prevention of Covid 19. The above was also contributed by the allocation of quarantine spaces and isolation of suspicious patients. The importance of mass and regular PCR and rapid antigen testing of the staff and inmates played a key role in the early detection of the disease. According to the interviews with the medical personnel and prisoners, the vaccination process was proceeding at a good pace in the penitentiaries. In addition, compared to a similar study conducted in 2017, the percentage of respondents, who think that food quantity is inadequate, decreased in 2021.
The results of the study show that restrictions were overused during the pandemic period and no appropriate efforts were made to find possible alternative solutions. No appropriate steps were taken by the state institution to reduce the number of prisoners. During the evaluation process, special attention was paid to the medical issues. The study showed that the number of medical personnel decreased, which led to delays in the provision of medical care. Due to delays and reductions in outpatient services, the number of transfers of prisoners to civil sector hospitals increased, as well as the number of cases of emergency transfers to medical facilities. The reduction in the provision of outpatient psychiatric care also had a negative impact on the mental health of inmates, increasing the need for treatment in psychiatric facilities.
The pandemic and the measures taken negatively affected prisoners' contact with the outside world. The study made it clear that the free phone minutes added as compensation during the period of restrictions were not sufficient to counterbalance the restrictions. Prisoners were restricted from contacting lawyers, psychologists and social workers, and they were unable to receive the relevant services. The number of rehabilitation programmes also significantly reduced. The study also showed that the living and working conditions of the employees, who were not allowed to leave the facilities, were difficult.