EU Covenant of Mayors marks 10th anniversary in the Eastern Partnership region
Over 200 representatives of local and national authorities from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and the EU Member States have met in Tbilisi for a two-day conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the EU Covenant of Mayors in the Eastern Partnership region.
A series of discussions organised throughout the event included a regional workshop hosted by the EU4Climate project, a joint EU and UNDP initiative to assist Eastern partnership countries in fulfilling their climate pledges.
The workshop participants discussed the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and low-emission development strategies on local and regional levels.
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Visa and Rooms Hotels Partnership in Georgia Embarks on New Phase
Tbilisi, Sep 06, 2023 – Visa, the world leader in digital payments, and Rooms Hotels, world known brand in the hospitality industry from Georgia, announced a new stage in their partnership, engaging Visa Consulting & Analytics (VCA) expertise and innovative solutions to support Rooms Hotels.
The new partnership sees VCA playing a key role in providing strategic support to Rooms Hotels by allocating Visa consulting and various other Visa functions in joint projects. The partnership aims at creating exclusive offers for Visa cardholders at Rooms Hotels.
The launch of the new collaboration was marked by the special event held in the Rooms Hotel Courtyard in Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi. The happening featured the representatives of Rooms Hotels and Visa, including Valeri Chekheria, Rooms Hotels Lab CEO, Roberto De Meo, Vice President of Visa Consulting & Analytics, CEMEA, and Diana Kiguradze, Visa Regional Manager for the Caucasus Region.
“Visa Consulting and Analytics (VCA) Team is delighted to partner with Rooms Hotels, a leading hospitality brand in Georgia and a name known worldwide for its portfolio of innovative and design-oriented hotels that cater to different segments of travelers. VCA's rich global expertise, knowledge, unique insights, and local experience can benefit Rooms Hotels with a deeper understanding of the latest and emerging trends, market dynamics and customer needs in the hospitality industry - all of which are critical to further improve offerings and services to most demanding clients,” Roberto De Meo, Vice President of Visa Consulting & Analytics, CEMEA, said.
VCA represents a major source of value for Visa, with experts in strategy, product, portfolio management, risk, digital, and more with decades of experience in the payments industry.
“We are celebrating yet another great milestone in our years-long partnership with Rooms Hotels.Our companies started collaboration 3 years ago, and together, we've redefined what it means to provide remarkable experiences for guests and Visa cardholders. Customers will get more tailored offers and better customer experiences matching their travel profiles and expectations when staying at Rooms Hotels. Visa remains steadfast in fortifying the local business ecosystem in the country and fostering tourism ecosystem development,” Diana Kiguradze, Visa Regional Manager in the Caucasus Region, said.
Valeri Chekheria, Chief Executive Officer. Valeri is a business leader, hospitality consultant and dedicated philanthropist. Before joining Slow end-2021, he led Tbilisi-based Adjara Group building a diverse portfolio of renowned hotels and trend-setting entrepreneurial projects. Prior he served as Chief of Staff to the Georgian Minister of Economic Development and the Minister of Finance. He holds a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs. In 2018, Valeri was appointed as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
About Visa Consulting & Analytics (VCA)
Visa Consulting & Analytics (VCA) is the payments consulting arm of Visa. We are a global team of several hundred payments consultants and data scientists across six continents. Our consultants are experts in strategy, product, portfolio management, risk, digital and more with decades of experience in the payments industry. Our data scientists are experts in statistics, advanced analytics and machine learning with exclusive access to insights from VisaNet, one of the largest payment networks in the world. The combination of our deep payments consulting expertise and our breadth of data allows us to identify actionable insights and recommendations that drive better business decisions.
To learn more about VCA, please visit https://www.visa.com.ge/en_GE/services/visa-consulting-analytics.html
Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating payments transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement.
Learn more at visa.com.ge
US labels Foreign Agents bill setback to Georgia's aspirations, US ability to be Georgians' partners
“We see a draft piece of legislation that would be a tremendous setback. This would be a setback to the aspirations of the people of Georgia; it would be a setback to the ability of the United States to continue to be a partner for the people of Georgia,” Ned Price, US Department spokesperson stated at the briefing.
Ned Price commented on the People’s Power-tabled bill on the Transparency of Foreign Influence that the Parliament of Georgia adopted on March 7th in its first reading.
According to the spokesperson, “anyone who is voting for this draft legislation would be responsible in part for jeopardizing those very Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian people.
“You asked about the feeling here. The feeling here is one of deep concern. You have heard us express that sentiment consistently in recent days. It is a feeling of deep concern because of the potential implications of this draft law. This draft law would strike at some of the very rights that are central to the aspirations of the people of Georgia for a consolidated democracy, for Euro-Atlantic integration, and for a brighter future. It would stigmatize and silence independent voices and citizens of Georgia who wish to do nothing more than work together to build a brighter future, a future that is integrated with Europe, a future that is democratic and free, where Georgia is an independent and sovereign country,” Ned Price has said.
The spokesperson went on to say that the US was “deeply concerned and troubled, of course, for what this could mean for the people of Georgia.”
“We are so deeply concerned and troubled, of course, for what this could mean for the people of Georgia, but also because the United States has been a partner to Georgia over the course of recent decades. Ever since Georgia declared its independence, the United States has been right there with it supporting the aspirations of the Georgian people. And at the earliest days of Georgia’s independence, those aspirations were nascent. They were nothing more than an idea in some cases.
Over the course of ensuing decades, the people of Georgia have worked to realize those aspirations. They have made tremendous progress in becoming the democracy that they sought from those earliest days, in integrating Georgia into the Euro-Atlantic community and ensuring that Georgia stays on that path.
Now, however, we see a draft piece of legislation that would be a tremendous setback. This would be a setback to the aspirations of the people of Georgia; it would be a setback to the ability of the United States to continue to be a partner for the people of Georgia. I made this point yesterday, I think it was, but anyone who is voting for this draft legislation would be responsible in part for jeopardizing those very Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian people. We don’t wish to see that happen. Beyond the United States, it is the EU, the UN, of course most importantly the Georgian people, Georgian civil society groups – all of them have issued strong statements of concern about this draft legislation,” Ned Price stated.
The State Department spokesperson also stated that “the best counterexample is the United States partnership with Georgia,” as the United States are concerned, that partnership could be – at least in part – jeopardized should a law like this move forward.
“The best example is the counterexample. It is an example of the type of partnership that the United States Government can have with people and countries that aspire to continue down that path of democracy, of democratic reform, of integration with Europe and the broader Euro-Atlantic region. I think the best counterexample is the United States partnership with Georgia, if you want to look at what that partnership can look like, what that partnership can feel like, and how, as we are concerned, that partnership could be – at least in part – jeopardized should a law like this move forward.
Ultimately, these are going to be the decisions of the Georgian people and the Georgian Government. It is our strong hope that the Georgian Government listens to the Georgian people. The Georgian people are speaking with a clear voice. Right now, we’re seeing some of those clear voices, those loud voices drowned out by tear gas, by efforts to suppress those – that peaceful exercise of freedom of assembly. That’s of concern to us. But ultimately, we think it’s important that governments around the world, including, of course, the government in Tbilisi, listens to its people,” Price stated.
Alluding to a question whether “there is anything that prevents the United States Government from sanctioning Mr. Ivanishvili, “who is obviously bringing up this sort of legislations,” Ned Price stated: “I don’t speak to specific individuals or entities who may be subject to U.S. or other sanctions, but we have a number of tools within our purview that would allow us to hold accountable anyone in any country around the world who is responsible for the suppression of what would otherwise be a universal human right. There are authorities that are written into various laws, into executive orders that we will look at closely in this context, as we do in any context, to hold to account those who may run afoul of what the Georgian people want and, most importantly, what the Georgian people expect and deserve in terms of their universal rights.”
Covenant of Mayors in Eastern Partnership marks its 10 Years in the region
Over the course of ten years of its fruitful work, the Covenant of Mayors East brought together national stakeholders, regional authorities, local governments, civil society, and communities from almost 500 municipalities from the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. With more than 42% of the total population living in the municipalities committed to CoM East objectives, there is a clear positive trend of local authorities in the region joining the initiative.
The cooperation within the initiative aims to embark on the path of energy and climate transition, share the experience among signatories of the project, exchange the best practices, take advantage of the technical expertise and funding opportunities, encourage each other, and jointly search for efficient solutions to shared obstacles.
Organised in the framework of the EU-funded project Covenant of Mayors – Eastern Partnership, the high-level conference “10th Anniversary of the Covenant of Mayors in the Eastern Partnership Region” will take place on 29-30 November 2022 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Conference will host over 150 representatives, including local and national authorities, associations of local officials, and other stakeholders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, along with the EU institutions, EU Member States and international organisations’ representatives.
“I am very happy to see that the Covenant of Mayors initiative in the Eastern Partnership is ready to deliver on the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The ambition to cut emissions by 35% by 2030 demonstrates that your municipalities are truly stepping up to this challenge. With over 460 signatories, the Eastern Partnership region is a frontrunner and a great example for local authorities around the globe,” said Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East and Institution Building from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) at theEuropean Commission.
During the Conference, speakers will present the progress achieved by the Covenant and its signatories, and will reaffirm the EU’s strong political will to support EaP authorities in designing and implementing sustainable policies. The event will offer opportunities for discussing the main bottlenecks and barriers encountered by the signatory cities, providing effective recipes for success. It will also outline the future of the initiative and EU support to EaP municipalities in the perspective of the Green Deal and other European initiatives. The workshops, taking place on the second day of the event, will create a space for dialogue between local, national, and EU representatives on the implementation of SECAPs, examples of demonstration projects, and climate policy objectives.
Along with the project’s 10th Anniversary in the Eastern Partnership countries, the event also marks the launch of the CoM East third phase that started its work earlier this year. Moreover, from 2014 to 2021 a total of 33 Covenant of Mayors demonstration projects were implemented in the framework of the initiative with the budget of around 38.5 M€.
The Eastern Partnership countries, throughout the past ten years, were able to build a strong and supportive Covenant community, where both ministries and regional authorities’ associations play an important role by assisting the signatories in meeting their CO₂ reduction commitments and implementing climate change adaptation measures.
Don’t miss out! Free EU opportunities for young people across the Eastern Partnership
Whether you are a student or a young professional, involved in your community or even still at school, the European Union offers a wide range of free opportunities to young people in the six countries of the Eastern Partnership, ranging from scholarships to trainings, studying or volunteering abroad, internships, special facilities or grants.
Whether you are looking to widen your horizons, help your community, develop your skills or start a business, the EU has opportunities for you. But they can be hard to find: so to help you along, we have developed guides to youth opportunities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova or Ukraine.
Each guide is specific to its country, and highlights both international and local opportunities, as well as local contacts to help you to apply.
These guides are divided up into sections, with opportunities for:
- Civil society activists, young leaders, and volunteers
- If you are still at school
- Internships and training
- Young professionals
And if you’re looking for inspiration, a final section highlights the experience of young people like you, who have already benefited from EU opportunities.
So don’t miss out: start looking now and get ready to sign up!
EU4Youth cancels grant call to adapt to impact of war in Ukraine
In response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the EU4Youth programme has announced that it has decided to terminate its call for proposals “EU4Youth phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship: Fostering Youth Employment and Societal Change through Social Entrepreneurship”, which was published on 26 January 2022 and extended on 3 March.
“Following the military aggression initiated by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the war in the country and the flood of refugees have comprehensively changed the demographic situation, social environment and labour market in Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries,” the programme said, adding that the need to address the immediate war-related needs and to build capacities for crisis response, including re-qualification, integration to labour markets, and development of entrepreneurship skills, had significantly impacted the context of EU4Youth Phase III.
In order to address these challenges, the priorities of the grant, and the requirements for applicants and procedures will be revised accordingly.
Depending on the situation, further information about the status of the call for proposals “EU4Youth phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship: Fostering Youth Employment and Societal Change through Social Entrepreneurship” is planned to be announced until the end of April.
All those interested in the programme and potential grant applicants should subscribe to the EU4Youth newsletter for updates.