After endorsement of the agenda, the floor was given to MPs for statements. The Majority MP and the Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Tamar Khulordava made the statement on visa free travel for Georgian citizens to EU and Schengen zone and spoke about Georgia gaining its place back in the European family. “Once again, I’d like to congratulate our citizens with recognition of our country and with going back to our European family we aspire to”.
Despite of the challenges the EU states encounter, the hereof decision was made with the highest political support. She expressed support to Ukraine in visa liberalization and hoped for the positive decision on visa free travel for Ukrainian citizens made by EP. The Deputy Chair of the Faction “National Movement”, Salome Samadashvili spoke about the IRI-published surveys and confidence of the population to the state institutions.
The Majority MP and the Deputy Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Dimitri Tskitishvili spoke about gender equality and stated that the draft resolution on ratification of the CoE Convention (Istanbul Convention) on Prevention and Elimination of Violence against women and Domestic Violence considered by the Parliament is important.
As he noted, Georgia will be the first country in the region ratifying and implementing the document. The Faction “Patriots of Georgia” MP, Ada Marshania spoke about the problems of affected with mortgage and called on the Government to set up the Ad Hoc Commission.
MPs made the statements on economic policy, construction of new railway station in Kutaisi, achievements in vocational education and relevant issues ongoing in the country.
The Committee considered the Regional Convention on Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Preventive Origin Rules, introduced by the Deputy-Finance Minister, Giorgi Tabuashvili. Enactment of DCFTA allowed Georgia accessing to the Regional Convention, envisaging definition of the country of origin of goods according to the diagonal cumulation. Georgia is allowed enjoying diagonal cumulation with Turkey. After simplified processing, Georgian exporters have the opportunity to enjoy the preferential usage of introduction of production to EU market.
In view of usage of diagonal cumulation with Turkey, Georgia needs free trade regime between Georgia, EU and Turkey with identical origin rules in each party. Enactment of diagonal cumulation between Georgia, EU and Turkey grants additional possibility to Georgia to increase local manufacture through Turkish raw material, to attract export-oriented foreign investments and improve export index with EU.
“Currently, 23 countries have accessed the Convention. Georgia will have the opportunity to produce with Turkish and Moldovan raw material and export to EU and enjoy same preferences as granted to Georgia by EU”, - G. Tabuashvili stated.
“It is the continuation of the processes we have recently launched. We have already reflected the respective changes to the Protocol II to the Free Trade Agreement with Turkey. Accession to Convention will allow us using diagonal cumulation with EU and Turkey and use Turkish raw material for local production to be exported to EU markets as originated in Georgia”, - the Chair, Tamar Khulordava stated. The Committee supported the draft.
On March 28 the EU decision on visa free travel for Georgia enters into force. “The decision on visa free travel to Georgia was made by the European Parliament on February 2. March 28 is a historical day for modern Georgia as it his opportunity becomes real for Georgian citizens. I would like to congratulate our citizens with this significant progress and wish Georgia good luck on EU integration path”, - the Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Tamar Khulordava stated at the briefing.
This decision is a result of the reforms held in Georgia with active participation of all Governmental branches. “It is valuation of the wide-scale legislative and institutional reforms we started in February, 2013 since Georgia was granted VLAP. Georgian citizens were the witnesses of the entire process. We expected the day when we would be able to state that since now on Georgian citizens with biometric passports are entitled to travel visa free to EU”.
This day and this decision are historical not only because travel to Europe will be technically simplified but because this day is the symbol that Georgia regains its appurtenant historical place in European family amongst the countries to which Georgia always belonged according to the value system, approaches and ambition. She also spoke about active campaign on visa liberalization for public awareness. “We shall take due responsibility to realization of this right. I am glad to see the active campaign by Georgian Government to inform Georgian citizens about visa free travel to Europe and Schengen. All the citizens shall realize the responsibility imposed on us as we all saw the vast time realization of this opportunity took. It is no reality and it is the matter of our dignity how we will realize it”.
She called on Georgian citizens to have high responsibility and adhere to the regulations established in EU. “Once again, let me congratulate you with this progress and I wish it not to be the last step of our progress to European family. We have higher ambitions and we are aspired to make our European wishes come true. Europe is our common future and we shall stand united on this path”.
The Parliamentary Delegation, headed by the Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Tamar Khulordava participated in the joint meeting of the EuroNest PA Political and Social Committees.
The Deputy Chair of EU Integration Committee, Beka Natsvlishvili was elected as the Vice Co-Chair of the EuroNest PA Social Committee. T. Khulordava hailed the EuroNest PA activity and underlined importance of cooperation of EP and partner Parliaments. The Committees considered the report on state of women on labor markets in Eastern Europe.
Georgian MP, Guguli Magradze noted that enhancement of gender equality requires intensive involvement of women in economic activity. B. Natsvlishvili spoke about necessity of structural transformation of economy in view of realization of rights of women and elimination of inequality.
The Committees discussed freedom of media in EU and EaP. Georgian MPs, Sergi Kapanadze and Salome Samadashvili emphasized Rustavi2 developments.
T. Khulordava spoke about priorities of Georgian Government in terms of freedom and pluralism of media. She introduced the achievements and tasks of democratic reforms and noted that they serve for ultimate goal – EU membership of the country. Politicizing media-related issues will not improve the process. She called on her colleagues to abstain from involvement in consideration of particular dispute. The engaged experts when speaking about freedom of media in the region noted that in terms of media freedom and pluralism, Georgia occupies the leading position. The delegates discussed the EaP upcoming Summit.
The meeting along with T. Khulordava was also attended by Georgian MPs, Dimitri Tskitishvili, Beka Natsvlishvili, Guguli Magradze, Sergi Kapanadze and Salome Samadashvili.
The Chair of the EU Integration Committee echoing the initiative of the Prime Minister to set up the Media-Ombudsman OfficeTuesday, 07 March 2017 10:30
The Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Ms. Tamar Khulordava held the meeting with the Ambassador of Hungary, H.E. Sandor Sabo. The Ambassador emphasized importance of the visit of the Parliamentary Delegation to USA and estimated it as success of Georgian diplomacy. The parties spoke about historical friendship and cooperation between Georgia and Hungary.
The Ambassador Sabo expressed intact support to EU integration of Georgia. The parties discussed the inter-Committee cooperation perspectives. The Ambassador invited the Committee to Hungary.
The Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Ms. Tamar Khulordava and the Deputy, Mr. Beka Natsvlishvili held the meeting with the Rector of Tbilisi State University, Mr. Giorgi Sharvashidze and the students.
The parties at the 2-hour meeting, discussed foreign political course, EU aspiration, respective challenges, EUAA and DCFTA implementation, as well as visa free regime with Schengen states and institutional and legislative harmonization with EU.
The TSU Rector opened the meeting. “Soon, we will celebrate the 99th anniversary of the University. 99 years ago, when TSU was established, the then Patriarch, Kirion II stated: we establish the High European School to be based on European traditions but resolutely stand on Georgian land. It was the most modern estimation of the University. TSU is the place for consideration of many issues, including our aspiration to EU, our future in Europe”.
MPs spoke about European perspective, Georgia-EU challenges, EUAA obligations, efforts of Georgian Government to implement these obligations and the role of the Parliament in EU integration. According to T. Khulordava, Georgia, since independence, aspires to Euopre, as to its natural place. “We are the part of Europe. Our EU integration is related to our aspiration to regain the place and access to the union called the modern civilized world… it is our aspiration, it is our aim and the guideline of our policy”.
She emphasized economic integration with EU and touched upon ongoing political processes in EU member states and their possible impact on further enlargement of EU.
Mr. Natsvlishvili spoke about European values as the basis for European identity. “Europe first of all, is the system of values. It is the states caring about welfare of their citizens. Our aim is to not merely access to EU but to acknowledge values so to live in European manner. EU integration of Georgia is the lifestyle practiced by Europe. Obligations outlined by Europe shall be implemented by us to further approximate to EU in value terms”.
The students asked about challenges and threats of EU membership, as well as the benefits of EU integration. The parties also spoke about visa liberalization risks and benefits. MPs thanked the TSU Rector and students for invitation and agreed on future meetings. “We made the decision to establish the Expert Club in TSU for constant contact with the Parliament. We will hold meetings and will try to inter-relate the academic and legislative spaces through University”, - G. Sharvashidze stated.
The Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Ms. Tamar Khulordava participated in the meeting of COSAC Chairs. Malta, for the period of January-July, 2017, as the EU Council presiding state, will lead the coordination of political processes and legislative activity of EU. The Speaker of the Parliament of Malta, and the Ministers of European Affairs and of Tourism delivered the speeches and introduced the priorities of Malta with presiding authorities.
The First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans addressed the attendees and spoke about the role of the National Parliaments in development of EU policy. The delegates discussed the EC action plan for 2017.
T. Khulordava spoke about achievements of Georgia, democratic development priorities and the approach and the role of the new Parliament to implementation of these priorities. She underlined importance of prompt accomplishment of the procedures necessary for visa free regime for Georgia. She hoped that Malta, as the EU presiding state, will attach respective attention to EU aspiration of Georgia. She also held the bilateral meetings with the Chairs of the European Affairs Committees of the Parliaments of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia and Malta. COSAC unifies the Committees on European Affairs of 28 EU member states and the leadership of the EP.
The COSAC activity aims at enhancement of the role of the National Parliaments in development of EU policy. The Presidential Troika and the Parliament of the EU Presiding state head COSAC (currently, Malta). EU candidate states are allowed to participate in COSAC sessions in capacity of the observers.
The Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sofio Katsarava and the Chair of the Committee on European Integration, Tamar Khulordava along with the Ambassadors of Estonia, Sweden, Lithuania and Latvia visited the Tech Park.
According to Ms. Katsarava, Tech Park, as the Centre for Innovations and Technologies of Georgia, allows establishment of new technologies as on local so on global markets and is competitive. “I had the greatest desire to introduce our innovative project to the Ambassadors, which was established in capacity of Tech Park in Georgia. It is an effective platform for realization of creative ideas, which is important for stimulation and motivation of our new generations. We also considered the visit of the Chairmen of the Parliaments of NB8 states scheduled in spring in Georgia”.
According to her, Tech Park is as well now operating in Zugdidi and will be further extended.
The MPs heard the reports by the Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze and the State Minister on EU and NATO Integration, Victor Dolidze. The meeting serves the maximal openness and cooperation between the Parliament and the Government.
“I hail enactment of the Parliamentary role and coordinated cooperation with the Ministries. It is the process to be further enhanced. Last month was important in terms of the visits by the Foreign Minister and State Minister on EU Integration, also in terms of high level visits to Georgia”, - the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sofio Katsarava stated.
The Ministers reported concerning visa liberalization and ongoing international activity, as well as activity for November-December, 2016. The joint meeting was chaired by the Chairs, Sofio Katsarava and Tamar Khulordava.
According to M. Janelidze, after vote of confidence, the Government served the first visit to Brussels, EU structures and NATO. “It was a confirmation of intact course of the Government on EU and NATO integration. We held the meetings with the leaders and the parties further triggering visa liberalization and eliminating impediments. The decision was made on so-called suspension mechanism. EP-CoE has achieved informal political agreement formally endorsed by EU Council. The EP will further finalize the process”.
EU LIBE Committee will consider the issue in January. “EU Parliament holds the Presidential elections in January. We believe that EP will at the nearest session vote for the issue to serve the pre-condition for translation and technical procedures followed with enactment of the decision”. Georgian Government does not expect any suspensions. “We obtained support with the reforms implemented and trust towards Georgia, also with the progress recognized by all partners. So, I believe the process will soon be accomplished”.
Next year will be active in terms of NATO-Georgia relations. The PM of Georgia met with the NATO Secretary General to consider cooperation details and the progress of Georgia in terms of NATO decision implementation. NATO-Georgia Commission schedule the session to hear the annual action plan by the State Minister on EU and NATO Integration. He emphasized NATO Defense Ministerial in February with active participation of Georgia. “We have appealed for participation of Defense Minister in NATO-Georgia Commission sitting. NATO Military Committee schedules the visit in March to estimate defense reforms”.
NATO Secretary General gave the positive estimation to reforming in Defense Ministry. M. Janelidze spoke about meeting on strategic communication in March and 2017-2018 NATO Summits, as well as Black Sea security dialogue. He spoke about Georgia-USA relations and stated that Georgia-USA strategic partnership has been enhanced during the last 25 years and it shall gain new results within the new Administration. “US-Georgia cooperation will be the priority for all Governmental agencies, especially after the new Administration. In this regards, I hail the Parliamentary activity. we have contacts with Presidential administration and political groups to keep Georgia urgent on US foreign policy agenda. Our strategic partnership has been enhanced during the last 25 years and we expect better results within the new Administration”.
M. Janelidze spoke about progress of the Government in terms of political, sector and trade integration and emphasized EU-Georgia relation directions, such are: security and defense, anti-terrorist activity, international mission involvement, cyber security, economic-sector cooperation.
The Chair of EU Integration Committee, Tamar Khulordava asked V. Dolidze to re-elucidate the procedures on finalization of visa liberalization. She asked about the plans of the Government on public awareness. She emphasized visit of EP Delegation to Georgia and the Article 49 of the joint statement providing far-going plans of Georgia on EU Integration – ultimate goal is EU membership.
According to Victor Dolidze, membership to NATO and EU is the primary and ultimate goal of the Government. “NATO and EU membership is the primary and ultimate goal of foreign and security policy of the Government. We are in under EUAA and economic integration process. In terms of approximation with NATO and inter-operability and defense capacity, we make huge steps evidenced with the decisions made at the last two summits by NATO. It is the process requiring significant steps and correct planning”.
The Government will soon endorse the “Information and Communication Action Plan on EU-Georgia Visa Liberalization Issues”, comprehensively providing the remedies concerning informational campaign on VL covering as the Capital, so the regions. “The Government representatives will visit the regions to elucidate about correct behavior not to prevent the process. The society shall be informed via TV and advertisements, as well as radio, social networks, websites and newspapers”. Involvement of executive and legislative bodies, as well as civil sector is important.
The Ministers answered the questions and expressed commitment for intensification of the meetings.
In the end, the Chair of Foreign Relations Committee spoke about necessity of enhancement of bilateral relations with strategic partners and enactment of relations between Parliamentary Friendship Groups.