Tag Archives: Georgia

EU: Georgia elections “competitive”

“Georgia held the first round of its 2020 Parliamentary elections on 31 October, under a revised electoral system and with high voter turnout, despite the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic.” the statement of the European External Actions Service reads.

“According to the joint statement of preliminary findings and conclusions of the international observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE, Council of Europe and NATO, the elections were competitive and, overall, fundamental freedoms were respected.

“The observers noted, however, that the conduct of the elections was impacted by pervasive allegations of pressure on voters and blurring of the line between the ruling party and the state throughout the campaign and on election day, reducing public confidence in some aspects of the process.

“Ensuring the highest democratic standards throughout the entire electoral process, including during the second round, remains key, as well as a fair, transparent and rigorous handling of all complaints and appeals. It is important that all parties continue to adhere to democratic principles and standards and respect for human rights. Ensuring conditions for a free and pluralistic media environment is extremely important including to allow voters to make a fully informed choice. The European Union will remain very attentive to developments during the remainder of the electoral period and in particular on the day of the second round.

“The revised legal framework provided a sound basis for the holding of democratic elections. Recent legislative amendments partially addressed previous OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe/Venice Commission recommendations, however, although a number remain outstanding. It will be important to continue addressing shortcomings in the electoral framework, including the final recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR, through an inclusive dialogue, after the second round on 21 November.

“The European Union stands by a democratic, stable, prosperous and inclusive Georgia and continues to support Georgia’s process of political association and economic integration with the EU as per its Association Agreement”.

EU-Georgia human rights dialogue

The EU and Georgia held the 13th round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue by video-conference on 2 July 2020. Reviewing developments since the previous dialogue in May 2019, the dialogue allowed as previously for an open, constructive exchange on the human rights situation in Georgia, on Georgia’s commitment to making sustainable progress in human rights protection and on the latest developments with the EU’s policy for the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights.

The sides stressed their commitment to the universality of human rights for all, regardless of religion or belief, ethnic origin, race, sex, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability or other. The EU and Georgia welcomed progress on human rights protection in Georgia, and acknowledged the particular challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic to international human rights protection.

The EU reaffirmed its support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. The EU expressed concern about the deterioration of the human rights situation in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, especially with regard to ethnic discrimination in particular towards ethnic Georgians, restriction of freedom of movement, including for health care and access to other social services, arbitrary detentions, violation of property rights and education in mother tongue, as well as about the persistent obstacles to the safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their homes.

The EU and Georgia reaffirmed that the Russian Federation has an obligation to implement the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, and stressed the need for tangible results in the Geneva International Discussions in order to solve the security and human rights challenges of people affected by the conflict. The EU expressed deep concern about the complete closure of the administrative boundary line in Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia since September 2019, which has led to critical humanitarian consequences in Akhalgori district particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic. The sides underlined the importance of ending impunity in the cases of deprivation of life of Georgian citizens Archil Tatunashvili and Giga Otkhozoria. The EU and Georgia stressed the need for unhindered access by international humanitarian and human rights mechanisms of the relevant international organisations, as well as the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), to both Georgian regions. The EU encouraged increased efforts in addressing the fate of missing persons with a view to giving closure. The EU reiterated its support to Georgia’s peace initiative “A Step to a Better Future” aimed at improving the socio-economic situation of conflict-affected people and at building confidence among the divided communities and welcomed its implementation

The EU welcomed the adoption of the constitutional amendments in Parliament on 29 June 2020 that establish a more proportional electoral system and will promote greater parliamentary pluralism. The EU raised the importance of adopting, with broad parliamentary support, ambitious electoral reform legislation arising from the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations as well as the importance of its timely adoption and effective implementation. Both sides agreed on the importance of maintaining a free and pluralistic media environment, and political pluralism as a prerequisite for the conduct of democratic elections, including in the context of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. The parties agreed on the importance of the fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and committed to upholding them for all.

The EU welcomes progress on support to those belonging to ethnic minorities and ensuring civic integration processes in Georgia and encourages Georgia to continue efforts to improve the participation of women and representatives of those belonging to ethnic minorities in all areas of public life.

The EU recalled the importance of combating all forms of discrimination and of protection and better integration of those belonging to vulnerable groups including LGBTI persons. The EU welcomed Georgia’s efforts to continue ensuring the effective implementation of its anti-discrimination law and strengthening the policy framework. The EU also encouraged Georgia to progress on legislation and coordinated efforts to deliver real benefits in the lives of persons with disabilities.

The EU noted progress made in combatting domestic violence and all violence against women, hate crimes and discrimination, and ensuring victim-centred investigations. The EU recalled the importance of implementing commitments related to the Istanbul Convention.

The Georgian Inter-Agency Human Rights Council’s meaningful cooperation with civil society was recalled and the EU encouraged Georgia to continue integrating the voice of civil society into the policy making process. The valuable ongoing work of the Public Defender’s Office and the new State Inspectorate Service was also discussed and the important role of independent oversight bodies in holding governments to account and in shaping laws and policies.

The EU welcomed progress in the implementation of the Law on Occupational Safety to all sectors of the economy and again encouraged efforts to ensure that the labour inspectorate is transformed into a fully-fledged labour inspectorate. The EU welcomed the adoption of the Child Rights Code and progress with the Juvenile Justice Code as part of necessary efforts to address the situation of children in vulnerable situations and children in situations of extreme poverty. The EU stressed the importance of finalising the deinstitutionalisation process.

The EU noted the considerable progress made in and priority attached by Georgia to preventing torture and ill-treatment. The EU welcomed the ongoing reform of the penitentiary and crime prevention systems under the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and human-centred corona responses of the Special Penitentiary Service. The EU looked forward to the continued implementation of all recommendations of the Committee on the Prevention of Torture and of the National Preventive Mechanism.

The parties highlighted the importance of coordinated work to protect and promote human rights utilising national policy mechanisms, such as the National Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan. The parties also agreed to continue to identify ways to further strengthen their cooperation on human rights issues in multilateral fora, including the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe and on the importance of strengthening multilateralism. The EU welcomed Georgia’s achievements under its Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The EU also welcomed Georgia’s continued active engagement in the “Good Human Rights Stories” initiative. In line with its policy of consulting civil society ahead of its meetings on human rights, the EU drew on the valuable input of Georgian and international NGOs and international and regional organisations active in Georgia.

The Georgian delegation was headed by Mr. Vakhtang Makharoblishvili, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs while the EU delegation was led by Mr Richard Tibbels, Head of Division in the European External Action Service. The dialogue took place back-to-back with the Justice, Freedom and Security Subcommittee meeting on 1 July. The next Human Rights Dialogue between the EU and Georgia is scheduled to take place in Tbilisi in 2021.

EU calls actors in S.Ossetia and Georgia to restrian

“Rising tensions along the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) of break-away South Ossetia in Georgia are completely unacceptable. So are factually incorrect statements from within South Ossetia concerning security actions and developments on the ground, which only fuel further tensions” says the statement of the European Action Service spokesperson.

 “The European Union calls on all relevant actors to show maximum restraint and refrain from any steps or statements that could escalate the situation. Instead, mechanisms put in place to prevent incidents and find solutions – such as the Hotline, the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism in Ergneti (IPRM) and Geneva International Discussions – must be consistently used. In addition, crossing points closed since early September should be reopened without delay. All these represent the best way for finding solutions to current security, humanitarian and other problems caused by the situation along the ABL.

“The EU Monitoring Mission as the only international presence on the ground plays a key role in the ongoing work to stabilise the situation. The attempts from within South Ossetia, both in action and through statements, to prevent the Mission’s work and restrict its mandate are deplorable and must stop.

“The European Union remains fully committed to peaceful conflict resolution in Georgia and reiterates its firm support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.”

Russia-Georgia flights cancelled

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree, which imposes a temporary ban on passenger flights between Russia and Georgia from July 8, the Kremlin press service announced. (Image above: illustration).

From July 8, 2019, Russian airlines are temporarily prohibited from carrying out air transportation (including commercial flights) of citizens from the territory of the Russian Federation to the territory of Georgia,” the ukaz reads.

In addition, tour operators and travel agents are recommended “for the duration of the ban … to refrain from selling a tourist product that includes transportation of citizens from the territory of the Russian Federation to the territory of Georgia”.

Putin instructed the government to take measures to repatriate Russian citizens temporarily staying in Georgia.

The decree was signed “in order to ensure the national security of the Russian Federation, to protect citizens of the Russian Federation from criminal and other unlawful actions and in accordance with federal law on Security dated December 28, 2010,” the document says.

The ban will stay in place until that country’s authorities can guarantee security of Russian nationals, president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

On June 20, several thousand protesters demanded resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker, and tried to storm the building of Parliament in the capital Tbilisi.. In response, police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. According to Georgian media, dozens were detained, 240 people suffered injuries.

The protests infuriated by Russian State Duma delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). On Thursday morning, IAO President Gavrilov opened the session in the Georgian parliament building. Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that Gavrilov addressed the event from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue.

Later, a decision was taken to wrap up the session and for the Russian delegation to leave the country. Members of the ruling ‘Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia’ party said that they did not know that Gavrilov had been scheduled to open the event, claiming that the protocol office had made a mistake.

Secretary General of the ruling ‘Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia’ party and Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze announced on Friday that Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze decided to step down.

Batumi port enlargement under fire

Sajjad Karim MEP (UK, ECR),  the Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the South Caucasus,  welcomed the development of the Batumi port,  underlining  Georgia strategic situation on the East-West transportation route.

The country has the potential to become an important transportation hub, which would in turn boost its economic growth, including in the Adjaria region“, Karim said.

The impressive economic development of Adjaria is in contrast with the economic stagnation of Georgia’s occupied regions, in particular, Abkhazia, which could have experienced a similar economic development, had it not been invaded and occupied”, MEP continued.

In spite of the overall positive assessment of Batumi  boom in the building sector, contributing to the economy, the Chair of the Delegation has expressed his concerns about  “many accidents – sometimes deadly” which  have happened to construction workers during this period.

“I call on the Georgian authorities to ensure that labour law and safety standards are duly implemented” Sajjad Karim concluded.

The concerns over labor safety are not the only issue, raised by Members of the European Parliament, while evaluating the perspective of the Batumi port enlargement.

The prominent French ecologist, the founder of the independent Commission on Chernobyl disaster Michèle Rivasi MEP (The Greens) considers imperative the launch of an independent research of the impact of the Batumi port enlargement on the environment, and health, but also confirm that the project is profitable.

“It is absolutely necessary that there are consultations with the citizens, and there is an independent research, and upon all these elements the citizens will decide, but it is not up to the gas lobby to decide in the place of the citizens“, – Rivasi explained her vision of the future of the project.

The Batumi port enlargement became a subject to polemics after Azerbaijan and Georgia signed a contract on the construction of a terminal for mineral fertilizers (carbamide) on January 14.  The inhabitants of the area, ecologists, and a member of the Georgian March movement Valerian Meburishvili have been protesting against the construction of the terminal, presuming the project is designed to transport dangerous for people and environment toxic substances, potentially damaging human health, and sea life.

Trammo group (USA) formerly known as Transammonia, Inc. intends to invest $20 million in the construction of the terminal. Transammonia is the world’s largest private company in fertilizer trading.

 

 

 

Circus tiger attacked intruder

A Georgian (25) national was badly injured by a tiger when breaking into an enclosure at the Lidia Togni circus, which is currently in Reggio Calabria,  ANSA news agency reported. According to local officials the naked intruder has been in a confused state and may have taken drugs. The animal almost ripped off his arm, the the same sources said. The Georgian is now in the intensive-care ward of the city’s Riuniti hospital. He is not thought to be in a life-threatening condition. The surgeons could not save his hand, and it was amputated, that cause frustration and anger of the patient when he woke up from anesthesia. He started to threaten staff with knife, and attempted to flee the hospital. Police was called to resolve the incident.

Ban on animals in circus voted November 2017 changed the rules for shows, and at present Italy has implemented phasing out all animals used in circuses according to Ministerial decree. In hundred circuses in Italy about 2,000 animals were forced to perform, and now they are expecting to be relocated.

NATO accuses Russia in violation of Nuclear Forces Treaty

NATO Foreign Ministers are meeting December 4 to begin two days of talks on critical issues for the Alliance’s shared security. Ministers will discuss NATO’s cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine, transatlantic security, and the Alliance’s approach to the Middle East and North Africa. The Western Balkans and the security situation in Afghanistan will also be high on the agenda.

During the first day of the discussions the allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a new missile system in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a key arms control agreement which has been crucial in upholding NATO’s security for over 30 years. At a meeting  NATO Foreign Ministers called on Russia to urgently return to full and verifiable compliance, saying: “it is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty.” Allies expressed firm commitment to preserving effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Karim MEP: “Georgia is European”

Reflecting upon the recent developments in Georgia electing the first woman-president. the chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with South Caucasus (DSCA) Sajjad KARIM (UK, ECR) shared his vision of the dynamics between the EU and the countries of the region: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, underlining their remarkable progress in rapprochement with Europe.

MEP Karim perceives the President-elect Salomé Zurabishvili as someone who “really understands the depth of the European values”, who “lived and breathed Europe” her entire life has the ability to influence the direction of the country, the people, and the entire region – the South Caucasus.

Georgia is Europe” – Karim continued, underlining the choice of a French-born woman President is a clear sign of European aspirations of the Georgians.

 

The election of the Salome Zurabishvili as a President of Georgia in the second round of elections marked her remarkable victory, establishing the ruling party candidate and former Georgian foreign minister as the first female head of state.

Zurabishvili won the run-off with 59.6 percent of the ballot, according to the Central Election Commission, while her competitor Grigol Vashadze  took 40.4 percent.

The first woman to be elected to the role was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, founded by billionaire banker Bidzina Ivanishvili, the country’s richest man. Zurabishvili is expected to try and balance pro-Western aspirations while avoiding antagonizing Moscow.

This regional Delegation serves the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Partnership Committee (PPC), the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee (PCC) and the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC). These three countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – are part of the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood policy. The parliamentary extension of our relations was established in bilateral agreements, concluded with Azerbaijan in 1999, Georgia in 2014 and Armenia in 2017.

 

Russia appalled by EU “selective memory”

Russian Representation to the EU reacted upon the declaration of the European External Action Service on the 10th anniversary of the “conflict between Russia and Georgia“.
“…Above-mentioned EU Declaration leaves a strange impression – as if very recent history has been universally forgotten, providing a blank space to write it anew. Starting with its title, referring to the «conflict between Russia and Georgia», thus distorting the picture of what really happened in August 2008”, Russian diplomats wrote.
“It is therefore worth reminding tht on the night of 7 August 2008 Georgian military forces launched a large-scale attack on the South Ossetian capital Tskhinval,devastating the city. At the same time, they attacked Russianpeacekeepers deployed in South Ossetia with Georgia’s agreement within the framework of an internationally recognised settlement mechanism. Ten Russian soldiers were killed and forty wounded. Hundreds of local civilians were massacred, thousands left homeless. Somehow, the EU saw fit not to mention this fact, focusing instead on the Georgian ‘”thriving economy” and portraying it as a “model of democratic stability”.
“In the light of direct threat to Russian citizens in South Ossetia and to avoid a genocide of the people of the Republic, the Russian Federation had no other option but to use its armed forces to enforce peace.
“Meanwhile many wrongdoings of the Government of Mikheil Saakashvili, including the fact of a large-scale military aggression against peaceful South Ossetia launched on 7-8 August 2008, thus breaching the agreement on a peaceful settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, as well as its own promises were later officially confirmed on a number of occasions, including in the report published in autumn 2009 by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia, chaired by Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini (Switzerland) and established by the EU Council decision.”
“We are appalled by such a short and selective memory displayed by the EU and hope that the EU will refrain from ungrounded and politicised statements in the future” – the comment of Russian Mission continues.
The comment was issued as a response on European Actions Service declaration on the 10 years anniversary of the conflict between Russia and Georgia, describing Russian military presence there as ‘unfortunate‘:
“…Unfortunately, Russian military presence in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia continues in violation of international law and commitments undertaken by Russia under the 12 August 2008 agreement, mediated by the European Union” the EEAS statement said.

Norway joins EU measures against Russia over Crimea

In a declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the alignment of certain countries concerning restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, Federica Mogherini welcomed the decision of Montenegro, Albania, Norway, Ukraine and Georgia.

The Council extends the existing restrictive measures until 23 June 2019.

The Candidate Countries Montenegro and Albania, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.

They will ensure that their national policies conform to this Council Decision.

The European Union takes note of this commitment and welcomes it.

Recently at Helsinki Summit President Vladimir Putin reiterated that Crimea joined Russia as a result of a democratic referendum.

“People in Crimea went to a referendum and voted for joining Russia. If this is annexation, what is democracy then?” Putin raised a rhetorical question. “We are aware of president Trump’s posture, that… Crimea is part of Ukraine,” Putin said. “He told me this today. I responded with the words pretty much similar to what I’ve said to you, and I think we should leave the discussion at that.”

Citizens of Crimean Republic votes to join Russian Federation in the aftermath of dramatic events of Euromaidan Revolution (2014) culminating in a violent overthrow of democratically elected President, and legitimate government.

Initially Crimea joined Russia as Tavrichesky region by ‘ukaz’ (1784) singed by Catherine the Great ending a protracted military campaign against Crimean Caliphate slave-trade, and systemic abduction of her subjects (mainly women and children) for sales at biggest  market between Europe and Asia. According to different historical sources from two to three million people passed through Caliphate slave market by date.

Mid-July Crimean officials reported maximum of  31 thousand cars passing Crimean bridge à day, and one million vehicles crossed the bridge since opening in May.

 

 

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