Council of Europe Summit creates register of damage for Ukraine as first step towards an international compensation mechanism for victims of Russian aggression
Council of Europe Summit creates register of damage for Ukraine as first step towards an international compensation mechanism for victims of Russian aggression Reykjavik, 17.05.2023 – This morning, Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland and President of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Denis Malyuska, Minister of Justice of Ukraine, announced the establishment of the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine through an Enlarged Partial Agreement. 43 countries and the European Union have joined or indicated their intention to join the Register set up by the participants to the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe held in Reykjavik on 16-17 May 2023. (*) “Support and solidarity with Ukraine is one of the main priorities of the Icelandic Presidency and we have worked hard to ensure that the outcome of the Reykjavik Summit addresses the need for comprehensive accountability for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” said Katrín Jakobsdóttir. She emphasised that “the Council of Europe can and should play an important role in ensuring accountability. The Register is an important step towards accountability for crimes committed in Russia’s brutal war and a strong message of support to Ukraine.” Marija Pejčinović Burić said : “The decision to set up the Register of Damage under the auspices of the Council of Europe is an historic decision”. She said : “It will support victims in recording their losses and is vital for any compensation mechanism. Supported by a very large coalition of member and non-member states, and by the EU, it is one of the first legally binding decisions to hold Russia accountable for its acts.” The European Union, represented by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has provided a substantial contribution towards the startup costs. The Register will have its seat in The Hague (the Netherlands), with a satellite office in Ukraine and Mark Rutte underlined that “Russia must be held accountable, including for damage suffered by Ukraine and its people. We are therefore proud that the seat of the Register of Damage will be in The Hague, the legal capital of the world”. The Register is established for an initial period of three years and will serve as a record of evidence and claims information on damage, loss or injury caused by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. It paves the way towards a future international comprehensive compensation mechanism for the victims of the Russian aggression. Denys Shmyhal said that “Ukraine welcomes the establishment of the Register of Damage. We are grateful to the Council of Europe and all the participating states for such a high level of support. We invite other states, from all corners of the world, to join the Register of Damage as a sign of support for the important issue of Russia's accountability for its war against Ukraine. The Register is an important milestone on the road to justice and reparations for Ukraine and the Ukrainians who have suffered so much from this war. The hard work begins now - we need to ensure that the Register becomes operational soon, so that victims of Russian aggression could submit their claims. We also emphasise that the establishment of the Register is only the first step towards the establishment of a comprehensive compensation mechanism that will ensure that Russia pays full reparations to Ukraine in accordance with international law, including by means of its internationally located assets. We look forward to working with our partners on this important issue.” See Resolution on the Enlarged Partial Agreement ----------------- (*) Forty countries have joined the Enlarged Partial Agreement on the Register set up within the Council of Europe : Albania, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and United Kingdom; as well as Canada, Japan and the USA. The European Union has also joined, while three other countries (Andorra, Bulgaria and Switzerland) have expressed their intention to join.
Peter Stano: The EU regrets the decision by Georgia to resume flights to and from Russia, this decision by Georgian authorities raises concerns
The EU regrets the decision by Georgia to resume flights to and from Russia, - EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano said at the press briefing. According to him, the latest decision by Georgian authorities raises concerns in terms of Georgia's EU path. „We regret Georgia’s decision to resume flights with Russia following Russia’s decision to lift the air travel ban last week. Due to the illegal Russian war against Ukraine, the EU and a number of other countries have sanctioned the Russian aviation, and do not allow flights from, to or over Russia. This step raises concerns in terms of Georgia’s EU path and its commitment to align with the EU in the foreign policy as per the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. Regrettably, Georgia’s alignment rate with EU CFSP decisions and declarations has gone from a low 44% last year to only 31% so far this year. Moreover, we recall that the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has raised significant concerns over the safety of Russian aircrafts“, - Peter Stano said. The EU membership is Georgia’s stated top foreign and security policy priority and more than 80% of the population support EU integration. Georgia is awaiting the EU decision on granting the EU candidate status at the end of the year. Georgia has Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and visa free travel with the EU. Also Read: EEAS Spokesperson says Georgia should not allow unsafe Russian aircrafts into its territory State Department: The people of Georgia would likely prefer the withdrawal of Russian troops rather than see direct flights restored or the visa regime changed State Department: We would be concerned if flights between Russia and Georgia resumed
Ambassador Degnan: Georgia does not have to rely and become dependent on Russia again
U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan responded to a question about Moscow’s decision to restore flights with Georgia and said that while it is not for the United States to say whether this will impact Georgia’s chances for the EU candidacy, “it does raise the question as to why Putin would give this to Georgia.” Ambassador Degnan noted that no one believes Putin cares about the convenience of Georgian travelers. Responding to the question on why in 2019 the U.S. Embassy had called for the restoration of air links with Russia, Ambassador Degnan said there is an important difference in the fact that Russia has invaded Ukraine in the meantime. „I would say an important difference between today and 2019 is the fact that Russia has invaded Ukraine. Again, Russia has destabilized the entire region with this unjustified, brutal war that is purely aimed at taking Ukrainian territory and trying to eliminate Ukraine’s identity. That is a significant change from before. Another important detail is that Georgia doesn’t rely on Russian tourism, and Russian business as much as it did in 2019. We saw after the ban was put into effect a surge in visitors from many other countries. Georgia does not have to rely and become dependent on Russia again. That is giving Russia dangerous leverage over your economy, and we have seen in many other countries how Russia will use that against your country when it wants to. Georgia does not need to fall into that trap again. On the sanctions, We need more information as to how the Georgian government is going to respond to this, what the details of these potential flights are going to be before we can establish whether there are export control or sanctions that apply to this situation, but I would imagine that there will be some“, - the US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan said. Russia canceled the visa regime for Georgian citizens. The relevant decree was issued by the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. According to Putin's decree, the visa regime will be abolished from May 15. Vladimir Putin also lifted the ban on flights to Georgia for Russian airlines. State Department: We would be concerned if flights between Russia and Georgia resumed
The United States urges the Georgian government to implement the necessary reforms to acquire EU candidate status
In response to the questions of Europetime, the US State Department urges the Georgian government to implement the necessary reforms to acquire EU candidate status. „From the beginning, the American people have stood in solidarity with the people of Georgia and their desire to be a free and sovereign country within its internationally recognized borders. Over the last 30 years, we have become strategic partners, working together toward our shared vision of Georgia, fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family of nations and part of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. The United States has allocated more than $6 billion in assistance funds to Georgia, training tens of thousands Georgian soldiers, and sending thousands more to the United States for cultural and education exchanges. We have helped promote economic growth, the rule of law, and democratic governance, among many other initiatives. We are open with the Georgian government about the need to strengthen democratic institutions and processes, the rule of law, and human rights for all. The democratic backsliding we have all observed over the last several years is taking Georgia away from its stated goal of Euro-Atlantic integration, but even more importantly, weakening its own democracy. Our assistance goes to improve the quality of life of Georgians. We listen to the people of Georgia to determine where our assistance goes. We work with the government but also work with the people to reach all corners of the country, to help and support the people in realizing their dreams. We will continue to partner with the people of Georgia as they pursue a democratic, prosperous, peaceful, and Euro-Atlantic future and we urge the Georgian government to implement the necessary reforms to acquire EU candidate status; we stand ready to assist the government in doing so“, the State Department said.
State Department: The people of Georgia would likely prefer the withdrawal of Russian troops rather than see direct flights restored or the visa regime changed
In response to Vladimir Putin’s decision to restore direct flights to Georgia and lift the visa policy for Georgian citizens, the US State Department said that instead of all this, the Georgian people “would probably prefer that Putin withdraw Russian troops from 20 percent of the Russian-occupied territory of Georgia” . „Many Western countries, including the U.S. prohibit, Russian aircraft from entering their airspace. If direct flights between Russia and Georgia resume, we of course would be concerned that companies at Georgian airports could be at risk for sanctions if they service aircraft subject to import and export controls. The entire Western community has distanced itself from the Russian regime, and now is not the time for any country to increase its engagement with Russia. The people of Georgia would likely prefer that President Putin withdraw Russian troops from the 20 percent of Georgian territory that Russia occupies, rather than see direct flights restored or the visa regime changed“, - the State Department said. Russia canceled the visa regime for Georgian citizens. The relevant decree was issued by the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. According to Putin's decree, the visa regime will be abolished from May 15. Vladimir Putin also lifted the ban on flights to Georgia for Russian airlines. State Department: We would be concerned if flights between Russia and Georgia resumed
EEAS Spokesperson says Georgia should not allow unsafe Russian aircrafts into its territory
The EU encourages Georgia, aspiring to become EU candidate country, to align with the EU and other countries in their sanctions against Russia also in the aviation sector, and to remain vigilant regarding any possible attempt to circumvent them. Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for the foreign affairs and security policy of the European Union, said that due to the illegal Russian aggression against Ukraine, the EU and a number of other countries sanctioned Russian aviation and do not allow flights from, to, or over Russia. „We took note of the decision by the Russian authorities to lift the air travel ban with Georgia. Due to the illegal Russian aggression against Ukraine, the EU and a number of other countries sanctioned the Russian aviation, and does not allow flights from, to or over Russia. The EU encourages Georgia, aspiring to become EU candidate country, to align with the EU and other countries in their sanctions against Russia also in the aviation sector, and to remain vigilant regarding any possible attempt to circumvent them. Moreover, in light of the significant safety concerns notified to Russia by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Georgia should not allow unsafe Russian aircrafts into its territory. Due to EU sanctions, 95% of the Russian airplane fleet is not able to update and upgrade their airplanes, which is essential to maintain the necessary international technical and safety standards“, - Peter Stano said.
State Department: Our first priority must be to ensure Ukraine defends itself against Russian aggression
According to a State Department spokesperson, there is no question that the biggest threat to the Black Sea region is Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine. According to the comment, Russia’s war has turned parts of the Black Sea into a warzone. Missiles fired by Russian warships in the Black Sea have hit Ukrainian towns. Russian forces blockaded Ukrainian ports, causing the worst global food crisis in years. „Our first priority must be to ensure Ukraine defends itself against Russian aggression. At the same time, we continue to deepen our already multifaceted engagement in the region. The United States and NATO have expanded our presence in in the Black Sea region since February 24, 2022. NATO Allies Romania, Turkiye, and Bulgaria especially contribute to the security of the Black Sea area“, - a State Department spokesperson told Europetime.
Georgia takes part in the Combined Resolve Exercise that the U.S. Army Europe and Africa holds with its allies and partners in Germany
The U.S. Army, along with Allies and Partners, will conduct Combined Resolve 18 from April 21 to May 23, 2023, at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany. Combined Resolve is a recurring exercise designed to prepare a U.S. Armored Brigade Combat Team in support of NATO deterrence initiatives such as bolstering readiness, responsiveness, and reinforcement. More than 4,000 participants from the U.S. and Allied and Partner nations are scheduled to participate in the exercise. To support this exercise, military vehicles will also use public roads to convoy as part of the exercise during both daylight and evening hours. Due to their size and weight, these vehicles will move slowly and have limited visibility. Drivers are advised to use caution when driving near military convoys. „The Georgia Defense Force (GDF) has 43 soldiers participating in Combined Resolve 18. The infantry platoon from the GDF is attached to the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment (1-4 IN). 1-4 IN also has soldiers from Kosovo, Lithuania, Moldova, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom in the exercise. The GDF platoon, as a part of 1-4 IN, will train against 2nd Armored Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (2/1 CD) in the exercise. 2/1 CD is a U.S. Army unit out of Fort Hood, Texas and is deployed to Europe as part of a regular rotation of forces to support the United States’ commitment to Atlantic Resolve. During the exercise 2/1 CD has units from Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Italy, Kosovo, Romania and Slovakia attached to it. Both 2/1 CD and 1-4 IN will conduct on offense and defensive operations against each other during the training. Combined Resolve 18 allows the GDF soldiers an opportunity to train alongside partner nations in a dynamic and realistic training environment provided by U.S. Army at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, near Hohenfels, Germany. All participants will train on their tactical skills, but the exercise also provides a unique ability for them to integrate with other nations, experiencing the challenges associated with interoperability. Interoperability is the ability of soldiers and systems from other countries to operate in conjunction with each other. Combined Resolve 18 tests the GDF and all countries to overcome challenges based differences in logistics, mission command, communications, equipment, tactics, military culture, and language. All participants evaluate their personnel, training, and equipment to ensure they meet any mission their country requires of them. As one of NATO's closest allies, the U.S. is committed to strengthening Georgia’s security and ability to contribute to international security operations. The U.S. Army's multinational exercises, like Combined Resolve 18, strengthen our countries' capabilities, interoperability, and fosters trust between all participating nations and their militaries“, - John Ambelang, the U.S. Army’s media representative for Combined Resolve 18, Major, U.S. Army, told Europetime.
Nestan Abdushelishvili’s solo exhibition
TBC Concept Flagship is hosting Nestan Abdushelishvili’s solo exhibition Vardobistve (May) within the framework of the Kolga Tbilisi Photo 2023 at Marjanishvili 7. The show focuses on the concept of caring and research of its multidimensionality where this notion is manifested through individual and collective representations. The photos explore the entire spectrum of care ranging from indifference to an excessive one, care for animals and humans, care as a form of relationship with the environment, others, and oneself. A prominent place is devoted to the phenomenon of individual alienation and lack of empathy, presence of indifference and care in the utilitarian chaos of the modern world. The artist touches upon the instinctive, maternal nature of caring and the mysticism of caring for others. The exhibition combines landscapes, portraits, still lives, static and moving images, flowers, and people, abandoned sculptures that are transformed by weather and environment. This collection of works openly demonstrates the artist's flow of thought. Curator: Mariam Tsikaridze Duration of the exhibition: May 11 - June 20, 2023Working hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 - 20:00 also read: The exhibition, Laughter for Laughter and Sorrow for Lies, by Nestan Abdushelishvili
The United States and Georgia mutually decided to focus resources on in-country, multi-national exercises, the U.S. embassy says
The United States Embassy released a statement on military cooperation with Georgia in 2023. According to the statement, the United States remains committed to enhancing the U.S-Georgia strategic partnership, working together to make both Georgia and America safer and more secure. „In 2023 the United States and Georgia continue to do more across a broad range of cooperative military activities. This year, the United States and Georgia are jointly focused on maximizing beneficial training opportunities to enhance Georgia’s critical capabilities. As part of that effort, we mutually decided to focus resources on in-country, multi-national exercises – Agile Spirit and Noble Partner – and build on their previous success to most effectively strengthen Georgia’s interoperability and its capacity for resilience and defense," reads the statement.
NATO and Georgia strengthen scientific cooperation to tackle new security challenges
NATO and Georgia reaffirmed the importance of their long-standing scientific cooperation at an Information Day in Tbilisi on Wednesday (3 May 2023). The event was organized with support from Georgia’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Education and Science, and brought together over fifty participants from public and not-for profit research institutions. The event highlighted recent activities carried out through NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, including research on resilience and the protection of infrastructure from geological hazards and underground explosions. "We are glad to showcase the SPS Programme in Tbilisi. I hope that this Information Day will enable greater participation of Georgia in research activities relevant to our shared security challenges and priorities," said James Appathurai, NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. Georgian scientists have been engaged with NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme since 1994 on a broad range of themes, including environmental and energy security; counter-terrorism; cyber defence; defence against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents; and Women, Peace and Security. Through the recent launch of a new call for proposals, the SPS Programme is providing an opportunity for scientists in Georgia, as well as other NATO partner countries, to develop innovative security-related scientific initiatives in cooperation with their counterparts from NATO countries.
U.S. Air Force Reserve A-10s coming to Europe, support Army-led DEFENDER 23 exercise
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Activities begin this month across ten European countries and continue through June as part of a U.S. Army-led exercise DEFENDER 2023, which U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa is supporting in several ways. Ten Air Force Reserve Command A-10C Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 442nd Fighter Wing, based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, are slated to arrive in the USAFE-AFAFRICA area of operations to support DEFENDER 23. The aircraft will be primarily based in Spain and Greece during the exercise. DEFENDER 23 is a USEUCOM-directed multinational joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between U.S. and NATO Allies and partners. DEFENDER 23 consists of three separate but related exercises. Those exercises are Swift Response, Immediate Response and Saber Guardian. Each of these exercises focuses on unique and challenging objectives. As an example, Swift Response tests the exercise participants’ ability to conduct three separate yet simultaneous joint forcible entry airborne operations. Exercise Immediate Response allows the participating nations and individuals to work through the complexities of rapidly building combat power arriving from the U.S. Finally, Exercise Saber Guardian affords participating units unique challenges such as conducting a forward passage of lines, contested wet gap crossings and joint forceable entry operations to seize key terrain objectives. USAFE-AFAFRICA has significant participation in all three exercises. "This annual, nearly two-month long exercise is focused on the strategic deployment of U.S.-based forces, employment of Army pre-positioned stocks and interoperability with European allies and partners," said Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, during a briefing April 6, 2023, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. DEFENDER 23 is led by U.S. Army Europe and Africa and has been planned since 2021. USAFE-AFAFRICA is the supporting command. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the U.S. military's ability to rapidly deploy combat-credible assets and equipment to assure allies, deter those who would threaten the peace of Europe and defend the continent from aggression. The exercise also demonstrates European nations’ commitment to increasing their militaries’ scale, capability and interoperability. DEFENDER 23 will include multinational troops from more than 20 Allied and partner nations. The large-scale movement of troops and equipment from the continental U.S for this exercise involve extensive support from each of the host nations, demonstrating the importance of ally and partner investment in European military readiness and defense. The United States is a coalescing force in Europe improving interoperability and readiness, and strengthening resolve across the Alliance. Air Force Reserve is supporting USAFE-AFAFRICA operations for DEFENDER 23 in various capacities, specifically with A-10C aircraft from its reserve wing at Whiteman AFB. This year, AFR is commemorating 75 years of service, providing combat-proven Airmen at a moment’s notice to address national security priorities worldwide. USAFE-AFAFRICA’s ability to support and integrate with U.S. allies and partners continually strengthens solidarity, collective resolve, and ability to adapt in a dynamic warfighting environment. The A-10 is the U.S. Air Force’s primary low-altitude close air support aircraft and is the first Air Force aircraft designed specifically for close air support to ground forces. These capabilities provide essential support to the joint force land component and afford the U.S. military flexibility in projecting power in highly contested regions.
Strasbourg Court holds that Russia is to pay more than 129 million euros in compensation to Georgia relating to August 2008 war
The European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia to pay more than 129 million euros in compensation to Georgia for violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and damages caused to citizens as a result of the August 2008 war. In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Georgia v. Russia (II), the European Court of Human Rights examined the question of just satisfaction (Article 41). The case concerned allegations by the Georgian Government of administrative practices on the part of the Russian Federation entailing various breaches of the Convention, in connection with the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in August 2008. „In today’s Grand Chamber judgment concerning the question of just satisfaction, the Court held, unanimously: - that it had jurisdiction under Article 58 of the Convention to deal with the applicant Government’s claims for just satisfaction under Article 41 of the Convention notwithstanding the cessation of the Russian Federation’s membership of the Council of Europe, and that the respondent Government’s failure to cooperate did not present an obstacle to their examination; - that Article 41 of the Convention was applicable to the present case in respect of the victims of the administrative practice of killing of civilians in Georgian villages in South Ossetia and in the “buffer zone”, the victims of the administrative practice of torching and looting of houses in the “buffer zone”, the victims of the administrative practice of inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians held by the South Ossetian forces in the basement of the “Ministry of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia” in Tskhinvali between approximately 10 and 27 August 2008, the victims of the administrative practice of torture of Georgian prisoners of war detained by the South Ossetian forces in Tskhinvali between 8 and 17 August 2008, the victims of the administrative practice of preventing the return of Georgian nationals to their respective homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the victims of the respondent Government’s failure to comply with their procedural obligation to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the deaths which had occurred during the active phase of the hostilities or after the cessation of hostilities; - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 3,250,000 (three million two hundred and fifty thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 50 victims of the administrative practice of killing of civilians in Georgian villages in South Ossetia and in the “buffer zone” and of the respondent Government’s failure to comply with their procedural obligation to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into those killings; - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 2,697,500 (two million six hundred and ninety-seven thousand five hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 166 victims of the administrative practice of inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians held by the South Ossetian forces in the basement of the “Ministry of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia” in Tskhinvali between approximately 10 and 27 August 2008; - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 640,000 (six hundred and forty thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 16 victims of the administrative practice of torture of Georgian prisoners of war detained by the South Ossetian forces in Tskhinvali between 8 and 17 August 2008; - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 115,000,000 (one hundred and fifteen million euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 23,000 victims of the administrative practice of preventing the return of Georgian nationals to their respective homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia; and - that the respondent State was to pay the applicant Government, within three months, EUR 8,240,000 (eight million two hundred and forty thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 412 victims of the respondent Government’s failure to comply with their procedural obligation to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the deaths which had occurred during the active phase of the hostilities”, reads the Court’s press release. The Court also notes that the principal judgment in the present case was delivered on 21 January 2021 and since the question of the application of Article 41 of the Convention was not ready for decision, the Court reserved it and invited the applicant Government and the respondent Government to submit their observations on the matter.
Secretary General: Georgia is one of NATO’s closest partners
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili at NATO Headquarters on Tuesday (25 April 2023) for talks about strengthening the NATO-Georgia partnership. Calling Georgia “one of NATO’s closest partners”, the Secretary General stressed that “Allies fully support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He further noted that Georgia “can count on NATO’s continued political and practical support. In turn, I count on Georgia to redouble efforts on domestic reforms, and uphold democratic standards.” Speaking about Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Mr Stoltenberg warned: “We do not know when the war will end. But we know that Russian aggression is a toxic pattern that must be stopped once and for all.” He added: “Ukraine is upholding its right to self-defence under the UN Charter, and we expect all NATO partners to support this aim.”
EEAS Spokesperson: The recent poll only underlines what was obvious all along – the overwhelming majority of the Georgian population has clear European aspirations
Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for the foreign affairs and security policy of the European Union, said that the recent poll only underlines what was obvious all along – the overwhelming majority of the Georgian population has clear European aspirations. „Only yesterday the Foreign Ministers of the EU Member States discussed in Luxembourg (together with Georgia’s Foreign Minister) the historic opportunity in terms of Georgia’s European perspective, but also the need to strengthen the principles of democracy in the country, and encouraged the Georgian authorities to continue the important work on reforms and send positive signals to Brussels and to Member States’ in delivering on the set of priorities on the accession process, which will be important for assessing the possibility to grant Georgia candidate status“, - Stano told Europetime. A new nationwide poll conducted in Georgia by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) shows strong support for EU membership, disapproval of Russian citizens within the country, and a lack of faith in political parties, IRI Georgia reports. According to IRI, when asked about the European Union (EU), 89% of Georgians either “fully support” or “somewhat support” joining the alliance. This represents an increase of four percentage points from the most recent poll, matching an all-time high. "It’s explicitly clear that Georgians want to join the European Union and continue their integration with Western, democratic institutions," said Steve Nix, Senior Director for Eurasia at IRI. "It’s now incumbent upon leaders in the government to deliver what the people want." "Georgians are also weary of the Russian presence in their country. 79% oppose visa-free travel for Russians, Russians registering businesses in Georgia, or Russians buying property in Georgia. This survey was conducted on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research by Dr. Rasa Alisauskiene of the public and market research company Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization between March 4 and March 23, 2023. The fieldwork was conducted by the Institute of Polling and Marketing. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews in respondents’ homes. The sample consists of 1,500 Georgians aged 18+ and eligible to vote. The data was weighted for age, gender, region, and settlement size. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points and the response rate was 63 per cent. This survey was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)," reads the press release.
State Department: The United States supports Anaklia deep water port development, done in a way that is in the best interests of Georgia
According to a State Department spokesperson, the United States supports Anaklia deep water port development, done in a way that is in the best interests of Georgia, and that protects Georgia’s critical infrastructure. Port development has the potential to provide a significant contribution to Georgia’s economy and orientation to the Black Sea, - a State Department spokesperson told Europetime. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili revealed on 12 December that the long-awaited deep sea port of Anaklia will be built with the government’s participation, which will subsequently own 51% of it. The Prime Minister noted that an international competition will be announced to select the partners and companies which will participate in the project. „we strongly support the development of the Anaklia deep water port, which is critical infrastructure for Georgia to develop. It would be a huge contribution as Georgia develops its role in the Middle Corridor, to bring goods from Central Asia to Europe. Development of the port would also bring jobs to Georgia and the region. We hope to see the Government of Georgia move forward to tender the project and select a qualified developer through a transparent and competitive process“, - US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan told Europetime. In addition, NATO welcomes the development of infrastructure of strategic importance, such as the port facilities on the Black Sea coast. „We welcome all steps undertaken by the Georgian authorities to promote its economic development and security. According to a NATO official speaking to Europetime, this includes the development of infrastructure of strategic importance, such as the port facilities on the Black Sea coast. "The Anaklia Deep Sea Port is a great opportunity," said Philip Reeker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, during a visit to Georgia in June 2021. Senator Rob Portman also stressed that it is extremely important that more countries invest in Georgia. „We should encourage more direct investment in Georgia. One would be infrastructure, specifically a particular port project, which is a huge opportunity for infrastructure investment. But also, there are so many other opportunities in agriculture and other commodities, including mining, including manufacturing,"-Senator Rob Portman said in an exclusive comment with Europetime. The construction of what should have been the country’s first deep sea port began in the village of Anaklia close to the de facto boundary with Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region in 2017. While the government previously was ready to invest $100 million, control was to be held by private investors.The Georgian government canceled the $2.5 billion contract with Anaklia Development Consortium, the main contractor, in early 2020, alleging it had failed to attract sufficient investments while placing heavy and unrealistic demands on the state to underwrite huge loans from international financial institutions.
EEAS Spokesperson: The EU is working closely with Georgia to support efforts to strengthen the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary
Peter Stano, the spokesperson for the external affairs of the European Union, said that the reform of the judiciary is part of the 12 priorities set by the Commission for Georgia to receive EU candidate status. „We take note of the US decision to designate four Georgian individuals linked to the justice system. It is up to the US to comment on their own policy and indeed the Secretary of State and the US Ambassador in Georgia have already done so. The reform of the judiciary is part of the 12 priorities set by the Commission for Georgia to receive EU candidate status. The authorities are expected to “ensure a judiciary that is fully and truly independent, accountable and impartial along the entire judicial institutional chain” and to “undertake a thorough reform of the High Council of Justice”. The EU is working closely with Georgia to support efforts to strengthen the rule of law, and the independence, integrity and accountability of the judiciary and prosecution, as well as to fight corruption“, he told Europetime. According to him, the European Union has its own legislative framework for adopting sanctions that are always discussed and agreed upon by all 27 member states of the EU in consensus. „There is currently no EU sanctions regime in place for Georgia, and no sanctions decisions have been made related to the people mentioned below in the US sanctions" he told Europetime. „There is currently no EU sanctions regime in place for Georgia, and no sanctions decisions have been made related to the people mentioned below in the US sanctions. As a general rule, we do not comment on sanctions decisions by others, the EU has its own legislative framework for adopting sanctions that are always discussed and agreed upon by all 27 Member States of the EU in consensus“, - Peter Stano said. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has released a statement on public designations of Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia and Valerian Tsertsvadze. According to the statement, the above individuals abused their positions. “Today, the U.S. Department of State is publicly designating Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia, and Valerian Tsertsvadze under Section 7031(c) visa restriction authorities, due to their involvement in significant corruption. These individuals abused their positions as court Chairmen and members of Georgia’s High Council of Justice, undermining the rule of law and the public’s faith in Georgia’s judicial system. The United States continues to stand with all Georgians in support of democracy and the rule of law and will continue to promote accountability for those who abuse public power for personal gain. We stand with all judges who have the integrity and courage to act impartially and independently. Officials designated under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023 (Div. K, P.L. 117-328) (“Section 7031(c)”) and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States”, reads the statement.
State Department: The United States stands with the government and people of Georgia in their efforts to advance transparency, fight corruption, and further democratic governance
According to a State Department spokesperson, the 7031c actions send a strong signal that the United States stands with the government and people of Georgia in their efforts to advance transparency, fight corruption, and further democratic governance. As a general matter, we do not comment on pending litigation. The 7031c actions send a strong signal that the United States stands with the government and people of Georgia in their efforts to advance transparency, fight corruption, and further democratic governance. We are committed to helping Georgia realize its full economic and democratic potential on its path to Euro Atlantic integration, by tackling endemic corruption and fostering an impartial and independent judiciary“, - a State Department spokesperson told Europetime. Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia, and Valerian Tsertsvadze under Section 7031(c) visa restriction authorities, due to their involvement in significant corruption. Section 7031(c) provides that officials of foreign governments about whom the Secretary of State has credible information of involvement in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States. The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has released a statement on public designations of Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia and Valerian Tsertsvadze. According to the statement, the above individuals abused their positions. “Today, the U.S. Department of State is publicly designating Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze, Irakli Shengelia, and Valerian Tsertsvadze under Section 7031(c) visa restriction authorities, due to their involvement in significant corruption. These individuals abused their positions as court Chairmen and members of Georgia’s High Council of Justice, undermining the rule of law and the public’s faith in Georgia’s judicial system. The United States continues to stand with all Georgians in support of democracy and the rule of law and will continue to promote accountability for those who abuse public power for personal gain. We stand with all judges who have the integrity and courage to act impartially and independently. Officials designated under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023 (Div. K, P.L. 117-328) (“Section 7031(c)”) and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States”, reads the statement.
Nino Kadagidze: The time has come when the Government has to intervene in a number of issues
The time has come when the Government has to intervene in a number of issues. In any case, I believe that a normative framework based on certain correct views can be developed, which we also discussed with the Prime Minister, this will in fact rule out any form of interference in the court and will minimize the influence of politics in the court, Chairperson of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Council of Justice Nino Kadagidze stated after meeting with PM Irakli Gharibashvili. According to her, everyone can make mistakes, however, she remains hopeful that the question of sanctioning judges by the relevant office or agencies will be reviewed. "It is very sad that there is an attempt to shift high political tensions in the court. Otherwise, I cannot explain the unprecedented decision made by the US Secretary of State to designate three life-tenure judges and one former judge. The judiciary has faced many challenges over the years, but I want to say loudly that there is a real, genuine and tangible achievement, which is a corruption-free judiciary. Therefore, I cannot accept any statement about the existence of corruption in the court. Despite my personal request, I was not provided with substantiated evidence, but given the assumptions and hints as to what became the basis for accusing my colleagues of corruption, I fully support them. I, as the Chairperson of the Supreme Court and the Chairperson of the Supreme Council of Justice, will be the guarantor of inviolability and freedom of each of us and our judges. Despite the 12 recommendations for the state, one of which is the judicial system, even beyond that, Georgian justice is ahead of more than one of our neighboring and friendly countries in all aspects, in all parameters. Therefore, it is tough for me that this information will not be used in the difficult and very valuable, important path for our country towards European integration. I always maintained a special attitude towards our partners and friends, I was always deliberate in my relations with them. I think that the moment has come today when I demand reciprocity from them, everyone can make a mistake, but I believe that admitting a mistake is only a trait of the strong, and therefore I have a very high hope that the relevant office or agencies will solve this issue and it will definitely be reviewed. Additionally, we considered it necessary that the time has come when the Government has to intervene in a number of issues. In any case, I believe that a normative framework based on certain correct views can be developed, which we also discussed with the Prime Minister, this will in fact rule out any form of interference in the court and will minimize the influence of politics in the court," said Nino Kadagidze.
FM Ilia Darchiashvili addresses Antony Blinken with a letter
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ilia Darchiashvili, addresses the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken with a letter. Ilia Darchiashvili points out, that the decision of the US State Department on sanctioning judges, which was made public without presenting any evidence, is completely incomprehensible and unacceptable. "On behalf of the Georgian people and the Government of Georgia, we confirm our deep respect and commitment to the strategic partnership between Georgia and the United States of America. As we learned, the US State Department made a decision regarding the sanctioning of three active and one former judge of the independent Georgian judicial system. First of all, I would like to remind you of the most difficult legacy that Georgian Dream had to face in the judicial system in 2012, when it came to power. The reality was the worst: the court was turned into a division of the prosecutor's office and another link in the repressive machine of the authoritarian regime, the rate of guilty verdicts exceeded 99 percent, 300,000 citizens were tried, elite corruption included both the court and other areas, the government committed systemic crimes. Under the conditions of an unjust and repressive judicial system, the number of prisoners reached 25 thousand in prisons, where the systematic practice of torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners was introduced. As a result, the death rate of prisoners was unprecedentedly high. After Georgian Dream came to power, the number of prisoners decreased by 2.5 times, and the death rate decreased by 10 times. In addition, after Georgian Dream came to power, the rate of pre-trial detention by the courts decreased three times, the rate of administrative detention decreased three times, the rate of approval of requests for investigative actions was halved, the rate of bail decreased twenty times, the rate of fines decreased five times, etc. Under the conditions of the previous government and its judicial system, the Georgian people could not find justice in Georgia and were forced to turn to the European Court of Human Rights. In 2004-2012, 5416 complaints of Georgian citizens were submitted to the Strasbourg court. For comparison, in 2013-2022, this figure was only 1132. In 2009-2012, the European Court considered about 4,000 complaints filed against Georgia. According to the data of 2023, only 147 complaints filed against Georgia are considered in the Strasbourg Court, which is the best indicator of Georgia during its membership in the Council of Europe. It should be noted that during the period of the previous government, the main creators and architects of the court's criminal system - Mikheil Saakashvili and Zurab Adeishvili were not sanctioned by any country, and moreover, unfortunately, they enjoyed specific guarantees of inviolability or still enjoy it. The sharp decrease in appeals in the Strasbourg court, as well as the above statistics, is a clear proof that the systemic problems in the judicial system have been eliminated after 2012, which is the result of the relevant political will and the four waves of fundamental judicial reform carried out by the Georgian Dream government. Citizens of Georgia can effectively protect their rights within the country today. The justice system has become effective and today it provides an effective opportunity to protect rights. The government has repeatedly appealed to critics of Georgia's current judicial system to present specific court cases that, in their opinion, were decided unfairly. However, critics have so far failed to present any such case. A clear example of the bias of critics of the judicial system is the decision of the Strasbourg court regarding the case of "Rustavi 2" TV station. The decision proves that, on the contrary, pressure was exerted on the court by Nika Gvaramia, the general director of "Rustavi 2" at that time. In the decision, it is mentioned that "groundless media attacks made by the General Director of Rustavi 2" against the judge of the case can be considered as an inappropriate attempt to influence the judge's decision, and the said attacks, in general, can contribute to undermining the authority of the judiciary." We would like to remind you that representatives of opposition parties and non-governmental organizations, media outlets owned by the opposition, former president, former public defender, as well as individual representatives of the diplomatic corps were actively involved in the attempt to damage the reputation of the court in connection with the "Rustavi 2" case. The Georgian court is perceived by the population and international studies as one of the most advanced. According to the "IPSOS FRANCE" survey ("Assessment of Judicial Reforms in Georgia"), 55% of the population of Georgia think that the court is fair, 52% think that the court is reliable and 51% think that the court is independent. As a result of the government's ten-year work and reforms, Georgia ranks high in international rankings. In the 2022 index of the rule of law of the "World Justice Project", Georgia ranks first in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index of 2022, Georgia is the leader in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, for the first time in the history of the index, it is in the top 20 in Europe and ahead of 11 EU member states. At the same time, work on judicial reform continues with the Venice Commission to further strengthen the independence and transparency of the judiciary and to make the legislation even more complete. Therefore, taking into account this reality, the decision of the US State Department to sanction judges, which was made public without presenting any evidence, is completely incomprehensible and unacceptable. We hope that the State Department will provide relevant evidence or reconsider its decision. Otherwise, the state of Georgia and the Georgian people perceive this as pressure on the independent court of the sovereign state and gross interference in its activities, which will damage the long-term friendly relations between Georgia and the USA," the Minister wrote.