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Special councils will advise Government Ministers

By Sopo Datishvili
Wednesday, February 18
On February 17 the Minister of Penitentiary and Probation, Dimitri Shashkin, suggested that the Government create special councils of advisors in every Ministry. This initiative has been approved by Prime Minister Nika Gilauri, who has immediately instructed the Cabinet to start working on this.

The new initiative implies appointing special groups of professionals and NGO representatives. On February 16 Shashkin had met representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations and suggested that they should cooperate with the Government in this way. Their opinions and proposals concerning this were delivered at the Government meeting on February 17.

Other Ministers also supported the new initiative. Most of them expressed a readiness to begin consultations about this as fast as possible. I think such councils play an important part in the working process of such a Ministry as Culture, Sports and Monument Protections. We have already organized such a group and Im now going to a meeting with them, said Nika Rurua, Minister of Culture, Sports and Monument Protection, after the Government Meeting.

I think a council of advisors is a good way to involve society in the working process of each Ministry. A group of specialists in different fields will provide the Ministries with interesting initiatives, Prime Minister Nika Gilauri told members of the Government team.

A representative of NGO New Generation, New Initiative, Koki Ionatamishvili, was one of those whom Dimitri Shashkin consulted with on this issue. Such groups are already active in some Ministries. For example Im a member of the council arranged by State Minister Giorgi Baramidze at the Ministry of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration and it works quite actively. In my opinion such councils will have the resources to develop valuable new initiatives.

I approve this measure and Im sure none of the NGOs, even the most radical ones, will be against it, said Ionatamishvili, who also underlined the necessity of bilateral cooperation and said that the advice and suggestions of council members must be taken into consideration. If they listen to these professionals and NGO representatives more carefully it will be profitable for the Government as well as for our country, he added.

The representative of NGO Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights, Nana Kakabadze, had also talked to Shashkin about the new initiative. She seemed a little skeptical about his plan and said that although the idea of arranging councils is progressive, it might not be fulfilled.

I am so much disappointed at the conditions of prisoners and their violated rights that it is difficult for me to believe that these words will ever be reflected by reality. I will always cooperate with everyone who cares about the rights of prisoners. In general I was satisfied with the meeting with Shashkin. Now the most important thing is that everything is done properly, and if this is so we will stand by the Government. We can even provide the Ministry of Penitentiary and Probation with all the recommendations we have received from the Council of Europe. But they should show us that these arent just words but will be fulfilled in practice, said Kakabadze.

Political expert Gia Khukhashvili thinks that such new initiatives are common for the newly-appointed Ministers and looks at this issue skeptically. New Ministers always make suggestions when they are first appointed. Then after about 2 months most of them forget about these initiatives. Such sentiments sound good but I dont think the councils will work as efficiently as intended, he said.

Last week PM Nika Gilauri signed a document instituting cooperation between different Ministries as part of the new democratic reforms. He appointed the head of the newly formed Ministry of Penitentiary and Probation, Dimitri Shashkin, as the Chair of the commission responsible for overseeing this process.