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Saakashvili to Speak at UN

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, September 20
President Mikheil Saakashvili will chair the Georgian delegation and deliver a speech at the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Nino Kalandadze Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs stated on Monday. Emphasizing the political importance of the UN session for deepening Georgia’s cooperation with member countries, Kalandadze also announced the start of the Open Governance Partnership initiative in the framework of the UN Assembly Session which is due to be held from September 19 to 23.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. “The idea of establishing the OGP belongs to the US President Barak Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in order to unite young democratic countries under one umbrella. Georgia which also received an invitation to the OGP officially joined the union last week,” the deputy minister said emphasizing Georgia’s success in the democratization process in the region.

The OGP will formally launch in September 2011 when the eight governments on the steering committee embrace the Open Government Declaration and announce their country action plans. “We invite you to stand with us in September and signal your country's intent to join the OGP and deliver your own action plans when we meet again in Brazil in March 2012,” the official web page of the OGP states.

Another important event scheduled for this week will be the 11th sitting of the committee of Georgian-EU cooperation which will be “a new institutional stage of political dialogue” between the sides. This event, which is held twice a year, includes discussions, reviews, monitoring and summaries. The neighborhood policy, Eastern Partnership initiatives and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement will be among the main topics of the EU-Georgian sitting according to the deputy minister.

Russia’s membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was also discussed at the briefing. “Georgia is among the countries which will vote for Russia’s accession to the WTO but whether Russia will succeed or not only depends on their constructiveness and wisdom in action,” Kalandadze told the media. The introduction of international control over Georgian borders and transparency of trade turnover are among the main demands which would withdraw the Georgian veto on Russian membership. Hesitating to reveal the details of negotiations, Kalandadze only emphasized that Russia would become “a more civilized player under the WTO”. As WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said on Friday there is a high probability that Russia may join the organization before the end of the current year. The decision may be made at the WTO ministerial meeting due in December.

Kalandadze also discussed the challenge of tourism development in Georgia. Welcoming the increased interest of European countries towards the Caucasus, Kalandadze referred to possible French in the region. According to information released by the Russian media in recent days, the French Bank Caisse des Depots et Consignations is going to issue 10 billion euros for developing North Caucasian resorts. This fact would positively reflect on Georgian tourism potential as well. “There have been long discussions around this issue but nothing has been decided yet,” Kalandadze told the media.

“The quantity of partners doesn’t define the quality of their cooperation while the aim of the Georgian policy is to succeed with more and more states,” political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger referring to the Georgian delegation’s visits to various international sessions. Worrying about the expenses to the state budget of all these trips, Tsiskarishvili advised officials to keep closer to “the Georgian reality”. Furthermore, on the issue of Russia and the WTO, the analyst emphasized the nonexistence of progress at the WTO, spoke of the “chain of problems” around Russia’s unification with the organization and doubted the success of negotiations around this issue.