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Georgia hosts Open Government Partnership forum, the first in Eastern Europe

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 4
Government representatives from dozens of countries have arrived to Tbilisi to take part in the two-day conference dedicated to open governance.

Georgia is the first country in the Eastern Europe to host the conference that brought together more than 50 public servants from 21 Open Government Partnership (OGP) member countries.

The conference was opened by Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, who stressed that he is proud of Georgia’s 29th place in the world with regard to the transparency of the government’s activities.

“Last year I was at the UN, where the OPG conference was opened by the President of the USA, Barack Obama. Now his initiative is joined by 64 states. Georgia is a member of a ruling committee that speaks about our achievements and strives to build of a truly democratic state,” Gharibashvili said.

The PM stressed that new technologies are developing rapidly that cause new demands with regard to the open governance and this demand should be reflected in moving to an electronic governance system.

“At the PM’s office we have already established an Electronic Governance Coordination Department. Thus our services have become available for our citizens living in different regions or villages of Georgia,” the PM said, noting that state officials are also feeling accountable to the NGOs that ask for public information from them.

“There are several stubborn ministers who refrain from giving such information. But I believe that in the near future their attitude will change,” the PM said.

Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani stated that such conferences and forums aim at sharing experience among different countries that promote much for the countries’ progress and advancement.

“Here in Georgia we establish new standards. For instance, the opening of the houses of Justice in various regions or villages of Georgia provided locals with essential information and availably to the services offered by the state,” Tsulukiani said.

Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili emphasized that the 21st century has its demands and Georgia should follow the developments.

The NGOs that ask for public information also participated in the event. Head of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information Giorgi Kldiashvili stated that 2013 was the best year in terms of obtaining information from the state structures.

He stated that the reason of the openness was apparently the fact that the asked information was related to the ruling period of the previous government.

He stated that the most closed are the Interior, Defence, Economy and Finance Ministries.

“However, I believe that in the near future situation will change with regard to the ministries. We never ask for the information that might include state secrecy,” Kldiashvili said.

The OGP is a multilateral initiative of the United States and Brazil, in which 64 governments work together with citizens to promote transparency, fight corruption and use technology as an enabler of governmental openness.