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The News in Brief

Monday, November 9
UNDP official to visit Georgia

Ms. Cihan Sultanoglu, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), is visiting Georgia on November 9-11, 2015.

According to the UNDP Office in Georgia, as part of her third official visit to Georgia, Ms. Cihan Sultanoglu will meet with top Georgian officials, including the Parliament Chairperson, Mr. David Usupashvili, as well as UNDP’s development cooperation partners in Georgia, leading international organizations and the United Nations Country Team.

In discussions with Georgia’s leadership and development partners, Ms. Sultanoglu will focus on the country’s many achievements in recent years and current developmental challenges and opportunities, including Georgia’s role in realizing the new global agenda through 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goals. She will also discuss UNDP’s continued commitment to being a trusted and valued partner to Georgia’s development in line with the country’s renewed partnership agreement with the United Nations and UNDP’s Country Programme in Georgia for 2016-2020.

Ms. Sultanoglu will be accompanied by Mr. Niels Scott, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia, and UNDP senior officials.

On November 10, Ms. Sultanoglu, together with the Prime Minister of Georgia – Mr. Irakli Garibashvili, and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – Ms. Federica Mogherini, will address the conference “Achieving Gender Equality – Challenges and Opportunities in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Region” organised by the Government of Georgia in cooperation with the United Nations and European Union.

On November 11, she will travel to Dusheti municipality to meet with the local community and observe results of UNDP’s joint initiative with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia and the Swiss Cooperation Office in the South Caucasus aiming to strengthen regional development and local governance.

Ms. Cihan Sultanoglu has had many years of distinguished service at UN/UNDP, including leadership positions in the United Nations headquarters and UNDP Country Offices. She has previously served as the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus (2004-2007) and in Lithuania (2000-2005). In 2012, she was appointed the UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS. Cihan Sultanoglu visited Georgia in 2013 and 2014.

EU Foreign Policy Chief to Visit Ukraine and Georgia

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will travel to Ukraine and Georgia next week as part of “a broader tour of the partner countries of the Eastern Partnership,” according to the EU’s diplomatic service EEAS.

She will hold talks with the Georgian leadership in Tbilisi on November 10 after her trip to Ukraine.

The EU foreign policy chief will meet: President Giorgi Margvelashvili; PM Irakli Garibashvili; Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili; Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili and leaders of the parliamentary factions, as well as with civil society representatives.

During the visit, she plans to travel to the administrative boundary line with the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Mogherini will also speak at an international conference on gender equality.

Major reforms ahead for Georgia’s Armed Forces

Comprehensive reforms are in the pipeline to modernise and rejuvenate Georgia’s Armed Forces to transform it into an "army of new capabilities”.

Plans for a new defence reserve system, modified conscription and better social conditions for service members were part of the ongoing reforms at the Ministry of Defence, Parliament’s Defence and Security Committee heard today.

Georgia’s Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli presented the Committee with a report on the ongoing initiatives and plans of her office to improve the capabilities of the Georgian Armed Forces (GAF) as well as developing educational and social resources for the military.

Khidasheli told the Parliamentary body the goal of the Ministry was to develop an "army of new military capabilities and high combat readiness”. The Ministry would also present a fresh approach to preparing reservists for the GAF and a new structure of mandatory conscription.

The new reserve system will reflect challenges of a "21stcentury reserve force” able to accomplish cyber security tasks and remain efficient in the realm of propaganda wars, the Minister said in her presentation.

The conscription system – currently assigning military-aged men to one year of service as security guards – will be either scrapped entirely or modified to prepare conscripts for actual combat operations while its duration will be reduced to six months.

Both state and private organisations will also be required to preserve jobs at the workplace for employed conscripts to return to.

“We believe that if a young person is drafted for conscription they must undergo the full training course and be able to face challenges facing the country,” Khidasheli said.

“This system has always been defective in Georgia, never on par with the Army’s needs. We want to change this. If we maintain the conscription system we say these people should not be drafted for guard service,” Khidasheli told the Committee.

More updates from the Ministry concerned new Master’s degree courses at the National Defence Academy – planned for introduction in 2016 and aimed to prepare personnel for both military and civilian professions – and a legislative project aimed at improving social conditions of the military and their families.

Khidasheli concluded her report to the Committee about the Defence Ministry’s work on providing the GAF with locally produced food and clothing, noting a staged transition programme was in place for achieving these goals.