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The News in Brief

Wednesday, November 18
U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission Working Group speaks on Democracy and Governance

The U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission Working Group on Democracy and Governance has released a statement. The text of the statement is posted on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.

“The U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission's (SPC) Democracy and Governance Working Group met on November 12 in Washington to review progress on goals set at the Working Group’s previous meeting in 2014 in Tbilisi. The meeting built on a plenary session of the SPC hosted in Washington by Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland during the visit of Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili. Both sides agreed on the importance of a fair, level, and competitive playing field for political parties and candidates in the lead-up to the October 2016 parliamentary elections, as well as an open, pluralistic, and independent space for political, media, and civil society voices.”

The United States appreciated developments with regard to Rustavi 2 that will allow the appeals processes to move forward and preserve media pluralism in Georgia. Both sides affirmed the importance of a strong and independent judiciary. The American side also commended Georgia’s implemented and ongoing reforms of the judiciary, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and the Ministry of Interior, and encouraged the continuation of these efforts, going deeper and broader both in law and in practice. The Americans also praised Georgia for its plans to establish a pre-trial services office, and looked forward to its expeditious implementation. Both sides noted Georgia’s achievements in reforming law enforcement and security services, administrative and pre-trial detention, and the corrections system. Both sides agreed that implementation of these and additional reforms will remain important to Georgia's democratic development, further strengthen Georgia’s democracy, and contribute to Georgia's achievement of its European and Euro-Atlantic integration goals. The United States pledged its continued support and assistance in achieving these targets.

Both sides recognized the importance of civil society. The United States commended Georgia’s efforts to include civil society in decision making bodies, and both sides agreed on the importance of continued progress in fostering an environment conducive to civil society. The Americans also welcomed Georgia's recent legislation improving the independence of the civil service. The Working Group also recognized Georgia’s efforts to build an inclusive society that respects the rights of all, including members of minority populations, its regional leadership in the empowerment of women and promotion of women in public life, and its efforts to combat human trafficking’, says the statement.

The Georgian delegation was led by co-chairs First Deputy Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and First Deputy Minister of Justice Alexander Baramidze and included a broad interagency delegation.

The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Bridget Brink, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Jonathan Katz, and Department of Justice Regional Director for Eurasia Catherine Newcombe. The delegation was composed of broad U.S. government representation. (IPN)

First wind farm in Georgia to begin construction in February

Georgia’s Energy Ministry announced last week a tender for building the country’s first wind farm.

According to Giorgi Bezhuashvili, the director of the Georgian Energy Development Fund, the turbines are already in Georgia and their installation will begin on February 15, 2016.

He told journalists on Friday that it has taken time to work out the financing, but the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has promised to allocate more than EUR 20 million for construction of a wind power station in Gori, a town about 80km west of the capital.

The 20 MW power plant will cost USD 34,300,000. (DF watch)

Parliament Speaker meets OSCE Secretary General

A Parliamentary Delegation visiting Austria met with the OSCE Secretary General, Lamberto Zannier.

According to the Parliament’s press office, Speaker Davit Usupashvili thanked Mr. Zannier for the OSCE’s activity in Georgia and noted that the active involvement of the OSCE in ongoing processes is very important for Georgia, as well as for the region?s progress and stability.

According to L. Zannier, the OSCE monitors all ongoing processes in Georgia. He spoke about the importance of Georgia as of the regional actor.

The parties gave a positive evaluation to the visit of the Ambassadors of USA, Canada, Romania, Sweden and Lithuania to OSCE in Georgia in November and spoke about occupied territories of Georgia and Russian factor. The Speaker introduced the current situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The parties considered the processes in the region and challenges in security terms, as well as about importance of close cooperation between the OSCE, ODIHR and Georgia.

The Speaker thanked Mr. Zannier for OSCE ODIHR merit to institutional capacity of the Parliament of Georgia. As he noted, Parliament pays significant attention to ODIHR reports. (IPN)