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The News in Brief

Tuesday, February 2
We have a zero tolerance approach to the cases of sexual violence - EU Ambassador

“We have a zero tolerance approach to cases of sexual violence or any crime committed within EU missions and operations,” EU Ambassador to Georgia Janos Herman said.

As Herman told journalists, the EU is seriously observing the allegations made against soldiers of the EU peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic.

"It is important that these allegations be investigated. We now have evidence-based allegations and this issue should be explained. Every country which sent its troops to participate in European Union operations have clear commitments to the European Union's moral standards and a zero-tolerance policy,” said Herman.

He added that the cases must be investigated by the countries of the accused soldiers.

Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement, according to which local juveniles accused the soldiers of the EU mission in the Central African Republic of sexual harassment. The UN reported that the juveniles named Georgian soldiers as well.

President Holds NSC Session

President Giorgi Margvelashvili chaired a session of the National Security Council (NSC) on January 29, which was also attended by PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

Preparation for the NATO Warsaw summit and Georgian troops’ participation in international missions - specifically in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan - were discussed, officials said after the meeting.

Whether Kvirikashvili was going to attend the meeting of the NSC was an issue frequently raised in the media in the lead up to the session, as his predecessor Irakli Garibashvili attended a NSC meeting only once, snubbing it on two other separate occasions, which was viewed by opponents as disrespect towards the President.

On January 27, when the PM’s office announced Kvirikashvili’s intention to attend the NSC session, it also said: “The head of the government believes that it is important to respect institutions and such issues [whether the PM will be attending or not NSC sessions] should no longer become a topic of discussion, especially when the authorities have much more important issues to tackle.”

Prime Minister Kvirikashvili said after the meeting: “We discussed preparations for the NATO Warsaw summit and the work that has to be done by the various state agencies in the lead up to the summit. We spoke about strengthening of our defense capabilities through deeper integration into NATO. We also discussed Georgian troops’ participation in the international missions, specifically further cooperation for Georgian troops’ participation in the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.”

President Margvelashvili said that at the meeting, “we defined the next steps” and “a process of coordination” on the path of NATO integration.

Other participants of the meeting were the Parliament Speaker; the Defence Minister; the Foreign Minister; the Interior Minister; the Head of the State Security Service; the Chief of the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces; the chairman of the parliamentary committee for defense and security, and the secretary of the NSC, Irina Imerlishvili.

Georgia categorized as “mostly free” according to Economic Freedom Index

Georgia was categorized as a ‘mostly free country’ according to Economic Freedom Index, says the Heritage Foundation Report 2016. Georgia’s 2016 Economic Freedom Score is: 72.6 (down 0.4 point).

“Despite global and regional challenges, Georgia’s economy has demonstrated considerable resilience. Efforts to eliminate corruption and restore fiscal soundness by revitalizing the commitment to limited government have borne fruit. Two years of fiscal consolidation has kept government spending under control and ensured macroeconomic stability.”

According to the report, Georgia’s Global Ranking is: 23rd; Regional Ranking: 12th in Europe; Notable Successes: Management of Public Finance, Open Markets, and Regulatory Efficiency; Concerns: Rule of Law; Overall Score Change Since 2012: +3.2

“A leading economic reformer among the former Soviet republics, Georgia has reduced regulations, taxes, and corruption. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and continues to occupy its South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions. In 2012, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition defeated President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement. Victory by Giorgi Margvelashvili in the 2013 presidential elections reinforced Georgian Dream’s political dominance. Georgia has been affected by the economic downturn in Russia and low oil prices, and its currency has lost 30 percent of its value relative to the dollar since November 2014. Agriculture or related industries employ over half of the workforce. Georgia signed Association Agreements with the EU in June 2014 and hopes to join NATO,” reads the report.

According to the document, Georgia still struggles with the effects of Soviet-era corruption as well as ongoing Russian influence. Reforms largely eliminated petty corruption more than a decade ago, but in late 2014, President Giorgi Margvelashvili singled out disrespect for institutions and a lack of institutional governance as enduring problems. Executive and legislative interference in the judiciary is substantial, but the protection of property rights has improved.

Parliament chair comments on NBG report

The Chairman of Parliament commented on the delivery of the report of the National Bank’s president in Parliament. According to Davit Usupashvili, MPs will listen to the report when Parliament and the National Bank reach a consensus on the country’s economic issues.

"I will not leave the position without paying this debt. I will remain sitting here. We need to hear the report from the National Bank," said Davit Usupashvili.
(Rustavi 2)