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The News in Brief

Wednesday, March 15
Azerbaijan Does Not Recognize Abkhazia Polls

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said on March 13 that it does not recognize “the so called parliamentary elections,” held in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia.

“The Republic of Azerbaijan does not recognize the so called independence of Abkhazia and consequently, the so called parliamentary elections held in Abkhazia on March 12, 2017 and its results,” the MFA statement said.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry added that “it is necessary to continue negotiations for peaceful resolution of Abkhazia issue in compliance with the norms and principles of international law”.

Voters in Abkhazia cast their ballots on March 12 to elect the region’s 35-member National Assembly. (

EU denies link between Georgia visa waiver and refugee centers proposal

A member of the European Unions executive branch denies that there is any connection between a proposal to host refugee centers in Georgia and the recent decision to allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Georgian passport holders.

Large Russian media outlets have claimed that when Georgia was granted visa-free travel to the EU, it also accepted hosting centers for holding recent rejected refugees for the EU.

A spokesperson for EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told Voice of America’s Georgian service that visa waiver system for Georgia was based solely on an action plan presented to and accepted by the Georgian government in 2013. The plan contains no mention of refugee centers.

“The Commission has been monitoring progress made by the Georgian authorities since the visa liberalization dialogue was launched and concluded in December 2015, that all benchmarks under this Action plan were met,” reads a written comment by the EU official’s spokesperson.

“The fulfillment of the criteria in the Action Plan, and these criteria only, is the basis on which the Commission proposed to grant visa free travel to Georgian citizens for short stays.”

The confusion was caused by an interview with Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz published in the German newspaper Bild, which stated that the EU needs refugee centers outside its external borders and suggested Georgia, Egypt and Balkan states as possible locations for such centers.

Kurtz visited Georgia a month earlier.

Georgian officials firmly rejected the idea of hosting such centers. (DF watch)

Recommendations of IDFI on the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2016-2017

The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) as the member of the Open Parliament Georgia Working Group and the Chair of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance is actively involved in the process of elaboration of the Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action Plan.

In February 2017, the Institute presented the recommendations on elaboration of the Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action Plan to the Parliament of Georgia. These recommendations included the following topics:

- Elaboration of Feedback Mechanism for Comments left on Draft Laws;

- Elaboration of a Public Information Module and Simplification of Access to Information on Parliamentary Activities;

- Elaboration of a Public Information Reports Monitoring System;

- Elaboration of a Public Petitions System.

IDFI believes that inclusion of the aforementioned recommendations in the Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action Plan will increase involvement of the citizens in lawmaking processes, transparency of the legislative authorities and the citizens’ trust in them. (IDFI)