Georgian Foreign Minister attends Council of Europe Ministerial
By Ana Robakidze
Friday, May 17
Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze addressed participants of the Council of Europe (CoE) Ministerial held in Strasbourg on May 16th.
Along with issues related to the occupation of Georgian territories, Panjikidze discussed the need of continuing the CoE Secretary General's biannual reports regarding Georgia, as well as the importance of keeping Georgian issues on the Council of Europe political agenda.
After once again emphasizing Georgia’s Western aspirations, Panjikidze expressed her regrets that parts of Georgia are still occupied by a foreign power. "It is regrettable that in the 21st century we still have to discuss the occupation of the territories of one Council of Europe member state by another… With respect to the principles and values which the organisation has devoted itself to, the Council of Europe should continue its efforts with regard to the strengthening of human rights, rule of law and democracy in the territories which are still under foreign occupation. The conflicts between the Council of Europe member states and their resolution transcend the responsibilities of the parties involved." Panjikidze said.
She thanked the CoE for making the Georgia-Russian conflict an issue of high priority. "We do appreciate that the agenda item "The Council of Europe and the Conflict in Georgia" appears on the agenda of all ministers’ meetings." Panjikidze said.
Panjikidze hoped that the CoE will continue to support Georgia and help to solve the conflict peacefully, as well as continue to monitor the human rights situation in the conflict affected territories. "The new government of Georgia has a constructive approach towards cooperation with the Council of Europe. We are not creating deadlocks. Therefore, we expect the Council of Europe to adequately assess our efforts and take appropriate steps in order to make the Russian Federation fulfil its commitments concerning the Russia-Georgia conflict." Panjikidze stated.
After discussing the conflict-related issues, Panjikidze briefly summarized the activities undertaken by the new Georgian government. She touched upon constitutional changes, judicial system reform, media freedom and changes in the labour code.
The ministerial meeting was closed to the media. However, Panjikidze's speech was posted on her official web page.
As part of the Ministerial, Panjikidze also held a meeting with the Secretary-General of the CoE Thorbjorn Jagland. They discussed the ongoing process of reform in Georgia, the current situation with regard to human rights in Georgia's occupied regions and the prospects of enhancing cooperation between Georgia and the Council of Europe in the future.
Panjikidze and Jagland also signed the "Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data Regarding Supervisory Authorities and Transborder Data Flows."
At a joint press-conference Jagland stressed the fact that Georgian issues will remain on the Council's political agenda. He positively assessed the Council's cooperation with the new Georgian government and once again reaffirmed the organization’s support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Georgian Foreign Minister revealed at a press conference that Georgia will receive a three year action plan from the CoE, which will enable the country to undertake several new projects in the fields of human rights, rule of law, the development of democratic institutions and conflict settlement.