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Friday, November 17
Polish and Swedish FMs Reiterate Support for Georgia’s European Integration

(TBILIS) – Speaking to reporters while on a joint visit to the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the foreign ministers of Poland and Sweden reiterated their support for Georgia’s European integration process and the country’s reform efforts.

Poland’s Witold Waszczykowski and Margot Wallstrom of Sweden held talks with the Georgian leadership and civil society representatives on November 14.

The visit came less than two weeks before the European Union’s Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels, where Tbilisi expects strong messages of support for its European aspirations.

Waszczykowski and Wallstrom spoke on behalf of their two countries’ leadership, saying that strong political support exists for Georgia’s drive to integrate with the West, but stressed that the Georgian government needs to continue working on comprehensive reform programs aimed at curbing corruption and strengthening civil society.

Speaking at a joint news conference after meeting with Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, Waszczykowski expressed his hope that the EaP Summit declaration would be satisfactory to Georgia, since it “offers the prospect of closer ties with the European Union.”

“Of course, we would prefer to offer you full EU membership, but as you know, due to the complicated situation and fatigue in the European Union, it is not possible right now,” said Waszczykowski. “But we keep our fingers crossed for your (future) membership.”

Waszczykowski also declared that Poland would “never recognize” the violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “You can count on us as a future member of the Security Council of the United Nations.”

In her remarks at the press conference, Wallstrom also reiterated her support for Georgia’s reform efforts and pledged to remain “a firm supporter” of its European aspirations.

“As a progressive member of the Eastern Partnership, Georgia inspires democratic reforms and the fight against corruption in the region,” she noted, but added that the country would need “hard work in the years ahead” to fully implement the EU’s Association Agreement and to “further strengthen” its institutions.

Wallstrom noted that the two countries “have high expectations” for Georgia. “There are areas where we would like to see even more vigorous efforts: judiciary reform, a greater gender balance in political decision-making and more media freedom.”

Asked whether the wording of the Brussels Summit declaration was disappointing in terms of Tbilisi’s EU membership aspirations, Janelidze said there was “no room for any disappointment.”

“Georgia is doing all these reforms for itself and doing it for its own citizens…to make Georgia a truly European state,” said Janelidze.

He, noted, however, that the country was looking forward to being recognized for its hard work and lead to “the ultimate goal of becoming a full-fledged member of the European Union.”

As part of their visit to Tbilisi, Waszczykowski and Wallstrom met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. They also met with officials from the European Union’s Monitoring Mission in Georgia and accompanied a patrol to the Georgia-South Ossetia contact line. (

Architects, Urban Planners Try to Re-imagine Tbilisi’s Soviet-Era Buildings

(TBILISI) – After spending parts of eight decades as one of the Soviet Union’s 15 republic capitals, Tbilisi grew rapidly in the second half of the 20th century, extending far beyond its medieval boundaries to cover more than 720 square kilometers of space.

From the 1950s to the early 1990s, Tbilisi’s skyline was increasingly filled with grim, utilitarian Soviet blocks, the likes of which one regularly sees in cities as far afield as Moscow, Kyiv, Minsk, Baku and Tashkent.

These low-cost, concrete-paneled buildings are known for their drab appearance, roach infestations and general lack of upkeep. Designed to fulfill Marxism–Leninism’s promise of standardized housing and educational facilities for all Soviet citizens.

Tbilisi’s Soviet-era architecture is commonplace outside the historical city center, mainly in areas where the vast number of foreign visitors never bother to see. Most of the buildings are dilapidated and rapidly decaying having been in use years after their planned 25-year lifespan.

With many of the buildings in desperate need of repairs, a series of public lectures at the National Scientific Library by architects, urban planners and preservationists will begin in the Georgian capital aimed at formulating a general plan for creating a sustainable future for Tbilisi’s Soviet-era buildings.

The lectures will focus on determining the role of Soviet architecture and its legacy in the life of contemporary Tbilisi. The participants hope to discuss the fate of a large complex that housed the former Industrial Pedagogical Tekhnicum, a type of vocational school that was popular during the Soviet period.

The complex is a prime example of Socialist modernist architecture, and its fate will be part of a wider discussion on the possible adaptation and development of the era’s numerous structures in the city.

Led by Claudio Vekstein from the US’ Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the event will look into the historical, economic, cultural and political impact that preservation plan would have on the city, with a particular emphasis on large complexes similar to the former pedagogical college.

The three-day workshop will conclude on Sunday. (