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The News in Brief

Monday, February 24
By The Messenger Staff

E-health workshop highlights key areas for development in Eastern Neighborhood

Developing e-health in the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood countries was the focus of an online video workshop, supported by the EU4Digital initiative.

The workshop focused on the results of the initiative’s assessment of e-health harmonization and interoperability in the Eastern Neighborhood region. The assessment revealed key areas for further development at the national level, such as data privacy, user-centricity and service-oriented design of e-health.

Workshop participants also discussed the importance of several e-health areas in their countries. The topics that generated the most interest were data analysis, digital solutions for health and care, and proactive prevention.

Participants shared insights from relevant completed projects in their countries and agreed to collect and share their good practice examples in the upcoming workshops and meetings.

Congress President’s official visit to Georgia

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Anders Knape, is paying an official visit to Georgia from 22 to 25 February 2020, organised in the framework of the Georgian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Accompanied by Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer, the president will hold meetings with senior representatives of national and local Georgian institutions and authorities. The talks will focus, among other things, on the decentralization strategy that the Georgian government has just adopted in response, in particular, to the recommendations made by the Congress following its monitoring visit in 2018. Other topics of discussion will be the priorities of the Georgian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the Congress's co-operation with the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) and the Congress's co-operation programmes in the country.

In Tbilisi, Anders Knape will meet with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lasha Darsalia and the Vice-premier and Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maya Tskitishvili. He will also hold meetings with the Deputy Chairman of Parliament Kakhaber Kuchava, the Mayor of Tbilisi and the head of the Georgian Delegation to the Congress and President of NALAG Kakha Kaladze, and the Public Defender Nino Lomjaria.

Meetings are also scheduled in Gori with the Mayor Konstantin Tavzarashvili, and the Governor of Shida Kartli region Giorgi Khojevanishvili.

Meetings with the Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Irakli Kobakhidze, and with the members of the Georgian delegation to the Congress will complete the visit.

European Union calls to promote and conduct responsible behavior in cyberspace

In response to questions from the media, the EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell stressed that Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union, in a Declaration issued on behalf of the EU, condemned the targeted cyber-attack against Georgia and expressed the readiness of the EU and its Member States to continue assisting Georgia in increasing its cyber resilience.

"Despite offering significant opportunities, cyberspace also poses serious and growing challenges to us all. The EU and its Member States are concerned about malicious behaviour that shows a disregard for security and stability in cyberspace. Given the rising number of cyber threats at a global level, the European Union has developed several instruments to better handle these new realities, instruments that will be of benefit also to our partners," said the Ambassador.

He recalled that "attribution of a cyber-attack to a specific actor was the sovereign decision of the EU?s Member States", noting that statements to this effect had already been made by some of them.

The Ambassador said that the EU has already been assisting Georgia in the cyber domain and that our new SAFE programme on security and good governance has a specific focus on hybrid and emerging threats. Through this programme, the EU intends to help strengthen Georgia's cybersecurity capacities and further improve its resilience against cybercrime and threats posed to its critical infrastructure. The EU and its Member States stand together with Georgia in this global struggle.

US Embassy: NDI is impartial, we are proud to work with them

The US Embassy says the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is an impartial organisation and is proud to work with them. The announcement was made after a meeting between Ambassador Kelly Degnan and NDI President Derek Mitchell. According to them, the political and pre-election environment of Georgia was discussed at the meeting.

“The U.S. Government proudly partners with NDI to help build stronger democratic institutions that are responsive to the needs of the Georgian people,” reads the article.

Like the IRI, the NDI has repeatedly been criticized by government officials. They accuse the organisation of bias and of pursuing opposition interests. Bidzina Ivanishvili, the chairman of the Georgian Dream, said a few months ago that the organisation's research was unreliable and would refer the matter to Congress.

In addition to the governing team, these organisations are also opposed by the Patriots Alliance. They are demanding a ban on the organisations in Georgia and launching an investigation against the head of the NDI's Georgian office, Laura Thornton.