Georgia has completed the term of presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

On 15 May 2020, the Council of Europe hosted a meeting of the Committee of Ministers (by means of a video conference) where Georgia officially transferred the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to Greece. 

David Zalkaliani, President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia presented to the Ministers’ Deputies  stocktaking of the achievements and outcomes of the Georgian Presidency over the past six months. The Council of Europe Secretary General, Maria Pejčinović-Burić, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rick Daems, the President of the European Court of Human Rights, Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Anders Knape and the Ambassadors to the Council of Europe delivered their remarks congratulating Georgia on its success, positively appraising the activities and achievements of the Georgian Presidency.
 
It is worth to be highlighted that two months of the six-month period of the Georgian presidency coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic thus representing a huge challenge for the Organization and the Georgian Presidency. The unprecedented situation required prompt introduction of new working methods. Through the efforts of the Georgian Presidency and with the support of the Organization’s respective agencies, the Committee of Ministers resumed functioning by implementing new working methods, including written communication and video conferences. This enabled the Committee of Ministers to hold meetings and take decisions.
 
Taking into consideration the situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, on 22 April, the Committee of Ministers' Deputies of the Council of Europe made the decision   to transfer the Ministerial meeting scheduled to take place under the Georgian Presidency, on 15 May, from Strasbourg to Athens, on 4 November.
 
Furthermore, on 22 April, within the scope of the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers adopted Declaration on the COVID-19 Pandemic. David Zalkaliani, President of the Committee of Ministers and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, expressed his satisfaction  over the agreement of the 47 Member States to continue joint cooperation fight the pandemic, without ever losing sight of the Organization’s values and standards. For the further strengthening of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, Georgia selected the following priorities for its Presidency: 1. Human Rights and Environmental Protection; 2. Civil Participation in Decision-Making; 3. Child-Friendly Justice – Converging Experience on Restorative Justice in Europe; 4. Strengthening Democracy through Education, Culture and Youth Engagement.
 
The Georgian Presidency agenda envisaged organizing events in the framework of the Presidency priorities. On 27 February, Strasbourg hosted a High-level Conference on environmental protection and human rights, which brought together high-level representatives of the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. The Conference adopted the Declaration of the Georgian Presidency on Environmental Protection and Human Rights.

Georgia is the first country to declare the interconnection between human rights and environmental protection as a priority of its Presidency and to facilitate debates on this issue within the Council of Europe. Therefore, on 15 May 2020, the Georgian Presidency, along with the next Greek and German Presidencies adopted Joint Declaration on human rights and environmental protection. The Declaration deals with the threats facing the environment and the climate and highlights the need of deliberate international action to eradicate the problem. The Declaration will serve as a basic document of reference for the activities to be planned by the Council of Europe in this regard.
 
Other events organized under the aegis of the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers include: International Conference on "Civil Participation in Decision Making" held online due to COVID-19 Pandemic, on 6 and 7 May, instead of 6 March, and High-Level Roundtable on  “Child-Friendly Justice – Converging Experience on Restorative Justice in Europe” also conducted online due to the COVID-19 health crisis, on 12 May, instead of 23 March.
 
Following the aforesaid events, the Georgian Presidency adopted several documents, which include recommendations on the Council of Europe’s  future activities in the areas mentioned above. These documents met with great approval by all Member States and can be considered as the legacy of the Georgian Presidency.
 
Within the framework of the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, a meeting (an informal exchange of views) at the level of Ministers’ Deputies was held on 23 January, in Strasbourg. The meeting revolved around one of the Georgian Presidency’s priorities: “Strengthening Democracy through Youth Engagement in the Council of Europe and its Member States”. Following the meeting, Youth Sector Strategy 2030, adopted during the Georgian Presidency, was launched.
 
A series of other important events were conducted under the aegis of the Georgian Presidency: Informal exchange of views at the level of Ministers’ Deputies on cyberviolence against women and girls in Strasbourg, and an International Conference – “Diaspora's active participation in state-building processes” in Tbilisi.  The Conference, hosted by the Parliament of Georgia, was organized by the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
 
During the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, one of the key items on the agenda of the Committee was the adoption of a Decision on  new complementary procedure between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly in response to a serious violation by a Member State of its statutory obligations, Following  discussions and consultations, on 5 February the Committee of Ministers,   under the Georgian Presidency,adopted the abovementionedDecision.

In his address to the Parliamentary Assembly on 27 January, the President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, David Zalkaliani highlighted the priorities of the the Georgian Presidency and brought to the attention of the Assembly the events and activities carried out by the Committee of Ministers during the reporting period. On the following day, the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili  addressed the Parliamentary Assembly focusing on the situation in Georgia’s occupied territories.

At the same time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia in his capacity as the President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe provided information on the priorities of the Georgian Presidency to the OSCE Permanent Council.

Within the capacity of the President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe David Zalkaliani made Statements on the following dates  - International Human Rights Day,  the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights (this statement was made jointly with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and the President of the European Court of Human Rights), the 6th anniversary of the illegal annexation of the autonomous Republic of Crimea,  International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, on World Press Freedom Day,  Europe Day, and  the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

Alongside the thematic meetings and conferences, Strasbourg hosted a variety of cultural events during the Georgian Presidency aiming at demonstrating diverse Georgia culture and enhancing awareness in this regard. More specifically, during the period of 22 November - 30 December, 2019, Strasbourg Christmas Market featured a Georgian cottage; One of the Strasbourg’s trams  was decorated with posters of the Georgian alphabet to run for six months; The National Ballet of Georgia Sukhishvilis made a special performance  at the Palais de la Musique et des Congrès, on 3 December, 2019; Young Georgian singer Gvantsa Gagnidze performed a concert with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra on 16 December 2019; Fashion designer Keti Chkhikvadze put on a spring/summer fashion show on 28 January 2020; Georgian films were shown at one of the oldest French cinemas - Cinéma Odyssée,  from 4 to 17 March 2020.

It is worth mentioning, that on 1 May, 2019 during the Presidency, Georgia joined Pompidou Group – Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs.

It should also be noted that, before assuming the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Georgia had been chairing the Committee on Supervision of the Execution of Judgments and Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, from May to November 2019. During this period, the Committee held two meetings adopting several important Decisions.

The full report of the activities of the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is available in Georgian, English and French.

Priorities of the Georgian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe are available in Georgian and English.

Joint Declaration of the Georgian Presidency and the next Greek and German Presidencies on human rights and environmental protection is available in Georgian, English and French.