The State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality held a meeting in Dmanisi.
Mr. Paata Zakareishvili comments on the recommendations on the draft amendments to the "Law on Occupied Territories":
"The draft amendments to the law of Georgia on "Occupied Territories" and the relevant opinions and recommendations of Georgia’s international partners on these changes all too often comes as a subject to misinterpretation and groundless accusations by the opponents, addressing the Government. For example, the co-founder of the "Georgia’s Reforms Association" Mr. Sergi Kapanadze rebuffs the recommendation on the review of the law within the context of EU- Georgia Association Agreement.
We would like to note, that the EU- Georgia Association Agenda makes a direct reference to the review of this law. In particular, the paragraph "Peaceful Settlement of Conflicts" reads: "Take appropriate steps to encourage trade, travel and investment across the administrative boundary line, including a review of legislation such as the Law on Occupied Territories."
Besides the abovementioned document, the urge for the review of the "Law on Occupied Territories" is voiced by the "Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Georgia Progress in 2013 and Recommendations for Action," in which the European Union, welcoming the open and positive steps of the Government of Georgia with regard to the conflict settlement, hereby declares: "A substantial review of the law on the occupied territories remains necessary to maximise the benefits of the Association Agreement / Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA)".
Together with this, we recall the opinion of the Venice Commission, unanimously adopted at its 97th Plenary Session, December 9, 2013. In the Paragraph 14, the commission has welcomed the initiated amendments of the Government of Georgia, which aims at alleviating the imposed sanctions for the illegal entry in the occupied territories.
Furthermore, the Paragraph 15 of the same opinion reads: "It would have nonetheless have appeared even more appropriate that sanctions for the violation of the rules regarding the entry to the occupied territories be fully decriminalized and included, without exceptions, under the Administrative Code. Such a measure would have provided even more flexibility and would have encouraged the engagement policy with the occupied territories."
Besides, the Venice Commission noted in the same opinion about the necessity of introducing additional amendments, also corresponding to those remarks the Venice Commission made back in 2009 in the previous opinions of the mentioned law.
We would also like to note that on the basis of the previous opinions of the Venice Commission a number of changes were introduced within the law during 2008-2009.
The Parliament of Georgia started the review of the draft bill in 2013 Spring Session and adopted with a first hearing. For the time being, the draft bill is approved on the second committee hearing and is prepared for the second plenary review.
The State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality delivered a speech before the Members of Parliament.
Mr. Paata Zakareishvili appeared on the joint session of the Temporary Commission on Territorial Integrity Issues, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Diaspora and Caucasus Issues. Mrs. Manana Kobakhidze, the First Deputy Chairman of the Parliament, also participated into the work of the session.
The State Minister delivered the deputies information about the situation in Abkhazia during the so called Presidential Elections and the current circumstances. He also spoke about the possibilities for the direct Georgian-Abkhazian contacts, the situation in Gali district and the necessity for the continuation of the procedures for the amendments to the "Law on Occupied Territories". Mr. Paata Zakareishvili also responded to the questions of the deputies and the Vice-Speaker. The questions addressed the internal political situation in Abkhazia, international efforts and the perspectives of the EU Association Agreement.
The leaders and members of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia Autonomous Republic, the government and the representatives of NGOs took part into the joint session as well.
After the session, Mr. Paata Zakareishvili responded to media.
Please see the links of "nterpressnews" Agency below:
The explanatory remark to media by the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Mr. Paata Zakareishvili:
"In the light of the Article #6 of the Law of Georgia on Occupied Territories, Georgia forbids any kind of economic activity in the occupied territories, that requires applicable procedures (for example: registration, license, etc.). In accordance with the law, the forbidden activity may be carried out only in extraordinary cases under the special permit, if this serves the state interests of Georgia, the promotion of peaceful conflict resolution, de-occupation, confidence building or humanitarian purposes.
In such cases, the permits are issued by the relevant ministries through the agreement with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Minister’s Office for Reconciliation and Civic Equality.
Any illegal economic activity shall cause a punishment under the criminal law - this means the imposition of a fine or imprisonment from three to five years. Therefore, such kind of activity is illegal. In such cases, the relevant agencies of the Government of Georgia are getting involved and send notifications to applicable states and companies. In practice, in most cases, these states and companies review their activities in accordance with the law".
The State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality congratulated the school students and teachers on new academic year.
Mr. Paata Zakareishvili visited the Armenian Public School #2 in Bolnisi and Azerbaijani Public School #1 in village Talaveri.
Bolnisi Public School started the new academic year with the National Anthem of Georgia. The school director Mrs. Manana Adamia gave the welcoming remarks and consequently the State Minister took the floor.
"I would like to congratulate on new academic year to school students and teachers and wish you success. It is important to have the public schools where the academic process runs into the languages of ethnic minorities. These schools ensue that your identity, culture and self-preservation are not endangered and the Government makes its best efforts to have these schools in action. Besides, the school students should have an excellent command of the state language for their fully-fledged integration within the common Georgian state and for their formation as competitive specialists after they finish their study. Therefore, I call on them to study both the native and state languages for being honorable representatives of their respective ethnicities and the dignified citizens of Georgia", - the State Minister declared.
School students made national and Georgian dance performances and poetry. The ceremony was also attended by the Assistant to Prime-Minister Mr. Savalan Mirzoev and the Head of Bolnisi Municipality Mr. Giorgi Meshveliani.
After Bolnisi, the State Minister traveled to village Talaveri, where he congratulated on new academic year to students of Public School #1 and provided net-books to children in their 1st grade. The School Students made a small performance in village Talaveri as well.
The State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality met with Mr. Andrejs Mamikins, the Member of the European Parliament, and the Co-rapporteur on Georgia.
Mr. Paata Zakareishvili and Mr. Andrejs Mamikins discussed the situation with regard to the conflict settlement.
In particular, the Member of the European Parliament showed interest in the attitude of Georgia on conflict settlement and the current situation on the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"Mr. Andrejs Mamikins was also interested in the dynamics related with the process of changes within the "Law on Occupied Territories." I have provided him with comprehensive information about this issue, hoping that the process will soon resume", - Mr. Paata Zakareishvili declared.