Twenty-five Tbilisi-based civil society organizations released a joint statement on the proposed structural changes in the Government of Georgia, voicing their concerns over the planned merging of the Office of the State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The existence of the Office of the State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration demonstrates that the European integration is a national priority,” the organizations wrote in their statement on November 20. “Against this backdrop, it is unacceptable to merge the Office of State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without prior consultations with the public, experts, and other stakeholders.”
The organizations noted that the decision on the structural changes was made “behind closed doors,” and that the public was not informed on “which Government agencies would carry out the many functions of the Office, specifically, the coordination and monitoring of the reforms implemented in the framework of the European integration process by various ministries and state agencies.”
“It is questionable how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, which is tasked to conduct foreign policy, can coordinate the various activities implemented by various state agencies as part of the country’s European integration commitments,” CSOs added, calling on the Government and the Parliament to convene “open discussions about the political role and functions” of the Office in order to “ensure that the suggested structural changes will not hinder the strategically important Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia.”
The Office of the State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration was established in late 2004 and has been tasked to facilitate the country’s integration with the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The State Minister’s post is currently held by Victor Dolidze, former member of the Free Democrats Party, who was appointed in November, 2016.