The Daily Beat: 31 January
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer met with President Salome Zurabishvili, reaffirming Austria’s support for the country’s territorial integrity and EU integration. The Chancellor and the President discussed Georgia-EU relations, the war in Ukraine, and the ongoing occupation of Georgian territories. The President stressed the need to continue institutional reforms, making the most of Georgia’s historical EU perspective. Before the meeting at the presidential palace, the Austrian Chancellor had an extensive conversation and a joint presser with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. The two focused extensively on economic relations and regional projects.
Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Oleg Serebrian, visited Georgia, holding meetings with the Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, other cabinet ministers, and senior lawmakers. Reform agenda, EU integration, and Russian occupation were discussed. Both heads of cabinet underscored the importance of peaceful conflict resolution and reaffirmed their mutual support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity. Moldovan and Georgian officials stressed the importance of joint efforts in addressing regional and global security challenges.
Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows Georgia’s standing has stagnated since 2012. This was the angle that civil society groups took, saying the persistence of high-level corruption overshadows the relative dearth of low-level bribery. The government pointed out that Georgia is in the lead in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, bests several EU and NATO countries, and upgraded its standing by only one point. The 2022 CPI report says that the government is “effectively killing any momentum to fight” corruption and “has captured key state institutions.” Overall, Georgia is ranked 41st among 180 countries with a score of 56 (on a scale where 0 is the worst and 100 is the best result), sharing its place with Czechia, Italy, and Slovenia.
Three local watchdogs released a joint report saying the 2022 Electoral Code amendments do not go sufficiently far as to comply with the CoE Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR findings and recommendations. Procedural and technical amendments are steps in the right direction, but they change little substantively, the watchdogs argue. Particular attention is paid to the fact that the amendments were not arrived at in a consultative manner: the opposition refused to participate, while the ruling party excluded the leading election watchdog, ISFED, prompting other civil society groups to walk out in solidarity.
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Data of the Day
Georgia’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 11% in December 2022, according to the estimates released by the National Statistics Office (Geostat). Construction, manufacturing, transportation, and storage were the key growth industries, while real estate, professional and scientific activities showed a decline. The estimated real GDP y-o-y growth amounted to 10.1%.
Pledge of the Day
The newly elected leader of the United National Movement, Levan Khabeishvili, promised to vacate all seats in parliament and local assemblies, as well as transfer the party’s central office in possession of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the patron of the ruling Georgian Dream party if GD agrees to release or transfer for treatment abroad Mikheil Saakashvili, UNM’s ailing, imprisoned leader. Many UNM officials, including the head of the parliamentary faction and several political council members, have stepped down from the party, consumed by infighting.