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"We are constantly improving the governance culture in Georgia as open governance is an essential part of our Government” – with these words Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili opened the first ever European Region Government Point of Contact (POC) conference Georgia’s capital Tbilisi today.

Judicial, legislative and executive branches of the Georgian Government gathered to host government representatives from dozens of countries who came to capital Tbilisi to participate in the international conference about open governance.

At the two-day conference Georgia, as host country, will demonstrate the progress it has made in developing an open and transparent government.

While addressing the audience Garibashvili highlighted that Georgia had been ranked first of 13 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region and 29th in the world in terms of open governance.

He said Georgia had improved its transparency and openness, and citizens in Tbilisi now had better access to public services than ever before. He stressed citizens in Georgia’s regions should also be able to access the services that had been recently implemented by the Government. For this purpose, the E-Government Coordination Department was created in the Prime Minister office.

"To establish a new culture of open governance means public participation at all stages of decision-making. For this reason the community centres the Ministry of Justice is building in Georgia’s smaller settlements is extremely important. These centres intend to offer citizens a one-stop place where they can access private and public services. People should have access to in-demand state services, key private sector services, free internet, a library and a conference room,” said Georgia’s Prime Minister.

Garibashvili also said he was glad to see Georgia’s court system had become an "open institution”.

Georgia and France sign cooperation contracts

Today within the European Region Government Point of Contact (POC) conference, Georgia and France signed three cooperation documents; the first will see state agencies share their experience about electronic documents, the second will focus on offering access to state services to rural areas, and the third was about how to publicise court decisions in a way that protects personal data.

Georgia Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani signed the documents on behalf of Georgia while France’s State Minister for State Reform and Simplification Thierry Mandon signed it on France’s behalf.

Garibashvili welcomed the Open Government Partnership initiative between Georgia and France – two member countries of the Steering Committee – which would allow countries to share with their best practices with the other country, and said the Georgian Government would support this initiative.

Open governance in Georgia’s legislation

When Georgia’s Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili took to the stage to speak today, he recalled Georgia’s General Administrative Code and its paragraph about Freedom of Information, which was adopted in 2000. He said this was the beginning of a new era in the country’s governance system, which intended to inform the society about the Government’s activities and involve them in its processes.

Usupashvili said several activities had been carried out within Georgia’s legislative body to make governance more open and transparent, while more activities were planned in this direction in the future.

Open governance and Georgia’s court system

Georgia’s Supreme Court chairperson Nino Gvenetadze said the primary goal of the court reform was to establish an independent, impartial court system and gain public confidence.

"I think the third stage of the court reform, which is being implemented with the support of Georgia’s Ministry of Justice, will be very successful for Georgian justice. We understand labour-consuming activities should be done but this requires the resources and time. But we want the court system to ensure each citizen’s rights are protected,” Gvenetadze said.

Remarks from OGP Deputy Director Joe Powell

"It is no accident that we are gathered here in Georgia, a country that has embraced the Open Government Partnership since we launched just four years ago,” said OGP deputy director Joe Powell.

"In Georgia progress has been made on proactive disclosure of public information, an online register of the assets of public officials and an e-procurement programme that is now widely used for state contracts. And we look forward to seeing exciting new commitments delivered, such as the Freedom of Information law and the world’s first publication of secret surveillance statistics by the Supreme Court. But just as importantly as the reforms delivered, the OGP process in Georgia has developed into a true partnership between civil society and government,” said Powell.

European Investment Bank President reviews Georgia’s One-Stop Service

The second-in-charge of the European Investment Bank (EIB) spoke of Georgia’s highly functioning Justice House.

In an interview with Austrian newspaper WirtschaftsBlatt, EIB vice president Wilhelm Molterer said "Georgia stands at the best path to get closer to the European standards and in some cases Georgia is ahead of the EU”.

"If you want to know how the one-stop service works, you should travel to Georgia where there are Justice Houses in almost every big city. In Justice Houses you can get all services – driving license, passport or a document about establishing a company – in the shortest time,” Molterer said.

He believed Georgia had made significant progress in using latest information technologies. Molterer added Georgia had benefited from signing an Association Agreement with the EU, where the country’s exports to the EU had increased by 18 percent.

#OGPGeorgia 2015

The European Region Government Point of Contact (POC) conference started today and will finish tomorrow. It has brought together more than 50 public servants from 21 Open Government Partnership (OGP) participating countries, and offered delegates the opportunity to share their successes and challenges regarding achieving open governance in their home countries with partner nations.

Georgia is the first country in Eastern Europe to host this high-level forum. Before Georgia was announced as the host of this year’s OGP regional conference, the country was elected as an OGP Steering Committee member.

Join the conversation about Tbilisi open governance conference using the hashtag #OGPGeorgia.

The OGP is a multilateral initiative of the United States and Brazil, in which 65 governments work together with citizens to promote transparency, fight corruption and use technology as an enabler of governmental openness.

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Quelle/Source: Agenda, 03.06.2015

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