Georgian Delegation Attends European Week of Regions & Cities in Brussels

On October 10, the Georgian Delegation officially participated in the European Week of Regions and Cities held in Brussels.

The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement a European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance. It welcomes around 6000 participants in October each year (local, regional, national and European decision-makers and experts) for more than 100 workshops and debates, exhibitions and networking opportunities.

As part of the session, a separate session “Regional Policy in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine: achievements and challenges” was devoted to Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries that have signed the EU Association Agreements (AA). Along with DG REGIO and high-level representatives from the respective Moldovan and Ukrainian state agencies, Giorgi Kezherashvili, representative of the Ministry for Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, and Erik Marx, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) Good Local Governance Program team leader in Georgia, delivered presentations at the session.

The aim of the session was to present the current regional development policies in all three countries, focus on up-to-date achievements and current common challenges. The Georgian delegation underlined the importance of the AA, by the signing of which Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have committed themselves to regional development based on the core principles of the EU regional policy, including multi-level governance, partnership and overcoming regional disparities. The Regional Development chapters in the three AAs show great similarities and the progress in their implementation is actively supported by the EU and its member states. The session was followed by a discussion on common issues, e.g. how regional policy can contribute to economic development and how a partnership with regional and local stakeholders could be further developed.

“We presented the new Regional Development Program 2018-2021, which was adopted by the Government of Georgia in 2018 and which promotes the Integrated Territorial Investment approach,” Kezherashvili noted in his speech in Brussels. “In line with the EU Cohesion policy, it also combines certain aspects of Smart Specialization platform and competitiveness principles.”

“In 2013-2018, the Government of Georgia introduced a proactive agenda to advance and approximate its regional and territorial development planning and implementation practices to major approaches, standards and instruments applied in the EU member states under the EU Cohesion Policy,” he added. “The new document sets out Georgia’s objectives for regional development and determines operational priorities and measures for the following four-year period. It aims to fully use and utilize the unexploited potential of each particular region/territory, find specific niches and comparative advantages and to show how a territorial dimension should be taken into account in different sectoral policies. We are now working on developing Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programs for four focus regions: Kakheti, Imereti, Racha Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti and Guria, where all the main principles and strategic objectives of the RDP will be translated in more practical terms. It aims to adapt existing sectoral policies to the identified territorial needs, and to identify and use economic potential ranging from agriculture, tourism and industry to innovation and a knowledge-based economy.”

Since September 2017, with the funding of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), GIZ has supported an initiative that aims to enhance the cooperation between Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine on key directions of regional development policy. Within the frames of this initiative, the respective responsible agencies of all three countries share experience on planning and implementing regional policies in line with the European standards with each other as well as with EU member and candidate states.

Erik Marx, who accompanied Georgian delegation in Brussels, stressed the importance of Georgia’s participation in the sessions.

“What is really important about this session and the fact that Georgia is attending it, is that it is part of the European Week of Regions and Cities which is a major gathering of the EU-wide community of practice for regional development, so the Georgian participation shows that Georgia is actually part of this community of practice, which is a great recognition and a good opportunity for networking and showing the first results.”

Kezherashvili thanked GIZ, Georgia’s European partners, for giving his home country an opportunity to present what it has achieved in terms of regional development, where it is currently positioned and which direction it is heading in.

Along with other issues, Georgia also presented the working process of developing a Decentralization Strategy for 2018-2025, aiming to increase the role, competences, financial and human resources and quality of transparency and accountability of governance at the local level.

By Lika Chigladze

11 October 2018 17:03