The European Union, France and the Czech Republic have joined forces to strengthen the social protection system in Georgia. The signing event allowed the parties to kick off the project and show their common engagement in improving access to social protection and the extension of social rights and coverage of the Georgian population.
The cooperation agreement was signed at Embassy of the Czech Republic in Georgia on November 10 to mark the beginning of an EU-project implemented by Expertise France (Agence Française de Développement Group − AFD Group) and the Czech Development Agency (CzDA), with the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia (MoIDPHLSP).
Their Excellencies, Petr Mikyska, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, and Diego Colas, Ambassador of France to Georgia, and Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation, attended the signing ceremony. Tamila Barkalaia, Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the occupied territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia presented her ministry’s perspective, followed by with a short presentation of the project.
“Social protection goes back to the core values of the European Union. In a democracy, it is all of our responsibility to take care of the most vulnerable members of society, to make sure that everyone can be part of social life and the democratic process,” said Mr. Gherman. “This is especially relevant in times of COVID-19, where many people need additional support and protection. We are therefore proud to launch this new project together with our Team Europe partners, and look forward to many positive steps over the coming years.”
“There is a global alliance between the French and Czech Development Agencies and I am very happy that this finds an application here in Georgia,” said Ambassador Colas. “We strongly support the choice of the Georgian people and of successive governments to build a strong, dynamic, European democracy in Georgia, and it makes sense to do this with another dynamic successful Eastern European democracy such as the Czech Republic. The implementation of this joint project, to strengthen the delivery of social services and work towards the social code, will be a key aspect of this broader democracy and institution building agenda”.
“Development of the Social Code is a key reform that will direct Georgia towards the establishment of an effective social welfare management system, including decentralization of provision of social protection,” noted Czech ambassador Mikyska. “The Czech Development Agency is happy to join the forces with Expertise France and move a long-term successful partnership with the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia to a new level.”
“By elaborating the Social Code, we aim at creating broader perspective of social welfare,” stated Deputy Minister Barkalaia. “Our goal is to guarantee that Georgian citizens are protected from social risks from childhood to old age. Therefore, relevant healthcare and social protection systems and mechanisms need to be developed. This will be a big step forward towards European and international Standards.”
The project Strengthening Social Protection in Georgia aims at supporting the Government of Georgia and state organizations in improving social services, evidence-based policy making and extending social protection rights. The project will last 24 months with implementing partners Expertise France and Czech Development Agency.
The project will focus on three components. The first component will improve access and delivery of social services and remittances from Social Service Agency (SSA) and at local level. The second component of the project will support better analysis of information and the creation of communication materials around social rights and promotion of social work. The third component will support the Ministry in the elaboration of the social code in extending social rights in Georgia through a collaborative and inclusive process, following evidence-based policy and legislation proposals.
The project is now officially launched and is in its inception phase. The first action of the project will be to identify key policies and strategies for improving delivery and access to social protection services in Georgia.