GFSIS http://bspn.gfsis.org/ Georgian Foundation For Strategic and International Studies - events. Is Georgia’s Export Growth Sustainable? http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/776 Author: Amb. Valeri Chechelashvili, Senior Fellow at Rondeli Foundation The stable developing character of involvement in the international division of labor is an important component of security and sustainable economic progress for any country. The trade turnover of many developed countries either comes close to or exceeds the volume of gross domestic product. In other words, more than half of nationally produced merchandise and services are directed to foreign markets. In the table below, the respective figures demonstrate this tendency. Gross Domestic Product and export volume of selected countries ($ millions, 2014 - 2016 est.) Source: Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal); https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_exports Although the figures for GDP and export volumes are available for the years 2016 and 2015 respectively, we can draw some conclusions from the table. First - the smaller the country is, the more limited is their consumption and respectively, the market volume. As a result, the given country is more dependent on external markets. As the economy develops, this dependence inevitably increases. This is an objective reality that is impossible to ignore. Otherwise a country is doomed to isolation. If we want our country to demonstrate rapid growth, we have to take this tendency into account. One of the important advantages of our country is our comparatively stable macroeconomic environment. Currently the most vulnerable macroeconomic component is an impressive trade deficit. It has an objective character and has its own historic preconditions and economic reasons, which are important enough to be researched separately. The reality is that Georgia’s trade balance exhibits a sustainable deficit, which is compensated by several components (e.g. services, transit, tourism, foreign direct investments, remittance), leading to a more or less stable payment balance. The continued negative trade balance is main challenge for Georgian economy. In the last few years, this figure is in the range of around 50%. Trade deficit of Georgia ($ millions) Source: http://geostat.ge/?action=page&p_id=133&lang=geo In this light, some positive changes were recorded this year thanks to impressively accelerating exports. Provided that Georgia maintains this positive tendency and reduce the volume of its trade deficit to even 25%-30% of trade turnover, the macroeconomic environment’s stability will be guaranteed with all the respective consequences, including the stability of the national currency – the lari exchange rate. Actually, there are two ways to improve the trade balance – substituting imports and accelerating exports. Georgia has good potential for both, although this article is a humble effort to analyze export developments, their character, nature and possible forthcoming challenges. What is the reason for such an acceleration in exports? Is this sustainable? The best development to result from this is that the EU has become Georgia’s most important trade partner. Georgia’s main trade partners (2017, $ million, 10 months) Source: http://geostat.ge/cms/site_images/_files/georgian/bop/FTrade__10_2017_GEO-with%20cover.pdf In the table above, instead of the CIS, which traditionally appears in Georgian statistics, the Eurasian Custom Union is presented, which more adequately reflects current regional economic realities. A CIS single market never existed, but its prospects were finally demolished by the war between Russia and Ukraine. In addition, CIS trade rules, having lost relevance in general, no longer influence any trade relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which are legally or formally still CIS members. As for Ukraine and Turkmenistan, they haven’t signed or ratified the CIS Charter, so legally these countries are not members of the CIS. Georgia’s trade relations with Ukraine and Turkmenistan are regulated by bilateral free trade agreements. Another important component of Georgia’s foreign trade arrangements is the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) Free Trade Area, which entered into force on 10 December 2003 (See: https://guam-organization.org/en/agreement-on-establishment-of-free-trade-area-between-the-guuam-participating-states/ ). The fact is that both the main successes and challenges of Georgia’s foreign trade entail the impressive growth of exports to the Russian market. Institutions in Russia are weak, subject to political pressure and respectively rubber stamping politically charged decisions. This was vividly demonstrated in March 2006 with the Russian embargo, despite the existing bilateral Free Trade Agreement, ratified both by the Russian State Duma and the Georgian Parliament. This particular Agreement contained dispute regulation mechanisms that accord to international legal practice. (See: http://base.spinform.ru/show_doc.fwx?rgn=23995). Nevertheless, the Russian Government, without hesitation, unilaterally introduced politically charged embargo decision. It is worth mentioning that Georgia is not a sole example of such Russian treatment. Violating political treaties and economic agreements demonstrates the Russian authorities’ routine attitude towards signed and ratified international documents. In this respect, any neighbor of the Russian Federation, from Belarus to Japan, can provide examples from its own experience. Nobody can argue that the Russian market is not lucrative. But it should be kept in mind that it is, at the same time, dangerous, non-sustainable and poses many risks, predominantly of a political nature. As a result of the Georgian Government’s efforts to normalize the climate of bilateral relations in recent years, Russian-Georgian trade relations have accelerated remarkably. Georgian – Russian trade dynamics ($ millions) Source: http://www.geostat.ge/?action=page&p_id=133&lang=geo Most likely, Russian-Georgian trade turnover will pass the $1 billion threshold in the current year. Russia became the biggest export market for Georgia with 14,3% ($314 million of $2203 million), and Azerbaijan occupies second place with only 8.8%. In some export sectors of the Georgian economy, this dominance is more dramatic. In the first ten months of 2017, Georgian entrepreneurs exported 61million bottles of wine, valued at $134,6 mln. The Russian market was the largest at more than 38,3 mln bottles (62,7%, $84,6 mln), and Ukraine ranked second with only 6.2 million bottles (10,1%). This clearly demonstrates how dramatically dependent Georgian wine-making industry is on the Russian market. As an outcome of Russia’s expansionistic policy in the region, most vividly manifested in the creeping occupation of Georgia’s territories, there is very narrow capacity, if any, for two states to improve the bilateral political climate. This also does not contribute to the sustainability of bilateral economic cooperation (See: http://reginfo.ge/economic/item/3540-saqartvelodan-gvinis-eqsporti-59-%E2%80%93it-gaizarda,-chachis-198-%E2%80%93it). The other side of the coin is that average contract price of Georgian wine is only $2.2. According to current tendencies, a total of 73-75 million bottles will be exported this year. One has to keep in mind that extensive growth has natural limits. It is time to start thinking about repositioning Georgian wine on the international market based on the idea that Georgian wine should move to a higher segment – fewer in quantity, higher in price. In the case that this tendency becomes a reality, our future markets are predominantly not Russia, but the EU, China, the USA, Japan, etc. This doesn’t mean that Georgian wine should surrender its already achieved positions on friendly markets in Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, etc., or even the market in non-friendly Russia. But the strategic trajectory of increasing quality and respectively, the price, as well as decreasing dependence on lucrative but risky markets should be carefully crafted and followed. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 0:00:00 GMT Rondeli Foundation launched the training for Public Servants http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/777 On December 14, 2017 Rondeli Foundation launched the training program "Capacity-building of the Georgian Leadership Community for Improved Decision-Making and Negotiation Skills". Professor Vladimer Papava, Senior Fellow at Rondeli Foundation delivered a lecture to program participants on Economics for Public Policy. The training program is designed to assist the Georgian government to respond to the governance challenges and aims at engaging directly with middle level public servants and civil society representatives in practical exercises in policy development and negotiation techniques. The program is implemented by Rondeli Foundation with the financial support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Thu, 14 Dec 2017 0:00:00 GMT The South Caucasus Conflict Transformation Research Workshop http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/775 On December 11-12 GFSIS with the support and cooperation of the Georgetown University Conflict Resolution Program organized the South Caucasus Conflict Transformation Research Workshop. During two days American, Azerbijani, Armenian and Georgian researchers and experts in the field discussed the prospects of conflict transformation in the region. Having identified common threats and problems the participants came up with collaborative research project ideas. Tue, 12 Dec 2017 0:00:00 GMT International Workshop – “Marshall Plan 70 years after: Vision still relevant” http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/774 On December 6, 2017 Rondeli Foundation in cooperation with the Atlantic Council of Georgia organized an international workshop "Marshall Plan 70 years after: Vision still relevant", dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. The workshop addressed triple challenges that Georgia and other Eastern Neighborhood countries are facing: domestic reforms, EU and NATO integration and resisting the Russian hybrid pressure, as well as the lessons of the Marshall Plan to respond to these challenges. The distinguished speakers included: Michael Carpenter, Senior Director, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, Brian Whitmore, Senior Russia Analyst, Author of the Power Vertical blog, Radio Free Europe/Radio and Benjamin Fricke, Scientific Associate, Regional Program Political Dialogue South Caucasus, Konrad Adenaurer Stiftung. The Georgian perspective was presented by Amb. David Sikharulidze, the Chair of Atlantic Council of Georgia. The workshop was moderated by Shota Utiashvili, Senior Fellow at the Rondeli Foundation. Watch the video about the workshop. Wed, 6 Dec 2017 0:00:00 GMT Chronic Poverty and Income Inequality in Georgia: presentation of the final report http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/773 On December 5th, 2017 Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation) hosted a presentation of the final report - Chronic Poverty and Income Inequality in Georgia. The project is implemented by the Rondeli Foundation with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). The study provides analyses of time series and panel estimations of the poverty level against the official subsistence minimum; a study of the dynamics of chronic poverty; analyses of time series and panel estimations of household incomes with and without public social payments and pension; a study of the inequality of household incomes using Decile coefficients; analyses of annual and panel dynamics of the GINI index with and without public social payments and pension; and identification of the trends of interaction between the chronic poverty level and inequality of incomes. The representatives of governmental agencies, international organizations as well as independent experts attended the meeting. The opening remarks were made by the project team leader, Prof. Merab Kakulia, the Senior Fellow at the Rondeli Foundation. Felix Hett, the Regional Director of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in the South Caucasus addressed the participants. Nodar Kapanadze, Senior Researcher of the project presented the final results of the study to the audience. The presentation was followed by a Q&A and discussion. The final report is available on the following link. Tue, 5 Dec 2017 0:00:00 GMT Georgian Parties and the “Euro-Parties” Cooperation, Achievements and Challenges http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/770 Author: Teona Lavrelashvili, Policy Officer, European Commission, DG NEAR For so many years I have been interested in Euro-Parties and my experiences of the recent years have only strengthened my interest. I believe that the relations between Georgian and European parties are of utmost importance in terms of the process of Europeanization of Georgia. This especially concerns the Euro-Parties. It is becoming more and more important for the Georgian political parties to cooperate with the similar European organizations. One of the reasons for this, one the one hand is that the relations of Georgia with Europe have deepened and the parties have started looking for their international roles, whilst on the other hand, the Georgian parties have realized that international connections represent an important aspect of building a party, especially when, among other advantages, it can also be a source of international political legitimation. It would probably be worth it to describe the current situation in a couple of words. First of all we need to differentiate political parties of the European countries (local ones such as CDU in Germany, or PP in Spain and so on) and the political parties on the EU level, which are also known as the Euro-Parties. These are the unions of parties, or party families that are formed on an ideological basis. In this regard, right wing, and center-right parties make up one family, left wing parties make another with the conservative, green and other movements also being separate. There are a total of 16 Euro-Parties registered in the European Union, three of which are the European People’s Party (EPP), Party of European Socialists (PES) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) with the strongest representation. Euro-Parties are separate legal entities which, apart from other sources, are also funded from the European Union’s budget. It must be pointed out that the role of the Euro-Parties in terms of formulating the EU policies is growing gradually, doing so parallel to the growth of the role of the European Parliament. Now let us talk a little about the relations of Georgian political parties and Euro-Parties, how they started and how they are being developed. The process of becoming a member is preceded by the so-called fact finding mission, which assesses to what degree the party’s structure, procedures and ideology are compatible with that of the Euro-Party. These are the formal procedures that influence the relative democratization of Georgian parties. The first Georgian party which became a member of a Euro-Party (with an observing status in EPP) was the United National Movement in 2008. In 2017, the EPP was joined by another Georgian party, European Georgia – Movement for Liberty, with a similar status. It should also be pointed out that the Georgian parties consider other Georgian parties as their competitors if they become the member of the same European party family that they are in. The New Rights Party tried multiple times to approximate with the European People’s Party after the UNM became a member, yet fruitlessly. Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia is also an observing member of the Party of European Socialists. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, on the other hand, brings together two Georgian parties: the Republican Party of Georgia since 2007 and the Free Democrats since 2012. It must be pointed out that ALDE is the only Euro-Party which allows full membership for the political parties coming from the non-member states of the European Union. Membership in the Euro-Parties presents multiple interesting opportunities to the Georgian parties; however, a part of these opportunities has not been used fully and Georgian parties are expected to develop this potential themselves. For example, Georgian parties participate in the work of the congresses and working groups of Euro-Parties, also contributing to seminars and trainings, which are held by a Euro-Party (or its respective groups in the European Parliament). It is especially important to participate in the congresses of the Euro-Parties, which are attended by the Prime Ministers of European Countries and other high-level politicians. Hence, participating in the so-called networking provides new opportunities for the Georgian parties to develop and gain certain legitimacy on the national level. The problems preventing a more effective cooperation of the Georgian parties and Euro-Parties are definitely worth discussing. One of the major problems is that the motivations for inter-party cooperation are different among the Georgian parties and the Euro-Parties. Apart from legitimation and the growth of authority in the eyes of the people, it is sometimes also important for the Georgian parties to gain additional resources and technical support in terms of increasing the capacities of the party, whilst for the opposition parties it is no less important to have some kind of protection in the case of the conflict with the government. Euro-Parties, on the other hand, are primarily concerned with increasing their international influence and also boosting their chances of affecting policies on the European level. The second problem is connected with the fact that the Georgian parties often do not have clearly formed ideologies and programs and there is often a large divide between the formal documents and their actual practices. Euro-Parties are making some effort to help Georgian parties to resolve these flaws; however, their influence is largely nominal. Cooperation is possible through various formats; however, only some of them are being used at this stage. One part of these formats is the connections between respective women’s and youth organizations. For example, the Women’s Organization of the United National Movement is a member of the EPP Women’s Organization, whilst neither the Georgian Dream, nor the Republicans (or Free Democrats) have utilized this opportunity. As for the youth organizations, there is an interesting trend here. Part of the Georgian youth organizations conduct their work independently from their respective "central" parties. For example, Young Socialists of Georgia is a member of the Young Socialists of Europe, whilst the Socialist Party of Georgia no longer exists and was not part of any Euro-Party even during its existence. It is interesting to note that youth wing of the Georgian Dream is not a part of this organization and yet it became the observing member of the International Union of Young Socialists from 2016. Young Rights is also a member of the Youth Organization of the EPP, whilst the New Rights Party itself is not a member of the EPP. And yet, what can be done better? What other, new forms of cooperation can be put forward? I believe that the Georgian politicians should use innovative approaches, which merits the analysis of the situation from two different levels – from Tbilisi and from Brussels. For example, the medium of party research is completely unused. Euro-Parties have their own research centers such as the Wilfred Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES) of the European People’s Party and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) of the Party of European Socialists. It is important for the Georgian parties to find modes of cooperation, be it joint projects or creating similar research centers in their midst. In addition, Georgian parties have the opportunity of getting involved in the formation of the Eastern policies of the European Union more actively. Georgian parties can achieve the adoption of the declarations important for Georgia during the political summits such as the Eastern Partnership Forum, NATO summits and so on. Euro-Parties will, on the other hand, start advocating these points in the Council of the European Union. Finally, I would like to once again underline the fact that the deepening of the cooperation between the Georgian political parties and Euro-Parties is one of the major facilitating mechanisms of the Georgian political project and I expect that this process will gather more and more intensity over time. Mon, 4 Dec 2017 0:00:00 GMT Presentation of the Research Findings http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/772 On November 27,2017, Rondeli Foundation organized the presentation of the research findings assessing the attitudes and perceptions within the Georgian Orthodox Church on the issues of domestic and foreign policy and recommendations on the GOC in state building process under the framwork of the project "Investigating the Attitudes of the Georgian Church on Democracy and Development". The project activities aim to enable various stakeholders to boost the healthy policy debate and discussion among the representatives of GOC and within the educational institutions affiliated with the patriarchate on the ardent foreign and domestic policy issues identified as a result of the research. The welcome speech was delivered by Ekaterine Metreveli, the President of Rondeli Foundation, and the research findings and policy recommendations were presented by Amb. Archil Gegeshidze, the Director of the Levan Mikeladze Foundation. The project was implemented by Rondeli Foundation with the financial support of National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Mon, 27 Nov 2017 0:00:00 GMT The 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit and its Results http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/771 Author: Kakha Gogolashvili, Director of EU Studies Center at Rondeli Foundation Introduction The general society would probably know little about the Eastern Partnership, were it not the case that its summits are held biennially and generate quite a lot of excitement. There is a view, that nothing is actually decided on the summits and they are a mere formality. Perhaps, this is true; however, if there were no summits, there would be no preparation and the process of preparation is when acute discussions are held about the most important issues, intensive work is on-going for displaying the achievements at the summit, compromises are sought between distinct positions and the institutions are working energetically. Usually, the most important results of the summit are reflected in the joint declaration, which is adopted by consensus among the six Eastern European partner states and the European Union. A declaration, as you are aware, is not an international legal document and therefore the non-implementation of its provisions is not punishable. It should also be noted that neither the Eastern Partnership itself, nor the other forms of cooperation defined by the neighborhood policy of the European Union are under any institutional framework. Despite this, their influence on the process of reforms and the transformation of the state are enormous. Hence, the declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit is usually considered as a program document for the participating states and greatly influences the direction of the Eastern Partnership’s development. The previous summits – Warsaw, Vilnius and Riga are good examples of this. For example, several points of the declaration adopted at the Vilnius Summit formed a basis for the European Union’s attitude towards the Eastern partners for the years to come. Specifically, as a response to Armenia’s refusal of the Association Agreement, a phrase that "any partner has a sovereign right to define the ambition and goal of its relations with the European Union "was added to the declaration. This provision was automatically transferred to first the Riga declaration and now the Brussels declaration as well. What result does the existence of such a phrase in the declaration deliver? The result is clear – it is the European Union’s "liberal/tolerant" attitude towards the refusal of European aspirations by certain partners. It should be noted, that the declarations of almost all Eastern Partnership Summits are attempts to ensure the equal and maximum involvement of all partner states. It does not matter what results the spent resources and efforts yield – it is important that all six states are involved in cooperation with the European Union, which affords it soft and normative influence. Why does the European Union need to maintain these influences if some of the countries not only do not aspire the membership of the European Union, but are practically in the opposing camp in the new geopolitical struggle taking place in Europe and are members of the structures which exclude future "political association and economic integration" with the European Union, as the goals of the Eastern Partnership state? The answer is that the main interest of the European Union in the Eastern European region is not its economy or resources (in this regard Russia could be more interesting to it), but the necessity of long-term stability. And it would be impossible for it to achieve such stability without developing the rules of democracy and European governance. The "soft power" of the European Union, which is a normative (value based) and transformative force, distributes its abilities almost evenly (even in the case of "more for more" principle) everywhere, where even small improvement can be made. For example, the declaration of the Brussels Summit underlines the new EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and the progress achieved with Azerbaijan with regard to the creation of a new framework agreement, as well as the critical involvement with Belarus represented by the EU-Belarus Coordination Group and dialogue on human rights and trade issues, as highly important and presents it in almost the same way as the achievements with the associated countries. External observers including the general public of these countries fail to notice the difference between the relations of the European Union and its associated partners on the one hand and the relations of the European Union and the Eastern European partners with no European aspiration on the other. European Union managed to veil these differences rather successfully at the 2009 Prague Summit by introducing two dimensions of the Eastern Partnership. Two dimensions make the differentiation between the countries fully possible. Countries which have signed the Association Agreement have also received the visa-free travel regime. They have the opportunity to fully participate in European Union’s programs and agencies and have significantly different goals for their political dialogues, as compared to any other formats. Further Differentiation of the Format The declaration underlines this exact possibility, when it states, delicately and carefully of course, that "the Summit participants welcome the achievements of the Eastern Partnership to date and the strengthened differentiation in bilateral relations between the EU and each of the partner countries." This, of course, means the enactment of the Association Agreements with three Eastern European partners and the beginning of visa-free travel with Ukraine and Georgia. This differentiation is caused by two factors – "…partners' ambitions and needs, as well as the pace and quality of reforms." We should not forget that this declaration is signed by all partner countries, which means that they do not (or no longer) harbor any pretenses towards such a differentiation. The Issue of the European Perspective As is no secret, the issue of granting "the European Perspective" to three associated states, which could not be achieved during the negotiations for the Association Agreement, was being actively discussed during the preparation phase of the Summit. The European Parliament adopted a supportive resolution about this issue back in 2014, remarking that "Georgia as a European state" has a European perspective and can apply for the membership of the European Union. Article 49 of the 1957 Rome Agreement of the European Community speaks about such a perspective, confirmation of which turned out to be highly necessary in our time for the European countries that have European aspirations. However, the resolution by the same European Parliament about the same issue, adopted just ten days before the Summit (15 November 2017) does not use the term "European perspective" in the similar context and indicates only the recognition of "European aspirations". We consequently also have a similar provision in the Summit declaration as well where it says that the "Summit participants acknowledge the European aspirations and European choice of the partners concerned", by which they simply reaffirm their obligations set forward in the Association Agreement. However, such a statement does not include any kind of obligation that would require the European Union to facilitate the institutional integration of these countries, which would not be the case if the "European Perspective" were to be recognized in the declaration. Such a wording by the European Union would practically mean the recognition of the associated states as potential candidates, which would generate certain responsibilities for the Union to at least discuss the issues connected with the future membership of these countries. In the interviews before the Summit, the leaders of some of the member states and institutions of the European Union were quite forward with regard to this issue. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for example, said that this Summit is not the "enlargement summit" by which he excluded the possibility of discussing the "European Perspective". Before the beginning of the Summit, President Macron also clearly emphasized that the EU is currently busy with resolving its own problems and talks about accepting new member states are excluded. The positions of all other leaders were almost the same, including the Baltic leaders. It would appear that a consensus has been reached between the member states of the European Union regarding this issue; however, discussions about this topic were underway in the pre-Summit period and some Central and Eastern European states, especially Lithuania and Estonia, were supporting the "European Perspective" provision. Basis for the EaP+ Project has been Created There is an almost unnoticeable phrase in the Summit declaration, which has a very high practical importance for the future differentiation of the Eastern Partnership program. Specifically, it says that "…while preserving the inclusivity of the EaP, it is timely to engage the AA/DCFTA partners in joint discussions on the progress, opportunities and challenges concerning the association-related reforms, as requested by these partners". In order to fully appreciate the importance of this provision, we should look at its origins. Talks about the fact that it was possible to further differentiate the format in the Eastern Partnership program had been on-going in the academia before. Differentiation is already a given in its two-dimensional model; however, the issue of creating a separate multilateral format for the three associated partners has not been discussed before. In this context, the need for the new approach was discussed in the resolution of the European Parliament published prior to the Summit (15 November 2017). The resolution directly demanded the creation of the EaP+ format specifically for the three associated states, granting the preferences important to them, including the right to participate in the Schengen Area. The Summit declaration presents this idea in a much more veiled form; however, it quite adequately makes it possible for the three associated states and the European Union to meet in terms of the Eastern Partnership format, without the presence of the remaining three states. This is a very important breakthrough in the European Union’s approach, creating a prerequisite for the further differentiation of the Eastern Partnership. No Direct Indication about the EEA+ A gradual creation of a separate format for the three associated states and its expansion will create the basis for the implementation of the EEA+ idea. This idea was officially mentioned in several documents of the European Union, including the 2016 EU Global Security Strategy. The Brussels Summit declaration, unfortunately, says nothing about the creation of such an area; however, there was an indication to it in the 2015 Riga Summit declaration. It says that the gradual integration of the associated states will facilitate the creation of an "economic area" within the internal market of the European Union. The "economic area" refers to the 1992 bilateral agreement between the European Union and EFTA member states, granting Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland a privilege of full participation in the internal market of the European Union, including exercising all four European freedoms. The creation of EEA+ would enable close economic integration between Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia on the one hand and their economic integration to the European Union on the other, which would double the possibility of the future ambition of the European Union to enlarge towards this region. It would seem that the governments of the three countries could not form their positions about this issue and failed/did not wish to lobby it. Functional Integration Elements for Everyone Above in the paper, the focus was on the topics which seemed to be the most interesting for our public; however, the largest part of the Summit declaration does not present something unexpected or new, as its logic is based upon the document authored by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union – 20 key deliverables for 2020 for the Eastern Partnership, aimed at the close cooperation of the Eastern European partners with the European Union and their multi-directional integration. Of course, the realization of the goals mentioned in the declaration, including the clause about cooperation in terms of the protection of human rights, close connections of the Eastern European are with the European transport corridors, involvement in the European energy networks and the creation of a single energy union, participation in the green economy, as well as the Defence and Security Policy of the European Union, development of green and sustainable economies in the partner countries, facilitation of the growth of the "endurance" of the countries and joint discussion about avoiding hybrid and new types of threats, harmonization of the digital markets and the establishment of the electronic commerce around the whole area, facilitating the maximum involvement of the civil society, cooperation between the partner countries in the fields of culture, education and science and many others, will facilitate peace, cooperation and development in Eastern Europe. In Place of a Conclusion The 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit was mainly dedicated to the issues of further approximation of the European Union with the Eastern European partner states and the practical tasks of functional integration with them, as well as the establishment and announcement of the obligations connected with the implementation of these tasks. Politically, the Summit was significantly successful, as even the countries such as Azerbaijan and Belarus agreed to maintain the clauses about human rights and functional democratic development in the text of the Summit declaration. Hence, the on-going bilateral work with the three less Europe-aspiring countries has also been presented as successful. The agreement signed with Armenia underlined the necessity and possibility of cooperation in Eastern Europe, even when certain countries are joining opposing and competing political-economic alliances. In total, the Summit revealed the strength of the attractiveness of the European Union, which maintains a serious influence in the neighborhood even in the times of crisis. Finally and what is very important for the fast movement of Georgia and other associated states towards European integration, the Summit declaration remarked the need of creating a separate, multilateral format with these three countries, which enables their further integration with the European Union. It should also be underlined that it is an absolute interest of Georgia for all six countries of the Eastern Partnership program to get actively involved in the process, with the elements of their positive transformation, modernization and Europeanization. Hence, it is welcome that the declaration names maintaining the inclusiveness of the format as a prerequisite for the differentiation of the Eastern Partnership. Sun, 26 Nov 2017 0:00:00 GMT HR Networking Workshop http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/769 On November 22, 2017 the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation) organized another round of workshop for Human Resources management specialists. Swedish expert Hans Norgren, Consultant of Human Resources Management (SIPU International) led HR networking seminar. During the workshop the representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Civil Service Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented reports on the achievements in respect to Performance Evaluation system implementation process, while Hans Norgren talked about the Model of Social Dialogue in the Workplace. Human Recourses managers representing various governmental agencies attended the seminar. HR specialists shared their working experience and focused on the current problems and changes required in human resources management field. The HR workshop is conducted in the framework of the project "Capacity-building of the Georgian Leadership Community for Improved Decision-making and Negotiation Skills" implemented by Rondeli Foundation since 2009 with the financial support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and in partnership with Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU). Wed, 22 Nov 2017 0:00:00 GMT 5-day Training Course in Tbilisi for the Group of Journalists http://bspn.gfsis.org/events/view/768 On November 13-17, 2017 Rondeli Foundation organized a 5-day training course in Tbilisi for the group of journalists under the framework of the project ""Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Awareness Raising Trainings for Journalists and Civil Society Organizations". The training participants were introduced to the following topics: Free Trade and Economic Integration Models, Trade Related Energy Provisions of DCFTA, Trade in Services, Electronic Commerce, Establishment, and Operation of Businesses, Transport Services, Government Procurement and many more. The participants were awarded with the certificates of successful completion. Previously, the training sessions were conducted for the local journalists and the representatives of CSOs in Telavi and Akhalkalaki, the future training locations also include Batumi, Gori, Marneuli and Kutaisi. The project will enhance the quality of journalists’ reporting on trade and DCFTA as well as improve the capacities of the central and regional NGOs dealing with DCFTA and strengthen the support towards DCFTA-related policy reforms. The training program is implemented by Rondeli Foundation with the support of USAID/Governing for Growth (G4G) in Georgia. Mon, 20 Nov 2017 0:00:00 GMT