In the hot June days of 13-17 European Democrat Students met in the largest (in participants) Policy days in its immediate history in Tbilisi, Georgia. Hosted by the United Youth National Movement and the Young Student Organisation Graali, EDS decided to focus on one single policy – a policy of an interest to the EU and the hosting country. The Eastern Partnership of the EU was discussed thoroughly in the working session and policy recommendations have been prepared by the delegates.
The first evening we were officially welcomed at a dinner by MP Akaki Minashvili Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, MP George Kandelaki Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, MP Irakli Kavtaradze, and International Secretary of UNM, and MP Chiora Taktakishvili, Deputy Chairwoman of the Legal Committee in the Parliament.
The official opening on Thursday morning, 14 June, was held in the presence of George Baramidze State Minister for Georgia’s Integration to European and Euro-Atlantic Structures. H.E. Ambassador Philip Dimitrov of the EU Mission to Georgia continued with welcome addresses and said how glad is he to see that EDS came to Georgia. Konrad Adeanuer Stiftung representative, Dr. Canan Atilgan, spoke about EDS’ transformative role and that the students can and have to bring new ways to the countries of South Caucasus. In the late morning, the participants were welcomed in the Parliament by the Speaker, David Bakradze. Speaker Bakhradze gave the delegates the much needed background to the reforms the government has done so that EDS had a more thorough understanding of the country’s reforms and goal for the future. Later, EDS Chairman Antal and Vice-chair Narkeviciute met with the leader of the Christian Democratic Movement led by MP Giorgi Targamadze, where they discussed about the role of the opposition in the parliamentary democracy and the life of an opposition party in Georgia today. The day was finished with the visit of the first and historical capital of Georgia - town of Mtskheta, where the Speaker of the Parliament joined the delegates for dinner.
The following day, Friday, 15 June, EDS visited the seats of its two member parties, UNM and National-Democratic Party. In the headquarters of UNM, EDS delegates met with MP David Darchiashvili, Head of the committee for European Integration and he laid out the steps taken between Georgia and EU to come closer to a candidate status. Harmonisation of the legal system with the EU and of standards is the key topic and especially food safety standards are of increased discussion between the two parties as of now. Later, EDS was joined by Mikheil Machavariani, Secretary General of the party where he laid out their strategy and societal topics they wish to address in the upcoming parliamentary elections. In the afternoon we were hosted by the National-Democratic Party, which student organisation is member of EDS since late 1990s. The Chairman, Bachuki Kardava explained the situation of their party, the history of the party and the plans it has for the upcoming parliamentary elections. EDS thanked for the continued engagement of YSO Graali in all spheres of EDS life. They reiterated how important our campaign “Knowledge is Power” is to them and that they supported it with signatures from Georgia.
The Working sessions of Policy days focused on the understanding of the Eastern Policy and through the two working days, the delegates not only received a comprehensive view on Georgia from the speakers, but they were able to acquaint themselves with the policy critically asses it, see its strengths and weaknesses and develop ideas. The delegates saw that the issues of students, and mobility into EU were not fully developed and wrote down suggestions and amendments to these policies. EDS will keep these policy recommendations and will put them forward in different fora in the future.
EDS would like to thank the organisers, United Young National Movement and YSO Graali for their generous hosting of this event. UYNM, one of the youngest members of the EDS family is showing its determination and the delegates present had the chance to see and learn that the values they declare are also lived by them. YSO Graali as our first Georgian member with first Georgian in EDS bureau this year, Tornike Choniashvili, is by its active approach building its name over the years in EDs as a reliable partner. EDs hopes for a long a fruitful cooperation with both organisations and hopes that our view, ideas and positions will have transformative impacts on the developing Georgian democracy and its civil society.