Ahead of her visit to Armenia on June 24-25, Minister of Justice of Georgia Tea Tsulukiani talked to Mediamax.
- Mrs. Minister, what is the main goal of your visit to Yerevan?
- Close partner relations between Ministries of Justice of Georgia and Armenia have a history of many years. In 2013, I visited Armenia upon the invitation of my Armenian counterpart, and the return visit was held in spring 2015, within which a memorandum of understanding was signed.
At that time, my counterpart Hovhannes Manukyan initiated holding of Armenian-Georgian Judicial Forum. Thus, the main goal of the visit is holding of the Forum which will contribute to deepening of cooperation between our ministries.
- What reforms implemented in Georgia may be useful in Armenia?
- The memorandum I mentioned about defines the main areas of reforms the sides agreed upon cooperating. We are sure that we have good potential for developing collaboration in the following areas:
- Open Government Partnership (OGP);
- juvenile justice;
- houses of justice;
- provision of governmental services especially in rural areas;
- enforcement of court decisions;
- freedom of getting information;
- notarial system;
- reforms of judicial and criminal law as well as other reforms.
We touched upon the majority of the issues during Hovhannes Manukyan’s visit to Georgia. My counterpart and the delegation of Armenian Ministry of Justice watched the Houses of Justice and Public Centers.
- You are personally involved in decision-making related to citizenship and ID cards in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. What is the ongoing situation there? How many people have already decided to get Georgian citizenship in the region, and how many are denied of Georgian citizenship?
- Georgian Law “On Legal State of Foreigners and Stateless People” has come into force since September 1, 2014. It’s a subject I have personally dedicated quite long time and efforts to. Together with MPs Enzel Mkoyan and Samvel Petrosyan, who represent Ninotsminda and Akhalkalaki, we have set up a task force to settle issues of the ethnic minorities as soon as possible. An excellent precedent of joint work of majoritarian MPs and a member of the government is created.
The situation is as follows now: since the day the Law came into force, 46 people registered in Samtskhe-Javakheti has got Georgian citizenship so far. 2877 people living in Samtskhe-Javakheti got residence permits in Georgia (38 people were denied of the permit). I’d like the mentioned people to become Georgian citizens, too. However, I understand that in this period, they need citizenship of another country for economic purposes.
We keep working actively. We have fully mobilized our services in the area. My associates, ethnic Armenians, who are fluent in Georgian, greatly help communicate with the locals. Moreover, one of my priorities is to support the Armenian youth study Georgian through the unique infrastructure of the Ministry of Justice, including in the Georgian villages. I want them to be successful, be able to start a career in Georgia for which Georgian language skills are needed.
- Georgia is striving for maximum integration with the EU, and Armenia is a EEU member. Doesn’t it affect the bilateral ties?
- The Georgian people has already made a choice toward the EU and it doesn’t at all rule out cooperation and doesn’t cross out the centuries-old friendship between our peoples and states.
Armenia’s membership to the EEU and Georgia- EU Association Agreement shouldn’t be considered a problem. Vice versa, we take it as an opportunity of mutual enrichment and opening of new opportunities, including economic ones, for the two states.