Two Fact-Finding Missions to Georgia

The ALDA organized two fact-finding missions (27th February 2-nd of March 2004; 29th of September 4th of October 2004 and a seminar or “Participation of civil society in the decision making process” the 2nd October in Kutaisi)

The ALDA connected its activities with the setting-up of the National Association of Local Self Government Units managed by the Congress of the Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. During the second mission an ALDA delegation composed of Mr Per Vinther, ALDA Vice President and Mr Martial Paris, Director Assistant, attended to the 5th workshop of this Association, the 28th and 29th of September in Chakvi. It was an excellent opportunity for the ALDA to present its activities and to identify potential local partners.

Two fact-finding missions were organized:

1.27th February-2nd of March, ALDA delegation was composed of Mrs Valmorbida, ALDA Director; Mr Per Vinther, ALDA Vice President and Mr Martial Paris, Director Assistant.

The conclusions of the missions were the following:

The role of the local authorities is not clearly defined in the Georgian political System. They seem to be weak, with no financial autonomy (the taxes go directly to the central government in Tbilisi). The functions will be clarified after the next elections (held in March).

The NGO’s sector is strong and the ALDA could rely on them, they will be part of the project.

Regarding the legislation it is easy to create a local NGO, the process is clear.

The meeting with the Kutaisi Newport Association was very interesting: they have an understanding of the kind of partnership and a strong involvement that ALDA provides.

The LDA should be based on a strong and active partnership and work together with Council of Europe on its action in the region.

The delegation identified also the technical problems that need to be considered: a generator because the power-cut are frequent.

On a first instance, the Programme should focus on exchange of experiences and raising the awareness on the possible role of local authorities and the local communities into the decision making process. The LDA could be a further practical tool for the city to city co-operation. Further training or action on local governments themselves would be assessed after this first approach.

2. 29th of September 4th of October 2OO4. It was a longer mission with potential international partners(representative of the city of Nantes; representative of the Local Government International Bureau (UK); representative of the Northern Ireland Public Sector Enterprises). The delegation visited Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Kashuri.

The conclusions were the following:

•The political situation is still complicated; the honeymoon of Mr Sakaashvili might have come to an end. Nepotism is still rampant, human rights situation also needs improvement, corruption is still widespread.

•Large link between the Georgian needs and the expertise of the LDA’s (local economic development, training for local authorities, youth empowerment, citizen’s participation to the decision making process)

•.Location of the LDA: the delegation visited Kutaisi and Kashuri (150 km from Tbilisi). Both cities offered good opportunities for becoming a host-city (strong civil society network, will of the local authorities). Another solution might be to have decentralized office in one of the cities (like the LDACSS). The partners will decide the final location of the LDA.

•The international and national partnership will have to be strong, that means that the network of the international partners must be secured. The final decision from the different international partners are linked to this condition.

•After the visit, the vice president, Mr. Vinther, thinks that a local might be appointed as delegate, since there are no ethnic tensions in Georgia (in the area where the LDA will implement its activities).

•The main point is the problem of the timing: to build a strong partnership; to assess the new legislation for the local self government .

•The Bureau of the ALDA expressed its preference for Kutaisi as host city for an LDA in Georgia.