On September 19 – 23, 2016 the GLOBSEC implemented its second series of informal public discussions about the EU in regions of Georgia entitled “The European Café”. This time the Slovak and Georgian experts visited Western Georgia regions. Altogether 8 public discussions were organized in following cities: Zugdidi, Mestia, Tsalenjikha, Chkhorotsku, Kobuleti, Lanchkhuti, Sachkhere, and Chaitura. There were two main topics of the discussions – regional development and agriculture accompanied with some more – basic information about Georgia and EU relations as well as EU-related myths busting. The topic of the EU and regional development was tackled by the former mayor of Banska Bystrica Mr. Peter Gogola, who spoke about his experience with developing the city and maneuvering it from the crisis caused by the closing of some old, traditional heavy industry. As a way out he pointed out some of EU infrastructural and social cohesion funds, that were used for projects developing the city’s infrastructure as well as tourism. The topic of EU and agriculture was covered by Ms. Marcela Chrenekova from the Slovak University of Agriculture, who spoke especially about the Slovak experience with negotiating the chapter Agriculture before Slovakia’s accession to the EU. She spoke also about EU pre-accession mechanisms in agriculture as well as the rural development area, that could be of use for Georgia and she explained also the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Georgian speakers Mr. Mikheil Mirziashvili and Ms. Mariam Dolidze were talking about the state of relations between Georgia and the EU. The audience consisted of representatives of local municipalities, local opinion shapers – such as teachers, priests, medical doctors or lawyers as well as local entrepreneurs and local media outlets. The course of discussion revolved around similar topics in different cities – and those were questions such as – how could Georgian farmers or producers place their products on the EU common market, what are the possibilities for pre-accession assistance for Georgian farmers from the EU; issue of the visa liberalisation for Georgian citizens; social policies at the local and regional level in EU countries; EU and support of ecology and last but not least increasing quality of products and EU standards for goods.
The project activity was organized within the project “Georgia on EUropean Way”, that is implemented by GLOBSEC in Georgia from March 2016 – March 2017 with the financial support of the SlovakAid.