Georgia’s Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani is interviewed on Georgian television.
In October 2012, Georgia’s parliamentary elections resulted in the unseating of the incumbent United National Movement party by the opposition coalition, Georgia Dream, with 55 percent of the vote. In the wake of the post-Saakashvili era, the newly elected government is working tirelessly to define the priorities for democratic reform, governance, and rule of law.
Speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC on February 22, Georgia’s newly appointed Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani — previously a renowned human rights lawyer — outlined her agenda for judicial reform. Throughout her speech, transparency, accountability, and impartiality were stressed as cross-cutting themes for reform initiatives.
Three key reforms highlighted by Tsulukiani included: universal free access to laws and penal codes; inclusion of civil society and the private sector in the drafting of new legislation; and strengthening the position of the defendant before a judge in the criminal procedure code.
This attention to democratic reform of the judiciary was warmly welcomed by many, as Georgia’s judicial system is perceived as highly corrupt with little to no independence from the regime. It is nearly impossible for ordinary citizens to win a court case against the state – the acquittal rate in Georgia is a miniscule 0.01 percent. This stark statistic comes into the light when you consider the fact that there are 300 state prosecutors, yet only 33 defense investigators. What this means is that judges are provided overwhelmingly with evidence for the prosecution, rather than a balanced argument.
In Serbia, an inflexible and outdated labor code has been a major inhibitor for the competitiveness of domestic companies and, in turn, the Serbian economy as a whole. Reform of this legislation was the focus of a recent event hosted by CIPE partners the Serbian Association of Managers (SAM) and the Center for Liberal Democratic Studies (CLDS) in Belgrade.
The event gathered close to 100 participants from government, private sector, civil society, and media to discuss the key barriers and recommendations for possible solutions for improving labor legislation and reducing red tape.
Association for Foreign Investment and Cooperation’s 2006 roundtable with local business leaders on tax reform in Armenia. (Photo: AFIC)
Private sector-led economic growth is the key to prosperity for any country. However, without a tireless advocate to give voice to the concerns of small businesses, corruption and bureaucracy can suffocate entrepreneurial activities. This, in turn, hampers economic and democratic development.
In 2001, 95 percent of all business entities in Armenia lacked any kind of formal representation to advocate for pro-business reforms to government. Over the next ten years, CIPE and the Association for Foreign Investment and Cooperation worked together to cultivate a grassroots reform network of local business associations and chambers of commerce. AFIC is an Armenian membership-based business association, established by former CIPE business association trainees, devoted to the promotion of foreign investment, international economic cooperation, and private entrepreneurship. What began as an informal network among friends and colleagues eventually, thanks to CIPE’s and AFIC’s assistance, took on greater structure as a reform-oriented coalition.