Support to decentralisation and local self-governance in Georgia
SALAR International is currently exploring how to best offer support to local self-governance and decentralisation reforms in Georgia. A preparatory design phase financed by Sida is carried out over a period of seven months, between March and October 2023.
In 1991, Georgia became an independent state after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The economy collapsed and regional conflicts broke out. After a period of political instability, the country began to implement a number of reforms that reduced poverty and corruption. Since the ratification of the European Charter on Local Self-Government in 2004, Georgia developed and implemented several reforms and laws with the aim to strengthen local authorities and to enhance civic engagement in decision-making.
In 2008 Russia invaded and occupied the territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinval region, and about 20% of Georgia´s territories remain occupied. Although Georgia has made significant progress in building democratic institutions, and aligning legislation with EU common rules and standards, much work remains to be done. The country is still highly prone to conflict, political polarization and authoritarian influence.
In June 2022, the Member States of the EU decided to grant Georgia the possibility to apply for EU membership, provided that the country first fulfills the 12 conditions in the areas of democracy, rule of law and human rights. Progress is expected to be reported in the final months of 2023.
SALAR as a forerunner
SALAR, as a prominent representative of local governments, and a forerunner in anticipating the challenges and opportunities of EU accession at the local level is in a strong position to help local authorities in Georgia build capacity and advocate the importance of democratic and effective local governance. Experiences from support to other countries who have achieved candidate status will be shared and exchange with Swedish municipalities will also be facilitated in order to provide examples, methods and tools that could be adapted to the local context in Georgia.
Objective and activities in the design phase of the project
The overall objective of the design-phase is to propose a multi-year programme and strategic support which targets focus areas such as local democracy, municipal services and EU approximation. It is foreseen that it can start in the beginning of 2024.
The main ongoing activities carried out by the SALAR International team of international and local experts are:
- Stakeholder consultations through interviews and focus groups
- Preparation of a study tour to Sweden for a high-level Georgian delegation of key stakeholders in October 2023
- Co-creation of a project proposal in support of local self-governance and decentralisation reform