At the plenary session of 24 July 2013, representative of the Parliamentary Minority Giorgi Baramidze stated that Georgia already holds controlled borders and is the sole country which has implementedthe Integrated Border Management system (IBM) in Eastern Europe. As he claimed, the system is recognised as one of the most modernised and leading systems not only in the region but in the whole of Europe as well.
FactCheck decided to check whether or not Georgia is the only country among the Eastern European countries which has developed the IBM strategy.
Looking into this issue, FactCheck asked Giorgi Baramidze himself which states he considered under the term Eastern Europe. In response, the MP explained that he had the Eastern Partnership countries in mind: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.
The legal basis of the Integrated Border Management system is the law adopted in Georgia on 4 February 2008 and revised in 2012. The objectives set to achieve an effective IBM system were planned to be implemented in the period of 2008-2013 while the overall objective of the IBM action is to: “enhance inter-agency and international cooperation, ensure open but controlled and secure borders, effective border management targeted to all the possible threats.”
Integrated Border Management includes the following directions: visa procedures, asylum and migration issues, monitoring of money transfer process, methods to fight against narcotics, cross-border crime, terrorism and other forms of violence; economic security, procedures regardingthe limitation of the movement of goods, epizootic security, phytosanitary and sanitary measures, protection of intellectual properties and entrepreneurial rights and protection of the basic human rights and freedoms as well as personal data.
According to Georgian legislation, border procedures are conducted by the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Justice; Labour, Health and Social Affairs; Agriculture, and Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia.
It is worthy of mention that the Border Management Strategy of Georgia Action Plan that was designed for the period of 2008-2013 has been slightly modified. In August 2012, at the request of the Georgian National Security Council, the Supporting Integrated Border Management Systems in the South Caucasus (SCIBM) Programme organised a workshop with the participation of officials from 19 structural units including the Ministries of Finance and Internal Affairs of Georgia as well as Georgian experts and SCIBM representatives. The workshop aimed at finalising updates to the Border Management Strategy of Georgia Action Plan. Elaboration of a new set of security-related issues, including the border management area, will be initiated from 2014.
As a result of research conducted by FactCheck, it appeared that Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine adopted laws concerning the Integrated Border Management system in 2010. The Action Plans for Armenia and Ukraine are being introduced in the period of 2011-2015 with the final updating of the system in these countries set to last for two more years. The Action Plan for Moldova includes the 2011-2013 period which means that the process is now in the final stage. As for Belarus and Azerbaijan, they still do not have a legal basis concerning the IBM strategy. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan has been progressively involved in numerous successful initiatives in the framework of the SCIBM Programme aiming at the implementation of the IBM system. The Programme, beginning in 2009 and ending in 2012, was implemented with the support of the European Union.
The Eastern Partnership-Integrated Border Management: Flagship Initiative Training Project EAP IBM FIT began in 2011 within the framework of the Eastern Partnership and finished on 12 June 2013. The Project aimed to enhance the mechanisms of training officials involved in the implementation of the Integrated Border Management strategy. A meeting was organised in Minsk on 28-29 February 2012 within the Training Project in order to adopt the Action Plan for Belarus.
According to the statement of Georgian MP Giorgi Baramidze, Georgia is the only state among the rest of the Eastern Partnership countries to hold an Integrated Border Management system. The survey outlined that only Azerbaijan and Belarus have not yet adopted the legal framework for this system, however, both are actively involved in the related projects. Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine have adopted laws in 2010 and are in the process of implementation. As for Georgia, the necessary legal basis has been present since 2008 with the continuation of numerous measures to improve the system. The Action Plans for Armenia and Ukraine include the four-year period of 2011-2015, for Moldova a two-year period of 2011-2013 and for Georgia the period of 2008-2013 with a further stage to be started in 2014.
We do not rate the statement as “False.” Despite the fact that the implementation of the IBM system is still in progress, Georgia is evidently advanced as compared to the remaining Eastern Partnership countries in terms of legislative and procedural provisions. Consequently, the inspiration of this statement that Georgia is relatively advanced is partly right. Hence, it follows that FactCheck rates the statement as MOSTLY FALSE.