Berlin Declaration Banner smaller

2012-EC-Batumi-Family-PhotoGroup photo of participants in the OSCE PA Economic Conference in Batumi, Georgia.On the invitation of the Georgian Parliament, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Economic Conference took place in Batumi, Georgia, from 12 to 14 May 2012. 

Nearly 100 parliamentarians from 34 OSCE countries convened for the conference focused on fostering economic co-operation, sustainable development and stability in the OSCE region.

Discussions concentrated on strengthening energy security and efficiency, creating a transparent investment environment, addressing security challenges through economic policy, expanding transportation and tourism development, and growing small- and medium-sized enterprises.

In his closing address, OSCE PA President Petros Efthymiou (Greece) noted the impact of the economic crisis for his own country and throughout the OSCE region and stressed the importance of OSCE pariticpating States working together towards common goals.

"We know the result of prolonged joblessness," Efthymiou said. "We know the unrest that results from severe austerity measures. I am living it in my own country."

The president called on participants to build on the discussions of the Economic Conference and turn them into action.

"These days in Batumi have been filled with valuable contributions from governments, parliamentarians, and the private sector to help us achieve our common goals, but to make them most meaningful, we must take the discussions from this week – and turn them into concrete plans we can vote on at our Annual Session and later implement in our own countries," he said.

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia and Chairman of the Georgian Parliament David Bakradze remarked on the conference's opening day about the transformation their country has undergone in the last eight years – particularly in rooting out corruption.

"Batumi is a symbol of change for Georgia," Saakashvili said. "The biggest problem was not eradicating corruption, it was to change the mentality of civil servants to teach them not to humiliate their fellow citizens. They are here to serve their people."

Bakradze added: "We changed the entire philosophy of doing business in Georgia." A "single-window philosophy," he said, has increased transparency and led to "psychological, moral and technical changes."

Goran Svilanovic, co-ordinator of OSCE economic and environmental activities, emphasized the Irish OSCE Chairmanship's focus on good governance as essential to the region's ongoing efforts for transparent an co-operative business practices.

"Good governance is extremely relevant as it is key to sustainable economic development," Svilanovic said. "It is essential in overcoming the financial and economic downturn."

Conference speakers included:

  • OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Petros Efthymiou (Greece)
  • President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia
  • Chairman of the Georgian Parliament David Bakradze
  • Prime Minister Nika Gilauri of Georgia
  • Andrei Illarionov (Russia), Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute
  • Kathleen Ferrier (The Netherlands), OSCE PA Special Representative on Migration
  • Goran Svilanovic (Serbia), OSCE Co-ordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities

Other speakers from parliaments, governments, the private sector, and international government organizations, and non-governmental organizations also addressed the conference.

Photos from the Economic Conference are available here.