Candidate for Interior Minister hails Georgia’s “enhanced role” in Black Sea security, efforts against organised crime

Vakhtang Gomelauri was appointed Georgia’s Interior Minister for the second term in 2019. Photo: MIA press office, 05 Feb 2024 - 13:49, Tbilisi,Georgia

Vakhtang Gomelauri, the candidate for the position of the Interior Minister of Georgia, on Monday commended the country's “significant contribution to ensuring peace and security" in the Black Sea region during his address to Parliamentary committees, while also praising his body’s “relentless efforts” to combat organised crime.

Gomelauri highlighted 2023 as a “milestone year”, with Georgian Coast Guard Department professionals participating in NATO's Sea Guardian maritime security operation. The mission, which involved Georgian professionals stationed on Greek ships, aimed to bolster maritime security capacity-building, enhance situational awareness, and counter maritime terrorism in the Mediterranean since its launch in 2016.

Discussing measures for reinforcing the country’s land borders, Gomelauri emphasised deployment of electronic monitoring systems in several departments and upgrading of border guard armament. He also noted the installation of warning signs in border zones and strips was in its "active phase".

He also announced upgrades to air assets of the forces by the “imminent” reception of the first helicopter through a contract signed with the French company Airbus Helicopters in March, with two more expected to be received by the end of June to bolster the border police force.

The official stressed combating organised crime was among “top priorities” for the Ministry, with efforts against the “criminal underworld”, drug and cybercrime. He highlighted the approval of the action plan for the 2023-2024 Strategy for Combating Organised Crime and emphasised ongoing efforts and reforms that he said had received “positive evaluations” from the European Commission.

Furthermore, Gomelauri disclosed plans for the development and approval of the 2025-2028 National Strategy and its corresponding action plan for 2025-2026.

Regarding human trafficking, Gomelauri cited the recognition of Georgian authorities maintaining the "highest level of performance” in the latest United States Department of State report. He also mentioned deployment of 18 police attachés to 36 partner countries.

The Minister commended domestic reforms, noting a year-on-year decrease in overall crime rate and attributing the outcome to the “dedicated efforts of every police officer”.