Thursday, September 25, 2008

Russian occupiers pressurising Georgian workers

Russian occupiers are pressurising the Georgian staff of the Engurhes and Vardnilhes Cascade companies, say their trade unions. The occupiers are demanding that they take Russian passports, which the staff concerned are unwilling to do.

Conference held concerning “On Occupied Territories”

On September 25 a conference was held in the Ombudsman’s office to discuss the new draft law “On Occupied Territories,” which is making its way through Parliament. The Georgian public defender and the Public Law Association organised the event.
Parliamentary Juridical Issues Committee Chairman Pavle Kublashvili, Assistant State Minister in Integration Issues Elene Tevdoradze, eminent jurists, lawyers and journalists attended the conference, alongside Georgian Parliament and State Chancellery staff, USA Embassy representatives and United Nations Association delegates.

New village being built

A new village is being built in the Gori Region, near the existing village of Shavshebi, where refugees from the Tskhinvali Region will be settled.
Up to 117 cottages will be built in total, one for each family. Nearly 290 persons are being employed in the construction, which should be complete in six weeks.
A representative of the Municipality Development Fund, Giorgi Kharabadze, has stated that GEL 27,000 will be spent on each cottage, and each will be provided with necessary furniture. The houses will occupy 600 sq.m of land and land plots for agricultural purposes will be allocated a bit later.
Six construction companies, Mshenebeli80, Imereti2000, Tbilmretsvmsheni, Erti-Ji, Oda, and Goni, are undertaking the project.

Paata Burchuladze’s charity fund holds event at the Sports Palace

The Paata Burchuladze Charity Fund held a grand concert in the Sports Palace on September 25. With the prayers and assistance of Patriarch Ilia II, the “Iavnana” fund and TBC Bank, a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem was held, dedicated to the memory of soldiers and civilians who died in the Russia-Georgia war.

World-renowned singers Luciana D'Intino (mezzo-soprano), Ramon Vargas (tenor) and Michele Crider (soprano) performed the concert. “Any grand theatre would dream of having these great stars perform together in concert,” Burchuladze stressed. Speaking before the concert, he explained that, “Our aim is to bring as many people to the concert as possible. This place can accommodate up to 8,000 people and every seat must be filled. There will be a candle for each person on their seat and we will light them during the Requiem.” Concert tickets cost GEL 3 and the proceeds will go to aid children orphaned by the war.

Container train completes first journey to Poti

A new container train has conducted its first journey to Poti direction from the Tbilisi cargo station.

The new Georgian Railway-designed train will transfer dry cargo between Tbilisi and Poti daily. It consists of 19 freight wagons.

Negative attitude of Russians towards USA, EU, Ukraine and Georgia hits new highs

The negative attitude of Russians towards the USA, EU, Ukraine and Georgia reached new levels in September, according to a survey undertaken by the Yuri Levada Analytical Centre on September 12-15 in 128 population centres in 46 regions of Russia.

75% of the survey respondents had a negative attitude towards Georgia, 67% towards the USA, 39% towards the EU and 53% towards Ukraine. Only 17% of the respondents declared they had a positive attitude towards Georgia, only 23% towards the USA, 45% towards the EU and 37% towards Ukraine.

The Yuri Levada Analytical Centre has been monitoring the attitude of population towards the USA since 1997, towards Georgia and Ukraine since 2001 and towards the EU since December 2003.

Hackers partially damage Parliament website

Hackers have partially damaged the website of the Parliament of Georgia. The link to the Healthcare Committee is now damaged and the details of the anti drug bill contained on the site are now unreadable.

The Healthcare Committee is unable to explain why this has happened, but confirms that the portal is being renewed and details of the anti drug bill will again be available on the site.

Abkhazian gang kidnaps eight Georgians

An Abkhazian gang has kidnapped eight Georgians from the village of Otobaia in the Gali region.
The party of eight civilians, four men and four women, had travelled to Otobaia from Zugdidi intending to gather nuts. They were attacked by the Abkhazian gang and subsequently kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded that Goderdzi Epelia be exchanged for the nut pickers. Although the women in the party were later released and returned to Georgian law enforcement officers the men are still held.
Goderdzi Epelia has been detained by Georgia for manufacturing and selling illegal drugs. Epelia’s brother is a member of the Gali Abkhazian militia, and it has been suggested that he organised this kidnapping. It is not known exactly where the hostages are being held, but it is believed they are in an isolator in Gali where they can be subjected to physical pressure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Victor Yushchenko – what happened in Georgia cannot be repeated in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko has stated that the recent events in Georgia cannot be repeated in Ukraine. “I cannot imagine the Georgian scenario repeating itself in the Ukraine. Ukraine is not Georgia,” Yushchenko stated during his visit to the US. The Ukrainian President is cautious about the possibility of restoring Russian gas provision. “I’m not afraid, merely cautious about it,” Yushchenko stated. Russia ceased the provision of gas to Ukraine at the beginning of 2006.

EU Observers already in Shida Kartli

EU observers arrived in the Shida Kartli region early on September 24 and held a first meeting with the regional Governor, Lado Vardzelashvili. They will familiarise themselves with the current situation in Shida Kartli and decide before October 1 exactly where the full contingent of observers should be deployed.

At present 22 EU observers from Italy are in Georgia. The full mission will comprise a minimum of 200 observers. It will have so-called ‘rapid reaction bases’ in Tbilisi but have a brief to operate throughout Georgia, including in those territories occupied by Russia.

One of the main tasks of the European mission will be to ensure the full implementation of the Sarkozy six point ceasefire agreement.

David Bakradze declares Nicolas Sarkozy’s UN speech a “natural reaction”

David Bakradze, Chair of the Parliament of Georgia, assessed the acute speech of Nicolas Sarkozy at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly as a “natural reaction” to the conduct of the Russians. He stated the President of France mediated the ceasefire agreement which ended the Russian-Georgian war and his reaction was a natural response to Russia continually breaching its commitments under that agreement. Bakradze expressed the hope that the EU and its leadership will remain true to their principles and ensure the fulfilment of all the points of the agreement.

Georgian soldiers receive posthumous Orders

Georgian soldiers who died during the Russian aggression this August have been awarded Vakhtang Gorgasali Orders posthumously.

Giorgi Ghvianiashvili was awarded a Vakhtang Gorgasali second order and Leri Lagurashvili a first. The Chief of the General Staff of the Georgian armed forces Zaza Gogava presented the awards to the families of the war heroes and said that the Government would assist their families.

UNDP allocates 1,200,000 for rehabilitation works

The United Nations Development Programme has allocated USD 1,200,000 for rehabilitation works in the Shida Kartli Region. The money will be spent on the reconstruction of irrigation canals and communications systems.

An agreement has also been signed under which the Shida Kartli local authorities will prepare packages of social assistance. The State Minister for Regional Issues and representatives of UNDP signed the agreement in Gori on September 23.

PACE delegation meets Duma Speaker in Moscow

On September 23, a delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe held a meeting with the Speaker of the Russian Duma concerning the Russia-Georgia conflict. The delegation is drafting a report on the August developments in Georgia which will be presented in Strasbourg next week.

From Moscow the delegation plans to visit Tbilisi and then Tskhinvali, though Russian officials offered the Euro MPs the opportunity to travel direct to Tskhinvali via the Roki tunnel.

John McCain and Sarah Palin meet Mikheil Saakashvili and Victor Yushchenko

Presidential candidate John McCain and US Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin met Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko on September 24 at the UN General Assembly. The Assembly gave Palin her first opportunity to meet world leaders. She also met the Colombian, Afghan, Iraqi and Pakistani Presidents and the Prime Minister of India.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Culture minister views restoration works in Gelati

Minister of Culture Nika Vacheishvili has visited the Gelati Monastery complex in Kutaisi and taken part in discussions about its restoration.
Georgian Heritage will fully restore the medieval monastery, having presented the most attractive tender, at a cost of half a million GEL. A German company is also involved. Experts are presently conducting archaeological and geological works at the monastery, although the initial work was being undertaken even during the Russian invasion in August.

Euro MPs pay official visit to Moscow

A delegation of Euro MPs visited Moscow on September 22 to collect information from the Russian side concerning the Russian aggression against Georgia. The members of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly held meetings with the Foreign Relations Committee of the Russian Duma and also officials of the Federation Council and the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, including General Nogovitsyn. Later the delegation held meetings in the Russian Foreign Ministry.

IDPs rally outside Parliament

People who had fled their homes during the Russian occupation held a rally outside Parliament on September 22. The protestors were urging the Government to help them return to their homes.
Residents of the Didi and Patara Liakhvi valleys wanted to meet with the MP of the region Badri Basishvili. Later on Bakradze’s assistant met with refugees.

Kartuli Dasi presents candidates

Ilia Tsulukidze, a member of Aslan Abashidze's team, will head the Kartuli Dasi party list at the forthcoming Adjara Parliamentary elections. During the leadership of renegade Adjaran leader Aslan Abashidze, who fled the region during the 6 May revolution in 2004, Tsulukidze was Minister of Interior Affairs and Security.

Jondi Baghaturia, leader of Kartuli Dasi, presented this proportional top-up list but refused to give any information about candidates in individual single-mandate constituencies.

Parliament is presented with draft “Occupation” law

Georgian lawmakers will consider the draft law “On Occupied Territories” for the first time on Friday. Parliamentary Speaker David Bakradze has called upon every political party to take part in discussions on this document.

Under the draft law Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be declared occupied territories and the Russian Army occupying troops. The document will also regulate issues concerning property in the breakaway territories, stating that investments made in these regions will be declared invalid.

Monday, September 22, 2008

U.S. Commerce Secretary meets Georgian Economy Minister

US Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez met Georgia’s Economy Minister Eka Sharashidze in Washington on September 19. “We look forward to working with Minister Sharashidze to expand the U.S.-Georgia trade and commercial relationships. We are committed to ensuring that the democratic and economic gains that Georgia has made over the past several years are not lost,” Gutierrez said after the meeting.
On October 27, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce John Sullivan will host a US-Georgia Business Summit in Tbilisi. At the Summit, US companies will be able to develop new business opportunities and learn how to participate in reconstruction projects in Georgia, according to the US Department of Commerce.

Kazakhstan drops grain terminal plans in Poti

Kazakh Agriculture Minister Akylbek Kurishbayev has told lawmakers that Astana had abandoned plans to build a grain terminal in the Georgian port of Poti, the Kazakh official news agency, Kazinform, reported on September 22. The Minister said that this decision had been taken due to “the current situation in Georgia.”

Kazakhstan, one of the main foreign investors in Georgia, signed a deal with the Georgian Government in June 2007 to construct the terminal. It was announced then that Kazakhstan planned to invest USD 10 million in this project.

Fillion demands international discussion on Abkhazia, South Ossetia recognition

François Fillon, the Prime Minister of France, announced in the Russian resort of Sochi on September 22 that the recognition of Georgia's breakaway regions by Russia would become the subject of international discussion in the future. Mr. Fillon said special meetings and forums would be dedicated to Russia’s unilateral recognition of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region.
According to the French Prime Minister, at present the goal of the international society was to see a complete pullout of the Russian Army from Georgia. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, responding, said that Russia was determined to meet the commitments laid down in the ceasefire agreements.

Poll suggests that the Russian Federation will break up

408 people participated in a poll organised by Kviris Palitra, on September 15-19. In answer to the question: “Does the Russian Federation face the danger of losing its autonomous regions?” 80.2% of respondents said yes, 7.5% no and 12.3% had no answer.

Sokhumi hopes to reinstate sea communication with Ankara

According to Soren Gogua a member of the Abkhazian de facto Parliament, Turkey has officially discussed with the self-declared independent state the reopening of sea links with Sokhumi. He maintains that the Turkish Government would not be against restoring sea communications with Abkhazia, and he discussed this issue during a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey.

Soren Gogua is sure that all the practical details of the resumption of sea links will be worked out in the near future and ships will soon use the route. Turkey however has not confirmed that it has had any official communication with a country it has not recognised.

Belgian Defence Attaché visits Georgian Defence Ministry

The Ministry of Defence of Georgia reports that the Defence Attaché of Belgium, Brigadier General Patrick Nopens, visited the Ministry on September 22 and met with the Head of International Relations and Euro-Atlantic Integration Department, Nino Bakradze, and the Head of that department’s International Relations Division Ioseb Jikia.

At the meeting the present situation in Georgia and international society’s response to recent developments were discussed, along with the outcome of the NATO Council’s meeting in Tbilisi and the importance of the establishment of the NATO-Georgian Commission. The prospects of future bilateral cooperation in the defence sphere between Georgia and Belgium were also discussed.

Brigadier General Patrick Nopens is stationed in Moscow. He visits Georgia periodically and holds meetings with the leadership of the Defence Ministry and Georgian Armed Forces. The Brigadier General is to personally inspect military infrastructure damaged during the recent Russian aggression.

Anti-Crisis Council session to be held in Gori

A session of the new Anti-Crisis Council is to be held in Gori. The members of the Council will arrive in Gori on Wednesday to become familiar with the work being carried out in the city.

The Gori session will be the third since the Council was formed on the initiative of President Saakashvili. One of the main purposes of the Council is to monitor the eradication of the results of the Russian aggression. Gia Tortladze, Chairman of the Strong Georgia – Christian Democrats parliamentary opposition faction, will also chair the Council.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Naval exercises to be held in Poti

Coastal and border forces from the Black Sea countries will participate in a naval training exercise called Falcon 2008, the first exercise to be held in Poti since the Russian aggression.
The first phase of the exercise will be conducted by the operation control centres of the Black Sea countries' coastal forces. The second phase will involve Georgian and Turkish coastal guards.

Opposition MP proposes setting up investigation commission

MP Jondi Baghaturia, leader of the political party Kartuli Dasi, has proposed setting up a parliamentary commission to investigate the August developments in Georgia. He has suggested that former Chair of Parliament Nino Burjanadze should chair this commission.

Baghaturia has also slammed other opposition figures who maintain that Georgia started the conflict in the Tskhinvali region this August.

Georgian judokai arrested in Poland

Warsaw police arrested three members of the Georgian Youth Judo Team, who were in Poland to participate in judo’s European Championship, on September 13.

Russian news agencies report that the judokai were arrested for raping a 28-year-old woman. Reportedly the woman, who went to the police two days after the incident, has changed her testimony several times. The Georgian team maintains the arrest is an unwarranted provocation.

The arrested sportsmen will be represented by a public defender until Georgian lawyers arrive in Warsaw.

Crime boss escapes from Moscow isolator

A Georgian crime boss has escaped from the Foreign Citizens' Detention Centre in Moscow. Giorgi Managadze, nicknamed “Kutaissky,” has been declared wanted by the Russian militia. The guards on duty at the insulator when Kutaissky escaped have been dismissed.

Managadze, 39, was arrested with 36 other crime bosses on a yacht in the Klyazmin reservoir some time ago.

Conservatives demand a memorial outside Parliament

Members of the Conservative Party have demanded that a memorial to the Georgian soldiers and civilians who died during the Russian invasion this August be erected outside Parliament.They say that a memorial is appropriate at that particular site because 20 protestors who were killed on April 9, 1989 are already commemorated there and cadets, killed in 1921 during Bolshevik invasion are buried under the Parliament building. The Conservatives assert that all these historic tragedies were the result of Russian occupation.

The Movement for United Georgia joined the Conservatives in expressing this demand. A memorial service for the souls of those who died in the recent war has been conducted in Kashveti Church.

Georgian soldiers undergo medical treatment in Israel

Israel is continuing to assist Georgia. Two Georgian soldiers wounded during the Russian invasion were taken to Israel on September 18 for high-level medical treatment. Nineteen other military personnel have already undergone surgery and other treatments in leading hospitals in Israel.
This medical programme was initiated by the Georgia-Israel Business Chamber. Under its terms, a delegation of seven officials arrived in Georgia in August and delivered humanitarian aid to Georgian villages damaged during Russian air attacks.

Landslide kills four in Adjara

A landslide has killed four residents of the village of Masaura, in the Khelvachauri region. All are members of Chavleishvili family.

The landslide was caused by non-stop rain in the region. Agricultural land and yards have been completely flooded. The grandfather and one daughter of this family survived the landslide but were hospitalized with serious injuries.

The flood situation is currently critical in the villages of Korolistavi and Sameba. Rescuers are helping to evacuate people who have survived the landslides and floods. Another local resident, Jemal Shantadze, has died in the village of Charnaghi as a result of the flooding. Adjara Government leader Levan Varzhalomidze is visiting villages affected by the disaster.

The Adjaran capital Batumi has also been flooded. Traffic has been suspended due to damage to the Benze Bridge, and the landslide has covered the railway line.

Sappers find mines in Tsalenjikha region

Military engineers have found land and antitank mines in the village of Muzhava in the Tsalenjikha region. The explosives were installed beside the central highway, next to the high-frequency transmitting line, Kavkasioni, where a Russian military checkpoint was stationed until the occupying troops pulled out.

The Russians mined the territory before they moved from Muzhava to the village of Lia. EU and UN monitors inspected the area while the sappers where defusing the mines.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Eka Tkeshelashvili to visit Vienna

Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili will participate in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session in Vienna. She embarked for the Austrian capital on September 17. Debates on Georgian-Russian relations are on the agenda of the Assembly Session.
“There will be very significant discussion regarding the current situation in Georgia at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session. [Russian Foreign Minister] Lavrov has refused to be questioned in open debates and won’t take part in this session”, Tkeshelashvili declared.
The Georgian Foreign Minister will also attend the 63rd session of UN General Assembly, which opened in New York on September 17, alongside the Georgian President.

Ban Ki-moon supports extending UN Mission mandate in Georgia

Ban Ki-moon supports extending the mandate of the UN Mission to Georgia. “The UN Peace Mission’s mandate in the Abkhazian conflict zone expires on October 15, it must be extended. The UN operation in Georgia, due to recent events in the region, also needs to be concretized,” the UN Secretary General said.
Ban Ki-moon says that the work of the mission must correspond to the new reality in Georgia.

Sergey Lavrov – Thank God Saakashvili is a unique phenomenon

Recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia does not create a precedent for Transdnestria and Nagorno Karabakh, Sergey Lavrov declared at the Federation Council on September 18. “Russia will take an active part in resolving all conflicts in the CIS space peacefully. This will be done according to international law, UN resolutions and previous agreements. We will act as mediator during negotiations which refer directly to Transdnestria and Nagorno Karabakh”, Lavrov stressed.
Lavrov declared that Russia will not use the methods of the Georgian Government to settle regional problems and will not bomb civilians and peacekeepers. “Thank God, Saakashvili is a unique phenomenon,” Lavrov said.

Sergey Lavrov – Our relations with the Georgian People have not ceased

Moscow wants to know the viewpoint of ordinary Georgians regarding relations with the Russian Federation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated. “Relations with Georgia have not ceased. I hope and am sure that the Georgian people will acquire a worthy President, interested in good neighbourly relations with all states,” Lavrov said. He stressed that Russia did not break diplomatic relations with Georgia, but vice versa. “We want to know how people see this,” Lavrov stated, adding that “the Georgian Government talked about preserving consular relations when it broke off full diplomatic relations.”

Georgia to address international organizations regarding mine clearance

Georgia will ask international organizations and other countries for assistance with mine clearance operations. Georgia will draw up its 5th Statement of Case concerning “the explosive remains of the war,” as discussed at the Parliamentary Defence and Security Committee.
The country is committed to locating and marking undetonated explosives and clearing and destroying all mines on Georgian territory. A concrete plan for doing this, and its financial implications, have been discussed by the Defence and Security Committee. Implementing these commitments will cost money, and although the required expense is certainly within the limits of the present budget, other countries will also be approached for assistance.

Georgian First Lady visits Marneuli

Georgian First Lady Sandra Reolofs visited the Marneuli region on September 18 to open a new public school in the village of Molaoghi. The school opening was also attended by Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Georgia Namik Aliev, Kvemo Kartli Governor Davit Kirkitadze and Deputy Assistant Education and Science Minister Aleksandre Chikvaidze. The First Lady congratulated pupils at the start of the academic year and bestowed on them gifts from the President - bags, books and school uniforms.

This new school was built within two months as part of the Iakob Gogebashvili programme. Chikvaidze and Davit Kirtitadze have also opened another school, in the city of Bolnisi, rehabilitated as part of the same project.

Beeline gains 25.3% more subscribers between April and June

The subscriber base of the Beeline telecommunications company increased by 25.3% in the period April-June, according the company’s published financial results. The General Director of its parent company Vimpelkom, Aleksandr Izosimov, has stated that the company is satisfied with Beeline’s performance in Georgia. “The company has shown a serious increase in income compared with last year,” Izosimov said. Beeline profits amounted to 3,891,710 US Dollars in the reporting period.

Debates on the Georgian President’s annual report held on September 18

Debates about the Georgian President’s annual report to Parliament were held on September 18 at an extraordinary session. Deputies discussed the new democratic reforms which the President intends to introduce.

Having heard the report on September 16, members of the majority party reaffirmed the importance of the President’s initiatives. The opposition however raised new questions in addition to evaluating these initiatives. Although generally agreeing with them, the opposition considers the Presidential initiatives inadequate to fully develop democracy.

The opposition is developing additional proposals concerning the election code, court reform, limitations on Executive power, freedom of the media and local self-government. It has once again demanded that a commission to investigate August’s events is established.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Saakashvili asks his opponents to unite behind the country

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has addressed the opposition in his annual report to Parliament. He called upon both the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary opposition to cooperate and consolidate their forces for the sake of Georgia.
Mikheil Saakashvili asked his opponents to take into consideration external threats and the current situation in the country when making specific decisions. Saakashvili said he was prepared to answer all questions on issues which might make his opponents wary of cooperating with him.
“In many countries it might have been said that less democracy, less transparency and greater control by a small group of people were needed in times of war,” Saakashvili said. “Georgia however, a beacon of democracy in this region, says that its response to Russia’s aggression will be more democracy, more freedom and more progress.”
The President said that the authorities had recently undertaken a number of “important steps” to help increase the role and powers of the opposition in Parliament. “I welcome the fact that we have managed to find a common language with the opposition on such key issues as Georgia’s unity,” Saakashvili said.

Two people arrested at airports

Georgian coastal patrol officers have arrested a passenger at Tbilisi Airport and another at Batumi Airport. According to the coastal patrol Press Service the two passengers, who had booked flights from Tbilisi to Minsk and Batumi to Istanbul, were trying to cross the border and leave the country with false passports. Preliminary investigations are under way.

Mikheil Saakashvili – Georgia still seeing difficult days

“Georgia is still seeing difficult days,” Mikheil Saakashvili stated while delivering a speech to Parliament. “I received the President’s mandate to create better conditions for the population. I have a concrete aim – to create a Georgia without poverty,” Saakashvili said.
The President maintained that he had been intending to give a speech on this topic, but “instead I’m in front of you as the leader of a country that has been attacked by an aggressive force. Russia was determined to totally destroy Georgia.” Saakashvili said that the strategic position of Russia was that Georgia should not have the right to make independent choices.

Over 40 foreign journalists arrive in Poti

Over 40 foreign journalists arrived in Poti on September 17. The Deputy Governor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Aleksandre Akhvlediani, presented them with details of what had happened in the region during the Russian occupation.
The foreign journalists inspected the container terminal of Poti which was bombed on August 8. One mentioned that he is making a film about the Russian aggression and footage of today’s visit would form the main part of the film. According to the Deputy Chief of the Port, Gocha Lemonjava, losses exceeding GEL 2 million were incurred as a result of the Russian action.
The foreign journalists subsequently visited Ganmukhuri, where they saw the burnt-out Patriot Camp.

Concert in French capital to express solidarity with Georgia

A charity concert which will express solidarity with Georgia is to be held at the Church of the Madeleine in Paris. Nino Machaidze and Iano Tamar Alibegashvili, prominent opera singers from La Scala Milan, Georgian pianist Eliso Bolkvadze, guitarist Emanuel Rosfelder, Georgian cellist Giorgi Kharadze, Niaz Diasamidze and the ensembles Kartuli Khmebi and Shin will perform at the concert, held with the support of the Georgian Embassy in France.
Tickets will cost 10, 20 and 50 Euros, with the money raised being used to assist people who have incurred losses due to the Russian intervention.

NATO Ambassadors visit Tbilisi NATO centre

The delegation of NATO Ambassadors who are attending its Council meeting in Georgia visited the NATO Information Centre in Tbilisi on September 16. Its volunteers and Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Defence Batu Kutelia were on hand to greet them.
The Ambassadors answered questions about how their intended to resolve the current crisis in Georgia. They confirmed that Georgia would eventually become a member of the alliance.

Russian stock exchange suspends trading

Trading was suspended on the Russian stock market yesterday after another steep slide in early trading. It was the second day running that trading had been halted.
With Russian traders still reeling from what was the sharpest one day percentage drop since the country's 1998 financial crisis, the MICEX stock index began the day by climbing before heading south again. Another key index, the RTS, took the same path. For the second day running, banking and energy stocks have suffered heavy losses. While the RTS exchange has reopened to limited trading, a MICEX official has stated that he does not know when its floor will see further activity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Danish Ambassador to NATO – Discussions on Georgia’s MAP to be continued

“It was clearly said at the Bucharest Summit that Georgia would become a member of this alliance; the next step is to give Georgia the status of nominee,” the Danish Ambassador to NATO, Per Poulsen-Hansen, has said. According to him, discussions on Georgia’s MAP application will be progressed before the Foreign Ministers meeting planned for December. “It’s difficult to say what will happen in December”, Per Poulsen-Hansen added, although he said that the members of the North Atlantic Council held important and interesting meetings in Georgia.

NATO releases text of September 15 agreement

NATO has released the text of the framework agreement signed on September 15 by its Secretary-General and the Georgian Prime Minister. “Establishing a NATO-Georgia Commission confirms our support for Georgian independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The alliance expresses its concerns about Russian actions during the conflict within Georgia’s internationally recognised boundaries and its recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia”, the agreement says.
The NATO-Georgia Commission will have the following goals:
1. To deepen political dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Georgia at all appropriate levels;2. To supervise the process set in hand at the NATO Bucharest Summit;3. To coordinate Alliance efforts to assist Georgia in recovering from the recent conflict;4. To underpin Georgia’s efforts to take forward its political, economic, and defence-related reforms pertaining to its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and membership of NATO, with a focus on key democratic and institutional goals.

Levan Gachechiladze is ready to negotiate with the Government again

Opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze is ready to sit at the negotiating table with the Government, as he declared before his meeting with the Ambassadors of NATO member countries. Commenting on Jaap de Hoop Scheffer’s phrase that even the radical opposition must try to find a common language with the Government, he said: “I tried to do this once, for which I was criticized by the people.”
Gachechiladze said that he intends to discuss several crucial issues with the NATO representatives. “The important are democracy, freedom of speech, an independent judiciary and a fair business environment,” he said.

Salome Zurabishvili left meeting with NATO Ambassadors in protest

One of the opposition leaders, Salome Zurabishvili, left the meeting with NATO Ambassadors as a protest.
Zurabishvili gave several reasons for this action. The main one was that the meeting was attended by only four out of the 26 Ambassadors and not Scheffer himself. “Scheffer found time to meet the Parliamentary opposition and hear about the country’s problems from them. However he now finds a meeting at the university more important than this one,” she said.
Zurabishvili declared that she didn’t want to sit and speak with the Ambassadors alongside representatives of the pseudo-opposition, which had already met the delegation in Parliament. “Scheffer doesn’t want to listen to the real opposition. The Parliamentary opposition is the same as the Government nowadays. I will stand by fighters for Georgia even against Scheffer. He was wrong yesterday when he called the opposition in Georgia “radical.” In reality we aren’t radical. The Government must realize once and for all that it must sit with the real opposition at the negotiating table,”she stressed.

Population of South Ossetia freed from several taxes till year end

De facto President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity has published a list of taxes the population will not have to pay until December 31, 2008.The list includes community taxes, medical, education and traffic taxes.

According to Interfax, 32,837 people have returned to South Ossetia since August 12. 167 injured people are being treated at medical institutions, among them 17 children.

David Gamkrelidze – NATO Representatives had lots of questions regarding democracy in Georgia

David Gamkrelidze, after leaving the Courtyard Marriott, where opposition representatives met NATO member states’ Ambassadors, stated that “the meeting was quite representative and significant. We discussed the actual issues of the country.”

Gamkrelidze stressed that NATO representatives had lots of questions regarding democracy in Georgia. “Opposition representatives explained the situation in the country to NATO members in detail. We understand how important it is for Georgia to get MAP. MAP doesn’t mean NATO membership, but will however form a guarantee that integration processes in the country will develop faster and the Government of the country will be more monitored by NATO, which will assist in the development of the level of democracy,” he stated.

Gamkrelidze added that NATO representatives avoided specifying their views on granting Georgia a MAP and gave opaque answers to questions on this subject. He stressed that he did not get the impression that Georgia would be granted a MAP in December, although he once again expressed his wish that the integration process is carried out as quickly as possible.

Jaap De Hoop Scheffer – If Georgia continues its course this will be a punishment for Russia

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has visited Tbilisi State University and held discussion with Georgian students. As university Rector Gia Khubua stated during his speech, this was Scheffer’s third visit to the university and he is happy to have been given the opportunity to host him as Rector.

Scheffer had visited the university as Foreign Minister of Netherlands when he was Chair of OSCE. “We were in Georgia at the end of 2007 and could not have imagined then that such dreadful things could happen in such a small and beautiful country. I’m not here alone this time. There are 26 national Ambassadors here with me, demonstrating the support of the alliance for Georgia”, he stated.

Scheffer stressed that NATO stands beside Georgia today and will continue to do so. “The fulfilment of the six point agreement by both sides is fundamental for the stabilization of the events in Georgia. I believe that the efforts made by President Sarkozy to overcome this conflict and maintain Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are unequivocally supported by NATO member states. We didn’t only condemn Russia’s decision over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, we called upon Russia to change it. We certainly will not continue with the previous relations we had with Russia, although we won’t be able to ignore it. Russia is a reality and it is not right to ignore reality,” Scheffer stated.

The NATO Secretary-General said that if Georgia continues on its journey towards integration with Euro-Atlantic structures this will be a punishment for Russia. “Georgia is situated in this geographical area and we can’t move it anywhere. Our state will have to have relations with Russia no matter whether Georgians want it or not. You know that the Russian economy is seriously failing. Look what’s happening on the Russian stock exchange - the result of this intervention. Russia is already being punished,” Scheffer concluded, before answering questions from students for about 20 minutes.

Rector Khubua stated that Georgians have a choice, and that choice is NATO integration.

Monday, September 15, 2008

1,969 public schools begin their school year

1,969 Georgian schools have begun their school year on September 15, in accordance with the order of Minister of Education Gia Nodia. There are 2,010 schools in Georgia. In the rest, mostly schools damaged during the Russian aggression, studies will begin by either September 22 or October 1.

IDPs are still being housed in 16 schools. Refugee children have been allocated to different schools according to their places of residence.

NATO Council session opens at Courtyard Marriott Hotel

A NATO Council session, to be held in the ‘26+1’ format, is currently being held at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel, Tbilisi. The participants have been addressed by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoof Scheffer, The Ambassadors of 26 NATO member states and Georgian Government representatives including the Security Council Secretary and Foreign Minister are attending the session.
After a speech from the Secretary General a Georgian-NATO Commission framework agreement was signed, creating the basis on which this commission will be constituted.

World Health Organization session opens in Tbilisi

The 58th session of the European Regional Committee of the World Health Organization has opened in the Sheraton Metekhi Palace hotel, and will continue until September 18. At this annual session the representatives of 54 countries will discuss progress achieved in the sphere of Healthcare, the development of systems, chronic diseases and social factors impacting on health.
The session was opened by Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze and World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe Mark Danzon. World Health Organization General Director Margaret Chan will make a speech at the September 16 sitting. Meetings are planned between WHO representatives and President Saakashvili and Prime Minister Gurgenidze.
The sittings are held from 09:00 to 18:00 from September 15-18.

188 civilians, 14 MIA personnel and 168 MIA military personnel died due to the Russian Aggression

188 civilians, 14 staff of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and 168 of its special units personnel have died as a result of the Russian aggression, the bosses of the MIA, Defence and Health Ministries declared at a press conference held at the Sheraton Metekhi Palace Hotel on September 15.
The press conference was held by Minister of Health Aleksandre Kvitashvili, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Eka Zghuladze and Deputy Minister of Defence Batu Kutelia. As Kvitashvili declared, 188 identified civilians died due to the Russian aggression, most of whom had fatal wounds and burns. Eka Zghuladze declared that 14 MIA staff were killed, including two policemen, Tsotniashvili and Gulordava, who were killed in Ganmukhuri and Karaleti. Six persons are considered to be missing. Batu Kutelia stated that 168 special units personnel are dead. The bodies of 154 of these have been recovered, of which 110 have been identified, and the rest are considered missing in action but presumed dead.

Parliamentary minority supports changes to the 2008 Budget

The Parliamentary Minority supports the draft changes to the 2008 Budget, its leader Giorgi Targamadze has stressed at a press conference held after they were discussed. According to him, this will not be the last time the budget is altered this year, as significant assistance will be extended to Georgia by foreign donors.
The budget will be increased by GEL 255 million and will equal GEL 7.2 billion under the draft proposals. The changes were discussed by the parliamentary minority on September 15.

Georgian President to address Parliament

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is expected to attend Parliament on September 16, where he will make a speech to the members..

According to information received, the speech will last an hour, because the session must finish at 21:00. The current week is devoted to Committee hearings, rendering tomorrow’s address and extraordinary session.

The content of President’s speech is presently unknown. It’s also unknown whether the session will be open or closed.

Aleksandre Khetaguri reaffirms stability of energy provision in winter

Georgian Minister of Energy Aleksandre Khetaguri has reaffirmed in Parliament that energy provision will remain stable this winter.
In a speech to the Economics and Economic Policy Committee session about the existing situation in the energy sector, Khetaguri stated that all planned rehabilitation works at hydro plants and Tbilelectro stations have been completed. No problems are expected regarding gas provision. “Gas supply levels are regulated by the Georgian Government. Any Georgian company can purchase gas in Azerbaijan to meet supply needs just as they can in Russia,” Khetaguri stated. He confirmed that none of the active companies in Georgia buys its gas from Russia.
The country uses approximately 3.5 million cubic metres of gas a day. This is provided by Azerbaijan. Russia provides only 100,000 cubic metres a day, which represents a fee it pays for transporting gas to Armenia through Georgia.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Parliament begins to discuss 2008 Budget alterations

Parties represented in Parliament and various committees started to discuss alterations to the 2008 Budget on September 14.
Under the proposed Budget alterations the Defense Ministry budget will increase by GEL 150 million, the Ministry of Internal Affairs budget by GEL 100 million and GEL 107 has been set aside for addressing issues concerning the accommodation of refugees. An extra GEL 12 million has been allocated for farming, GEL 12 million for wine factories and GEL 9 million as subsidies for farmers. The Education Ministry will receive an extra GEL 14 million.
The Budget alterations were presented to Parliament on September 12. The first stage of discussions must end by September 19 prior to the summing up of the Financial-Budget Committee session. At this stage the new spending projects will be discussed by the factions Georgian Regions – Majorities, and Strong Georgia – Christian Democrats.

Nino Burjanadze speaks on whether Georgia could have avoided the conflict

Nino Burjanadze, the Chair of the Foundation for Democratic Development, held a press conference on September 12 at which she stated that a lot of people have been asking whether Georgia could have avoided the recent war. The ex-Parliament Speaker remarked that it is not appropriate to criticize those who ask this question, as it needs to be asked in order for the issue to be analyzed and evaluated.
Nino Burjanadze stated that strengthening democracy is the only way out of the present crisis, as any other solution would create further problems for the country. The role of democracy and a free media is very important. Society must be informed of the latest developments so that people can analyze situations for themselves.

Vladimir Putin waiting for incoming US Administration to improve relations with Russia

Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is waiting for a new US Administration to improve relations with Russia. “I’m waiting for the improvement of relations. They strained our relations, so let them improve them”, Putin has stated in an interview with French paper Figaro.
The Russian Prime Minister noted that one US politician has stated that when Lincoln was President the US preferred to have good relations with Russia rather than all other European states, because Russia wanted the US to prosper. Putin says that whenever global-scale political conflagrations begin, Russia and the US are together. “This indicates that our common interests are more important than some disagreements, as we saw during the First and Second World Wars. We never forget this in Russia. We want our American partners to remember this too,” Putin stressed.

Sergey Lavrov uses bad language in conversation with British counterpart

The Russian Federation Foreign Minister has reportedly spoken in scurrilous language during a phone call to the British Foreign Minister. The Daily Telegraph has reported that the transcript of the Lavrov-Miliband phone conversation clearly shows that the Russian was swearing. “One Whitehall insider said: ‘It was not what you would call diplomatic language. It was rather shocking.” British newspapers have published articles highlighting the swear words used during the call, all of which emanated from the Russian Minister.
The United Kingdom Foreign Ministry has not officially released details of the conversation and states that it will not comment on the conversation.

Georgian President visited Kvemo Kartli Region

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili visited the Georgian Steel, Slag and Scrap Metal Processing Factory on September 13, where he spoke to the workers, asking them about their working conditions and salaries. The President also dined in the canteen.
The Georgian Steel, Slag and Scrap Metal Processing Factory is an up to date facility which has installed modern equipment. It employs about 145 people at present, with another 105 to be employed in the next 2 to 3 months. “We are developing a number of similar factories as a response to the Russian aggression, and the Georgian economy will develop further,” the President stated, thanking Joseph Kay, who has invested 6 million Euros in the factory. President Saakashvili has also visited the family of Beroshvili in Rustavi. 18 refugees from Shida Kartli live in that town, to whom the President gave TV sets as presents. Mikheil Saakashvili had previously visited Tetri Tskharo.

Public Defender - Nikozi emptied of population, mainly due to Russian aggression

According to a report released by the Georgian Public Defender, the Nikozy village area has been denuded of much of its population. The report analyses the situation in 13 communities and 31 villages. According to the report, there were 2,278 households in Mejvriskhevi villages before the war, but according to September 8 data, only 65 percent of these remain. 78 percent of the 499 households in Akhalubani are still resident, 60% of the 1,254 households of Tkvivavi, 25% of the 839 households of Ditsi, 25 % of the 1,367 households of Tirdznisi, 15% of the 800 households of Nikozi, 55% of the 480 previously in Dvani, 90% of the 1,267 households of Dirbi, 85% of the 491 households of Ptsa and 55% of the 180 households of Abisi. There were up to 540 households in Avlevi village before the war, but now an average of only 38% of that prewar population remains in those villages, according to the September 8 data.

Energy Minister to address Parliament on September 14

On September 14 Energy Minister will inform Parliament of the arrangements for the provision of electro energy and natural gas this coming winter. Aleksandre Khetaguri will be speaking at a session of the Economic and Economic Policy Committee.
Deputies are seeking information on the energy supply danger Russia might pose and how well the country can be protected in winter under various scenarios. Giorgi Targamadze, minority leader in Parliament, suggested inviting the Energy Minister to the session during a Parliamentary Bureau meeting on September 8.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Euro Line conducts Batumi-Minsk flights

Euro Line has begun to conduct flights from Batumi to Minsk from today, September 11, Irakli Khurashvili, Head of the company’s Public Relations Service has declared. The flights will be made by TU-134 aircraft once a week.

Euro Line is also introducing flights to Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa. From October 1 direct fight from Tbilisi and Batumi to Istanbul will also be conducted.

Two die in prison hospital

Two prisoners have died in the Tbilisi Prison Hospital, the media service of the Prisons Department has announced.

Prisoner Lova B. had been diagnosed with tuberculosis of the left lung, acute intestinal infection and chronic Hepatitis C. Doctors believe he died of acute shortage of breath and an occlusion of the vascular system. Lova B. had been sentenced to eight years imprisonment for attempted murder on July 17, 2001. Prisoner Vakhtang L. had been diagnosed with a IV class, IV group lymphoma. Doctors believe he also died of an acute vascular occlusion. Vakhtang L. had been sentenced to six years imprisonment on April 25, 2005 for gang activity and opposing law enforcers.

Parliament once again discusses unification of offices

On September 11 Parliament restarted discussions on unifying the Prosecutor General's Office and the Ministry of Justice. This matter was originally raised during the spring session. According to the proposal under discussion, the Prosecutor General’s Office will become a department of the Ministry of Justice, and the head of the unified entity will be the Justice Minister.

The opposition has criticized the project, saying that there would be less public control over a united entity. On September 9 it was decided that the commission will gather once more before discussing the project as a result of the comments made by the opposition and other positions which have been presented.

French court to deny Irakli Okruashvili’s extradition

The highest court in Paris has denied Georgia’s request to extradite Irakli Okruashvili and this decision is final.
Okruashvili was granted political asylum in France in April 2008. His French lawyers called the decision of the French court a triumph of justice. The court took into the consideration the fact that if Okruashvili was returned to Georgia he would be persecuted, lawyer Louis-Marie de Roux said.
Okruashvili himself stressed that there is no justice in Georgia, and Georgia’s current regime is irresponsible. “Justice in Georgia has become the part of the repression mechanism,” he said, adding that he is ready to continue fighting to release Georgia from irresponsible Government.
Tbilisi’s city court sentenced Okruashvili to 11 years imprisonment on March 28 2008.

Tbilisi Water cleans the Mtkvari

One of the priorities of Tbilisi Water is to protect the condition of the river Mtkvari from inflowing polluted water. To achieve this, the company is attempting to rehabilitate old, damaged sewerage system units. Tbilisi Water technical and sewerage teams devised a relevant project and the company has already started to implement it, upgrading the system with modern equipment and mechanisms.
The Tbilisi sewerage system is more than a century old but almost totally shock-proof. As a result of the rehabilitation, the River Mtkvari will be significantly protected from faecal waters and the population living along the river will see the difference.

Refugee health issues discussed at Parliamentary Healthcare Committee session

High levels of anxiety, worry, memory loss and sleep deprivation, despondency, a feeling of hopelessness, aggressiveness and excitability were conditions detected among refugees from the Georgia-Russia conflict, Nino Makharashvili, head of the organization “Global Initiative Psychiatry,” told the Parliamentary Healthcare Committee session. Children present a similar range of problems, such as regressive behaviour, nightmares and tension, she said. This is the fifth time the Healthcare Committee discussed the issue.

Healthcare Committee Chairman Otar Toidze positively assessed the conducted work. He told journalists that good results were being achieved and the most important thing was to get people back to their normal condition.

Families of Georgian hostages meet Vice-Speaker Mikheil Machavariani

The population of Speti, Sachkhere region, held a protest in front of the Parliament building demanding the release of hostages, and were met by Vice-Speaker Mikheil Machavariani. A Presidential Administration representative also indicated that they would meet the relatives of the hostages.

According to Sachkhere Parliamentary Deputy Soso Kutateladze, armed Ossetians kidnapped 4 young people, Imeda Tabatadze, Roman Kimadze, Alik Kimadze and Gia Guliashvili, four days ago. One of them has heart disease. According to current information, the four were taken from the Dzirula Gorge where they were gathering wood. Speti is near Perevi, which is still occupied by the Russians.

Orthodox Christendom marks the Beheading of St. John the Forerunner

On September 11, Orthodox Christendom celebrated the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the prophet and forerunner of Jesus Christ who was sent by the Lord to pave the way for the arrival of his Son.

According to the Gospel, King Herod Antipas jailed Saint John for condemning his marriage to Herodias, his bother Philip’s wife. Although Herod himself John's authority and the significance of his following, and therefore did not intend to do John further harm, Herod's bloodthirsty wife had other ideas, and persuaded her daughter Salome to trick Herod. At a party for Herod, Salome danced so beautifully that a drunken Herod offered her anything she wanted as a reward. She asked for John's head on a silver platter, so John was beheaded.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

US Trade Minister to postpone visit to Nicaragua

US Minister of Trade Carlos Gutierrez has postponed a visit to Nicaragua. “The Minister has postponed the visit planned for September 28-30, because of the changing situation in Nicaragua”, the US Ambassador to Nicaragua, Robert Callahan, has declared.

Callahan refrained from answering the question whether postponing the visit was connected with Nicaragua’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He confirmed however that the US State Department’s position is that recognition of the independence of these regions was an abrogation of several UN Security Council resolutions.

Georgia to rescind its agreement to another CIS decree

Georgia is to withdraw from another of the agreements it entered into as a member of the CIS. The Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament is to discuss a resolution that the terms of the “Independent Commonwealth Parliamentarian Assembly Agreement of March 27, 1992” will have no apply in Georgia.
The Georgian Parliament passed a resolution to leave the CIS on August 14, 2008.

Energo Pro Georgia negotiates with Armenia to import electricity

Energo Pro Georgia is holding negotiations with Armenia about electricity imports, Radoslav Dudolensky, its Deputy General Director, has declared at press conference. Dudolensky says that if electricity imports are needed, Energo-Pro Georgia will continue to try and conclude agreements to receive them.

A reciprocal agreement with the Turkish State Energy Company, which envisages the import of Turkish electricity in winter in return for Georgia supplying electricity to Turkey during the summer, is already in place, and Georgia will receive 200-250mln kWh electricity if needed. 100-150mln kWh of electricity from Armenia is already available.

US hails Russian pullout

The US State Department has welcomed Russia's agreement to “some firm dates” for withdrawing its troops from Georgia proper, but said it must live up to its commitment to a full pullout.

At a summit with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev late on Monday, French President Sarkozy received assurances that Moscow would pull troops out of Georgia proper in a month but got no guarantees that they would leave the disputed Georgian rebel regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“We fully support President Sarkozy in trying to get Russia to live up to its original agreement back in August”, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, in a first reaction to the Sarkozy-Medvedev meeting. “We welcome the fact that Russia has agreed to some firm dates for withdrawing their troops from Georgia”, he said.

McCormack also welcomed the commitment by the European Union, whose rotating Presidency is currently held by France, to deploy 200 monitors in Georgia which he said is “linked to the full withdrawal” of the Russian troops. “What Russia needs to do now is to live up to its agreements. It has not done so in the past”, McCormack said.

US vetoes Russian draft on Georgia

The United States of America has rejected Russia's proposal, made in a UN Security Council draft resolution, to impose an international ban on arms supplies to Georgia.

The Russian resolution was introduced at the UN Security Council on Tuesday. It indicated that all countries should take measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms to Georgia, as well as the provision of any assistance, consultations, or training related to military activities. However Ben Chang, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said: “We do not believe that this affirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia which is for us the bottom line of any Security Council action on Georgia.

“We see this as an attempt by Russia to divert attention from the situation on the ground, specifically, that they have not lived up to their own obligations under the ceasefire to withdraw their forces from the territory of Georgia, and continue to block humanitarian access,” he added.

The US Department of Defense has announced that it is sending a special mission to Georgia to assess the country's military strength and what is needed to restore it.

House of Representatives assists Georgia

Members of the US House of Representatives have been presented with a draft law which will transfer $500 million from the federal budget to Georgia. According to a report from the Governmental Commission for Security and Co-operation, these funds will be designated for the support of the Georgian economy, which was seriously damaged during the Russian invasion. The funds must be allocated within 180 days after the law is brought into force.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried and Georgian Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze were invited to Congress yesterday and observed the discussion of the draft law.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ukrainian MPs visit Georgia

A delegation of members of the Nasha Ukraina Ukrainian parliamentary faction is paying an official visit to Georgia. The Ukrainian MPs have so far met with Georgian Vice Speaker Mikheil Machavariani. Delivering speeches to Georgian MPs and the media afterwards, they spoke in Ukrainian, not Russian, as a protest against the Russian aggression.

During the three-day visit, the Ukrainian parliamentarians will meet with the Georgian President and Patriarch Ilia. The delegation will also visit regions damaged by the Russian aggression, where they plan to meet members of the local population.

Russian Foreign Minister to host separatists

Following the visit of European leaders to the Russian capital, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hosted Abkhaz and Ossetian separatists in Moscow on September 9 for negotiations on diplomatic cooperation.

Lavrov met with the Foreign Minister of self-proclaimed South Ossetia, Murad Jioev, and Sergey Shamba, the de facto Foreign Minister of Abkhazia. Russia drafted several agreements, which define the terms of the establishment of official diplomatic ties and military cooperation between Russia and the separatists.

Statement by US State Department

US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack has voiced the official position of the United States regarding the agreement reached between the Presidents of France and Russia. McCormack stated that any step which would speed up the pullout of Russian forces from Georgia would be positive.
“What we call upon Russia to do is live up to its original agreements. They made certain commitments to President Sarkozy, and we would expect that they live up to those agreements. They haven’t done thus far, notwithstanding comments from President Medvedev. We call upon him as well as the Russian Government to live up to what they said they would do in the aftermath of negotiating with President Sarkozy,” McCormack said.

Europe to bring Russia under control

Europe will bring Russia under control and this is the beginning of a great mission, said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as he commented on the agreement between French President Sarkozy and Russian President Medvedev after a meeting with President Sarkozy in Tbilisi. ”This is the beginning of the full implementation of the six-point ceasefire agreement brokered by France, and we can say it is a step forward,'' Saakashvili announced.
President of France Nikolas Sarkozy had arrived in Tbilisi from Moscow late on September 8 after four-hour negotiations with Dmitry Medvedev. The meeting between Saakashvili and Sarkozy in the President's Chancellery lasted two hours and was followed by a joint briefing, where the results of the negotiations were declared.

Sarkozy said that the European Union was moving forward in this crisis and that the pledge of the Russian President to finally pull the Russian Army out of Georgian soil proved this. The President of France reiterated Europe’s support of Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty and condemned the recognition of Georgia's two breakaway regions by Russia. During this month the European Union will strictly monitor the implementation of the obligations taken by Russia under this and a previous agreement on ceasefire and pullout.

It was also announced that in October Georgia would host a summit, where support for Georgia's territorial unity and sovereignty would be demonstrated once again.

Polish journalists released

Members of a broadcast crew from Polish television station Polska TV, who were detained late on September 8, have been set free. Russian occupiers and Ossetian separatists handed them over to Georgia, on Georgian-controlled territory, on the morning on September 9.

The Polish journalists say that they had arrived in the region to cover the post-Russian aggression humanitarian situation, but Ossetian and Russian gunmen detained them and brought to Tskhinvali. The aggressors tried to force the hostages to give them ''confidential information'' as they accused them of spying for the U.S., Poland and Georgia. The separatists eventually freed the journalists after diplomatic offices became involved.

The released hostages say they were given only water during their captivity.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rally scheduled at Russian checkpoint in Khobi region

A demonstration is due to be held at the Russian illegal checkpoint in the village of “First of May” in the Khobi region. It is understood that local residents will gather in the centre of Khobi and hold a peaceful march to the village checkpoint. The organisers of the rally declare that Russia must dismantle all the illegal checkpoints it has established on Georgian territory.

Russia attempts to gain support from Azerbaijan

The Russian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers held a meeting in Moscow on September 7. According to Russian Government reports, Sergey Lavrov and Elmar Mamediarov discussed the regional and international situations created after curbing the Georgian assault on South Ossetia. The Azerbaijan agency “Dei Azi” reports that the Turkish “Security and Cooperation Platform” initiative was also discussed.

In a reference to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Lavrov apparently told his counterpart that Russia recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

Sergey Bagapsh not against Russian military bases in Abkhazia

Sergey Bagapsh has denied reports which suggested that he was against allowing Russian military bases to be established in Abkhazia, as the radio station “Echo Moskvy” states. “In my interview I was asked if new military facilities would be built in the Republic. I answered that no new installations were planned, but all the old ones would be restored. It was thus spread about that I was against Russian troops being based in Abkhazia. On the contrary, I personally demanded the stationing of Russian troops in Abkhazia,” the de facto President stated.

Mikhail Machavariani – Russian actions will help our colleagues understand the current situation

Georgian Parliament Vice-Speaker Mikhail Machavariani doesn’t think there is anything remarkable about Russian jets entering Georgian airspace. As he has stressed, Russia has already violated the Georgian border and occupied much of Georgia’s territory. Clearly therefore it will also violate airspace and make other provocations. “All these actions will help to open the eyes of our European and American colleagues to the reality of the current situation,” Machavariani says.

Two Russian jets entered Georgian airspace on September 7, according to an official statement made by the Georgian Government on September 8. The jets entered from the Russian Federation and proceeded to circle over Tskhinvali and Shatili for a period of about 45 minutes. The make of the jets involved could not be confirmed.

The Georgian Government could have avoided the Russian military aggression, say poll respondents

In another Kviris Palitra poll, also held from September 1-4, 407 respondents gave answers to the question, Could the Georgian Government have avoided the Russian military aggression? 43.0 % said that it could have done, 35.8% that it could not have done and 21.2% gave no answer or way or the other.

Irakli Alasania has played most positive role in latest developments, poll says

465 people took part in a poll conducted by ‘Kviris Palitra’ on September 1-4. The question was: Which of the following people do you believe has played the most positive part in the latest developments in Georgia? Poll respondents ranked the nine listed names from 9 (most positive) to 1 (least).

The results were as follows: 1. Irakli Alasania – averaging 7.65 points2. Mikheil Saakashvili – 7.553. Davit Bakradze – 5.834. Koba Subeliani – 5.065. Eka Tkheshelashvili – 4.796. Vano Merabishvili- 4.587. Temur Iakobashvili – 3.818. Gigi Ugulava – 3.489. Davit Kezerashvili -2.26

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bagapsh – Treaty of Cooperation to be signed In Moscow

An agreement on friendship and cooperation between Russia and Abkhazia has already been prepared and will be signed in Moscow in the near future, Abkhaz separatist leader Sergey Bagapsh has stated. “A major treaty on friendship, cooperation and the provision of help, consisting of 32 clauses, is practically ready. I believe the document will be signed in Moscow in the nearest future,” Bagapsh said. He has also stated that the agreement covers a number of issues and it will therefore be necessary to sign additional memoranda between ministries and departments.

Russia recognized independence of so-called South Ossetia and Abkhazia on August 26.

Dmitry Medvedev – Russia must retain its dominance of oil and gas supply

Dmitry Medvedev, the President of the Russian Federation, has declared that Russia must retain its dominance of gas and oil supply. The Press Centre of the Kremlin reports that the President of Russia stated the following in a speech at an event dedicated to gas and oil professionals: “A reliable supply of energy resources has gained a special importance for each country nowadays and our goal is to do everything to maintain our leadership in this sphere.” Russian oil and gas export policy is a key element in sustaining European and world energy security.

Vladimir Putin – Russia will not apologize to anybody

Russia will not apologize for the Georgian-Ossetian conflict and does not even intend to engage in argument about it, Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Russia, has stated. “There is no need to apologize. We are convinced we are right,” Vladimir Putin declared in an interview given to a Russian TV company.

Condoleezza Rice - time not right for US-Russian nuclear pact

The time is not right for the United States to implement a civil nuclear pact with Russia, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated. A State Department official claimed in Washington that the Bush administration would withdraw its request for Congress to approve the nuclear deal, as a penalty for Russia's invasion of Georgia last month. “The time isn't right for the Russia agreement and we will make an announcement about that later.” The nuclear deal was intended to lift Cold War restrictions on trade and open up the US nuclear market and Russia’s uranium fields to companies from both countries. Washington and Moscow signed the cooperation agreement in May and it was then sent by President George W. Bush to Congress.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia welcomes Nicaragua’s decision

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed Nicaragua’s decision to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A statement released by the Ministry declares that Moscow is pleased with Nicaragua’s action and evaluates it as a contribution to the forming of an international system which protects strict international principles. The Ministry says that the decision will cement relations between Russia and Nicaragua and it calls on other countries to follow Nicaragua’s example.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Frontier guards detain two people for passport offences

Batumi border guards detained two citizens of Georgia at Batumi Airport at the Sarpi checkpoint. As the press service of the frontier police reports, the detainees were caught trying to cross the border and leave the country with spurious passports. Preliminary investigations are underway.

Financial aid for Georgia for rehabilitation works

The International Monetary Fund has offered a 750 million dollar credit line to Georgia, the Wall Street Journal reports. Its article states that the U.S. and EU are working on a plan to allocate 2 billion dollars in aid, and the International Monetary Fund will confirm the precise allocation of these funds at the end of the week.

This financial aid is designed to be applied for the rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged by the Russian aggression.

Barack Obama and Mikheil Saakashvili speak on the phone

Democratic Party US Presidential candidate Barack Obama and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili had a telephone conversation. Senator Obama expressed his interest in the current situation in Georgia and his support for the country, stating that Democrats are ready to help Georgia and Georgian people in the future. He also welcomed the decision of the US Administration to donate USD 1 billion to help Georgia.

Kareli and surrounding villages receive round the clock electricity

Kareli, and 6,500 customers of six adjacent villages, are now once again supplied with stable electricity 24 hours a day.

After the bombing of the Skra military base on August 24, two 110 kilowatt poles and the transmission lines they bore were damaged. The Technical Service of the Shida Kartli Branch of JSC "Energo-Pro Georgia" restored the service in 12 hours from a 35 kilowatt substation for a temporary period, but the permanent regular supply could not be reinstated as the area around the damaged pole was mined. However, on August 28 mine clearing was conducted and restoration work on the two damaged 110 kilowatt poles was undertaken.

Schools to resume studies on September 15

Most of Tbilisi’s public schools will resume studies on September 15, Education Minister of Georgia, Gia Nodia, has stated. Schools which sheltered IDPs from Shida Kartli however will postpone the beginning of their terms for no longer than two weeks due to repair works to the buildings currently underway.

Institutes and universities will have no changes in their schedules, Studies will resume at the end of September.

Russian mines are still in Gori

Russian mines are still lying around in the Gori region. A resident of the village of Bnavisi recently discovered in a mine in a nearby wood. Disarmament of the 500-kilogramme mine proved impossible and therefore specialists had to detonate it on the spot. The village had to be evacuated during this process, but the controlled explosion took place without losses or heavy damage.

Support for Georgia from Belarus youth

“The people of Belarus condemn the Russian aggression in Georgia and regret that the President of Belarus refrains from expressing this position,” a statement made by representatives of the “Youth Front” organization, who came to Tbilisi on September 3 to express their support, reads.

The Belarussian guests met representatives of several youth organizations and signed a document about a youth consolidation programme that will later involve other youth organizations in different countries.

Members of Parliament evaluate situation in Ukraine

Members of the Georgian Parliament evaluated the current political situation in Ukraine in the light of recent developments in Georgia. “It was obvious from the very beginning that after Georgia, the main target and next victim of Russia would be Ukraine,” Parliament Speaker David Bakradze stated. He added that the political situation in Ukraine has become extremely tense: “The fact that we are witnessing direct intervention by Russia in Ukraine's internal politics should serve as a good signal for our European colleagues. It's high time for an effective reaction, to stop the next victim of Russia's aggressive policy being Ukraine,” Bakradze concluded.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Indian companies to pay USD 37.1 million for oil and gas licence blocks

More foreign companies are ready to invest in the energy sector, the Ministry of Energy of Georgia has declared. According to released information, two Indian companies are about to pay USD 37.1 million for 5 oil and gas licence blocks. The Oil and Gas Agency of the Georgian Ministry of Energy has already received bank guarantees from the companies, EN Search Petroleum Ltd. and JSPL Oil and Natural Gas Ltd.

Four detained for illegal import of vehicles and bribery

As the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia reports, officers of its General Inspectorate have detained a group of criminals suspected of purchasing stolen vehicles. Employees of the Customs Department were also involved in the case, having allegedly illegally imported high-priced vehicles with forged identification codes from the Russian Federation.

For performing a registration and examination service the above mentioned detainees, allegedly part of an organised group, asked an employee of the Service Agency of the Interior Ministry for a 500 GEL bribe. As a result of this they were detained.

OSCE to send 100 observers to Georgia

The OSCE will increase the number of its international monitors in Georgia, envoy Goran Lennmarker announced at a meeting with Georgian MPs. Lennmarker reiterated that the OSCE supports Georgia's territorial integrity and announced that the organization would send 100 observers to make an unbiased assessment of the August developments.

After meeting with the Members of Parliament the OSCE representative discussed the Georgia crisis with Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria and State Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili.

European Parliamentarians propose freezing funds to Russia

The budgetary committee of the European Parliament is considering freezing financial assistance to Russia. The funds allocated to Russia in 2009 equal Euro 60,500,000.

German diplomat Reimer Böge, the committee Chair, asserts that freezing funds to Russia will send a strong signal to the country about its aggressive actions against Georgia. The European Parliament will discuss the proposal in October.

Grigol Vashadze meets Swedish Ambassador

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia reports that a meeting was held at the Ministry between the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Sweden to Georgia Hans Gunnar Aden on September 2. The sides discussed the results of the Russian aggression against Georgia and numerous instances of ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population. The prospects of establishing and further deepening a special relationship between the EU and Georgia, as well as the results of the EU Summit held in Brussels on September 1, were also discussed at the meeting.

OSCE envoy holds meetings in Tbilisi

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President-Emeritus Goran Lennmarker held meetings with Davit Bakradze, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Lasha Zhvania, the Chairman of its Foreign Relations Committee, Eka Tkeshelashvili, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ruslan Abashidze, Deputy Minister for Reintegration Issues, on September 3. Lennmarker, recently appointed as Special Envoy for Georgia by the OSCE, will leave the country on September 4.
Lennmarker said that OSCE President Joao Soares and he are personally engaged in the process of resolving the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. Mr. Lennmarker, a member of the Swedish Parliament, aims to work to support the conflict settlement process particularly at Parliamentary level.

Dmitry Medvedev – Russia is not afraid of internal separatism, unless its boundaries are altered from outside

Internal separatism isn’t dangerous for Russia unless its boundaries are altered from outside the country, Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev has stated in an interview with EuroNews.

Medvedev is sure that Russia will be able to explain its position on the Georgian-Ossetian conflict to its European partners. According to Medvedev, the EU’s decision shows that Russia’s actions were not clearly understood by EU members. “Of course we are concerned about this, but we think we can explain our position. What we did had only good intentions,” the Russian President stressed.

Alexander Khetaguri – There are no problems with electricity and gas supply

There are no problems with the electricity and natural gas supply, Alexander Khetaguri, the Georgian Energy Minister stated before the Government session on September 3. According to his statement rehabilitation works are being conducted to avoid problems this winter.
Khetaguri mentioned that Georgia gets its natural gas from a variety of sources, and thus there won’t be any supply problems in winter.

Parliament of Georgia revokes State of War

The Georgian Parliament has revoked the previously declared State of War, as Chairman of Parliament David Bakradze declared the following a meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau.
The State of War will be replaced by a State of Emergency, but this will only apply in the areas where Russian armed forces units are located.

The State of War was declared on 9 August and on 23 August Parliament prolonged it until September 8. Davit Bakradze remarked that the State of War was harming the national economy.

The Foreign Minister of Italy visits Georgia

The Foreign Minister of Italy, Franco Fratini, is visiting Georgia. Meetings have been scheduled with his Georgian counterpart Eka Tkeshelashvili and Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze.

Fratini also visited the Museum of the Soviet Occupation after a brief meeting with President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.

US will think about responsive steps against Moscow

The US Administration will consider taking adequate steps against Russian activities in Georgia. White House spokesperson Dana Perino stressed that the option of imposing sanctions against Russia is still on the table and the Bush Administration is thinking through the issue in active cooperation with European partners.

European Parliament: the location of the Winter Olympic Games should be changed

The European Parliament has suggested that the International Olympic Committee reconsider its decision to hold the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014. Its resolution urged the International Olympic Committee reconsider the issue and assess its appropriateness under the current circumstances.

Telephone conversation between Medvedev and Sarkozy

Another round of telephone conversations has taken place between Russian President Medvedev and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy. The agenda of their meeting scheduled for September 8 has been discussed and a brief exchange of opinion regarding the EU Summit decisions also took place.

The Press Office of Kremlin has expressed its concerns over the summit’s decisions as the aggressive actions of Georgia in South Ossetia and Abkhazia were not reflected in the final document it produced.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Seventeen Georgian soldiers will go to Israel for medical treatment

Seventeen Georgian soldiers will be flown to Israel for medical treatment paid for by the Georgia-Israel Business Chamber. As the head of the Chamber stressed, Israel has a world leading medical service and will use it to help Georgia at such a difficult time.
A special fund which will provide relief to people affected by the Russian-Georgian War has also been created by the Chamber, which represents Jewish businessmen working in Georgia.

State of War to be eased from September 3

The State of War Georgia declared at the height of the Russian aggression will be rescinded by the Parliament of Georgia, Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze stated yesterday. The occupied territories however will remain under the lesser State of Emergency provisions.
According to Bakradze, a State of War negatively affects country’s economy. The State of War was first declared on August 9 and extended until September 8 on August 23.

Commission will calculate environmental damage

The special commission to monitor and calculate the environmental damage Georgia has suffered as a result of the Russian occupation held its first meeting on September 2. The forty- strong group includes representatives from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture and experts from different spheres.
The commission’s monitoring report should be delivered in a month. Foreign experts’ recommendations will also be reflected in the report.

Russian military deployment agreement to be signed in South Ossetia

An agreement on the deployment of Russian military posts in South Ossetia is to be signed in Tskhinvali on September 2, according to Russian information agencies quoting Tarzan Kokoity, Deputy Chairman of the South Ossetian Parliament.
“We will sign an inter-state cooperation agreement with Russia concerning Russian military deployment on South Ossetian territory”, Tarzan Kokoiti stated at a briefing held in Tskhinvali’s press centre.

Georgian issue discussed by Russian and Armenian Presidents

The recent Georgian-Russian developments were discussed by the Russian and Armenian Presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sarkisyan, in Sochi on September 2 as they met to talk about the details of bilateral energy cooperation. Medvedev explained the Russian decision to recognise the breakaway regions and outlined its measures to stabilize the situation in the region.
A representative of the Kremlin declared that the priority of future economic co-operation between Russia and Armenia is the energy sphere. An agreement on gas provision for 2009-2011 is being prepared, and discussions on nuclear energy use have moved to a different stage. Russia is the main investor in Armenia and is the primary destination of Armenian exports.

Georgian issue discussed by Russian and Armenian Presidents

The recent Georgian-Russian developments were discussed by the Russian and Armenian Presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sarkisyan, in Sochi on September 2 as they met to talk about the details of bilateral energy cooperation. Medvedev explained the Russian decision to recognise the breakaway regions and outlined its measures to stabilize the situation in the region.
A representative of the Kremlin declared that the priority of future economic co-operation between Russia and Armenia is the energy sphere. An agreement on gas provision for 2009-2011 is being prepared, and discussions on nuclear energy use have moved to a different stage. Russia is the main investor in Armenia and is the primary destination of Armenian exports.

Georgian issue discussed by Russian and Armenian Presidents

The recent Georgian-Russian developments were discussed by the Russian and Armenian Presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sarkisyan, in Sochi on September 2 as they met to talk about the details of bilateral energy cooperation. Medvedev explained the Russian decision to recognise the breakaway regions and outlined its measures to stabilize the situation in the region.
A representative of the Kremlin declared that the priority of future economic co-operation between Russia and Armenia is the energy sphere. An agreement on gas provision for 2009-2011 is being prepared, and discussions on nuclear energy use have moved to a different stage. Russia is the main investor in Armenia and is the primary destination of Armenian exports.

Current situation in the Caucasus discussed in Turkey

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the current situation in the Caucasus yesterday, September 2, during a visit to Turkey. Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart discuss the Turkish initiative to create a “stability platform” in the Caucasus, which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled during a visit to Tbilisi in August.

Georgian-Russian conflict to be Ukrainian Parliament’s major point of discussion

The Georgian-Russian conflict was the main issue discussed by the Ukrainian Rada at its first autumn session, which began on September 2. The Rada also discussed Russia’s recognition of the breakaway regions.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko did not attend the opening of the session, but in support of Georgia he has declared that he expects the Parliamentarians to take a unanimous position on the conflict and associated issues.

Monday, September 1, 2008

G8 countries meet in Japan in parallel with EU Summit

A G8 meeting was held in Japan in parallel with the EU summit on September 1. In addition to other significant issues the Chairmen of the Parliaments of G8 countries discussed the situation in Georgia.
Seven countries of G8: Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, USA and Britain condemned the recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia, which is the other G8 member. Russian Duma chairman Boris Grizlov attended the meeting, which woulds last until September 3.

Vladimir Putin - Russia will not cut oil and gas supplies to Europe

Russia will not cut oil and gas supplies to Europe, Vladimir Putin has declared. “We do not intend to cut anything. We will meet the commitments of the contracts strictly,” Vladimir Putin noted.
Putin sees no signs of “freezing” relations with the western countries. A lot of things have been talked about but no concrete steps have yet been taken, he insisted. Putin hopes that relations will not be “frozen” in the future either. “Justice is on our side. We act absolutely within the framework of morality and international law,” said the Russian Prime Minister.

Australia to review nuclear fuel agreement with Russia

Australia has decided to review an agreement about giving nuclear fuel to Russia, Australian broadcasting company ABC has reported. According to the report the country’s Labour Government took this decision after Russian forces participated in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.

Canada supporting Georgia’s integration in NATO

Canada will actively support Georgian integration in NATO, the Chairman of the Georgian Parliament, David Bakradze, reported to journalists after a meeting with the Canadian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. According to Bakradze, they discussed Georgia’s integration in NATO at the meeting and received the promise of Canadian support. Economic sanctions against Russian aggression, which must be led by the international community, were also discussed.

Valdas Adamkus – Russia is obliged to honour the norms of international law

Russia is obliged to honour both the norms of international law and the territorial integrity of Georgia, Valdas Adamkus, the President of Lithuania, has stated during a phone conversation with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy. The President of Lithuania stated the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as illegal.

The two Presidents underlined that the EU has a joint position on the conflict, in favour of Georgia. The leaders called on Russia once again to meet its commitments under the six point agreement brokered by France.

Adamkus has also held a telephone conversation with Mikheil Saakashvili, in which he expressed his hope that the EU will not allow the abrogation of the territorial integrity of Georgia.

Matthew Bryza – Russia not telling the truth about buffer zones

Russia is not telling the truth when it says it has the right to create so-called buffer zones in Georgia under the terms of 6-point agreement, Matthew Bryza US Deputy Secretary of State, declared in Slovenia where he was attending an energy summit. “According to the fifth point, Russia has the right to take additional security measures. The decree acknowledged by Nicolas Sarkozy clearly shows that Russia can patrol in the Tskhinvali region and a few kilometers outside it only”, says Bryza. According to him, what has happened in Georgia proves that it’s important that Europe diversifies its gas supply. Europe must quickly decide how long it wants to be dependent on Russian gas, the Deputy State of Secretary stressed.

Iran rejects reports that it backs Russia

As Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi declared yesterday, Iran has adopted an independent stance on developments in the Caucasus.

Talking to reporters at his weekly press briefing, he added that the Caucasus region borders Iran and thus the country is sensitive to developments there. Rejecting reports that Iran backs Russia in the current crisis, he reiterated that adopting regional policies is the best possible way to settle it. Stressing that the foreign intervention would only escalate the situation, Qashqavi added that it would also make the issue more complicated. Such a move would not promote peace and stability in the sensitive Caucasus region, he stated.

Qashqavi said that Iran supplied fuel to Georgia during the country's fuel crisis last year, adding that Tehran's principled policy is based on independence and preserving national interests. “Tehran has no special tendency towards any particular power,” he reiterated. Tehran makes decisions on the basis of the principles of the Islamic Revolution as well as the national interests of its own and other regional states, he concluded.

Turkey to impose commercial embargo on Russia

Turkey will ban the import of some Russian-made products. Ankara intends to take this step in response to Russia imposing an embargo on Turkish goods.

Moscow banned the importation of Turkish goods not only from Turkey, but also from Europe last week. Kursat Tuzmen, the Minister of State in charge of Customs and Foreign Trade, while visiting China, underlined that Russia’s embargo on Turkish goods will cause damage to both sides. “This is illegal. They impede the importation of Turkish products to their country. Therefore Turkish exporters, Russian importers and world brands suffer. We will give an adequate answer to Russia. Import of Russian-made products will be banned as from today,” he said.

EU preparing civilian mission for Georgia

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana says that EU nations are preparing to send a civilian monitoring mission to Georgia. The force could be deployed across the country to verify Russian forces are complying with the ceasefire agreement. Solana says that the mission could involve hundreds of monitors.

Solana told reporters on Monday before an EU leaders’ summit that he expects EU nations to approve the plan in the coming weeks. EU nations have already sent 40 observers to Georgia.

Labour Party refuses to join national protest

The Georgian Labour Party has refused to join the live chain, a national demonstration held after an appeal by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. Party leader Shalva Natelashvili announced at the briefing that it was “Saakashvili's rally” and the Labour Party would not participate in it.
Natelashvili also outlined his position to the EU Ambassador to Georgia. The opposition party has asked the United States to renounce its recognition of Kosovo’s independence in order to avoid more problems in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.