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.