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Prepared by Diana Dundua
Wednesday, December 19

“Government supports Georgian Patriarch’s initiative”

Akhali Taoba reports that Davit Bakradze, State Minister for the Conflicts Resolution and spokesperson for Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidential campaign, welcomes Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II’s proposal to renovate Georgian cultural monuments in Turkey.

“The Georgian administration will do its best to help this process,” Bakradze said.

Georgian and Turkish officials have already discussed the issues, Bakradze continued, and renovation works are slated to begin next spring.

The newspaper writes that Bakradze also welcomes the court ruling forcing the Central Election Commission to allow Georgian soldiers in Kosovo and Iraq to vote in the upcoming election.

The Central Election Commission, split down partisan lines, had stalled on a proposal which would have allowed the soldiers to cast ballots on January 5.

“I hope that the opposition and the ruling majority will find a common language while discussing the issue of Georgia’s military forces,” Bakradze said.

In the same December 18 press briefing, Bakradze emphasized that Saakashvili’s economic platform was underpinned by careful calculations.

“If he wins in the presidential election, we will by all means fulfill every promise,” Bakradze pledged.

“Irina Sarishvili appeals to court”

Presidential candidate Irina Sarishvili has begun a vigorous election campaign, Akhali Taoba write.

On December 17, Sarishvili met with an OSCE election observer mission official, warning him of her worries about the integrity of the January 5 presidential poll.

And after the meeting, Sarishvili told journalists that she is being discriminated against in the campaign season.

“My first concern is about funding. As I’m not from a party [which previously cleared a certain vote threshold], the [Central Election Commission] decided I could not receive state financing. This is an illegal decision which puts me on unequal footing,” Sarishvili claimed, adding that she is not being given free advertising time like most of her competitors.

She says she will take the matter to court.

“Salome Zourabichvili addresses emigrants”

Sakartvelos Respublika reports that French-born former foreign minister Salome Zourabichvili, the opposition coalition’s nominee for prime minister, is calling on Georgians living abroad to vote for coalition candidate Levan Gachechiladze in the January 5 presidential election.

She enumerated a list of reasons to support Gachechiladze, and then spoke about her own background.

“I myself came to Georgia from France after the [2003] Rose Revolution, full of hopes. But unfortunately, my hopes did not come true,” Zourabichvili said.

The ex-minister added that she is now working with a new group of people, who genuinely care for Georgia.

“The prime minister met with students”

Prime Minster Lado Gurgenidze met with students from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs on December 17, Rezonansi reports.

The closed-door discussion lasted for two hours. Afterward, Gurgenidze said he was pleased with the students’ knowledge, awareness and informed questions.

“This was a really pleasant and interesting discussion with the next Georgian generation. I had to answer many questions, including [some on] the January 5 presidential election, social programs and our future plans,” Gurgenidze stated.