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The News in Brief

Friday, December 18
U.S. official comments on recognition of separatists by Nauru

The recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the tiny Pacific island of Nauru will not make the Governments of Georgia's breakaway regions legitimate, a U.S. State Department spokesman has said.

Nauru, the world`s smallest island state with a population of 14,000, has become the fourth country to recognise the independence of Georgia`s separatist region of Tskhinvali after Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

"On the first issue, the issue of the island of Nauru — is that how it`s pronounced, Nauru? I didn't say it right — recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, I would just say that the recognition by Nauru, in and of itself, does absolutely nothing in our eyes to help establish or underpin in some way the legitimacy of the de facto Governments in both of those separatist regions," U.S. State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly told a press briefing on Wednesday.

Kelly said his country would continue to support the territorial integrity of Georgia "as do the absolute vast majority of countries around the world." "We consider these entities as parts of Georgia and not as separate entities. We call on all states to uphold their commitments under numerous UN Security Council resolutions and the French-brokered ceasefire agreement, and we call on all countries to support, as we do, Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty," he said. (Rustavi 2)

SDC donates rescue equipment to Georgian firefighters

The Government of Switzerland, represented by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), is donating rescue equipment to the fire fighters of Tsageri and Lentekhi within the framework of the Reducing Disaster Risks in Tsageri and Lentekhi Municipalities project.

As Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is one of the priorities of Swiss humanitarian aid, SDC began to implement DRR projects in Georgia in 2002. Since that year, SDC has had productive cooperation with the Emergency Management Department (EMD) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.

The Reducing Disaster Risks in Tsageri and Lentekhi Municipalities project began in March 2009 and is designed to save lives and reduce the economic loss due to natural disasters in the Tsageri and Lentekhi Municipalities by supporting prevention and preparedness efforts at local level.

The project covers the range of DRR priorities in the Hyogo Framework for Action (United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction 2005), namely making DRR a priority, increasing knowledge of risks and being prepared and ready to act.

The project component “preparedness” includes basic rescue training of the firefighters of the two above-mentioned municipalities and the donation of rescue equipment (for mountain, water and car accidents rescue). The Emergency Situations Department and the Tbilisi Rescue Base kindly supported SDC in its efforts by organising and providing training in the Rescue Base facilities. SDC would like to thank the EMD for its support and their collaboration. (Rustavi 2)

Parliamentary Commission members meet expert criminologists

The Parliamentary Commission seeking to identify the cause of death of Georgia's first President, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, has demanded live transmission of its next session on the Georgian Public Broadcaster. The Chairperson of the commission, the late President's eldest son Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, says that they will interrogate the eyewitnesses who signed the protocol after viewing the corpse of the dead President a few minutes after he was shot.

The official version is that Gamsakhurdia's death was suicide, however experts who have viewed the materials given to the Commission by the Prosecutor's Office say that these documents do not confirm suicide and that the testimonies of eyewitnesses contradict one another. Therefore, the members of the commission have demanded the interrogation of these people at the next session.

Mikheil Osadze, who was invited to the Commission as an expert criminologist, said that a specific person claims to know who ordered Gamsakhurdia's murder, who committed it and the amount of money they were paid. Osadze said that this witness should be interrogated by the Commission in future.

"The work which should be done by the Commission will take time, and I think that Parliament should extend the term to the Commission, as the next six weeks will not be sufficient for reaching our goals," Osadze said. (Rustavi 2)

Drowned tanker pollutes sea in Abkhazia, Georgia

A storm has cast ashore a tanker in Sokhumi, Abkhazia, Georgia. The tanker, which had sunk in in so-called Abkhazian waters, was full of diesel and petrol. About one hundred tonnes of the fuel poured in the sea due to the shipwreck, polluting a three km-long area along the Sokhumi coast.

The incident will cause serious damage to the local ecosystem and population. It is suggested that the tanker was taking fuel from Turkey to Abkhazia. (Rustavi 2)

Georgian Defence Ministry discusses future reforms at conference

The Georgian Defence Ministry is holding a conference in the winter resort of Gudauri, which foreign diplomats are also attending. The participants will sum up the events of the last year and discuss how to continue making reforms in the defence field next year with a reduced budget.

Georgia`s representative to NATO Gega Mgaloblishvili is taking part in the forum. He intends to talk about NATO-Georgia relations. He will discuss the implementation of the Annual National Plan and the alliance`s recommendations for 2010. (Rustavi 2)