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The News in Brief

Monday, March 28
Two people injured as mini bus falls into riverbed

Two people were injured in car accident that took place in the city of Kutaisi in Western Georgia on Sunday. As reported, the bus' power steering failed unexpectedly and the mini bus skidded off the road, broke through the railing of a bridge and fell into the riverbed.

Two people were in the bus during the accident. Both of them were quickly taken to hospital where doctors said they had slight injuries causing no danger to their lives.

The mini bus was taken from the riverbed by means of special machinery.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgian captain striving to protect rights of crew

The Captain of the Georgian vessel, which fled Libya after 18 months in captivity, is striving to defend the rights of himself and his crew in court.

The sailors are currently staying in Malta. They were held in Libya for ten months; they are waiting for payment of their salary arrears from the Italian owner of the ship.

The crew of the Georgian ship Vasilius N, escaped from Libya a week ago after the political crisis began in the country and arrived in Malta, having used the stars to navigate their way.
(Rustavi 2)

One killed, three injured in scuffles in shoot-out in occupied Abkhazia

Scuffles between two crime groups took place in the village of Tagiloni of Gali district in Georgia`s occupied region of Abkhazia on Saturday.

For the purposes of restoring self control over certain territory, former so-called customs officer Jemal Gamisonia opposed the acting customs officers.

Local young people were also involved in the shoot-out.

Jemal Gamisonia was killed in the incident and three civilians were wounded. One suffered multiple wounds and was transported to Zugdidi Republican Hospital in Georgian-controlled territory. His health condition has been described as serious.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgian women archers win European Championship

Georgian women archers have won the European Championship. They defeated Russia`s national team in the semifinal of the European archery contest in Cambril, Spain.

On Saturday, the Georgian women archers won the contest with the Ukrainian team and became champions of Europe.

The Georgian national team of women archers is trained by a Korean trainer.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgian Labour Party members rally outside OSCE office in Vienna

Representatives of Georgian Labour Party held a protest rally in Vienna, party members Nestan Kirtadze told journalists on Saturday.

Party leader Shalva Natelashvili and his teammates assembled outside OSCE head office and urged for President Saakashvili`s resignation.

They called on OSCE leaders to make decisive steps to assist changing the government and holding fair elections in Georgia.
(Rustavi 2)

Turkey drafting strategy that will include passport-free travel with Georgia SETimes

In an unprecedented step, Turkey is drafting a strategy that will include passport-free travel with Georgia, an administrative official informed SETimes.

"This is going to be an outstanding change for our region," Turkish-Georgian Friendship Group Chairman Celal Elbay said. "Like in the EU, our citizens will be able to travel with only state IDs."

The so-called "United Caucasus" project was discussed by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi last month.

Since then, Elbay and his team have visited Tbilisi twice to follow up on Ankara's strategy of initiatives regarding the integration of the two countries' economies.

"We open doors towards each other in order to bring peace and development and economic strength to our region," he said.

Georgia shares longstanding historical ties and burgeoning trade with Turkey. Tbilisi's precarious geopolitical relationship with Russia is also a significant factor driving its calculations.

Under the strategy, Georgia proposes to unify the alliance between the three South Caucasus countries and Turkey. Ankara's ambitions are to spread its Georgia initiatives throughout the Caucasus in the future.

"Turkey and Georgia can extend mini-EU type co-operation in the region, by involving the other neighbouring countries, but this idea needs time," Sinan Ogan, chairman of the Ankara-based Turkish Centre for International Relations and Strategic Analysis, told SETimes. "Without solving the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Caucasus Union will fail."

"Rather than focusing on a vision that will not be reachable in the foreseeable future, more energy should be expended on resolving existing conflicts and developing more productive bilateral relations in the South Caucasus," agreed Janusz Bugajski of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

"Although the idea [Caucasus Union] may be admirable, it would be difficult to unify a region that is beset by inter-state conflicts, separatist struggles, and an interfering Russian government that seeks to exploit regional disputes to promote its state ambitions," he told SETimes.

"Turkey and Georgia enjoy many areas of political, security, economic, energy, transportation and cultural co-operation, coupled with a border policy that will render passports irrelevant," said John Sitilides, a government affairs strategist with Trilogy Advisors LLC in Washington.

Deepening co-operation and simplified border crossings are a far cry from a union of states. "The nations of the Caucasus will need to anchor themselves in surer sovereign structures, and more enduring institutional relationships," he added.

MIT Centre for International Studies Executive Director John Tirman believes Turkey should strive to develop open economic relations in the Caucasus, but a political union is not going to happen in the next decade, if ever.

"Normal diplomatic relations, free trade zones, and settlement of outstanding grievances need to come first," he said.