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The News in Brief

Wednesday, August 21
Tbilisi budget increased with 17 million GEL

Tbilisi City Assembly has supported the initiative of the mayor of the capital, Gigi Ugulava and adopted the request on increasing the budget of the city with 17 million GEL. The assembly held a special session after a few weeks` consultations among the members of the assembly. After this decision, the budget of Tbilisi increased to 740 million GEL. The additional funds will be spent on various social projects, including the improvement of transport infrastructure, housing funds, construction of new kindergartens and other social programs. (Rustavi 2)

Georgia, Sweden discuss integration into EU and NATO

The issue of Georgia's integration into the EU and NATO was discussed by Georgia's Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze during a meeting with the Director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Svante Cornell, and an employee of the Security Department of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Kristen Bringeus. According to the Georgian Foreign Ministry, the parties discussed the situation in Georgia on the eve of the presidential elections scheduled for October 27. The Georgian Foreign Minister informed the guests about the situation in the country's breakaway regions, as well as talked about current relations between Georgia and Russia. The parties also discussed Georgia's role in regional security issues. (Trend)

Georgia’s largest port on flood alert

Georgia's largest sea port Poti, is facing a threat from flooding. The dam on the River Rioni not far from Poti went out of commission, the Georgian Public Broadcaster reported.

This dam protects the city from floods and also serves as a bridge. Experts recently studied the state of the dam and came to an alarming conclusion. If the authorities do not act immediately to bring this facility back to a normal state, then a major part of Poti including the port will face the threat of total flooding.

Local authorities and experts stated that around 18 million GEL is necessary for the immediate repair of the dam and the work on raising this sum has already begun. (Trend)

Medvedev says Russia will continue its relationship with Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia will continue its relationship with Abkhazia and South Ossetia based on equality in the future too. According to Russian media, Medvedev made the statement at the meeting with representatives of the North Caucasian Youth Forum.

"Our relationship with Abkhazia and South Ossetia is built on mutual respect and equality," said Medvedev. According to him, Russia will continue its relationship with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in all areas, including in economic, security and social-political fields.

"We made our choice with Abkhazia and South Ossetia and we are not going to refuse it. Otherwise, we will be inconsistent and we will put our Abkhaz and S. Ossetian people in very poor conditions. Thus, they may even disappear," said Medvedev. (IPN)

MFA concerned over creation of "trans-border nature reserve"

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia (MFA) has expressed its concern over the decree of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, of 13 August 2013, envisaging the creation of the "trans-border nature reserve" across the Abkhazian segment of the Georgia-Russia Border.

Russia's decision violates Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and contradicts the fundamental principles of international law and international obligations. The MFA stresses once again that any agreement concluded by the Russian Federation with the Moscow-imposed occupation regimes are illegal under international law, as Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions are integral parts of Georgia currently under Russia's effective control. The decision of the Russian Government to establish the nature reserve on the sovereign territory of Georgia appears more inadequate in the context of when Russia itself causes serious damage to the unique ecosystem of the Abkhazia region and the Black Sea coastline by transporting inert materials for the construction of infrastructure for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Georgian MFA condemns Moscow's illegal decision and calls upon the Russian Federation to stop its destructive policy directed against Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and to comply with its international obligations. (IPN)

Exercises for intelligence divisions of Georgian Armed Forces begin

Technical exercises for intelligence divisions of the Georgian Armed Forces began, the country's Defense Ministry told Trend on Monday. In accordance with the military training plan for 2013, the exercises will last until August 25. The exercises will be conducted in Sagarejo and Gurjaani regions of the country. The staff of individual reconnaissance companies of infantry brigades will attend these exercises.

Four reconnaissance companies will be given practical training within the exercises. (Trend)

Ilia II asks Iranian cleric not to punish converted Georgians

Georgian Patriarch Ilia II hosted a delegation of Iranian clerics. The meeting was held at the Patriarchate of Georgia and it was attended by influential cleric Ayatollah Shahristan. Ilia II addressed Ayatollah Shahristan with a request about converted Georgians living in Iran. "I want to ask you, Your Excellency, about the Georgians living in Iran. You know they were taken to Iran by Shah Abbas; their ancestors were Christians and some of them converted to Christianity. I want to ask you not to punish them,” Ilia II said.

Ayatollah Shahristan promised he would inform the “relevant authorities” about it.

"This is to be decided by the state. We are clergy. Of course, we will share you request," said Ayatollah Shahristan.

The meeting was also attended by expert Mamuka Areshidze. He told journalists Ayatollah Shahristan is a very influential cleric in Iran. He said the visit demonstrates peace initiatives in the Caucasus and good relations with the Georgian Patriarch. (IPN)