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The News in Brief

Thursday, February 13
Maia Panjikidze does not rule out a meeting between Russian and Georgian top officials

Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze does not rule out a possible meeting between the Georgian and Russian top officials. The Minister said that the top officials of Georgia are ready for this step.

Panjikidze said she has never excluded such a meeting after Georgia launched normalizing relations with Russia, though she said it is very serious to prepare for this step, which needs a certain period of time and cannot be managed today or tomorrow.

Panjikidze said that the format of the meeting between the Georgian PM’s special representative in Russian relations, Zurab Abashidze, and the Russian deputy foreign minister, Gregory Karasin, is acceptable, but it does not solve the “main problem” between the two neighboring countries, concerning the breakaway territories.

“The major priority of Georgia’s foreign policy is de-occupation and unification of the country”, Panjikidze said. (InterPressNews)

resident Margvelashvili meets with Thomas Hammarberg

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili hosted the European Union Special Representative for Legal Reforms and Human Rights in Georgia, Thomas Hammarberg. At the meeting, the sides spoke about the reforms, which are carried out in Georgia for the protection of human rights. Hammarberg said after the meeting that he had a very constructive conversation with the President.

Hammarberg said that the strategy that the Parliament has to adopt with the basic principles of human rights and then the action plan, would contain all the basic human rights, which would be important for Georgia to implement in reality. The plan would also emphasize the protection of various vulnerable groups in society, such as minorities, and the needs of children in the country.

“So we had a very constructive discussion and of course, the President was willing to support this development to make Georgia one of the best countries in Europe when it comes to respecting human rights,” Thomas Hammarberg said, summarizing the meeting with the President. (Rustavi 2)

Ministry of Justice promotes Georgian artists

A raft of modern paintings by some of Georgia’s leading artists has a new home in the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice waiting room has been temporarily transformed into an exhibition space.

The ninth floor of the Ministry, where the rooms of Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani and Deputy Minister Alexandre Baramidze are located, are hosting a number of paintings by modern Georgian artists.

Tsulukiani and Baramidze thought transforming the reception into a temporary "exhibition hall” would help promote contemporary Georgian artists. That was why this non-traditional space was chosen.

The first Georgian painter involved in the project is Levan Lagidze. His seven paintings have been exposed in the reception area since February 9.

The Ministry of Justice will host Lagidze’s paintings until the end of February, after which another artist’s works will be exhibited. (Agenda.Ge)

English-speaking teaching program continues in Georgia

The Georgian Government is seeking English-speaking volunteers to take part in the "Teach and Learn with Georgia” program.

The teaching program, initiated by the former government, recruited native English speakers to co-teach English alongside local English teachers in public schools throughout Georgia. This would help give Georgian children exposure to a native English speaker.

Georgia’s Minister of Education and Science Tamar Sanikidze said the Government was currently looking for volunteers to take part in the teaching program.

Sanikize said the English-speaking teachers program has not taken a break. However, she said that there have been some changes to the program.

“In the past everyone had a possibility to take part in the program, even if their mother tongue was not English. Those points were replaced in 2013 and it has become mandatory [for English native speakers]. Furthermore, the candidate should be a teacher by profession. Today, as a result the quality of the program is higher and it will continue to improve,” the minister explained.

The "Teach and Learn with Georgia” program started in Georgia in 2010. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgia determines its border management strategy

The Interagency Council on the Georgian Integrated Border Management Strategy has held its first meeting on February 11.

The meeting was organized by the Security and Crisis Management Council operating under the Georgian Prime Minister.

The interagency council was established by the government's decree dated January 14.

It should develop an appropriate strategy and submit it to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval before March 1.

The council includes representatives of the agencies involved in border management. It is headed by the prime minister's assistant and secretary of the Council for Security and Crisis Management.

Today's meeting discussed a release version of the strategy and identified key priorities.

The next meeting will be held in late February. It will summarize the proposals of the relevant agencies.

It should be noted that today's meeting was attended by representatives of the UN Development Program (UNDP), the EU delegation to Georgia, the International Organization for Migration and the U.S. embassy. (Trend)

Construction of intersystem transmission power lines starts in Georgia

The construction of 500 kilovolt intersystem transmission power lines is starting in Georgia's Dariali Gorge.

The Georgian Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Kakha Kaladze, told journalists on Tuesday that there is no specific project on construction of power transmission lines yet, but this will be extremely important for the country's power grid in case of a future prospect of connecting the power grids of Georgia and Russia with help of 500 kilovolt power transmission lines.

"Today we get the electricity purchased from Russia with help of the Kavkasioni power transmission lines, which suffer from accidents. The restoration of these transmission lines requires a certain amount of time, since it is located in the mountainous region of Svaneti," the Minister said.

He stressed that in case of an agreement with Russia on construction of similar 500 kilovolt power transmission lines on its side, it will be possible to connect the two countries' power grids, which is of particular importance for Georgia's energy system.

"We will be able to secure the transit of Russian electricity to Turkey and to Europe via Turkey, which will increase the income of the country's economy," Kaladze said. (Trend)

Georgian attorney’s office demands to freeze ex-defense minister’s account in Monaco

Georgian attorney's office has demanded the freezing of ex-Defense Minister David Kezerashvili's account in Monaco.

The attorney in the trial of Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava's and Kezerashvili's case on the misappropriation of $50 million, said on Feb. 11 that the ex-minister' bank account with $7.6 million has recently been discovered in Monaco.

He petitioned to the Tbilisi City Court to freeze this account.

The lawyers of the former defense minister called the petition absurd and noted that the funds placed in Monaco are not connected with the charges.

The next trial, scheduled for February 24, will decide whether the bank account in Monaco will be frozen or not.

On February 27, the French court will make a final decision regarding Kezerashvili's extradition to Georgia.

On February 3, he was released from prison and placed under house arrest. (Trend)