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The News in Brief

Wednesday, April 23
Commission studying war of August 2008 completes its work in Georgia

The Commission studying the war of August 2008 has completed its work in Georgia.

Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania said on April 21 that he will be familiar with the results of the study by the end of the month.

"All achievements and mistakes that have been made during the war will be the basis of Georgia's defense doctrine," he said.

"The work on the document has been completed," he said. "We expect that the federal headquarters will submit it to me and the political leadership by the end of the month. Once again, I would like to stress that our main task is to learn all mistakes and achievements and to create our defense doctrine on their basis."

"It was the research, rather than investigation," he said. "The commission was established at the Georgian Defense Ministry in August 2013."

Large scale military action was launched in Tskhinvali Region on August 8, 2008. Later, Russian troops occupied Tskhinvali and expelled the Georgian military.

Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in late August. In response, Tbilisi ended diplomatic relations with Moscow and has called the two unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia occupied territories. (Trend)

Georgia on top of EU visa rejection list

Georgia is on top of a list of former Soviet countries from where the highest number of people get their visa application rejected by the EU.

For each country in EU’s Eastern Partnership plus Russia, the Schengen visa rejection rate in 2013 was: Georgia 12 percent, Armenia 11 percent, Moldova 4.8 percent, Azerbaijan 4.2 percent, Ukraine 1.9 percent, Russia 1.0 percent and Belarus 0.8 percent.

These figures were presented in the latest annual report on visa liberalization by Liberal Academy Tbilisi.

The report shows some of the problems Georgians are having with obtaining visas and the situation in embassies of EU countries in Georgia.

In 2013, the EU issued 16,298,225 visas around the world. Citizens of Russia, a country of 143 million, received 6,901,421 visas – 42.3 percent of the total. For Eastern Partnership countries, the percentage was: Ukraine (44.7 million people) – 9.6 percent, Belarus (9.5 million) – 4.7 percent, Georgia (4.3 million) – 0.4 percent, Azerbaijan (9.5 million) – 0.36 percent, Moldova (3.5 million) – 0.3 percent and Armenia (3.1 million) 0.2 percent of the visas. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Voter’s list shrinks ahead of local election in Georgia

There are 3.49 million registered voters for Georgia’s June 15 local elections.

This marks a gradual reduction in the Georgian electorate. In the presidential election in October 2013, 3.54 million people were eligible to vote, while a year before in the parliamentary election 3.61 million people were on the voter’s roll.

This local election marks a shift toward more local democracy in Georgia, after a decade of centralized rule. Although the regional governors will still be handpicked by the central government, many towns will get to elect a mayor.

Four years ago marked the first time Georgians had a chance to vote for their mayor. That happened only in one city: Tbilisi. Winner was the National Movement’s Gigi Ugulava with more than 55 percent of the votes.

This time, eleven other cities and towns will directly elect their mayor, and 59 municipalities will also vote for their local head of government, so-called gamgebeli.

Also, 71 city councils with 2,088 members will be elected.

Most attention is paid to the mayoral race in the capital, where Georgian Dream’s Davit Narmania is running against the National Movement candidate Nika Melia, a former governor of Old Tbilisi.

The exact number of registered voters on the electoral roll is: 3,491,105 in the 2014 local elections, 3,537,719 in the 2013 presidential election and 3,613,851 in the 2012 parliamentary election. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Russia Releases Georgian jailed for 'spying'

A Georgian citizen, who was convicted in Russia to a lengthy prison term for espionage in favor of Georgia, has been released, according to Georgian officials.

So far, Russia has released three Georgian citizens, who were serving prison terms for spying, according to Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Davit Zalkaliani.

Announcement about the release of two of them was made in February by Georgian PM’s special envoy for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze. After his recent round of talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague on April 16, Abashidze said that a third Georgian citizen would be released.

Russian daily Kommersant reported on April 22 that the third Georgian citizen released by Russia is Zaza Kherkeladze, who was arrested in 2008 in Vladikavkaz and convicted to eleven years in prison in March, 2010. The Georgian officials declined to specify identities of those released by Russia. (Civil.Ge)

Georgia’s Foreign Minister announces Greece visit

Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze is preparing to travel to Greece to discuss Georgia-Greece relations.

Minister Panjikidze is expected to travel to Greece on April 23.

During her official visit Panjikidze will meet her Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos, who is the current Deputy Prime Minister of Greece.

The officials will discuss the historical bonds of friendship between the two nations and appraise Georgia’s progress to conclude the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union (EU).

According to the Minister’s agenda, the pair are also set to exchange views on issues relating to bilateral and international interest as well as Georgia’s relations with the NATO.

Panjikidze and Venizelos met each other in November last year in Brussels at one of the margins of the meetings between NATO Foreign Ministers.

At the end of last year’s meeting they signed a Memorandum of Cooperation between the two Foreign Ministries, which gave practical expression to Greece’s will to contribute to the promotion of reforms that will bring Georgia closer to the EU. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgian officials participate in Earth Day events

Georgia marked the Earth Day along with the rest of the world. Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection planned several events on this day. Some students and pupils made paintings on the topic of saving the earth at the Vake Park at first. In the evening, the Minister of Environment, Khatuna Gogaladze awarded the businessmen participating in the competition the Georgian Green Business in several nominations.

This is the 44th event when Georgia is marking the Earth Day. (Rustavi 2)