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The News in Brief

Tuesday, May 6
European Week begins in Georgia

From May 5-14, European Week will be celebrated in Georgia with a variety of activities, including a conference where locals can learn more about the future direction of the country.

The Week was organized by the NATO-EU Information Centre with support from the State Ministry for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.

The conference titled ‘Our European Choice’ was the final phase of two already announced competitions – an essay competition on the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA) by the Universities of Georgia and the Art Competition on European Values announced by the State Academy of Art in Georgia.

"This is a traditional European week however it has a special significance within the framework of [Georgia] signing the Association Agreement,” State Ministry for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alex Petriashvili said.

"This event is of special significance and has a great importance as Georgian citizens will receive more information about the AA and what direction the country is moving so that there is no confusion in the future,” he said.

EU Ambassador to Georgia Philip Dimitrov stressed the importance of the event and noted European Week was always celebrated in a range of countries where Europe was important.

"We are opening the week by awarding the winners of the essay competition. This is a contest held among students on the topic of the AA. I could say that these are more than just essays. Certain research was carried out and we highly evaluate these works,” Dimitrov said.

During the celebration meetings with students, representatives of academic circles, farmers and probationers have been planned, as well as holding sports tournaments, exhibitions and other events in Tbilisi and wider afield.

CEC, NGOs, Inter-Agency Commission sign memorandum of understanding

The Central Election Commission of Georgia, seven local non-governmental organizations and the state inter-agency commission have signed a memorandum of mutual understanding on use of administrative resources in pre-election period, as well as during the elections.

The document has been signed by the Minister of Justice, Thea Tsulukiani, the chairperson of the Central Election Commission, Tamar Zhvania and the representatives of the joining NGOs. They agree to follow the terms and definitions included in the document in order to have common understanding of the contents of the memorandum.
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Parliament Speaker visits France

The Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia, Davit Usupashvili, started official visit to France. The Speaker met with the Chairperson of the National Assembly of France. Usupashvili will also held tete-a-tete meeting with the chairperson of the Senate and other officials. He will also deliver a speech at the International Academy of Diplomacy of France and attend a meeting of held on behalf of Georgia-France Friendship Group.

Davit Usupashvili will also meet with the Georgian Diaspora and visit the Leeville Georgian Cemetery and Chateau.
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PM chairs Economic Council Meeting

Prime Minister of Georgia chaired a regular meeting of Economic Council in the Administration of the Government. According to the data of 2013 of UNESCO, in rating of access to education, Georgia has moved from 150th place to 23rd place - was noted on meeting of the Economic Council.

The members of the Council have discussed ongoing economic projects in the country and preparation for the upcoming tourist season.

During the meeting of the Economic Council, the Minister of Education introduced the information about development of Vocational Education. “Today, there are no vacant places in vocational schools and interest in vocational education has increased due to recent reforms implemented in the field of vocational education,” Minister Tamar Sanikidze said.
(Rustavi 2)

Previous government accused of misspending 1 million GEL

A local non-governmental organization is claiming the previous Government misspent one million GEL collected in 2011 during a charity dinner following the premiere of a film depicting the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

The Georgian NGO Young Barristers presented monitoring results that revealed the charity money distribution process was "non-transparent”.

The organization assumed the funds received at the Tbilisi charity dinner were not given to the victims of the 2008 war, as it was intended, but were used to benefit the interests of the ex-ruling United National Movement political party.

On June 5, 2011, an action film by Finnish director Renny Harlin detailing the Russia-Georgia war, titled 5 Days of War, premiered in Tbilisi, Georgia. The evening was attended by participating actors including Andy Garcia, as well as famous Hollywood actress Sharon Stone.

The evening, organized by the Business Association of Georgia, was attended by 160 guests - mainly politicians and businessmen. Each paid up to 10,000 GEL to attend.

The resulting money was said to be distributed to the Georgian families who lost loved ones in the Russia-Georgia war.

After the evening, organizers and the film’s Georgian producers said up to 1.5 million GEL was raised. At the time they said one million would be distributed to the families of war victims and the rest of the money would be used to organize another charity evening in 2012.

However the Young Barristers said on Sunday, they had interviewed a number of war-ravaged families in 2013 and everyone they spoke to denied receiving any money after the film premiere.

The NGO then asked the Georgian Business Association for clarification but found their response inadequate.

On May 4 the NGO published the response on its website. It said: "According to evaluations of the Young Barristers, there is a reasonable assumption that the charity dinner was an activity of the Government of Georgia instead of an initiative of the Business Association of Georgia and funds received were used for organizational purposes of the evening and interests of the political party.”

The Young Barristers have addressed the Business Association of Georgia to provide detailed explanations.

"We offer them to offer a public explanation on their website until May 7, 2014. We do not exclude the possibility of appealing to authorities in order to reach a legal reaction to this issue,” Young Barristers chief executive Archil Kaikatsishvili said.