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Thursday, December 29
Lado Bedukadze, who leaked prison videos in 2012, to become TV host

DFWatch – Lado Bedukadze, a former prison guard who has caused controversy in several of Georgia’s elections, will become a TV host on a newly established broadcaster.

Bedukadze will host a short segment on a completely new channel called Tbilisi 24. Georgia’s Communications Commission decided on Monday to issue a broadcasting license to the company.

Bedukadze is a former guard at Prison No 8 in Gldani, northern Tbilisi. In 2012, he leaked a handful of videos showing prisoner mistreatment which created popular outrage and may have tipped the election in favor of the Georgian Dream coalition.

Bedukadze was also in hot water during the election campaign this year, for making statements on behalf of the Centrist party. In a short TV ad the newly created party promised ‘Russian pensions’ and to ‘legalize’ the military bases established by Russia inside the two breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the war in 2008. Officially, Tbilisi considers the two territories occupied by Russia.

The ad caused a strong negative reaction which got the Centrists party thrown out of the parliamentary election.

CEO and 50 percent owner of ‘Tbilisi 24’ is Gocha Nachkebia, a friend of Bedukadze. According to the Public Registry, Nachkebia is also a board member of the Public Monitoring Centre and Free Civil Society together with Bedukadze. Nachkebia said Bedukadze offered him to host a 5 minute segment, but will not be involved in the management of the company. THe TV director emphasized that the new channel will have neither a pro-Russian nor a pro-Western perspective.

“We will broadcast only news programs. Before we were an online news agency, now we are developing and launching a new TV channel. What is bad in this?” Nachkebia said, and maintained that there are no sponsors behind the new creation and no funding from outside sources.

Tbilisi 24 will start broadcasting on New Year’s Eve. (DFWatch)

GDDG Submits Parliamentary Resolution on Foreign Policy

The draft parliamentary resolution on Georgia’s foreign policy, proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia on December 26, lists EU and NATO membership as Georgia’s top foreign policy priorities, stressing that the two priorities have “no alternatives”, but points out that the country will continue pursuing a “rational policy” with Russia for the purpose of “minimizing threats” and “restoring territorial integrity.”

“The key task of Georgia’s foreign policy is strengthening the country’s sovereignty, de-occupation and restoration of its territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders, in a peaceful manner, through reconciliation and confidence-building of the populations divided by occupation lines, as well as through consolidation of the international community’s support,” the 12-point draft resolution reads.

The Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee is expected to discuss the document this week before putting it to vote in the plenary session.

“The aim of this document is to reiterate the country’s foreign orientation and confirm it in the new parliament,” Sopo Katsarava, Foreign Relations Committee chair, explained. She also expressed hope that the document would garner the parliamentary support.

A similar resolution was adopted in March 2013 with bipartisan support.

Unlike the previous resolution, the new draft makes reference to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union and states that “Georgia aspires towards EU membership.” A similar statement was made by the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee at its meeting in Tbilisi last week.

The draft resolution reads that Georgia will continue “consistent institutional approximation” with the European Union, will deepen “bilateral and multilateral strategic partnership with European countries” and will continue the implementation of the Association Agreement; it, however, notes that “the Association Agreement is not the final goal in the EU-Georgia relations” and the country “will continue moving towards full integration into the European Union.”

With respect to NATO, the draft resolution states that Georgia will continue “its determined work” to implement the decision made by the allies at NATO’s 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a NATO member and will use all available practical tools for this purpose – NATO-Georgia Commission, the Annual National Program and the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package. Georgia will also continue strengthening its defense capabilities and increasing NATO interoperability within the Substantial Package.

According to the draft resolution, Georgia will deepen relations with the United States, Georgia’s “main strategic partner and ally,” within the U.S-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership signed in 2009.

The draft resolution also notes that Georgia “will fully share the commitments” in the struggle against the challenges facing the “civilized world” and “will focus on making important contributions to ongoing military operations aimed at strengthening international security and stability, as well as on fighting terrorism and organized crime.”

In regards to the Russian Federation, the draft resolution reads: “Using international mechanisms, Georgia will continue to pursue a rational policy towards Russia aimed at minimizing foreign political threats, strengthening Georgia’s sovereignty and restoring its territorial integrity.”

Georgia will continue to ensure stability in the region with its “efficient and balanced” policy; it will also focus on developing relations within international formats, use its “favorable” geopolitical location for trans-national projects and expand economic ties with “eastern countries,” according to the draft resolution.

The draft resolution also notes that the government will spare no efforts “to present Georgia on the international arena as a stable and secure country, as well as a regional leader in democratic development and successful reforms”.

The resolution also mentions the necessity of “active strategic communication” on Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration for the purpose of “ensuring high and conscious societal support towards the country’s Western integration.”

Strengthening of relations with the Georgian Diaspora, protection of their rights and promoting “their dignified return and reintegration” is among the resolution’s priorities as well. (