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The News in Brief

Monday, September 22
First meeting of the Anti-Crisis Council held

The first meeting of the Anti-Crisis Council, founded on the initiative of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, was held late on Thursday.

President Saakashvili, Government officials, Parliament Speaker David Bakradze and parliamentary opposition representatives Giorgi Targamadze, Giorgi Tortladze, Levan Vephkhvadze and Jondi Baghaturia took part in the initial session. Saakashvili appointed MP Giorgi Tortladze as Chair of the Anti-Crisis Council. According to Saakashvili, Tortladze is a “serious, strict and critical politician.”

Saakashvili said he wanted to hold intensive consultations between the Government and the opposition in order to exchange opinions and visions.

According to Saaksashvili, the Anti-Crisis Council should be in close contact with the Government, political forces and NGOs. “Georgia is going to receive significant aid within the next two years, USD 3-4 million. The Anti-Crisis Council is to monitor its distribution,” the President said. Saakashvili emphasized that the Council would exercise executive functions, would sign and control huge programmes and draw up important agreements. At the same time, everyone whould have access to information on the received financial aid.

Saakashvili said that the high-level summit of Friends of Georgia would be held in Tbilisi at the end of October. The President pointed out that all issues raised during the summit would be discussed by the Council. “We should work on making proposals to world leaders and you should be engaged in this process, as this is a matter of the country’s future perspectives,” the President said.
(Black Sea Press)

President Saakashvili to participate in the UN General Assembly session

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili will attend the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

As Black Sea Press was told by the President’s Administration, Saakashvili will visit the UN on September 22-25 and meet high-ranking UN officials. The official opening of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly was on September 16.

The UN General Assembly President, the ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, promised that the session focus on priority issues, such as hunger and poverty, climate change, energy crisis, terrorism and human rights. He urged member states to “wholeheartedly embrace the universal call for a strengthened and empowered Assembly, which can only be achieved through the democratization of the United Nations.” The UN General Assembly will also address and analyze in detail the causes of the world food crisis and ways to overcome it.

A general political debate is to be held September 23 - October 1. More than 120 Heads of State and Government are expected to take part in the general debate, including the Presidents of Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine (September 24), Tajikistan (September 25) and Kyrgyzstan (September 26). A high-level function, dedicated to a review of efforts to attain the Development Goals formulated in the Millennium Declaration, is to be held at UN headquarters on September 25, simultaneously with the UNGA session.

The UNGA is the main deliberative body of the United Nations. It comprises representatives of all member nations, with each having one vote. UNGA decisions on significant matters, such as peace and security, and the admission of new members require a two-thirds majority. Decisions on other matters are taken by a simple majority of votes.
(Black Sea Press)

Teachers’ union demands long-term contracts for teachers

The Trade Union of Georgian Teachers has demanded that the Labour Code be adjusted and long-term contracts with teachers concluded, to ensure that they are not dismissed so frequently, Manana Gurchumelidze, the Trade Union’s Chairperson, told journalists on Friday.

According to Gurchumelidze, teachers will organize a hunger strike outside the Parliament building if their demand is not met by September 24. “Teachers still work on a short-term contract basis. They are then dismissed. They are actually enslaved due to the one-sided Labour Code existing in Georgia. The given code completely contradicts EU standards,” Gurchumelidze noted.
(Black Sea Press)

Georgia Complains to UNESCO about cultural damage

On 19 September 2008, in Paris, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO Mamuka Kudava met with UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura to discuss the dire situation in the field of cultural heritage, environment, natural resources and protection of human rights in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and Abkhazia resulting from Russia’s occupation of Georgia, Black Sea Press was informed at the Foreign Ministry of Georgia.

At the meeting the Georgian Ambassador urged the Director General to take a stand over the violations of fundamental human rights and condemn the destruction of schools and training institutions, and in particular the burning and damage of UNESCO-associated schools, in the Tskhinvali region. The Director General expressed his concern and pledged to present this issue to the respective Russia authorities in the shortest possible timeframe.

The Ambassador focused particular attention on the introduction of a Russian training programme in Abkhazian schools and the banning of the study of the Georgian language. The Director General pledged to give priority to those issues and instruct respective UNESCO agencies to investigate and take a possible action.

Mr. Kudava underlined the deplorable state of monuments of Georgian cultural heritage and unique churches and monasteries and urged that a UNESCO mission be carried out immediately to assess the level of damage caused to the monuments. The Georgian Ambassador also emphasized the need to carry out the UNESCO mission by consent and with the involvement of the Georgian Authorities. Mr. Koichiro Matsuura promised to consider as soon as possible sending a UNESCO assessment team to the region.

At the end of the meeting the Ambassador called on the UNESCO leadership to act more actively and effectively and within the scope of its competencies in order to eliminate the existing problems in the conflict zones.
(Black Sea Press)