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The News in Brief

Tuesday, September 30
Georgia’s last Ambassador to Russia no longer a Saakashvili supporter

In his interview with the “Kviris Palitra” newspaper on Monday, the last Georgian Ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili made some critical comments about President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and said he was no longer one of his supporters.

“I, Erosi Kitsmarishvili, who used to stand side by side with the Georgian Government and support it regardless of differing opinions on a number of issues, would like to state that I am no longer one of President Saakashvili’s adherents. The reason I have renounced my support is that Georgia failed to avoid confrontation with Russia,” the diplomat told the newspaper on Monday.

According to the ex-Ambassador, Saakashvili “stuck his head in traps set by Russia” by refusing to follow the advice of foreign diplomats and certain Georgian Government officials. “I was against the forceable resolution of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and repeatedly told Saakashvili this in private. Saakashvili agreed with me until he was finally entrapped,” Kitsmarishvili said.

According to ex-Ambassador, if it had been willing to carry out a reasonable foreign policy Georgia could have avoided war with Russia. “We should have carried out serious work with Russia, used all our resources and brought about a toughening of Western influence on Russia,” Kitsmarishvili said, adding that Georgia should have signed an agreement on the nonuse of force against Abkhazia and South Ossetia long before the August events. Kitsmarishvili maintained that he had contacts with liberally disposed politicians in Russia who believed that it was possible to establish good relations between Saakashvili and Medvedev.

The former Ambassador also criticized the level of democracy in Georgia, saying the level of freedom of speech had significantly fallen since 2003. He also commented on the death of former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, saying that Zhvania had not died of intoxication as reported but had rather been killed. “When I ask myself who could have gained any advantage from Zhvania’s death, the death of a person who was able to avoid war with Russia, this question remains unanswered,” Kitsmarishvili said.

Speaking of his future political goals, Kitsmarishvili said he was aiming to “create an alternative to the Government which has discredited itself.”
(Black Sea Press)

Jondi Baghaturia talks of setting up a foundation for freedom of speech

Kartuli Dasi leader and opposition MP Jondi Baghaturia has put forward an initiative to establish a foundation to support the freedom of speech in Georgia, reports.

Baghaturia voiced his initiative in connection with the resumption of political debates on the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) from September 30. These debates will be held twice a week. Baghaturia finds it surprising that such debates are only to be held on the Georgian Public Broadcaster and asks why other TV companies such as Rustavi 2, Mze or Alania are not going to offer the same programmes.

Baghaturia has suggested to fellow MPs that they set up a foundation to support freedom of speech that would not cost the state a fortune but would prove beneficial. “This foundation might be linked to the MPs’ salary. Unless we subsidize journalism the situation will remain the same as it is now,” Baghaturia pointed out. “7-10 print journalists would receive salaries from the foundation in addition to their remuneration from their editors.”

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Issues, Pavle Kublashvili, has assessed the initiative as being “inconsistent with both theory and reality.” “According to the law we are unable to oblige private TV companies to hold political talk shows or debates on air,” the Committee Chair clarified.
(Black Sea Press)

Rice: Russian veto on NATO expansion impossible

Russia cannot be allowed to veto the NATO membership of Ukraine and Georgia, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on September 28.

“We will not permit Russia to veto the future of NATO, neither the countries offered membership nor their decision to accept it,” Reuters quoted Rice as saying. “We and our European allies will give our help to Georgia ... The United States and Europe strongly support the independence and the territorial integrity of Russia’s neighbours,” she said. NATO rejected Georgia’s bid for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at its April summit in Bucharest, but gave temporizing assurance that it would become a member of the alliance in the future.

Rice also warned that the August war and Russia’s unilateral recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia could derail its efforts to join the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).