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The News in Brief

Friday, October 3
First NATO-Georgia Commission meeting to be held on October 10 in Budapest

The first working meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission will be held at Budapest (Hungary), within the framework of the informal meeting of the Defence Ministers of 26 NATO member states, NATO Official Spokesman James Appathurai told journalists on Wednesday.

The memorandum on establishing the aforesaid commission was signed on September 15, during the NATO Council session in Tbilisi, which the Ambassadors of all NATO member states and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer participated in. The decision to establish a NATO-Georgia commission had been made on August 19, at a meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of NATO member states. The commission is to implement the decisions made at the NATO Bucharest summit on the further integration of Georgia into NATO.

Appathurai did not say whether the decision to grant a NATO Membership Action Plan for Georgia and Ukraine would be made at the upcoming NATO meeting in Brussels in December. “I cannot say now, what decision will follow the first assessment,” Appathurai told journalists in Brussels. At the NATO summit in Bucharest this April, it was decided to make a first assessment of Georgia and Ukraine’s readiness for a NATO MAP at the December summit. (Black Sea Press)

USA: “Russia has isolated itself”

Washington wants to continue cooperating with Moscow, but Russia has isolated itself, said Assistant US Secretary of State Daniel Fried on a visit to Tallinn.

“Russia has isolated itself by acting in the 19th century manner, as Tsar Nikolai I would have acted,” Fried told a press conference in the US Embassy in Tallinn on Wednesday, commenting on the conflict in Georgia. According to Fried, the USA remembers the obligations Russia undertook when it signed the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan and how it has dragged out the fulfilment of them. He believes it is obvious that Russia did not achieve its aims in Georgia, as the countries of the Shanghai Organization for Cooperation did not support Moscow in its confrontation with the West.

“They entered two small regions and could not then gain victory over the relatively small Georgian Army, which gives them nothing to be proud of. The recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Nicaragua and Hamas cannot be considered a diplomatic victory”, Fried said.

Asked about the possibility of Georgia regaining Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Fried noted that nothing could be excluded in the long term. “If Georgia develops, the situation can change,” he said. and added that patience and purposefulness are the most important qualities needed at this time.

RIA Novosti reports that on Wednesday the Assistant US Secretary of State also met President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Foreign Minister Urmas Paet. The parties discussed the situation in Europe after the conflict in Georgia and NATO’s new role, cooperation between the two countries in Iraq and Afghanistan and the possibility of the accession of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO. Fried noted that the USA supported NATO enlargement. (Black Sea Press)

Opposition discusses democracy in Georgia with EU representative

Democratic processes in Georgia and the work of the EU monitoring mission were discussed at the meeting between EU High Commissioner for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and Georgian opposition and non-governmental organizations.

According to Republican Party leader Davit Usupashvili, the opposition will elaborate and introduce to the EU an agreed plan for the country’s development. The President of the Foundation for Democracy and Development, ex-Speaker Nino Burjanadze, said that Solana’s recent statement about the deployment of the EU monitoring mission in the conflict zones was of particular importance.

“We are grateful to our European colleagues. It is important that the EU Monitoring Mission is deployed in the conflict zones themselves and not the buffer zones, as the very term “buffer zone” is unacceptable,” Burjanadze said.

After the meeting, Javier Solana held a separate meeting with the leader of Georgia’s Way, Salome Zourabishvili, who refused to participate in the joint meeting. “We will not meet in that format – opposition is opposition, as Government is Government,” Zourabishvili said, explaining her decision.

Yerevan-Batumi highway may foment separatism

The Leader of the opposition Labour Party of Georgia, Shalva Natelashvili, believes that the construction of a new highway from Yerevan to Batumi, which the Presidents of Armenia and Georgia have agreed upon, may result in the loss of another part of Georgia’s territory.

Natelashvili told a news conference on Wednesday that Saakashvili was attempting to build another “Roki Tunnel” (the tunnel connecting South Ossetia with Russia) and create favourable conditions for separatism in one more region of Georgia. “The construction of this highway is nothing more than the construction of a new Roki tunnel that will inevitably create a complex and horrible separatism,” Natalashvili said. The Labour Party leader called on the Georgian authorities to refrain from taking erroneous steps.

The Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Southern Georgia is densely populated by ethnic Armenians. The aforesaid highway is expected to cross that region. (Black Sea Press)