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The News in Brief

Friday, November 21
Polish Foreign Minister for debates on NATO Integration

Debates over the integration of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO should be continued in accordance with the declaration of the NATO April summit in Bucharest, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Radoslaw Sikorski, stated during his visit to Washington.

“We should proceed with discussions in order to keep the promise (granting NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine),” Sikorski said. “It is important for NATO to continue its “open door policy.” At the same time, he linked the necessity of granting Ukraine and Georgia NATO membership to Russia’s recent actions in Georgia. “Russia’s actions in Georgia cannot pass unnoticed,” the Polish Foreign Minister said.

“The recent developments in the South Caucasus were a breach of international law and the commitments Russia undertook within the OSCE process. More worrying even than Russia’s activity is its justification. The Russian President has outlined his doctrine as follows: that Russia will protect its compatriots and infrastructure projects outside its territory by force, if needed. That justification was given in the case of Georgia. It is not new: searching for a rationale for invading Poland in 1939, Moscow claimed it had to protect the non-Polish residents of Eastern Poland. In the 18th century, Russia invaded Poland under the pretext of rescuing religious minorities,” Sikorski said.

According to the Polish Foreign Minister, “any further attempt to re-draw borders in Europe by force or subversion should be regarded by Europe as a threat to its security and should entail a proportional response by the whole Atlantic community.” (Black Sea Press)

Turkish donation to feed thousands of Georgians in winter

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$100,000 from Turkey which will be used to help feed displaced persons, returnees and other conflict-affected local populations in Georgia over the next six months.

“This support from the Turkish Government is crucial for WFP, which is facing a major challenge to ensure continued service for all the affected populations during the most critical winter months,” said Lola Castro, WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Georgia. “WFP’s emergency operation is only 55 percent funded and additional donor support is urgently needed to avoid pipeline breaks,” added Ms. Castro.

Since the conflict erupted on 8 August, WFP - in coordination with the Government of Georgia - has delivered food assistance to more than 138,000 people throughout the country. Emergency food assistance was provided initially in Tbilisi and then expanded to other parts of the country, according to the needs assessed jointly with the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation and the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Welfare. In addition, WFP continues to play a leading role in coordinating food assistance and providing logistical support, including transport and warehousing, to other humanitarian organizations through food security and logistics clusters.

Minister wants to strengthen international monitoring

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Giorgi Bokeria believes that strengthening the international monitoring of the European Union will be the only way out of the existing tension in the conflict zones, as he said after the recent talks in Geneva.

“We are unanimous in the opinion that the situation in the region is extremely tense and the only way out will be to strengthen EU monitoring in the region and then deploy international police forces in the conflict regions,” Bokeria stated.

He also pointed out that Russia has not only failed to comply with its commitments to withdraw its troops from the illegally occupied territories, but has deployed new military contingents there. “We have to deal with ethnic cleansing, terrorist attacks, kidnapping of people and violence,” Bokeria said. (Black Sea Press)

Georgia calls on IOC to move Sochi Olympics

Georgia has asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, for security reasons, Associated Press reports.

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau confirmed in an e-mail on Wednesday that the IOC had received a letter from the Georgian National Olympic Committee. She had no other immediate details or comment.

Ramaz Goglidze, first Vice President of the Georgian Olympic Committee, termed Sochi a "very dangerous place" on the Around the Rings website. Goglidze and Gia Natsvlishvili, the newly-elected President of the Georgian Olympic Committee, are to attend the General Assembly of European Olympic Committees in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday and Saturday. They could raise the Sochi issue there.

Natsvlishvili said on an Azerbaijani website that his country is not boycotting the Sochi Olympics, but asking the IOC to shift the games to a "safer place." Salzburg has offered to step in to host the games if Sochi is incapable of doing so.

"If the IOC needs us and also pays us a fair share of those very good Olympic Game revenues, I'm in," Salzburg Governor Gabi Burgstaller said in an interview on Wednesday with the Austrian newspaper Wirtschaftsblatt. Black Sea Press has not received any comment on this offer from the Georgian National Olympic Committee so far. (Black Sea Press)