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The News in Brief

Wednesday, July 15
U.S. guided missile destroyer enters Batumi port

A U.S. guided missile destroyer entered the port of Batumi on July 14 to participate in a joint naval exercise with Georgia. Border police and the Coastal Defence chiefs welcomed the warship into the port.

The exercise, involving several Georgian Black Sea coastguard vessels, will rehearse emergency scenarios such as on board fires and floods.

The US Embassy has said that the visit of the USS Stout (DDG-55) was part of a U.S. military strategy of strengthening regional stability and naval partnership. The USS Stout will leave Batumi on July 17 and head for Poti where it will stay until July 19.

USS Stout (DDG-55) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. Commissioned in 1994, the vessel is currently homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. A Turkish boat is also expected to enter Batumi port and join in the exercises. (Rustavi 2)

Washington hails NABUCCO agreement

Washington has hailed the NABUCCO project agreement signed in Turkey’s capital on Monday. Ian Kelly, a spokesman from the US Department of State, has released a special statement in this regard.

“We congratulate the Governments of Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria on the July 13 signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the NABUCCO pipeline project.

This agreement is a significant milestone in achieving our shared vision of opening a new energy corridor that will bring Caspian gas to Europe. Energy security is gained through diversity – diversity of energy sources, delivery routes and consumer markets and the NABUCCO pipeline is an example of that diversity. While additional hard work lies ahead, signature of the Intergovernmental Agreement is an important step in realizing the NABUCCO project.

U.S. Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Richard Morningstar and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Richard Lugar represented the United States at the ceremony, which was held in Ankara, Turkey. Heads of State and other high level officials from Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and the EU Commission also attended,” the statement reads. (Interpressnews)

Patriarch baptises 400 infants in Svetitskhoveli

On July 13 the Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch baptised 400 infants at Svetitskhoveli church. All of these were the third or subsequent children in their families and this was the seventh mass baptism performed by the Patriarch since this programme which began last year. It coincided with the Feast of the 12 Apostles.

Before the baptisms His Holiness conducted a mass in Svetitskhoveli and blessed a group of young people, who had walked the route of Saint Nino and arrived at Svetitskhoveli after 42 days of walking. The Patriarch presented the young people with icons. He also talked to students planning an expedition to Akhaltsikhe.

Since the start of the mass baptism programme the Patriarch has become Godfather to 2,800 children. (Rustavi 2)

Opposition leader ready to become Deputy Minister

The leader of the Georgian Women’s Party for Justice and Equality Guguli Maghradze has proposed herself as a candidate for Deputy Minister of Education. Maghradze has already sent her CV to the President for consideration.

President Saakashvili offered opposition leaders Deputy Minister positions a month ago and Salome Zourabichvili, the leader of the Way of Georgia, stated then that she would take the post of Deputy Minister of the Interior and turn up for work. Maghradze said hers was not a spontaneous decision and she believed her experience would be useful in the process of reforming the education sector. (Rustavi 2)

NDP sends its proposals to Constitutional Commission

The National Democratic Party of Georgia has sent legislative proposals to the Constitutional Commission formed on the initiative of the President. The NDP supports introducing a Parliamentary system; the document includes proposals on providing social guarantees for the citizens of Georgia and the freedom of the media.

The NDP introduced its proposals to the media yesterday and urged all political parties to submit their proposals for constitutional reform to the commission. (Rustavi 2)

Zurab Noghaideli: the Georgian economy will contract 7-10 percent this year

The leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia, Zurab Noghaideli, has stated the Georgian economy will contract 7-10 percent this year. He said that his party had originally calculated that it would decline 5-7 percent but the first quarter indicated a possible reduction of 10 percent. “In spite of this all we see is the Government attempting to stay in power rather than implementing projects which would make the Georgian economy healthy,” stated Noghaideli.

The former Prime Minister stated that the country might have problems paying wages and pensions in time. “It will be very important to use the income from budget accruals and treasury bonds correctly,” said Noghaideli.

He stated that Georgia is descending into deep crisis and his party demands that the Government takes adequate measures to resolve it. (Interpressnews)