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The News in Brief

Tuesday, July 21
Rasmussen: Russia should respect neighbours like Georgia

Incoming NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Sunday that NATO “must of course insist that Russia respect neighbours like Georgia, but we also share security concerns: the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Afghanistan, etc,”

Rassmussen said on Sunday that he would soon travel to Moscow to reassure Russia that the Western alliance was “not opposed” to it and wanted to improve ties. He rejected a statement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in May about a perceived “threat” in NATO and Washington’s foreign policy, saying: “This is not true. But we must work hard to have good relations. And I hope that I will visit Moscow soon.”

Rasmussen, a former Danish Prime Minister, will succeed Jaap de Hoop Scheffer of the Netherlands on August 1.

Young Georgian pianist wins first place at Montreux Jazz Festival

Young Georgian pianist Beka Gochiashvili has won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The 13-year-old represented Georgia for the first time at the jazz contest and managed to charm the jury and listeners with two compositions. The jury granted him the first prize although he is the youngest musician who has ever participated in the event in its half-century history.

Beka returned from Switzerland late on Sunday night. Another pianist who gained a top prize was Isftar Sarabsky from Azerbaijan.
(Rustavi 2)

Occupiers, separatists confront each other

Confrontation between the Abkhaz separatists and the Russian occupiers grows, Russia’s special units and regiments of the 58th army are preparing for a special operation in the woods of the Gali district, where Abkhaz militiamen are hiding.

Reportedly the occupying forces are stationed in the centre of Gali and are disarming Abkhaz militia under the order of the Kremlin. The Gali separatist militia checkpoint was due to be vacated by Abkhaz militiamen at 14:00 yesterday, but another group of militia are hiding in the forests.

The situation is similar in the Ochamchire district. After a deadline which expired at 14:00 yesterday, the Russians conducted a special operation in the woods to arrest Abkhaz militia officers.

Militiamen are urging separatist leader Sergey Baghapsh to reduce the rights of the occupiers and station them only at the border checkpoints of the breakaway region. Otherwise, they threaten to join the local opposition. However despite this the Abkhaz Interior Minister accompanies the separatist leader.

Russian occupiers have removed Abkhazian flags from every checkpoint in the region and erected Russian flags there. Georgian experts predict that the tension will increase in the breakaway region due to the occupation policy of the Russian Federation.
(Rustavi 2)

Argonauts in Poti

A copy of the ancient ship the Argo, which travelled from Greece to Georgia 30 centuries ago, entered Poti Port on Sunday. A delegation of Greek travellers led by the Mayor of the city of Volis was welcomed to historic River Phasis.

Greek MPs are also among the delegation. The hosts presented their guests at a greeting ceremony, followed by a photo exhibition dedicated to the friendship of the Georgian and Greek people. Afterwards a movie about the historic voyage of the Argonauts was shown at the Traveller’s Club in Poti.

The travellers left Poti today but before their departure they symbolically left a stone anchor in the city.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgian President visits Tusheti district

The Georgian President attended a presentation of protected nature reserves, an administrative building and a visitors centre in the village of Omalo, in the Tusheti district, on Sunday. The opening of the new administrative offices in the region coincided with the celebration of the Tusheti Festival of traditional games and cuisine and an exhibition of handmade items and food products made by the local population.

The Georgian President talked to the locals and emphasised the necessity of improving conditions for tourists in the region. One of the locals asked Mikheil Saakashvili for help. He asked for Georgian citizenship to be granted to his son, who has returned from abroad.
(Rustavi 2)