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The News in Brief

Monday, March 1
Patriarch calls on emigres to return home

Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II has called on Georgian citizens living abroad to return home.

"I appeal to Georgians living abroad to return home. The Mother of God will help you here. Today, during the globalisation process, it is dangerous to live outside your motherland," Ilia II stated in his Sunday sermon at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The Patriarch said that a motherland is unique like God. "Georgia is not only a piece of land. It is the Georgian alphabet, culture, science, language. We should protect our country, as it is a sacred place," Ilia II stated.

"It is a pity so many Georgians have left Georgia. I didn’t expect they would leave their motherland so easily. I know it was destitution which forced them to do so. However, it is better to live in destitution than to leave a motherland," Ilia II stated.

Georgian President meets Armenian counterpart in Adjara

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian visited the city of Batumi in the Adjara region on Saturday and met Mikheil Saakashvili there. The two Presidents viewed the streets of Batumi and visited Europe Square, where they saw a photo exhibition of projects being implemented in Batumi.

"Nowhere else is there such a cloudless and friendly neighbourliness as between Georgia and Armenia. A lot of Armenian tourists arrive in Adjara in summer and we are very glad of this. We also have a lot of ethnic Armenian citizens and this proves the benevolence and love which exists between the two nations," Saakashvili said.

Serzh Sarkisian also emphasised the historic significance of relations between the two countries and said that Georgia and Armenia will be able to resolve problems only by standing together. "I had heard that much had been done in Adjara, but what I have seen here exceeded all expectations," the Armenian President said.
(Rustavi 2)

Zemo Larsi and Kazbegi checkpoints to open

The Kazbegi (Georgia) and Zemo Larsi (Russia) checkpoints will be opened today. Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexandre Nalbandov made a statement regarding the terms of movement at the checkpoints yesterday.

The Minister said that movement of people, vehicles, cargoes, goods and animals through the Kazbegi (Georgia) checkpoint will take place in compliance with the legislation of Georgia.

The movement of people, vehicles, cargoes, goods and animals through the Zemo Larsi (Russian Federation) checkpoint will take place in compliance with the applicable laws and rules of the Russian Federation.

The checkpoints will be open every day from 6.00 to 22.00 between 1 March and 1 November and from 7.00 to 19.00 the rest of the year. In certain climatic conditions, between 1 November and 1 May, the movement of trailer and semi-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles with more than 30 seats will be restricted. Crossing the state border on foot through the checkpoints will be prohibited.

If either side denies passage to a transport vehicle, the other side will ensure an immediate and unhindered return of such a vehicle to its own territory. Georgian visas will not be issued at the Kazbegi (Georgia) checkpoint.

Nalbandov said that these terms had been agreed by a Georgian and Russian group of experts at meetings held in Yerevan on 28 October 2009 through the mediation of the Armenian side and at the Kazbegi checkpoint on 23 December 2009 with the participation of the Swiss side.

US-Georgian exercises to be held in Black Sea

On March 1, 2010 the USS John L. Hall will make a port call at Batumi. This visit will be part of U.S. Sixth Fleet efforts to build global maritime partnerships with Black Sea nations to improve overall maritime safety and security. The U.S. Navy's regular visits to the Black Sea demonstrate the U.S. commitment to Black Sea regional stability. The USS Hall and her crew will participate in combined training exercises with the Coast Guard of Georgia on search and rescue, board search and seizure and damage control.

The USS Hall is the twenty-sixth ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry class of frigates and the first Navy ship named in honour of Admiral John Leslie Hall, Jr. (1891-1978), one of the best athletes in the history of the U.S. Naval academy and a distinguished commander during World War II. The ship was commissioned on June 26, 1982 and quickly earned the reputation of ‘Always Victorious.’ Her home port is Mayport.

This visit is part of the overall US European Command and Commander, Naval Forces Europe and Sixth Fleet Theatre Security Cooperation Strategy to enhance regional stability by strengthening maritime partnerships. Georgian officials and local residents will welcome the crew at Batumi pier. Members of the crew will participate in a community relations project in the city of Batumi.

The USS Hall will leave Batumi on March 3. The ship made a port call in Poti on February 25.