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The News in Brief

Wednesday, March 28
U.S. does not recognize breakaway elections

The United States does not recognize the elections recently conducted in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, according to Victoria Nuland, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State.

"The United States does not recognize the de facto elections held in the Abkhazia region of Georgia on March 24th, nor do we recognize those that were held in South Ossetia on March 25th. We reiterate our support for Georgiaís sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We further urge Russia to fulfill its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, including the withdrawal of forces to pre-conflict positions and free access for humanitarian assistance to Abkhazia and South Ossetia," she affirmed. (Rustavi 2)

Bakradze discusses Georgian monastery during trip to Israel

Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze says he raised the topic of Jerusalemís Monastery of the Cross at all levels during his recent visit to Israel.

He personally confirmed that he discussed the issue at a meeting with the Speaker of the Knesset and the Prime Minister. He also discussed the monastery in detail with the Minister of Religious Services, members of the Knesset, and the Parliamentary Group of Friendship with Georgia.

"We talked about this issue at the Foreign Ministry as well. The main meeting was held with Jerusalemís Patriarch. I can tell you that I raised the issue at all meetings," he confirmed, adding that negotiations on the return of the Monastery of the Cross to Georgian control have already been launched, but their expected completion date is unknown.

He explained that the process will not be easy or short. However, Bakradze maintained that it is important that the process is under way.

"I had a conversation on this issue in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and we know that the Patriarchate is the owner of the Monastery," he said, noting that the Georgian government considers the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to be its main partner.

Bakradze also told reporters that one Russian-language agency in Israel is busy spreading provocative information about the discussions, but did not elaborate on this. (Interpressnews)

Nineteenth round of negotiations held in Geneva

Participants in the Geneva international negotiations on Georgian-Russian issues prepared for the nineteenth round of talks yesterday.

The Georgian delegation planned to raise the issue of laying responsibility on Russia for non-use of force, and elaborating international mechanisms for the disputed territories.

The Georgian government also plans to focus on the significance of deploying international police forces in the breakaway regions. The issue of the monitoring process of Psou, Roki, and Larsi checkpoints is also on the agenda.

"The main issue discussed will be taking responsibility on non-use of force by Russia; you know that Georgia took a similar responsibility unilaterally and for the past few rounds we are waiting for Russia to do so too. We are grateful to our partners that they are permanently urging Russia to follow us," head of the analytical department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and member of the Georgian delegation, Shota Utiashvili, said. (Rustavi 2)

Interior Minister to appear before Parliament: Bakradze

Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili will appear in front of Parliament at the request of minority faction Unity for Justice this week, Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze said at Monday's bureau session.

Unity for Justice requested Merabishvili and Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili to visit Parliament during the "government hour" and answer questions from members.

According to Bakradze, Adeishvili will be in Ukraine from March 28-30, and so is unable to appear, but Merabishvili is available.

The Chair of Unity for Justice Dmitry Lortkipanidze proposed the Deputy Justice Minister answer questions instead, while Jondi Baghaturia named the Chief Prosecutor as another alternative.

Unity for Justice has ten questions for the ministers, which concern activities of the President and his family members, the death of Solomon Kimeridze, and the detention of journalist Sofo Nikoleishvili.

As per Parliamentís rules, a government hour is held on the last Thursday of the month, March 29. (Interpressnews)

University exam registration over

Approximately 37,000 teenage entrants will write nation-wide examinations this summer, in an attempt to gain entry to one of Georgia's universities. The registration deadline for the exams expired today.

Deputy Minister of Education Koka Sepherteladze reported the results of the registration. He said the competition is highest in the technical and scientific departments of the universities, geodesic and military-engineering faculties in particular, as there are 70 applicants for each place.

Sepherteladze also announced that registration for certification tests by final year students of secondary schools is also closed. Approximately 42,000 students will take certification tests this year. The number of pupils for these tests has doubled since 2011, when the first certification tests were conducted. (Rustavi 2)