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The News in Brief

Monday, February 4
Minibus drivers cancel protest and resume work

Minibus (marshrutkas) drivers have cancelled their strike after reaching an agreement with their employer. After a week-long crisis in the capital, the yellow minibuses reappeared in the city this past Friday. The drivers say that they returned to their jobs after being promised that their demands would be met by March.
(Rustavi 2)

Saakashvili to Deliver Annual Address in Parliament on February 8

President Saakashvili will deliver his annual state of the nation address to the Parliament on February 8, it was announced on Friday by the Parliament’s press office and confirmed by the president’s administration.

It will be his ninth annual address in the Parliament and the first that will be made in the legislative body not dominated by his UNM party.

The four previous addresses also involved debates when the president was listening to rebuttal speeches by opposition lawmakers and then responded to them. But before 2009, President Saakashvili would leave the Parliament chamber without attending the debates. It’s not yet clear whether the president will engage in debates this time or not.

“Consultations are still ongoing about the format and the final decision will be made during a parliamentary bureau session on February 5,” the Parliament’s press office said. The president's address is scheduled for 2pm next Friday.

“I do not want this address to be confrontational; I want it to be constructive and the debates too also be constructive,” President Saakashvili said on February 1 in Batumi. He expressed hope that it would be possible “to find common language on certain issues.”

Anders Fogh Rasmussen Mentions Georgia in Annual Report

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen mentioned Georgia in his annual report for 2012. “Many NATO partners have made particular political, operational and financial contributions to the NATO-led operations. In recognition of that, at the Chicago Summit in May 2012, NATO Allies held a meeting with the leaders of a group of 13 partner countries – Australia, Austria, Finland, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, the Republic of Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates”.

Rasmussen also said that “education is a key agent of transformation and NATO is using it to support institutional reform in partner countries. The alliance’s education and training programs, which initially focused on increasing interoperability between NATO and partner forces, have been expanded. They now also provide a means for allies and partners to collaborate on how to build, develop and reform educational institutions in the security, defense and military domain. Defense education enhancement programs have been set up with Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and the Republic of Moldova.

The annual report also reads that NATO will continue work with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to pursue the reforms necessary to meet Alliance standards.

Tedo Japaridze Meets with Igor Ivanov

Chairperson of foreign relations committee of parliament of Georgia, Tedo Japaridze, met with the former secretary of Russia’s Security Council Igov Ivanov in Munich, at the 49th security conference where the parties discussed Georgia-Russian problems and ways to solve them.

“The most acute problem can be handled if desired,” Ivanov said. According to Japaridze the parties spoke about the dynamics of Georgia-Russian relations. “He positively assessed the moves in our relationship and noted that this is a difficult and long-term process, though it will be good if adequate steps are taken,” Ivanov said after the informal meeting.

Georgian PM calls on media to refrain from agitating

Before his recent meeting with Parliament majority Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili asked journalists that as “children of this country” they should “refrain from serving the lie” and stop making agitation. “After my interview on Saturday, Rustavi 2 still continues with their provocative comments saying that the Georgian Dream coalition is falling apart and something terrible is happening. But nothing is happening. The processes that are going on within the coalition are absolutely healthy,” he said.
(Rustavi 2)

Six members leave Labour Party

Soso Shatberashvili, Kakha Dzagania, Paata Jibladze and three other members have left the Labour Party. In a statement they released on Friday, former party members said although they are dissociating from the chairperson and members of the party, they will continue their struggle. “We are establishing a new opposition political party and at the same time, remain committed to our political principles,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile, Labour party leader Shalva Natelashvili released a statement saying that Prime Minister Ivanishvili, with all his resources and special task forces is trying to disintegrate and discredit the disobedient Labour Party.

"It is deplorable that as we presumed, several activists of the party have swallowed the bait, some of them before the elections, while a small group has swallowed it today. The Labour Party continues its uncompromising fight in the usual way against the oppressive regime of Ivanishvili and Saakashvili. There is no force which can make us cede this goal," Natelashvili said.
(Rustavi 2)

MP Gviniashvili summoned for questioning

The investigation department of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office has summoned minority MP Giorgi Gviniashvili for questioning as a witness with regard to Buta Robakidze’s murder and the prison sentence of Robakidze’s friends.

Gviniashvili did not appear to the Prosecutor’s Office. He will be summoned for questioning again.

Ghviniashvili was Tbilisi prosecutor from 2004 to 2008 in the period when Buta Robakidze was killed during a special operation conducted on November 24, 2004.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgian Rugby Team Beats Belgium

Georgia's rugby team beat Belgium in the European Nations Cup's first match 13-3. The match was held in Brussels. The Georgian rugby team will host Portugal on February 9 in Tbilisi, at Mikheil Meskhi stadium.

GWF president remains on his post, preparing for tournaments

President of the Georgian Wrestling Federation Luka Kurtanidze remains on his position despite the scandal that occurred in the GWF several days ago. Luka Kurtanidze’s debates on the dismissal of the coaches of the national teams grew into a clash with the vice president, Temur Kazarashvili. The Minister of sports, wrestlers and the GWF president attended a meeting at the federation office where they discussed the details of the European Championship, which will be held in Tbilisi in March. Kurtanidze said the incident was over and now they were preparing for the upcoming tournaments. Athletes and coaches also attended the meeting, saying they were going to cooperate with the federation. However, Temur Kazarashvili was absent. He said he was not informed about the meeting scheduled at the GWF. He also said the incident with Kurtanidze was not over and with his statements; he made the situation even graver.
(Rustvai 2)