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The News in Brief

Monday, September 9
Zourabichvili lost appeal in city court, continues fight

Tbilisi City Court on Friday upheld a decision by the Central Election Commission (CEC) to not allow former Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili to register as a candidate for the presidential election. Zourabichvili’s appeal against the CEC’s decision was supported by lawyers from the Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA), who think that the commission didn’t have the legal basis for refusing to let Zourabichvili register.

The CEC explained that the Georgian constitution prohibits a person with dual citizens from becoming president. However, GYLA lawyers say that dual citizenship shouldn’t be an obstacle for her registering and participating in the election. If she were to win, she could then renounce her French citizenship and thus avoid violating the constitution. Zourabichvili, who is a Georgian and French citizen, said she thinks that court’s decision will remain another black stain on Georgian democracy. “Georgia does not have independent courts and courts make political decisions and politically prohibits a person from becoming a candidate,” she said after the hearing. She now plans to appeal Tbilisi City Court’s decision to the Appeals Court.

Board Fires Public TV Head, Again

On September 6, the board of trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) sacked the general director of the broadcaster, Giorgi Baratashvili, for the second time in last six months.

Baratashvili was first fired by the board in early March, just two months after the same board appointed him as head of GPB. At the time, Baratashvili took his firing to the court and won his post back. But recently, the same board pushed the issue of Baratashvili’s resignation, accusing him of a failure to provide the board with sufficient information related to programming and budget.

On September 6, all nine sitting members of the 15-seat board voted in favor of firing Baratashvili, who denounced his sacking by the board as “politically motivated”, alleging that the board is under the UNM’s influence.

His deputy, Tamaz Tkemaladze, will be the acting director general of GPB before the appointment of the new head.

On September 5 several civil society organizations released a joint statement calling on the public broadcaster to overcome partisan games.

Foreign ministers of Benelux countries discuss European integration of Georgia

The delegation of the foreign ministers of the Benelux countries met with Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and other officials. The Georgian Foreign Minister thanked the guests for their support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and its integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. According to her, it is the first time that the Benelux countries have visited Georgia in this format. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Didier Reynders, called the presidential elections of 2013 and the local elections of 2014 important events for Georgia. He stressed that Belgium supports Georgia's democratic development. In turn, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister, Frans Timerman, assured that his country will assist Georgia in economic development and creating new jobs. According to the Georgian presidential administration, during the president’s meeting with the delegation, the sides discussed a wide range of issues including the prospects for intensifying trade and economic cooperation and the development of bilateral relations between the countries. Special attention was paid to Georgia's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic organizations, as well as the Eastern Partnership summit scheduled for Vilnius in November. Members of the delegation stressed that it is necessary to continue the democratic reforms in Georgia. One of the main topics of conversation was the upcoming presidential election in the country.

Two-day Conference on achievements and changes of Probation System opens

A two-day conference on the achievements and changes of the Probation System was opened at the Hotel Radisson. As the Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance Sozar Subari stated, the Probation Service in Georgia, is being formed now. “We are starting to agree upon a sentence for each probationer; we are starting to work individually with each of them; we help them to learn what they have to do, how they can develop; we try to involve them in psychosocial programs. Approximately 2,000 probationers have already finished these programs. Thanks to our assistance, about one- hundred of them were employed in the private sectors. All this reduces the risk that probationers will reoffend”, stated Subari. As Subari pointed out, in Gldani, a new Probation Department building has been constructed and furnished. Halfway to Home is the name of the new Probation Department building. Here probationers will be provided with the possibility of learning and receiving education; five days a week they will be placed at a prison-like facility which is not a prison in fact. They will spend weekends at home with their family. All this will be a kind of test aiming at finding out if they are ready for freedom,” stated the minister. The representatives of the Executive and Legislative branches of Government, International Organizations and NGOs, as well as American and European experts, will attend the conference, and CEP President Marc Ceron will also participate in the conference.

After the conference, its participants plan to inspect the newly built Gldani Probation Department.

54 applications filed at CEC

The term for submitting applications to the CEC to register as a presidential candidate has expired. 54 applications have already been filed with the Central Election Committee. Presidential candidates must present the supporters list to the CEC by September 17. They need at least 26, 530 voters’ signatures to be registered as a presidential candidates. The presidential candidates’ registration is planned to end on September 27.

France-Georgia match ends in a tie

Georgia tied France in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification match Friday.

The teams met at Dinamo Stadium in Tbilisi. Goalkeeper Giorgi Loria successfully blocked what could have been a goal, and the game ended in a draw. “I am proud that the boys played such a game,” Georgian coach Temur Ketsbaia said. “It is pleasant that we played so well against the French team, which is full of such players.” On March 22, Georgia met France at Stade de France, Saint-Denis, and lost 3-1. On September 10, Georgia will play against Finland in Tbilisi. The Finnish team was defeated by Spain 2-0 on Friday in Helsinki. Finland and Georgia played to a draw on October 12 in Helsinki. Georgia’s team is in Group 1, where Spain is in the lead with 14 points, followed by France with 11 points, Finland with six points, Georgia with five points and Belarus with four points.