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The News in Brief

Monday, March 24
Officials remind world leaders Georgia is still occupied

Georgian officials are embarking on a mission to remind the international community that almost a quarter of Georgian territory is unlawfully occupied.

The country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs announced her intentions to remind Western leaders that 20 percent of Georgian territory has been occupied by Russia for almost six years.

Minister Maia Panjikidze’s comments were in response to European Parliament (EP) President Martin Schulz’s statement claiming Ukraine was the first state in Europe to be annexed by another state since the end of the Cold War.

In his speech to the European Council in Brussels, Schulz said Russia’s actions were deplorable.

"For the first time in Europe since the end of the Cold War, a State has used force to annex part of another State. Russia has broken international law. That is unacceptable,” he said.

Now, the Georgian side is on a mission to remind him Russia invaded Georgian in 2008, which was after the Cold War, which took place from 1985 to 1991.

"The Georgian Foreign Ministry is going to remind absolutely everyone that Georgia is in Europe and this [situation in Ukraine] was not the first time in the 21st Century when a country’s territorial unity and sovereignty was encroached and international laws were violated.

"This happened in 2008 too. Since then, 20 percent of Georgian land is occupied by Russia and [Georgia’s] two regions are declared as independent states by Russia. So it seems like the European Parliament President has missed this,” Panjikidze said.

Georgian PM attends nuclear security summit in The Hague

Georgian delegation headed by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili attends the nuclear security summit in Hague.

According to the government's press service, the third summit on nuclear security, which will be held in The Hague on March 23-25, will be attended by heads of states and governments of 53 countries of the world, as well as by leaders of four international organizations.

US president Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Manuel Barroso are among the participants of the summit.

Georgian Prime Minister will address the summit and is to take part in discussions.

Irakli Garibashvili will hold bilateral meetings with Prime Ministers and presidents of a wide range of European countries, including France, Spain and Switzerland.

Georgian Prime Minister is also invited to attend reception hosted by the King of Netherlands Willem-Alexander.

UN helping Georgia to improve disaster preparedness

The United Nations will help Georgia strengthen its preparedness against natural disasters.

“Georgia is often challenged by the risk of natural disasters, which seriously jeopardizes the country’s economy, as well as our citizens,” Environment Minister Khatuna Gogaladze said on Thursday.

“International assistance and advice in issues to reduce catastrophe risks is really good.”

A UN special mission is now studying the situation in Georgia accompanied by Georgian and international experts.

For the next two weeks, the mission will look at Georgia’s legislation and mechanisms for managing catastrophe risks and map out in what areas there is a need for improvement.

After holding consultations, the government will prepare an action plan about building capacity to reduce disaster risks, to be presented by the end of 2014.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Georgian National Ballet cancels Russian concerts

Georgia’s National Ballet Sukhishvilebi has cancelled 22 concerts in Russia.

Director of the Ballet Company Nino Sukhishvili said it was too early to think about performing in Russia and the decision was made in a bid to maintain the dignity of our country.

Despite the financial interests of the dancers, who are largely dependent on the tours, Sukhishvili said she decided herself to reject the Russian tour.

"Today I had to make a hard decision [and] canceled the tour. Financially it could be a big mistake, but I always listen to my intuition and act on it, and it has never disappointed me. One more thing I really care about is dignity,” Sukhishvili said.

"I believe in order to maintain the dignity of my country it is too early to go on a concert tour in Russia,” she added.

Meanwhile, earlier this month Sukhishvilebi successfully ended their lengthy tour of Ukraine with an emotional performance in support of the disrupted country.

Going green: PM announces environment campaign

Georgia’s future looks green as the country’s leader embraces a campaign that will see millions of seedlings planted throughout the country.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is leading a campaign that aimed to encourage people to plant seeds to boost the country’s flora and promote a healthy environment. His vision encompassed the planting of millions of seedlings all over Georgia.

The Tbilisi-Marneuli highway has been selected as the first area to adopt the "Green Future” initiative.

Prime Minister Garibashvili visited the site today and took part in a planting session with his son. He said it was every person’s duty to take care of the environment and plant trees.

In recognition of International Forest Day, Garibashvili congratulated everyone and talked about the unfavorable situation of the country’s greenery.

"Over the years the forest has been chopped uncontrollably and exported from the country. This is a fatal process for our country and its ecology.

"We need to stop this process and immediately start improving the situation. Therefore, I proposed an initiative to start a tree-planting campaign and contribute to this great cause,” Garibashvili said.

He said a special "green map” would be created to show and describe places where seedlings will be planted. The Forest Department will identify specific areas where planting should occur.

In addition, endangered plant species will be protected and developed in breeding nurseries and planted in the allocated plots.

Government agencies, organizations and initiative groups are invited to participate in the project.

Various government members also took part in the tree planting ceremony.