The messenger logo

The News in Brief

Friday, April 25
Prague hosts Eastern Partnership gathering

The Czech capital, Prague, is hosting a two-day gathering of the European Union's Eastern Partnership program to boost ties, despite the ongoing crisis in one of the member states, Ukraine.

The presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova will attend the Prague meeting, as well as the acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya. Eastern Partnership member Belarus is boycotting the event because President Alexander Lukashenko was not invited.

The EU will be represented by officials from the Czech Republic, Austria, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia.

Moldova will be granted visa-free travel to the European Union later this month and will sign an association agreement with the bloc in June. Georgia also hopes to sign an association agreement by then.

Nevertheless, the Eastern Partnership program is strained by the growing opposition from Russia.

Moscow is pressuring its neighbors to join a Russian-led Customs Union. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Google Voice lists Abkhazia as independent state

A telecommunication service offered by Google has named Abkhazia - one of Georgia’s breakaway regions - on the list of countries its users can contact.

Google Voice enabled Gmail and Google+ users to make video calls anywhere in the world.

Abkhazia was named first on the alphabetical list where it was possible for users to make international calls. The price for calling occupied Abkhazia was 14 cents per minute.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry said they were already informed about the fact and were trying to find out more details. They believed it was a misunderstanding that would be corrected soon.

Last year Google Voice listed Abkhazia as one of the regions of Russia.

Abkhazia, which is one of Georgia’s occupied regions, calls itself an independent state. Its status has been recognized by four countries: Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

The Georgian government and the majority of governments throughout the world consider Abkhazia a part of Georgian territory although Georgia is not in control of it.

Under Georgia's official legislation it is an autonomous republic, called the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, whose government sits in exile in Tbilisi. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgians prefer Parliament in Tbilisi, public poll reveals

More than half of Georgia’s population believes the Georgian Parliament should be located in Tbilisi.

A recent poll by Transparency International (TI) Georgia revealed 66 percent wanted Parliament to be in the capital city while 20 percent thought it should remain in Kutaisi.

Earlier the non-governmental organization published the results of a public opinion poll regarding the country’s Parliament and individual Parliament members (MPs).

The TI Georgia commissioned survey was conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) from October 3-26, 2013.

One interesting outcome of the poll was society’s lack of knowledge about how many Georgian MPs there were. The poll revealed only 28 percent of respondents could name the exact number of Georgian MPs.

Just under half of those surveyed (46 percent) believed 150 MPs was too many for a country the size of Georgia, while 49 percent believed 150 MPs was enough.

Among the individual Members of Parliament, the Chair of the Parliament (Parliament Speaker) was the most widely recognized - Davit Usupashvili was named by 83 percent of respondents.

The location of Georgia’s Parliament developed into a controversial issue when the Saakashvili-led government made changes to the Georgian Constitution and moved Parliament from its historical building in Tbilisi to a new building in Kutaisi – Georgia’s second largest city – in May 2012.

This was done in an effort to decentralize power and shift some political control closer to Abkhazia, one of Georgia’s two breakaway regions. The move was criticized as marginalizing the legislature.

The former government planned to sell the old building in Tbilisi but an investor was not found. Many of the things inside the building were lost or ruined in 2012. (Agenda.Ge)

Justice Minister Tsulukiani begins duties in Qatar

To further strengthen the cooperation between Georgia and Qatar, Georgia’s Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani embarked on an official visit to the sovereign Arab emirate.

The Georgian Minister met the Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs of Qatar, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, and shared the Georgian Government’s experience in the governance development.

The parties shared information about the progress Georgia and Qatar have made in this direction, the Justice Minister’s press office reported.

Moreover, the two Ministers agreed to deepen cooperation on this issue in the future.

Tsulukiani believed simplifying the delivery of public services to citizens was a priority of the Qatar Prime Minister.

"I pledge to the Prime Minister to cooperate with this partner country and share Georgia’s experience,” Tsulukiani said.

Within the framework of the visit, Tsulukiani also met with the Chief Prosecutor of Qatar, who offered Tsulukiani cooperation in fighting corruption.

The Georgian delegation’s visit to Qatar, which also includes Deputy Justice Ministers Gocha Lortkipanidze and Mikheil Sarjveladze ended on April 24. (Agenda.Ge)

US continues to offer unwavering support to Georgia

A US State Department official is in Georgia to reinforce his unwavering support for the Caucasus nation.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia has arrived in Georgia for an official visit, which serves as a continuation of earlier meetings between the two countries' Governments.

Melia held meetings with the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili, representatives of Georgian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and media representatives.

At his meeting with Prime Minister Gharibashvili, Melia was thanked by the Georgian leader for offering continued support to Georgia. In return Melia said: "The United States will continue to support Georgia as a successful, stable and independent, democratic and economically strong country.”

Meanwhile legal and practical issues related to the upcoming local self-government elections were the main topics of discussion during Melia’s meeting with local NGOs.

The non-governmental sector was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting but underlined the fact that there was a need to reform the regulations related to the election process.

An official dinner was held in Melia’s honour and was attended by the head of the Georgian Government's chancellery Nino Kobakhidze, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister and the US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland. (Agenda.Ge)