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The News in Brief

Tuesday, September 30
Heavy rain continues to threaten western Georgia

Western Georgian residents woke up to another day of heavy rain and strong wind targeting the region.

A magnitude four storm struck the Black Sea Adjara region on September 29 causing rivers to significantly rise and flood nearby territories in Adjara and Guria.

The country’s western areas have been hit by heavy rain and strong wind for the past seven days, with homes, crops and schools damaged by the unsettled weather.

For the second time in the past ten days a school in Shemokmedi, Guria closed temporarily after heavy rain flooded the first floor of the school building. The rain also flooded houses and crops in villages in the Ozurgeti region in Guria.

Heavy rain damaged roads and bridges, leaving families cut off from the outside world.

Weather experts said the wild weather was set to remain and warned western Georgian residents and visitors to brace for another major storm that could damage homes, infrastructure and crops in the next few days.

The Security and Crisis Management Council of the Government of Georgia said people needed to be prepared for more heavy rain and wind. The group advised people to avoid walking alongside the coastal shoreline and near rivers, and to keep their poultry and cattle away from dangerous areas.

Mobile support groups have been established across the region and were tasked with managing the emergency situation.

Lavrov Calls for Talks on Security Architecture

Addressing UN General Assembly on September 27, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for “harmonization of integration projects in Europe and Eurasia” and for “pragmatic discussion” on security arrangement that would also include Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Lavrov, who in his 16-minute speech slammed the U.S. and its western allies for, among other things, “trying to decide for everyone what is good or evil”, also said that “new dividing lines in Europe should not be allowed” as they can turn into a “watershed between the West and the rest of the world.”

“Russia has been consistently calling for harmonization of integration projects in Europe and Eurasia,” he said, adding that one of the crucial areas of this work would be “to launch pragmatic discussion free of ideology on politico-military architecture in the Euro-Atlantic, so that not only NATO and CSTO [Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization] members but all the countries of the region including Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia enjoy equal and indivisible security and not have to make a false choice of: ‘either with us or against us’.”

He also spoke of the need to “restore Ukraine’s organic role as a binding link between the various parts of the European space which naturally implies the preservation and respect by all of its neutral and non-bloc status.”

Enrico Letta in Tbilisi

Former Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta delivered a lecture ton September 29 at Tbilisi State Univeristy “Ivane Javakhishvili”. He spoke about the future of European integration and the challenges currently facing the European Union. The event was attended by Ministers, representatives of the diplomatic corps, academics and students.

Enrico Letta, 48 years old, was Prime Minister of Italy from April 2013 until February of this year. In the course of his political career, he has also been Minister of EU Affairs (1998-1999), Minister for Industry (1999-2001), Member of the European Parliament (2004-2006) and Undersecretary to the Prime Minister (2006-2008). He holds a PhD in European Law from the University of Pisa and has published several books on the subject of European integration.
(Embassy of Italy)

Schools in Turkey to start teaching Georgian language

The Turkish Ministry of Education has adopted a plan to teach Georgian in the schools, according to a Facebook post by the Georgian embassy in Turkey.

In its post, the embassy writes that if there are 10 or more students at a given school who want to study Georgian, it would trigger a 244 hours long program for teaching Georgian for 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades.

The decision was a result of the many-years-long effort by bunch of Turkish and Georgian activists, especially Turkish nationals with Georgian ancestry.

Several lands historically inhabited by Georgians were conquered by Ottomans after the 15th century. As many of these people converted to Islam, it is difficult to establish clearly their ethnicity but according to some accounts from 100,000 to 1,5 million and maybe even 3 million people with Georgian origin live now in Turkey. This includes Laz people, who spoke a dialect close to Megrels, who are a subgroup of Georgians living in Megrelia, western Georgia and south-eastern parts of breakaway Abkhazia.

According to some accounts, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, is of Georgian descent on his mother’s side. Although in an infamous TV comment, Mr Erdogan said that “You wouldn’t believe the things they have said about me. They have said I am Georgian…they have said even uglier things – they have called me Armenian, but I am Turkish.”
(DF watch)