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The News in Brief

Monday, February 15
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is our dream - Turkish Transport Minister “The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is our dream and we are doing everything to complete construction work by the end of the year,” Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication of Turkey Binali Yildirim told reporters after a meeting with Georgia’s Economic Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili.

‘We arrived here in relation to the Baku-Tbilisi-Karsi railway in order to discuss at what stage the construction is and how it can be completed as fast as possible… I had a meeting with Georgia’s PM and my Georgian counterpart. We have had many useful and interesting meetings and discussed many issues of bilateral relations. We agreed that Georgia and Turkey have ideal relations. A strategic council gathering will be held in April and many interesting agreements will be signed.

“I hope a train will cross the Caucasus by the end of the year, which will revive the historic Silk Road,” he added.

According to him, the project cost will cost several billion as it traverses a very complex route and covers 800 km.

The coordination council of the railway project is holding its seventh session at the Tbilisi Marriot hotel.

UNM activists join environmentalists in stopping Ivanishvili’s tree-moving

Five people were detained on Wednesday during a rally in Tsikhisdziri on the Black Sea coast near Kobuleti.

They were protesting the removal of three giant old trees which they suspect will be hauled by boat 40km up the coast to Ureki and placed in a garden belonging to businessman and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Three of the detainees were arrested as they interfered with a tractor. They are members of a group of activists called Guerilla Gardening Tbilisi, who have previously resisted the construction of a new hotel and the cutting down of trees in a park in the capital, as well as tree-felling in Bakuriani.

The other two were detained during an argument with the police. They were activists from the United National Movement, the former ruling party which, after losing power in 2012, has sometimes aligned itself with anti-government causes.

The tree-moving was first reported several weeks ago. On December 31, the government of Adjara issued a decree that gave permission to Zimo Ltd to move two swamp cypress trees and one tree known as a Liriodendron tulipifera for a price of 6,200 laris.

According to Batumelebi, a local newspaper, the Adjara government has confirmed that the trees are to be moved to a park belonging to former PM Ivanishvili.

Nata Peradze from Guerilla Gardening said it is common practice to move trees but these trees are too big and old and the roots might be damaged.

Work to uproot the old trees continued on Thursday with around 40 policemen forming a cordon around one of the trees, while the United National Movement held a rally nearby. The party has asked for a debate in two parliamentary committees on Thursday.
(df watch)

Council of Justice selects 22 judges

The third stage of selecting judges by voting has ended in the High Council of Justice. As the head of the Councilm Nino Gvenetadze, told reporters, twenty-two judges have been selected and eight positions still remain vacant.

According to Nino Gvenetadze, eight of those selected are former judges; another three of them are undergraduates of the High School of Justice and even are incumbent judges.

President to attend nuclear security summit in Washington

A Georgian delegation headed by President Giorgi Margvelashvili will attend the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in late March.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze confirmed the visit; according to Janelidze, high-level visits to Georgia and others to the United States - including a visit by the Prime Minister - are also being prepared.