Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Georgia Responds to Abkhazia's Threat

Tensions have drastically escalated in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia since last Thursday. A group of Abkhazian saboteurs penetrated the Georgian controlled territory near the Upper Kodori Gorge (Upper Abkhazia) and attacked workers who were building a road connecting the gorge with Svaneti. The terrorist group opened fire on the forces of the Georgian Interior Ministry who were guarding the road construction. Georgian security responded to the attackers with fire-- killing two Abkhazian intruders, wounding four, and capturing six.

"An illegally armed unit, controlled by Abkhazian authorities, entered the territory controlled by Georgia-- which in fact controls the road which connects the upper Abkhazian Kodori Gorge with the rest of Georgia. The clear objective of that unit was to take control of that part of road and to attack," said David Bakradze, Georgian Minister on Conflict Resolution Issues. [More]

President Meets With Chairmen Of Foreign Parliaments

Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, is meeting with the Chairmen of the Parliaments of Scandinavian and Baltic Sea countries. The meeting began at the State Chancellery of Georgia on Monday morning. Nino Burjanadze, chairwoman of Georgian parliament, is also attending.

Chairmen of the Parliaments of Scandinavian and Baltic Sea countries arrived on official visit to Georgia on September 23. Prime-News was told at the Press Center of Parliament that the chairmen of the parliament would hold meetings with Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II and Zurab Noghaideli, Prime Minister of Georgia, within the framework of the visit. [More]

'Last warning' by Bagapsh not taken seriously in Tbilisi

Sergey Bagapsh, the de facto President of Abkhazia, requested the government of Georgia release its 'hostages' and threatened to start military actions in Upper Abkhazia (the only part of the breakaway republic remaining under Georgian control) if they were not released.

Kote Gabashvili, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, said that at one of his press conferences in Moscow, Seregay Bagapsh had openly advocated a terrorist course of action with regards to Abkhazia's relations with Georgia, proving that any comment on Bagapsh' ultimatum is mindless. [More]

Kokoity Cuts Off Cooperation With Diplomats Accredited In Georgia

Eduard Kokoity, de facto president of the unrecognized republic South Ossetia, cut off cooperation with all diplomats accredited to the Republic of Georgia except for Vyacheslav Kovalenko, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Georgia. [More]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Export Potential for Georgian Hazelnut

Georgian hazelnuts and walnuts traditionally maintain a position among the top ten goods exported from Georgia. In the first half of 2007, these products ranked ninth. They account for approximately 3.4% of Georgian exports. In the last six months of 2007, exportation of these goods significantly declined from the previous year. However, they still cover 5-7% of the world’s nut market. Nearly 18,627 million USD of nuts are exported from Georgia every year. In 2006, the amount neared 25,591 million USD. Its export share equaled 5.6%. There has been consistent growth of nut production since the 1990s. Since then, nut production has grown 5% annually.

Are there prospects of further development? Experts reckon that in terms of nut sales volume, Georgia will not become a market leader in the world; but if we consider that Georgia’s land is exceptionally fertile and the largest portion of cultivated nuts is exported, we can certainly say that some prospects exist. [More]

Ally to pull most of its troops from Iraq

The former Soviet republic Georgia will cut the number of its troops in Iraq to less than a quarter of the current contingent by June, its defense minister said Friday.

"The Georgian contingent is being reduced to around 300 servicemen from 2,000," Defense Minister David Kezerashvili told journalists. "We had an original agreement with the United States that we would cut our military contingent in Iraq in summer 2008." [More]

Jemal Inaishvili Met With Umberto Ranieri

Jemal Inaishvili, Vice Speaker of Georgian Parliament, and Umberto Ranieri, Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament, discussed political and trade-economic relations between Georgia and Italy at the meeting on Monday. [More]

Early Human-Like Skeletons Are First Outside of Africa

When it came to spreading across the globe, humanity's early ancestors may literally have put their best foot forward. So conclude paleontologists examining the partial skeletons of a group of four individuals who died in what is now the Republic of Georgia nearly 1.8 million years ago.

Their remains -- the earliest members of the Homo genus found to date outside of Africa -- are telling much about how key body changes propelled this group's spread around the planet.

"Their lower extremities are evolving faster than their brain and upper extremities, and that seems to be what's necessary for taking them out of Africa and on a long trip to other parts of the world," explained anthropologist Jeffrey Laitman, director of anatomy at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City. [More]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rugby World Cup underdogs losing matches but winning hearts

If outspoken former Wallaby winger David Campese had his way, the likes of Georgia, Namibia and Portugal wouldn't be at the Rugby World Cup. Before the 20-country tournament got under way in France, Campese championed calls for the number of teams to be cut to 16 to avoid blowout scores that do little for rugby beyond rewriting its record books.

Yet the underdogs have shamed their critics by scaring some of the fancied teams and proving they do deserve places at the game's biggest event. "Everybody who's here has earned the right to be here," New Zealand flanker Jerry Collins said. "Who's to say they shouldn't be here? They should get credit for getting this far and we should get behind them. They're only going to get better if they come here."

While rookie Portugal, Namibia and Japan have been on the wrong end of thumpings rugby's developing world also has turned in some inspirational performances and drawn some of the biggest roars from crowds in France.

No team has impressed more than Georgia, playing in only its second World Cup and still searching for its first win. Rugby is in its infancy in the former Soviet republic, which boasts just eight rugby pitches. [More]

Friends of Georgia Hold Strategy Session in Lithuania

The New Friends of Georgia group of countries conferred in an enlarged and upgraded format on September 13-14 in Vilnius. This meeting shows that a strong nucleus of eight countries has developed within the European Union and NATO (alongside the United States in the latter case), supporting an active policy by the two organizations in Europe’s East generally and toward Georgia in particular.

Initiated in 2005 in Tbilisi by the three Baltic states, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria, the New Friends’ group has matured this year. Georgia’s Black Sea neighbors Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, while the Czech Republic and Sweden have joined the New Friends of Georgia group. The meeting in Vilnius was the first held at the level of ministers of foreign affairs in full format. The EU’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, participated as an observer, while his Swedish compatriot, Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, brought Sweden to the table for the first time. [More]

Monday, September 17, 2007

As Georgia reforms, judiciary under scrutiny

Since being arrested last year for plotting to overthrow the government, Maia Topuria and 11 other Georgian opposition members were tried in a closed courtroom for high treason. Accused of recruiting paid demonstrators to help stage a violent takeover of parliament, they were found guilty on Aug. 24.

Ms. Topuria, the niece of Igor Giorgadze – a Georgian living in Russia who is wanted on charges of attempting to assassinate then-president Eduard Shevardnadze in 1995 – and a leader of his party was sentenced to 8-1/2 years.

The case has played out against a backdrop of simmering tensions between a resurgent Russia and Georgia, with Topuria and her fellow defendants widely despised at home. But legal and human rights experts see the case, now under appeal, as a test of judicial reform in one of the most promising former Soviet states. [More]

Military of 48 countries and police force of 13 trained in Turkey

Under the Guest Military Personnel (MAP) accord, Turkey has educated 19,399 foreign soldiers. In 2007 alone, 1,064 soldiers from 27 countries received training in Turkey. After attending classes at military academies, military high schools, military schools, the Military Medical Academy or noncommissioned officer’s higher vocational schools, the foreign soldiers receive training by the Turkish Armed Forces.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also sent military personnel to different countries to educate military forces in their own countries. Azerbaijan and Georgia requested Turkey’s assistance with a complete restructuring of their military.

Turkey has offered most of its police training to the Turkic republics and countries in the Balkans. Turkey provided the Palestinian police force everything from education to uniforms, helping Palestine create its first official police force. The police forces of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iraq also received training from Turkish officials. [More]

Russia warns Georgia of negative outcome over "peacekeepers" arrest

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday the detention of Russian "peacekeepers" by Georgia August 29 was a 'blunt arbitrariness' on behalf of the ex-Soviet republic.

On August 29, Georgian Interior Ministry officers apprehended three peacekeepers from the joint forces' North Ossetian battalion, and although one of them was released, two were sentenced later to two months imprisonment.

Georgian authorities reported that Interior Ministry officers had detained Tariel Khachirov and Vitaly Valiyev on suspicion of illegally detaining nine Georgians August 26 and 27. [More]

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Undersea fiber connection links Georgia, Western Europe

Caucasus Online (headquartered in Tbilisi, Georgia) contracted Tyco Telecommunications, a business unit of Tyco Electronics, to construct an undersea fiber optic system from Poti, Georgia, to Varna, Bulgaria. The Black Sea system will then link to Caucasus' terrestrial system and other international carriers, providing Georgian customers with higher-bandwidth direct communications with Western Europe. [More]

Ministers discuss bilateral cooperation

Georgia's Foreign minister Gela Bezhuashvili, on his current trip to Europe, has met Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The ministry reported:
The sides discussed a wide spectrum of bilateral relations between Georgia and Germany. The Ministers focused on Georgia’s integration into the European structures and agreed their positions and details of further interaction. The focus of the meeting was the conflicts on the territory of Georgia and the Peace Plans for their resolution. The talking points included, inter alia, issues of energy security. Special attention was devoted to the Tsitelubani incident. The Georgian Foreign Minister updated his colleague in detail on the ongoing reforms in Georgia.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Irakli Tavartkiladze To Be Appointed As Ambassador Of Georgia To Greece

Irakli Tavartkiladze, former Batumi City Mayor, will be appointed as Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Georgia to Greece.

Gela Bezhuashvili, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, told journalists that this planned rotation was carried out in the diplomatic corps of Georgia. Sandro Chumburidze, acting Ambassador of Georgia to Greece, has accomplished his mission and will return back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. [More]

Tbilisi Denies Militant Suspects Infiltrated Russia from Georgia

Georgia said Russia’s allegation that two militant suspects killed in Karachay-Cherkessia infiltrated from Georgia was a provocation.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement on September 5 that two militants have been killed in a clash within Russia’s north Caucasus republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, who have infiltrated into the republic from “a neighboring country.”

Karachay-Cherkessia borders with Georgia, in particular with breakaway Abkhazia, mainly with Tbilisi-controlled upper Kodori Gorge. Only a small section of Karachay-Cherkessia’s border lies with the Georgia’s high-mountainous region of Svaneti.

OSCE tries to unravel Russia-Georgia missile muddle

“A dangerous situation”, that's the way Miomir Zuzul, from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, described allegations by Georgia that Russia fired a missile at it last month.

The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office was looking into Tbilisi's claim that on August 6, a Russian SU-24 jet fired a missile onto its territory near the village of Tsitelubani, close to the border with Georgia’s breakaway Republic of Abkhazia. [More]

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Russia says Islamists killed crossing from Georgia

Russia's FSB internal security service killed two armed men on Wednesday whom it described as Islamist extremists as they tried to cross over a mountainous border from Georgia.

Russia has in the past accused Georgia of not doing enough to prevent Chechen rebels hiding in its mountains, although the Georgian army has since swept through mountain valleys where rebels were believed to be hiding. [More]

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

OSCE to present findings on Georgia-Russia missile row

Europe’s leading security watchdog will present its findings Thursday on an alleged Russian missile strike on Georgian territory last month, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said.

Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are preparing a report on the incident following meetings in Georgia and Russia, said Moratinos, who holds the rotating OSCE chairmanship. [More]

A Monument to the Terror: Georgia's Museum of the Soviet Occupation

Upon entry, the museum feels more like a mausoleum, which is as it should be. You walk into a large, bunker-like space, dark but strangely welcoming, oddly calming. With the sad intimacy of a voyeur peering from darkness to washes of light, you peer at the wall-mounted exhibits. Searing bouquets of memory, they seem to rise at you. After all, the Museum of the Soviet Occupation here is a kind of mausoleum, one that chronicles the merciless quashing of a national destiny for over 80 years--that of Georgia by Moscow under the Soviet system and beyond, from 1919 to the Rose Revolution in late 2003. It may sound like a grim prospect, but the experience of touring the single space for an hour is a humanizing and stirring one, never depressing, rather as if one had just watched a perfectly staged, cathartic tragedy. And it ends in a resurrection of hope with scenes from the Rose Revolution's democratic triumph. [More]

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Russia demands release of N.Ossetian "peacekeepers" in Georgia

The Russian Foreign Ministry demanded Monday the immediate release of two North Ossetian members of the Joint Peacekeeping Force sentenced in Georgia to two months imprisonment.

Last Wednesday, Georgian Interior Ministry officers apprehended three "peacekeepers" from the joint forces' North Ossetian battalion, although one of them was released, two were sentenced later to two months imprisonment. [More]

How Gazprom turned up the heat on the West

In January 2006, just a month after Ukraine's Orange Revolution, which ousted the pro-Russian leadership in favour of pro-Western reformers under President Viktor Yushchenko, the former Soviet republic suddenly found its gas supply had been switched off by Moscow, which raised prices fourfold overnight.

The cruel midwinter move sent European governments into a tailspin as they realised the inherent vulnerability stemming from their own dependence on Russian gas. The Kremlin promised that Gazprom would honour its contracts elsewhere, and that the shutdown to Ukraine would not have a knock-on effect in Western Europe. France, Italy, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania all suffered a dip in gas supplies as a result of Ukraine's disconnection, yet curiously Germany, which depends on Russia for 40 per cent of its natural gas supplies, was not affected. The former German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, is chairman of a Gazprom German-Russian pipeline that will carry gas to Europe via the Baltic.

Later that same month, another pro-Western former Soviet republic, Georgia, was the victim of unexplained sabotage to the gas pipeline, which left supplies cut off. The prime suspect was Russia, but Moscow simply accused Georgia of "hysteria" for suggesting that the Kremlin might be using gas as a political weapon. [More]

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Tbilisi Rules Out S.Ossetia Gas Pipe for Now

Tbilisi will not give the go-ahead for the construction of a gas pipeline linking South Ossetia with the neighboring North Ossetian Republic in Russia, as long as the region remains beyond the control of Georgia’s central authorities, PM Zurab Nogaideli said on August 29.

Yuri Morozov, the prime minister of secessionist South Ossetia, said recently that the Georgian energy minister, Nika Gilauri, was ready, after September 20, to engage in talks on the construction of the pipeline with Itera, a Russian company distributing gas in Georgia’s regions.

Gilauri, however, has rejected the claim. “No such talks have ever taken place at the Energy Ministry,” he told reporters on August 29. [More]