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The News in Brief

Friday, January 18
Free municipal transport for veterans

By Eka Gogisvanidze

Veterans of World War II and those injured while fighting in Georgia’s secessionist conflicts now get free transport on Tbilisi buses and metro, part of the government’s reinvigorated focus on social welfare.

Travel vouchers for regional towns are to be distributed soon.

“When I have nothing other than a GEL 100 pension,” veteran Genadi Kvernadze says, “this 30 GEL [value of travel voucher] does me a lot of good.”

The state department for veterans’ affairs counts nearly 5000 registered veterans in Georgia who qualify for the vouchers.

“Javier Solana congratulates Saakashvili on election victory”

The European Union’s top foreign policy representative, Javier Solana, congratulated Mikheil Saakashvili on his recent election victory by phone on January 16.

Solana added that the EU will offer assistance during the parliamentary elections, expected to be held this spring, in a statement released by his press office.

He also welcomed and encouraged a dialogue with the opposition and civil society, adding “this is the moment to bring the nation together,” the statement read.

Georgia’s political opposition claim the January 5 election was rigged.

They plan a protest at the Hippodrome on January 20, the day of Saakashvili’s inauguration. (Black Sea Press)

Deputy state minister: Georgia’s position on JCC will not change

Deputy State Minister for Conflict Resolution Dimitri Manjavidze, Georgian co-chair of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) on South Ossetia, said Tbilisi’s position with regard to the JCC will not change in a statement released on January 17.

On January 16, Russian JCC co-chair Yuri Popov proposed holding a non-formal JCC meeting in Moscow in February. “In connection with the yesterday’s statement by Yuri Popov we emphasize that our position with regard to the JCC has not changed,” the statement reads.

Real progress in the JCC format depends on the “realization of three priorities that were outlined by the Georgian side at the October sitting of the JCC in Tbilisi,” the statement continues.

Putin congratulates Saakashvili on his reelection

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter of congratulations to Mikheil Saakashvili, the Kremlin press service reports.

Putin expressed hope that Georgia’s relations with Russia improve in the near future. (Black Sea Press)

Merkel congratulates Saakashvili

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated Mikheil Saakashvili on his reelection, a representative of the German government told journalists.

“Georgia can count on the support of the federal government in the reform process the country is undergoing and [can expect] the further deepening of good bilateral relations,” Merkel reportedly told Saakashvili.

She also expressed hope that the upcoming parliamentary elections would be an opportunity to address the shortcomings observed during the January 5 election. (Black Sea Press)