The News in Brief
Friday, February 1
Parliament approves new cabinet
Parliament approved the new cabinet of ministers yesterday, while opposition MPs abstained from voting, maintaining the government is illegitimate due to what they claim was a rigged presidential election on January 5.
The previous day, President Mikheil Saakashvili billed the cabinet as “a new type of government” and the first in Georgia not to be “based on party-affiliation.”
It includes a number of political newcomers, including three academics, but among the cabinet members to retain their positions was Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, an unpopular and powerful figure in the public eye.
Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze presented the government program “United Georgia without Poverty” to parliament the same day.
List of cabinet ministers:
Minister of Education and Science: Gia Nodia
Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources: Zaza Gamtsemlidze
Minister of Economic Development: Eka Sharashidze
Minister of Energy: Aleksandre Khetaguri
Minister of Defense: Davit Kezerashvili
Minister of Justice: Nika Gvaramia
Minister of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport: Nika Vacheishvili
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Davit Bakradze
Minister of Agriculture: Petre Tsiskarishvili
Minister of Finance: Nika Gilauri
Minister of Internal Affairs: Vano Merabishvili
Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs: Sandro Kvitashvili
State Minister of Refugees and Resettlement: Koba Subeliani
State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration: Giorgi Baramidze
State Minister for Reintegration Issues: Temur Iakobashvili
State Minister for Regional Issues: Davit Tkeshelashvili
State Minister for Diaspora Issues: Iulon Gagoshidze (Messenger Staff)
State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration confident on NATO issue
State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze told journalists he is confident that the NATO Assessment Mission, currently visiting Georgia, will give a positive review of the country’s progress in implementing its Individual Partnership Action Plan.
However, Baramidze also highlighted a number of areas that need to be paid attention to, including the conduct of free and fair parliamentary elections, which are expected to be held this spring.
He also discussed the mission’s interest in the government-opposition dialogue. “NATO’s position is that the dialogue between the government and the opposition must continue and both parties have responsibility to their people,” the state minister said.
Robert Weaver, head of the Country Relations and Political Affairs section in NATO’s Political Affairs Division, said that the mission’s findings will not be made public until the end of February. (Black Sea Press)
First Georgian-Swiss medical conference held in Tbilisi
The first Georgian-Swiss scientific conference on reproduction issues has been held at Tbilisi State University.
Leading specialists from Georgia and Switzerland gave speeches at the conference, the university press department said. A program on Georgian-Swiss cooperation in the medical sector was presented at the event, which was organized by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs, the university medical faculty and reproductive health organizations. (Black Sea Press)
Medical sector of Upper Abkhazia still operating
The medical sector of Tbilisi-controlled Upper Abkhazia is functioning smoothly despite poor weather conditions, health minister of the government-in-exile Dalila Khorava told journalists on January 31.
“Despite bad climate conditions, as a result of which the road to Upper Abkhazia has been practically blocked, the medical sector has functioned without problems,” she said.
Khorava added that all medical facilities, including ambulances, are working normally. However, she said some ambulances had difficulty navigating the blocked roads. (Black Sea Press)
Kidnappers demand USD 50 000
Kidnappers of 24-year-old Davit Nadaraya, an ethnic Georgian from Zugdidi, are demanding USD 50 000 from his family to secure his release, according to the press department of the Tbilisi-backed Abkhazian government-in-exile.
Nadaraya was kidnapped on January 29 when assailants attacked his family in their home, demanding cash and jewelry. (Black Sea Press)
New Georgian FM’s first call to Russian counterpart
Davit Bakradze, confirmed yesterday as the country’s new foreign minister, made a phone call to Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov as one of his first orders of business.
In the call, Bakradze expressed Georgia’s readiness for cooperation, and said that Tbilisi is ready for improved relations between the two countries.
“Russia is an important partner for Georgia,” Bakradze stressed. (Black Sea Press)
Tycoon’s ally loses MP credentials
Parliament voted to suspend Valeri Gelbakhiani’s credentials yesterday, stripping him of his lawmakers’ immunity to allow prosecutors to search his home and office.
Gelbakhiani, who is thought to be out of the country, is accused of plotting the overthrow of the state together with billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili. (Black Sea Press)
Kazakhstan opening embassy in Georgia
Kazakhstan is reorganizing its diplomatic mission in Georgia into an embassy, the press service of the Kazakhstani president announced yesterday.
“With the aim of consolidating diplomatic relations of the Republic of Kazakhstan with Georgia I decree the reorganization of the diplomatic mission of Kazakhstan in Georgia into an embassy of Kazakhstan in Georgia,” the president’s official decree stated. (Black Sea Press)