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The News in Brief

Wednesday, February 20

Burjanadze accuses opposition of holding up constitutional amendments

Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze accused the opposition yesterday of blocking the passage of key constitutional amendments by boycotting parliamentary sessions.

“Despite the accusations of the opposition, the authorities have made concrete steps and are fulfilling promises they gave, even though the authorities get no advantage from these changes,” Burjanadze said.

Yesterday parliament was to vote on amendments which would reschedule parliamentary elections for spring; create a vice-premier’s post; rework the parliamentary election systems; and lower the vote threshold for parliamentary elections from seven to five percent.

The government needed a supermajority of 157 votes to pass the amendments, and blamed the opposition boycott for keeping the amendments tabled. Opposition representatives countered that the ruling party, which holds a majority of parliamentary seats, has passed more than a dozen constitutional amendments in the last few years without needing opposition votes. (Black Sea Press)

Talks on restoring air links continue in Moscow

Russian and Georgian delegations held a second day of talks yesterday in Moscow on restoring air links between the two countries.

The head of the Georgian delegation, first deputy Minister of Economic Development Vakhtang Lezhava, said the two sides are only discussing technical issues. A political decision awaits the upcoming meeting between Presidents Mikheil Saakashvili and Vladimir Putin, he said.

Lezhava said talks may continue for a third day.

Saakashvili and Putin are due to meet at the end of the week on the sidelines of an informal CIS summit in Moscow. (Black Sea Press)

Georgian coast loses gas supply Natural gas supply will be cut off to the regions of Guria, Samegrelo and Adjara—most of the west coast—from February 20–21 due to repair works. (Prime News)

Digital topographic mapping near to completion

The near-completion of digital topographic mapping in Georgia was marked by a presentation at the Courtyard Marriott yesterday. The project began in 2005 and received financial backing from the Japanese government. It is expected to be completed by March.

The first digital topographic map of Georgia will have a scale of 1: 50 000 and will be crucial for both domestic and international projects, the Environment Ministry said. (Black Sea Press)

President addresses tax department

President Mikheil Saakashvili called on the tax department of the Finance Ministry to act cautiously when dealing with businesses.

He said no businesses should feel the authorities are creating artificial problems for them. (Prime News)