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Prepared by Diana Dundua
Tuesday, March 25
“Gia Khukhashvili: The foreign debt cannot be successfully paid!”

Akhali Taoba quotes economist Gia Khukhashvili as saying foreign debt is not inherently dangerous to the state, as long as it does not exceed the “international standard” of 60 percent of the GDP.

“Every country has a foreign debt. What’s key is that the state has the opportunity to pay it back. Here we come across problems in Georgia. The current economic processes do not enable us to pay down the debt,” the economist said.

He added that the country is planning to issue USD 500 million in Eurobonds, taking on additional, problematic, debt.

“This will cause our foreign debt to go up, and this will not be good for the country,” Khukhashvili said.

Finance Ministry date, the newspaper writes, shows Georgia’s foreign debt as a percentage of GDP decreasing every year, from 44.9 percent of GDP in 2003 to 16.8 percent in 2007. IMF data suggest the number will decrease to 12 percent this year.

Khukhashvili is skeptical.

“No one knows the country’s GDP. The GDP index is artificially enlarged,” he claimed.

Georgia’s foreign debt currently tops USD 1 billion, according to the newspaper.

“Ramaz Sakvarelide: It will be good for the opposition parties that elections are held on a working day!”

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze says the mid-week date of the parliamentary elections will help the opposition parties, Mteli Kvira writes.

The May 21 elections fall on a Wednesday.

“As the majority of opposition supporters are unemployed and pensioners, they will not have difficulty in voting in the elections on May 21,” the analyst suggested.

He added that the ruling party’s supporters were mostly employed, which may make it difficult for them to vote on a working day.

“Gurjaani has a new gamgebeli”

Sakartvelos Respublika reports that the district head of Lagodekhi, in eastern Kakheti province, was appointed as the new district head to Gurjaani on March 23.

The Gurjaani sakrebulo unanimously elected Kakha Labuchidze the new gamgebeli. Labuchidze said he would initiate staff changes in the local administration.

“Our key priority is to improve the region’s infrastructure and to address social problems,” Labuchidze said.

“One peacekeeper killed from an explosion”

Akhali Taoba reports that an explosion killed one North Ossetian peacekeeper in the South Ossetian conflict zone on March 23, and left another injured.

The newspaper’s account is contradicted by other reports which say there were two injuries and no fatalities.

The newspaper writes that the peacekeepers’ car was driving from the village of Okami to the secessionist region of Tskhinvali when the vehicle exploded. Secessionist authorities reportedly said Georgians gave a box to the peacekeepers and asked them to take it to Tskhinvali; minutes later, the box exploded.

“Star Academy kicks off”

Akhali Taoba reports on new reality show Star Academy, which premiered on television station Rustavi 2 on March 23.

Over three months, 14 young Georgian singers will live together for singing and dancing lessons. Every Sunday, they will perform a concert, after which one will be voted off each week.

The contestants can be watched 24 hours a day online.