The News in Brief
Tuesday, May 13
US officials visit Abkhazia
America’s top envoy to the region and its ambassador to Georgia met with separatist officials in the breakaway region of Abkhazia on May 10.
“A very frank and sometimes very sharp exchange of views took place,” a spokesman for de facto Abkhaz president Sergey Bagapsh told journalists after the meeting.
He also said that the US officials made “no concrete proposals” during the meeting but were “interested in the Abkhaz side’s view on how to resolve the conflict.”
Before leaving for Sokhumi, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza reiterated US support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and welcomed Georgian restraint in the face of Russia’s “provocative moves.”
Last month Tbilisi accused the Russian air force of downing a Georgian surveillance drone over Abkhazia, and Moscow recently bolstered its peacekeeping contingent in the region in a move Georgian officials slammed as aggressive and illegal.
Russia says it is protecting the residents of the conflict zone, many of which hold Russian passports.
Bryza said he was optimistic that talks between separatists and Tbilisi could resume. “I believe there is a hope for that and this hope is not just naive. There should be talks without mediators. This is quite possible,” Georgian journalists reported him as saying.
However, separatist authorities said their position remained the same: Georgian troops must be withdrawn from Kodori Gorge, the only part of Abkhazia under central state control, for negotiations to restart.
Georgian arrested in Austria for shoplifting
Austrian police arrested a 32-year-old Georgian citizen on suspicion of shoplifting from jewelry, clothing and perfume stores.
In a separate incident, a gang of Georgians aged between 17 and 30 were arrested in the city of Gratz. They are suspected of burgling over 100 properties, and over 600 items were removed from the gang’s residence including jewelry, watches and laptops. Some of the items had apparently been packaged and were ready to be transported to Georgia.
(Black Sea Press)
Israeli-Georgia business forum opens
President Mikheil Saakashvili opened a three-day business forum entitled “We build together,” organized by the Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business at the Courtyard Marriott yesterday.
The event is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel and co-organized by the national investment agency Invest in Georgia.
Some 60 projects related to real estate, tourism, agriculture, communications and aviation will be presented during the forum.
A magazine and CD produced specially for the forum will be distributed to participants.
Tbilisi City Hall restores transport privileges for pensioners
Tbilisi City Hall has restored transport privileges for pensioners and war veterans, including those who fought in Georgia’s separatist conflicts.
“According to a decision by the Tbilisi municipal authorities from now on 26 000 veterans and other eligible citizens will use city transport free of charge,” Tbilisi Vice-Mayor Mamuka Akhvlediani said.
Among those to receive the transport passes were leading opposition politicians Irakli Batiashvili, Gia Tortladze and Jondi Baghaturia, for their involvement in Georgia’s separatist conflicts.