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The News in Brief

Tuesday, November 18
Labour Party of Georgia intends to begin dialogue with Russian political circles

Leader of the Labour Party of Georgia Shalva Natelashvili has accused the authorities of ineffectiveness on the international scene and stated that his party intends to initiate dialogue with Russian political circles.

“The Political Committee of the Labour Party has made a decision, with the aim of helping to restore the territorial integrity of Georgia, to try and resolve the current territorial split by beginning a dialogue with political circles in the Russian Federation”, Natelashvili stated at a briefing on November 17. He said that during the talks the issues of the complete restoration of economic, trade and business relations and the movement of citizens without visas will be discussed.

Natelashvili called on journalists, scientists, artists and the ruling party to have dialogue with their Russian colleagues. “If we do not begin doing it today, it will be too late to do it tomorrow,” he said.

The Labour leader believes that the Georgian authorities have proved to be ineffective in international relations, especially in relations with Russia, though the key to the restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia, according to him, is dealing with Russia. Natelashvili emphasized that “We must not have powers which dominate us, either to the north or to the west or in any part of the world. We must search for friends and try and turn our enemies into friends. This is the art of diplomacy. Saakashvili and his team do not know this, and this has led to the division of the country and the appearance of two ‘independent states’ on our territory,” he stated.

Natelashvili noted that during the five years of Saakashvili’s rule, the Labour Party had not interfered in international relations, first of all not to be an obstacle, and then so as not to be called Russia’s agents. “During this time however the Georgian authorities conspired with Russian oligarchs and sold them all the strategic resources of the country, beginning with water and energy and ending with gold,” he added. Now Labour is not worried about accusations and will begin a dialogue with Russian political circles.

According to the leader of the party, talks will be held with representatives of the Council of the Federation, politicians, diplomats, the Administration of the President and the Government, as well as with representatives of strategic research institutes.
(Black Sea Press)

Anti-Crisis Council to publish list of persons to be amnestied

The Anti-Crisis Council (ACC) of Parliament will publish in a few days a full list of the prisoners who will be amnestied on November 23.

The list does will not contain the names of Nora Kvitsiani, Maya Topuria and Shalva Ramishvili, says ACC Chair Gia Tortladze. “Naturally,the authorities do not accept that they are political prisoners and they give their arguments,” he stated, as broadcast by Georgian TV company Rustavi-2.

“Two of the original list of 16 people which we passed to the Prosecutor’s Office had already been released. We did not know about this,” he said. According to the TV company, these two individuals are former Mayor of Poti David Kantaria and the brother of ex-Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili, Givi Makharashvili. Two further prisoners, Jandieri and Tatashvili, who were arrested during the dispersal of the peaceful protest rally on November 7, 2007, have also had release dates set.

The bill on amnesty was passed at its first reading by 88 votes to 1 at Parliament’s extraordinary session on Friday, November 14. Under the law, initiated by the Georgian President, the amnesty will take place on November 23 – the fifth Anniversary of the Rose Revolution in Georgia.

As First Deputy Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Legal Issues Murtaz Zodelava told Black Sea Press, the amnesty will concern 12,000 people, including 7,000 in pre-trial detention or already convicted and 5,000 who are serving suspended sentences. “The amnesty concerns persons under a suspended sentence. If the crime they committed falls under the full amnesty, their t sentences will be annulled. If not their remaining term will be reduced by half,” Zodelava said. The amnesty will concern those who committed crimes prior to October 15, 2008.
(Black Sea Press)

Georgian delegation to raise issues of peaceful settlement of conflicts

At the talks in Geneva the Georgian delegation will raise some issues regarding the peaceful settlement of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Giorgi Bokeria said before leaving for Geneva, where on November 18 the next round of international discussions on problems of security and stability in the South Caucasus will be held.

“At the talks it will be possible to begin discussing urgent issues, without the settlement of which the return of IDPs and the holding of a political dialogue on the peaceful settlement of these conflicts will be impossible,” Bokeria stressed. He said that such an agreement would be possible only in the case of the de-occupation of Georgia, the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the replacement of the occupation forces by real peacekeeping forces.

The Georgian delegation also comprises the heads of the legitimate authorities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. According to the head of the legitimate authorities of Abkhazia, Malkhaz Akishbaia, the main task at the talks would be to discuss the situation in the Gali region and in Kodori Gorge, human rights violations, the withdrawal of occupation forces from these territories and the return of IDPs. The head of the Provisional Administration of South Ossetia, Dmitri Sanakoev, considers that the main theme at the Geneva talks is to discuss issues of security of the region.

The first Geneva discussion was held on October 15 but soon suspended as the Russian party insisted on the participation of representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the talks as equal parties. The independence of these self-proclaimed Republics was recognized unilaterally by Moscow after the conflict in August. The Georgian party maintained that the Russian request was a violation of the format of the talks. The USA, Russia, UN, OSCE and EU are the full participants in the talks.
(Black Sea Press)