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The News in Brief

Friday, January 16
Georgian First Lady will attend inauguration and European Parliament

First Lady of Georgia Sandra Roelofs has been invited to the inauguration of US President Barack Obama. After the ceremony, Mrs. Roelofs will fly to Europe with a delegation of Georgian doctors and Government officials on a working visit. Official meetings will be held in the Netherlands and Belgium.

In Brussels, the Georgian delegation will make presentations to the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly. They will visit several hospitals and medical institutions in various European states. During their week’s visit they will participate in a donor conference in Amsterdam and give interviews to the local media. (The Messenger)

Georgia to introduce biometric passports

Citizens of Georgia will be able to use new passports from 2009. The Civil Registry Agency has started working on issuing biometric passports, which will make full identification of a person possible.

The biometric passports will have several distinguishing features. A special microchip, which will contain an electronic signature, photo and fingerprint records and personal information will be installed on the cover of the passport. Another page may be added to the passport where information about the iris of the owner will be placed.

Citizens will be able to claim biometric passports at only about ten service centres of the Civil Registry Agency in Georgia. They will be able to take photos on site however. The biometric passports will cost much more, but taking them will be voluntary.

Four million Georgian lari will be spent on the new passport project. The EU has allocated a portion of this, and will also purchase special equipment which will be installed at national border posts.

Twenty-six countries already issue biometric passports and twenty more will by 2010. Citizens of Georgia will presumably be able to use biometric passports from September 2009. (The Messenger)

Gold List of companies established

Georgian customs offices will be issued with a new Gold List of export companies from today on. Exporters who have an annual turnover of GEL 10 million, have submitted 100 customs declarations, paid GEL 800,000 in customs tax and have not committed a serious crime will be able to apply for inclusion on the Gold List, meaning they will enjoy significant privileges when moving goods in and out of Georgia. Businessmen who satisfy these criteria will be able to submit guarantees at the tax department from today.

Companies on the Gold List will be allowed to move cargo to the terminals without customs inspection, and will have a month in which to pay customs tax. The customs partnership programme will apply to companies registered in Georgia and international and diplomatic entities. (The Messenger)

European commission to study facts of ecocide in Georgia

The European Commission will look into the documents proving the Russian ecocide in Georgia. The environmental ministry will send the documents and the photos depicting the burnt down woods of Borjomi resort to the European Commission soon. The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources made the decision to address the European commission to study the Russian ecocide in Georgia after the meeting with the representative of the European Commission.

Pen Goran Eklund will present the plan of rehabilitation and the ecocide proofs prepared by the ministry of environment to the European commission at the nearest session of the commission. (The Messenger)