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Ministers meet in Gori on latest regional trip

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, January 13
The Government of Georgia held its first meeting in Gori on January 12. The Ministers gathered at the Shida Kartli Administration Building to summarise the most burning issues of 2009 and make plans for 2010.

Prime Minister Nika Gilauri chaired the meeting. He stressed the importance of the event and stated that the Government of Georgia will continue to meet in the regions in future. “It’s very symbolic that we have all gathered here in Gori for our first meeting of the year. About GEL 20 million of budget funds will be spent on the Shida Kartli region in 2010. Road repair, illumination, improvement of water systems, roofing and the rehabilitation of schools are among the priorities of the Government in this region,” the Prime Minister stated.

The Ministers discussed 65 issues, economic ones being the most important. Lado Vardzelashvili, the Shida Kartli Regional Governor presented an account of activities undertaken by his administration in 2009 and outlined its priorities for 2010. “We hope that Ministers will approve of what we have done and support our future projects,” he told the media. Vardzelashvili highlighted the varied support the regional administration had given to people who lost their homes in the August war in 2008.

Vardzelashvili added that one of the most crucial problems for the region is still water and gas supply. The new water pipe near Zemo Nikozi is likely to be finished in a couple of months and about 30 villages will be able to use this water. However providing the villages with gas is also important, he said. The Governor received an immediate response from Alexander Khetaguri, Minister of Energy. “We have an opportunity to provide Gori villages with gas as part of the Presidential project “Gas in All Villages”. The villages will be given priority, work will be launched and the local population will be able to use gas next winter,” Khetaguri stated.

Vardzelashvili also asked Alexander Kvitashvili, the Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, to give grants to 2,000 families in the Gori region. “If they provide us with the list of these families we will provide IDP families with social support and insurance,” Alexander Kvitashvili told the media.

Prime Minister Gilauri received thorough information about future projects and those already underway in the region from the Governor. Gilauri said that holding Government meetings in the regions enabled it to obtain detailed information about current problems and future plans from the Governors themselves. “Lots of things were done last year by all the Ministers and Governors but lots more things are to be done in future. The Governors have made good plans so we will give them an opportunity to present them from January till March,” the Prime Minister stated.

Giorgi Chaduneli, Head of Press Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture, told The Messenger this Ministry's plans for 2010. “There are several priorities. First of all we want to substitute imports, which means developing local industry in a variety of ways. Georgia has the ability to produce its own products, thus giving farmers more income. This is of course connected with attracting more investment to our country. The investments made by one of the biggest producers of baby food, Hipp Organic, encouraged both local and foreign producers. This year we want to start growing olives at the Gurjaani plantation. A Turkish company has expressed an interest in this,” Chaduneli told The Messenger.

After the meeting various Ministers made comments for the media. One of the most eagerly awaited was that of Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, given Gori's proximity to the administrative border with breakaway South Ossetia. “The main priority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to defend the territorial integrity of Georgia by legal means. Our Ministry will not be satisfied until the last Russian soldier leaves Georgia and the occupied territories are reintegrated,” Vashadze said.