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The News in Brief

Tuesday, February 23
Georgian delegation to attend Viktor Yanukovich’s inauguration

A Georgian delegation will attend Ukrainian President-elect Viktor Yanukovich’s inauguration. Parliament Chairman Davit Bakradze and Deputy Speaker Mikheil Machavariani will represent Georgia.

Nino Kalandadze, the Deputy Foreign Minister, said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia received the official note inviting Georgian senior officials to the inauguration last week. It will be held on 25 February.
(The Messenger)

Aliante competition to be held in Georgia for the first time

The Aliante competition, which aims to popularise NATO among the young, will be held in Georgia for the first time. Pupils under the age of 15 and students will take part in the competition.

Education Minister Dimitri Shashkin said at a press conference that more that 100 young people will arrive in Georgia from various countries in summer to participate in Aliante. The competition has never previously been held in a non-NATO member state. "This means Georgia is close to NATO", Shashkin said.

Those who wish to participate in the competition should register on the website 13 member and partner states of NATO are involved in the competition.

Giorgi Baramidze in Italy on working visit

Vice Premier Giorgi Baramidze is currently in Italy on a working visit. At an informal meeting of European People's Party Foreign Ministers he discussed the situation in the Balkans, Moldova and Caucasus for four hours, the news agency GHN has reported.

Giorgi Baramidze drew attention to Russian-Georgian relations, human rights violations in the occupied territories and the necessity of the de-occupation of Georgia. He underlined the necessity of the EU taking a stricter and tougher position and ensuring that the Russian Federation fulfils its international obligations and leaves the whole territory of Georgia.

It was noted that Russia has to understand that close relations between former Soviet states and Western European countries are not directed against Russia and do not represent a danger to it. At the same time it is necessary to speed up the integration of Georgia in Euro-Atlantic bodies. As a result of the reforms carried out in the country and the achievements of its democratisation process it was decided that the European People's party will actively support this integration process.

It was also underlined that it is necessary to speed up the development of energy projects and the signing of an Association Agreement with the EU. Visa regime simplification and free trade agreements with the EU are also important.

The European People's Party Foreign Ministers agreed to continue holding such meetings.

GPB signs memorandum with opposition parties

The Georgian Public Broadcaster and opposition parties have signed a cooperation memorandum. Director General of GPB Gia Chanturia signed the document and spoke about the new projects which GPB plans to fulfil on the Meore Arkhi Channel [Channel Two] when it is reorganised.

The GPB Director General and the opposition representatives held their consultations at the NDI office in Tbilisi. They agreed that the opposition will be granted airtime on Channel Two which will not be subject to interference by the editorial staff of the channel.

Airtime on the hour-long new political talk show Free Tribune will be available for any political party from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. GPB will give full freedom to the political parties, who will be allowed to choose their own speakers. GPB in its turn will inform the NDI about its ongoing programme.
(Rustavi 2)

Russian occupiers expel Abkhaz border guards

Russian occupiers will expel all Abkhaz border guards from the Enguri administrative border in the next few days, Tornike Kilanava, representative of the legitimate Government of Abkhazia in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, has told Interpressnews.

Kilanava said that the Russian border guards have been telling the local population that they will replace all Abkhaz guards soon. "Dispute over control of the occupation line has been going on for 8 months," he said, adding that this radical action is likely to be related to the agreements achieved during the last visit of Sergey Baghapsh to Moscow.

Labour Party slams Saakashvili over Mistral

The Labour Party of Georgia has apologised to the people and Government of France for "improper statements" made by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Leader of the party Shalva Natelashvili said at a briefing yesterday that he was grateful for France's leadership and its support and assistance to Georgia. He added that Saakashvili was in the deepest throes of agony, and criticising France for selling its Mistral warship to Russia was unreasonable, because France supports Georgia in the international political arena and such statements might make Georgia lose a good partner.

In a speech at Chatham House in London Saakashvili spoke about threats which would be posed to the Caucasus if France sold the Mistral to Russia. Saakashvili said he would like to meet French President Sarkozy to discuss this issue.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgian ice dancers perform original dance in Vancouver

Georgian ice dancers Allison Reed and Otar Japaridze performed in costumes decorated in Georgian folk dress style at the Vancouver Winter Olympics on Sunday. Their compulsory original programme was very impressive, and the skaters danced in the Georgian national manner.

The pair gained 68.87 marks, making them 21st. Prior to the original programme, Allison Reed and Otar Japaridze were 20th. On February 24 the pair will perform their free programme, the final stage of the contest.

On February 25 the women's figure skating contest will begin, in which successful Georgian skater Elene Gedevanishvili will take part.
(Rustavi 2)