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The News in Brief

Tuesday, July 20
Foreign Ministry hails launch of EU Associate Membership plan

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has hailed the beginning of negotiations regarding Georgia becoming an Associate Member of the EU. Deputy Minister Aleksandre Nalbandov summed up the politically overloaded week gone by at the Monday briefing and said that the Associated Membership plan will replace the previous format of cooperation with the EU, the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation. The new phase of relations with the EU implies an intensification of cooperation.

"The new agreement will give Georgia a chance to move into a new stage of cooperation with EU, which includes economic integration," Nalbandov said.

The first round of Associate Membership negotiations was held on July 15 in Batumi. Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, came to Georgia last week to launch these negotiations with the Georgian President.
(Rustavi 2)



United Entrance Exams to conclude on July 24

Head of the National Assessment and Examination Centre (NAEC) Maia Miminoshvili stated at a briefing on July 19 that the United Entrance Exams would finish on July 24. She added that the exams in mathematics, geography, physics and chemistry remain and 97% of the registered candidates have passed the examinations with no serious violations. No one has been dismissed from the tests due to violations of the test rules.

Marking will begin on July 24 and the results will be announced on August 10. After the announcement NAEC will open appeals points in resource centres where the candidates will be able to appeal against their marks.
(Prime News)



Water system rehabilitation and reconstruction works wrapped up in Poti

The first phase of the water system rehabilitation and reconstruction works in Poti was wrapped up on July 19. Poti is the only free industrial zone in Georgia.

Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Ramaz Nikolaishvili, who attended the presentation of the completed work, said that the sewage system and road infrastructure will be also rehabilitated in the region.

The construction of a new reservoir with a modern pumping station will be also wrapped up soon. This project is funded by GEL 900,000 from the state budget.
(Prime News)



Social-Democratic Party submits agricultural development strategy

The Social-Democratic party presented its new agricultural development strategy at a press conference on July 19. Party member Elguja Mekvabishvili said that appropriate attention should be paid to reviving agriculture. "We consider that the amount set aside for agriculture in the state budget should be increased from 1.3% to 4.5% said Mekvabishvili.

Mekvabishvili added that the issue of funds allocation for agriculture should be properly analysed.
(Prime News)



Saakashvili opens McDonalds restaurant in Kutaisi

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili unveiled the first McDonalds restaurant in Kutaisi yesterday. He stated that opening McDonalds would ensure that a flow of other popular brands to Kutaisi would begin soon.

The President spoke to the President of the restaurant chain and hailed the fact that McDonalds was creating new jobs not only in the capital but other cities of Georgia.

From McDonalds the President went to the Kutaisi Meliton Balanchivadze Opera and Ballet Theatre, where rehabilitation work is underway. Saakashvili said that the new Georgian Parliament building in Kutaisi would be opened in 2012 and the new opera house by the end of the year.
(Rustavi 2)



Georgian crime boss sent to prison for 10 years

Tariel Oniani, an ethnic Georgian who had a reputation as one of the most powerful crime bosses in the Soviet Union, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Moscow court today. Oniani was charged with kidnapping a Russian businessman and extorting money from his family.

Oniani denied the charges. His attorney, Nikoloz Mdinaradze, said that he was not at the scene when the crime was committed and therefore has no connection with it.

According to the investigation, Tariel Oniani and his companions kidnapped the businessman from Smolensk Square on March 18, 2009. The kidnappers took their hostage to a restaurant and beat him with baseball bats. They contacted the family of the hostage and demanded a 500,000 dollar ransom. The gang released the hostage after extorting 218,000 from the family.

Afterwards, the gang demanded the rest of the money from the businessman's family, who applied to the militia for help. The suspects were soon detained, Tariel Oniani among them.
(Rustavi 2)