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The News in Brief

Wednesday, November 24
Georgia signs Readmission Agreement with EU

On 22 November 2010, an agreement on “The Readmission of Persons Residing without Authorisation” was signed in Brussels between Georgia and the EU.

Grigol Vashadze, Minister of Foreign Affairs signed for Georgia, while for the EU the document was signed by Melchior Wathelet, State Secretary for Budget, Migration and Asylum Policy, Family Policy and Federal Cultural Institutions of the Kingdom of Belgium, representing the current Presidency of the Council of the EU, and by Cecilia Malmstrom, Commissioner for Home Affairs.

The document is of particular importance, as following its signing respective procedures will be launched necessary for the simultaneous entry into force of the Visa facilitation Agreement, signed in June 2010, and the Readmission Agreement.

According to current information, the agreements are expected to come into force in Spring 2011. (Rustavi 2)

US First Lady thanks Georgian soldiers

US first lady Michelle Obama thanked US military families abroad on Thursday for the sacrifices they make, telling a group in Ramstein, Germany she was their voice in the White House. Michelle Obama met with Georgian soldier, Moris Sabashvili, who had the most serious injuries. The First lady thanked Georgian soldiers for participating in the ISAF mission.

Moris Sabashvili is already in Georgia and undergoing a medical course at the Military Hospital.

Five Georgian soldiers died in the Helmand province, Afghanistan and in total 12 were injured. Only one Georgian soldier, Alika Gitolendia remains in Germany now. (Rustavi 2)

Vladimir Voronin refuses to meet Saakashvili

Former President of Moldova, leader of communist party Vladimir Voronin refused to meet Mikheil Saakashvili, Ria Novosti reports .

President Saakashvili’s visit to Moldova started late on November 23, according to the Moldovan President’s press service, which also reported that Mikheil Saakashvili will meet with the acting President of Moldova Mikhai Gimpu. Meetings with other political leaders are also scheduled.

Mikheil Saakashvili will visit Obilen village, where the Georgian government is building houses for the Moldovan people damaged in the flood.

“Mikheil Saakashvili asked me to meet him on Thursday evening, but I refused. It is not a demarche against Georgian people. On the contrary, our party is cautious with everything that brings nations, countries and cultures together. These are not empty words. We have Georgians in our party,” Voronin said.

Voronin said that Saakashvili’s government has ‘suffered serious defamation’.

“The honourable goals announced by Saakashvili’s administration – democratisation of the country, peaceful restoration of territorial integration – are discredited by Saakashvili’s rule. There is totalitarian governance in Georgia, based on repressions against the opposition and on mass media sources,” Voronin said.

Voronin said he has nothing to discuss with the Georgian President; he is convinced that Mikheil Saakashvili will find common ground with leaders in the Moldovan government. (Interpressnews)

Georgia marks 7th anniversary of Rose Revolution

Seven years have passed since the Rose Revolution in Georgia. The Rose Revolution caused a change of power in Georgia in November 2003, after widespread protests over the disputed parliamentary elections. As a result, President Eduard Shevardnadze was forced to resign on November 23, 2003.

The protests started after the November 2 election results were announced. The opposition and the voters assembled along Tbilisi’s central avenue objecting to the election result and demanding a re-count of the ballots. But the demands became more radical after the government refused to count the ballots for a second time. Opposition supporters sieged buildings around the state chancellery and moved towards the Krtsanisi presidential palace.

In the evening of November 23 (St. George’s Day), Shevardnadze met with the opposition leaders Mikheil Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania to discuss the situation, in a meeting arranged by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. After the meeting, the president announced his resignation. That prompted euphoria in the streets of Tbilisi. More than 100,000 protesters celebrated the victory all night long, accompanied by fireworks and rock concerts.

Georgian authorities welcome the reforms carried out since the day of Revolution. They are proud of combating corruption, reducing crime and improving social-economic policy. (Rustavi 2)

Orthodox Christians mark Saint Giorgi Day

The Georgian Orthodox Christians marked the Day of Saint Giorgi on November 23. Georgian Patriarch Illia II conducted a service at the Saint Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Holy rites were also conducted in all Orthodox Churches in Georgia.

Saint George is the Saviour of Georgians. According to the traditional account of his life, which is thought to have originated in the 4th century, George was born to a Christian family in the late 3rd century. His father was from Cappadocia and served as an army officer. His mother was from Lydda, Palestine. She returned to her native city as a widow along with her young son, where she ensured he had a respectable education.

Saint George was a commander of the Emperor Diocletian’s army but opposed him because of the oppression of the Christians. After various tortures, George was executed by decapitation in front of Nicomedia’s defensive wall on April 23, 303. (Rustavi 2)

St. George's pardons for 220 prisoners

Georgian president pardoned 220 convicts on St. George’s Day - Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance Khatuna Kalmakhelidze announced at the briefing on November 23. Among those pardoned were 12 women and one minor.

“Of the 220 convicts, 182 will be released from prisons, 32 will have their sentences reduced,” the Minister said, adding that the pardoned convicts would leave the prisons immediately after the President’s decree was delivered to the prison administrations. (Rustavi 2)