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Foreign Minister hopeful for International progress

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, December 14
The Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Grigol Vashadze chaired the Georgia delegation at the Ministerial of the EU “Eastern Partnership” member-countries in Brussels on Monday. At the meeting aimed at summarizing the work of the organization within the EP in 2010, Foreign Ministers discussed preparations for the EU summit, scheduled for May, 2011 in Budapest. The Eastern Partnership Program is a Polish-Swedish initiative under the EU Neighborhood Policy. It is aimed at improving EU relations with six former Soviet countries Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine and Armenia envisages the allocation of 600 million euro to these countries until 2013 to strengthen state institutions, control borders and help small companies. MFA expressed their hope that the partner countries would relevantly react to Georgia’s success in various issues introduced by the Minister.

Being optimistic about the 14th round of Geneva Talks planned on December 16 at the traditional briefing of the MFA on December 13 the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nino Kalandadze made an announcement. She confirmed that Giga Bokeria, the new Secretary of the Security Council, will continue leading the Georgian delegation in Brussels proving Georgia’s devotion towards the format of negotiations where the Georgian side would raise additional subjects along with all the traditional issues important to Georgia. Sharing the main issues for the Geneva Talks, Kalandadze spoke of the protest note sent to Russia via Switzerland reflecting all the activities from Russia worrying the Georgian Government. These activities include the so-called order of separatists and the ethnic registration of Georgians living in Akhalgori region for further property confiscation, explosions on Georgian territories, deployment of the multiple rocket launcher artillery system Smerch on the occupied territories, etc. “Deployment of such kinds of artillery is prohibited in most European countries in the frames of the agreement on ordinary armament but when Russia left the agreement we feared that they would act free on occupied territories referring to this very issue,” Kalandadze stated.

On the question referring to 15 Georgians who remain under Somali pirates’ captivity, the Deputy Minister explained that no bargains would be held between the Government of Georgia and the pirates. “Such cases are usually being solved through the ship owners responsible for the lives of the passengers. We hope that the owner of the ship will manage to lead the relevant negotiations with the pirates and provide us with additional information on the issue,” Kalandadze said, regretting that the country is restricted in having the resources for starting official negotiations.

Waiting for no particular changes from the case of Darejan Kokhtashvili, accused of drug trafficking, the Deputy Minister stressed that the real discussion of the process would only start after the publication of the Malaysian court expertise which would, according to Kalandadze take around 2-3 months. Georgian citizens Darejan Kokhtashvili and Babutsa Gordadze were arrested for carrying large amounts of Methamphetamine (a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant) in Malaysia on October 24. The detainees claiming to have become the victims of the crime continue to plead their innocence.

Talking of Azerbaijan as the strategic partner in economical development of Georgia, Nino Kalandadze spoke of the joint projects between the sides aimed at deepening this cooperation in various ways. The David Gareja site, which has been the subject of controversy between Georgia and Azerbaijan, may be compromised by Azerbaijan. Stressing that no particular results have yet been achieved between the sides, this issue according to Kalandadze will become clear just after the border delimitation process between the sides has finished. Azerbaijan may thus cede Davit Gareja for the other controversial site.

Explaining that the main controversial sites between Georgia and Azerbaijan include Davit Gareja and Erisimedi, an expert in Caucasus issues, Mamuka Areshidze doubted that the Government of Georgia might cede the village of Erisimedi (in Sighnaghi region). This very village, according to the expert, has problems with arable lands; the cattle are also often lost here, moreover there were cases of human detention in 2009.