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The News in Brief

Tuesday, February 15
Vashadze to Visit US

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze will leave for the US for a two-day official visit starting February 17, stated Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze during yesterday’s briefing.

According to Kalandadze the Foreign Minister will hold several important meetings, including one with US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.

“Vashadze will hold several important meetings at the US Congress. We hope that during the visit all the issues important to Georgia, as well as plans for the future, will be considered. Particular attention will be paid to the issue of cooperation within the Strategic Charter,” Kalandadze said.

Saudi Arabia and Georgia hold political talks

On February 12-13, political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the Georgian delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Jalagania. It was the first such meeting between the Georgian and Saudi sides.

As part of the visit the Georgian delegation held meetings with the Saudi State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nizar Bin Obaid Madani, Chairman of the Saudi-Georgia Parliamentary Friendship Group Mohammad Bin Sa'ad Bin Abdul Aziz Alsalem, Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah bin Zaynal Ali Reza, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Abdulrahman A.Al-Jeraisy and Director General of Saudi Export Programme Ahmed M, Al-Ghannam.

A wide range of issues of mutual concern, as well as future prospects of developing bilateral relations between the two countries were discussed. The Saudi side was provided with full information regarding the economic reforms in Georgia and the resulting investment opportunities.

Saakashvili accused of monopolising business

The Labour Party accused Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of business sector monopolisation. At yesterday’s press conference the party’s political secretary, Giorgi Gugava said that Mikheil Saakashvili had become the business sector’s major monopolist.

According to Gugava, a number of companies and other bodies are under the control of president and his family – including Wissol Petroleum Georgia, Socar Georgia, the insurance company IRAO, JSC Madneuli, Tbilisi and Batumi airports, the mobile company "Beeline", the University ”Sakartvelo”, Liberty Bank, nut and timber businesses.

“Taking into account the so-called “family business”, Saakashvili’s property is worth about three billion dollars,” - stated the Labour Party representative.

The President’s press office has not yet responded to the opposition party’s accusation.

President’s Report a surprise for society

“The modernisation plan for Georgia, presented by President Mikhail Saakashvili during his annual report to Parliament was a real surprise for society,” Georgian political scientist Soso Tsiskarishvili said, GHN reports.

“During his presentation to Parliament we were witnesses of a big surprise about the modernisation of Georgia. Usually when making public such a plan very active discussions are held beforehand. But in our country the exclusive right for modernisation is with the government alone,” commented the expert in a conversation with GHN.

Presenting the long term plan for development, the government has deprived our citizens of the right to the best until 2015. The new date to hope for a better future was announced - 2015. This denotes that any optimism for 2012, 2013 and 2014 can be ruled out,” stated the political scientist.

He criticised the part of Saakashvili’s report in which he said that corruption and monopolies do not exist in Georgia. The WBDR published report indicates that 68% of business activity in Georgia is corrupt. On the question of monopoly, he wonders why one and the same medicine in Georgia costs twice as much as in Istanbul.

Controversy on elections at Artists` Union

The controversy over the election of the chairperson of the Artists’ Union continues after Sunday’s scandalous vote. Four candidates were running for the chairperson’s position and at first Guram Tsertsvadze collected the majority of votes. However a few minutes before the results were announced, another candidate, Gia Gugushvili recalled his candidacy, handing his votes to another candidate, Gia Bughadze. As a consequence Gia Bughadze overtook Tsertsvadze and became the chairperson of the union. The incident caused dispute in the hall. Guram Tsertvadze has demanded a re-election of the chairperson, while Gia Bughadze refuses to comment on the scandal.
(Rustavi 2)

GIG to attract investments to grow security in Tkibuli coal-mines

Georgian Industrial Group intends to attract foreign investment which will be used to improve safety in the Tkibuli coal mines, where dozens of miners have died as a result of the lack of safety measures. Apparently an American corporation Covalent Energy will introduce modern security technologies in Tkibuli mines. GIG is in negotiations with OPIC Company to launch a 25-million dollar project in the region over several years to provide the safe and secure discharge of methane from mines.
(Rustavi 2)

Heavy snowfall impedes traffic in southern Georgia

As a result of heavy snowfall, several cars were stranded on the road to Akhalkalaki district in Georgia’s southern region. Special machinery was mobilised in the village of Kopelia. Road clearance was partially impeded by bad weather conditions.

While it was snowing hard in Akhalkalaki district yesterday morning, it has now stopped although strong winds are raging in the region.
(Rustavi 2)