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Georgia Offers Aid to Turkey Following Earthquake

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 25
In the wake of the big earthquake in Turkey, Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze, spent time discussing the issue at Monday’s regular briefing. Georgian citizens are not among the dead after Turkey’s quake; however several Georgian citizens were hurt during the quake. At the same time, Georgia is ready to assist the neighbor if it requires it.

“The quake was very strong. We are sincerely grieving with the Turkish people,“ Kalandadze said. According to her, the government has a team of rescuers, made up of employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and City Hall. ‘We informed the Turkish side that we were ready to help them, though they said there was no need for assistance, currently,' Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has non-stop contact with Georgia’s delegation to Turkey. Based on official information, two Georgian citizens were left without living space due to the earthquake.

The second Turkey related issue concerns Georgian churches in Turkish territory. As is known, the government of Turkey gave an order to give temples located in Turkey to the nations to whom they belong. They have been given to Greece, Armenia, Russia, though not to Georgia. The Patriarch of Georgia Ilia ll, has voiced his concerned to the Turkish side. According to Ilia II, “I sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey and we are asking them to give temples in Oshki, Kakhuli and other monasteries to Georgia. They responded by saying the letter was being discussed. I gave a task to the ambassador and consul to give special attention to the issue”. The Patriarch also expressed hoped that the issue would be positively resolved.

Kalandadze practically repeated the patriarch’s words and mentioned that the issue is still undecided. “The Georgian side has several principle questions and we hope that they will be taken into consideration.“ She also mentioned that the Turkish side also has its own attitudes which would be clarified between the Turkish domestic affairs institutions. Kalandadze also underlined that the patriarch’s visit to Turkey went quite successfully and that Georgian official structures will do their best in the Georgian people’s interests.

One more issues Georgia’s Foreign Ministry especially emphasized at the Monday briefing was Russian participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Aaccording to Kalandadze, the next round of negotiations on Russia’s integration with the WTO will be held on October 25. She mentioned that previous rounds of negotiations ended unsuccessfully. Kalandadze said the main problem was Russia’s objection to the joint monitoring of the Russian-Georgian border.

”This is our principal demand that cannot be ignored. As far as Russia is ready to agree with the proposal, we will support Russia’s integration into the WTO,” Kalandadze said.

She denied reports about pressure exerted by the international community on Georgia with regard to Russia’s integration into the WTO.

”The international community is well aware of the fundamental principles that should be protected, and at the same time, of the legitimate demands from Georgia,” Kalandadze said.