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The News in Brief

Wednesday, March 7
President’s Office affirms slate of projects for 2012

Presidential Press Speaker Manana Manjgaladze spoke about President Mikheil Saakashvili’s annual report to Parliament last week, and reviewed those initiatives voiced by him. Manjgaladze said the development of the agriculture, health care, education fields, as well as the reduction of unemployment, will be the key goals of the government’s work in 2012.

“We have very serious projects in these directions, which include foreign investments, construction of new hydroelectric power plants, hospitals, and other infrastructure projects, where tens of thousands of people are employed. Construction of each hydroelectric power station means the employment of 13 000 people,” Manjgaladze said.

She also noted that the President’s decision to lift the visa regime with Russia has already been implemented, with approximately 2500 Russian citizens having already crossed the border without a visa. Manjgaladze maintained that this was a significant policy decision, but that the response of the Russian government has been disappointing.

“It’s a pity that Russia’s reaction was so inadequate. We all saw that this is a topic on which the whole political spectrum of Georgia (with only a few exceptions) is unanimous. [But] the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia is possible only after the recognition of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty by Russia,” she said.

Manjgaladze also reported on details of the President’s visit to Azerbaijan. Saakashvili will meet with Ilham Aliev; the two presidents will hold a joint press conference and discuss a variety of bilateral issues. A speech to the legislative branch of the Azeri government is also on the agenda. (Rustavi 2)

Heavy snowfall continues in the regions

Heavy snowfall continues to hit Georgia's regions.

In Terjola, western Imereti, it has been snowing for three days straight, and the snow cover has reached 60 centimeters. Heavy vehicles have been mobilized in the region and roads are being cleared. However, electricity has been lost in several villages in the Zestaphoni, Tkibuli, and Tskaltubo districts.

Snow cover has reached 20 centimeters in Kutaisi, the administrative capital of Imereti. Teams from the Emergency Situations Service are working on a 24-hour regime. Technical salt is being applied to central roads, while public transportation is working as normal and traffic movement is generally unencumbered.

Inclement weather created problems in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti as well. The Khobi district has had its electricity cut, and road clearing works are ongoing.

In the Khulo and Shuakhevi districts of Adjara, both at a high elevation, school was cancelled for two days due to heavy snowfall. The snow cover has reached one metre in the villages.

Georgian weather forecasters predict strong wind and snow across the country for another several days. Minor snow is expected in Tbilisi. The air temperature will reach six degrees Celsius, and unstable weather conditions will prevail for the next week. (GHN)

Museum streets could come to Tbilisi

Thanks to a new concept in the capital’s tourism development plan, Tbilisi may soon have “museum streets”.

In September, the National Museum of Georgia will host an international congress, where the concept and significance of dedicated museum streets will be discussed.

Noted international architects and representatives from museums, including some leading institutions from America, Europe, and Asia, will attend the congress, which is organized by the Tbilisi government in cooperation with German organizations.

The organizers are inviting members of civil society and business, to introduce their initiative and form a unified concept of a “museum street” in Tbilisi. (Rustavi 2)

Foreign Minister visits Czech Republic

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Grigol Vashadze, is on a working visit to the Czech Republic.

Vashadze held bilateral meetings with his Czech and Polish counterparts on the sidelines of an informal meeting of the Visegrad Group – an alliance of foreign ministers from Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, who are in Bratislava to discuss their "Eastern Partnership".

The ministers discussed bilateral relations, and noted Georgia's accomplishments with regards to European and Euro-Atlantic integration. (GHN)