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The News in Brief

Monday, April 8
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway may be used for transit from Afghanistan

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway may be used for transit of the ISAF forces from Afghanistan, the State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration, Alexi Petriashvili said.

According to him, the government made the decision to stay in Afghanistan in 2014 too. The Minister said Georgian soldiers will train Afghan security forces.

As for the use of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars-Akhalkalaki railway as transit, Petriashvili said this topic was under consideration. However, he noted that this project had a different meaning too and it will be profitable for Georgia after some years in terms of national interests.

Georgian Parliament passes amendments to Criminal Procedure Code

The Georgian Parliament rapidly approved amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of the country in the second and third reading on Friday, which deprive the accused of the right to choose who should consider his case– jury or the judge.

According to the changes, the case will be considered without a jury, if a defendant's lawyer and the prosecutor are able to agree.

The National Movement strongly opposed the adoption of this bill, initiated by the government, stating that former officials whose cases are considered by the jury will be deprived of this right.

These amendments will not be applied towards former high-ranking officials, including the cases of the former Interior and Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia.

The changes in the law will come into force after Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili signs the order.

SOCAR's Georgia aim to supply gas fulfilled

The Government of Georgia is establishing a state-owned company which will complete the process of providing gas to the country's regions, the Minister of Energy of Georgia, Kakha Kaladze, said at a meeting with the parliamentary minority on Thursday.

According to him, he received an official letter from SOCAR Georgia on the full implementation of its obligations under a contract previously signed with the Government of Georgia. “This company acquired the Itera-Georgia company last year, which is also involved in providing gas to Georgia's regions,” Kaladze said.

He said prior to the election of October 1, local authorities began providing gas at their own expense. However, the process is not completed.

“The company will be established within a month, and we will continue the process, which will be completed by the end of 2015,” the minister said.

Kaladze said some 1,000,000 people in Georgia will be supplied with gas by the project's end. “All of Georgia may not be gasified due to various reasons, even natural. Thus, those regions not supplied with gas, will be provided with alternative fuel,” he said.

Georgian President meets Turkish Prime Minister

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili held meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president`s administration reports.

As reported, the two sides discussed bilateral relations between Georgia and Turkey and the prospects of integration into NATO.

The two sides also discussed the restoration of historical and cultural monuments and agreed that Georgian specialists will be allowed to describe in details the Georgian monuments on the territory of Turkey and prepare them for further reconstruction work.

Rabati Fortress in the city of Akhaltsikhe in the southwestern part of Georgia was also discussed at the meeting. The leaders agreed that the dome of the fortress will not be changed, while all other disputed issues will be resolved with mutual respect.
(Rustavi 2)

Term of Compulsory Military Service to be decreased

On April 5, the parliament approved legislative amendments decreasing the term of compulsory military service from current 15 to 12 months.

According to the draft law, the 12-month term will also apply to the servicemen conscripted after March 7, 2012.

The term of compulsory military service was most recently changed in early 2012, when it was increased from 12 to 15 months.

Georgia has now a mixed system based on both contracts and conscription.

The Defense Ministry said that Georgia should start abandoning the conscription system and moving to a fully professional army from the end of 2016.

Tbilisi International Airport increases number of flights

Tbilisi International Airport increased the number of flights during the summer season, which began on March 31 and will last until October 28.

Nine airlines will make more flights to Tbilisi during this season compared to the summer season of 2012, the Tbilisi International Airport said on Saturday. Italy’s largest company Alitalia will make Rome-Tbilisi-Rome flights four times a week, rather than two times from May. Czech Airlines will increase the number of flights to Prague up to 3 times a week. Several airlines will also increase the number of flights during the summer season. The direct flights to Barcelona, Stockholm and Varna will be made from the Tbilisi International Airport for the first time during the summer season.

Georgian PM to participate in PACE session

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili will pay a visit to Strasbourg on April 21, where he will take part in the spring session of the CE Parliamentary Assembly, this according to the Prime Minister's administration said today. On April 23, the Georgian Prime Minister will deliver speech at the session. The Georgian delegation will also include members of the Georgian parliament and the government. During the visit, Ivanishvili will hold several bilateral meetings. The visit will end on April 24.