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The News in Brief

Wednesday, April 24
Ivanishvili: 'Saakashvili Attempted to Block Judicial Council Bill'

PM Ivanishvili said on Monday that President Saakashvili was trying to block the enactment of a bill on reforming the High Council of Justice (HCJ), which was passed by the Parliament earlier this month.

The bill was sent to the president for signature, but it may be vetoed as President Saakashvili’s UNM party is strongly against of the bill, particularly the provision under which the authority of 13 out of 15 sitting members of the HCJ, whose current membership does not comply with the new criteria, will be terminated. Seven out of eight judges, who are members of the HCJ however, will still be able to run for the seat and regain their membership if elected by the self-governing body of the Conference of Judges.

April 25 is the deadline when the President should either sign the bill into law or send it back to the Parliament with his objections, according to Georgian Dream lawmaker Vakhtang Khmaladze, who chairs the parliamentary committee for legal affairs. The Georgian Dream has enough votes in the parliament to override the presidential veto.

“We are doing everything possible to have an independent judiciary,” PM Ivanishvili told Georgian journalists in Strasbourg on April 22. (Civil.Ge)

Georgian, Russian Diplomats Note Progress in Dialogue on Trade

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, held a telephone conversation with the Georgian Prime Minister’s special representative for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, on April 22 to exchange views on a number of bilateral issues, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Trade progress has been noted in the dialogue through [Russia’s state consumer protection agency] RosPotrebNadzor and [Russia's food safety watchdog] Rosselkhoznadzor on access of Georgian wines, mineral waters and agricultural products on the Russian market," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Monday.

"The sides have welcomed the intensification of humanitarian ties. An agreement on round-the-clock work of a border crossing point Verkhny Lars-Kazbegi from June 1 to September 30 was noted with satisfaction," it said.

Karasin and Abashidze plan to hold a meeting, the third of this kind, in early June, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The last time the two diplomats met was on March 1 in Prague. (Civil.Ge)

Commerzbank supports the economic initiative of the Georgian government

Germany's Commerzbank supports the economic initiative of the Georgian government, declared the chairman of the supervisory board of the bank, Martin Blessing, after the meeting in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and a sustainable development of Georgia.

The delegation of the second-largest bank in Germany was accepted on Monday by the first deputy minister of Economic Affairs of Georgia, Dmitry Kumsishvili. The meeting was also attended by two partner companies of the bank who work in agriculture.

The chairman of the supervisory board of Commerzbank, Martin Blessing, declared that the bank is interested in investing in projects in the agricultural sector of Georgia.

Commerzbank support will more efficiently support the rapid economic development of Georgia in the future. Our bank has quite wide experience in trade financing, and we are going to become more active in this direction and in Georgia. We support the government of Georgia. We are going to implement various projects in the agricultural industry in the future and help your economy and the banking sector," Blessing said. (Trend)

The Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia predicts an increase in wine export

The Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia predicts an increase in wine export by 20-25% with the opening of the Russian market, minister of Agriculture David Kirvalidze said on Monday at a press conference, having noted that this year it is supposed to export 7-10 million bottles of wine.

According to him, as a result of two inspections by the public health service of Russia, 65 wine companies and two companies producing mineral water received positive estimates.

"Seven Georgian companies already registered their products with the Russian sanitary service, and this process proceeds," said Kirvalidze.

At the same time he noted that on April 1 the negotiations on the export of Georgian agricultural production in Russia have successfully come to the end in Moscow.

"An agreement in principle has been reached. Both Georgian and Russian experts continue to work over technical regulations. This process will soon come to an end, and step-by-step, Georgian fruit and vegetables will enter the Russian market," the minister declared. (Trend)

Georgia gains Canada’s strong support towards Euro-Atlantic integration

Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Pandzhikidze visited Canada on April 18-19.

During the visit, Pandzhikidze met with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Diane Ablonczy and Deputy Foreign Minister, Morris Rosenberg, Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay, Speaker of the Canadian Senate, Noel Kinsel and Chairman of the House, Andrew Scheer, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

During the meeting both sides discussed a wide range of bilateral and multilateral relations and stressed the importance of enhancing relations between the legislative bodies and development of relations in the economic area. There were also discussions on the prospects of joint projects in the field of education.

Moreover, the process of Georgia's Euro-Atlantic Integration, cooperation between Georgia and NATO, success achieved in these areas, the progress and further plans were among the topics at the meetings.

The Canadian side thanked Georgia for its active participation in the ISAF peacekeeping mission. Georgian-Russian relations and urgent international issues were also discussed.

The Canadian side reiterated strong support for Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. (Trend)

President’s Administration has new head

Andro Barnov has been appointed as the head of the Georgian President’s Administration. The former Head of the President’s Administration was Davit Tkeshelashvili. Tkeshelashvili will continue his professional activities in the USA as the Director of the International Law Center of one of the most prestigious universities. President Mikheil Saakashvili awarded Davit Tkeshelashvili with the Order of Brilliance. As for Andro Barnov, he was Shida Kartli Governor. (Front News)

Families of life-sentenced convicts rally at prison

Several convicts have been on hunger strike for the past seven days. The convicts, who are in Gldani N8 prison serving life sentences, demand a review of their cases. Their family members rallied outside the prison. They are demanding that a special commission be set up, which would look into the cases of life-sentenced convicts individually. The participants of the rally call on the parliament to allow the commission to review the law on amnesty, which refers to the life sentenced convicts. (Rustavi 2)