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The News in Brief

Monday, April 29
PM: Presidential candidate of Georgia Dream to be revealed in 2 weeks

The presidential candidate of the Georgian Dream coalition will be known in two weeks, Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said in an interview with Rustavi 2.

According to him, he has selected 2-3 candidates, but intends to discuss them with his team.

"I am ready to listen to their suggestions as we make the decision together," Ivanishvili said.

According to Ivanishvili, the Georgian President should not have the desire for power.

"This is the most important thing and we think we will choose a worthy candidate, as we have worthy people," he said.

Presidential elections in Georgia are scheduled for this fall. According to various estimates, the coalition might nominate for presidency the chairman of the legal committee of the Parliament of Georgia; constitutionalist Vakhtang Khmaladze, the ex-Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili or Irakli Alasania.

Mikheil Saakashvili Meets Joseph Biden in U.S.

Mikheil Saakashvili met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden during his visit to Washington. The president's administration reports that the parties assessed the situation in Georgia and the region in general.

Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration was discussed and the signing of a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Georgia was highlighted.

Joseph Biden also confirmed U.S. support for Georgia’s NATO integration.

Mikheil Saakashvili’s visit to the U.S. started on 25 April.

Tbilisi hosts Georgian-Ukrainian business forum

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili opened the Georgian-Ukrainian Business Forum in Tbilisi on April 26. According to him, Georgia may become a unique country to do business and officials will not be able to interfere in this regard.

"Georgia has a simple tax of 16 per cent and this is very important for businessmen," he said. "Our country is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia with the Great Silk Road. Georgia will be a very attractive country for investors."

Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Kakha Kaladze, heads of Georgian and Ukrainian business associations, Ministers of Finance and Regional Development and Infrastructure are attending the forum.

The head of the Georgian Business Association, Giorgi Pertaia, said that agriculture, transport and logistics are areas of interest for Ukrainian business people.

The Georgian Energy Minister said the largest amount of foreign investments have gone to the energy sector. "If the Ukrainian investors show an interest, we will help them to do business," he said. About 50 Ukrainian companies are represented at the business forum in Tbilisi. Kaladze proposed that Ukrainian business people invest in the energy sector.

"I would like to stress that most investments are made in power engineering and the government will greatly assist the businesses in this sector," Kaladze said.

Khudoni HPP construction delayed for another year

The date of the permit receipt for the construction of the Khudoni Hydropower Plant was delayed to March 1, 2014, Minister Kakha Kaladze said, after a government meeting on Thursday, commenting on the amendments made to the agreement between the Georgian government and the Transelektra Construction Company.

"The first thing we did was implement a three-month moratorium which was prolonged until March 1, 2014," he said.

Responding to the question as to whether this is due to the recommendations of NGOs and experts who had been given a negative opinion because of the environmental impacts of the construction plant, the minister answered that it is not.

"This is a moratorium that was announced by us and the Ministry of Environmental Protection to study the agreement, which was formalized in 2011 to determine its positive and negative sides. The group working on the issue made its comments. We submitted all of these comments to the company, and they will be considered in the new agreement. The company must prepare an assessment on the environmental impact, which will be submitted to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and then the Ministry will give either a positive or a negative response," Kaladze said.

Georgian farmers demand a stop on land sales to foreigners

Farmers from Kakheti have begun collecting signatures to demand the suspension of land sales to foreigners in Georgia. They intend to collect 25,000 signatures to be later submitted to the Parliament of Georgia.

According to the statement made by the initiative group of farmers on Friday, they addressed parliament and the prime minister with the same demand back in January 2013. However, no response followed. Farmers are demanding that consideration is given to determine the legality of land sales to foreigners and develop a strategy for their return.

The Minister of Agriculture of Georgia David Kirvalidze has commented on this issue. According to him, the law does not prohibit the sale of land to foreigners. Kirvalidze said there is no definitive information on agricultural land as of yet and a land inventory is being conducted. Following its completion, the government will publish its position on this issue.

UEFA President Michel Platini hosted by Georgian PM

Tbilisi Sport Palace hosted the UEFA Futsal Cup opening ceremony attended by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili with his son Bera and UEFA President Michel Platini. Other officials at the event included Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Levan Kipiani, Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze, government and invited foreign officials, among them were the presidents of football federations. The opening match saw a 2-5 defeat for the local Iberia Star team by Dinamo Moscow.

Before the ceremony the prime minister hosted Platini at his Business Center. The meeting was attended by minister Kaladze - formerly captain of the Georgian national team - and Sport Minister Kipiani. The meeting sides spoke about perspectives for development of the Georgian football, while Platini also presented Ivanishvili with a gift.
(Georgian News TV)