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The News in Brief

Friday, July 26
Catherine Ashton, Stefan Fule release statement

Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Stefan Fule, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, made a joint statement on completion of the negotiations on the future association agreement between the European Union and Georgia.

"We are delighted to confirm the substantive completion of the negotiations on the future Association Agreement between the European Union and Georgia, including the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). During meetings with Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze yesterday we expressed our appreciation for the commitment of the Georgian negotiating teams who have worked with dedication and energy since the talks began in 2010. We look forward to the initialing of the association agreement at the next Eastern Partnership Summit that will take place in Vilnius on November 29, 2013, and to the subsequent signing of the agreement as soon as the technical procedures are completed.

For both the European Union and Georgia this is a very important milestone, opening the way to comprehensive modernization and reform based upon shared values, political association, and economic integration with the European Union. This agreement will have a direct impact on daily life and will bring Georgia and all its citizens closer to the European Union. It will build on existing strong co-operation between the EU and Georgia on international issues. We congratulate all those on both sides who contributed to this excellent result." the statement says. (IPN)

Georgian parliament approves amendments to the electoral code

The Georgian parliament has approved the amendments to the electoral code of the country after the first round of voting. The opposition supports the amendments that will limit the use of administrative resources during the election period.

According to Manana Kobakhidze, vice speaker of parliament, a person participating in the presidential election must resign from any public office before the campaign begins. As for the voters, they will not be able to vote without biometric registration.

"This eliminates the possibility of election falsification, when one person had several identity cards and votes at different constituencies," she said. If a political party receives three percent or more of the total votes, the party will receive funding from the government. If a presidential candidate receives at least 10 percent of the total votes, then they will receive one million GEL to cover the costs of their campaign. (Trend)

Georgia, EU discuss prospects for deepening cooperation in energy sector

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze has met with European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger. Both sides discussed prospects for deepening cooperation between Georgia and the EU in the energy sector, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Trend. The European Commissioner emphasized the important role of Georgia in the energy security of Europe.

Both parties also discussed Georgia's accession to the organization "Energy Community".

Panjikidze reaffirmed the readiness of the Georgian government to start membership talks about Georgia joining the organization. Both parties noted that membership in this organization will be another step forward in the process of building closer ties between Georgia and the EU. Among the sectors for cooperation are the implementation of new technology in the energy sector and attracting foreign investment to Georgia.

Panjikidze invited Gunther Oettinger to visit Georgia. (Trend)

Vano Merabishvili accuses the government of cynicism

Former prime minister of Georgia Vano Merabishvili has accused the government of cynicism in its treatment towards him.

"Despite the fact that representatives of the government promised foreign delegations at formal or informal meetings to allow me to meet with my family and have phone conversations with them, I have not been given the opportunity to do this yet." Merabishvili posted on his Facebook page adding that he does not have the opportunity to write personal letters to his parents or wife. "Unfortunately, government representatives are lying when they say that the law bars me from meeting with my family or having a phone conversation with them. According to the law, the prosecutorís office, the penitentiary department or the prison administration can issue permission for me to use this right. Despite appeals by my lawyers, the various departments have avoided making a decision; such action is another example of the cynical attitude the current government has towards its opponents and the political opposition." Merabishvili said. (Front News)

Former official of the Ministry of Corrections arrested in Austria

Davit Chakua, former head of the penitentiary department of the Ministry of Corrections, has been arrested in Austria. The Chief Prosecutorís Office has released a statement regarding the arrest.

"On March 12, 2013, a warrant was put out by the Chief Prosecutor's Office for the arrest and extradition of Davit Chakua (patronymic Janiko), the former head of the Penitentiary Department of the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance. This information was passed on to the appropriate Interpol channels.

On June 28, 2013, Chakua was arrested by Austrian law enforcement authorities in Vienna for the purpose of his extradition to Georgia. Later, after the decision of a criminal court in Vienna, he was released on bail in the amount of 500 Euro. In order to not to impede the extradition procedure, Chakua was forbidden to leave the territory of Austria and had to appear before a court again.

Chakua is accused of misuse of authority, use of excessive force and degradation of prisoners. (Front News)

Bidzina Ivanishvili hosts Robert Sturua at his summer residence

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili hosted artistic Robert Sturua, artistic director of the Rustaveli Theatre, on July 24th. The Prime Minister's administration said the reception was hosted in relation to Sturua's 75th birthday. "Celebrating Robert Sturua's 75th birthday, Bidzina Ivanishvili hosted the theatre director at his summer residence. The Prime Minister wished the Georgian artist a long life and a long artistic career." a statement from the Prime Minister's administration reads. (Georgian News)

Nino Katamadze performs Suliko in Ekaterinburg

The Russian city of Ekaterinburg hosted the 2013 Usadba Jazz festival where Georgian singer Nino Katamadze and her band Insight were presented as distinguished guests. Katamadze has visited the annual festival regularly and is even known as the "The Talisman of Usadba Jazz".

At this year's event Katamadze performed popular compositions from the band's repertoire, including "Suliko" which inspired the audience to sing with her. (Georgian News)