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The News in Brief

Wednesday, January 15
Georgian government office converted into administration

A government office is being converted into an administration unit in Georgia. "The reorganization of the office is based on the European model of public governance," the office said. "The administration will work with public organizations and foreign experts. Councils under the Prime Minister will be created and strengthened. The administration will focus on coordination between state agencies and effective monitoring.

The office reforms are caused by constitutional amendments related to the extension of the Prime Minister's powers.

"On the other hand, the structural reorganization is caused by greater efficiency," the office said. "That is why the reorganization will be focused on the introduction of modern European standards of governance. The Prime Minister's priority is to introduce efficient, transparent governance."

The government administration will be presented in full in the near future. (Trend)

Snow restricts travel on Georgian highways

The travel conditions are restricted on Georgia’s western and central roads due to snow.

About 25cm of snow currently covers these roads.

Vehicles are permitted on the highways only if they have anti-skid tire chains. Large transport vehicles are prohibited.

Numerous trucks were stopped on the road overnight.

"We do not know when we will be allowed to move forward,” said one driver.

Road crews are on 24-hours schedules to remove snow from the roads.

The National Weather Station has forecast the weather to improve tomorrow. Despite this, a frost has been predicted for Georgia. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgian prisoners to be pardoned

Georgian prisoners will be pardoned in time to celebrate Epiphany with their families.

The Georgian State Pardon Commission planned to release prisoners by January 19, to coincide when Eastern Christians celebrated Epiphany.

The number of pardoned prisoners has not been announced. The Commission confirmed about 250 applications had been submitted by prisoners.

Commission members are expected to meet tomorrow to discuss the cases individually.

"I have already addressed the President about holding a meeting at that date,” Alexander Elisasvili, Head of the Pardon Commission said.

In addition, the Commission has almost finished working on new regulations about granting pardons, which Elisahsvili believed would be more humane.

The new regulations will be presented in late January.

The Commission released more than 90 prisoners for the New Year. (Agenda.Ge)

Checkpoint on Georgia-Russia border to operate around clock

The Upper Lars checkpoint on the Georgia-Russia border will operate around the clock, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said on January 14. "As a result, on January 15, the Upper Lars, Russian multilateral automobile checkpoint, as well as Georgian Kazbegi checkpoint will operate around the clock," the ministry said.

Daily capacity of the checkpoint will increase. As of 2013, about three million people and more than 870 vehicles were registered and passed through the checkpoint. (Trend)

UNM to rally Georgians against Russia

The United National Movement (UNM) is planning a series of anti-Putin demonstrations in several cities and towns, but first wants to meet with the people.

The party’s spokesperson Andro Barnovi said on Monday that the government is passive as the Winter Sochi Olympics is approaching.

“In March we might expect Putin to start a new wave of pressure on us in order to make us refuse the European choice and return to the kingdom of Putin,” he said, adding that many European leaders are boycotting the Olympics, while the Georgian government remains silent.

“Civic activism is a way out. I want to call on people to stand together for our future and show the world, including the occupant and aggressor, that we may be mistaken in electing a government, but we cannot make a mistake about the country’s European choice,” Barnovi said.

Two weeks ago, UNM demonstrated in Tbilisi against the suspension of the city’s mayor pending a trial for corruption and announced that it would hold a series of rallies after the holidays. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Ethiopia, Georgia intend to develop cooperation in all areas

Georgian Ambassador to Ethiopia Vakhtang Jaoshvili met with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome Wirtu.

The ambassador congratulated Mulatu Teshome Wirtu on official assumption of office and noted that Georgia attaches great importance to developing relations with Ethiopia, Georgian Foreign Ministry told Trend.

The Ethiopian president praised the Georgian authorities' decision on opening an embassy in Ethiopia and said that this will contribute to deepening friendly relations between the two countries.

The president also noted that he was the first ambassador of Ethiopia in Georgia (with a residence in Ankara) and it was possible to accelerate the necessary procedures for opening an embassy in Addis Ababa with his immediate participation. He also expressed satisfaction that an embassy has been opened in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian president also noted that there are many areas of cooperation which will be mutually beneficial and will bring real results for both countries. Ethiopia is interested not only in cooperation with Georgia, but also in the exchange of experience.

Some progress is being observed in relations of the two countries despite the fact that little time has passed since opening of the embassy: a memorandum of understanding will be signed in the near future between the two countries' foreign ministries, political consultations may be held this year and trade turnover significantly increased over the last year.

Relations have been established in the fields of education and culture. Work has begun for signing a memorandum of cooperation between the two countries' national museums.

At the end of the meeting the representative of Georgia thanked the Ethiopian president for the assistance provided in the opening of the embassy. (Trend)

Georgian armed forces leadership familiarizes country’s PM with plans for 2014

Georgian Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili met with the leadership of the country's armed forces.

The meeting was attended by Georgia's Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, Deputy Defense Minister Alexi Batiashvili, Chief of General Staff Vakhtang Kapanadze and other representatives from the armed forces leadership.

During the meeting the PM was familiarized with the situation in the Georgian armed forces and plans for 2014, according to the press service of the government office. (Trend)

Former PM Zurab Zhvania’s fund opens in Tbilisi

Former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania's fund was established on the initiative of Zurab Zhvania's mother and daughter. The goal of the fund is to promote the democratic processes and the development of a democratic society, which was the main goal of Zhvania's political activity, to protect the human rights and freedoms, to publish and promote Zhvania's works and cultural and educational activities, including the awards and scholarships, the trustees of the fund said. Zurab Zhvania died under suspicious circumstances in February 2005. (Trend)

Information about government’s activity to also be available in Abkhazian

Information about the activity of government of Georgia will be available in the Abkhazian language too. The government created an Abkhazian official page on Facebook. All the news and information about the government’s activities will be posted on the Abkhazian Facebook page. (InterPressNews)