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The News in Brief

Monday, January 27
Sweden’s Foreign Minister hopes Georgia will sign EU pact in August

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says he hopes Georgia will sign the Association Agreement with the European Union in August. Bildt met with Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Ghrabishvili in Davos during the World Economic Forum.

“We are now moving forwards speedily and hope that the agreement can be signed at the end of the summer and of course that’s an opportunity to further strengthen the democratic reform process of Georgia to accelerate economic development and democratic development and increased cooperation with the countries of the EU,” he said.

Georgia and Moldova went through with the first signing of the Association Agreement, technically called ‘initialing’, at a summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius last fall. The agreements will have to be ratified by all EU member countries before a final signing can take place.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Georgian PM counts on Switzerland’s help in restoring OSCE mission

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Swiss President Didier Burkhalter discussed on Friday in Davos the prospects of bilateral cooperation.

Following the meeting, Garibashvili said Switzerland will be chairing the OSCE over the next two years.

"For us it is important that Switzerland will be the leading country. We support and welcome this. We want the OSCE mission in Georgia to be restored. We have discussed this issue. We have also discussed potential cooperation in the economic sphere, relations between our countries and real prospects for intensifying these relations in the economic sphere," Georgian PM said.

Parliament adopts self-governance law

The self-governance law has been adopted by the Georgian Parliament, with the majority voting in favor.

Today, 84 MPs voted in favor and 14 voted against.

The new laws were agreed upon during the second listening. The most controversial issue surrounded the rules relating to the number of public servant staff.

As they could not agree, the parliament members adopted the self-governance codex without this article.

This issue is set to be discussed in the near future.

The parliamentary minority recommended an alternative version of the self-governance codex, but this was dismissed 45 votes to 17.

The self-governance laws mostly referred to the "self-governing cities.” According to the Self-governance Bill, the number of self-governing cities will increase as towns with 15,000 residents or more will automatically become eligible for the status of self-governing city.

The mayors of these cities will be directly elected by voters. Currently there are five self-governing cities; Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi and Poti however only in Tbilisi the Mayor is elected directly by voters.

Ex-PM Ivanishvili Launches NGO

Former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili has launched Citizen, a non-governmental organization, which was registered on January 23.

Ivanishvili, who is chairman of the organization, is expected to speak about his new group’s plans at a news conference on January 28.

Ivanishvili served as PM from October 2012 till November 2013 before voluntarily stepping down and naming his long-time close associate Irakli Garibashvili as his successor.

Ivanishvili said in late November that he’s quitting politics, but will remain an active citizen to keep the government under scrutiny.

“Ukrainians, we support you” – Georgians send video address

Social network users in Ukraine have been sharing the video address recorded by Georgian activists supporting the protesters in Kiev with the message “Ukrainians, We Support You”. The video featuring reporters, artists and other public figures from Georgia had also been initially released in Georgia through social network tools.
(Georgian News)

Georgia’s inter-ministerial delegation holds

Georgia's inter-ministerial delegation visited the capitals of several NATO member-states and met with representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the Parliament of Croatia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic from January 20-24.

The inter-ministerial delegation included the representatives of the office of the State Minister for Integration into European and Euro-Atlantic organizations, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry.

The issues related to Georgia's integration into NATO in the context of preparations for the NATO summit in 2014 were discussed at the meetings. Georgian-Russian relations and cooperation in the defense field were considered.

Russia, Georgia end football spat

Russia and Georgia have agreed to play each other if they are drawn together in the qualifying competition for the European Cup 2016 soccer championship.

UEFA announced the agreement on January 24 before the qualifying draw on February 23 -- the final day of the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Georgia has had no diplomatic relations with Russia since the two neighbors fought a brief war in August 2008 and is not sending a government delegation to the Winter Olympics.

But it will allow its athletes to compete in Sochi as a goodwill gesture.

UEFA kept Russia and Georgia separate when European soccer's governing body made the draw for the Euro 2012 qualifying competition.

The two neighbors were drawn in the same qualifying group for the Euro 2008 finals but refused to play each other.
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Teenager, 17, dies after being stabbed with knife

A 17-year-old was killed after he was stabbed with a knife near Nutsibidze plateau. The murder was preceded by an argument.

Police say an investigation is underway at the crime scene. Eyewitnesses said some participants were also wounded in the scuffle and transported to the hospital last night.
(Rustavi 2)

Organized criminal group detained

Police have arrested an organized criminal group of three persons in suspeted in the illegal selling of firearms. According to the police, the suspects sold firearms from time to time in return for cash.

During a search of the house of Teimuraz G., police seized 4 pistols, while one pistol and 3 bullets were seized from the house of Zurab G.

According to police, they seized 4 Gloc pistols, 1 handmade automatic pistol and three bullets.

The crime is punishable with up to ten years in prison.
(Rustavi 2)