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The News in Brief

Wednesday, April 30
President Margvelashvili calls the visit in Estonia promising

Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili called the meetings in Tallinn "promising" after assessing his two days visit in Hungary, particularly in a period when it is very tense situation in the neighbor countries.

Margvelashvili believes Georgia once more had received Estonians further support towards Georgia’s integration into European Union and NATO.

"This was the clearly expressed support for the strategic course that Georgia has chosen. I would like mention once again which I have discussed during the meetings that we are extremely grateful for the support our Estonian partners have expressed,” Margvelashvili said.

During the visit in Tallinn, Margvelashvili opened the 4th annual conference of the Freedom Online Coalition, where he spoke about Georgia’s safety, identity and defensive capacity when the country was at war with Russia in 2008.

He also spoke about importance of the freedom of expression.

In Tallinn Margvelashvili met his Estonian counterpart, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, and other senior officials including PM Taavi Roivas; parliament speaker Eiki Nestor and Foreign Minister Urmas Paet. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgia’s NATO membership prospects to be discussed in the US

Georgia's NATO membership prospects are being discussed at the high-level meetings Georgia’s Defence Minister Irakli Alasania has scheduled in the US.

Within his working visit to the US, Alasania is expected to participate at the Conference organized by the Atlantic Council of the US. Joseph Biden, US Vice President and John Kerry, US Secretary of States will participate in the conference along with other high level representatives. Alasania also met the U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel.

In addition to Georgia’s North-Atlantic future, the sides are set to discuss bilateral cooperation issues in defense sphere between the two countries.

Meetings are scheduled with other high-ranking officials of the White House and the Department of State. Significant part of the visit will be dedicated to the meetings at the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

Georgia’s Defence Minister is also expected to meet with representatives of influential NGOs and Think Tanks. Meetings are also planned at the United Nations headquarters. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgia’s Foreign Minister attends Visegrad 4 meeting

The Visegrad Four (V4) political directors, a consultative group comprised of the Governments of Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia are pulling together in Budapest for holding the ministerial along with Georgia.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze is in Hungary along with Eastern Partnership member countries to welcome the V4 ministerial participants.

Panjikidze believes that signing of the Association Agreement with European Union would not be the last step for Georgia on the way to EU integration.

"I will talk about the perspectives of Association Agreement as we expect it will be one forward step into the integration of EU. The last step of Georgia is to become the full member of EU,” Panjikidze said.

The first diplomat of Georgia will also highlight the implementation procedures of Association Agreement after signing next June. (Agenda.Ge)

Georgian parliamentary speaker visits Moldova

Georgian parliamentary speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said after meeting with his Moldovan counterpart, Igor Corman, in Chisinau on April 29 that the two countries “are marching towards free Europe together and are trying to help each other as much as possible.”

Usupashvili congratulated citizens of Moldova on the possibility for visa-free travel to Schengen states. Moldova has become the first among EU’s Eastern Partnership states, whose citizens can stay for 90 days in the Schengen zone countries without visa starting from April 28.

Georgia started implementing Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP) with the EU in February, 2013. VLAP represents a set of detailed requirements that a country should meet in order to be granted by the EU short-term visa-free regime.

“We are little bit behind” Moldova in this regard, the Georgian parliament speaker said, “but we are not jealous, we need to complete our homework and I believe in one year or so we will be able to complete that process as well.”

The Georgian parliamentary delegation, led by Usupashvili, met Moldova’s President Nicolae Timofti and will also hold talks with Prime Minister Iurie Leanca and Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman. (Civil.Ge)

NGOs claim government delaying anti-surveillance bill till after election

Campaigners fighting to stop secret surveillance in Georgia are asking parliament to pass amendments to prohibit secret phone surveillance before the local election on June 15.

Non-governmental organizations in the It Concerns You Too campaign on Tuesday asked parliament and the government to adopt the amendments soon, because parliament won’t hold plenary sessions the last month before the election.

After ten months of consultations, a bill was introduced to parliament’s judiciary committee, after a process that included NGOs, international experts and the Interior Ministry.

In a statement, It Concerns You Too says the process to pass the bill was delayed because an inter-agency commission was tasked with working on the bill, staffed by Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry and Chief Prosecutor representatives.

“There is a suspicion that the executive government, specifically law enforcement bodies, are deliberately attempting to interrupt the legislative discussion process,” the statement reads.

The campaigners call on parliament to resume the review of the draft bill.

They write that it is important to adopt the bill before the election, as it provides protection of the right to privacy and will bring legislation closer to international standards.

It Concerns You Too unites a number of local influential non-governmental organizations. It was started in 2011 before the parliamentary election and was recently resumed as according to campaigners the new government should destroy an archive of secret surveillance amassed during the previous government and improve legislation to protect against such surveillance in the future. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)