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The News in Brief

Monday, May 25
Protest held in front of the Turkish Embassy

Organizations Green Fist and Vegan Base have held a protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Georgia.

One of the protesters said they object to the planned construction of two nuclear power plants in Turkey.

Another protester said Turkey is a seismically active country and in case of a crash, accidents such as those that took place in Chernobyl and Japan may also happen there. They allege the plants represent a threat not only to Turkey, but to the entire region.

According to the protesters, similar protests are being held in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and other countries.

The protest was attended by few people and it ended soon.

President’s Office Warns Against Bill on Banking Supervisory Agency

A newly proposed bill on stripping the Georgian National Bank of banking supervisory functions and transferring them to a separate agency can have adverse effect as planned reform seems to be motivated by political rather than economic reasons, President’s economic adviser, Giorgi Abashishvili, said on May 22.

He also hinted that if approved the bill might be vetoed by the president.

The bill, which was submitted to the Parliament for consideration on May 21, is sponsored by two lawmakers from Georgian Dream parliamentary majority group – Tamaz Mechiauri of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party and Nodar Ebanoidze of the Republican Party.

MP Mechiauri, who became chairman of the parliamentary committee on finances last month, has been a vocal critic of the central bank and its governor Giorgi Kadagidze.

MP Mechiauri makes no secret of the bill’s political motives.

Members of the central bank’s board “do not reflect at all interests of those forces, which are currently in power,” he told Tbilisi-based Maestro TV’s business program on May 22.

“They still continue pursuing interests of the previous authorities, who appointed them [current members of board],” Mechiauri said and claimed that the board remains under control of Georgia’s former justice minister Zurab Adeishvili, who is wanted by Tbilisi on multiple criminal charges. “Adeishvili possesses more information about what is going on in the banking sector than the Parliament.”

“Separation of this [banking supervisory] agency from their [leadership of the central bank] subordination will at least discourage some to make use of currency exchange rate fluctuations,” he said and also added that the central bank should be “de-politicized”.

His remarks echoed speculation, also voiced last week by energy minister and deputy PM Kakha Kaladze, that currency transactions by some commercial banks might be one of the reasons behind depreciation of Georgian currency lari. Kaladze also complained that under the law the government has no access to information about such transactions. Central bank chief Giorgi Kadagidze dismissed such speculation on May 16 as “conspiracy theories.”

The proposed bill envisages setting up of the Financial Supervisory Agency from July 1 2015, which will be in charge of monitoring and supervision of banking sector and other financial institutions; these functions are currently carried out by departments, which are part of the central bank.

According to the bill, the Financial Supervisory Agency will have seven-member board; central bank governor will be an ex-officio member of the board, but will have no right to also serve as a chairperson of the board. Seven other members of the board will be elected by the Parliament. Chairperson of the board will have the right to appoint head of the agency.

Speaking at a press conference on May 22, President’s economic adviser, Giorgi Abashishvili, who also president’s deputy chief of staff, said banking sector is one of the most robust segments of the Georgian economy and carrying out proposed reform may only cause troubles.

“Such a proposal is surprising – what are the economic motives behind it?.. Why cure a sector, which needs no cure?” he asked.

“We think that there are political reasons. Political games are inadmissible in economy; it will harm economy,” Abashishvili said.

He also said that, if adopted, the proposed changes also affect presidential powers. The President will further “weaken” the presidential powers, particularly in respect of the president’s role in appointing central bank governing body.

Asked whether President Margvelashvili will veto the bill if the Parliament approves it, Abashishvili responded: “We should keep in mind – all those initiatives, which will be damaging to economy and dictated only by political reasons, will definitely be neglected.”

Commenting on the proposed bill, Economy Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said on May 23 that it requires a thorough consideration.

“Discussions are ongoing – there are arguments on the both side, so we will weigh all the arguments and take final position,” Kvirikashvili said.

Preparations Underway for Marking Independence Day

Georgia’s Independence Day on May 26 will be marked this year with series of festivities and various outdoor events in Tbilisi and towns across the country.

Like in two previous years there will be no army parade, but a military component will still be present as various types of military equipment will be deployed in downtown Tbilisi for public display and military aircraft and helicopters will fly over the capital.

With preparations underway, the Rose Square in Tbilisi center will be closed to traffic starting 9am May 22 and ending evening of May 26, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.

The capital’s main thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue, will be closed to traffic from 9pm May 24 and traffic will be restricted in adjacent streets.

Freedom Square will be closed to traffic from 5am on May 26 until the events conclude.

John Kerry Congratulates Georgian People on Independence Day

US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulates the people of Georgia on the Independence Day, which is marked on May 26.

“We greatly value our strong partnership with Georgia. The United States is firmly committed to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders. We strongly support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. We are committed to helping Georgia implement its European Union Association Agreement and advance on the path toward NATO membership. And we honour the dedication and sacrifices of your troops serving around the world, including in Afghanistan,” reads the letter of congratulations, published on the official website of the US Department of State.

The US Secretary of State wished the Georgian people peace, unity, and prosperity.

President Margvelashvili Awards Lt. Gen. Frederick Hodges Golden Fleece Order

Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili has hosted Lieutenant General Frederick Hodges, the U.S. Army commander in Europe, at the President’s Palace.

President Margvelashvili awarded Frederick Hodges the Order of the Golden Fleece for his outstanding support towards Georgia. The President thanked Lt. Gen. Frederick Hodges for his support to deepening of Georgia’s partnership with NATO.

In his turn, Gen. Frederick Hodges thanked President Giorgi Margvelashvili for the honorary award and stressed the close relations between the two countries.