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The News in Brief

Wednesday, November 22
Abolishing EU, NATO Minister’s Office without Consultations “Unacceptable”

(TBILISI) – More than two dozen Tbilisi-based civil society organizations released a joint statement Monday voicing their concerns about the proposed merger of the Office of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The existence of the Office of the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration demonstrates that Georgia’s European integration policy is a national priority...Against this backdrop, it is unacceptable to merge the two into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without prior consultations with the public and experts,” the organizations wrote in a statement.

The organizations noted that the decision on the change was made “behind closed doors” and the public was not informed about the gravity of the merger.

“It is questionable how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, which is tasked to conduct foreign policy, can coordinate the various activities implemented by various state agencies as part of the country’s European integration commitment,” the organizations stated. “An open discussion about the political role and function of the Office is necessary in order to ensure that the suggested structural changes will not hinder the strategically important integration of Georgia into the Euro-Atlantic alliance.”

The Office of the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration was established in 2004 and has been tasked to facilitate the country’s integration with the European Union and the NATO. Victor Dolidze, a former member of the Free Democrats Party, has held the post who since November 2016. (

Fireworks Ban to be Lifted for New Year

(TBILISI) -- The Ministry of Internal Affairs will lift a nationwide ban on the use of fireworks from 21:00 of December 31 to 23:00 of January 2 and from 21:00 of January 13 to 23:00 to January 14, as reported by Georgian outlet Interpressnews. (ipn)

Saakashvili says he is ready to head Ukrainian government as PM

(KYIV) – Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who recently served as governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region, told a protest rally in Kyiv that he is ready to “create a new government” and to become the country’s next prime minister, Radio Liberty reported Monday.

"Ukraine needs the urgent formation of a new government,” Saakashvili told several hundred people in front a tent city of protesters outside the Ukrainian parliament on November 19. “I’m ready to spearhead this process with you and to head this government if necessary.”

Anti-government protesters set up a tent camp outside the Verkhovna Rada – the Ukrainian parliament - on October 17. They are calling for the cancelation of parliamentary immunity, the creation of an anticorruption court, amendments to election laws, and legislation on the impeachment of the President Petro Poroshenko.

The protests were initially called by Saakashvili, a onetime ally of Poroshenko’s, but many of Ukraine's opposition political leaders have also joined the demonstrations.

Saakashvili, who heads the opposition Movement of New Forces party, told protesters that if the authorities fail to meet their demands, they should begin a “popular impeachment” of Poroshenko and other leaders starting on December 3.

"December 3 will be the beginning of 'popular impeachment,'" he said. “Before December 3, we will continue to do what we have started to do. December 3 is Day X for all of us. Let us get organized. I will be traveling across the country to raise people peacefully."

Saakashvili served as Georgia’s president from 2004-2013,. In 2015, he was appointed by Poroshenko to be governor of the Odessa region and surrendered his Georgian citizenship to take the post. He resigned in November 2016, saying his reform efforts had been blocked by Poroshenko's allies.

Saakashvili was then stripped of Ukrainian citizenship by Poroshenko in June 2017 in a move he is challenging in court.

He left the country as a stateless person, but on September 10 he defied authorities and crossed back into Ukraine from Poland -- helped by hundreds of supporters amid scenes of chaos -- vowing to return to politics and calling for protests.

Ukraine's powerful prosecutor-general, Yury Lutsenko, has accused Saakashvili and his supporters of plotting a coup backed by foreign financing, says Radio Liberty with reporting by TASS, Interfax, and The Kyiv Post. (Interpressnews)