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The News in Brief

Friday, December 15
Russia to Sign Citizenship Agreement with Abkhazia

(MOSCOW) -- Russia’s Foreign Ministry recently held consultations with representatives of the Kremlin-backed rebel authorities in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia on regulating dual citizenship as well as simplifying procedures to acquire Russian citizenship.

Dmitry Shamba, the head of Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba’s administration, attended the talks last week, held a press conference regarding the consultations on December 11. Shamba said the high level meetings were still in the embryonic phase, but expected a final deal in the coming weeks or months.

“The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways to regulate the status of the individuals who currently have dual citizenship,” said Shamba, adding that without a bi-lateral agreement, one has to renounce their previous citizenship before being eligible to apply for a Russian passport.

“Since 2008, Abkhaz citizens have been barred from receiving Russian citizenship until an agreement is signed,” said Shamba, adding that the new agreement would also apply to Russian citizens who was to take up residency in Abkhazia.

Under the new agreement, both nationalities would be allowed to hold two passports. (

,b>Geneva Talks focus on ethnic discrimination against Georgians in occupied regions

Ethnic discrimination against Georgian nationals living in the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) was in focus of the latest international discussions in Geneva.

The 42nd round of the Geneva International Discussions – the only international format of meetings addressing Georgia-Russia relations – was held on December 12-13.

The talks traditionally include negotiators from Georgia and Russia as well as representatives from occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, and are co-chaired by United Nations (UN), Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and European Union (EU) officials.

At the recent meeting, the Georgian side said that the ethnic discrimination against Georgians has intensified lately in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region.

It was stressed that registering local residents as foreign citizens or forcing them to change their surnames and ethnic identity could lead to "a new wave of ethnic cleansing”.

The meeting stressed that the fundamental rights and freedoms of Georgians living in the occupied areas are violated on a daily basis and international security mechanisms need to be created on the ground to ease the situation.

Another issue the Georgian side raised in Geneva was the necessity of protecting cultural monuments on the territory of the occupied areas.

The meeting also stressed the need for the immediate detention of a man from Abkhazia who killed a Georgian citizen at the "border line” last year. But the occupied side suspended his prosecution.

The next round of the Geneva International Discussions is scheduled for March 27-28, 2018. (

Georgian Government offers internship opportunity to ethnic minority students

The Government of Georgia is offering internships at state agencies to graduates and final-year students representing ethnic minorities of the country.

The new programme aims to better integrate the country’s ethnic minority groups into society.

After today’s government meeting, the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said that the new internship program will be open to those students who are part of the 1+4 program.

The 1+4 program was launched in 2010 and it offers a one-year Georgian language preparation course for those who represent ethnic minority groups and desire to become university students and study in Georgia for four years.

Each year, the state offers scholarships within the 1+4 program to about 100 ethnic Armenian and 100 ethnic Azerbaijani students.

Tsikhelashvili believes that giving an internship opportunity at government departments to these students and graduates will further help them in their career.

"One of the main goals and priorities of our Government is civic integration [and] creation of the society where every citizen are equal and have the opportunity to fully realise themselves. It is also a priority to engage ethnic minorities in different aspects of life”, Tsikhelashvili said.

She added that a pilot program has already been implemented in the beginning of this year, within which 65 young people went through an internship at 20 government departments and state agencies.

"The results of the pilot project were very positive”, Tsikhelashvili said.

She added that now more ethnic minority representatives will be given such an opportunity. (