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25.05.12 - 31.05.12

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Why are they moving the parliament?

Author: By Zaza Jgharkava

On Saturday, May 26, Georgia’s parliament session will be held in Kutaisi instead of Tbilisi. From that day on, the country’s supreme legislative body will settle in a new parliament building in Kutaisi, Georgia’s second city. As for the old building in the capital, people say it will be wrapped like a gift with the words FOR SALE on it.

The names of potential buyers of the building have already been floating about. Two of the marquee names include Israeli businessmen Roni Fuks and Zeev Frenkel, as well as billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. However, those are simply rumors for now. The main question is not who will purchase the building, but rather why is the government moving the home of Georgia’s legislative body from Tbilisi to Kutaisi in the first place?

As President Saakashvili has previously stated, this fundamental change of geography is a final liberation from Soviet thinking – “they wanted Georgia to be governed from one street. It was so in the Soviet Union; everyone lived on one street then, had houses on one street, they were running everything from one street. This is why Georgia was easy to divide then,” he said during his appearance at the Kutaisi Theatre in early May. .

Despite this noble argument, the political opposition is accusing the government of foul politics. For example, the leader of the Labor Party, Shalva Natelashvili, is certain that this decision by Mikheil Saakashvili is based on his hatred for Tbilisi residents.

“After Saakashvili stormed Tbilisi citizens in Rike St. on November of 2007, and at last year’s demonstrations in front of the parliament, he realized that he cannot fool, or frighten Tbilisi or make it kneel down. This is why he decided to seek revenge by depriving Tbilisi of the capital’s due status. The place blessed by King Davit Aghmashenebeli and King Vakhtang Gorgasali has been censured. The country’s highest legislative body has been ousted from Tbilisi. With one swing of his sword Saakashvili has beheaded Georgia,” Natelashvili said and added that “after Saakashvili is removed from power, Tbilisi will regain its geopolitical status.”

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Saakashvili encouraged by NATO’s affirmative, no-hurry message to Georgia

Author: By Nikoloz Devdariani

There is hardly a year more important for Georgia’s foreign policy than a year when leaders from countries of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) gather to make important strategic decisions, among others, decisions related to alliance enlargement. In the run-up to each of the recent NATO summits dating back to the Rose Revolution, all of Georgia’s diplomatic efforts and resources have been directed to securing progress in joining this Western alliance. Last year was no different, as the Georgian government pressed hard to have its cause reflected in the NATO Summit in Chicago that took place last Monday.

The history of Georgia’s path to NATO integration has shown a trend of incremental progress, though the goal of actual membership which the Georgian government would have loved to see coming within a couple of years, has yet to be achieved- mostly due to Russia’s informal veto. In 2006, NATO leaders in Riga pledged intensified dialogue for Georgia and Ukraine. In 2008, alliance leaders in Bucharest directly promised membership to these NATO hopefuls, while at the same time withholding practical action – the long-awaited Membership Action Plans (MAP) were never granted.

The main question after Georgia’s war with Russia in August 2008 was whether NATO membership was still on the table after parts of Georgia were occupied by forces hostile to the alliance. But the following NATO summit declarations in Strasbourg/Kehl (2009) and Lisbon (2010), reaffirmed the Bucharest commitment, without however, making any hasty decisions pertaining to granting MAP or proposing a shortcut formula for membership. Germany, France and a handful of smaller European countries continued to object.

On May 21, leaders of the 28 member countries of NATO issued a declaration which reaffirmed Georgia’s NATO ambitions, but did not go as far as expanding the alliance in the east. That this summit would not be an enlargement summit was made clear by US and NATO officials in advance. What really mattered for Georgia in this situation was how both the form and the content of Georgia’s relations with the Western alliance would look at this crucial world event, despite the absence of quick membership prospects

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