Issue #767

22.05.15 - 28.05.15


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Beruchashvili Pushes for EU Support ahead of Riga EAP Summit

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Author:  Zviad Adzinbaia

Tamar Beruchashvili, Georgia’s Foreign Minister, has called on European Union leaders to express their support for Georgia’s European future at the forthcoming Riga summit. The Foreign Ministry says that over 14 media sources in the EU countries printed Beruchashvili’s article prior to the summit.

In the article published in NewEasternEurope (NEE), entitled a Critical Summit, Beruchashvili notes that Georgia has taken big steps toward European and international standards in general, as well as in terms of visa liberalisation.

“When the leaders of 34 countries meet on May 21-22 for the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit, we will be confronting geopolitical realities which are dramatically different from those which framed our last gathering. Already in Vilnius in November 2013, the Russian Federation posed a serious challenge to the basic principles of international law and praxis, including the sovereign right of nations to decide their own future. However, since then, Moscow has gone much further in its aggressive attempts to tear down the very fundamentals of the European security architecture,” the Minister writes.

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Turkey Backs NATO Expansion and Georgia

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Author:  Zviad Adzinbaia

“We support NATO expansion,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlьt Зavuюoрlu in a statement on the future of the Alliance.

“Currently, there are four candidate countries: Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Georgia. We want the 2016 NATO summit to offer the aim of expansion,” the Turkish diplomat said. “Yesterday I exchanged information with US State Secretary John Kerry about Russia and Afghanistan’s operations. We discussed plans too,” he continued.

“The next NATO summit is more than a year away. Several days ago, the President of Georgia held a meeting with NATO’s Secretary General in Brussels. Naturally, we need to start thinking about the upcoming Warsaw summit in terms of what Georgia can do to receive international support there and how to consolidate this support,” added Tengiz Pkhaladze, Advisor to the Georgian President. “However, I would like to refrain from making predictions, since neither the summit agenda nor the topic of enlargement have been elaborated yet,” he added.

European and American parties have put the issue of NATO enlargement on the agenda as Russia has been openly involved in war against Ukraine, forcedly annexing sovereign territories of a European country. There is some speculation in the region that this is the first phase of a process of a new Cold War.

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Austrian President Admires Georgia

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Author:  Zviad Adzinbaia

Austrian President Heinz Fischer arrived in Georgia on 18 May for an official visit hosted by the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili.

During the visit, the parties discussed different issues ranging from Georgia’s Association Agreement with the EU to Europe’s security climate. “The Association Agreement is by no means an anti-agreement against any other state,” the Austrian President emphasized.

“I have to sincerely say that our economic cooperation started at a very low level, but we have seriously developed those relations. The Georgian President has already talked about the Association Agreement. We encourage it. Our position is clear - that these kinds of agreements bring states together, including their economies, and are not directed against any third country,” Fischer maintained.

Fischer said he was looking forward to Austria becoming the OSCE chair country in 2017. “This organization has a great responsibility to maintain peace and it will do its best to ensure peace, including bilateral cooperation with Georgia,” said the Austrian President. 

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Tbilisi Marks International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

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Groups of activists rallied together to mark The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia in Tbilisi on May 17th, gathering outside the Ministry of Justice. They were also present to celebrate the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights which declared that the Georgian state is responsible for being unable to protect the rights of citizens who participated in the anti-homophobia demonstrations in 2012. The amount of money demanded for compensation was determined as 33,000 Euros.

Activists called for authorities to simplify the procedures for obtaining identification cards for transgender people. They also called on consideration of the criminal code clause that provides a source of bias often used to deny the issue of ID cards to members of the transgender community. Some of the banners flying at May 17th rally emphasized the fear and insecurity that homosexual people feel in Georgia and asked authorities to take action: ‘LGBT community at Risk’, read one such banner. ‘State authorities must ensure freedom of assembly and speech, and the physical security of all persons who take part in legal demonstrations ,” Read another.

Another group of activists gathered in “Mrgvali Bagi” (Round Garden) in front of the UN office, holding rainbow flags and reading quotes from the European Court’s verdict. Throughout the demonstration a large number of policemen, brought to the location with municipal buses, stood surrounding the garden with the aim of ensuring peaceful proceedings.

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Former Abkhazia President Ankvab Rumored to be Receiving Heart Treatment in Tbilisi

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Author:  Zaza Jgharkava

The various de-facto presidents of the occupied region of Abkhazia have never been particularly lucky. From Moscow, their treatment has been condescending at best. The term of second president Sergey Baghapsh ended fatally, now it is becoming clear its third president Alexander Ankvab is in an uneasy position. Media reports from the occupied Abkhazia state that the condition of Ankvab, after returning from a heart operation to Sokhumi, has worsened to the point that he has sought help in Tbilisi.

Officially, Georgian government members have yet to confirm that Ankvab is being treated in Tbilisi. “I have not heard anything about it,” Georgia’s Healthcare Minister Davit Sergeenko said. Not surprisingly a different version was presented by Healthcare Minister of the Abkhazian government in exile, Ketevan Bakaradze who says that patients living in the occupied region often attend various clinics in Tbilisi. The clinics themselves are of course keeping to a strict code of confidentiality on the matter.

According to Prime Time News, Ankvab might be receiving medical treatment in Tbilisi, at the Medi Club. The Medi Club itself neither denies nor confirms this information. They only say they have no right to give out information on patients. Experts though are almost certain that Ankvab is at the Medi Club since diplomats and other high-ranking persons are treated there. Former Healthcare Minister of the Abkhazian government Dalila Khorava does not exclude the possibility of Ankvab being treated in Tbilisi. According to her, high-ranking officials from occupied Abkhazia used to come to Tbilisi for medical treatment even during her term as a minister and the information was highly confidential even then. “During my term, district heads, even officials arrived; as well as soldiers and veterans, all of them very confidentially. Unfortunately, they do not come for good reasons; they are mostly ill, HIV-infected or Hepatitis C patients. It is not my information as a ‘minister’ but taking into consideration that the sister of the former Healthcare Minister of the de-facto Abkhazia Rusudan Marshania has been living in Tbilisi for years, has a non-government organization and used to go back and forth to Tbilisi and Sokhumi, I would not be surprised if the so-called ministers and former ‘president’ came for medical treatment,” Khorava says.

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Usupashvili to NATO: “Today, Georgia is ready to be a NATO member”

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Author:  Nini Gegidze

Georgia’s Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili spoke at the NATO PA in Budapest, explaining to the audience why the decisions made there were so important for his country: “This is my first speech at NATO PA. I have the unique opportunity to once more highlight why the decisions made here are so important for my country,” he said. “Despite the socio-economic crisis, poverty and violation by a neighbor country, Georgia has managed to make steps towards democracy. We are not yet over the long-term journey but we are ready to be a state standing resolute to make its own decisions, to be reliable and to be a foreseeable partner to NATO states. This progress cannot be achieved without friends and allies. Russia must be engaged, but for the Euro-Atlantic security architecture to retain its integrity there must be deterrence,” Usupashvili said, adding that upholding an open door policy should be one such deterrence.

He went on to speak about reforms following the 2012 parliamentary, presidential and municipal elections, the human rights national strategy, the law on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination, judicial independence, freedom of media and more. He also said that Georgia wants to be a safe, democratic state with an open market and rule of law. “Aspiration to NATO is irreversible. Our obligation in collective security is already clear and is evident in our contribution to Afghanistan. Georgia may not be a full-fledged member of NATO but, legally, politically and tactically, we are valuable contributors to the collective security.”

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