1 Nov 2015
Georgia – October 2015
Georgia at the UN General Assembly, Minister of Defense meeting with NATO Secretary General, strengthening of relations with Azerbaijan and China, solidarity and protest actions and festivals of wine and cheese
At the 70th session of UN General Assembly Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili delivered a speech, in which he voiced criticism against Russia that “continues to illegally extend its control over the Georgian sovereign territory”. At the same time, Prime Minister Garibashvili noted that the Georgian government is aware of the need for responsible and pragmatic relations with Russia.
During the same time, Minister of Defense Tinatin Khidasheli and Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgi Kvirikashvili were on an official visit to NATO headquarters. They also had meetings with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Johannes Khan. During the opening remarks at the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “Georgia has the right to determine its own future and its own security arrangements”. In addition, the Special Representative of NATO Secretary General in the South Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai visited Georgia at the end of the month.
As part of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict settlement, another round of Geneva talks took place. During the meeting, the Georgian side “passed over to Abkhazia another package of digitized documents related to the archive of technical documentation of the towns of Abkhazia”, – reported the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia.
The media reported also that the International Criminal Court in Hague may begin an investigation into the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008, during which war crimes might have been committed in the Tskhinvali region. In relation to this, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda visited Georgia.
In October, the Ministry of Energy of Georgia made a statement that Tbilisi is open to negotiations with the Russian state company “Gazprom” about possible supplies of natural gas. At the same time, during the meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister Garibashvili called the rumors on the “diversification and replacement of Azerbaijani gas” to be “nonsense”. The leaders also discussed political-economic topics, issues of regional security, and cooperation in the area of infrastructure development, energy, and transport.
However, on October 20, the Georgian Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze stated that Georgia has to buy natural gas from “Gazprom” in addition to the fuel that Georgia is already receiving from Russia as a transit fee. According to Kaladze, “there is no possibility” to import additional volumes from Azerbaijan.
Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili was also on an official visit in Azerbaijan, where he met with his Azerbaijani counterpart. During this meeting, the minsters confirmed the strategic partnership in the area of developing the South Caucasus energy and transport corridors.
In continuation of the energy topic, the opponents of the plan to purchase gas from Russia held a rally “No to ‘Gazprom’”. The director of TV Company “Tabula” Tamar Chergoleishvili, the producer of the same TV company Lexo Machavariani, and student Salome Khvadagiani were detained during the demonstration. Later they were released after questioning by the Georgian Interior Ministry’s Investigation Service.
The hype around the case of “Rustavi 2” is gaining momentum. General Director of the TV company Nika Gvaramia thinks that, “authorities are doing everything to shut down the TV company”. He also stated that authorities are trying to force him to leave the company through blackmailing. U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly told journalists, “The United States strongly supports the independence of the media and freedom of opinion and attaches great importance to it”. At the same time, Georgian NGOs urged the court to adjudicate the ongoing dispute over Rustavi 2 TV shares in a way that will “not cause suspension of the broadcaster’s operations” and “restriction of its editorial independence”.
Another scandal broke out after the Ukrainian media disseminated а torture video, allegedly made at the law enforcement agencies in the Samegrelo region during President Saakashvili’s time in office.The Central Criminal Police Department of the Ministry of Interior launched an investigation on the matter.
The Georgian lari is 20 years old. On October 2, 1995 the new Georgian currency was declared the only legal payment unit throughout the territory of Georgia.
“Rosselkhoznadzor” made an agreement with Georgia on the export of Georgian greens to Russia. The agreement on this was reached during the meeting of the Russian Minister Sergei Dankvert and Аdviser to the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia Zurab Chekurashvili. Exports will begin in the near future.
Georgia assigns priority to the development of economic relations with China in addition to relations with the countries of the former Soviet Union. The Prime Minister supported the idea of restoration of the Silk Road at the opening ceremony of an exhibition in the framework of the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum. “After China, Georgia is the first country to hold a Silk Road Forum. The Chinese president’s initiative on reviving the Silk Road has the vision “’One Belt – One Road’, that means a new Silk Road that will give a huge potential to the countries”, said Prime Minister Garibashvili.
In turn, China’s largest state-owned company “POWERCHINA” expressed interest in the project of the port in Anaklia. According to the government’s press service, Prime Minister Garibashvili has met the representatives of the company.
Society, Culture, and Sports
The students of Tbilisi State University after I. Javakhishvili two days in a row were protesting in the courtyard of the university. They are demanding the resignation of Rector Vladimer Papava, who failed to resolve a number of problems related to infrastructure, staff, and other issues.
Women activists came out to the building of the Patriarchate to protect the rights of migrant women. Patriarch Ilia II in his sermon spoke negatively about women who leave for work abroad while their husbands and children remain at home.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) published poll results. Contrary to popular belief that there are no supporters of the Eurasian Union in Georgia, 28% of the country sees the country as a member, but the majority – 47 percent wants Georgia’s accession to the EU.
For the second year, the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia and the National Wine Agency organize the Day of Georgian wine. This year’s celebrations were held in Tbilisi, Telavi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, and Ambrolauri. In October, Tbilisi also hosted the festival “Caucasian Cheese 2015” and the annual celebration of the capital city – “Tbilisoba”.
The International music festival was held in the wine region of Georgia Kakheti. World-famous Russian violinist Andrey Baranov and Taiwanese musician from Switzerland, the winner of the international competition in Geneva Wen Xing Yang were among the participants.
This news review reflects the major events of the month and is based on media publications. The views expressed in the Review may be different from the views of the editors of the Caucasus Edition.