Posts by Teona Pagava:

News

Congressmen met opposition before the government

by | Nov 23

TBILISI, DFWatch - A delegation of US congressmen who came to Georgia for the eight-year anniversary of the rose revolution held meetings with the opposition before meeting the government. At the meetings with the opposition they spoke about the problems in the country. According to official information from the US embassy, the congressmen arrived here for a two-day visit, and they will be meeting with both the president Mikheil Saakashvili, Parliamentary Speaker Davit Bakradze, Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council Giorgi Bokeria as well as opposition representatives. The congressmen in the delegation are: David Dreier (Republican from California), Ed Whitfield (Republican from Kentucky), and Donald Payne (Democrat from New Jersey), and also Barry Jackson, Chief of Staff to the House Speaker. The delegation chairman is congressman Dreier, who is chairman of the House Committee on Rules. The meeting between the opposition and congressmen has been held in the US embassy. Irakli Alasania, leader of the Free Democrats, David Usupashvili, chairman of the Republicans, Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian Democrats, David Gamkrelidze, leader of the New Rightists party and Kakha Shartava, one of ...

News

Tax break for seniors labelled age discrimination

by | Nov 23

TBILISI, DFWatch - A leading opposition member of parliament says the government’s new tax break for seniors is a form of age discrimination. Free Democrat leader Giorgi Tsagareishvili, who is chair of the parliamentary faction Unity for Justice, says the initiative is a politically motivated decision and part of the election campaign and that it is ‘unacceptable to make such a discriminatory decision.’ The tax break is an initiative coming from the president which will abolish income tax for those from 45 to 60 years old. The president made his promise a few weeks ago, and parliament has just started discussing how to work out the appropriate legislative changes to accommodate the president’s promise. The initiative will exempt people from 45 to 60 from paying income tax for a year, if they are able to find employment starting in the period between January 1, 2011 and July 1. But only those qualify who were unemployed in the three months prior to finding work. The main argument behind it, according to president Mikheil Saakashvili, is that the tax cut creates more motivation to employers to hire ...

News

Gov’t to Cartu Bank: Stay out of politics

by | Nov 17

TBILISI, DFWatch - If the managers of Cartu Bank won’t keep out of politics and get its house in order, the National Bank will take it over. Giorgi Kadagidze, president of the National Bank, said this Thursday at a session of the parliament’s finance and budget committee. Cartu Bank is owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Georgian businessman who October 7 declared he would enter politics. Four days later, the president revoked his citizenship, and then, on October 18, a Cartu Bank money transport carrying 2 million dollars and one million Euros from the Bank of Georgia was raided by police. Later the government explained that it was an operation money laundering, but the Cartu Bank management claims the cash was cash reinforcement between banks, and part of the normal operation of banks. The National Bank then began an audit into Cartu Bank, which is not yet completed. Cartu Bank president Nodar Javakhishvili claims that the public services have halted all contracts with the bank and closed their accounts. Despite the numerous questions raised in the time since, no answers have been forthcoming. In addition, Nodar ...

News

Patriarch: Everything will be all right

by | Nov 16

TBILISI, DFWatch - It was a moment heavy with symbolism when Georgian businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili and Patriarch Ilia II emerged from their meeting Tuesday. “We are pleased that Ivanishvili visited the Antioch today. We have discussed a number of issues, especially the future of Georgia and its current condition. I think everything will be all right,” Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch his Holiness and Beatitude Illia II stated after the one hour meeting. Ivanishvili said it had been one of the happiest days in his life. “I have met with his Holiness for several times. Today has been a very interesting meeting. I received a number of advice from him, which I will take note of and which will help me in my future activities,” Ivanishvili said. By most accounts he looks set to be the next leader of Georgia, if he is allowed to engage in politics, but his progress is blocked by a presidential decree which stripped him of his citizenship. A campaign was launched in support for his attempt to get it back, and last Sunday in his sermon the patriarch made it clear he ...

News

Saakashvili challenger consults with Patriarch

by | Nov 15

TBILISI, DFWatch - The main challenger in Georgian politics Tuesday consulted with the country's highly respected patriarch, and received advice about his further steps to claim power.  Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, Georgia's most respected person, met Bidzina Ivanishvili Tuesday at 6 pm, and the businessman afterwards said he received many tips which will help him in his political career. President Saakashvili has not commented on the development. The Georgian billionaire and longstanding philanthropist Bidzina Ivanishvili declared last month that he will be seeking power in the parliamentary election in October 2012. A few days later authorities revoked his Georgian citizenship thereby blocking him from entering politics. Mr Ivanishvili later said he wanted to meet the patriarch, and in an interview with a local media organization, Palitra, said such a meeting was already scheduled. Meanwile, there was an expectation that the country's most respected person, Patriarch Ilia II, would share his views on what is happening, and last Sunday he finally made his position clear, saying he is convinced that president Saakashvili will do the right thing and grant the businessman his citizenship. Tuesday, news broke ...

News

Inconclusive election in Tskhinvali

by | Nov 14

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Tskhinvali region is heading for a run-off between the two main contenders in the presidential election, after none of them got above the 50 per cent threshold to win in the first round. According to Agence France-Presse, results from 78 out of 86 polling stations showed that alleged Kremlin-favorite Anatoly Bibilov fell slightly behind contender Alla Dzhioyeva, the sole female in the race, who is seen by many as an oppositional figure. According to AFP, Bibilov won 25.44 percent of the votes and Dzhioyeva 25.37 percent. Tskhinvali residents also voted in a referendum about declaring Russian the official language. According to Russian media, there was a calm atmosphere during election day. However, the election campaign was strained, and an opponent of Bibilov, Dzambulat Tedeev, was prohibited from registering his candidacy. Tedeev is head coach of Russia’s independent wrestling team and his supporters aren’t only from the sport world. Mamuka Areshidze, legal expert on Caucasus issues claims that Tedeev has a family surname which is very common in the Tskhinvali region, something which has helped him gather supporters, because of the importance ...

News

Half-empty parliament oks election map redraw

by | Nov 12

TBILISI, DFWatch - Barely half of parliament attended when a crucial proposal to rearrange how they themselves are elected was being discussed yesterday. The constitutional amendment in question will both increase the number of parliamentarians from 150 to 190 and change how they are elected, and is therefore one of the key changes to Georgia's election system as the country enters two consecutive election years. While controversial to some, the government had two opposition factions onboard last summer which signed an agreement stipulating that from now on, 83 members of parliament will be chosen through a system of single candidate districts, on a principle of first past the post, while the rest 107 will be chosen on the basis of a system of proportionality. Part of the plan also foresees splitting up single-candidate districts that have more than 100 000 voters. Accordingly, there will be 10 new single-mandate districts in various parts of the country. One of the objections to the plan is that when the current number of representatives was lowered to 150 back in 2003, a decision which came into force in ...

News

Nato will discuss Georgia at Chicago summit

by | Nov 11

TBILISI, DFWatch - Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has promised that the issue of Georgia’s membership in the alliance will also be reviewed at the summit in Chicago next May. Rasmussen said this at a press conference with President Saakashvili in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea shore. “We have not yet finished the preparations for the Chicago Summit. There are six months before the summit and work on the program is still underway. Everything can happen. We have not made any decisions yet, but without doubt, NATO allies will discuss the Georgia issue at the summit. There is a talk about how things will happen,” Rasmussen stated. According to him, a special document will be adopted on the summit which will reflect the progress in the reforms in Georgia. “I hope that the document, which will be adopted at the Chicago Summit, will reflect the progress which we have seen in Georgia,” the Secretary General noted. But he added that Georgia has to pay all of its attention to implementing the reforms; because the relations between Nato and Georgia will depend ...

News

Are pension promises for real?

by | Nov 10

TBILISI, DFWatch - The government has promised to increase pensions and to provide state insurance for the pensioners, but hasn't set aside money for it in the budget. Parliament demanded that the budget made room for these promises. “Within the bill’s assignments framework there should be foreseen finances for the further increase of the pensions. All pensioners should be insured,” it's written in parliament's remarks about the decision. Later, the has government has confirmed a number of times that the promise would be kept, last by prime minister Nika Gilauri yesterday at a meeting with the president. “We have the resources to amend the social assistance after September 1, 2012, including to provide insurance for all pensioners,” Gilauri stated. But in order to implement this it is necessary for next year's budget to reflect the increased spending. Since the plan was introduced it has been discussed by parliament one time already, and it is now in its second round of debate. In the revised 2012 budget of November 4, the government confirmed that the promise will be kept. “The Georgian government is working on social reform to increase ...

News

NATO demands more reforms in Georgia

by | Nov 10

TBILISI, DFWatch - Ambassadors from NATO member countries yesterday reaffirmed their commitment made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 that Georgia will become member of NATO, but made it clear that membership will require further reforms in the country. They made these statements after a meeting of the NATO-Georgia commission in Tbilisi. According to NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Georgia has moved closer to the North-Atlantic alliance. “Georgia is very important to NATO and I know that NATO is important to Georgia. The Alliance fully supports reforms in Georgia and your aspiration to join the Alliance. We all agreed that Georgia will become a member of the Alliance in 2008 in Bucharest, and this decision is still valid,” he said. “Now I’m saying that Georgia has moved closer to the Alliance. Our annual reports clearly indicate that Georgia has implemented number of reforms and the progress is evident; but it’s also obvious that there are still some works to be implemented,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen adds. Due to his explanation, ‘some works’ are the reason why he cannot say ‘specifically when Georgia has to expect ...

News

Some NGOs ready to cooperate with Ivanishvili

by | Nov 8

TBILISI, DFWatch - Some of the Georgian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are ready for a political partnership with the billionaire turned opposition leader who is the main threat against incumbent president Mikheil Saakashvili's rule. On Monday November 7 tens of Tbilisi based NGOs met with Bidzina Ivanishvili, answering his invitation. The meeting lasted for two hours and was held behind closed doors. Afterwards discussion continued as those present pointed out what they see as the main hindrances to a democratic development in the country. At the beginning of the meeting Ivanishvili noted that today it’s most important for society to become active, and he hopes that it will be possible with the NGOs' effort. “We are well aware of today’s situation when authorities resort to violence to terrorize people and to make civil society passive, which to some extent has already been achieved,” Ivanishvili said during his opening comments. “It’s our duty today together with you - and I know you have big experience in this - to manage the activation of civil society and this way weaken the repressive apparatus,” – he went on, ...

News

No November 7 commemoration today

by | Nov 7

TBILISI, DFWatch - Political parties are not planning any commemoration of the events of November 7, 2007. Only the Labor Party had planned a rally which was already underway at 15. But that is held to demand the resignation of president Mikheil Saakashvilli. Former member Nestan Kirtadze calls the event a ‘political adventure’. On November 7, 2007, police forcefully dispersed a peaceful protest camp in front of parliament organized by the opposition. Police also stormed the TV channel Imedi and used force against the journalists while they were live on air. The events of November 7 lead to president Sakashvili temporarily stepping down and scheduling a snap presidential election the following January. The police' actions that day have not been investigated up until today and no charges have been brought to bear on those responsible. At the end of October, the newly formed faction Unity for Justice, a group of opposition parliamentarians, began to study the events of November 2007 and demanded that there is started an investigation with the aim to ‘establish real democracy in the country’ and because there are still ...

News

Russia to become WTO member

by | Nov 5

TBILISI, DFWatch - Both Russia and Georgia have given thumbs up for an agreement which will allow Russia to become member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). But experts are asking that  ‘significant details’ be clarified before the treaty is signed. The question of Russia's inclusion into the WTO has become a pressing issue over the last few years. Part of the reason Georgia used its veto power to block membership for was the fact that Russia refused to fulfill the Georgian government’s main request, which was the opening of custom-checkpoints between Russia and Georgia and lift the Russian embargo on Georgian goods which came in the wake of the arrest of four Russian diplomats accused of being spies in 2006. It is not surprising that WTO membership has been important for Russia, taking into consideration how beneficial it would be with a simplified relationship with WTO member countries. Russia is by far the largest economy outside of the WTO, with approximately 1.5 trillion GDP annually, and its entry would mark the biggest step in the liberalization of world trade since China joined ...

News

Ivanishvili broadens base

by | Nov 3

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian challenger Bidzina Ivanishvili is extending a hand to the whole spectrum of opposition parties, promising to cooperate with all of them in order to remove the ruling party from power. At the November 1 press conference he was asked whether he is going to cooperate with all parties. “We will cooperate with every force. But cooperation doesn’t mean union,” he added. This signals a shift in strategy which seems an attempt at gathering all forces which are against the sitting president. In his open letter which launched his campaign three weeks ago, the financier ruled out cooperation with several opposition parties for various reasons, including the Christian Democrats and the New Rights party. Those parts of the opposition were offended by his letter at the time, but welcome his latest statements and are ready to cooperate with him, given on the right kind of circumstances. Levan Vepkhvadze of the Christian Democrats says Ivanishvili changed his positions about cooperating with opposition parties and this is a good background for cooperation. But he also adds that there are still some unclear issues, and ...

News

Another ‘collection of dreams’

by | Nov 2

TBILISI, DFWatch - The Government of Georgia has presented a ‘ten-point plan for the country’s development of modernization and employment for the years 2011-2015’, but experts think it's no more than a ‘collection of dreams’ that is hard to take seriously without concrete steps towards its implementation. “The Georgian government’s social-economic policy aim is to create the background for a successful, wealthy and united Georgia, where every citizen will be provided with decent living conditions and will have an opportunity to become a rich and successful member of the world’s civil society.” This is how the new document describes the aim of the plan, and the government is planning to achieve it by ‘creating places of employment and decreasing unemployment; and improving the social assistance system for disabled.” The ten points listed in the plan are: 1. Macro-economic stability; 2. Improvement of the current account balance; 3. Creating/keeping best environment for business and investment; 4. To form a regional trade and logistics center; 5. Improving infrastructure; 6. Agricultural development; 7. Improvement of the education system ; 8. Development of social policy; 9. ...

News

Diplomat claims dismissal was political

by | Nov 1

TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's honorary consul in the United States says the reason he was dismissed last week was that he refused to take down photos from his Facebook page showing the popular opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Georgia. Just four months ago, Lasha Darbaidze was the subject of praise on a TV show called Imedi Heroes, aired on one of Tbilisi's government friendly TV stations. The laudatory portrait concluded that he was carrying out his Washington duties graciously. But like others who have expressed support for a new political contender in the last few weeks, his luck suddenly changed. First his Georgian citizenship was revoked, then he was dismissed from his post as Honorary Consul. Mr Darbaidze has explained that the reason for his dismissal was that he had published a picture of the government’s main opponent on his Facebook page and refused to remove it when prompted by an unnamed person he believes was working for authorities in Tbilisi. He calls the October 24 dissmissal 'political persecution'. But from Tbilisi, the story is different. The government claims ...

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