At the beginning of the Meeting of the Government on September 26th, President Shevardnadze made a statement concerning current situation in the country, evaluating it as “hard”. As Russian news agencies have been saying, on September 24th there were clashes between Abkhaz and Georgian-Chechen armed groups near Gulripshi (Abkhazia). Later, Official Tbilisi admitted that in that territory, which is not under control of central government, there are up to 400 Chechen guerrillas.
“I welcome better mutual understanding between the US and Russia. I also would welcome any signs of dialogue between the Russian Government and Chechen rebels. There are few countries that have suffered from the terrorism and aggressive separatism as much as Georgia has. There are terrorists in Georgia. We all know it and try to get used to it. The country, including myself, saw their ruthlessness many times. We have to be careful. Wounded guerrillas have also entered the country from Chechnya along with Chechen refugees. However, there are terrorists among ethnic Georgians as well. Only Chechens must not be blamed.” – said Shevardnadze.
President announced that during the meeting with the ‘power’ ministers on September 24th, a plan of actions has been elaborated. The plan starts on September 26th. Shevardnadze did not clarify what kind of measures does the plan consider. Ministers of Internal Affairs and State Security do not make any comments as well.
Georgia is ready to cooperate with Russia in fight against the terrorism. Head of the General Staff of Georgian Army John Pirtskhalaishvili is nowadays in Moscow and is undergoing consultations with the Russian counterparts. Meetings on the higher level, including Presidential, would take place if necessary – stated President Shevardnadze. At the same time Shevardnadze requested the international society to dispatch observers to Georgia to confirm the country is not covering up terrorists.
President believes that avoidance of any kind of provocations in Abkhazia is a most important goal. September 27 is a date of fall of Sukhumi. President called upon Georgian partisans in Abkhazia to not to undertake any kind of military actions on this day.
The bill on Lease Activities, introduced by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade was among the issues of the agenda.
Minister Ivane Chkhartishvili believes that this bill would encourage development of leasing business and attraction of industrial means to Georgia. Chkhartishvili stressed necessity to introduce privileges for this kind of investments in the tax system. Otherwise leasing companies would not be created.
Finance Minister Zurab Nogaideli opposed introduction of the privileges into Taxation Code, pledging that this would reduce incomes to the budget in the next year. However, other ministers and the President supported Chkhartishvili’s idea.
Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade is trying to establish state-run leasing company and therefore lobbies the bill. There is an agreement with Italian leasing company to establish joint Georgian-Italian venture, with 49% of Georgia’s share.