MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Last week Ministry started special operations in connection with frequent kidnappings on whole territory of the country. However main focus is being made on Pankisi valley. Internal Affairs’ Minister Kakha Targamadze announced that special operations do not consider declaration of emergency situation in Pankisi. Kakheti’s regional police is on altered working regime and there is a 24 hour patrolling in Akhmeta district.
Commander of Internal Army Giorgi Shervashidze stated, that Internal Army’s block-posts would be relocated within the week, but they will not advance into the valley to avoid escalation of tension.
Nowadays there are 5 persons missing: brother of “Milan” soccer team player Kakha Kaladze, Levan Kaladze, two businessmen from Spain, 83 years old father of restaurant “Nikala” owner and one arab businessman.
Case of Levan Kaladze is very unclear. Recently there has been a rumor that he was freed for 300 000 USD ransom and now is with his brother in Italy. However, Internal Affairs Minister Kakha Targamadze refused this information. Ex-secretary general of soccer team “Dinamo Tbilisi” Vazha Zhvania says, that Targamadze himself participates in Kaladze’s kidnapping. Targamadze called this accusition an “ill man’s”. Kaladze was kidnapped by unidentified persons in police uniforms.
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Ministry sent a protest to the Russian side in the beginning of the week. The protest was sent because of violation of terms of 1999 OSCE Istanbul Summit agreement by Russia. Under this agreement Russia had to transfer its two military bases – Gudauta and Vaziani – before July 1st 2001 to Georgia. Vaziani base has been transferred on June 29, however Gudauta base still remains under Russian control.
On July 2nd, Georgian Foreign Ministry declared his protest on the violation of the Istanbul agreement. As the statement of the Ministry, issued on Monday says, “The Georgian Side keeps the right to employ the necessary measures”. Georgian Foreign Ministry urges Russia to use “urgent measures” for immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and military equipment from Gudauta base.
On July 1st Georgia had already started consultations with its partners in OSCE framework on this matter and expects support from the international community. Some of OSCE member states already expressed their negative approach to the fact of violation of the agreement’s terms, however no serious steps have been made on international scale so far.
On July 3rd in Vienna, OSCE Joint Consultations Council discussed the issue of fulfillment of the Agreement on Conventional Armaments in Europe. US representative’s strong criticism was followed by strict speech by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia Mr. Levan Mikeladze. Georgia’s position was supported by France, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Norway, USA, Italy, Turkey and Ukraine. On June 5 OSCE Permanent Council once again discussed issue of violation of the agreement by Russia.
On July 4, Georgian Ambassador to NATO David Dondua made a statement on the process of withdrawal of Russian bases at the Session of Ambassadors of Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in NATO Headquarters (Brussels). Almost all ambassadors called upon Russia to use any possibilities to timely and completely fulfill its all obligations undertaken by Istanbul joint declaration.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry announces that there have not been any violations of Istanbul agreement from the Russian side. “There are certain difficulties and Russia repeatedly addressed both OSCE and Georgia about them”, says Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. The Russian side states, that withdrawal would not be possible before August 1.
At the same time, President Shevardnadze partially agrees with the Russian side. In his Monday’s radio interview, president said that Russia did fulfill Istanbul Summit’s decisions on the transfer of Vaziani and Gudauta bases to Georgia. He mentioned that there are certain problems with the process, but he expressed hope that everything will be solved during the 8th round Georgian-Russian negotiations on the military issues which would be held in July. President left Goegrian Foreign Ministry in very unpleasant situation with this statement. When the Ministry sends a protest to the Russian side, President says that they [Russians] did everything they had to.
As it is known, Russia names as a hindering factor of the process of withdrawal of Gudauta base the piquet by Abkhazian separatists. Piqueters demand to stop the withdrawal process or to keep Russians’ weapons. Under Istanbul Agreement, Georgia must ensure security of Russian military equipment during its withdrawal. Russia presumes that Georgia is not able to do so (the piquet is used as an argument for this statement. However, the Georgian side thinks, that the piquet has been inspired by Russian militaries). In this regard Georgian Defense Ministry suggested to the Russian side alternate ways of liquidation of the base. Acting Deputy Defense Minister Temur Loria proposes use of Il 76 transport aircraft in the process since piquet can not hinder the aircraft.
On July 5th, Foreign Minister Menagarisvili met Secretary General of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer and discussed with him dynamism of fulfillment of Georgia’s obligations before the Council of Europe. Special attention has been paid to the issue of deported Meskhetians. Menagarishvili confirmed, that Georgia will fulfill its duties as it is scheduled before year 2012. As Director of the Department of Information and Public Relations of the Mnistry Kakha Sikharulidze has announced, Walter Schwimmer gave a positive assessment to these processes.
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
Intensiveness of Georgian-Turkish relations in military sphere increases. Turkish defense Minister SbahattinCakmakoglu started his two-days-long official visit to Georgia on July 3rd. After meeting with his Georgian counterpart Lieutenant-General David Tevzadze, Cakmakoglu stated that Turkey supports Georgia’s demand of liquidation of Russian bases on its territory. He expressed hope, that Georgia and Russia will settle this problem in the nearest future,
Guest discussed the issue of liquidation of Akhalkalaki base as well. This base employs big number of local population, majority of which is ethnic Armenian. Therefore it is highly probable, that withdrawal of this base might face the same problems as Gudauta base, were Russians suspended liquidation process due to the demands of local population.
In recent years Turkey has been making significant financial aid to Georgian armed forces (Turkish aid to Georgian Defense Ministry reached 12 million USD in total). But this irritates Georgia’s neighbors (Armenia, Russia). In June, Armenian Foreign Minister expressed his concern regarding the deepening of cooperation between Georgia and Turkey in the defense sphere. From this point of view, visit of Turkish Defense Minister acquires special importance.
Sabahati Cakmakoglu had meetings with President Shevardnadze and other officials as well. He also visited several military bases, located near to the capital city.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
On July 5th Secretary General of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer met Justice Minister Mikheil Saakashvili. During the briefing, which was held after the meeting, Schwimmer gave a positive assessment to the Ministry’s activities. He stated that Mikheil Saakashvili plays an important role in the process of reforms and expressed hope, that Minister would achieve his plans despite the difficulties.
Significant attention has been paid to the law on local self-governance. Schwimmer hopes that this law would be adequate to the norms of the Council of Europe.
Procedure of Georgian citizenship might be simplified soon. As it has become known on July 6, under the bill, which was elaborated by the Ministry of Justice, Georgian citizenship may be granted to anyone who was born in Georgia or resided in the country for 5 years. The acting law considers 10 years of residence as a necessary condition for citizenship. Justice Minister thinks, that it is because of this provision, that up to 1,5 million potential Georgian citizens, among whom 500 000 are ethnic Georgians, presently reside outside Georgia. He also said, that this bill does not grant double citizenship, since it is prohibited by the Constitution.
The bill has been reviewed at the National Security Council and submitted to the Parliament.
Finally fate of 50 4wheel drive cars belonging to the Ministry of Justice has been revealed. These vehicles will arrive to Georgia before the end of summer. The vehicles were presented to the Ministry by the Government of Swiss and they would be used for transportation of prisoners.
The vehicles shipped from Swiss were held by Rostov (city in southern Russia) customs with suspicions that they were being shipped for Chechen guerillas.