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RECONCILING CHOICE Prime Minister picked Tea Akhvlediani – a veteran diplomat with European portfolio – to handle the reconciliation and minority integration portfolios. A competent pair of hands, whose professional demeanor must inspire confidence across the occupation line and serve as a reassurance to Georgia’s foreign partners at Geneva International Discussions – a talking shop tasked with keeping the negotiating line alive with Moscow. It also helps, that before assuming this post, she served as deputy health minister, and is aware of the humanitarian projects that help residents from occupied provinces benefit from Georgia’s health services.
IN BAD BOOKS The US Congress added a rider to the Defense Bill, requiring the State Department to submit a report within 180 days from passing it, on Georgia’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law. This comes shortly after the spending bill made 15% of US assistance conditional on similar criteria. Decidedly, Georgia requires a concerted effort to get back into the Congress’ good graces.
YET STILL WITH GOOD FRIENDS Eight present and upcoming members of the UN Security Council – including France, Germany, UK, and the US – issued a joint statement backing Georgia’s cause as the tragic anniversary of the 2008 Russian intervention nears. Symbolic and crucial support at the world’s top multilateral forum and an appropriate reminder to Russia that it has some outstanding commitments to meet. Moscow seems nonplussed: on August 7 – the anniversary of war – railway traffic, suspended due to pandemic, will resume with occupied Abkhazia.
STIMULUS…OF SORTS PM Gakharia announced a package of measures ostensibly aimed at easing social and economic burden from COVID-19 fallout. This new, third package amounts to USD 132 million, which is meager by the standards of any European country. Yet, the sum is not inconsequential if we consider the dire need of many Georgians. Naturally, the opposition is crying foul when the Government doles out handouts ahead of elections. Yet, it is unlikely that the charge sticks – stimulus packages of every possible sort and of various degrees of generosity seem to be the order of the day.
OTD in 2008: Heavy exchange of fire in villages of Avnevi, Dvani, Eredvi, Khetagurovo, Nuli, Prinevi, Ubiati, Zemo Prisi. Georgian peacekeepers’ post on the Sarabuki height comes under fire too, three Georgian peacekeepers wounded. As Georgian Foreign Minister plans a Moscow trip for August 10-11 to talks things over, Tskhinvali refuses to meet on August 7… Russian paramilitaries pledge military support. The stage is set for the intervention of would later become known in Ukraine as “polite green men”.
That’s full lid for today!