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The Daily Beat: 27 September

On September 27th, Georgia commemorated 30 years since the fall of Sokhumi, marking the end of armed conflict in Abkhazia in 1992-93. National flags were lowered to half-mast at government buildings, and the country’s leadership, including Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the opposition representatives, paid tributes at the memorial of the fallen Georgian soldiers on Tbilisi’s Heroes Square.

President Salome Zurabishvili concluded her Baltic tour by meeting the Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda in Vilnius. According to the official press releases, the EU candidacy and Euro-Atlantic integration were topping the presidential discussion agenda. Lithuanian President reaffirmed his support for Georgia’s EU and NATO integration, noting that the country’s future depends on its ability to focus on reforms and foster European values.

Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili is still in Brussels, where he held meetings with the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, and the EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson. Reportedly, Minister Darchiashvili and EU Commissioners meetings focused on implementing the 12 EU recommendations, cooperation in the energy sector, and Georgia’s increasing role in European energy security. “Georgia is working on the 12 EU priorities, notably on de-oligarchization, judiciary, and anti-corruption,” said Commissioner Varhelyi, encouraging the authorities to speed up the work.  

In an interview with PalitraNews TV channel, acting NBG President Natia Turnava confirmed the suspension of the IMF program for Georgia, pledging to do her utmost to get the program back on track. Turnava also admitted that the recent developments (meaning the scandal over the US-sanctioned Otar Partskhaladze) and the resignation of three vice presidents raised many concerns inside and outside the NBG. In spring, the IMF postponed the approval of the second tranche under a three-year stand-by arrangement with a loan of $289 million, citing disagreement over a change in the NBG’s management structure.

The NBG’s recent controversial amendments to the regulation, shielding internationally sanctioned individuals, were discussed at the meeting between the NBG’s acting President, Natia Turnava, and the EU Ambassador, Paweł Herczyński. Following the meeting, Ambassador Herczyński stressed the importance of independent NBG and robust state institutions, reminding the authorities of 12 EU conditions and the forthcoming EC enlargement report on Georgia. The EU Ambassador also expressed hope for restoring the IMF program and underscored the critical importance of micro-financial stability for further EU assistance.

Artists staged a protest at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire, protesting against the Culture Minister Tea Tsulukiani‘s decision to scrap the electing procedure of the rector. Artists believe a new rector to be from the ranks of the ruling party loyalists, fear for the Conservatoire’s independence and demand the cancellation of the Minister’s decision. As Culture Minister, Tsulukiani has frequently faced allegations of attempting to exert state control over culture and relevant institutions.

Five activists, arrested in early June for holding banners and wearing T-shirts featuring the name of PM Irakli Garibashvili, were found guilty of petty hooliganism and fined by the Tbilisi City Court.  None of the video evidence examined at the court hearings showed resistance to police or verbal abuse. These five activists had rallied on June 2 in solidarity with Beka Grigoriadis, who was detained on the same site a day earlier as he was trying to set up a tent to protest against the detention of his son, Lazare Grigoriadis.


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