Eastern Neighbourhood: Forestry project highlights positive developments

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 15:25
An EU-funded forestry project has highlighted the progress made in the forestry sector at its final meeting in December. Attendees at the last meeting of the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) II Programme, from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia, suggested ways to ensure that the project’s results are long-term.
One of more important deliverables of the Programme is increased collaboration between neighboring countries on forest management. Other important achievements included inputs to country forestry sector programs, study tours to EU Member State countries and bilateral dialogue, building community and youth awareness about the importance of forests, promoting new protected areas, and forest biodiversity conservation.
Key long-term achievements will continue to benefit the region after the programme’s completion, such as the National Program Advisory Committees (NPACs) which was created by FLEG, and contributed towards the institutional reform process as well as providing independent and valuable data.
FLEG also contributed to making forest management and governance more transparent, built educational and professional capacity in the forestry sector, fostered collaboration between local communities and the forestry sector and facilitated community participation in the sector for sustainable forest management.

Russia has started its withdrawal from Syria after months of fighting

Published in World
Friday, 06 January 2017 16:10

RUSSIA’S military on Friday said it has begun scaling down its deployment to Syria, with Moscow’s sole aircraft carrier set to be the first to quit the conflict zone.
“In accordance with the decision of the supreme commander of the Russian armed forces Vladimir Putin, the Russian defence ministry is beginning the reduction of the armed deployment to Syria,” Russian news agencies quoted military chief Valery Gerasimov as saying.
Gerasimov said that a naval group headed by aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov would be the first to leave the area.
“The tasks set for the aircraft carrier group during its military mission have been fulfilled,” added Russia’s main commander in Syria Andrei Kartapolov, agencies reported.
Kartapolov said that Russia still had sufficient air defence capabilities in Syria thanks to its S-300 and S-400 systems deployed in the war-torn country.
Since September 2015, Russia had boosted its firepower on land in Syria and off the coast in the Mediterranean in support of regime forces targeting the second city of Aleppo.
source: news.com.ua 

OSCE discusses Russian and Sukhumi united army issue

Published in Politics
Monday, 28 November 2016 11:45

In the frames of OSCE Permanent Council the ratification issue on cooperative army of Russian Federation and Sukhumi occupation regime was discussed. According to the Foreign Minister of Georgia, this issue was discussed in OSCE at November, 24.
According to Maka Bochorishvili, the provocation steps by Russia ignores the fundamental principles of international law and aims the annexation of the territories of Georgia.

America’s Vital Interests Are at Stake in Georgia-Donald Rumsfeld

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 12:32

The Republic of Georgia has again demonstrated its deep commitment to Western values. Through the ballot box and for the second time in four years, Georgians last month showcased their sound democracy, vibrant pluralistic society and deep commitment to the values of the trans-Atlantic community. Results of this year’s parliamentary elections repeated and deepened the positive outcomes of their previous election in 2012.
Nearly unique among the new states formed from the old U.S.S.R., Georgia’s main parties all subscribed to and campaigned on Georgia’s strong attachment to Europe and NATO, and all favor a strong strategic anchor with the United States. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili told me and stated publicly that this process is “irreversible,” a sentiment that resonates throughout Georgian society.
What can the U.S. do to support these solid achievements in Georgia and the aspirations behind them? Several reasonable options warrant close attention from the next administration. None requires significant expenditures and all directly advance American interests.
First, the barriers in Georgia’s pathway to NATO membership should be removed, and Georgia should receive a membership action plan without further delay. Georgians have paid their dues. Georgia volunteered its fighters to stand shoulder to shoulder with American and other NATO soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In per capita terms, Georgia’s contribution of manpower has been greater than all other NATO members except the U.S. This includes those European countries that have been somewhat cool toward Georgia’s membership in NATO. Germany, with a population of 81 million, lost 55 of its soldiers in NATO’s service in Afghanistan, while Georgia, with only 4.9 million inhabitants, lost 32 of its brave soldiers, a notable difference of scale.
NATO has recently extended its presence in Georgia by setting up a Joint Training and Evaluation Center. NATO should also tap Georgia’s unique perspective on its complex region. It has firsthand experience with Russian subversion; it borders restive Turkey; and it has an evolving relationship with its neighbor, Iran. These suggest several opportunities, including prospective intelligence sharing and counterintelligence operations.
Russia offers predictable complaints that for Georgia to join NATO would be a provocation. Concern about Russia’s probable reaction persuaded some NATO members that Georgia’s move toward NATO should be delayed. Yet recent NATO summits have repeatedly acknowledged Georgia’s contribution to the West’s security, while promising action on its application for full membership. The time to act is now. The West’s security interests should not be held hostage to Russian disapproval.
The Russian army continues to occupy more than 20% of Georgia’s territory, which it seized during its 2008 invasion of Georgia. Russia’s evolving imperial vision, which already includes parts of Ukraine and all of Crimea, is not compatible with the West’s values and security concerns.
Discussions aimed at the return of these Georgian territories have shown little progress. Meanwhile, Russian troops are stealthily moving the borders of the land they occupy deeper into Georgian territory. The U.S. must raise its profile in talks to resolve these matters and be prepared to take further measures to raise the cost to Russia of its occupation of Georgian territory.
It is time for the U.S. to acknowledge Georgia’s importance and help to make it an active participant in planning and strategy for the region. Georgia is a major energy transport route from the Caspian to America’s allies in Europe. It provides a barrier to the flow of jihadists from other parts of the former Soviet Union to the Middle East. And it will doubtless figure large in the strategies of any NATO consortium for securing the Black Sea and “New Europe” against Russian adventurism.
Beyond this, the U.S. should be more active in the development of the new East-West transport corridors, in which Georgia and the Caucasus play a central role. Its ports on the Black Sea will send and receive goods and raw materials from Asia and Europe, linking the entire Eurasian continent. An American company is currently constructing a deep-water port on Georgia’s Black Sea coast at Anaklia that will be able to accommodate the largest freighters. Georgia may be a small country but it is destined to become a linchpin connecting the economies of Europe and Asia.
For all these reasons the U.S. should act now to deepen its engagement with Georgia, not as an act of philanthropy but because America’s vital interests are at stake there. The people of Georgia have shown what good governance, strong democracy and an attachment to Western values can accomplish, even against daunting odds. Georgia is an ally we need and should welcome.

Ilia II to visit Russia

Published in Politics
Friday, 18 November 2016 12:15

His Holiness and Beatitude, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, the Archbishop of Mtskheta-Tbilisi and Metropolitan bishop of Bichvinta and Tskhum-Abkhazia will visit Russia. According to the Archpriest Kakhaber Gogotishvili, Ilia II will meet Russian Patriarch at November, 19.
On November 20, the total mass in the cathedral will be performed, in which the various Orthodox patriarchs and their representatives will participate. After that the Russian Patriarch will hold a reception for his 70th anniversary.

The Hague Tribunal equates Crimea annexation to war

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 11:59

The International Criminal Court (The Hague Tribunal, Netherlands) considers the situation in the annexed Crimea to be an equivalent of international armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia. This is stated in the annual report of the preliminary investigation by the Prosecutor of International Criminal Court, published on November 14.
“According to the latest information, the situation on the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol is equal to the international armed conflict between Ukraine and Russian Federation. This international armed conflict started not later than February 26 when Russian Federation has involved its armed forces personnel to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Government of Ukraine," - the document says”.
The law on international armed conflict is applicable to this situation and after March 18, 2014 to the extent to which the events in the Crimea and Sevastopol will be equivalent to the continuing state of the occupation, it is also noted.
According to the Court, the determining the lawfulness of the initial intervention Which resulted in the occupation, is not necessary. Thus, the international conflict can be investigated according to the norms of the Rome statute.
The Prosecutor's Office of the ICC also has information about the oppression of the Crimean Tatars on the peninsula, forced displacement of 179 prisoners on the territory of Russia, forced mobilization of the Crimean population to the military service.
The Prosecutor of the Court decided to continue gathering evidence regarding this situation in the next year.
Earlier it was reported that Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko will hold talks with representatives of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on crimes against the Revolution activists

RUSSIA EXTENDS PAUSE IN AIRSTRIKES AS SYRIAN ARMY STEPS UP FIGHT IN ALEPPO

Published in World
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 16:25

Russia says it will extend a pause in airstrikes on Aleppo until the evening of November 4, two days from now. The announcement from the country’s defence ministry said the move was by order of President Vladimir Putin. On Tuesday the Kremlin said a temporary pause in Russian and Syrian airstrikes was still in force, but could not be extended if rebels in the city did not halt their attacks.
Video released by the Syrian army shows government troops engaged in heavy fighting with rebel forces in the west of the city. Tanks and heavy artillery are used as opposition fighters come under fire. Rebel groups have launched an assault on western districts in recent days to try to lift a siege on the eastern half of the city, where it’s thought over a quarter of a million people are surrounded by forces loyal to the government.
The United Nations has said all sides fighting over Aleppo may be committing war crimes through indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas. It says attacks by rebel groups in western districts may have killed dozens of people. Pledging to serve his full term in office until 2021, President al-Assad has attacked the media in the West for branding terrorists as freedom fighters and painting a black and white picture of the war.
The bombardment of civilian areas by his and Russian forces has been condemned as barbaric, with the UN describing Aleppo as a “slaughterhouse”.
source: euronews.com 

Russia wants to use military force against neighbors Crimea, Ukraine and Georgia-NATO Secretary General

Published in Politics
Thursday, 27 October 2016 11:45

"NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia,"- this statement was made by the Secretary General of NATO. According to him,  Alliance doesn’t want a new cold war and doesn't want a new arms race and therefore what NATO does is defensive and it is proportionate.
"At the same tme, NATO has to react when we over a long period of time have seen a substantial military build-up by Russia and we have seen them modernizing their military capabilities and most importantly we have seen them willing to use military force against neighbors Crimea, Ukraine and also Georgia and we also saw a threatening rhetoric from Russia. So NATO has to respond to continue to deliver credible deterrence in a new security environment and we have to remember that the reason why we delivered deterrence, why NATO is strong is not because we want to provoke a conflict, but it is because we want to prevent a conflict; and the best way to do that is to stay strong, united and be firm in our response,"-Jans Stoltenberg said. 

NyTimes's article on situation at occupation line in Georgia

Published in Politics
Monday, 24 October 2016 15:44

ARIASHENI, Georgia — Marked in places with barbed wire laid at night, in others by the sudden appearance of green signs declaring the start of a “state border” and elsewhere by the arrival of bulldozers, the reach of Russia keeps inching forward into Georgia with ever more ingenious markings of a frontier that only Russia and three other states recognize as real.
But while dismissed by most of the world as a make-believe border, the dirt track now running through this tiny Georgian village nonetheless means that Vephivia Tatiashvili can no longer go to his three-story house because it sits on land now patrolled by Russian border guards.
That track marks the world’s newest and perhaps oddest international frontier — the elastic boundary between Georgian-controlled land and the Republic of South Ossetia, a self-proclaimed breakaway state financed, defended and controlled by Moscow.Mr. Tatiashvili’s troubles started early in the summer when earth-moving equipment turned up without warning and started digging a wide track through an apple orchard and a field of wildflowers on the edge of the village. He was out at the time, so he avoided being trapped.
There is no fence or barbed wire, but Mr. Tatiashvili does not dare to cross the track to visit his house for fear of being arrested, as his elderly neighbor was, by Russian border guards.
“It is too dangerous for me to go home,” he said, complaining that the boundary has become so mobile that nobody really knows its final destination. Mr. Tatiashvili now lives in his brother’s house, away from the border in the village center.
The destitute mountainous area of South Ossetia first declared itself independent from Georgia in 1990, but nobody outside the region paid much attention until Russia invaded in August 2008 and recognized South Ossetia’s claims to statehood. With that, the territory joined Abkhazia in western Georgia, the Moldovan enclave of Transnistria and eastern Ukraine as a “frozen zone,” an area of Russian control within neighboring states, useful for things like preventing a NATO foothold or destabilizing the host country at opportune moments.
The leader of South Ossetia, Leonid Tibilov, has said he plans to hold a referendum like the one in Crimea in 2014 on whether to request annexation by Russia.
But even without a referendum, the nominally independent country is already Russian territory in all but name. It has its own small security force, but its self-declared frontiers are mainly guarded by Russia’s border service, an arm of the Federal Security Service, the post-Soviet version of the K.G.B. It houses three Russian military bases with several thousand troops and, with no economy beyond a few farms, depends almost entirely on Russian aid for its survival.
The green border signs that first appeared last year and now keep popping up along the zigzagging boundary warn that “passage is forbidden” across what is declared to be a “state border.” Which state, however, is not specified, though locals are in no doubt about its identity.
“Russia starts right here,” Mr. Tatiashvili said, pointing to the freshly dug track that separates his house from Georgian-held land.
“But who knows where Russia will start tomorrow or the next day,” he said. “If they keep moving the line, we will one day all be living in a Russian-Georgian Federation.”
One of the new signs — written in English and Georgian — is just a few hundred yards from Georgia’s main east-west highway, and it puts a short part of an oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to a Georgian port on the Black Sea within territory controlled by Russia.
So tangled is the dispute over what land belongs to whom that each side has its own definition of the line. Russia and South Ossetia insist it is a border like any other — Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru also recognize it — while Georgia calls it “the occupation line.” The European Union, which has around 200 unarmed police officers in Georgia to monitor the agreement that ended the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, also says there is no actual border, only an “administrative boundary line.”
Kestutis Jankauskas, the head of the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia, said it was hard to know where this boundary line exactly runs. It was never recognized or agreed upon, and its location depends on which maps are used. Russia, he said, is using a map drawn by the Soviet military’s general staff in the 1980s.
It demarcates what in the Soviet era was an inconsequential administrative boundary within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia but what is now hardening into a hazardous frontier.
The fitful movement of the boundary seems to be driven mostly by Russia’s desire to align what it sees as a state border with this old Soviet map. So far, the movement has always been forward, often by just a few yards but at other times by bigger leaps.
Because the line is so uncertain and, in many places, still completely unmarked, Georgian villagers sometimes find themselves on the wrong side and under arrest by Russian border guards or local security officers.
To help get people out of detention, recover cattle that have strayed into Russian-controlled land and settle quotidian disputes like who owns which apple trees or vineyard, Europe’s monitoring mission organizes a monthly meeting of Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian officials.
As happened when the two pro-Russian regions of eastern Ukraine declared themselves independent states in 2014 and said they would like to be absorbed by Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin has mostly feigned ignorance of what his country’s surrogates are up to in Georgia.
Asked in April about South Ossetia’s plans to hold a referendum on joining Russia, Mr. Putin suggested that Moscow was mostly a bystander. But if South Ossetia wants to hold a referendum, Mr. Putin said, “we cannot resist it.”
While Russian military, border and diplomatic personnel have poured into South Ossetia, the local population of Ossetians — an ethnic group whose language is distantly related to Persian — has steadily drifted away, shrinking by around half from a prewar level of roughly 70,000. An ethnic Georgian population of around 25,000 that used to live there has long since fled.
Like Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, the border markings deep into what Georgia insists is its territory are slowly creating “facts on the ground” that, no matter what the international community might think, are a reality that everyone has to deal with, particularly residents.
Elizbar Mestumrishvili, 75, a farmer who lives next to Mr. Tatiashvili’s now-marooned house, can still get to his home, as it lies on the Georgian side of the new dirt track.
But he is wary of going to the bottom of his garden, which lies within a 60-yard frontier zone that Russian and South Ossetian security officers claim the right to patrol. Pointing to a row of vines drooping with plump grapes, he said it was unwise to walk any farther because “they might come and set up a border post.”
The so-called borderization of a previously vague administrative boundary created political headaches for Georgia’s government ahead of parliamentary elections on Oct. 8. It still won the election but had to fend off attacks from rivals who said it had responded too meekly to Russia’s “creeping annexation.”
When it defeated supporters of former President Mikheil Saakashvili in elections four years ago, a coalition led by Georgian Dream, a party set up by an enigmatic billionaire, pledged to reduce tensions with Russia, which loathed Mr. Saakashvili. Instead, Russian border guards have moved deeper into Georgian territory.
“There is no improvement. I would say the opposite,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said in an interview. “Unfortunately, Russia never appreciates when you concede or make a step forward or compromise. They always take it for granted.”
All the same, he insisted that even though his government had no intention of repeating Mr. Saakashvili’s disastrous 2008 attempt to confront Russia militarily, the border will not last. “It has no prospect,” he said. “They are trying to build this border, these fences inside our country. We think it is temporary.”

8 October elections is a step forward to Georgian Democracy-IRI President

Published in Politics
Thursday, 20 October 2016 11:30

8 October elections is a step forward to Georgian Democracy as a peaceful and safe elections but the success of pro Russian political force is an alarm bell. This statement was made by the President of IRI Mark Green.
The former Congressman and the President of IRI believes that open pro Russian force in Parliament is alarm bell for the democracy.
This is a challenge, as he said but added that there is no time for protest. He said that pro Western forces shoul remember why Georgia has chosen democratic way. 

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