MFA of Norway to visit Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani media report that Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide will visit Azerbaijan.
As reported, Norwegian diplomat will hold several official meetings in Baku on January 14.

He will meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov and also visit Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy.

The source informs that the development prospects of the relations between the two countries will be discussed during the visit.

Georgia may reduce gas prices

Georgia’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Kakha Kaladze announced that drop in the consumer tariff for gas is possible in Georgia.
According to him the process of reducing the gas tariff is more difficult than that of reducing the electricity tariff.

From January1, electricity tariffs for two categories of consumers in Georgia decreased by 3.5 tetri ($1=1.66 lari), that is by 20 per cent.
The current tariff of gas is 51 tetri per cubic meter.
Georgian authorities had hoped to reduce the tariff by lowering the price of gas coming from Azerbaijan.

However, during his visit to Baku, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili was convinced that Georgia receives gas from Azerbaijan at the lowest price in the region and Europe.

Netherlands plans to allocate funds to Georgia for democracy development

Chairman of the Parliamentary Defense Committee of the Netherlands, Ten Brook, announced that the Netherlands intends to allocate additional funds to Georgia to promote the development of democracy.

According to him Dutch Parliament is currently working on its foreign policy budget and intends to become acquainted with the situation in Georgia to create a complete view of the country.

“I really want to get acquainted with the situation in Georgia after the democratic parliamentary elections held on October 1,” Brook said.
Brook will stay in Georgia for three days meeting with senior representatives of the Parliament and the government of Georgia.

Georgian Dream may nominate several candidates in the presidential elections

Chairman of Georgian Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs announced that Georgian Dream Coalition may put forward several candidates in the presidential elections in Georgia.

“Perhaps, the Coalition will nominate one candidate. However, there is no exclusion from one part of the coalition nominating its own candidate and the other its own. It will be a political decision,” said Khmaladze, adding “The majority of the coalition supports a parliamentary republic and in such a form of governance, the President’s functions are completely different so the selection of candidates is crucial.”

To the question whether he agrees if Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili offers him the presidential candidacy, Khmaladze responded that what he is doing now is necessary and important.
Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania also does not rule out that he will be nominated by the Georgian Dream Coalition as a presidential candidate.

Georgia to fully professional its army in four years

Defense Minister of Georgia Irakli Alasania announced that Georgia will gradually move to a fully professional army, abandoning conscription system.

“We plan to move fully on professional army in four years. The term of compulsory military service will be gradually reduced (from current 15 months) to 12 months, and then we will fully move to a contract-based army,” said Alasania, adding “We should not be forcing anyone to be enrolled in the army”.
Note, Georgia has now mixed system based on both contracts and conscription.

Majority of the Georgian political parties is against Chakhalyan’s freedom

The leader of “Multinational Georgia” movement told the First Armenian News and Analyses that Armenian political prisoner Vahagn Chakhalyan can be set free according to the law accepted on December 21 but it is not clear whether he will be set free or not.

But a number of political parties in Georgia are against his liberation although it is not excluded that he could be liberated on January 17.

The reason for such opinion is the rumors that Chakhalyan organized an attack on religious women. This is non-official information however. Another reason based on non-official information is that he organized an attack on one of the local universities.
Chakhalyan himself rejects the news and in order to be liberated a political will is needed.

EU urges proposals to promote democratic reforms in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani media reports that European Union Delegation to the Republic of Azerbaijan launched a Call for proposals under the 2012 European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy and Neighborhood Civil Society Facility.
As reported, the Call for Proposals is divided into two lots, each with its own specific objectives. The 1st Lot aims to support human rights and democratic reform by supporting civil society in promotion of freedoms (expression, media, assembly, association, etc. ), fight against ill-treatment and impunity, promotion and respect of property rights; respect for human rights and democratic principles by strengthening civil society and enhancing its inclusiveness and pluralism through supporting initiatives in the areas of guaranteeing access to justice and rule of law; promoting non-discrimination and equality including gender equality and equality for persons belonging to minorities; to protect human rights defenders by reinforcing their capacities to carry out human rights work and contributing to the sustainability of their actions in the future.
The 2nd Lot aims at promoting and supporting compliance with international standards in the upcoming Presidential, Municipal and Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.

The deadline for the submission of applications is 25 March 2013.

Dutch MP to hold official meetings in Georgia

Georgian media reports that chairman of the Parliamentary Defense Committee of the Netherlands, Ten Brook, who arrived in Tbilisi yesterday, will today hold official meetings.
As reported, rook will meet with representatives of the Georgian legislative and executive bodies.

Brook will hold his first meeting at 10:00 am on Tuesday in Tbilisi with MP from the opposition David Darchiashvili, and then will meet with Defense Minister Irakli Alasania.

He also plans to meet with Minister of State for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili and chairman of the parliament David Usupashvili on January 9.
The program of the visit includes a meeting with the EU observers and a visit to a conflict zone.

EU welcomes Azerbaijani President’s decree on pardons

Azerbaijani sources report that the EU Delegation in Azerbaijan has welcomed the December 26th Presidential decree pardoning 87 convicts, including a number of civil society activists, representatives of opposition parties and journalists.

“The EU Delegation considers this as a move forward by Azerbaijan in its efforts to strengthen the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms” and “expects that this decision will be complemented by other constructive measures”, said the statement.

Note that the EU Delegation will go on encouraging Azerbaijan in fulfilling its commitments to the promotion of democracy and rule of law, in line with european norms and values.