07TBILISI769, Georgia Bi-Weekly Update April 5

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI769 2007-04-05 14:53 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0769/01 0951453
R 051453Z APR 07

E.O 12958: N/A 
SUBJECT: Georgia Bi-Weekly Update April 5 
1. This cable contains current items of political, economic, and 
social interest concerning Georgia during the weeks of March 
24-April 6. 
Georgians Pay Tribute to 
Late President Gamsakhurdia 
2. Thousands of people throughout Georgia came to pay their respects 
to late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, whose remains were brought to 
Georgia from Chechnya last week for reburial, 13 years after his 
death.  President Saakashvili and other officials attended a public 
memorial service in Mtskheta on March 31 for Gamsakhurdia, who died 
in 1993 after being overthrown and then leading an unsuccessful 
rebellion.  Gamsakhurdia's remains were accompanied to Tbilisi April 
1 by mourners carrying Gamsakhurdia's portrait and Georgia's former 
flag.  His coffin was put in front of the Parliament building and 
then taken to the Mtatsminda Pantheon for burial.  Speaking at the 
funeral, Saakashvili characterized Gamsakhurdia as "an outstanding 
fighter for Georgia's independence," although he noted that in the 
early 1990s "Georgia had no political experience of building an 
independent state, and this was one of the causes of the serious 
trials and problems that confronted the country at that time." 
Saakashvili said "the time has come to rectify" mistakes from that 
period, including the dissolution of the South Ossetian Autonomous 
Educational Programs for 
Gali and Kodori 
3. On March 30, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the 
Parliamentary Commission on Georgia's Territorial Integrity 
announced that the MOE had paid GEL 256,000 in arrears in 2006 to 
school teachers working in the Gali district of Abkhazia, and that 
by the end of this year their salaries would at least double.  This 
year the MOE has allocated around 38,000 GEL for rehabilitation of 3 
schools in the Georgian-controlled Upper Kodori Gorge and 30 schools 
in Gali.  With the assistance of the Norwegian Refugee Council, the 
MOE is supporting a Preparation Center in Zugdidi for secondary 
school graduates from Abkhazia who will be taking national exams 
this year for enrollment in Georgian universities. 
New Banknote Features Scene 
from Abkhazia 
4. On March 31 the National Bank of Georgia introduced a new GEL 200 
(USD 118) banknote that will go into circulation in two weeks' time. 
 The new note features a portrait of Kakutsa Cholokashvili, a 
Georgian national hero who led an uprising against the Bolsheviks in 
the 1920s, on the front, while the reverse side has a picture of the 
breakaway Abkhaz capital, Sokhumi, and the words "Sokhumi, Abkhazia" 
in three languages, Abkhaz, English and Georgian.   President 
Saakashvili, who attended the presentation, affirmed that the 
banknote was an expression of Georgia's territorial integrity. 
National Bank Chairman Gotsiridze said "This depiction of Abkhazia 
is a sign of the future.  Georgians and Abkhazians should live side 
by side, striving to rebuild a new Abkhazia, where all will live in 
peace and friendship."  With up to twenty unique anti-forgery 
features, the banknote is one of the most secure in the world, 
according to the German specialist who developed it. 
OPIC Supports Dairy Production 
and Cold Storage Facility 
5. On March 27, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) 
and Sante GMT Products, a leading dairy production company in 
Georgia, signed a USD 4 million loan agreement for the expansion of 
the company's operations.  The signing was held at OPIC's offices 
and attended by the Georgian Ambassador in Washington.  Also on 
March 27, OPIC and American Monolith signed a loan agreement for USD 
3.9 million for the construction of a cold storage facility in Poti. 
 On April 12, Georgian Prime Minister Noghaideli is scheduled to 
visit OPIC for a meeting with its president, Robert Mosbacher, Jr. 
New American Company in Tbilisi 
6. On March 24 Ambassador Tefft and Michael Brocket, general 
director of the American company PXPost, participated in the ribbon 
cutting ceremony for PXPost's office in Tbilisi.  The Tbilisi office 
is the company's second in the Caucasus, following an office in 
Azerbaijan that opened in 1999.  PXPost provides worldwide mail 
courier services through its PO boxes in USA, U.K, Azerbaijan, and 
Georgia to individual and corporate customers. 
Kazakh Investment in Georgia's 
Fixed-Line Telecom 
7. On March 28, the Georgian Government approved the sale of Ajara 
Electrocavshiri -- owner of telephone lines in the Ajara region -- 
TBILISI 00000769  002 OF 002 
for USD 4 million to Black Sea Telecom, the same company that 
acquired a 90 percent share of United Telecom of Georgia (UTG) in 
2006.  UTG is one of the country's largest telecommuni
companies, covering nearly 80 percent of the fixed-line network, and 
providing services to over 350,000 customers - about 70 percent of 
the total market of the local calls.  Georgia's largest Internet 
provider, Caucasus Networks (CN), has voiced concerns that UTG is 
gaining a monopoly in the Georgian fixed-line telecommunications 
market.  CN officials predict that UTG will increase its service 
charges, which will negatively impact local internet providers. 


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