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Georgia OKs Review of Ajaria's Plan for Free Economic Zones
TBILISI, January 23. Georgia and Ajaria have reached agreement on a transfer of funds from the autonomy to the central Georgian budget. Talks were held Thursday here between Ajaria Finance Minister Yakov Chavleishvili and Georgia Finance Minister Zurab Nogaitel, a Rosbalt correspondent was told by the Georgia Finance Ministry. 'We are not going to talk about old debts,' Nogaitel noted. 'Georgia is prepared for constructive dialogue.' The Ajarian minister also noted that Georgia has promised a review in early February of Ajaria's proposal to create free economic zones in Georgia. That proposal, it may be remembered, has been one of the issues in conflict between the two sides. The proposal, in the form of a draft bill, was drawn up by Ajaria with help from foreign, including Chinese, specialists. The Renaissance parliamentary fraction, with the backing of Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze, has been lobbying unsuccessfully for the bill for almost a decade. Ajarian authorities believe that free economic zones and, specifically, a zone covering the port of Batumi, would make possible rapid improvement in the economy of Georgia and significant gains for the treasury.
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