GEORGIAN AND ARMENIAN OFFICIALS RESPOND TO "PROSTITUTE SCANDAL" REPORTS
By Mzia Kupunia

Messenger
http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/2242_november_25_2010/2242_mzia.html
Nov 25 2010
Georgia

Georgian officials' "fruitful diplomatic week" has been marred by
the reports of the foreign media on an alleged "prostitutes scandal"
in a Lisbon hotel, where the Georgian delegation was staying during
the Lisbon NATO Summit on November 19-20.

On November 23, Portuguese tabloid newspaper, Correio da Manha wrote
that the Georgian delegation hired 80 prostitutes and held a party in a
hotel in Lisbon on Friday. According to the newspaper, some officials
from the Armenian delegation also joined the party. Correio da Manha
reported that the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy was "so annoyed"
by the noise that he complained to the management of the hotel.

Police registered the case as an incident, according to the Portuguese
tabloid. "When the management of the hotel realised that the women
were prostitutes they expressed their discontent. The situation was
resolved with as little fuss as possible," CM reported. The newspaper
did not name the hotel where the Georgian delegation was staying during
Lisbon Summit, however noted that it is "one of the most luxurious and
prestigious ones in Lisbon" and that it "hosted some of the leaders
of the states who attended the summit."

The opponents of the ruling National Movement Party have criticised
the Georgian officials over the alleged "prostitutes scandal".

Parliamentary minority group, Christian-Democratic Movement has
demanded that a probe be launched into the allegations of the
Portuguese press. MP Levan Vepkhvadze of CDM called the alleged
incident "shameful" yesterday.

"It is a fact that has been registered by the local police. It is
an absolutely embarrassing incident and it should be investigated,"
Vepkhvadze noted, adding that "it affects the country's reputation."

Another member of the Christian-Democratic Movement, MP Nika
Laliashvili suggested Georgia "has not achieved any success on the
international arena worth celebrating with champagne and orgies."

Officials in Tbilisi have denied the allegations of the foreign
media outlets, calling the reports "not serious." Vice Speaker of
the Parliament, Mikheil Machavariani linked the reports with Russia's
attempts to "overshadow" Georgia's recent diplomatic achievements.

"Morning Star [which also reported about the alleged scandal] was
a newspaper of British communists, funded by the Russian Central
Committee and is now funded by the Kremlin," Machavariani said "the
aim of Moscow is to show the events to the world as this newspaper
sees them, however the international community sees what is written
in the Washington Post and the Guardian, which report about Georgia's
progress," he added.

A MP from the National Movement Party, Pavle Kublashvili also denied
the claims of the Portuguese media, saying that "no serious comment"
can be made on this issue. "Someone can accuse the Georgian delegation
of eating newborn babies before or after the summit as well,"
Kublashvili told journalists.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry also denied the incident in the hotel in
Lisbon, calling the claims "absurd" and "fabricated." "This information
does not even deserve any comments," Tigran Balayan, Press Speaker
of the Armenian Foreign Ministry told Interfax news agency.

Later yesterday, news agency Interpressnews reported that the members
of the Georgian delegation were staying in hotel Tiara. The hotel
managers have denied the information disseminated by foreign media
about the alleged prostitutes incident. "The information is totally
fabricated," Interpressnews quoted General Manager of Tiara hotel
as saying. "Nothing has happened here. I spent 24 hours a day in
this hotel and I assure you that no such incident has taken place,"
the General Manager said, according to the Georgian news agency.