The government of Georgia has declared 16 May as a day of national mourning as the country prepares to bury three Georgian soldiers killed in a terrorist attack at Helmand Province in Afghanistan where the servicemen were serving with the large Georgian contingent attached with the ISAF international forces. Flags will fly at half mast on all public building as the bodies of the three soldiers are repatriated for their funeral later today.
The three military servicemen, Sergeant Zviad Davitadze, Corporal Aleksandre Kvitsinadze and Corporal Vladimer Shanava were members of the 43rd Light Infantry Battallion of Georgia's 4th Infantry Brigade.
The soldiers are expected to be repatriated to Georgia today for burial after a ceremony at St George Cathedral.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Prime Minister Bidhzina Ivanishvili and Defence Minister Irakli Alasania have all paid tribute to the memory of the fallen soldiers. Expressions of condolences were also received from the representatives of the United States Government and other foreign countries.
Twenty seven other Georgian soldiers were also injured when a suicide bomber ramed a car into their base in Helmand Province.
Ahead of the expected Armenia-Azerbaijan summit, Benyamin Poghosyan argues in this op-ed for commonspace.eu, that the negotiating paradigm based on the Madrid principles is doomed.
"In essence this is an olive branch to the government's critics", commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment. "Its significance should not be understated. President Aliyev has in the last weeks been preparing the country for major changes. This presidential pardon may well be the opening shot of more to come".