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The News in Brief

Thursday, March 1
Upcoming NATO summit discussed in Washington

The issue of Georgia's cooperation with NATO will be addressed at the organization's upcoming summit in Chicago, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Rustavi2 Tuesday, at a meeting held in Washington. The meeting was dedicated to the arrangement of the summit agenda.

Rasmussen said that the summit will not address the invitation of non-member states into the alliance, however, Georgia's participation in international peacekeeping missions and the country's progress will be considered.

"No new invitations will be extended at the NATO Chicago summit, but obviously we will reaffirm that our open-door policy will continue... As far as it concerns Georgia, I think Georgia has made substantial progress. We appreciate very much our cooperation with Georgia, in particular, its commitment to the ISAF mission," he said.

The Secretary General held a press conference in Washington, hailing the work of NATO forces in Afghanistan. He said that, despite the number of casualties sustained by coalition forces, the mission to bring stability to Afghanistan must be completed.

Rasmussen also spoke about relations with Russia, adding that NATO and Russia failed to agree on anti-missile defense, therefore, a NATO-Russia council session would not occur at the Chicago summit. (Rustavi 2)

MIA releases statement on death of Soso Kimeridze

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has released a statement about the death of Solomon Kimeridze.

On February 27, Kimeridze, a previously-convicted burglar, was brought into a Khasuri police station for questioning. While there, he allegedly fell down three flights of stairs, sustaining multiple injuries.

Kimeridze was taken to Khasuri regional hospital, where he died on February 28.

A criminal case has been opened and an investigation is under way by the Shida Karlti and Mtskheta-Mtianeti district prosecutor’s office.

Yesterday, during the parliamentary debates, MP Giorgi Tsagareishvili accused the government of political persecution, torturing prisoners, inhumane conduct, and murder, citing Kimeridze’s death.

“The latest example was yesterday, in the village of Kvishkheti, Khashuri region, when Khashuri regional police brutally tortured and killed resident of the village, Soso Kimeridze. He was beaten and tortured; his body is covered in bruises. It’s not a surprise that unhappy people live in the country. As Otar Chiladze said, 'A person resembles the country that is called his homeland',” Tsagareishvili said. (Interpressnews)

Trade unions protest outside Parliament

Representatives from Georgian trade unions protested outside Parliament on Wednesday, burning the national labour code.

Union deputy chair, Eter Matureli, told Interpressnews that the Georgian labour code is beyond criticism, calling it "almost a slavery code", which does not consider the rights of workers.

Georgian unions responded to a proposal of the European Trade Union Confederation, which declared February 29 a European Day of Action. On this day, European unions will ask members of the European Council to solve unemployment and demand social justice at the March 1-2 Brussels Council sessions.

A Georgian representative said they are an inseparable part of the European confederation, and share their demands.

Protesters also read a statement, which called the "fight for dignified employment" an everyday reality for Georgians. (Interpressnews)

Baramidze visits Brussels

Vice Prime Minister and State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration, Giorgi Baramidze, is currently conducting an official visit to Brussels.

Baramidze will meet with Stefan Fule, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood policy; Kiriakos Mavronikolas, chair of the EU Defense and Security committee; and Martin Callanan, Chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

Unofficial meetings with representatives of NGOs are also planned.

Baramidze will sign an agreement with the EU during his visit, which will provide Georgian with ˆ18 million in financial assistance. (Interpressnews)

EU recalls ambassadors from Belarus

European Union states have recalled their ambassadors from Belarus after Minsk expelled two diplomats, in retaliation for new sanctions imposed over the former Soviet nation's human rights record.

On Tuesday, the Belarusian government demanded that the Ambassador of Poland – who led the drive for fresh EU sanctions against Belarus – and the EU envoy should leave the country.

In an expression of solidarity, ambassadors representing all EU member states in Minsk are being withdrawn to their capitals for consultation, according to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.

Twenty-one senior Belarusian officials have also been banned entry to the 27 EU member states, increasing the total number of Belarusian persona non-grata to 220. (Rustavi 2)