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The News in Brief

Monday, June 4
Patriarch declares Pentecost as day of gratitude

Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II declared after his Sunday service that the Pentecost should be one of gratitude for all of Georgia, for the nation to thank the holy trinity for their grace.

The Patriarch spoke about importance of Pentecost, calling it the greatest holiday in the world. He thanked god and the holy trinity for protecting the Georgian church and its people.

Ilia II also blessed five surnames: Davitashvili, Laghidze, Kobidze, Tarkashvili and Kandashvili.

The participants of a contest conducted by the Patriarchate amongst the Georgian Diaspora were given certificates on Sunday. The five winners will receive a scholarship for university.

Saakashvili hosts European Week at Presidential Palace

President Mikheil Saakashvili hosted the participants of European Week at the Presidential Palace this weekend.

The President addressed the group, focusing on democratic values and the process of negotiations between Georgia and the EU. He said that every year the event becomes better and more interesting, as Georgia becomes a part of Europe.

"I was Minister of Justice in 2001. When people looked at the flag of the EU they thought a new embassy had opened. The first thing we did when [the United National Movement] came into power was... play the anthem of the EU to kids, raise the flag in front of Parliament... Everybody, especially European Ministers and state leaders, were a little bit confused, some of them scandalized. They thought that we were showing off, as they didn’t understand what that was all about,” Saakashvili said, noting that until 2008-09, Georgia was still a "tiny, impoverished and corrupt country".

The President asserted that Georgia is moving down the path of EU integration at a much faster pace than anyone could have imagined. “In a few days, our future action plan will be declared on visa liberalization and visa-free travel with EU countries. According to EU surveys, in terms of border control, we are one of the advanced countries. Georgia is the first country in Europe with electronic gates. If you have an electronic chip in your passport, you can enter without seeing a border guard, though they are very nice,” he said.

“We’ll have an association agreement with the EU and we’ll have all the necessary steps to start later accession talks. I hear from European leaders that Georgia must become an EU member. It is a big change – the dream of generations of Georgians. I have never had such an optimistic attitude," Saakashvili remarked.

He also addressed Georgia's growing economy. "The change is not only in economic figures. When I became President, the GDP was about $1,200 USD, but by the end of next year, the figures [will] reach $6,000 USD. It is still a low income, but we are no longer on the list of poor countries," the President said, noting that the poverty rate has declined from 53% to 18% and medical and social coverage of citizens is far more widespread.

CDM demands investigation of prisoners’ mortality

The Christian Democratic Movement (CDM) has demanded the launch of a timely investigation into prisoners’ mortality in Georgian penitentiaries. Chair of the party's Human Rights Protection Committee, Tamaz Bakuridze, held press conference at party headquarters to raise the issue.

Bakuridze called on the government to order the penitentiary system to cease "inhumane and improper" conduct against prisoners, which he says frequently results in prisoner death.

He noted that so far this year, over 150 inmates have died, according to a report from the Public Defender.

Bakuridze also showed photos of Zurab Delianidze, a prisoner from Kobuleti, whom the CDM Chair said had been tortured and killed.

Saakashvili promotes insurance with family visit

President Mikheil Saakasvhili visited a seven-member family in Keda, a village in Adjara, together with the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs.

The President spoke to the Abashidze family about the government's new insurance programs, which provides insurance for children under the age of five.

He asked the family about their income and the living conditions. Saakashvili also congratulated the young members of the family on International Children's Day and presented the youngest of them with a bicycle.
(Rustavi 2)

Voter list check nearly complete

The Commission for Ensuring Voters List Accuracy has nearly completed its national check of the voters list.

The Commission reports that 60% of the list has been checked, and that data is being uploaded to an online database. By July 15, any interested person will be able to review the list so far via the Commission's website or a hotline, while the completed list will be available online by August 1st.
(Rustavi 2)

Georgia, Azerbaijan football federations discuss strategy for EURO 2020

The presidents of the Georgian and Azeri football federations met in Batumi this weekend to discuss their joint strategy for their EURO 2020 Championship host country bid. The UEFA congress, which accepts the bids, will be held in Kiev, Ukraine, on June 30.

Several countries have already expressed their desire to host EURO 2020 - Georgia-Azerbaijan; the British Trio of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; and Turkey.

The UEFA has already issued a warning to Turkey, as it much settle a financial dispute stemming from the removal of two Turkish clubs from the European League.
(Rustavi 2)

Kobiashvili`s disqualification issue still under discussion

Berlin newspaper the Morgen Post is reporting that the Disciplinary Committee of Germany's Football Union will make their final decision on the year-long disqualification of Georgian player Levan Kobiashvili next week.

The Footballer's lawyer says he is doing his best to save the sportsman from a long-term ban, but it will be difficult to achieve.

The 34-year-old captain of Hertha Berlin, may be banned for insulting and physically assaulting referee Wolfgang Stark after a match with Fortuna FC.