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The News in Brief

Monday, May 19
Conservatives rally against gay rights on May 17 celebrate day of family

The International Day Against Homophobia was transformed into a day of “family values” in Georgia, which was the initiative of the country’s most influential person, the Patriarch.

A number of rallies and events were held on May 17 against LGBT people and against the anti-discrimination law.

People marked it as a day for showing respect for parents, as the Patriarch requested a few days ago. No rallies in support of LGBT people were held on Saturday. Rallies went on without any major incidents, however there were several minor confrontations in the streets.

Orthodox priests and their followers gathered at Tbilisi Event Hall at 10:00 in the morning, bringing huge posters like “A man can never be called wife”.

Many people brought their families to the rally. Priests brought holy water to bless the streets and participants at the demonstration all the way to Trinity (Sameba) Cathedral, where Patriarch Ilia II conducted a prayer.

Before the beginning of his prayer, Patriarch Ilia II said May 17 is an important day, as children respect their parents, or pay tribute and commemorate to their dead parents.
(Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Lithuania supports Georgia’s European aspirations

Georgian State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic integration Alexi Petriashvili met with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius. A bilateral meeting was held in Bratislava as part of the global security forum.

Petriashvili thanked the Lithuanian side for supporting Georgia on its way to the European and Euro-Atlantic integration. He stressed the resolution of the Latvian Parliament in support of Georgia and Moldova. It calls on the parliaments of the EU countries and the European Parliament to start preparing for the ratification of the association agreement with Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

The parties also discussed the internal political situation in Georgia and ongoing democratic reforms.

Linkevicius stressed Georgia's progress and congratulated the Georgian side with setting the date of signing of the association agreement with the EU.

He added that the Lithuanian government supported and will support the European and Euro-Atlantic choice of Georgia.

"Linkevicius reiterated full support for Georgia's integration into NATO and the EU," Petriashvili added.

U.S., other partners hold security consultation with Tbilisi

The U.S. and other partners are holding intensive consultations with Georgia in order to be ready for any scenario of events in light of recent Russian actions.

The U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland made the remarks on the air of the "Maestro" TV channel commenting on the initiative of Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania to place defense missile system in the territory of the country.

"As regards the issue of placing defense missile systems, then, this and any other decision should be approved by all 28 NATO members. This means that the U.S. and other partners of Georgia carry out intensive consultations with Tbilisi. Of course, the allies are closely monitoring the developments of the events and NATO Secretary General spoke about this. The alliance's foreign ministers will meet in June. As it is known, the alliance is preparing for the upcoming summit in Wales," the ambassador said.

The diplomat also noted that the attention of the international community is focused on the calming the situation rather than on its escalation.

"We are looking for diplomatic ways, discussing the application of sanctions, but, unfortunately, Russia's actions make all responsible leaders to think that we should be prepared for any possible development of the situation," Norland said.

Government establishes maximum salary bonus cap

A unified system to cap salary bonuses will be created for people working in Government structures after information leaked claiming Corrections staff had received cash bonuses reaching 40,000 GEL.

Georgian Health Minister David Sergeenko announced the move following a Government meeting.

"Work with regard to the bonus system has already begun, and not only because of this case. We are working to introduce a unified bonus system, which will have certain logic – a maximum upper limit. This will be the analogue of what we had with regard to the cars,” Sergeenko said.

According to the leaked information, Corrections Department employees of the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance have received large cash bonuses up to 40,000 GEL.

Corrections Minister Sozar Subari responded to this allegation and said he had not approved such bonuses and the leaked information was "absolutely ungrounded and unjustified”.

"In general, the Corrections Department is a sub-agency of the Ministry, which means that it has an independent budget and the Department issues bonuses independently. However, generally it cannot be justified that this happened without the consent of the Minister,” Subari said.

"We had a very strict response and I demanded immediate responses,” he said, adding that two Corrections Department employees had been fired.

Other Government officials also commented on the case, describing the fact as "unacceptable.”

"Given the social situation in the country, it is unacceptable to issue high bonuses,” said Vice Prime Minister and Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze.

Georgia hosts aviation conference

An aviation conference is being held in Georgia on May 18-20. The representatives of airports, airlines and travel agencies will attend the prestigious international event which is annually held by British organization UBM INFORMATION LIMITED.

Last November, United Airports of Georgia asked to conduct the aviation conference in Georgia.

Thanks to exclusive right obtained, Georgia, as a hostess country of the event will be able to promote its airports and attractive tourist sites. The United Airports of Georgia will deal with the issues of organizing the conference.

Contract value of the project is 150,000 euros. About 250 representatives of leading airports and airlines from Europe, Asia, CIS and the Middle East will participate at the aviation conference to be held in Tbilisi.

NATO to help Georgia to get rid of explosive waste storehouse

Georgia's four parliamentary committees reviewed and endorsed the Georgia-NATO Support Organization agreement on cleaning a storehouse in Skra (Eastern Georgia) from waste explosives.

Deputy Head of the department for relations with the parliament and legal affairs under the defense ministry Vepkhia Grigalashvili stressed that this document is another step in relations between Georgia and NATO. It also helps to create a safe sphere in Georgia and the European integration process.

The agreement will also ensure the opportunity for additional training of a military engineering brigade company.