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The News in Brief

Monday, May 11
We never promised to create a paradise in four years - Tina Khidashel

We never promised people that we would create a paradise in four years, - said Minister of Defense Tina Khidasheli in a conversation with reporters.

“I joined the governmental team four days ago. I never make a decision if I don’t know what waits ahead of me. We are government members because we need to show the public that it is possible to change perspectives in four years.

We never promised paradise, especially considering the challenges Georgia faces, but we will do all we can,” Khidasheli remarked.

Georgia’s President prepares to meet EU, NATO top officials

The President of Georgia is preparing for a two-day working visit to Belgium where he will meet Euro-Atlantic top officials and discuss Georgia’s European future.

In the capital Brussels, President Giorgi Margvelashvili will meet president of the European Union (EU) Donald Tusk and EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hans on May 11 and 12.

Meetings are also scheduled between Margvelashvili and leaders of various political parties within European Parliament, as well as with European Commissioner for Energy Union Maros Sefcovich and President of the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry Richard Weber.

While abroad the Georgian official will also address the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee and the Eastern Partnership Conference.

On May 11 Margvelashvili will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

The NATO website noted after the meeting, Margvelashvili and Stoltenberg will hold a press conference for media, which will be streamed live on the NATO website.

Georgian PM Says WWII Was ‘Won by a Georgian’

At a ceremony marking 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili said that what makes this day special is that this war was won by a Georgia, referring to the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

“What is the most important is that this war was won by a Georgian and that’s why it is even more special,” PM Garibashvili told journalists in Vake Park in Tbilisi on May 9, where memorial of the Unknown Soldier is located and where every year on this day Georgian WWII veterans gather to mark the Victory Day.

“It’s a great day today – the 70th anniversary of a victory over a huge evil,” he said in a speech at the event. “335,000 Georgians lost their lives in this war. I pay tribute to their memory.”

As of now there are about 1,800 World War II veterans in Georgia. This year the government allocated GEL 1,000 for each veteran as one-time allowance on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of the WWII.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili, government members and other officials laid a wreath at the memorial of the Unknown Soldier on May 9.

Also on May 9 in the Vake Park police detained at least five activists, who confronted several people for wearing Georgievsky ribbons – orange and black striped St. George ribbons of the Russian military.

There were reports in recent days that members from pro-Putin biker group the Night Wolves were intending to attend the May 9 ceremony in Tbilisi. Interior Minister, Vakhtang Gomelauri, told journalists in the Vake Park on Saturday that Russian bikers arrived in Georgia, but were told not to appear at the venue of ceremonies on their motorcycles and not to wear Georgievsky ribbons in order to avoid confrontation. A group of Georgian bikers were gathered at the Vake Park on May 9; they were saying that they would not have allowed Russian bikers to show off their Russian symbols.

Overnight on May 9 paint was thrown at motorcycles of several Russian citizens in Tbilisi, but the owners of the motorcycles told Georgian television stations that they were Russian tourists, who had nothing to do either with the Night Wolves or with the May 9 events.

Meanwhile in Gori, the hometown of Stalin in Georgia’s Shida Kartli region, members of Communist party, Stalinist organizations and various pro-Russian groups held a rally for several hours on May 9. Waving Soviet red flags, demonstrators marked the Victory Day and also called for the restoration of Stalin's statue, which was removed from the centre of Gori in 2010. Some demonstrators were holding banners reading: “Yankees Go Home”; “We don’t Believe in EU Fairy Tales”; “Georgia for Eurasian Union”.

PM Gharibashvili to Visit China This Year

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili will visit China this year. PM Gharibashvili said on Friday in Parliament while presenting a new governmental program that he attaches great importance to the deepening of relations with China.

“My visit to China, my participation in China’s Davos Forum as well as high level meetings are scheduled to be held this year,” PM Gharibashvili said.

According to him, Chinese Agriculture Minister will visit Georgia this week.

MIA – Standards for Photo-shoot while State Border Crossing in Line with Personal Data Protection Law

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has released a special statement in response to the opinions of certain experts regarding the changes made to the regulations on making the photo-shoot while state border crossing.

According to the statement, one of the major tasks in Visa Liberalization Action Plan was to bring personal data protection standard in line with European norms.

In the moment of crossing EU zone, photo-shoot is one of the types of personal data collection which is undergone to everyone crossing the state border; however the purpose of the photo-shoot and term for data storing were not defined. Herewith, permanent video surveillance is held at all border crossing points while various methods for person identification are applied during passport control procedures, including the access to the data, stored at State Services Development Agency electric database (which includes access to photos stored in it).

The Ministry explains that after holding consultations with Personal Data Protection Inspector and taking into account the EU member states’ experience, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has made changes to the mentioned method: specifically data storage terms were defined by the law and occasions when to apply various methods for identifying a person, including the taking of photographs and the processing of various biometric data.

“Newly enacted standards on the taking of photographs, which envisages applying the mentioned method only in the cases defined by the law, is in full compliance with legislation on personal data protection and provides proportionality and adequacy of the data procession and does not damage the interests of state security.

The changes are in line with European standards and internationally recognized principles on protection of personal data which was once again confirmed by European Commission in Georgia's Visa

Liberalization Action Plan Assessment Report, stating that Georgia has successfully fulfilled personal data protection requirements,” the statement reads.