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The News in Brief

Monday, September 12
Russian citizens living in Georgia to be allowed to vote in Armenia for Duma elections

As Russia’s CEC member Vasil Likhachov has told reporters, citizens of Russia living in Georgia will be able to participate in Russia’s Duma elections in the town of Gyumri, Armenia.

According to him, it is impossible to organize the process in the Embassy of Switzerland in Tbilisi.

“All you have been informed that we have diplomatic and general relationships via the Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi. It is impossible to organize a polling station there due to the political status. Russian citizens living in Georgia will be able to vote in Armenia, Gyumri,”Likhachov has said.

The elections will be held on September 18.

French Defence Minister Visits Georgia

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who is visiting Georgia September 10-12, met his Georgian counterpart Levan Izoria on Saturday.

Speaking at a joint news conference after the meeting, Le Drian, who is the first French Defence Minister to pay an official visit to Georgia, hailed the bilateral cooperation between the two countries and thanked Georgia for its contributions to missions in Afghanistan and the Central African Republic.

Le Drian said that within the frames of the NATO-Georgia substantial package agreed at the 2014 NATO summit, France took the lead in helping the country improve its air defence capabilities. He also said that a French air force officer has been assigned to Georgia to oversee the process.

Late last year, Georgia entered into a loan agreement with the French bank SociétéGénérale for financing the acquisition of air defence systems from France. The loan is backed by the France’s export credit agency Coface.

52.65 million Euros from the total loan amount is intended to be used for purchasing unspecified equipment and services from Thales Raytheon Systems, which produces ground-based surveillance radar and air defence command and control systems, while 24.98 million Euros is intended for acquisitions from missile manufacturer MBDA France.

At a joint news conference in Tbilisi, Georgian Defence Minister Izoria said it was reiterated at the meeting with his French counterpart that the contract on air defence systems remains in force and will be fully implemented.

On September 12, Le Drian will travel to Sachkhere in the Imereti region to participate in an event celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Mountain Training School, which was launched with French assistance and which provides courses for Georgian and partner nations military personnel.

The two ministers said that the Sachkhere Mountain Training School is a “good example” of bilateral cooperation in the defence sector.

Izoria said that the French side has expressed readiness to step up efforts in this direction, specifically to contribute to the development of army mountain firing range, Abuli, in Samtskhe-Javakheti region.

Le Drian also said that French navy ship will make a port call in Georgia in October.

French navy ships made port visits to Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast three times between April and September of 2014 – a light stealth frigate FS Surcouf, an intelligence-gathering ship Dupuy de Lôme, and Commandant Birot, a patrol ship.

During the visit, the French Defence Minister will meet PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili on September 11 and President Giorgi Margvelashvili on September 12.

Also on September 12, the French Defence Minister will award those Georgian soldiers who served alongside French troops in Afghanistan and the Central African Republic.

Republican Party proposes new pension system

The Republican Party proposes a new pension system based on entitlement earned through work experience.

Appearing on Rustavi 2’s election special, spokesperson Davit Usupashvili drew a line between the Republicans and other parties, which offer voters a set monthly over the board increase in pensions payments.

He said the country has to switch to a new system where each person pays into a retirement fund through his or her income tax.

“I, as a citizen of Georgia, as a voter, as a son of retired parents, am insulted with the new election campaign, when political parties promise pensioners another 5-10 or 15 laris. This is a shame and we will never be able to provide for socially vulnerable people. This is why the Republican Party believes that it takes time to build long-term state projects. If we don’t start long-term projects today, they will never start,” he said on Wednesday.

The Republican Party proposes system of accumulative pension, when people take care of their pension as long as they work.

The plan is that part of the 20 percent of the salary which people have to pay, has to be accumulated in a retirement fund.

“This is not additional expense, it is to provide our future. This way we will be provided not only in elderly years but the money will be spent for our country too,” he added.

There are 716,287 people on pension today. 1.570 billion was allocated for pensions in the 2016 budget.

The monthly pension payment has been 180 laris since June. Georgian Dream, the governing party, promised to increase pension to 220-230 lari in 2012 before the parliamentary election.
(DF watch)