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Tbilisi Government Survives Confidence Vote

Georgia's government won a confidence vote in Parliament May 8, called after Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili was forced to reshuffle his cabinet following a series of resignations.

The new cabinet includes pro-Western defense minister, Tina Khidasheli, 41, tasked with leading the country's efforts to join NATO.

President Georgi Margvelashvili told parliament that Tbilisi's pro-Western course is irreversible.

"Our main choice is European democracy, our main achievement - freedom," he said.

His Georgian Dream coalition's credibility has been hurt by squabbling over the pace of economic reforms, worsening crime and a battle against corruption. Georgia also is beset by economic problems, including a rising current account deficit and falling exports and remittances, aggravated by Russia's economic downturn.

Seven ministers have resigned or been sacked in less than a year, the latest being Sports Minister Levan Kipiani last week. That triggered Friday's confidence vote, which the constitution stipulates must be held if more than a third of the cabinet is replaced.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Civil Georgia