(Civil.Ge) — Georgia’s Parliament confirmed late on November 26 the new government led by Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and its program with 110 votes to 19.
The cabinet, where 18 ministers have remained after the portfolio of the State Minister for Diaspora Issues was folded under the Foreign Ministry in the new cabinet, has reshuffled slightly.
Kumsishvili, former economy minister, became new Finance Minister. He retained the post of the first deputy prime minister in the new government.
Kakha Kaladze returned to the Energy Ministry following a 2.5 month pause. He quit this post to run in the October parliamentary elections through GDDG’s party list.
Giorgi Gakharia, former business ombudsman, who was elected in the Parliament through GDDG’s party list, was appointed as new Minister of Economy.
Zurab Alavidze, former head of the Strategic Project Coordination Department of the Government’s Administration, became new minister for regional development and infrastructure.
Victor Dolidze, former lawmaker, was appointed as the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. Dolidze, who is diplomat and politician, quit opposition Free Democrats party after its defeat in the parliamentary elections.
Other ministers with two women among them have retained their posts in the cabinet:
- Minister of Foreign Affairs – Mikheil Janelidze;
- Minister of Defense – Levan Izoria;
- Minister of Internal Affairs – Giorgi Mgebrishvili;
- Minister for Labor, Healthcare and Social Affairs – Davit Sergeenko;
- Minister of Justice – Tea Tsulukiani;
- Minister of Education and Science – Aleksandre Jejelava;
- Minister of Agriculture – Levan Davitashvili;
- Minister in charge of penitentiary system – Kakha Kakhishvili;
- Minister in charge of IDPs issues – Sozar Subari;
- Minister of Environmental Protection – Gigla Agulashvili;
- Minister of Culture and Monument Protection – Mikheil Giorgadze;
- Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs – Tariel Khechikashvili;
- State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality – Ketevan Tsikhelashvili.
Before the government’s confirmation after two days of hearings, PM Kvirikashvili presented to lawmakers on Saturday a four-year governmental program titled “Freedom, Rapid Development, Welfare” and answered the questions from lawmakers. Ministerial candidates were also responding to questions together with him that was a new format for the government’s confirmation.
In his opening remarks PM Kvirikashvili said that he considers the parliamentary majority not as “a privilege”, but as “an accountability and possibility” “to receive decisions that are so important for the country” through consolidation and broad consensus between various groups, including parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition.
He also spoke about a four-point plan, which has become the basis for the governmental program and which envisages promotion of education, development of spatial planning concept, acceleration of economic growth and taking concrete steps for public governance reform. On promoting good governance, the PM mentioned planned “Business House” in Tbilisi, a one-stop-shop for businesses, modeled after already existing Public Service Halls, where citizens get multiple services from various state agencies under the single roof. He first raised this issue in December, when he was confirmed as the Prime Minister for the first time, but this promise has yet to be fulfilled.
Kvirikashvili also said that the reform known as the third wave of judicial reforms will be implemented in the new future. Previous Parliament went into its summer recess without adopting this package of bills. The Prime Minister also pledged to continue reforms in law enforcement agencies.
On foreign policy, PM Kvirikashvili said that the country’s further integration into EU and NATO will be his government’s “top priority” and he expressed hope that visa liberalisation process with EU will be finalized in the near future. Along with the plans to continue strategic cooperation with the United States and regional countries, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of pursuing “de-escalation” policy with Russia in order “to minimize the risks” and “create preconditions for long-lasting solution of problems.”
Along with continuation of de-occupation and non-recognition policy, Kvirikashvili said, the government plans to take “more courageous steps towards reconciliation” with Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region – he did not elaborate the details, but said that “we should do our utmost to create preconditions for political settlement of conflicts through improving people-to-people contacts.”
“National consensus is needed to implement such ambitious plan,” PM Kvirikashvili said. “My government and I will do our best to make political process as much constructive as possible.”
Following debates MP Giga Bokeria, one of the leaders of the opposition National Movement, said that he agrees with Kvirikashvili who says that “there should be civil accord between the winner and the loser following elections”, but “it matters how you win.”
“When you win through violence and intimidation, then accord becomes weaker. Moreover, if you have constitutional majority, money and a billionaire is behind you, when you control almost the entire judiciary, when you want to silence the only TV channel [Rustavi 2], which criticizes you and want to put it in the billionaire’s hands, it does not promote civil accord, but paves the way for huge civil discord,” he said.
“The government, which actually has no power and no authority, will not receive our support, because you are the Prime Minister, who serves one person,” Nika Melia, leader of the National Movement’s faction, said. Like other UNM members, Melia also mentioned ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “informal rule” for multiple times.
Like the National Movement, lawmakers from Alliance of Patriots also voted against and walked out of the Parliament chamber before the end of lengthy discussions.
Before walking out, leader of Alliance of Patriots, Vice Speaker Irma Inashvili slammed PM Kvirikashvili for his stance towards her party.
“This is not the way to establish the idyll,” Inashvili said and called on the lawmakers from the parliamentary majority group for “self-criticism” because, as she put it, she saw some signs of “political narcissism.”
Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze called on lawmakers to reduce “radicalism” and move to a constructive regime.”