Georgia reacts to Government reshuffle

Khatuna Gogaladze, Georgia's former Environment Minister was among the seven Ministers dismissed today., 21 Jul 2014 - 16:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

A politician dismissed from her Ministerial duties in today’s Government reshuffle did not see her dismissal coming while another was prepared for his release.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Khatuna Gogaladze said she did not know why Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili dismissed her and a handful of other Ministers today.

In the hours since Prime Minister Garibashvili announced the major reshuffle, some of the seven Ministers affected had assessed their service and were now debating their future plans.

Gogaladze noted "many pretty good things” had been done during her 21 months in office.

"A lot of changes have been done and I hope these were positive changes in forestry and other sectors too,” Gogaladze said.

She expressed her hope for this tendency to continue at the Ministry under the new leadership.

Meanwhile State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues Konstantine Surguladze, who was also dismissed today, said he would go back to his diplomatic service.

"This [dismissal] was not unexpected for me. I more or less knew about it,” he said.

"I always had a desire to go back to my old profession – diplomacy. My professional life is connected with diplomacy and I think it will be good for me to get back to it.”

What the Parliamentary Majority says

Georgian local officials have also commented on today’s news of a Governmental reshuffle.

Member of the Parliamentary Majority and ruling Georgian Dream party Levan Berdzenishvili said it was important "no scandalous and controversial expulsions took place any longer”, and everyone remained as a member of the team.

Berdzenishvili noted every governmental structure needed a change and the previous Cabinet was appointed by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, whereas Garibashvili could have a different vision.

"We are not making changes as frequently as the previous government did. As you have seen, the Cabinet of Ministers has remained the same for quite a long time but changes are necessary and ordinary process for any country’s Government,” he said.

The newly elected Mayor of Tbilisi Davit Narmania, who was the Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development for 18 months, believed the Prime Minister had exclusive power to reshuffle the Cabinet.

"The former Cabinet Ministers were very active and Ministers accomplished much but this Government has to accomplish new objectives, thus the reshuffle was needed to make this happen,” Narmania said.

Opposition will not give a vote of confidence

Opposition MP and United National Movement (UNM) member Irma Nadirahsvili said her party would not give a vote of confidence to the revised Cabinet.

She said the "real problems” in the country were unemployment and the continuing crime rate but the Prime Minister did not change anyone involved in the Finance and Interior Ministries.

"This once again proves the country has an inadequate Prime Minister,” Inahsvili said.

Another UNM member Mikheil Machavariani believed this reshuffle or other changes would not have any major effect within Cabinet.

"Georgia’s economy is going backwards, crime is increasing and the decisions are not made by Garibashvili or the Ministers. All decisions are made by Ivanishvili [ex-Prime Minister and the founder of the Georgian Dream party] and his main decision is to destroy the country’s main opposition party,” Machavariani said.

Machavariani also noted the new Cabinet was not oriented on solving problems but on personal conflict and on creating comfort to the Prime Minister.

Experts' opinion

Local political experts believed changes were "timely and necessary” for Georgia’s Cabinet, which was created two years ago.

"This would be a good message for the rest of the Ministers too,” expert Gia Khukhashvili said.

"Now they will know if they do not do their best, they can also be subject to changes.”

Constitutionalist Avtandil Demetrashvili had a different vision. He believed if the Cabinet reshuffle concerned a third of Minister, the Prime Minister had to resign too.

"This is what the Georgian Constitution says,” Demetrashvili said.

Another expert, Vakhushti Menabde, said the fact a new vote of confidence from the Parliament was needed for the renewed Cabinet however there was no clear statement in the Constitution that would decide this issue.

"There are two articles in the Constitution. One says the Prime Minister introduces the Cabinet and the other says the President does. This could create a controversy among the PM, President and Parliament,” Menabde said.

Georgia’s new Cabinet should be introduced to Parliament to gain a vote of confidence in a week. After this, Parliament will have one more week to vote on the issue.