Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, April 26, 2018. Photo: facebook.com/KvirikashviliOfficial
Ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s decision to return to the helm of the Georgian Dream party received mixed assessments in the political scene, with GD lawmakers and officials endorsing the move as a step to strengthening the ruling party and opposition politicians stressing the former Prime Minister had never left active politics.
Below is a compilation of some of the reactions from Georgian politicians.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia: As you are well aware, Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili established the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia in one of the most difficult times for our country’s modern history, and the party has played a decisive role in the country’s democratic progress. The role of Bidzina Ivanishvili for our team as the founder of the party is clear for everyone … He is best equipped to strengthen the political team in his capacity as the party chairperson and to add more and new dynamism for further development, [and contribute to] more effectiveness and more progress to executive and legislative branches, as well as municipal bodies.
Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia: [Ivanishvili’s return] aims solely at strengthening the party, strengthening the party organization. This requires time, which the Prime Minister and other officials unfortunately rarely have. So, the decision had very concrete reasons… our objective is to further strengthen the party, and strengthening the Georgian Dream party is crucial for strengthening the [overall] party system in Georgia … Bidzina Ivanishvili’s decision is not related to the problems in the parliamentary majority; these minor issues could have been solved without him as well, so I would like to reiterate that his decision was based on his desire to engage in the party reform process.
Kakha Kaladze, Mayor of Tbilisi: The Prime Minister voiced a very important decision on Bidzina Ivanishvili’s return to party chairmanship. We welcome the decision… I am very happy that he returned to the post. The decision is related to our desire to strengthen the party’s role in Georgia’s development with new ideas, and we, therefore, are ready to bring the party to a new stage of development.
MP Archil Talakvadze, Leader of the Georgian Dream Majority Group: This was Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s initiative. He held several consultations with Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili quite a while ago. As you are aware, the parliamentary majority and the party leaders were also in favor of this step, so Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili made a respective decision, and I am sure that under his leadership, the party will become more effective, and this will, in the end, improve the political process in Georgia.
MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, Leader of the Georgian Dream Faction: Bidzina Ivanishvili’s return to party chairmanship adds a new and positive stimulus to strengthening the ruling party, which, in turn, would mean strengthening the country. So, this will naturally positively contribute to the country.
Nika Melia, Chairman of the Political Council of the United National Movement: It is hard to find analogies in the world history to such a cynic explanation that someone returned to the post he never left … Before the Georgian Dream lawmakers would literally start a fistfight (refers to media reports of a physical confrontation between two ruling party MPs – Davit Matikashvili and Irakli Abuseridze), this person thought his role as an informal ruler was acceptable and comfortable. The public will not buy this, they will not believe that this is a return.
Giga Bokeria, Chairman of the Political Council of the European Georgia: The decision of the real ruler of the Georgian Dream party to come out of the shadows, and the fact that he was forced to do so, demonstrates that the ruling party is in deep crisis, and that the entire country is in crisis. But this will not help the country, the only thing that will do so – is the removal of the entire team from office starting from Bidzina Ivanishvili and ending with Giorgi Kvirikashvili through peaceful means, through elections. Nothing else will help the country, which has been drawn to a deadlock by Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Davit Usupashvili, Leader of the Development Movement: It seems, Bidzina Ivanishvili has acknowledged that the ruling party is on the verge of a collapse, and decided to resort to his last option... Bidzina Ivanishvili’s return means that the ones who lead the country, the Government and the Parliament have failed to deliver. This is a unique example in the world history that a political force, which garnered a constitutional majority, reached a point when it had to call its founder for assistance.
Tamar Kekenadze, General Secretary of the Free Democrats: We do not expect that his return will have a positive effect on the country. [We also do not expect that] this will strengthen the [political] institutions, simply because from now on we will have an arrangement, when party chairman will be more powerful than the Prime Minister and the Parliament Chairman or any other institution. The country cannot develop democratically like that; in a way, this can be seen as an attempt to strengthen his positions in the country.
Nino Burjanadze, Leader of the Democratic Movement: Bidzina Ivanishvili has never left politics. He was in charge of everyone and everything, and he ran the country. He just did not have any responsibility for that, he was hiding … This [just] means that he has acknowledged how bad the situation is in the country… If he somehow manages to improve the situation, which I doubt, we will only welcome that.
Shalva Natelashvili, Leader of the Labor Party: Bidzina Ivanishvili has officially returned to the political scene; if previously, he was in charge of the country informally, or rather in charge of his criminal business corporation… today, his mask has been taken off, and he was forced to confirm what we have been arguing throughout the world that he was running the country illegally, unlawfully and behind the scenes.