A session of the National Security Council, chaired by President Saakashvili, was held on June 5 for the first time since PM Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition came into government in October, 2012.
The session was preceded by exchange of barbs between GD and UNM; PM Ivanishvili was questioning appropriateness of President Saakashvili’s recent foreign trips and criticizing NSC and its secretary Giga Bokeria and the latter accused the PM of having “complete intolerance” of opponents.
PM Ivanishvili was absent at the NSC session; he cited schedule conflicts.
Defense Minister Irakli Alasania and Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze were also absent because they both are currently on foreign trips with the former paying visit to NATO HQ in Brussels and the latter visiting the United States. Their deputies were instead present at the NSC session.
Other participants of the meeting were Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili; Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili; Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri; State Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili; Deputy Defense Minister Tamar Karosanidze; Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani; Secretary of National Security Council Giga Bokeria and his four deputies: Batu Kutelia; Tamar Kintsurashvili; Levan Duchidze and Tornike Turmanidze. UNM parliamentary minority leader Davit Bakradze and UNM MP Giorgi Baramidze, who is parliament’s vice-speaker, as well as Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and chief of president’s administration Andro Barnovi were also present.
“I welcome the fact that after certain pause that was naturally caused by elections and change of the government, as well as other political realities, we managed to reconvene the National Security Council,” President Saakashvili said in televised opening remarks.
“I think that this format gives an opportunity to all the branches of the authorities, regardless of who is representing this branch, to sit down together and talk about the key security challenges facing Georgia, the key issues which are of concern for our people.”
“The today’s agenda has been prompted by those provocations, which are staged by the Russian Federation across the occupation line, as well as by those issues which are related to the attempts of our country’s invader to visit various countries and obtain illegal recognition of its occupation and recognition of our territories as ‘independent states.’ We should definitely work on this issue together,” Saakashvili said.
“We should continue practice of such gatherings [referring to NSC session]. We have accumulated a huge experience over these issues. These are the issues over which we are equally concerned, because we all are guided by the interests of our country,” he said.
“I also express hope – because the Prime Minister is an important member of the National Security Council – that he will also attend the next sessions,” Saakashvili said.
“Today, the Interior Minister will brief us about the attempts of so called marking of 'border' – as they [referring to Russia] call it, which actually is… Russia’s illegal action on the occupation line. We will also exchange opinions about non-recognition policy and my foreign visits, which I made recently including accompanied by representatives from the Foreign Ministry,” Saakashvili said.
After the NSC session, which lasted less than two hours, Saakashvili said during a separate, unrelated event, that the meeting was “business-like and substantial.”
“I think they [referring to government members present at the session] learned many interesting things and I too learned and discovered many interesting things,” Saakashvili said, adding that no matter of fundamental difference “we should all stand together” when it comes to country’s national security issues.
NSC Secretary Giga Bokeria said that the session was held “in a very business-like atmosphere” and it was “very useful”; he also expressed regret that the Prime Minister was not able to participate. “I hope that in future he will combine such meetings with his schedule,” Bokeria said.
Parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili said that the President briefed them about his recent foreign visits and about “what he plans tomorrow and day after tomorrow”. The Georgian Dream coalition has complained last month that President Saakashvili foreign trips were not coordinated with the government and the Foreign Ministry was not even aware about purpose of those visits. After that deputy foreign minister was included in presidential delegation when Saakashvili visited Ecuador in late May.
“We have agreed that the representatives of the Foreign Ministry, our ambassadors to various states will also participate in these visits or meetings and if needed,” Usupashvili said and added that holding of NSC sessions was necessary.
Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili welcomed the NSC session was held and said: “I think that similar meetings should continue in future.”