Republican Party leaders said after meeting PM and leader of the Georgian Dream (GD) ruling coalition, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, that they plan a “strategic cooperation” agreement with the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG), the leading party within the five-party GD coalition.
The meeting came in the midst of ongoing confrontation between the Republican Party and Industrialists, also a member of the GD ruling coalition. Leaders of the two parties have been engaged in back-and-forth for past several weeks already during which one of the leaders of Industrialist Party, MP Gogi Topadze, accused Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party of manipulating Sagarejo MP by-election results in October, 2015.
PM Kvirikashvili said in a written statement on March 3 that ongoing “political confrontation” between Republicans and Industrialists is “completely unacceptable.” He criticized the both, including Defense Minister Khidasheli, and called on them to address differences behind the closed doors within the coalition, otherwise warned that he will have to carry out “changes” to provide for “stable functioning of the government”.
The Republican Party requested a meeting with the PM following that statement to “clarify difficult political situation.”
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Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili; chairperson of the Republican Party Khatuna Samnidze; Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli, and MP Davit Berdzenishvili, chairman of the Republicans parliamentary faction, were present at the meeting with the PM, which lasted for about hour and a half late on Thursday evening.
“We had a very business-like and amicable conversation with the PM and the leader of [GD] coalition. We have reiterated once again that the Republican Party and the Georgian Dream-[Democratic Georgia] party remain in strategic cooperation,” Parliament Speaker Usupashvili told journalists after the meeting.
PM Kvirikashvili is set to become chairman of the GDDG party at a congress this spring.
“Moreover, we will finalize very soon bipartisan agreement directed towards future in order to secure successful implementation of tasks by the coalition not only in this current election cycle [for October, 2016 parliamentary polls], but also beyond that in the future,” Usupashvili said.
“The position of the Prime Minister and of the Republican Party is very firm – we will continue strategic cooperation; strategic – and not just on certain individual issues and not just short-term cooperation. At the same time there will be more specific agreement about it between the two parties – the Republican and Georgian Dream-[Democratic Georgia],” he said.
“Strategic partnership implies the closest possible cooperation between the parties, including in the context of future elections,” Usupashvili said.
Asked if it means changes in the existing five-party GD coalition, which apart of GDDG, Republicans, and Industrialists, also includes National Forum and the Conservative Party, Usupashvili responded without elaborating: “Everything needs renewal, including our coalition.”
On the question whether the GD coalition will be dissolved, Usupashvili said: “There was no talk of dissolving the coalition. PM spoke about possible changes in the coalition in his statement, but we have not discussed any specifics.”
Asked if the Defense Minister will be replaced in the view of PM’s criticism of Khidasheli, Usupashvili responded: “I am telling you that we spoke about strategic partnership and you are asking me if someone will quit or not the [cabinet] post – that’s not a relevant question.”
Republican Party chairperson, Khatuna Samnidze, said that “questions that were caused by the PM’s statement were also discussed.”
“We exchanged views, laid out our positions and we started talking about bipartisan agreement [between the Republicans and GDDG], details of which will be made public soon,” she said.
Asked about the PM’s criticism of the Defense Minister, Samnidze responded that the PM himself will make a statement about it.