PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili has ruled out that Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG), party he is set to chair, will go into coalition either with Alliance of Patriots of Georgia or Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement.
The PM, who sat down with hosts of political talk shows from ten Tbilisi-based television stations on Friday evening, said it will happen neither now nor in next parliament to be elected in October.
He commented on this issue in response to a question, which was asked in the context of ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s 2013 remarks sympathetic to, as the author of the question put it, “pro-Russian” parties, specifically Alliance of Patriots and Democratic Movement. Earlier this month a senior lawmaker from GDDG, Gia Volski, said the party is ready to cooperate with “any political party”, including with these two parties, if they are elected by voters in the upcoming elections.
“As far as coalition or strategic cooperation is concerned – and I am sure he [Ivanishvili] also has the same position, we cannot be in any type of strategic partnership either now or in the future parliament with the Alliance of Patriots or Nino Burjanadze’s political force,” Kvirikashvili said during his two-hour long live televised meeting with TV hosts.
“I can tell you this right now in order to dispel various expectations in this regard,” he added.
Billionaire ex-PM Ivanishvili, who, according to polls, majority of respondents believe continues to call the shots even though he holds no government post, featured in several other questions from TV journalists.
Asked if he thinks that it is one of his main personal challenges to establish himself as an independent political figure, Kvirikashvili responded that he is already such and does not need to prove it.
“I don’t think that my main challenge is to prove that I’ll be an independent political figure. I think I don’t need to prove it. I think that we have much more serious challenges in the country,” he said.
“Ivanishvili’s factor in today’s politics is very important and I am not going to deny it,” he continued. “I have a normal, very constructive relation with him. Our citizens are the ones who can assess level of my independence best of all. Bidzina Ivanishvili has done a lot in the Georgian politics and I think that he will do more. As far as my relations with him are concerned, I’ve always had very sincere, open relations with him, and I have never avoided debates with him and I’ve had heated arguments with him over number of issues and I think it has not been perceived negatively by him negatively.”
“There is nothing to hide that it was his [Ivanishvili] initiative to nominate me as prime minister [in late December]… and one of the reasons behind [this decision] was the fact that I have never avoided speaking out my views over various issues in discussions with him,” he added.
“I think that these are very useful relations. As far as his involvement in the pre-election process is concerned, I think it will be positive – he is a founder of the Georgian Dream- [Democratic Georgia party] and he has moral right to express his support and I do not see anything out of ordinary in this,” Kvirikashvili said.
Asked what he will do if Ivanishvili tells him to resign, Kvirikashvili responded: “I won’t answer that question, because such thing [Ivanishvili asking him to resign] is ruled out.”
The PM said that GDDG party, which is expected to elect Kvirikashvili as its chairman at a congress scheduled for May 14, will be “renewed” significantly by adding “modern, future-oriented professionals” to its ranks.
“A significant renewal of the Georgian Dream party is underway. In the nearest future you will see many young professionals among our ranks, who will contribute significantly to the reforms and fast-track development of the country,” PM Kvirikashvili said.
“It will be the new team with new tasks and new agenda,” he said. “The main criteria that will be characteristic to this new team will be sincerity towards our compatriots, openness and professionalism.”
He said that the upcoming elections, scheduled for October 8, should be “one of the best elections.”
Kvirikashvili said that decision of GD coalition members to run separately and not under the joint ticket will make the upcoming elections “further diverse and interesting.”
He said that he has a “healthy ambition to change Georgia in positive way in next four years, to put an end to confrontation and hatred between the people and to take steps directed towards country’s fast-track development.”
“I understand fully that steps towards this direction might not always be popular, but I will not make compromises just because of staying in power beyond four-year [term] – that’s my promise,” Kvirikashvili said.
The PM also spoke about the need to put an end to “confrontational mode” and personal insults in politics. He said that “regrettably” his calls for non-confrontational and constructive cooperation have not been heeded by some political forces.
“We should end personal insults – no matter how Europeans we might be, we are also from the Caucasus and personal insults are lethal for us… Let’s put an end to this once and for all. Let’s draw clear line between debates and personal insults,” he said.
‘We should Talk with Russia’
The PM said that although there has not been a progress in resolving the problem of “occupation” of Georgia’s territories by Russia, the government has achieved “success” in lowering tensions, which is important for economic development.
“Over the past few years we managed to lower temperature,” he said. “The issue of occupation remains a very acute problem, but despite of that we managed through formats of dialogue [Geneva talks, Abashidze-Karasin meetings] to achieve certain results.”
“We have a degree of stability in the country, which allows us to secure more dynamic development of the country. It did not happen at the expense of even a slight compromise on our pro-Western course. I want to make it clear that the European and Euro-Atlantic integration remains top priorities – this is the will of the Georgian people and not a single government has the right to turn away from this course,” he said.
“It, however, does not mean shouting at every international fora that we are under the barrel of tank and snipers take aim at cargo trucks on the [Georgian East-West Highway, one of the sections of which passes in a close proximity of administrative border of breakaway South Ossetia]. How can you imagine developing economy and attracting investments… in the condition of constantly shouting that we have [Russian military] bases [in Abkhazia and South Ossetia]. But it does not mean in any way to make this problem second-grade issue in the eyes of our strategic partners… But it is a matter of tactic – how we will raise this issue before our partners – on the one hand to keep these issues on the agenda of our partners and on the other hand to create sense of stability, which is required for attracting foreign investments. We have tackled this task with success,” Kvirikashvili said.
“We don’t have positive dynamic in respect of resolving the issue of occupation – statements are being made about referendum [in breakaway South Ossetia] on joining Russia, which is against of international law,” he said.
He also said that “we should talk with Russia” and added “it would be unreasonable not to have a dialogue with Russia about solving existing problems.”
Judiciary – ‘Headache’
When one journalist told the PM that the Georgian dream “has no political will to change” anything in the judiciary, and also referred to the controversial appointments of judges, Kvirikashvili responded: “Reforms are not completed – neither in the law enforcement agencies nor in the judiciary. I will not hide that the judiciary is one of the biggest headaches.”
“Public perception towards the judiciary is very important. The perception now is – and I also have a similar sense – that something has to be changed in this regard,” the PM said, but added that he “had not enough time” to look into specific details of the issue and also said that he will have a meeting with civil society organizations over the judiciary.
Commenting on sex tapes, purportedly showing politicians, which were released anonymously last month, the PM said that “the only goal” behind those leaks was “to change our positive agenda” his government is trying to promote.
He said that the investigation is still ongoing to bring to justice those who have made those recordings and also those who were behind the recent release of those videos, which were secretly recorded through illegal surveillance in the first half of 2012.
Kvirikashvili also said that he can “guarantee” that “we will move in the direction, where sneaking into people’s bedrooms will be put to an end in this country.”