Zhvania delivered on the same day to the lawmakers the plan of action of the new government for the years of 2004-2009.
“Structural reforms of the government, reforms in the law enforcement agencies, as well as in the security structures of the country; fight against corruption; economic growth; social welfare of citizens; addressing energy problems and foreign policy priorities – these would be the priorities of the cabinet’s program,” Zurab Zhvania told the lawmakers at the parliamentary session.
Zhvania also said that each member of his government would carry out fundamental reforms in the sphere the particular minister is in charge of. “Every sector of governance needs reforms,” he added.
Zhvania also said that the top priority of the government would be restoration of the territorial integrity. One of the four State Ministers will be in charge of conflict resolutions. Goga Khaindrava has been appointed on this post. The Abkhaz side has already welcomed this appointment.
“We do not threaten anyone, but in order to hold successful peaceful talks we will need strong defense structures,” nominee for the Prime Minister’s post said.
He vowed that the new government would increase defense funding to form “small but affective and professional army.”
“Our main goal is to increase funding in accordance with the European and NATO recommendations. The current funding which makes 0,69% of GDP should increase up to 2% of GDP,” Zhvania said.
Zurab Zhvania reiterated that integration into the NATO and EU is Georgia’s priority. Tamar Beruchashvili who is the State Minister in the cabinet will be in charge of the Georgia’s relation with the Euro-Atlantic structures.
The Prime Minister vowed that tackling of country’s socio-economic problems would also top the agenda of the new government. Zhvania said that it will be possible to increase pensions from April and submit proposals and schedule of increase of minimal salaries to the subsistence level – 115 Lari per month in June.
Zurab Zhvania drew special attention to the anticipated reforms in the law enforcement agencies, including the Security and Interior Ministries.
“Zurab Adeishvili [the State Security Minister] is a civilian and his appointment should be a sign that the Security Ministry will undergo fundamental reforms,” Zurab Zhvania said.
He also said that the new government would support adoption of law on lustration. Zhvania said that Zurab Adeishvili would work over the law on lustration, which will make the security service legally bound to reveal any links with foreign special services of current senior officials or nominees to such a post.
The proposal has been raised for several times for past decade; however the authorities always refrained to push the issue forward.
Zhvania vowed that the Security Ministry would undergo fundamental reforms and “it will not be a Soviet-style KGB any more.”
President Saakashvili said earlier that the new cabinet would be “young, professional and the most progressive in the Eastern Europe.”
Most of the ministers in the new government are in their thirties and are western-educated. Four cabinet members are women.
One part of the ministers are the holdovers of the provisional authorities, which took over the power after the bloodless revolution last November, including: Giorgi Baramidze, the Interior Minister, Zurab Noghaideli, the Finance Minister, Irakli Rekhviashvili, the Economy Minister, Eter Astemirova, and the Minister for Refugees and Accommodation and Tedo Japaridze, the Foreign Affairs Minister. This latter was a secretary of the national security council in ex-President Shevardnadze’s government.
Other members of the cabinet are Giorgi Papuashvili, the Justice Minister, who worked for the Open Society – Georgia Foundation, before the appointment.
Kakha Lomaia, who led the Open Society – Georgia Foundation, is the Minister for Education and Science. “Mr. Lomaia and Soros Foundation [Open Society – Georgia Foundation] did much to reform and assist Georgian education system,” Zurab Zhvania said at a presentation of the cabinet on February 14.
Former Vice Speaker of the Parliament and one of the leaders of the Zurab Zhvania’s United Democrats Party Gigi Tsereteli is the Health Care Minister.
Tamar Sulukhia became the Minister of Infrastructure, Tamar Lebanidze – the Minister of the Environment, Nikoloz Gilauri – the Minister of Energy, Davit Shervashidze – the Minister of Agriculture, who was the Deputy Agricultural Minister and Goka Gabashvili – the Minister for Culture and Sport.
Gela Bezhuashvili is Georgia’s first ever civilian who will be appointed as Defense Minister. Bezhuashvili was a former Deputy Defense Minister.
There will be four State Minister’s positions in the cabinet as well: Tamar Beruchashvili, who will be in charge of Georgia’s integration into the European structures; Guram Absandze will be responsible for the national accord policy. Absandze was the Finance Minister in ex-President Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s government; Jambul Bakuradze will be in charge of development of the small and medium business.
The fourth State Minister – Goga Khaindrava will be in charge of conflict resolutions. The latter is a film director and was an active member of the Disobedience Committee during the revolution days last November.