TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili is moving yet another state body closer to Europe — at least a few dozen kilometers.

This time it’s the Ministry for Internally Displaced Persons which will be moved from Tbilisi to the town of Gori, which lies close to the occupied territories and just a few kilometers from the administrative border.

“I don’t know whether Gori is a suburb to Tbilisi, or Tbilisi to Gori, this is an issue for discussion, but Gori will definitely be one of the major centers of Georgia,” Saakashvili said on January 11 as he announced his decision during a street appearance in the town that was occupied by Russian troops in August 2008.

Several years ago the constitutional court was moved to Batumi, and parliament will be moved to Kutaisi later this year. The energy regulatory commission has been moved to Kutaisi, and the Chamber of Control will soon be there too.

Moving public bodies out into the regions is a conscious policy choice by Saakashvili’s government, explained as a means to create development in those places.

But the opposition thinks the real reason is that Tbilisi is a hotbed of anti-government sentiment.

The president yesterday also announced several new programs to transform Gori into a center of tourism.

Saakashvili argued that tourists are coming in increasing numbers because of the development that is taking place in the country.

“Currently we are at the same level as David the Builder was in his time,” Saakashvili said.

David the Builder is the king credited with unifying Georgia. He reigned in the eleventh century in a period historians call the rise of Georgia.

Saakashvili frequently compares his own presidency to the David the Builder period. At his first inauguration ceremony as president in 2004, he promised that before his first term was ended he would unite Georgia, a promise not yet fulfilled.