TBILISI, DWatch–President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili will next week hold his first annual address to parliament. He says this year’s speech will have a completely new format, compared to earlier.
The constitution says the president must hold a speech to parliament once a year. It is usually held at the beginning of the spring session, which is the first Tuesday in February, but the date has not yet been set.
During the two terms Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidency, 2013 was the only year when he didn’t hold the annual address in parliament. The reason was that parliament and president were from different parties. Despite the fact that Georgian Dream coalition and National Movement agreed on so-called cohabitation, they could not agree on how the annual address should be organized. Saakashvili eventually decided to hold his speech at the National Library in Tbilisi. This ended up in a scuffle between his supporters in the UNM party and his opponents, mainly a group calling itself former political prisoners.
For most of his time as president, Saakashvili was able to make appearances in parliament without being confronted by the critical questions that were circulating outside in society, as most members of parliament were from his own party, and the rest where from the more moderate parts of the opposition, as the brunt of opposition parties were boycotting parliament.
But in 2012, some of the criticism that had long been circulating in the political press and among non-parliamentarian parties, were raised inside the session hall of parliament face to face with Saakashvili as he was answering questions after his annual address, and this prompted the president to leave the assembly building in a huff.
This year, the situation is different, as the Georgian Dream coalition holds a majority of seats in parliament, the UNM is the opposition, and the new president doesn’t have a great personal authority as the previous president did.
Margvelashvili said on Friday that his address will have a new format.
“Earlier there was a report by the executive president, but now we have a president who is not executive, but head of state,” he said, “so naturally, the format will be different.”
The president said he is working with the speaker of parliament to set the date of the annual address, where he will speak about the most important issues for the country.