TBILISI, DFWatch — Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili Monday presented his candidates for government ministers and other important positions, after his coalition won the parliamentary election one week ago.
The candidates will need approval by parliament.
Candidate for the post as defense minister is Irakli Alasania, one of the coalition leaders, who was Georgia’s ambassador to the UN before the Russia-Georgia war in 2008. In the election, Alasania was a majoritarian candidate for parliament from Zugdidi, a region close to conflict zone, losing against Roland Akhalaia, a Saakashvili loyalist who holds the region in his grip.
Alasania promised to move the ministry to a higher level after analyzing all problems and crimes, which has occurred at the defense ministry over the last years. He plans to increase the country’s defense capability and efficiency.
“Qualitative reforms will be conducted,” he said, “It is important for us to continue country’s integration into Europe, Euro-Atlantic structures, for the country’s ability for defense.”
When it comes to NATO’s ISAF operation, Alasania said Georgian soldiers will remain in Afghanistan until the mission is completed. Georgia is one of the largest non-NATO member contributors to ISAF.
He promised maximal transparency and restaffing, which will apply to people holding official political positions at the ministry. Coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili today said Alasania will also be vice prime minister.
Davit Usupashvili, another of Georgian Dream’s front people and close to Bidzina Ivanishvili, will be the new speaker of parliament. He said those who will become heads of parliament committees will today start getting introduced to the situation in parliament.
He told journalists that it is not yet decided what will happen with the parliament building and where it will be.
“The working situation in Kutaisi Parliament is very difficult right now. In two days we wills study technical and other sides and then will inform how our work will continue there.”
The position as interior minister will be held by Irakli Gharibashvili, one of the coalition leaders who has been chair of Cartu Group, an insurance company affiliated with Ivanishvili.
He promised to free police from involvement in politics and promised to serve the people and the country.
“No criminal will prosper in this country,” he said, and added that they will continue the ‘zero tolerance’ policy established shortly after the rose revolution. He also said that restaffing will not apply to honest and professional employees of the ministry.
“Police buildings used to be transparent, but vague inside. We are now responsible to people. Many reforms are planned. There will be no political persecution and I will guarantee that all who serves the people and the homeland will keep their positions.”
Kakhi Kaladze, former AC Milan player who left sport to support Ivanishvili, is a candidate for the post of minister of regional development and infrastructure, as well as second vice prime minister.
Kaladze said there are many interesting projects ongoing at his future ministry and he will support the successful completion of those projects.
“Many things were done, but still there are problems. There are many regions for example and villages, which still have problems with water, road problems, which we will take care of,” he said. He also noted that he does not plan to fire people who are honestly fulfilling responsibilities at the ministry.
Maia Panjikidze, former spokesperson for Georgian Dream, is presented in the post as foreign affairs minister. She said Georgia’s main foreign policy course will not change, including integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, strategic partnership with the US and relations with neighboring countries.
“What Georgian Dream will bring to foreign policy is only one major thing – put in order relations with Russia and this way restore territorial integrity,” she said, adding that there is already an outline of how to regulate relations with Russia, but a full plan will be made public after she moves into the ministry.
New Justice Minister will be Tea Tsulukiani, who used to work at Center for Foreign Policy Research and Analysis at the foreign ministry and has also worked at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In the election she was a majoritarian candidate for one of the districts in Tbilisi, which she won by a wide margin.
She has now been instructed to prepare a project to create a fair justice system.
Ivanishvili named Sozar Subari, former public defender as new prison minister. He said the whole approach towards prisoners will change and that specific cases may be reviewed.
“Our goal will be that the system serves to re-socialize people, to get rid of corruption currently in the prison system, as a single company supplies the prisons with food and first use subjects,” he said. Subari underlined that the new government will take care of prisoners. He said the ministry will take care to get the country down from the top place on the list of prisoner deaths per capita.
Prison minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, who was well-regarded abroad and complimented for her competency, left the post as prison minister a week before the election amidst shocking revelations about prisoner abuse. The post is now filled by Giorgi Tugushi, former ombudsman.
Levan Kipiani, son of the football player Davit Kipiani, will be new sports minister. Writer Guram Odisharia will be new culture minister.
Amiran Gamkrelidze, who was health minister under former president Eduard Shevardnadze and coordinator of World Health Organization programs in Georgia, will return as health minister.
He promised to increase pensions to a minimum wage level in terms of this year’s budget. He also promised establishing good insurance system, which is not well developed in Georgia.
Paata Zakareishvili, an often quoted commentator about the conflict regions and a member of the Republican Party, will be new minister for reintegration.
Alexi Petriashvili, diplomat who used to be ambassador to Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, will be state minister for Euro and Euro-Atlantic structures.
Kote Kirvalidze, who chaired Georgian Dream’s service for emigration and relations with diasporas, will be minister for diaspora issues, while Davit Kirvalidze will be agriculture minister.
Bidzina Ivansivhili said there still are vacant places: education, finance, economy, environment and refugee ministers, as well as for new ministry of employment, which may be done away with.