President’s New Chief of Staff, Foreign Policy Adviser Appointed

President Giorgi Margvelashvili appointed on June 19 his parliamentary secretary, Davit Pataraia, as new chief of presidential administration, replacing Lasha Abashidze.

Also on June 19, Margvelashvili appointed head of Tbilisi-based think tank International Centre for Geopolitical Studies (ICGS), Tengiz Pkhaladze, as his new foreign policy adviser, replacing Vano Matchavariani.

These two positions in the presidential administration became vacant after Abashidze and Matchavariani resigned on June 13.

In an interview with Maestro TV on June 18, Matchavariani said that ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “factor” plays a significant role in existing “unfavorable” relations between the presidency and the government, which, Matchavariani said, became especially obvious after Ivanishvili publicly criticized President Margvelashvili in March. At the time Ivanishvili, among other issues, also complained about Matchavariani, who is brother of UNM MP Mikheil Matchavariani, being, as he put it, Presidents’ “favorite”.
“After those remarks by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the government actually started keeping distance from the President and his administration,” Matchavariani said.

He said that although Ivanishvili holds no formal government position, he “has his opinion about all the issues” and the government reckons with his views.

“There is no secret Bidzina Ivanishvili plays a huge role in the processes; he is involved to a certain extent and he speaks about it openly,” Vano Matchavariani said.

He said that the presidency “is actually being downgraded” and also added that there was not enough cooperation from the government in preparing foreign visits with the foreign ministry only providing “superficial” information.

When asked about relations between the President and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Matchavariani responded: “These relations are not bad at all; these are really working relations, but Bidzina’s factor still persists.”  

He also said that it is very difficult to work in conditions when Ivanishvili has “crossed out the President and his activities” although Margvelashvili gave no reason for that.

President’s national security adviser and secretary of the National Security Council Irina Imerlishvili responded on June 19 that Matchavariani’s allegations “sound like gossiping”; she said that president’s administration has “very intensive” relations with the government.

Commenting on Matchavariani’s decision to quit, Ivanishvili told journalists on June 15 after casting ballot in municipal elections that he had nothing to do with this resignation.


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