The Georgian Dream named today former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, incumbent Defense Minister, as the ruling party’s Prime Ministerial candidate after Giorgi Gakharia’s resignation over United National Movement chair Nika Melia’s coming detention.
Georgian Dream MPs welcomed the party’s “unanimous” decision to nominate Garibashvili as the PM, citing his past experience and tenure on the post, during which he signed the EU-Georgia Association Agreement.
Opposition politicians argued the nomination of Garibashvili, infamous for his scathing criticism of the United National Movement, would exacerbate the post-election political impasse and deteriorate Georgia’s relations with its western partners.
Below is a compilation of some of the reactions from members of the ruling and the opposition parties to Garibashvili’s Prime Ministerial nomination:
Ruling Party Reactions
Vice-Speaker Kakha Kuchava, Georgian Dream: “[Garibashvili] is very well known [among the international community]. A lot of matters, including reforms, are associated with his name. I would highlight one exceptional fact – [Garibashvili] signing the [EU-Georgia] Association Agreement, which was indeed a significant event for our country. Most importantly, [Garibashvili] not only signed but very actively implemented the action plan and the obligations we took up under the Agreement, which finally led us to the visa-free travel agreement [with the EU].”
Mamuka Mdinaradze, Georgian Dream Parliamentary Faction Chairperson: “Support [for Garibashvili’s candidacy] is practically guaranteed in the Georgian Parliament, as the parliamentary majority, the Georgian Dream faction was practically fully present [in the GD party headquarters today upon nominating his candidacy]. We first made the decision at the [GD party] Political Council, and then we informed the [parliamentary] majority [about it]. We can say with certainty that Irakli Garibashvili will have the Parliamentary majority’s support as the Prime Ministerial candidate, and become the Prime Minister.”
Shalva Papuashvili, Georgian Dream MP: “[Putting forward] Irakli Garibashvili’s candidacy was supported absolutely unanimously and unequivocally. Therefore, the [GD] team is very united here, and we are focused on proactively moving our country further forward. I remind you that Garibashvili was the Prime Minister during whose tenure the Association Agreement with the European Union was signed, and Irakli Garibashvili will be the Prime Minister during whose tenure Georgia will make an application for EU membership.”
Salome Samadashvili, United National Movement: “Garibashvili was a Prime Minister, whose dismissal [meaning Garibashvili’s 2015 resignation] was demanded straight from Brussels […] I remember very well his visits to Brussels, […] simply, the shock his visits caused, [his] ignorance, his attitude, overall. It was the West’s demand to replace him as the Prime Minister. [Garibashvili’s current nomination as the PM] is a statement that Ivanishvili [Georgian Dream founder and patron] is simply not interested anymore in what the West thinks about his Government.”
Tina Bokuchava, United National Movement: “The political recycling of Garibashvili, and his return to politics in this form shows that Ivanishvili’s actions are completely devoid of rational thought. [Garibashvili is] A person that has no reputation neither within the country nor outside of it. Ivanishvili intends to leave Putin as his only ally and establish a Putinist dictatorship in the country.”
Otar Kakhidze, European Georgia: “Garibashvili’s tenure as the Prime Minister was characterized […] by violence against the opposition, attacks on [opposition party] offices. We also remember him by [his] corruption schemes. This is not a figure that will be unifying in any form. He is not a figure that should be focused on solving the political crisis.”
MP Alexander Elisashvili, the Citizens Party: “They [GD] selected a very bad candidate; probably one of the worst the Georgian Dream could have selected… And most importantly, to put aside Garibashvili’s personal characteristics, the Georgian Dream should have picked in this situation a person that would take steps toward de-escalation, […] who would be capable of listening to the opposition’s actual demands and take them into account as much as possible. And they chose the most confrontational person, who wants to eat the [United National Movement] alive.”