The Parliament of Georgia elected today Georgian Dream lawmaker Kakhaber (Kakha) Kuchava, 41, as its new speaker with 86 votes in favor and six against.
The election comes as former Speaker Archil Talakvadze stepped down on April 24, citing his involvement in EU-mediated crisis talks that led to April 19 agreement. Talakvadze then said Kuchava would lead the legislature from a “more neutral” position.
In his address to the Parliament before the voting, Mr. Kuchava underlined the need to end political polarization and making compromises, the country’s pro-western foreign policy, and existing challenges. In his opening remarks, he thanked MP Irakli Kobakhidze, chairperson of the ruling party, for the initiative to nominate him for the position.
He said it was “symbolic” that his election coincided with the group of opposition lawmakers entering the legislature after a months-long boycott, as per the EU-brokered April 19 agreement. “I believe that we all are winners here,” Kuchava said, and expressed his hopes that the United National Movement MPs, still boycotting the Parliament, will enter the legislature and “overcome their narrow-party interests.” “It is high time to take steps towards each other through making compromises and concessions,” he noted.
Kuchava also thanked the European Union and the U.S. for their “unprecedented efforts” to reconcile the Georgian Dream government and the opposition. “We will spare no efforts to justify all expectations our international partners have towards Georgia as a country committed to democracy,” he underscored.
Now-Speaker Kuchava also noted that he will “assume full responsibility” for immediate implementation of the April 19 agreement, envisaging the observance of the principle of checks and balances in the Parliament, and disbursing committee chairmanships to the opposition representatives.
“I firmly believe that to achieve our key goal and reunite Georgia, we should first unite here, in the Parliament. It is necessary for our people and our common future,” Kuchava said, stressing that “Georgia’s future is to achieve full-fledged membership to the European Union that is very close already, as we are going to submit an application for EU membership in 2024.” “It is Georgian people’s choice based on European values and this choice is unconditional and irreversible.”
“Georgia will remain committed to its course and will always be a stable foothold for the West in the region,” Kuchava added.
Speaking about the key challenges facing the country, the now Speaker singled out the issue of territorial integrity, saying that ending polarization would enable the government and the opposition to effectively cope with the challenge. “The occupier [Russia] is attacking us on a daily basis and our citizens have to live in the gravest moral and humanitarian crisis, amid the threats coming from hybrid war and difficult regional context,” he added. In the context of challenges, he also spoke of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic downturn.
Kakha Kuchava also stressed the need to improve cooperation with civil society organizations and media “to better inform the public” about a broad range of issues.
New Speaker’s Biography
Kakha Kuchava was first elected as a Georgian Dream lawmaker in 2016. Initially, he served as the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Environmental Protection and Natural Resources. In November 2019, after senior Georgian Dream lawmakers (the party’s key interlocutors with the West) quit the GD following the Parliament’s decision to vote down the bill on the transition to the proportional electoral system, he was appointed as Parliament’s Vice-Speaker.
Following the October 2020 parliamentary elections, MP Kuchava entered the Parliament through the ruling party’s proportional list and was re-appointed as the Vice-Speaker. Prior to his legislative career, Kuchava held various positions in the private sector, involved in consulting, investment, and mining sectors.
In 2001, Mr. Kuchava graduated from Tbilisi State University’s Law Faculty. In 2003, he was awarded a master’s degree in corporate law from Nottingham Trent University in the UK.
The new Parliament Speaker is a sports enthusiast. Apart from being a football aficionado, in his younger years, Kuchava successfully navigated the torrents of Georgian rivers, scoring a win in the national rafting championship.