Ekaterine Tikaradze announced her resignation as the Health Minister on December 9, but said she would continue her work at the ruling Georgian Dream party’s political council.
As she resigned unexpectedly and without naming the reason for her decision, government-critical media TV networks suspected a possible dispute between Tikaradze and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, among others over Georgia’s controversial permanent COVID green passes. Reporters approached politicians for comments over the possible dispute.
Below are the remarks delivered by politicians of the GD and the opposition parties:
Ruling Party reactions:
Parliament Speaker Kakha Kuchava: “You all listened to the briefing yesterday, there was no mention of a disupte. Often, when we gathered, no confrontation could be felt. Every day there is gossiping about [possible] resignation not only of Tikaradze but of any Minister, and sooner or later when it happens, then they say “we told you.” […] This person was the Health Minister for three years, and after the three years she made this decision.”
Parliament Vice Speaker Gia Volski: They said there was an argument [between PM Garibashvili and Tikaradze]. This argument, about certain issues, was not even hidden. […] The truth comes during a debate, and I hope this is the case now […] I want to say one thing, she is a tough lady. She has worked 24 hours a day since the first day of COVID. […] Fatigue is probably one of the reasons [for resignation]. That is what I think, this is my opinion. As for what happened and how it happened, time will pass and she will speak about it herself. A dispute can happen, even someone may leave the team… but Eka [Ekaterine Tikaradze] has not gone anywhere, she is a member of the political council.”
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, General Secretary of GD: I did not know [about the Health Minister’s decision to resign]. I respect her decision, and I would like to wish Eka success. Of course, she is not departing from the team, will continue her work in the political council. As for who the [new] Minister will be, let us wait and the decision will be made in the near future. There was no dispute… Maybe there was a discussion about certain issues, a divergence of opinions, but I do not know, I am not a representative of the government. What the Head of Government spoke to his cabinet ministers during their work is of course none of the business of the General Secretary or a member of the political council.”
Zaal Udumashvili, UNM MP: “Everything depends only on one person, and that person is [Georgian Dream founder, billionaire] Bidzina Ivanishvili, who decides who the Minister or the Prime Minister shall be.”
Ana Natsvlishvili, Lelo MP: “If Georgia had coalition governance, first of all, someone like Tikaradze could not have taken on a position of such importance as the Health Minister, and even if she had, she would have been dismissed by the coalition government by, not [resigned] of her own will.
Salome Samadashvili, independent MP: “Not only the Health Minister, but the whole government should be handing in their resignation and leaving, when there is such an unfortunate result [of the pandemic] and so many people are dying. When the government is so unsuccessful in managing the process, of course, there would necessarily have been internal discord; and as it seems they began to blame it on each other. The government still cannot avoid its possibility with [Tikaradze’s resignation], as managing COVID [pandemic] is not only the Health Minister’s prerogative.”