The Parliament of Georgia elected today Georgian Dream lawmaker Shalva Papuashvili, 45, as its new speaker with 88 votes in favor and one against.
The development comes as the ruling party tapped on December 24 Papuashvili to replace Kakha Kuchava, who has resigned from the post and decided to quit the Parliament.
Papuashvili, in his relatively brief address to Parliament before the vote, vowed to “stand guard over parliamentary sovereignty,” pledged to work with the opposition, and promised that the legislature will keep busy for the next three years with reforms to fortify Georgia’s 2024 EU membership application bid.
As a member of the Georgian Dream, Papuashvili said, he was tasked to execute “the will of the majority of the Georgian people.” But he vowed he would also serve as “a guarantor of the involvement and participation of the opposition elected by the people” in legislative decision-making.
“All the more so, in this parliament, despite the existing stand-off, we have a good experience of cooperating with the opposition,” Papuashvili asserted, citing “successful electoral reform” as an example.
Speaking about Georgia’s foreign policy priorities, he argued integration with the EU and NATO is a top priority for the GD party. The lawmaker asserted that upcoming reforms would “play a pivotal role in our country’s legislative and institutional rapprochement with the EU and bring the country’s democratic development to a new level.”
“Our national goal is to unify the country,” Papuashvili highlighted, noting “this Parliament will only reach its full value when representatives elected from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region will sit with us in this hall.”
Papuashvili also remarked that 2021 was “one of the most difficult” since Georgia restored independence, as the country simultaneously faced Russian occupation, pandemic, economic challenges, and political polarization.
New Speaker’s Biography
Shalva Papuashvili was elected in October 2020 through the Georgian Dream party list to the Georgian Parliament. Before being tapped as the new Speaker, he was the chair of the parliamentary Education Committee. He has also served as the Georgian Dream party’s public relations secretary since March 27.
In 2021, he co-chaired the Parliament’s Working Group on Electoral Reform, established by the GD and the Citizens party and subsequently joined by the other opposition outfits that signed the EU-brokered April 19 deal. The working group agreed on election legislation amendments on May 17. The Parliament endorsed the changes in June.
During his tenure as a lawmaker, Papuashvili has also come under fire for grabbing and taking away a female colleague from the opposition during a standoff at the Parliament. He denied accusations of violence and harassment.
Educated in Germany, Papuashvili has working experience in private companies and international organizations, including as the Head of the Georgian team of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).