The President’s Speech: Who Will Listen?

OPED

Very soon Parliament will have to take on two highly important constitutional responsibilities and accept last year’s political and financial reports from two presidents. According to the law, the State’s first person, President Giorgi Margvelashvili, should go to Parliament at the end of February or in the first week of the spring session, while the first banker of the country, Giorgi Kadagidze, will have to speak in the supreme legislative body, at the beginning of February. The President of the National Bank has a 240-page report ready and has already sent it to Parliament and nothing more has been heard of it. But in the case of President Margvelashvili, the business is much more complicated.

Although the President’s annual speech before Parliament is included in the Georgian Constitution, it does not define who should listen to him apart from the MPs. The Georgian Goverment has found it unnecessary to listen to President Margvelashvili for two years already, not to say anything about his predecessor Mikheil Saakashvili, who wasn’t even allowed into the building. Former Prime Minister Garibashvili’s Cabinet never even turned up for President Margvelashvili’s annual speech. The Former Premier at the time justified himself by the fact that the country’s constitution did not oblige him to attend and the same for the rest of the Cabinet. This time, the goverment is not facing the dilemma of listening to the annual report any more, because the new Prime Minister and former Minister of Economy, Giorgi Kvirikashhvili, thinks differently: “I believe that the President’s speech in Parliament should not be a reason for such fuss and making into the hot topic of the day,” is how Prime Minister Girogi Kvirikashvili answered the question of journalists on whether he would attend the President’s speech or not. The Premier also implied the “stubborness” of his predecessor and highlighted the necessity of respect towards the state institutions. “There are institutions in Georgia that should function how they are supposed to, private relationships should be set aside within this process. I think that this is needed for the settling of the situation and, in general, for the lowering of the political temperature. It is better to concentrate on far more important issues,” PM Kvirikashvili said.

With this statement, the Premier indirectly indicated that not only has his predecessor, Irakli Garibashvili, been wrong in this regard, but also Garibashvili’s predecessor expremier Bidzina Ivanishvili himself. The government and the governing political power began disfavoring President Margvelashvili only after the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili did and when the latter threatened to evict him from the President’s Palace. Unlike PM Kvirikashvili, members of his cabinet are unable to express their fixed position.

Whether the members of government will attend the President’s speech or not is as yet ambigious, though the Minister of Healthcare repeated the narrative of the former premier, saying that this type of decision requires a team-like approach, by which one can presume he means that he does not plan to go to Parliament to listen to the President.

Zaza Jgarkava

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