Parliament confirms PM Kobakhidze and his Cabinet of Ministers

The Parliament confirmed the Government of Georgia, with 84 MPs expressing confidence in the Government and 10 MPs opposing it.  

Irakli Kobakhidze is set to lead the government, taking over from Irakli Gharibashvili as the new Prime Minister of Georgia. The cabinet saw only one other change: Irakli Chikovani replaced Juansher Burchuladze as the Minister of Defense. On February 1, Kobakhidze mentioned that Burchuladze desired to leave his position to pursue opportunities outside of politics.

Before the voting session, Irakli Kobakhidze presented the government’s program aimed at “building a European state” to the parliament. In his address, Kobakhidze repeatedly acknowledged Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder and honorary chairman of the “Georgian Dream” party, expressing gratitude for his nomination as Prime Minister.

Kobakhidze credited Bidzina Ivanishvili for Georgia’s achievements in democracy, peace, economic progress, and its candidacy for EU membership, stating, “The fact that Georgia today enjoys democracy, peace, economic progress, and has become a candidate country for EU membership is primarily due to Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili.”

At the 8th Congress of the Georgian Dream party on February 1, Irakli Gharibashvili was elected as the chairman of the party, and Irakli Kobakhidze was nominated for the position of Prime Minister.

On January 29, Irakli Gharibashvili confirmed that he would be stepping down for the second time to become the party chairman.  

Papuashvili accuses CSOs of a “lack of transparency” and “political bias”

Shalva Papuashvili, the Speaker of the Parliament, has once again voiced criticism towards non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and media outlets operating in Georgia. In a lengthy post shared on both Facebook and Twitter, Papuashvili expressed concern over the presence of “wealthy NGOs funded from abroad” within the country. His discontent was particularly directed at the “Eastern Partnership Index” report released on January 24, which ranked Georgia third among the six Eastern Partnership countries, with a score of 0.63 points, trailing behind Moldova and Ukraine, and ahead of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus.

The report highlighted a significant decline across various thematic areas such as democratic rights, elections and political pluralism, anti-corruption efforts, human rights protections, state accountability, independent media, public administration, market economy, and freedom, security, and justice, noting an exception only in the area of freedom of assembly.

At the outset of his statement, Papuashvili mentioned that the Georgian government is actively preparing for EU accession negotiations, focusing on “9 steps” and emphasised the importance of active, benevolent, and constructive participation from Georgian civil society. However, he expressed concerns over some unresolved issues.

Papuashvili accused certain NGOs of attempting to manipulate the EU accession process, likening their behaviour to that of radical parties. He claimed these organizations oppose the process if dissatisfied with its outcomes, seeking either to disrupt it or abandon it altogether.

He also highlighted the financial aspect, noting that the five wealthiest NGOs in Georgia command more funding than all political parties combined during non-election periods, with all such funding coming from foreign sources. Papuashvili questioned why these NGOs have not been able to secure local funding from individuals and businesses, given that political parties, including those in opposition, receive local donations without fear of political retaliation, and substantial amounts are given to charity, indicating a willingness to donate among residents and businesses.

Furthermore, Papuashvili raised concerns about the transparency of foreign funding for NGOs. He referenced an attempt by the “Georgian Dream” party in 2023 to pass a law akin to Russia’s law on foreign agents, aimed at increasing transparency in NGO funding. The proposal was eventually withdrawn following widespread protests.

President Zurabishvili arranges the meetings with the opposition within the framework of the “Platform of Unity for Europe”

On February 6, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili announced an initiative to foster unity among Georgian political and social forces towards achieving a European future for the country. She proposed the creation of a “Platform of Unity for Europe,” which she described as a charter for the future. President Zurabishvili expressed her readiness to take a leading role in forming this platform and to establish a coordination centre within her administration. This centre would gather concrete proposals on European priorities and facilitate the formation of a joint document through dialogue and consensus.

Following this announcement, Giorgi Vashadze, the leader of the “Strategy Agmashenebeli” party, stated that his party, along with the “National Movement,” is prepared to support Zurabishvili’s initiative. However, he mentioned that achieving broader unity would require the release of Mikheil Saakashvili.

The next day, on February 7, President Zurabishvili met with Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, leaders of the “Lelo – for Georgia” party, to discuss the initiative. After the meeting, Badri Japaridze highlighted the importance of the initiative as a means to unite pro-Georgian forces around the country’s main goal of starting negotiations on joining the European Union as soon as possible. He emphasized that this initiative stands in opposition to attempts by the “Georgian Dream” party to divide society and stressed the importance of steps toward unification.

As part of this initiative, President Zurabishvili plans to meet with representatives from various parties and members of civil society, aiming to build consensus and unity towards Georgia’s European integration goals.

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