Ivanishvili on Current Affairs, Future Plans

Bidzina Ivanishvili, chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party, made his first televised appearance following Tbilisi protests and responded to journalists’ questions.

Ivanishvili assessed current developments in the country and focused on the ruling party’s future plans.

Should Giorgi Gakharia step down?

Asked about possible resignation of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia, Ivanishvili noted that the Minister managed to prevent violence and a coup during the June 20-21 protests.

Gakharia and the Interior Ministry managed to protect the state institution against offenders and rebels and helped the country out of a new misfortune,” he said.

Ivanishvili also said that there are no question marks in Europe and the United States regarding legitimate use of force. Asked whether separate law enforcement officers exceeded their official powers, the ruling party’s chairman noted that the investigation is underway and if it appears that “separate police officers did not use proportionate force, they will be held accountable.”

Ivanishvili said that today only the United National Movement (UNM) and “their stooges – European Georgia and other affiliated parties” are demanding the Interior Minister’s resignation, and that his resignation would be equal to treason.  

Was Gavrilov’s arrival a mistake?

When asked by a journalist, whether bringing Russian MP Sergei Gavrilov to Georgia was a mistake, Ivanishvili responded: “Russian MP [Leonid] Slutsky, who is more important figure than Gavrilov, as well as FSB’s former head visited Georgia in 2016 – where had you been then?”

In 2016, the UNM still had some hopes to come to power through the elections, but now, when it has no chance to come to power through the elections, it is looking for any reasons to turn the situation upside down,” Ivanishvili said.

Speaking about the responsibility of former Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze regarding Gavrilov’s visit to Georgia, Ivanishvili said that “Kobakhidze has committed no crime” and that “the UNM managed to cause hype in this respect.”

“Of course, it was a mistake, when he [Gavrilov] sat down in the Speaker’s chair. It was a protocol-related mistake rather than Kobakhidze’s mistake that triggered absolutely fair concerns from the public. Kobakhidze looked at the situation, he shielded the team, shielded the situation and renounced his mandate,” Ivanishvili said.

Gabunia’s monologue, Russian market and Russian occupation

The ruling party chairman also commented on insulting Russian President Vladimir Putin by Rustavi 2 TV host, Giorgi Gabunia, saying that “what happened on Rustavi 2 TV is a shame of our country, our culture, our nation and identity” and “it should be condemned by all Georgians.”

Then he again spoke about the UNM, saying that despite its attempts “to suspend tourism in Georgia,” the government is doing its utmost “to develop Georgia.”

Ivanishvili also stressed the importance of Russian market for Georgia, noting that those people, who offer to replace the Russian market by European and Ukrainian markets, are “absolutely ignorant.”

If you look at how even the developed European countries are trying to gain foothold on the Russian market, it is clear that it is not easy for anyone, especially for us, to replace the Russian market for elementary reasons – importing goods and attracting consumers’ attention to them is not an easy process; it needs years,” he said.

Ivanishvili again accused the UNM of Russia’s occupation of Georgian territories, noting that they led Russian troops into Georgia.

“If it had not been their negligence and betrayal, Russian troops would not have entered Georgia in 2008 either,” Ivanishvili said, noting that he does not try to justify Russia’s occupation.

“Whom are they saying “No to Occupation”? They should hold the UNM responsible, because it did its best to promote occupation,” he added.

Rustavi 2 TV case

When asked by a journalist, how the Georgian government should act following the ruling of the Strasbourg-based court on Rustavi 2 TV case, Ivanishvili responded: “We will respect and take into consideration any decision made by the Strasbourg court.” (Editor’s note: The European Court of Human Rights will rule on Rustavi 2 TV case on July 18)

Future plans

Ivanishvili, along with other leaders of the ruling party, visited Hilton Hotel in Batumi, where as he noted, the party’s regional office has been founded. Tornike Rizhvadze, head of Adjara’s government, has been appointed as its head.

We are rejecting the previous regime when the party had been existing only in a period from elections to elections. All periods should be like those during the elections and we should be more active and have more communication with the public,” he noted.

Ivanishvili said that the party will intensify its activities in the regions and answer all questions existing there. “We will have a polemic regarding the quality of infrastructure projects and acquaint the public with the new budget. Locals are concerned about water, roads, sewage system and other infrastructure projects. We will try to use the allocated funds more effectively,” Ivanishvili said.

2020 Elections – Future Partners

Speaking with reporters, Ivanishvili stressed the importance of holding fully proportional elections in 2020, noting that there is a low probability that any single party will gain the majority in the elections. “We will probably cooperate with everyone except for the UNM,” he said.

Hailing the appearance of Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of TBC Bank, on the political arena, Ivanishvili noted: “I welcome this fact; the more businessmen, the more young people enter into politics, the better and I can only welcome it; the society should be able to make a choice.”

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