PM appoints three new Ministers
By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, December 10The Georgian Prime Minister carried out more changes to the Cabinet on Tuesday, dismissing the Minister of Economic Development and appointing to the vacant Defence and Culture Ministries. This is the third Government reshuffle since Grigol Mgaloblishvili was appointed Prime Minister of Georgia about a month ago.
Mgaloblishvili has appointed David Sikharulidze, Georgia’s ex-envoy to the US, as Defence Minister, Nika Rurua, Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Defence and Security of the parliament, as Culture Minister and Lasha Zhvania, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, as Economy Minister, replacing Eka Sharashidze, who will continue her career in the President’s administration, where she had worked before being appointed Minister of Economic Development.
Speaking at the presentation of the new Ministers PM Mgaloblishvili said that consultations and talks about further Government reshuffles had been ongoing. “It is important now to make good the promises included in our 18 month programme, which will help us overcome the crisis caused by the Russian aggression in August,” the PM told journalists.
Nika Rurua, whose appointment as Culture Minister has triggered the most criticism among the opposition and commentators, said on Tuesday that a systematic state policy should be developed in the culture sphere. “Culture is the spine of our statehood and identity and the visiting card of Georgia outside the country,” Rurua said, adding that “promoting Georgian culture beyond Georgia’s borders will be one of the priorities” of the Ministry. The Prime Minister said in addition that although society knows Nika Rurua as a defence and security person, the “line of Georgia’s security goes through culture as well and it is therefore necessary to expand Georgian culture in foreign countries.”
The newly appointed Minister of Economy Lasha Zhvania also commented on the priorities of the Economic Development Ministry. He said its main focus will be on creating new jobs and attracting investments. The Minister said he will “personally control” these two fields.
The ruling party has welcomed the recent changes in the Cabinet, saying that the “right decisions have been made.” National Movement MP Goka Gabashvili said the new Economy Minister is a “very qualified” candidate for the position. Gabashvili commented on Nika Rurua and noted that the frontline of the national interest at the moment goes through the popularization of Georgian culture abroad and thus, Gabashvili said, the candidacy of Rurua is “absolutely acceptable.”
The opposition has criticized the reshuffle, calling it the Government’s “next carousel” and “next show.” Giorgi Targamadze from the Parliamentary opposition said that appointing Nika Rurua as Culture Minister “does not comply with any logic.” Zurab Tkemaladze from Industry Will Save Georgia, representing the non-Parliamentary opposition, told journalists there is a “political crisis and the members of the administration do not trust each other.” He reiterated his colleagues’ criticism of Nika Rurua becoming Culture Minister, saying that there are some real professionals in the culture sphere, but “the Government does not want to cooperate with them.”
Some political commentators have also criticized the changes in the Government. Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze told journalists that the Georgian Government looks like “a polygon for experiments.” Sakvarelidze noted that the administration has refused to recruit professionals. “I think that when the Government is in an uncomfortable position this is not the time for experiments,” Sakvarelidze stated.
After this reshuffle the only Cabinet position still vacant is that of Chairman of the National Security Council. Kakha Lomaia, who was dismissed from this post last week, will carry on fulfilling his duties until a new candidate is appointed, the authorities have said.