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Tbilisi Mayor promises to keep his promises

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, June 18
Zaal Samadashvili, Chairman of the City Council, gave the symbolic key of the capital to Gigi Ugulava, the Mayor of Tbilisi, when he opened the first sitting of the newly elected City Council with a special address on June 17. Introducing his 120-day action plan, the first part of a 4-year programme, Ugulava stressed that he will fulfil all the projects he promised to during his election campaign, and although Tbilisi is a better city than it was five years ago there is still much to be done. “I don’t plan to undertake political activities apart from being oriented on our [United National Movement’s] priorities. We have received a mandate from Tbiklisi citizens and we should justify their confidence by taking rapid steps,” Ugulava told his audience.

Tbilisi City Hall will introduce programmes aimed at improving the skills of socially unprotected people and IDPs and create a special database for the unemployed. “We should become lobbyists for unemployed people and start discussing even larger infrastructure projects,” said the Mayor. The list of planned projects includes building a new bridge on the River Mtkvari, opening the Metro Station University, creating a recreation zone at Tbilisi Sea, etc. “I’m ready to start fighting unemployment. Let’s make the changes demanded by the people not by destroying things but by improving everything we have already achieved,” he said, promising that he will be a Mayor for each citizen.

Ugulava gave much importance to cooperation with the opposition parties in City Hall and their participation in achieving long-term strategic development. “The opopsition’s cooperation is important to ensure equality within the City Council. Opposition representatives have devised some interesting programmes concerning healthcare and social issues which will be taken into consideration by the City Council. My only foe is unemployment and I’ll fight to thoroughly eradicate it,” Ugulava promised.

At the Parliamentary Bureau sitting Speaker Davit Bakradze praised the high political culture of the local elections on May 30 and thanked the parties for their participation. “The elections have revealed that the parties have a will to cooperate. The main work is just beginning and the form of their cooperation will define the establishment of our political tradition and its further development,” Bakradze stated. Levan Vephkhvadze, opposition Deputy Chair, encouraged the establishment of a special working group to deal with the gaps in the reports of the international election observation missions.

It has been proposed that Tbilisi City Council will have two opposition Deputy Chairs but this will first be discussed in Parliament, as it will require the Law on Tbilisi to be amended. MPs will discuss appointing three Deputy City Council Chairs. Mamuka Akhvlediani will be one Deputy Chairman but the two opositional ones will be named after Parliament has approved the change. They will hold these posts for set periods.

Inga Grigolia from the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) promised the ruling party that it would conduct serious opposition from the very first day the new Council sits. “Tbilisi City Council has a wonderful chance to become an example of democracy today. If the Government really wants to cooperate with the opposition let it start negotiations on addressing the problems it promised the people it would resolve. You have been sitting in the hall alone and got used to clapping everything that is said, but now you will have to get used to hearing different opinions," Grigolia said.

Koba Davitashvili, leader of the People’s Party, raised the issue of the terms of referene of the new temporary commissions which have been set up. Zurab Abashidze co-leader of Our Georgia–Free Democrats, said that fulfilling the promises made by the Government of Georgia will remain the main aim of the newly elected City Council. He stressed that the Mayor of Tbilisi will be the first person they will ask to resolve the most burning problems of citizens.

The first sittings of Rustavi, Kutaisi and Batumi city councils were also held yesterday, while Poti's will be held today.