The messenger logo

Prime Minister N 6

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, July 4
The newly-appointed Prime Minister, Vano Merabishvili, is the number one topic in the Georgian media right now. His appointment is being heavily discussed among politicians, analysts and the general population as well. Was this a promotion? Or did the president get rid of the Interior Minister? What will he do? What are the future prospects in the political confrontation between the two strongest parties? Is this a message that Saakashivli will not be a Prime Minister or vice versa? These answers will come only after the elections.

The PM’s role was abolished in Georgia in 1995. Then president, Shevardnadze attempted to activate this position in 2001 and submitted a draft proposal to the parliament where he nominated Zurab Zhvania as the future PM. However, the parliament rejected this. After the Rose Revolution, things changed. There were three major distinguished leaders: Mikheil Saakashvili, Nino Burjanadze, Zurab Zhvania and each of them received a portion of the power. Saakashvili became President, Burjanadze Chair of parliament and Zhvania the Prime Minister. During that period, this position was of political importance. There were rumors that Saakashvili and Zhvania often had different views on different subjects and this was accompanied by loud arguments. The Rose Revolution took place on November 2003. Saakashvili was elected president in January 2004. In February of the same year, Zhvania was appointed as the Prime Minister until he died under very obscure circumstances on February 5, 2005. Since then, this position has been held by four different people– Zurab Noghaideli, now in the opposition; Lado Gurgenidze – President of Liberty Bank; Gega Mgaloblishvili – Georgia’s Ambassador in NATO; and Nika Gilauri. All of them were faithful executers of the president’s will.

So, what are the prospects of Vano Merabishvili at this position? He has never been a pure politician. However, he was very efficient as the Minister of Interior and he acquired a solid image from his time in this role. One of the biggest achievements the Georgian leadership can permanently boast of is the police reforms that combated wide-spread corruption in the force and drastically decreasing the number of crimes in the country. Some politicians suggest that Saakashvili and Merabishvili make-up a harmonious tandem. Others however challenge such an idea and think that by moving Merabishvili from the Interior Minister’s position, and placing him into the PM’s armchair, Saakashvili has effectively diminished Merabishvili’s influence and removed him from a key position.

Indeed the PM’s position is an unusual role for Merabishvili. Public relations are not his best skill. His knowledge of English is also lacking. Again we do not know his level of personal initiative in the police reforms; so far he has been a perfect executor of the decisions of the president. Merabishvili has serious challenges in front of him– it’s been more than 8 year since the Rose Revolution and the above-mentioned Prime Minigters, as well as the ministers of economy have not been able to solve the unemployment problems in the country, nor have they been able to address the continuing challenges in the healthcare system. As for the agricultural sector, it has become even worse. The new cabinet’s three priorities were selected by Vano Merabishvili and his target action plan. On the other hand, he has had a very short time to achieve any visible results in the pre- election period, so he can only make promises. But the same applies to the Georgian Dream coalition. Moreover, the opposition highlights that the current leadership has had enough time to achieve serious results.