The messenger logo

President Saakashvili allocates money for civil society and media development

By Keti Arjevanidze
Wednesday, December 19
President Saakashvili declared an initiative to assist civil society and media in development. Saakashvili allocated GEL 1 million, for civil society and media development, from his reserve fund.

According to Saakashvili’s declaration, published in Sakanonmdeblo Matsne, on December 17th, a non-commercial legal entity will realize the project; which will be chosen through a contest. The committee will be created in order to guarantee the contest and reveal the winner.

The presidential order reads that the committee will be represented by the chairperson of the committee, Nino Kalandadze, the president’s advisor and former deputy of Foreign Affairs Minister; other members of the committee will be advisors of President Saakashvili: Van Bayburt, Mubariz Karaev, Vera Kobalia and Natalia Kancheli.

The committee will declare the date, conditions and the necessary documents for participation in the contest. “The committee will present non-commercial legal entities to the president for confirmation,” reads the declaration. GEL 1 million grants will be distributed to different media outlet and organizations.

The president’s initiative resulted in different opinions within the political and social arena. Parliamentary majority member Eliso Chapidze thinks that Saakashvili is in trouble, “as he cannot direct the budget according to his wishes, he is attempting to create his team in order to make a pre-election PR stunt.”

Chapidze is not a proponent of Saakashvili’s decision and admitted that by this way, the president wants to maintain his control over the media, “The new government is in power, so he cannot finance the media from the state budget, that is why he has chosen this way,” said Chapidze.

The parliamentary minority also called upon the issue. According to United National Movement (UNM) member Pavle Kublashvili, it is very important to assist civil society and the media. Kublashvili found it logical to allocate money from the president’s reserve fund for developing civil society and media.

Ia Antadze, a media analyst, thinks that the president’s initiative is one of his political tricks. According to the media analyst, the president’s declaration has two reasons it can be considered politically motivated: on the one hand, the president was never interested in taking steps like this before, and on the other hand, the committee which will guarantee the process consists of his team members. “It is like a home committee,” Antadze told The Messenger.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili also commented on the issue. Ivanishvili said that the president’s initiative is ridiculous. “Everybody knows what kind of situation the Georgian media was in during the previous government,” Ivanishvili said, finding it ridiculous to see Saakashvili’s transformation into a defender of free media.