Minister of the Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili refused to meet with United National Movement (UNM) presidential candidate Davit Bakradze to discuss the country’s economic situation. Kvirikashvili made a special statement late on August 14th, explaining the reasons for canceling the meeting. In response, Bakradze characterized Kvirikashvili’s decision as being motivated by a personal grievance.
Kvirikashvili cancels meeting with Bakradze
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, August 16
Kvirikashvili stressed that UNM member Giorgi Vashadze’s statement earlier in the day pushed him to cancel the meeting with Bakradze.
"The latest research from international credit-rating company Standard and Poor's reveals a very unsatisfactory economic situation in Georgia that continues to deteriorate. The research indicates that even if the current Georgian government launches concrete steps to improve the economy (which it in fact shows no signs of doing) the Georgian economy will only grow by 3.5%, instead of the projected 6%." Grigol Vashadze stated.
"The unstable economic environment, the detention of political opponents, the making of inadequate and populist statements and the recently changed labor code are all signs of a significant economic downturn." Vashadze explained.
Vashadze also made a pointed comment towards the current economic minister: "Despite giving a promise, the economic minister could not find time to speak with UNM members over the economic situation."
Kvirikashvili explained that the meeting with Bakradze was scheduled at 13:00 on August 15th. He added that after Vashadze’s "apocalyptic" forecast there was no point in holding the meeting.
The economic minister stressed that he was ready to meet with Bakradze despite the fact that when it was in power, the UNM terrorized businesses and illegally confiscated properties.
"He was chair of the parliament that unanimously supported the specially drafted law to destroy the bank I chaired. Bakradze was the leader of the party that created the illusion of an improved economy by obtaining credit from abroad. Now they [the UNM] want to teach us what economic policy will help the country." Kvirikashvili stated.
The minister said that Vashadze’s statements persuaded him that the UNM only wanted to have the meeting with him for PR purposes and that it would not be a profitable dialogue.
Bakaradze expressed worry that Kvirikashvili cancelled a meeting that was in the interests of all Georgian citizens.
"For personal reasons, Kvirikashvili cancelled the meeting that was in the public interest. I am sorry that suggesting tangible solutions to the country's economic problems was unacceptable for Kvirikashvili." Bakradze stated.
"The UNM does not have an economic team that can give the current government much useful advice." economic analyst Lado Papava stated.
"The fact that Kvirikashvili agreed to the meeting was correct from a political point of view. If we are speaking about reaching some sort of agreement, then the UNM making provocative statements signifies a violation of said agreement. Thus, in this case Kvirikashvili’s decision to cancel the meeting was objective.” Papava said.