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Talk of cabinet reshuffle continues

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, October 15
The Georgian media continues to speculate over a potential government reshuffle. Various media sources have named three ministers whose jobs could be on the line. Included are Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, Defense Minister Irakli Alasania and Minister of Education Tamar Sanikidze.

It has been announced as well that Alasania may return to his post as party leader of the Free Democrats.

This information was confirmed by Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alex Petriashvili, who is a team member of Alasania’s.

He admitted that Alasania’s decision on becoming the party head again will be announced on November 8, after the party’s congress.

“Georgia’s Free Democrats need Alasania. However, this does not mean that the party has a plan for independent political activity”, one of the members of the Free Democrats faction, Zurab Abashidze said.

Petriashvili confirmed the vision, stating that the Free Democrats will remain within the coalition until the 2016 parliamentary elections.

Panjikidze however, stated that speculation over the reshuffle is simply rumor. Sanikidze stressed that “no one is unique and the decision over the issue should be made by the prime minister.”

Some members of the coalition like Omar Nishnianidze state that there is the need for swift changes in various directions, education among them. However, he says that he has not heard about the reshuffle. MPs Eliso Chapidze and Gia Volski state that all the ministers have fulfilled their obligations appropriately and there is no need of any changes in the cabinet.

Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze believes that the above mentioned ministers are trying to establish European standards in their ministries and the prime minister has no political context to fire any of them.

“If Gharibashvili has any pretension for instance to Sanikidze, he had already expressed his dissatisfaction… the prime minister does not have any serious reasons to dismiss Panjikidze either, and finding a justification will be quite difficult,” Sakvarelidze says.

Analyst Khatuna Lagazidze thinks that firing Alasania would be a huge mistake for the government, as his dismissal might be interpreted as a change in Georgia’s NATO and European course.

“I believe that the government will refrain from firing Alasania,” Lagazidze said, adding that the “government might avoid the reshuffle, but it will have to reveal a responsible individual for the most unclear and unacceptable visa regulations that have been recently adopted. “