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PM brushes off president… again

By Messenger Staff
Friday, January 16
The president’s annual speech in parliament is approaching. Prior to the event, President Giorgi Margvelahsvili hoped that unlike the previous year, the government would attend. However, responding to the appeal, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili stressed that the government was not constitutionally obliged to listen to the president in parliament and referred to the speech as “symbolic.”

Based on Georgia’s legislation, the president gives his annual address in February, at the opening of the spring session.

In the speech he touches upon all the key state-related issues that might be followed by debates.

Since elected president, Margvelashvili has appeared at parliament three times – first when he delivered his annual speech in 2014, second when he attended the ratification process of the Georgian-EU Association Agreement in July of last year, and most recently when he addressed MPs concerning the challenges before the country in November 2014. Despite the opposition demands, the reports were not continued in a Q and A format. Government members refrained from attending all the events.

“I hope that last year’s situation will not be repeated and that the government will find time to be present for my speech,” Margvelashvili stated, noting that the government’s previous absence hurt the country’s international image.

However, it appears that the government will not take the president’s appeal into account.

The PM’s announcement that the government was not obliged to attend the event was supported by some ministers.

Minister of Energy Kakhi Kaladze did not know exactly what the constitutional regulations were, but he stated that the attendance might not have been mandatory, while the Minister of Healthcare Davit Segeenko stated prior to the PM’s statement that the president’s speech was a very important ceremony.

Commenting on the PM’s assessments, the president’s Parliamentary Secretary Giorgi Kverenchkhiladze, emphasized that Margvelashvili’s speech with regard to the country’s vitally important issues should not be viewed as symbolic.

“I believe that for the country’s advancement and to observe better coordination between the state bodies, the government should have showed interest concerning the event,” Kverenchkhiladze said.

He stressed that the government has no obligation to be present at the speech according to both the previous and current constitutions.

“However, there are various important points: the president is the head of state, the commander-in-chief… the president guarantees state unity and stability, and guarantees of normal functioning of state bodies. Thus, I believe his speech should interest the government,” Kverenchkhiladze said.

Opposition UNM member Gigi Tsereteli detected the confrontation between the president and the PM based on the statements made about the president’s annual speech. He also said that the government expressed disrespect to the president, and that it affects the country’s image.

The opposition United National Movement and Free Democrats think that the government should listen to the president.