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President’s residence and speculations

By Messenger Staff
Friday, November 13
Several days ago, the Minister of Economics, Dimitri Kumsishvili, stated that President Giorgi Margvelahsvili should finally make a decision over the Presidential residence at Atoneli. The President currently resides in the Avlabari palace of former President Saakashvili, though the Atoneli residence was prepared for Margvelashvili after his election in 2013.

Kumsishvili added that 26 million GEL had been spent on the residence, and the state budget also had to pay maintenance costs on a monthly basis.

There are two Presidential residences and two parliament buildings in Georgia, despite the fact that the country’s population reaches less than 5 million, most of whom live in varying degrees of poverty.

Before being elected President, Margvelahsvili stated that he would not take the Presidential Palace in Avlabari, built by previous President Mikheil Saakahsvili, due to high cost of its original construction and subsequent maintenance.

However, when elected, he changed his mind and now states that he does not intend to leave the Avlabari residence.

When asked about the issue, Georgia’s former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili dubbed Margvelahsvili’s attitude as “cynical” and added that the issue would be settled shortly no matter if Margvelahsvili liked the result or not.

However, there are no legal norms in the country through which one can force the President to change his official residence.

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili says that Ivanishvili is either somehow misled or he knows something that others do not.

“There would be no serious difference in the everyday costs of Avlabari and Atoneli residences,” Khukashvili said.

Whatever the views of the public or former state officials, Margvelahsvili is the country’s President and has the right to live in the Presidential Palace; speculation and argument over the issue must end, as they only damage the state's image and interests.

It does not seem unreasonable that the Ministry of Economics could find some other use of the Atoneli residence; it would also serve to end the incessant discussion over the President's residence.