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Internal Affairs Minister Giorgi Gakharia Appointed as Secretary of Security Council

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, May 2
The first meeting of National Security Council was held under the leadership of Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, on May 1, 2019. The National Security Council was created as a 8-member consultative body headed by the Prime Minister. The permanent members of the Council are the Ministers of Internal Affairs, Defense, Foreign Affairs and Finance, as well as Heads of State Security and Intelligence Services and Head of Defense Forces. The Council is equipped with a mandate of planning and coordinating national security policy strategically. The new council is no longer under the leadership of the president. It must also be noted, that in case of war or any type of state of an emergency president is the commander-in-chief yet, there is no president's representative in the Security Council.

By the order of the head of the Government, the post of the Secretary of the National Security Council is appointed to the Vice Prime Minister, the Minister of the Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia. The decree issued by the Prime Minister is in accordance with the Law of Georgia on "Rule of Planning and Coordination of National Security Policy".

PM’s decision concerning the secretary’s position was criticized by opposition leaders. Giga Bokeria, one of the leaders of "European Georgia”, believes that it is institutionally wrong when the head of one ministry is appointed as the secretary of the Security Council. Bokeria said that it is impossible for the Secretary to fulfill coordinating functions at a time when the head of one of the agencies in the Council is heading. "The appointment of the head of a ministry as the secretary of Security Council is principally and institutionally wrong, since its task is coordination, even in cases of departmental contradictions. Secretary should be the figure who works towards enforcing the Prime Minister's political will and not the interests of any particular agency. I do not speak about the staff here, but I speak about the wrong arrangement.” He also underlined another drawback - president's representative’s absence from the Security Council.

Another opposition leader, Roman Gotsiridze from “National Movement” Party said that Gakharia’s candidacy was not a surprise:” It was already clear when the law was entered and there was written that the secretary should act as one of the ministers. In fact, the law was tailor-made to specific individuals and not for the creation of an effective security council.” According to Gotsiridze such decision indicates that: “Prime Ministers come and go, law enforcement units remain”.

On May 1st, after the closed session, Gakharia made commentary for the public. Secretary explained that Security Council will be the main coordinating body for all agencies that are involved in security processes while carrying consulting purpose as well, meaning that council will ensure Premier’s full awareness about security topics. Vice Premier characterized the meeting as technical: “I introduced the members of the board to the structure of the National Security Council. In the nearest future the Council will be activated”-said Gakharia. According to him, the next meeting will be held in a month.

Gakharia also mentioned the case of Pankisi Gorge, where locals held protests against building the hydroelectric station and confronted law enforcement forces. According to the Secretary, the Prime Minister has given a specific assignment concerning the situation in the format of the council. He said that more details about this case will be discussed by him in parliament today, May 2.

In his commentary Gakharia also addressed another important issue. Concerning border-related tensions with Azerbaijan around David Gareji - Georgian monastery and cultural heritage, the secretary said that the border demarcation should be completed in the shortest time possible. He urged everyone to be careful with this topic and expressed his certainty in solving this issue: “We will reach an agreement with our strategic partner and our brotherly state, within which cultural heritage, as well as the interests of our church, will be considered.” It remains unclear, whether this topic was discussed at the council session or not.