Georgian press review (February 19-25)
A recent row in the ranks of the Georgian Dream ruling coalition in connection with Gogi Topadze's accusations against Tina Khidasheli continues to be one of the most actively discussed topics in the Georgian media. And the greatest attention is being paid to such issues as the causes of this conflict in the ranks of the ruling coalition and its possible consequences.
"I think that nothing special is happening. There has been a problem since the creation of the coalition. We know that Georgian Dream was only created to change the regime. Contradictions between members of the coalition have always existed. From the very beginning the parties have not liked each other and have radically different worldviews. Therefore, it is a systemic problem and it's not just a confrontation between Khidasheli and Topadze," the publication Rezonansi cites the political analyst Gia Khukhashvili as saying.
In this regard he does not see anything unusual in such a conflict, especially in view of the upcoming elections. "I think Republicans in the coalition demonstrate that they are going all-in. This causes maximum exacerbation of relations with certain parts of the coalition. They highly value their capabilities. Therefore, a confrontation between Topadze and Khidasheli has appeared. I have the impression that these parties were not arguing with each other, but trying to influence a third party, which must choose between them and decide who will enter the parliamentary list. It does not matter who I mean," the analyst said.
Another aspect of this issue is the possible consequences of the row for the country's foreign policy.
In this regard, Gia Khukhashvili believes that despite the fact that there are statements about the possibility of a greater or lesser departure from the line of European integration, there will be no significant changes in this case, as there were in similar previous situations. "At first the 'National Movement', which connected the geopolitical orientation of the country with its own political destiny, did not give us rest, then the 'Free Democrats', and now the Republican party does the same thing. Misha shouted that "if I leave, the country will go in Russia's direction" – is this true? No, it's not. When the 'Free Democrats' left the coalition, they immediately said that the country is changing its course, but it was not," he recalled.
Expert Mamuka Areshidze, assessing the situation, came to the conclusion that this conflict will not lead to the collapse of the coalition, which will continue without major changes in its composition, both before and after the elections. "In my opinion, Gogi Topadze's statement demonstrates the aggressive mood in our society in relation to the Republicans. However, his position is partly due to the statement of Tina Khidasheli that she considered Topadze to be a deputy who has already left the parliament. This made Gogi Topadze really angry. If someone in the coalition or outside it does not like the current composition of the coalition, they have to put up with it, because the coalition won't be changed until the elections and after them," the newspaper Kviris Palitra cited him as saying.
"Someone may leave the coalition, but the configuration will not undergo major changes, the Republicans will remain there, that is the position of the creator of the coalition. Accidentally or on purpose, the coalition was created in such a way as to balance the foreign policy vectors. The Republicans are playing a very important role in this balance, this is well known by both the Republicans and other leaders of the coalition. Accordingly, I do not expect any fluctuations in this direction, no matter what Topadze says," Areshidze believes.
Another political story attracting media attention is information about possible staff changes in the government.
‘’A governmental carousel is expected in March, David Zalkaliani will become Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Economy will be Mikheil Janelidze, the Minister of Finance will be Dmitry Kumsishvili, the Minister of the Interior Affairs may be Anzor Chubinidze, who now runs the State Guard Service," Rezonansi writes.
These news have provoked a negative reaction among many observers. "I can advise only one thing to the prime minister, let him remember a famous saying – measure twice, cut once. Cutting and sewing courses are not the main instrument for acquisition of government. I do not see a need for such a regular carousel. Especially when different foreign affairs ministers have have travelled around the world in a few months, such a frequent change of the top diplomat points to the country's instability,’’ the publication cites the words of the president of the Club of Independent Experts, Josef Tsiskarishvili.
"What are they going to do with Khaduri? As it is said, there is no limit to perfection, but I know a few people who are more perfect than Khaduri. Especially when one person’s card is played on various ministerial seats. If they have the courage, let them sit Khaduri and a new candidate together live, and the whole of society will know who is who. I am sure that a new candidate will refuse this. Kumsishvili is just a guy from Kartu, he does not have the level of a professor of the State University, neither in intelligence nor in knowledge," Tsiskarishvili added.
The media have not forgotten about the former Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili. There are rumors that the former prime minister plans to create a new party for the elections. At the same time, Irakli Garibashvili allegedly has the support of his predecessor, Bidzina Ivanishvili. Various comments give mixed reviews of this scenario of events.
"It has long been rumored that Garibashvili is creating a party. I cannot confirm anything. Time is running out if he seriously wants to participate in the election campaign. Nobody talks yet about the expansion or collapse of the coalition. Nor about the departure of the Industrialists, but if someone wants to leave, we will not force him to stay. We do not kick out or invite anyone. If someone says that he wants to join the coalition, we will discuss it and decide whether to accept him or not. A standoff between the Republicans and the Industrialists harms the image of the coalition. It would be better to avoid it. I guess it would not be such a confrontation, if to start talking about it. I guess they will make up their quarrel. I hope that this will not happen again in the future. If Garibashvili creates something, it will be associated with Georgian Dream, one thing is for sure – Garibashvili will not oppose us," Rezonansi quotes a representative of the parliamentary majority, Omar Nishnianidze.
However, some believe that these rumors are just rumors, and do not believe in the success of such a project. "Based on the fact that the activities of Prime Minister Garibashvili were unsuccessful and colorless, it is unlikely that Ivanishvili is preparing him for political purposes. But if this is true, then it will be another failed project. But as information on the establishment of the party is circulating, it can be assumed that in the persona of Garibashvili, the ‘Dream’ may try to attract additional votes. I do not believe in a return of Garibashvili to politics. But it is not excluded,’’ the newspaper quotes Irakli Kikiani.
Finally, another topic for media discussion has become the visit to Moscow of the leader of the United Democratic Movement, Nino Burjanadze, and her meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.
"The leader of the United Democratic Movement, Nino Burjanadze, met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Grigory Karasin. The information about this was distributed by the official web-page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. It is reported that the meeting took place on February 19th. The information is confirmed by the press center of the party of Burjanadze, but they do not disclose the details of the meeting,’’ Rezonansi writes.
"According to political analysts, it is possible that the pre-election period was also discussed at the meeting, but they consider Russia's participation in this process at this stage to be unlikely. For reference, according to the press service of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the meeting between Karasin and Burdzhanadze touched on various aspects of the relationship between the two countries and the question of normalization of Georgian-Russian relations. Rezonansi tried to learn details of the meeting from other members of the party, but it turned out that they know practically nothing about this meeting,’’ the newspaper notes.
"Now, with the approaching election period, the leader of the United Democrats wants to understand her role in this process better. Of course, it is profitable for Nino Burjanadze to play an important role in the political process, so she is trying to demonstrate that role before the elections. But I think it's a natural process. I think that if there were some sort of evil plan, Russia would not have announced the meeting with Burjanadze, as it is not that easy to meet with the Russian elite. The disclosure of this fact dispels any excess suspicion, at this stage in any case,’’ the newspaper cites Ramaz Sakvarelidze.