On Monday, Mikhail Saakashvili’s ‘epoch’ ended in Georgia. The leader of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s bloc, which won at the parliamentary elections, has made public a new line-up of the government. The government included representatives of most opposition movements. At the same time Georgian media reported that several ministers from the previous Cabinet left the homeland out of fears for arrest.
Saakashvili will stay formally at the post of the legitimate president for one more year, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily recalled. This means that the Constitution empowers him to appoint the minister in the power-wielding ministries (the Defence Ministry and the Interior Ministry), the justice minister and the general prosecutor. Having his associates at these key posts, it is actually possible to continue to rule the country, without taking into account either the parliament or the prime minister. Meanwhile, Saakashvili and his close associates are facing a very important task: not to permit an unbiased investigation in their cases, to prevent his associates from any blows and destroy the documents compromising them. Therefore, many believe that the United National Movement will be fighting for these posts to the very end. The experts, who are close to the defeated movement, believe that Ivanishvili, who claims for the post of the prime minister, will go into concessions and will agree on a compromising variant: a coalition government, which will include his supporters and Saakashvili’s associates.
However, the new Cabinet, which the opposition had formed, shows that Georgian Dream does not intend to go in a compromise with the president. The power-wielding ministries are expected to be given to the opposition (as well as other posts of ministers). Georgian Dream representative Irakliy Garibashvili will take the post of the interior minister, former Georgian ambassador to the UN Irakliy Alasania will take the post of the defence minister, as his party is also included in Ivanishvili’s coalition. The billionaire intends to head the government himself.
The opposition is planning to appoint Maya Pandzhikidze as foreign minister. She is the incumbent press secretary of Ivanishvili and the former Georgian ambassador in Germany. It is noteworthy that she is a close relative (the sister of the wife) of Alasania.
The response of Saakashvili to these news reports is unclear yet, as it is him who should put up a new line-up of the government for approval to the parliament, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily reported. It is clear that the government was formed not just from Saakashvili’s rivals, but from people with a clear-cut pro-Western orientation. The Republican Party has the pro-Western orientation. Many important posts were offered to members of this party. Irakliy Alasania also has the pro-Western orientation, as Washington has been preparing the latter for a long time to the role for Saakashvili’s successor.
Despite all the changes in the government, it is already clear that the new government will not change either military or foreign political doctrines of Georgia that Saakashvili approved, the Russian governmental newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported. The ousting of the incumbent president from the executive branch of power does not mean the restoration of diplomatic relations with Russia and any changes in the policy towards Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On the contrary, with the changes of the political elites it cannot be ruled out that the rhetoric of the leaders of the winning parties towards Moscow will be more hawkish and ultimatum-seeking.
Contrary to Saakashvili, who did not conceal his dependence from the US State Department, Ivanishvili can hardly be considered as a Washington’s prot·g·, the newspaper believes. Making ritual steps towards the United States and NATO after the elections, he put it clearly right away that he will pursue a one-sided foreign policy. Moreover, a future prime minister, who has the French citizenship, obviously prefers the European political cuisine to the American one that he noted in the interviews, which he gave after the closure of the polling stations.
Many parties, which are included in the Georgian Dream coalition, support the restoration of relations with Moscow, but call for Georgian territorial integrity, the newspaper noted. Ivanishvili makes reconciling statements over Russia in order not to irritate his political allies, but it is unclear whether he is ready to take real steps towards Russia. Today any Georgian leader, who states about his agreement with a new state status of the former Georgian republics, can consider himself as “a political corpse”. Even if the future premier will bring artificially the future of Abkhazia and South Ossetia beyond the scope of negotiations with Moscow, he will be immediately exposed to a crushing criticism in Georgia.
Not to lose the support of his voters Ivanishvili will inevitably take a long pause towards Russia. Such status quo is generally acceptable for Moscow, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily believes. If before Russia took the Georgian policy only as hostile, Saakashvili’s partial ousting from the executive power makes the Georgian foreign policy more predictable. Contrary to the incumbent president, the future prime minister will not take any risky attempts to bring back by force the republics, which proclaimed their independence from Georgia. Moscow hopes that with Ivanishvili’s taking the post of premier, the Georgian foreign policy will become multi-vector and more balanced.