TBILISI, November 17, 2:13 /ITAR-TASS/. Georgia’s president-elect Georgy Margvelashvili will be sworn in as the country’s new president in Tbilisi on Sunday afternoon. Margvelashvili, 44, won the October 27 presidential elections with 62.12 percent of votes, according to the Georgian Central Electoral Commission.
Margvelashvili, a candidate of the Georgian Dream ruling coalition, became the fourth president in the history of independent Georgia. The first Georgian president, Zviyad Gamsakhurdiya, was inaugurated in the parliament building in June 1991. The second Georgian president, Eduard Shevardnadze, was sworn in outside the parliament building On Rustaveli Avenue in November 1995. In April 2000, Shevardnadze was inaugurated in front of the parliament building for the second term.
Georgia’s third president, Mikhail Saakashvili, broke the traditional inauguration scenario. He held a pompous inauguration ceremony on January 25, 2004 with military parades in the capital Tbilisi and the Black Sea towns of Poti and Batumi. Saakashvili was sworn in outside the Georgian parliament’s building the same day. In his oath, he pledged to be loyal to the country’s Constitution. After that, President Saakashvili visited the grave of Tsar David IV “the Builder” in the Gelati medieval monastery in Kutaisi where he took a spiritual oath. A more modest inauguration ceremony was held when Saakashvili was reelected for the second term four years later. It took place outside the parliament building in Tbilisi.
Margvelashvili’s inauguration is not expected to be pompous. Representatives of the Georgian Dream ruling coalition decided to make the ceremony economical and cost saving because they believed that the expenditures should correspond to the state of the Georgian state budget.
The inauguration will start at 13:00 local time in the yard of the parliament’s building and will last for about 45 minutes. After that, Margvelashvili will deliver a speech in which he is expected to thank the voters for their trust and set forth future plans in the domestic and foreign policy.
Over the past few weeks, the newly elected president of Georgia has been saying that he will continue a consistent and constructive policy of normalizing Georgia’s relations with Russia. After 14:00 on Sunday, Margvelashvili will lay flowers to the Memorial to warriors who died in the struggle for the unity and territorial integrity of Georgia. The ceremony will be followed by an official reception in honor of the heads of delegations of 53 countries that will attend the inauguration ceremony. Margvelashvili will hold a series of meetings with the heads of foreign delegations. A gala concert will take place at the Shota Rustaveli State Academic Theatre on Sunday evening. After that, President Margvelashvili will give an official reception on the occasion of his inauguration.
Russia’s representatives will not attend Sunday’s inauguration ceremony. The Georgian authorities have not sent an invitation to Moscow because the two countries do not have diplomatic relations.
A new edition of the Georgian Constitution adopted in 2010 will take effect as soon as the new president of Georgia has been inaugurated. It will turn Georgia into a parliamentary republic in which the president will have limited rights and powers. On the contrary, the new Constitution expands the rights and powers of parliament and the prime minister. However, the president elected for a five-year term will remain the official head of state in Georgia.
The powers of the former Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili, are expiring on Sunday. He is paying a working visit to Brussels. Saakashvili has refused to be present at Margvelashvili’s inauguration because, as put it, the new Georgian authorities do not condemn Russia’s policy towards Georgia. “The government has suspended many of the previously started projects. The policy pursued by the new authorities is totally different from our policy,” Saakashvili explained. Representatives of the Georgian Dream coalition have already described the outgoing president’s remarks as absurd. They say that his refusal to attend the inauguration is a sign of disrespect for the opinion of Georgian voters and the office of presidency.