Will the President be Evicted?
The incumbent President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, may soon be evicted from the presidential residence. Moreover, this will happen against his will. Ex-Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is an initiator of this eviction.
This video is a parody of the famous Italian movie: ‘The Taming of the Scoundrel.’ It has become particularly popular in Georgian Facebook. It shows President Margvelashvili’s eviction in a satirical form.
There is nothing new about a conflict between former companion-in-arms – Ivanishvili and Margvelashvili. For almost two years Ivanishvili has been openly stating that Margvelashvili and his actions have not been to his liking – be it a practice of vetoing ‘Georgian Dream”s initiated bills, or differences in opinion with the ruling party on this or that topical issue.
Speaking to reporters, ex-Prime Minister has never missed a chance to sharply criticize Margvelashvili. Today, Margvelashvili is frequently under the Prime-Minister’s fire. ‘Disappointment,’ ‘irresponsible,’ – ex-Prime Minister frequently uses these and other similar epithets when talking publicly about the President.
However, it was absolutely different in the beginning. It was Ivanishvili’s decision to nominate Giorgi Margvelashvili, a philosopher with poor political experience, as a candidate for presidency. According to Ivanishvili, he has ‘rarely met such a distinguished person in his life and ‘any European state would wish to have such a president.’
Margvelashvili, in turn, said he was ‘like a clay,’ and could adapt to any situation.
However, after Margvelashvili was elected the President, it turned out, that unlike other members of the ‘Georgian Dream’, he was not that loyal to Ivanishvili’s decisions and his stance on a number of issues was different from the team’s position. Experts believe that is exactly what insulted Ivanishvili.
President’s Avlabar-based residence is one of the particular reasons for tension in Ivanishvili-Margvelashvili relations. Despite the initial refusal, after being elected the President, Margvelashvili decided to move to the residence built by his forerunner, Mikhail Saakashvili.
Before the presidential elections, Margelashvili claimed that Avlabar residence was too huge for the president and that Georgian-American University should be accommodated there.
Margvelashvili’s decision was equal to betrayal for Ivanishvili, who obviously cannot accept either personally Saakashvili, or the building he built.
In his recent interview to journalists on 10 November, Ivanishvili touched upon the residence issue again and this time he was much more categorical. He claimed, Giorgi Margvelashvili would have to leave the presidential palace and move to the building on Atoneli street, that was repaired specially for him. In Ivanishvili’s words, the presidential palace is too large and its maintenance is associated with huge expenses, that are a heavy burden for the national budget.
‘Of course, all that must be finished and it will be finished regardless of whether he [President] wants it or not … the state should remain the state and the governmental agencies must exercise their powers,’ – he said.
Although Ivanishvili does not hold any positions in the government nowadays, he is the person, who is informally ruling the country, enjoying more authority in the ruling party than the incumbent Premier.
A clear example of the aforesaid is that the day after this statement, the parliamentary majority group members have already started talking about the President’s eviction.
‘There are more successful president of greater countries, who work in ten times smaller buildings than Margvelashvili. He’d better look around – who else has the same grandiose building as he has. It is almost bigger than the White House,’ – said Tamaz Mechiauri, MP from the ‘Georgian Dream’ coalition.
Does the legislation in effect allow doing that while the president, himself, does not want that? How does this issue look like from the political perspective?
‘It is hardly possible from the legal point of view,’ – Tamar Gvaramadze, a representative of the influential Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) said in an interview to the ‘Radio Liberty’ radio station.
‘It is impossible to legally change the location of the president’s administration, since under the Constitution, the president himself defines the mode of his activity, which also implied the place of his activity. Thus, he does not need a permission from any structure, including, the government of Georgia,’ she says.
Vakhtang Dzabiradze, a constitutionalist, also shares this opinion. In his words, along the legal aspect, this controversial issue also has more serious and acute political component:
‘How come that the incumbent President, the head of state is being persecuted in the country ?! It’s a rather losing theme from a political point of view. This theme is not beneficial for the ‘Georgian Dream ‘… Our Western partners will perceive it as president’s persecution. We are looking for and creating the problems ourselves ?! ‘
The residence, where President Margvelashvili is working at present, was built by his forerunner, Mikhail Saakashvili, in 2009.
Meeting with Georgian servicemen participating in the EU mission. 2015.
President Margvelashvili and First Lady, Maka Chichua in the Avlabar presidential residence garden together with President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and the First Lady, Margit Fischer. 2015.
Mikheil Saakashvili showing Hollywood celebrity, Sharon Stone, around the presidential palace. 2011.