Ivanishvili ‘will step down as PM before the New Year’ – EUobserver
30 July, 2013
Ivanishvili ‘will step down as PM before the New Year’ – EUobserver
The EUobserver website interviewed Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili in hus summer residence in Ureki.
“Georgia's billionaire-Prime-Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has a "dream" for his country's future. But opponents say he is a danger to democracy.
Ivanishvili spoke to EUobserver in a recent interview at his summer residence in Ureki, on the Black Sea coast.
He said he wants to transform Georgia into a "typically European" society and into a Dubai-type business hub between Europe and Asia.
"It's my dream.
There is a possibility, if everything develops ideally. Of course, I don't want to say this too loudly in order not to be laughable. But deep down in my heart, I believe … the possibility exists," he noted.
The 57-year-old businessman made his fortune in metals and banking in 1990s Russia.
He entered politics in 2011 and he unseated the centre-right UNM party of President Mikhail Saakashvili in a free election in 2012.
He told this website it might take "20 years" to make his dream a reality.
He also said he will step down as PM "before the new year" in order to work with NGOs to implement his master plan.
The plan is to purge Georgia of high-level corruption, to build decent schools, hospitals and roads and to attract foreign investors and tourists.
Since coming to power, Ivanishvili's prosecutors have indicted five UNM ex-ministers and several officials and local councillors on charges ranging from misuse of public funds to bribery and contract killings.
The new PM has promised to destroy Saakashvili's "black boxes" - illegal wiretaps, secret videos and data gathered in a mass Internet surveillance programme.
He said the snooping operation is "reminiscent of George Orwell's '1984'," a British novel about totalitarianism.
He added that Saakashvili himself might face trial when his presidential immunity expires in October. "Politically, it is not my desire … But the rule of law applies to everyone," he said.
To maintain credibility, he invited a crowd of foreign monitors, such as Thomas Hammerberg, a Swedish diplomat and Nobel laureate, to oversee his actions. He also threw the book at two of his own ministers who broke the law.
In the economic sphere, he has created a private-sector investment fund which he says will reach $10 billion by the end of the year.
In international relations, he is on the way to initialing an association and free trade pact with the EU in November and he expects to see "a serious step forward" in Georgia-Nato integration in 2014.
He has also improved ties with Russia.
On the one hand, Russia is tightening its military grip on Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But on the other hand, it has lifted a trade embargo on Georgian mineral water and wine.
Ivanishvili said the more Georgia prospers, the greater the chance Abkhazians and South Ossetians will seek reunification.
"To bring back our brothers, we need to convince them that it's in their interest to live with us," he noted.
Referring to his personal contacts with the Russian elite, he said that "a talented and smart intelligentsia" is slowly changing Russia's "sickly" attitude to its former republics.
But for its part, the UNM party believes Ivanishvili has sinister intentions.
Giga Bokeria, a UNM leader and the outgoing head of Georgia's National Security Council, told EUobserver in Tbilisi that the prosecutions of ex-ministers is "selective justice … with the goal of destroying a major political party."
He admitted the UNM in its nine years in charge made a "grave mistake" by giving too much power to security services.
He described UNM-era incidents of police brutality, torture of prison inmates and the mass snooping operation as "shameful … disgusting."
But he noted: "Tyrannies don't lose elections. They don't concede election results. It's an oxymoron, like hot snow."
He added: "Overall, Georgia was moving toward a liberal democracy … It was a free country. But now I believe there is a real threat."
Bokeria accused Ivanishvili of planning to rule Georgia from behind the scenes after he steps down as PM.
"He wants a puppet government and a balkanised political system, with many weak parties. This would make him invincible in his palace … This is the classic dream of a 1990s' oligarch," he said.
He added: "A democracy where the legitimate players are weak and someone outside the system pulls the strings is not a real democracy."
In Europe, the UNM's main ally, the EPP group of centre-right political parties, has also damned Ivanishvili for using courts for political revenge.
Some EU diplomats remain agnostic, however.
One EU contact, who asked not to be named, said that Saakashvili "monopolised power" and that Georgia now has "an opportunity to become a deep democracy." But he voiced doubt whether Ivanishvili is the right man for the job.
"He is not the first big businessman who, in his mid-50s, wants to prove to himself that he can also do politics. He is learning fast, but he doesn't have the political experience. He doesn't know all the traps," the contact said.
For Bokeria, Ivanishvili has already walked into one pitfall.
He said the PM has given a free rein to populist and far-right elements in his coalition, who say liberal EU values are incompatible with Georgia's Russian Orthodox identity.
He noted that "Orthodox fundamentalist" groups have "mushroomed" in the new political climate.
He also said that Ivanishvili freed from jail dozens of far-right "thugs" whom he labelled as Saakashvili's "political prisoners."
Bokeria, in his role as Georgia's top security advisor, said some of the same men almost beat to death a handful of pro-gay-rights protesters in Tbilisi in May, while Orthodox priests and the police looked on.
Ivanishvili later wrote an op-ed for EUobserver promising to protect minorities.
But Bokeria noted that the PM's domestic statements were "ambivalent" and that nobody faced justice for the assault.
"If they continue tolerating these kinds of groups and praising these kinds of people as heroes, then our country will go to hell," he said’, the article published by EUobserver website reads.

Related Stories:

Bidzina Ivanishvili comments about leaving politics


Georgia’s Changing Russia Policy – RFERL


Georgia prime minister takes on the Washington Post
Print
Other Stories
US President congratulates Prime Minister on Independence Day
The President of the United States has congratulated the Prime Minister of Georgia on Independence Day.
Salome Zourabichvili about Russia, Mikheil Saakashvili and Giorgi Margvelashvili
During her visit to Estonia, Salome Zourabichvili, President of Georgia gave an interview to the Eesti Rahvusringhääling (Estonian radio and television organization).
National Democratic Institute publishes its survey
National Democratic Institute has published its survey.
Salome Zourabichvili meets Volodymyr Zelensky
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili has met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Elections were held in Georgia – What you need to know?
By-elections and extraordinary mayoral elections were held on the 19th of May in Georgia. It was one of the most contested and tense elections in recent period.
How tense relations between Iran, US affect Georgia?
Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran experts and analysts predict negative effects on the Middle East.
There is much that can be learned from Georgia - Werner Liepach
There is much that can be learned from Georgia - says Werner Liepach, ADB Central and West Asia Department Director General.
Georgia’s State Security Service accuses Malkhaz Machalikashvili of plotting terrorist act
Georgia’s State Security Service says, that Malkhaz Machalikashvili was planning to kill several persons by organizing a terrorist act.
Anti-occupation movement Power Is in Unity starts patrolling in Davit Gareji from today
The anti-occupation movement Power Is in Unity is starting patrolling on the territory of the Davit Gareji monastery today, says one of the founders of the anti-occupation movement, Davit Katsarava.
Mikheil Saakashvili plans to return to Georgia, says has big plans for the country
Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili says he has “big plans” in Georgia.
Ambassador: There is a growing number of Georgian citizens, seeking a political asylum in France-it’s confusing
France has supported visa liberalization and our goal was to give the citizens of Georgia the opportunity of visa-free travel to EU countries.
President Salome Zurabishvili does not recommend building of the US military base in Georgia
According to President Salome Zourabichvili, it is not recommended to build an American base in Georgia.
Georgan PM Mamuka Bakhtadze comments on Venezuela uprising
“We stand with the people of Venezuela, who courageously embrace democracy and freedom”, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has tweeted.
Georgia’s Interior Ministry launched investigation into sharing of Trump’s tweet by President Zourabichvili
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia launched an investigation into sharing of Trump’s tweet by President Salome Zourabichvili.
Zelenskiy wins presidency - Will Saakashvili return to Ukraine?
Comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy won Sunday's runoff election in Ukraine.
Road to Davit Gareji monastery opened
The road to the Davit Gareji monastery, which was closed by the Azeri border guards, has been opened.
Azerbaijanis do not allow clergymen to enter David Gareji Monastery, Archimandrite says
Archimandrite of Georgia's David Gareji Monastery Complex Kirion (Oniani) says that Azerbaijanis blocked the desert monastery and the clergymen are not allowed to enter the monastery.
USS Ross arrives in Batumi port
USS Ross arrived in Batumi port on April 21.
What happened in the Pankisi gorge on the 21st of April?
Clashes broke out in Pankisi Gorge, Georgia’s northeastern region between special forces and residents
Georgian Orthodox Cathedral to be built in Cyprus
President of Cyprus has visited Georgian president Salome Zurabishvili at the presidential palace. Number of agreements has been achieved between the two sides.
“Chakrulo” performed at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe opened with the Georgian polyphonic folk song Chakrulo,
Zurab Zhvania's star opened in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg
Zurab Zhvania's star has been opened in front of the Council of Europe Palace in Strasbourg.
Bidzina Ivanishvili addresses the people, experts, politicians answer
Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Chairman of the Georgian Dream party, gave an interview to Imedi TV, where he spoke about problems facing the country and his party.
Zurab Zhvania's star to be opened in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg
Zurab Zhvania's star will be opened in front of the Council of Europe Palace in Strasbourg.
Bidzina Ivanishvili releases open letter
Bidzina Ivanishvili, chairman of the Georgian Dream party, has released an open letter.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
23.05.2019
24.05.2019
USD
1
USD
2.7756
2.7799
EUR
1
EUR
3.1001
3.0954
GBP
1
GBP
3.5153
3.5160
RUB
100
RUB
4.3239
4.2930
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.7799
EUR
1
EUR
3.0954
GBP
1
GBP
3.5160
RUB
100
RUB
4.2930