Two security councils
30 January, 2014
Two security councils
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili has created a consulting group called “the Security Council” that will work on issues concerning Georgia’s internal and external safety. The council has almost the same duties and responsibilities as the National Security Council under the President of Georgia.
The first sitting of the Security Council under the PM has already been held. Participants were: the Minister of Defense, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, state minister for reconciliation and equality affairs, intelligence service chief, chairperson of the state
security and crisis management council, and the Prime Minister’s special representative for relations with Russia. Georgia’s main internal and foreign threats were discussed without media.
However, a meeting of the NSC under the President has not been held since a new President was elected.
The National Security Council of Georgia (NSC) advises the President of Georgia on national security, foreign policy, and domestic policy.  After the new government took office, a new draft was initiated aimed at restriction of the NSC’s power. One of the initiators of the draft, Vakhtang Khmaladze, said that the restriction was due to the President’s limited power under the new constitution. Khmaladze emphasized that the NSC under the President would be focused on defense issues only. However, the draft has not yet been adopted. The regular statutory attendees of the National Security Council are: the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs, Finance Minister, and the Secretary of the NSC. The PM’s Security body would have the same members as well from the state structures.  
President Giorgi Margvelashvili said at a press conference on 22 January that the Prime Minister has a right to organize legislative authority the way he considers most comfortable.
“In the current constitutional situation, when the president’s obligations have been modified and he has no legislative power, the functions which the National Security Council had before have to be changed,” Margvelashvili said. He believes that the new council can manage critical situations effectively, and make concrete legislative decisions while the NSC is busy working on strategic and global tasks. He stressed that even if the two councils will have the same duties, it would not be a problem.
Vice PM Kakha Kaladze claims the new council is not a duplicate of the old one, and said it serves to provide more information for the PM.
Giga Bokeria, UNM’s International Secretary and former Secretary of the National Security Council, believes that it would be more appropriate to change the model of the already existing council, rather than create a new one.
Tornike Shurghulaia, President of the Doctors’ Club, Doctor of History, a professor, and a specialist on the West’s intelligence services, told Georgian Journal that it was at his initiative that the body be created with the Prime Minister. However, he stated that the Security Council established at the PM’s office is more focused on giving information to the PM, rather than on preventive actions for state security.
“A council with stronger functions should have been created, which would respond to local, regional and international challenges, cyber threats, and other vital challenges to the state security system,” he said, noting that all the priorities in the strategy were specified by him: “I took the international experience into account and elaborated the strategy. However, the government rejected it, stating that it required much financing and lacked clearness…However, the body would require 10 million GEL, while for the Security Council under the president the allocation was GEL 26 million.”
He emphasized that being in the Security Council under the president is not necessary, and is an additional expense for the national budget. Shurgulaia suggests that defense and security issues should be unified under the security council of the Prime Minister, and a stronger, prevention-oriented body and some informative mechanism needs to be established “for the president to know about ongoing security and defense issues.”
Giorgi Tavdgiridze, an expert in military and safety issues, underscores that the president is the commander in chief. His duty is to issue two or three directives, related to the start or the end of war, and to declare or not to declare a state of emergency. Other issues are in the PM’s hands: “It’s his responsibility to prepare the country for war, so he definitely needs an advisory body.”

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