Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.17
By Elena Kosolapova- Trend:
The year 2013 became the period of changes for the Georgian nation. The government elected in 2012 reshuffled all the governmental bodies, passed a number of reforms, and decided to stop a number of projects initiated by their predecessors.
Meanwhile 2014 is expected to bring even more changes and governmental initiatives differing from ones of the last 10 years.
The November 2013 presidential election put a complete end to the era of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who headed the country since 2003 and opened new uncharted political territory for the country.
Georgian citizens showed much less support for the candidate from Saakashvili's United National Movement than for the candidate from the his rival Georgian Dream coalition at the election -21.73 percent of votes against 62.12 percent.
New-elected President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Irakli Gharibashvili who replaced Bidzina Ivanishvili who decided to step aside from the politics at the post of the prime minister became the new two top leaders of the country. Both of them have modest political experience and their political preferences and aims are quite unknown for both Georgians and foreign nations.
Nevertheless as they were personally picked and nominated to these posts by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and were his staunch allies in policy issues there is a reason to say they will continue his politics. New country's leaders make no effort to challenge the perception.
Ivanishvili took active part in the pre-election campaign of Margvelashvili and even in the news conference following announcement of the election results. Margvelashvili in turn promised before and after the election that Georgia would continue the correct and consecutive policy (of Ivanishvili).
Premier Gharibashvili, whose powers exceed those of the president since recently according to amendments to the constitution, vowed to spare no efforts to successfully continue Ivanishvili's policies in an acceptance speech after his nomination for prime minister and repeated his adherence to such an intention after his election to the post.
While President Mikheil Saakashvili partially held back the initiatives of the Georgian Dream coalition in 2013, this governing coalition created by Bidzina Ivanishvili took all the power institution into its hands following the presidential election and expected not to have any obstacles in implementing their policy in 2014.
At first glance, the Georgian Dream coalition wants to thrust the country outside of the legacy of Mikheil Saakashvili's tenure. It changed the majority of ministers, regional governors and heads of state institution, prosecuted the officials implicated in different crimes such as prisoners' tortures, embezzlement and power abuses.
Moreover the new leadership abandoned and reconsidered a number of projects initiated by Saakashvili and his adherents. For example they refuse the project on construction of the city of Lazika on the Black Sea coast which was positioned as a new perspective for the country development earlier. Moreover the new government instructed the responsible bodies to reconsider the projects on construction of a net of hydro power plants; Georgian railways development and etc.
Meanwhile Georgian foreign policy and its attitude to the joint international projects remain stable. The new country's leaders have repeatedly announced that they would remain oriented towards the European Union and NATO as it was during the Saakashvili period.
"Georgia will not change its foreign policy and will remain oriented towards integration to the European Union and NATO," Giorgi Margvelashvili said in his acceptance speech on Nov. 17.
Garibashvili in turn said that Georgia should conduct reforms, create democratic institutions and prove to Europe that the country deserves a spot in the European Union and NATO while presenting the government program to the parliament on Nov. 20.
In late November the country initiated association agreement with the EU.
The only thing which differed Ivanishvili's foreign policy from the policy of Saakashvili is more tolerance towards Russia. But radical turn in Georgian-Russian relations still not happened. Georgia has not established diplomatic relations with Russia and does not intend to do this step in near future.
Georgia also stands by all international projects implementing jointly with its neighbors, such as Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and so on. For example, in 2012 following the visit to Azerbaijan then Prime Minister Ivanishvili said there is no problem with the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project. Later he expressed an interest in a fast construction of the railway to participate in the export of goods and troops out of Afghanistan. This project was also on the agenda within the meeting of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and new Georgian Premier Irakli Garibashvili in Baku on Dec. 16.
In such a way the end of cohabitation of Saakashvili's United National Movement and Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream in the authorities may bring significant changes in the Georgia's internal live. Meanwhile its external moves will unlikely include anything new.