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Saakashvili - a Prime, Merabishvili - a President?

03.07.2012  |  11:31

Saakashvili - a Prime, Merabishvili - a President?. 27554.jpeg

Vano Merabishvili is well known outside of Georgia. Mikheil Saakashvili's associate in "rose revolution", the all-powerful chief of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the master of all the intelligence agencies and one of the founders of the channel PIC. Ordinary Georgians call him "the right hand of Saakashvili". Mikheil Saakashvili calls him "the backbone of power". July 1, 2012, "the backbone of power" became the new head of the Georgian government. What Russia and Georgia can expect from this? GTimes spoke with the experts Kakha Kukava and Andrei Areshev on this subject.

Kakha Kukava, leader of "Free Georgia".

- Can we assume that Mikhail Saakashvili considers Vano Merabishvili his successor?

- Georgia is now seriously thinking about what will happen after 2013, when Mikheil Saakashvili's second presidential term expires. There is not unfounded assumption that in 2013 Saakashvili will not leave. He will become Prime Minister, and after the term of his successor expires he will once again become the head of state. Such a scheme has been used in Russia during the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev when when the head of government Vladimir Putin was in fact the head of state. In Georgia, they objectively believe that Merabishvili as prime minister - this is an intermediate stage for further political castling. In 2013, Merabishvili becomes president; Saakashvili becomes the head of government. In Georgia, it would be like in Russia: Saakashvili's two terms, then a period of Merabishvili, and then again two terms of Saakashvili.

- As far as I know, in Georgia it is believed that Saakashvili is reasonably feared of the head of the Interior Ministry. Not only police is in the hands of Merabishvili but also special agencies which are actually running the show in Georgia. It is believed that Merabivshili as prime minister is less dangerous to Saakashvili than as the head of the Interior Ministry. In this scenario, the position of special services will be weakened.

- Mainly supporters of Bidzina Ivanishvili express such an assumption. Trying to see the confrontation between Saakashvili and Merabishvili - this is a propaganda trick. Personally, I think this view is unfounded. Why would Saakashvili suddenly weaken the mainstay of his regime - the Interior Minister? Without Merabishvili and his Interior Ministry Saakashvili would not have stayed in politics even a day. The popular protests that took place recently in Georgia, have no analogues in the world. I'll tell you more: examples of Georgian protests have not been seen in Europe for twenty years. The recent protest action in Tbilisi has surpassed "March of millions" in Moscow to several times, and Tbilisi is much less of Moscow. I see no reason for Saakashvili to have suddenly began to weaken Merabishvili, sawing the branch on which he is sitting. Merabishvili as prime minister - this is not the weakening of the security services, while their amplification.

Andrei Areshev, expert of the Center for the Study of Central Asia and Caucasus (Institute of Oriental Studies).

- Appointment of Vano Merabishvili the head of the Government of Georgia has a great value for the country. Mikheil Saakashvili and his team are preparing for the election. In the condition of highest activization of the opposition mood they need such a prime minister as Merabishvili. I do not know how the new prime minister will solve the social problem. The fight against corruption and other tasks that were assigned to the Georgian Interior Ministry, were carried out based on the generous financial tranches from the U.S. and the EU. It is unlikely that Western partners of Saakashvili administration's are seriously concerned about the flourishing of wine in Kakheti and the development of manufacturing industries that have remained in Georgia.

- What will happen with the Russian vector of Georgian politics, to which Merabishvili paid so much attention?

- Merabishvili's position on Russia is as uncompromising and tough, as Saakashvili's position. It is difficult to talk about the possible deterioration of Russian-Georgian relations, because they can't get worse. The dialogue between Moscow and Tbilisi is frozen. The new prime minister will bring no positive jet in these affairs. First, it is not his prerogative, and secondly, Tbilisi, is not going to improve relations with Moscow now.

Arthur Pryjmak

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