Shadow of impeachment over Zurabishvili
    Areshidze and Kasrelishvili on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  04 September 2023 - 16:11

    Vadim Mansurov

    Disagreements between the Georgian president and the country's parliament are again on the verge of uncompromising intransigence. The ruling Georgian Dream party even initiates impeachment proceedings against President Salome Zurabishvili “because of her violation of the constitution”.

    The Georgian Dream stated that the president grossly violated the country's Basic Law by ignoring the government's refusal to make foreign visits. They saw the reason for the unwillingness to agree with the Georgian Dream in the fact that it acts in concert with the "radical opposition" and only hinders Georgia's European integration. Moreover, contrary to the decision of the government, Zurabishvili herself went on a foreign tour, having visited Berlin and Brussels in recent days.

    And this is far from the first conflict between different branches of power in Georgia - the president and the government quarreled in the spring of 2022, since Zurabishvili acted too independently - without consulting the country's leading political force. For example, in an interview, she made it clear that she did not share the opinion of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who said that the government excludes the country from joining international sanctions against Russia.

    “I don't think such statements can make much sense today,” Zurabishvili told France 24 TV channel.

    “I would not make such a statement.”

    In addition, Zurabishvili's alleged refusal to endorse several ambassadors proposed by the government was called a "serious violation of the Constitution".

    So, what, in fact, is the essence of the crisis of power structures in Georgia and is there a chance that the president will still find a common language with the ruling political force, or is their breakup inevitable?

    Mamuka Areshidze, Georgian political pundit and expert on the Caucasus, said in an interview with Caliber.Az that the current impeachment attempt is based on the aggravation of contradictions between the Georgian Dream party, the main party in the country's parliament, and the government, on the one hand, and Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, on the other.

    “In keeping with the constitution, Georgia is a parliamentary republic, where the main political course is set by the parliament and the elected government of the country, therefore, when the president independently takes actions and steps that run counter to this course, without consulting anyone about it, disagreements naturally arise. And then a political crisis,” the political pundit said.

    Areshidze added that sometimes it even seems that certain centers of power from abroad can influence certain steps of the Georgian president.

    “I don't want to associate Zurabishvili's origins and her French roots with the background of her political moves, but sometimes such a feeling does arise.

    Now things can't go the way they used to. At the moment, Georgia's credo is more of a policy of maneuvering, which comes from the current geopolitical situation. That is, a more flexible policy compared to the one that was before. A few years ago, Georgia maintained an unambiguous clear pro-Western line, an uncompromising course towards the West, and now there is some more subtle play on the political field in the region and beyond. And this is understandable and justified, because the world order is destroyed, there is no new one, and therefore each side is trying to adapt to the big game that is now unleashed in the world. Therefore, against the backdrop of such a strategy of the Georgian Dream, the openly pro-Western initiatives of the president cause a tangible imbalance in Georgia's foreign policy.

    Although, in my opinion, the impeachment of the president is an unnecessary initiative. Zurabishvili's term expires anyway, and it is quite possible to do without such steps,” M. Areshidze said.

    At the same time, according to Zaal Kasrelishvili, another Georgian political expert, Chairman of the Confederation of Peoples of the Caucasus, everything in Georgia is very ambiguous. A certain part of society supports Zurabishvili, but there are those who are in favor of the course of the ruling party. Moreover, there are many who are very skeptical both about the conflict itself and about the relationship between the president and the Georgian Dream.

    “In my opinion, many in Georgia do not really understand what are the true obligations of Zurabishvili to the ruling party, what are the real behind-the-scenes agreements between them and what is behind the public picture of the current crisis of power. That is, people are asking the question - is it really a disagreement? Now, when this confrontation between the two centers of power has reached a certain peak, more and more strata of society are involved in the conflict, until recently far from politics, but opinions on this matter are very different,” Z. Kasrelishvili notes.

    Meanwhile, the expert believes that one should not ignore the fact that Zurabishvili is a representative of family clans very respected in Georgia, who have done a lot for the country's history, and her career began in the period of Mikheil Saakashvili. However, the current policy of the Georgian president does not always find a response in society, he notes.

    “Whatever the state system and the Constitution of the country, the prime minister and the president must report to the public on the strategic decisions they make. This also applies, for example, to the political tour of European countries planned by the president - this is an important political move and it must be coordinated with parliament and society. However, Ms. Zurabishvili preferred to do without these procedures.

    This approach cannot be ignored and looks at least incomprehensible. It is difficult to accept such actions approvingly. Although, again, I note that in the full sense of the word, I do not presume to judge the nature of the conflict between the president and parliament. What happens behind closed doors of power is a big question. Well, the issue of impeachment is just brewing – it may not take place at all,” Z. Kasrelishvili believes.


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