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Khaindrava Loses Office in Slightly Reshuffled Cabinet
/ 21 Jul.'06 / 16:23
Civil Georgia

Ex-State Minister Khaindrava says Defense
Minister Okruashvili is a trouble-maker.
A reshuffling of the Georgian cabinet will result in the introduction of only two new ministers – Merab Antadze, currently Deputy Foreign Minister, will replace Giorgi Khaindrava in the position of State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues, and MP Davit Tkeshelashvili will become the Environmental Minister, replacing Giorgi Papuashvili, who has been nominated to become a new member of the Constitutional Court.

President Saakashvili instructed Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli to form the new cabinet on July 21. The Parliament is expected to vote on the new government at a session on July 25.

Neither of the two replacements came as a surprise.

Papuashvili’s nomination as a Constitutional Court member was expected after President Saakashvili himself confirmed on July 11 that he was thinking about this proposal. Papuashvili’s replacement led to the resignation of the entire cabinet, as he was the sixth minister change in the cabinet since it was formed in February, 2005. Papuashvili, 33, is most likely to become the Chairman of the Constitutional Court.

The dismissal of State Minister Khaindrava was also anticipated, as he recently challenged the official party line in respect to various issues. Statements made by Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili on July 20 further backed expectations about Khaindrava’s possible dismissal.

Okruashvili, who is often described by the media as "hawkish," was angered by Khaindrava’s decision not to back the Defense Ministry in an incident involving the brief detention of Russian officials by the Georgian Military Police on July 14 and 15.

In a response Khaindrava also unleashed criticism against Okruashvili on July 21, saying that his strongly-worded statements mixed with military rhetoric create problems.

“I can state with full responsibility that Irakli Okruashvili’s actions, his statements create very serious problems for our country and for President Saakashvili, and I am going to speak about all these issues with President Saakashvili when I meet him later today,” Giorgi Khaindrava said at a news conference on July 21 following his dismissal.

Khaindrava added that he wants the President to tell him the motivation behind his dismissal.

“I have more than enough facts to confirm that Okruashvili’s actions are dangerous for the country,” he added.

Khaindrava, who served as a State Minister since February 2004, was in charge of peace talks with the South Ossetian and Abkhazia sides, but with more focus on South Ossetian issues.

Officials in breakaway South Ossetia have already express regret about Khaindrava’s dismissal.

“The resignation of Khaindrava once again confirms that the Georgian leadership is really against the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Giorgi Levanovich [Khaindrava] was bravely defending the Georgian side’s interests during all meetings, but at the same time we believed that he was against forceful resolution of the conflict,” Boris Chochiev said in a phone conversation with Rustavi 2 television.
 
Speaking at a news conference, Khaindrava strongly denied that his dismissal is a signal of Georgia’s preparation for hostilities in the South Ossetian conflict zone.

“The Georgian President’s course strongly adheres to the peaceful resolution of conflicts,” he said.

Khaindrava also hailed the decision to nominate Merab Antadze as the new State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues. “He is a very experienced diplomat and it was the right decision to nominate him,” Khaindrava said.

Opposition parliamentarians have condemned the decision to sack Khaindrava. “He was an independent-minded member of the cabinet, and that is why he was dismissed,” MP Zviad Dzidziguri of the Conservative Party said.

Influential parliamentarian from the ruling National Movement party Giga Bokeria welcomed Khaindrava’s dismissal.

“Those statements, which Khaindrava made against Defense Minister Okruashvili, make me think that the decision to sack him was absolutely right,” MP Bokeria said.

But Khaindrava declined to respond to MP Bokeria, saying that “I do not care what Bokeria says.”

Khaindrava denied speculations that he plans to join any of the opposition parties.

“I will continue my job [as a film director], but I will also be an active member of society,” he said.

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