Defense Minister Mindia Janelidze is likely to be replaced by a senior Georgian Dream ruling coalition lawmaker Tina Khidasheli, Imedi TV and some other Georgian media outlets reported on Thursday evening.
MP Khidasheli, who is a member of the Republican Party and wife of parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili, has declined to either confirm or deny the report.
“Consultations are ongoing with the government on cabinet [composition], as well as on other issues. The Prime Minister will himself make an announcement,” said MP Khidasheli, dodging persistent reporters’ questions about her possible nomination as new defense minister.
MP Khidasheli was elected as chairperson of the parliamentary committee on European integration in early April.
Incumbent PM Irakli Garibashvili, whose government will face confidence vote, was initially planning to name new ministers for two vacant cabinet posts on Thursday afternoon, but the announcement was rescheduled for Friday morning. PM’s office cited “still ongoing consultations” within the Georgian Dream (GD) coalition as the reason behind delay.
MP Khidasheli’s planned nomination, if true, will be a surprise new development as PM Garibashvili on Wednesday ruled out any major reshuffle of the cabinet and said that the only change was going to be replacement of those two cabinet members – Minister of Sport and Minister of Environment – who filed for resignation this week.
Asked about the reports, MP Davit Berdzenishvili, who chairs Republicans parliamentary faction, which is part of the GD ruling coalition, said: “Leaders of parliamentary factions from the Georgian Dream ruling coalition are aware about the candidates, who will be nominated by the Prime Minister tomorrow. I cannot make any other comment now.”
If the reports about MP Khidasheli’s nomination turn out to be true and if the cabinet will then win parliament’s confidence vote, she will be Georgia’s first ever female defense minister.
Asked about these reports, chief of general staff of the Georgian armed forces General Vakhtang Kapanadze told journalists: “I am ready to cooperate with any defense minister – gender, ethnicity, religion does not matter, what matters is to serve Georgia successfully.”