New President's Inauguration to Be Held in Telavi

The inauguration ceremony of Georgia’s first female president, Salome Zurabishvili, will be held in Telavi, the administrative center of Georgia's eastern province of Kakheti, known as the winemaking region of the country.

Traditionally, the ceremony is held in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, but as the President-Elect stated, this time Telavi will play host to this important event.

Telavi is the town where Zurabishvili was unable to get the majority of votes in the November 28 runoff. She explained this is why it was decided to hold the inauguration there.

“There were several scenarios, but Telavi was my proposal because the whole election campaign was focused on our need to develop the regions, and I think that Telavi is the right choice. The second reason behind my decision is that Telavi did not vote for me. It is one of the places where I lost the elections and I want to show that I am their President even if they did not vote for me,” Zurabishvili stated, adding that invitations will be sent to foreign delegations and guests.

“We will invite everyone we have diplomatic relations with. Outgoing President Giorgi Margvelashvili will also be invited,” she noted.

Lasha Zhvania, who will become the head of Zurabishvili’s Presidential Administration, told reporters that by holding the inauguration in Telavi, the President-Elect showed that she is keeping her pre-election promise that she will pay attention to the regions.

“Her first message on inauguration day will be that she is keeping her pre-election promise to be a president of the regions,” Zhvania said.

The Head of the Georgian Government Administration, Kakha Kakhishvili, said that the President's 2001 decree on the inauguration location and procedures is incompatible with the existing legislation. He noted that a new rule for conducting inaugurations will be worked out in the Prime Minister's Administration.

"The 2001 Presidential Decree names the official inauguration place as Rustaveli Avenue and the parliament building there. It also defines the circle of people who will meet with the President. This decree is not in harmony with the new legislation. Accordingly, a new rule on the inauguration is being made by the Prime Minister's Administration,” Kakhishvili said.

The Head of the Governmental Administration added that a special commission was created which will work on the scenario and the inaugural events.

Kakhishvili said that it had not yet been calculated how much the inauguration would cost.

Kakheti Governor Irakli Kadagishvili also confirmed that the inauguration ceremony will be held in Telavi, naming the likely location to be Batonis Tsikhe, a castle which served as the residence of Kakhetian Kings between the 17th and 18th century. The castle encloses two churches, the ruins of a royal bathhouse, and the Persian-style palace of King Erekle II.

Zurabishvili’s opponent in the elections, member of the United National Movement (UNM) and the ex-presidential candidate of the opposition Grigol Vashadze, said the opposition does not care where the ceremony takes place, as it does not recognize the new president.

“We have no issue with it. Nobody plans to hinder the ceremony,” he said.

Vashadze and other representatives of the United Opposition plan to hold a protest-rally in central Tbilisi on December 16, the day the inauguration ceremony is to take place.

By Thea Morrison

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06 December 2018 18:04