Giorgi Margvelashvili

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For a Georgian chess player, see Giorgi Margvelashvili (chess player).
Giorgi Margvelashvili
გიორგი მარგველაშვილი
Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia.jpg
4th President of Georgia
Incumbent
Assumed office
17 November 2013
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili
Irakli Garibashvili
Preceded by Mikheil Saakashvili
Minister of Education and Science
In office
25 October 2012 – 18 July 2013
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili
Preceded by Khatia Dekanoidze
Succeeded by Tamar Sanikidze
Personal details
Born (1969-09-04) 4 September 1969 (age 44)
Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
Political party Georgian Dream
Residence Tbilisi Palace
Alma mater Tbilisi State University
Central European University
Georgian National Academy of Sciences
Signature

Giorgi Margvelashvili (Georgian: გიორგი მარგველაშვილი; born 4 September 1969) is a Georgian academic and politician who has been President of Georgia since 17 November 2013.

A philosopher by education, he was twice the rector of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs from 2000 to 2006 and again from 2010 to 2012. In October 2012, he became a member of the newly formed cabinet of Bidzina Ivanishvili as Minister of Education and Science of Georgia. In February 2013, he was additionally appointed as First Deputy Prime Minister. Margvelashvili was named by the Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream coalition as its presidential candidate in May 2013 and he won the October 2013 presidential election with 62% of votes. Margvelashvili is not a member of any political party.[1]

Education and academic career[edit]

Giorgi Margvelashvili was born in Tbilisi in the family of Teimuraz Margvelashvili (born 1938), an engineer, and Mzeana Gomelauri (born 1933), a psychologist.[2] Margvelashvili graduated from the Tbilisi State University in 1992 with a degree in philosophy. He continued his post-graduate education at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary (1993–1994) and the Institute of Philosophy, Georgian Academy of Sciences (1993–1996). In 1998, he obtained a doctorate degree in philosophy from the Tbilisi State University.[3] Early in the 1990s he worked as a mountain guide at the Caucasus Travel agency. He joined National Democratic Institute's Tbilisi office as a program consultant in 1995 and worked for it before becoming affiliated with the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), a joint Georgian–United States educational establishment, in 2000.[1]

Margvelashvili twice served as a rector of the GIPA from 2000 to 2006 and, again, from 2010 to 2012. In between his two tenures as a rector, he headed the GIPA's research department from 2006 to 2010. During these years, he was a frequent commentator on politics and society of Georgia.[3][4]

Political career[edit]

Margvelashvili was not a household name in Georgia until 2012.[5] His first direct involvement in politics briefly came in 2003, when he joined the opposition election bloc Burjanadze-Democrats prior to the November 2003 parliamentary election, being in the top ten of the bloc's list of candidates.[6] After the allegation of electoral fraud brought about street protests and a change of power in the Rose Revolution, the Burjanadze-Democrats merged with the Mikheil Saakashvili-led United National Movement, and Margvelashvili quit politics.[5]

In 2008, Margvelashvili was again associated with Nino Burjanadze, the former parliamentary chairwoman, this time as a member of the board of advisers of Burjanadze's think-tank Foundation for Democracy and Development.[7] By 2012, Margvelashvili had become a critic of Mikheil Saakashvili's government. He publicly supported the Georgian Dream coalition set up by the billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, but he was not directly involved in the coalition's election campaign.[1]

Government minister[edit]

After the victory over Saakashvili's party in the October 2012 parliamentary election brought Ivanishvili to the premiership of Georgia, Margvelashvili, described by Ivanishvili as "a personal friend" and "an intellectual",[8] became Minister of Education and Science on 25 October 2012.[4] In February 2013, Ivanishvili appointed Margvelashvili as First Deputy Prime Minister, replacing Irakli Alasania, the Defense Minister.[8]

Margvelashvili's program as a minister envisaged several changes in the educational system, including a model of school graduation exams, the role of schools, and the financial independence of universities.[9]

During his tenure, Margvelashvili came to public attention several times. In March 2013, he was accused by the opposition and student groups of political meddling in academia after his ministry revoked authorization of the Tbilisi-based Agrarian University, run by a foundation founded by Kakha Bendukidze, an entrepreneur and ex-minister in the Saakashvili government. Within two weeks, the authorization to the Agrarian University was renewed after the ministry said that the shortcomings had been addressed.[1] In April 2013, Margvelashvili's announcement that the government would provide to country's 650,000 school students with text books free of charge was denounced by publishers as a blow to the publishing business and by political opponents as a populist move in violation of intellectual property rights. In May 2013, Margvelashvili was again in media headlines after he slammed proposed amendments to the labor code, calling them a "nightmare" for businesses.[1][10]

Presidential candidate[edit]

Inauguration of President Giorgi Margevlashvili. November 17, 2013.

On 11 May 2013, the Georgian Dream coalition named him as its candidate for the October 2013 presidential election. The leader of the coalition, Ivanishvili, claimed the decision was unanimous.[11] The outgoing president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, expressed skepticism about the nomination, comparing it to Caligula's alleged naming of "his horse to the senate."[12] Both Margvelashvili and Ivanishvili rejected claims by opponents that Margvelashvili was "a puppet" in the hands of a wealthy prime minister.[13] Although not obligated by the law, Margvelashvili resigned, as he put it, to avoid allegations of misuse of administrative resources during the election campaign. On 18 July 2013, he was succeeded by Tamar Sanikidze in his ministerial position.[14] Margvelashvili campaigned aggressively, with Ivanishvili frequently appearing by his side and expressing support in his public appearances.[5] On 17 October, Margvelashvili announced, following Ivanishvili's "advice" earlier that day, that he would withdraw from the race in case of a runoff.[5]

On 27 October 2013, Margvelashvili won the presidential election, getting 62% of the vote and beating the United National Movement's David Bakradze by about 40 percentage points.[15] After the election, Margvelashvili stressed that deepening ties with Europe would remain Georgia's priority and the government would work towards defusing tensions with Russia in collaboration with the country's international partners.[16]

President[edit]

Margvelashvili was sworn in as the fourth President of Georgia at a ceremony in the courtyard of the Parliament's old building in Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi. With this, a new constitution came into effect which devolved significant power from the President to the Prime Minister.[17] Margvelashvili's inauguration was not attended by his predecessor Mikheil Saakashvili, who cited disrespect by the new government towards its predecessors and opponents.[18]

Margvelashvili initially refused to move to the luxurious presidential palace built under Saakashvili in Tbilisi, opting for more modest quarters in the building of the State Chancellery until a 19th-century building once occupied by the U.S. embassy in Georgia is refurbished for him.[19] However, he later started to occasionally used the palace for official ceremonies.[20] This was one of the reasons for which Margvelashvili was publicly criticized, in a March 2014 interview with Imedi TV, by the ex-Prime Minister Ivanishvili, who said he was "disappointed" in Margvelashvili.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Beyond his native Georgian, Margvelashvili is fluent in English and Russian. His hobby is knitting.[13] Margvelashvili has rarely commented on his private life. He has a daughter, Anna (born 1995), who studied in Moscow. Margvelashvili is unmarried and in a relationship with a makeup artist, Maka Chichua (born 1965), a sometime singer-actress.[21][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Margvelashvili Named as GD's Presidential Candidate. Civil Georgia. 11 May 2013. Accessed 11 May 2013.
  2. ^ Gelantia, Telara (15 May 2013). Financial declaration of "Georgian Dream" Presidential Candidate. PirWeli.
  3. ^ a b George Margvelashvili. Government of Georgia. Accessed 30 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b Ivanishvili's Incoming Cabinet. Civil Georgia. 16 October 2012. Accessed 30 March 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Giorgi Margvelashvili. Civil Georgia. 15 October 2013.
  6. ^ Burjanadze, Zhvania Offer Radical Changes. Civil Georgia. 22 August 2003. Accessed 30 March 2013.
  7. ^ Burjanadze Launches Foundation. Civil Georgia. 7 July 2008. Accessed 30 March 2013.
  8. ^ a b Education Minister to Become Deputy PM. Civil Georgia. 5 February 2012. Accessed 30 March 2013.
  9. ^ Macharashvili, Nino (26 December 2012). Giorgi Margvelashvili: No education can be free. Tabula Magazine. Accessed 30 March 2013.
  10. ^ Georgian First Vice PM strongly against new Labour Code. Trend News Agency. 3 May 2013.
  11. ^ Georgian PM names pro-Western ally presidential candidate. Reuters. 11 May 2013.
  12. ^ Saakashvili Comments on GD's Presidential Candidate. Civil Georgia. 12 May 2013.
  13. ^ a b Metreveli, Irakli (25 October 2013). Georgia's presidential favourite a knitting academic. AFP.
  14. ^ New Education Minister Takes Office. Civil Georgia. 18 July 2013.
  15. ^ Georgia elections: Russia welcomes new president Giorgi Margvelashvili. The Telegraph. 28 October 2013.
  16. ^ 'Europe is our choice' – Georgia's president-elect Margvelashvili. Euronews. 28 October 2013.
  17. ^ Margvelashvili Sworn-in as New President. Civil Georgia. November 17, 2013.
  18. ^ Georgia's Saakashvili won't attend Margelashvili's inauguration. Vestnik Kavkaza. 16 November 2013.
  19. ^ Margvelashvili refuses to move to residence built for Saakashvili. Kyiv Post. 4 November 2013.
  20. ^ a b Ex-PM Ivanishvili 'Disappointed' in Margvelashvili. Civil Georgia. 18 March 2014.
  21. ^ Owen, Elizabeth (23 September 2013). Georgia: More of the Same with Margvelashvili?. Eurasia.Net. Accessed 28 October 2013.
  22. ^ Woman who might become First Lady of Georgia. Georgian News TV. 13 May 2013.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Khatia Dekanoidze
Minister of Education and Science
2012–2013
Succeeded by
Tamar Sanikidze
Preceded by
Mikheil Saakashvili
President of Georgia
2013–present
Incumbent