08TBILISI2025, GEORGIA: CABINET RESHUFFLE DRAWS LITTLE REACTION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2025 2008-10-31 09:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9891
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2025 3050930
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 310930Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0323
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002025 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: CABINET RESHUFFLE DRAWS LITTLE REACTION 
 
REF: A. A) TBILISI 2009 
     B. B) TBILISI 1987 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a. i. Kent Logsdon for Reasons:  1.4 ( 
B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary/Comment:  In a widely anticipated move, four 
new Cabinet members were nominated October 29 to head up the 
Ministries of Justice, Culture, Refugees, and Environment. 
The shakeup drew little reaction among the press or 
opposition as all are familiar names and loyal Saakashvili 
backers who represent no change in governing philosophy or 
policy initiatives.  The Parliament must still approve the 
Prime Minister and the new Government slate.  Saakashvili 
hailed the move as providing new blood and new energy to 
continue the implementation of his programs, but added that 
new PM Mgaloblishvili retains "full autonomy" in forming a 
new cabinet.  Despite the public pronouncement, Saakashvili's 
reshuffle seems to confirm that he is the one choosing 
ministers.  The reshuffle amounts to little more than 
maintaining the status quo. There is little evidence thus far 
that calls from the opposition outside parliament for 
Saakashvili's resignation have found resonance with the 
public and recent polling (reftel B) suggests that 
Saakashvili maintains public support.  The timing of the 
announcement, an indicator that that Saakashvili is 
responding to a public perception that changes are needed 
following the August conflict and may well have been designed 
to deflate opposition calls for rallies on November 7.  End 
Summary and Comment. 
 
Expected Move Causes Little Stir 
-------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU)  The rollout of the new ministers was hailed by 
President Saakashvili who was visiting Norway.  He stated 
that .. "one phase of the governmental program was over and 
now they needed new blood and new energy to continue 
implementation of other economic programs."  Speaker of the 
Parliament Bakradze was quoted as saying that "(i)t is 
logical that minor changes are carried out in the cabinet, 
because this government has passed through the major test 
which was the war; so I do not see any reason for major 
changes."  Opposition response was equally predictable with 
Gigi Tortladze (an independent opposition politician in 
parliament) stating that he did not view these appointments 
as significant policy adjustments.  Tortladze said that 
"Mgaloblishvili will not have his own team just as (former 
Prime Ministers) Gurgenidze and Noghaideli did not." 
Nevertheless, there has been little outcry from the 
opposition about the move.  Reftel A reports views suggesting 
that Mgaloblishvili and his team may have a short term in 
office. 
 
Deja Vu All Over Again 
---------------------- 
 
3.  (SBU)  The new Ministers are members of Saakashvili's 
larger circle with some of them retaking positions they 
formerly held.  The new Minister of Refugees and Resettlement 
is Koba Subeliani, who was held the same position  from 
November 2007 until May 2008 when he became a Member of 
Parliament.  Subeliani, like many Cabinet members is young 
having just turned 30, but was widely hailed in the weeks 
following the conflict as the leading government voice on 
dealing with the IDP issue.  The current Head of President 
Saakashvili's Administration, Zurab Adeishvili will become 
Minister of Justice, a position he held from December 2003 
until February 2004.  Adeishvili recently turned 36. 
Governor of Samtskhe-Javakheti region Goga Khachidze, also in 
his late 30s, will become the new Minister of the 
Environment.  Grigol Vashadze who is currently a Deputy 
Foreign Minister and married to Georgia's leading ballerina, 
will become the new Minister of Culture.  Vashadze is 50 and 
Qwill become the new Minister of Culture.  Vashadze is 50 and 
has spent most of his life in private business. 
LOGSDON

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