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Cannon-fire during the inauguration of the fifth president of Georgia


სალომე ზურაბიშვილი
Lana Giorgidze

In Telavi, during the inauguration of the president-elect Salome Zurabishvili, the cannons will fire three times. The Telavi City Hall announced it via social network.

“It is to notify that during the inauguration of the fifth president of Georgia, on December 14, 15 and 16, 2018 in the period between 13:00 pm and 15:00 pm, the cannons will fire three times. Please, disseminate this information,” the City Hall announced.

The inauguration of the fifth president of Georgia will be held in the King Erekle II Palace in Telavi on December 16; before that, upon the December 6 decree of the Prime Minister, a special group was set up to organize the event. The head of the commission is the head of the Government’s Administration Kakha Kakhishvili; the deputies are: Giorgi Tcholadze – head of the office of the Prime Minister of Georgia and Aleksandre Darakhvelidze – deputy head of the administration of the GoG.
The official ceremony will take place in the Palace of the King Erekle in Telavi; however different parts of the official ceremony will be held in Tbilisi and Tsinandali. The head of the GoG administration Kakha Kakhishvili informed the journalists about it.

“The president-elect Salome Zurabishvili will take an oath in Telavi; the second part of the inauguration ceremony may take place in Tsinandali,” Kakhishvili told journalists after the working meeting of the commission. 
According to him, the inauguration of the fifth president will be beautiful but not pompous. 

Together with the Anthem of Georgia, Kakhetian Mravaljamieri will also be sung during the inauguration; the event-director Basa Potskhishvili told about it in Telavi after having examined the palace in Telavi. 

“The style will be moderate, elegant, worthy and relevant to the Georgian culture. Georgian architectural monuments and landscapes have never been pompous. Georgian art and culture has always been moderate that is divine simplicity. We will try to make the ceremony relevant to the Georgian culture. Georgia has always been part of the European culture and it includes European elements. The musical part of the inauguration will be composed of the anthem and I want to add Mravaljamieri. On the background of the Caucasian Mountain, it will be impossible not to sing the Mravaljamieri,” Potskhishvili said. 

The president-elect Salome Zurabishvili hopes the inauguration of the first female president will stay in the history. She said many guests will attend the inauguration; they will be invited in accordance to protocol or via her private contacts. 

“I think we will have many guests during the inauguration. On the one hand, we will have guests invited according to the protocol; the foreign affairs ministry is sending invitation letters to the leaders of all our partner countries. It does not mean that all of them will arrive; very little time is left for that. But I hope at least we will have female presidents as guests here. It will be very relevant to the fact that first female president was elected in Georgia. 

I will also have my personal guests via those contacts which I have abroad. I think, it will be good to introduce them with Georgia, Telavi and Kakheti and to take advantage of this event in this regard. 

It is natural, that I expect everything will be fine. And everybody will remember it; this day will stay in history, as the inauguration of the first female president in Georgia,” Salome Zurabishvili told media.

Political scientist Gia Khukhashvili echoed the planned inauguration in Kakheti and told Interpresnews that “Telavi symbolically is associated with the end of the Georgian monarchy and statehood.”

According to his evaluation, holding the inauguration in Telavi causes associations of the end of the presidency in Georgia.

“I am very sorry that they make similar decisions. If we speak about symbols, then it is rather negative than positive. This town symbolically is associated with the end of the Georgian monarchy or statehood. Telavi, of course, is one of the culture centers and I love it; but it has very sad symbolic meaning. If we are speaking about Little Kakhi (King Erekle), then it causes associations about the Tractate with Russia and integration into the Russian Empire,” Khukhashvili told Interpresnews. 

Regardless the associations of the political scientist, the fifth president of Georgia will take oath before the people in Telavi on December 16. “I, the President of Georgia, solemnly pledge before God and my nation to defend the Constitution of Georgia and the independence, unity and inseparability of my country. I will honestly perform the duties of President. I will protect the welfare and security of my people, and will care for the revival and might of my Nation and Fatherland.”

With the inauguration of the president, the new edition of the Constitution of Georgia will go in force. According to which, the President will no longer have the Security Council, which first appeared in the Constitution in 1995 as advisory body with the President. Hence, the Defense Council will be established in the case of war, and the President will chair it. 

The Pardon power remains to be the only inviolable power of the President. Since 1995 to present, nothing has changed in this regard. The president will still have authority to grant citizenship to individuals, though it is regulated by the law. 

Since the adoption of the constitution to present, the powers of the president have changed several times. Namely, in accordance to the initial edition, the President was the head of the executive government; he/she ruled both internal and foreign policies of the state; at the same time, he/she represented the country abroad; the president was prohibited to occupy any other position simultaneously. In accordance to the 2004 amendments, in relation with the introduction of the Government’s institute, the authority of the president was restricted in favor of the government, however, the president maintained some power in the executive government. He could hold political party position simultaneously; the institute of the president’s administration was established in the same period. In accordance to the 2010 constitutional amendments, the president’s power was even more restricted and all powers related with the executive government was seized from him. He was prohibited to occupy the political party position either. The president was the head of the state and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Georgia. 

The candidate of the united opposition Grigol Vashadze said, it is impossible to hold the inauguration as Georgia does not have legally elected president. “So, they can stage this show wherever they want,” Grigol Vashadze told journalists. 

On the day of the inauguration, the united opposition decided to organize the protest demonstration and addressed the Telavi City Hall; the latter denied them to hold the demonstration on the indicated place – near the Statue of the King Erekle II, and offered alternative territory. 

The City Hall already sent letter to the opposition leaders and suggested to hold the demonstration in the Street of April 9 in Telavi. 

“We offer them alternative place as the place which they requested will be used for the inauguration. As you know many foreign guests will participate in the event as well as their security service representatives, who will ensure safety of the guests; consequently this area will also be occupied during the inauguration, where the delegations will move. We offered them different territory to the opposition parties,” the Telavi City Mayor announced. 

Giorgi Botkoveli, representative of the Kakheti regional organization of the United National Movement, confirmed this information with the Liberali and noted that the united opposition is going to hold peaceful demonstration in the area where they had planned. 

Protest demonstration in parallel to the inauguration ceremony is not wierd for the Georgian society. In 2013, in parallel to the inauguration of the fourth president of Georgia, two demonstrations were held in front of the Parliament. Shalva Natelashvili of the Labor’s Party protested the “fake elections”, and Lasha Chkhartishvili and supporters of GreenPeace protested planned construction of KhudonHES.

James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, who is holding meetings in Georgia, addressed Grigol Vashadze via media that the elections is a threshold which raises political temperature but now it is time that the country unified and all political parties respected each other. 

The United Opposition, allegedly, will not accept the suggestion of Appathurai and will hold peaceful demonstration in parallel to the inauguration. 

It is noteworthy, that inaugurations of the previous presidents were held in the yard of the Parliament of Georgia in Tbilisi. What symbolic meaning Telavi has for the Georgian Dream – there is no clear answer to that question. King Erekle II did not have cannon-masters but the first female president of Georgia has and Telavi and Telavi dwellers will celebrate her election with cannon-fires on December 16. 

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