Giorgi Margvelashvili was sworn in today as the fourth President of Georgia at a ceremony in the courtyard of the Parliament Building in Tbilisi. The ceremony was the final act of a long, and often tense process that saw a transition of power from Mikheil Saakashvili and his United National Movement, to a government led by the Georgian Dream Coalition. The architect of the process, Prime Minister Bidhzina Ivanishvili was on hand to see the swearing-in of the new President who he had handpicked, and who was subsequently elected in Presidential elections in October. Those elections were considered as being the best ever held in the South Caucasus in the last two decades by international observers.
After being sworn in Margvelashvili addressed the gathering of VIPs, including representatives of many foreign governments. His speech was a blend of pragmatic policies and romantic references to Georgia's rich history and culture.
Margvelashvili reached out to the separatist entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and invited them to join together with Georgia in building a modern and democratic state. He reiterated Georgia's committment to a strategic partnership with the United States and Association with the European Union.
However Margvelashvili also emphasised Georgia's regional role. He said
"Georgia has a mission of historical significance of becoming hub for cooperation, dialogue, and concord between Europe and Asia.
This is why we ascribe special importance to furthering relations with the countries of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea Regions and Central Asia, promoting transnational projects in cooperation with these countries, and ensuring peace and economic development in the region.
Georgia's well-balanced regional policy must serve as a unifier of interests in the Caucasus. It is of vital importance to further economic and diplomatic relations with neighboring Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
Despite the difficult situation we are facing today and in parallel with integrating into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, we reiterate our commitment to further dialogue with Russia and build confidence to solve the problems existing today. This dialogue will be built upon unequivocal respect for Georgia's national interests, i.e. respect for our internationally recognized borders and the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty."
photo: President Margvelashvili approaching a military guard of honour prior to his swearing-in as President of Georgia in Tbilisi on 18 November 2013.
Municipal elections in Georgia see Georgian Dream consolidating power in most urban centres. Kakha Kaladze won the elction for Mayor of Tbilisi with a convincing margin according to exit polls.