Irakli Garibashvili

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Irakli Garibashvili
Irakli Garibashvili - keynote speech at CPAC Hungary 2023 (4).jpg
Garibashvili in 2023
11th and 15th Prime Minister of Georgia
Assumed office
22 February 2021
PresidentSalome Zourabichvili
DeputyThea Tsulukiani
Levan Davitashvili
Preceded byGiorgi Gakharia
In office
20 November 2013 – 30 December 2015
PresidentGiorgi Margvelashvili
DeputyGiorgi Kvirikashvili
Kakha Kaladze
Preceded byBidzina Ivanishvili
Succeeded byGiorgi Kvirikashvili
Chairman of Georgian Dream
In office
15 November 2013 – 30 December 2015
Preceded byBidzina Ivanishvili
Succeeded byGiorgi Kvirikashvili
Minister of Defence
In office
8 September 2019 – 22 February 2021
Prime MinisterGiorgi Gakharia
Preceded byLevan Izoria
Succeeded byJuansher Burchuladze
Minister of Internal Affairs
In office
25 October 2012 – 17 November 2013
Prime MinisterBidzina Ivanishvili
Preceded byEkaterine Zguladze (Acting)
Succeeded byAleksandre Chikaidze
Political Secretary of Georgian Dream
Assumed office
5 March 2019
Preceded byGia Volski
Personal details
Born (1982-06-28) 28 June 1982 (age 40)
Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
(now Georgia)
Political partyGeorgian Dream (2012–2015, 2019–present)
SpouseNunuka Tamazashvili
Alma materTbilisi State University
Pantheon-Sorbonne University
WebsitePrime Minister's Personal Website

Irakli Garibashvili (Georgian: ირაკლი ღარიბაშვილი, also transliterated as Gharibashvili; born 28 June 1982[1]) is a Georgian politician and a former business executive who has served as the prime minister of Georgia since 22 February 2021. He previously served as prime minister from 20 November 2013 until his resignation on 30 December 2015. Garibashvili is a member of the Georgian Dream party. He entered politics with his long-time associate Bidzina Ivanishvili, in October 2012.

He served as Defence Minister of Georgia in the cabinet of prime minister Giorgi Gakharia from 2019 to 2021 and, prior to that, as Minister of Internal Affairs in the cabinet of Bidzina Ivanishvili from 2012 to 2013. Ivanishvili named Garibashvili as his successor as prime minister when he voluntarily stepped down in November 2013.[2] Aged 31 at his ascension, he was the youngest person to assume the Prime Ministerial office. During his first term, he was the second youngest state leader in the world, after Kim Jong-un.[3]

Early career[edit]

From 1988 to 1999 Garibashvili attended the secondary school No. 1 in Dedoplistsqaro. From 1999 to 2005 Garibashvili studied International Relations at Tbilisi State University (TSU), where he graduated with a master's degree. He also studied at the Pantheon-Sorbonne University from 2002 to 2004. Since 2004, he has worked with the multi-billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. He started by working for logistics division of the construction company Burji, owned by Ivanshvili's Cartu Group. He became Director General of Ivanishvili's charity foundation Cartu in 2005, a member of the supervisory board of Ivanishvili's Cartu Bank in 2007 and director of the label Georgian Dream founded by Ivanishvili's pop-star son Bera in 2009.[4][5][6]

Early political career[edit]

Garibashvili became involved in the politics of Georgia when Ivanishvili founded his political party Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia in February 2012. Garibashvili was one of the founding members and initially headed the party's revision committee.[5] He was included in the party list of MP candidates for the October 2012 parliamentary election. After the coalition won the 2012 parliamentary election on 1 October, Irakli Garibashvili became a party-list representative of the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party in the 2012 convocation of the Parliament of Georgia.[7]

Minister of Internal Affairs[edit]

After Georgian Dream's victory in the 2012 parliamentary election, Garibashvili was appointed as Minister of Internal Affairs in the cabinet of prime minister Ivanishvili on 25 October 2012. Garibashvili, then 30 years old, became the youngest member of Georgia's new government. Reforming the Interior Ministry, an agency overseeing Georgian police, security and intelligence services, as well as the border guard and navy, was a part of the Georgian Dream's pre-election agenda.[8]

Georgian Dream also promised to "restore justice" during the election campaign and to prosecute officials of the previous government for human rights abuses committed while in office, especially after the Gldani prison scandal prior to the elections confirmed long-standing allegations of ill-treatment in the Georgian penitentiary system. Subsequently, from 2012 through 2013, the Interior Ministry arrested several high-ranking officials from the previous government, including the former ministers Bachana Akhalaia and Ivane Merabishvili.[9][10]

During his tenure, Garibashvili announced that he would take steps to de-politicise the Ministry of Internal Affairs. As part of the reform, the Constitutional Security and Special Operative Departments were abolished. An ad hoc commission was set up to handle 24 000 illegal surveillance files found in the MIA. Those files, which contained compromising footage, were destroyed in presence of media and members of a commission in August 2013.

Garibashvili's agency faced the post-election spike in crime in Georgia after the newly elected government granted large-scale prison amnesty to reduce Georgia's high incarceration rate. Garibashvili opposed the amnesty project, but it was implemented by the parliament anyway.[11]

Garibashvili defended the arrests of the former ministers as being in strict accordance with the law and justice and claimed that the rate of minor crime, albeit increased, was not alarming.[12][13]

First Premiership (2013-2015)[edit]

On 2 November 2013, prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who had declared his intention to quit the government following the October 2013 presidential election, named Garibashvili as his successor.[14] He and his cabinet won in a vote of 93-19[15] in the Parliament of Georgia on 20 November 2013. Garibashvili thus occupied the most powerful political office in the country as the constitution amendments had transferred power from the president to the prime minister and the government. At heated parliamentary debates with the United National Movement minority during the vote, Garibashvili promised economic improvement and stressed that Georgia's EU and NATO aspiration would remain his foreign priorities.[2]

On 24 November 2013, he was elected chairman of the Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia party, succeeding Ivanishvili.[16] Garibashvili announced his resignation on 23 December 2015.[17] While no reason was given for the sudden move, it was reported that he may have done so due to low levels of support for the Georgian Dream among the populace, with it polling at 18% in November, and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2016.[18] Opposition politicians, analysts and media speculated that falling support for the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, pressure from the previous prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, or tensions with the president Giorgi Margvelashvili were possible explanations for Garibashvili's resignation.[19] Garibashvili was succeeded as prime minister by Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who had been his Minister of Foreign Affairs, with the transfer of power taking effect on 29 December.[20]

Government initiatives[edit]

During his tenure the Security and Crisis Management Council was established, as stipulated by the new Constitution of Georgia.[21] In addition, the Unified Coordination Center for Crisis Management was created, with technical assistance from the US, the United Kingdom and Israel.[22] To coordinate the country's economic policy, Irakli Garibashvili established the Economic Council.[23]

Human rights[edit]

The Georgian Government initiated, and the European Union directly supported, the development of the Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan.[24] A relevant statement was made by prime minister Garibashvili at the Human Rights Conference, on 4 December 2013. The Human Rights Strategy covers seven years and will not depend on the political cycle.[25]

Foreign policy[edit]

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili meets Victoria Nuland, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, December 2013.

During his tenure, Garibashvili visited the neighboring countries Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, several European nations, the United States, Israel, the People's Republic of China, and participated in several international summits and forums. While relations to Russia improved, there was no state visits to and from Russia.[26]

Relations to the European Union were a priority, culminating in the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, initiated at the Vilnius summit and signed on 27 June 2014. This association agreement included a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement between Georgia and the European Union and paved the way for the abolition of visa for travel from Georgia to the Schengen area, planned for 2017.[27][28]

Return to private sector[edit]

In February 2018, Garibashvili became the regional adviser to the board of the CEFC China Energy company.[29]

Second Premiership (2021- )[edit]


Garibashvili is making speech at Parliament of Georgia, June 2021

Nika Melia, chairman of the United National Movement party, was accused of organizing mass violence during the anti-government protests in 2019. When Melia declined to pay a $12,000 bail, a Georgian court ruled that Melia should be detained before his trial. In response, prime minister Giorgi Gakharia said the court's ruling was "unlawful", and on 18 February, Gakharia resigned over the decision to detain Melia.[30] The ruling Georgian Dream party supported Garibashvili to replace Gakharia, and the Parliament voted 89–2 to appoint Garibashvili on 22 February.[31] Melia was arrested while at United National Movement party headquarters on 23 February.[32]

Domestic policy[edit]

Secret audio recordings[edit]

In March 2021, the opposition TV Pirveli media outlet released alleged secret audio recordings involving Irakli Gharibashvili, head of the special state protection service of Georgia Anzor Chubinidze and Bera Ivanishvili, son of Georgian billionaire and founder of ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili. According to conversations, Bera Ivanishvili, who was a school student at that time, was discussing with Irakli Gharibashvili tasking Anzor Chubinidze to humiliate and punish youngsters for online posts insulting him. Garibashvili is heard encouraging the retributions on the covertly recorded tapes.[33] TV Pirveli placed the data of the recording in 2017. The Georgian Dream party released a statement that the convesation was fabricated and that audio recordings were illegaly obtained by the United National Movement government (now opposition) during its rule in 2010–2011.[34] Gharibashvili denied the existence of the recordings made public by TV Pirveli and called them fake. The Georgian Chief Prosecutor's Office announced that the recordings were faked.[35]

Namakhvan HPP construction[edit]

Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili, May 2022

Gharibashvili terminated the construction of Namakhvan HPP, agreed by the previous government headed by Giorgi Gakharia. On March 14, a large protest by the locals was held against construction of a power plant, including due to environmental concerns, at the central square of Kutaisi. At the end of March 2021, in accordance with the people's demand, Gharibashvili announced that he reached a compromise with the HPP construction company about the postponement of the deadline. In May 2021, a massive rally against the construction was held in Tbilisi. Garibashvili stated that the project would not continue under "current conditions" of the contract, which many activists described as "cabal" and "harming state interests". In March 2022, the private investor notified the government of Georgia that it had terminated the contract due to "violation of the terms of the contract and force majeure". Garibashvili stated that the state would build a plant on much favorable terms.[36]

Anti-gay parade protests[edit]

On July 5, 2021, a first-ever gay parade was planned to be held on Tbilisi's main Rustaveli Avenue, organized by NGO Tbilisi Pride. An event was opposed by conservative and Christian organizations and activists. On July 5, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that holding a parade on Rustaveli Avenue posed serious security risks and asked the organizers to either choose one of the alternative locations suggested by the MIA, or not to go forward with the plan at all, calling it unreasonable. Gharibashvili warned that it would provoke negative reactions from a large segment of the Georgian population. The event was eventually cancelled because the Rustaveli Avenue was occupied by anti-parade protesters, who ransacked pro-LGBT NGO offices and clashed with journalists who were covering the events. Garibashvili later stated that Georgia is a conservative society with Christian values and such events are unacceptable to 95% of the Georgian population, so as an elected official was obliged to obey them. Garibashvili additionally said that "the only parade I know, that will be held in our country, is that of our army" and proclaimed that "minorities will no longer decide the fate of the majority in this country". He blamed the "radical opposition" and the ex-president in exile, Mikheil Saakashvili, for being behind the pride parade in order to destabilize the country and cause chaos.

The tension between the government and the opposition parties was followed by the brutal beating of the TV Pirveli journalist Lexo Laksharava, who later died on July 12. This was followed by a large-scale protest by journalists, representatives of several TV companies demanding Gharibashvili's resignation on July 13, but the Prime Minister did not resign, he said that he would not allow the situation in the country to be strained and rioted.

Arrest of Mikheil Saakashvili[edit]

On October 1, 2021, the third president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, who left Georgia in 2013 and was condemned by the Tbilisi City Court to six years in prison in absentia for abuse of power, embezzlement, and his implication in the attempted murder of an opposition MP, announced that he had returned to Georgia after 8 years of persecution, and published a video that, according to his description, was taken in Batumi. The ruling party, "Georgian Dream" denied the information and stated that Saakashvili is in Ukraine and has not left the territory of Ukraine, but later Irakli Gharibashvili announced at a briefing together with the Minister of Internal Affairs Vakhtang Gomelauri and the head of the State Security Service Grigol Liluashvili that Mikheil Saakashvili is under arrest. According to the investigation, Saakashvili entered the country secretly, hiding in a semi-trailer truck loaded with milk products. He illegally crossed the state border of Georgia, bypassing the customs control.[37] Saakashvili stated that he considered charges against him to be trumped-up and politically motivated, announcing a hunger strike in order to protest his detention. His health deteriorated during his time in prison, due to which the government of Georgia received criticism from European Parliament, alleging ill-treatment of Saakashvili and violation of his rights. The government said that Saakashvili was trying to evade prison through self-harm and was using international lobbyists to pressure the government to release him on medical grounds.[38][39]

Proposed foreign agents law[edit]

On March 7, 2023, the Georgian parliament passed a foreign agents law in the first reading which would label any organization that has more than 20% of its profits be recorded from outside of Georgia as "agents of foreign influence."[40] Garibashvili has been a leading figure in trying to get the bill passed stating that the bill meets "European and global standards".[41] After parliament voted in favor of the bill, tens of thousands of protesters arrived at parliament to protest the bill, being met with riot police, tear gas, and water canons.[42] On March 9, the government announced that it would withdrew the bill due to protests and that all protesters who were arrested would be released from prison. On March 10 the bill was formally defeated in a second vote by the Parliament, while an alternative bill was retracted.[43][44]


On February 24, just 2 days after being elected as the Prime Minister, Gharibashvili announced that most of the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 would be removed, restaurants and bars opened, small and large-scale businesses woke up, in 2020 the country experienced a 6 percent decline, and Gharibashvili wanted to revive the economy. This brought results, after the removal of restrictions and the refreshing of the country's economy, the economy of Georgia grew by 45% in April 2021. The Prime Minister called this event an important economic progress at the government meeting.

On March 11, 2021, Irakli Gharibashvili presented a plan for the restoration of 63 municipalities of Georgia, 200 million GEL was allocated to it, the head of the government said that this would increase the country's tourism demand. This project was officially completed in 2023, on April 19, 2023, Gharibashvili presented a new stage of restoration, it includes 6 cities, the Prime Minister called the large-scale restoration of these cities and resorts the most important step forward for the development of the country. The budget of the project will be 1 billion GEL.

PM Garibashvili addresses the local population while introducing Otar Arbolashvili as the ruling party candidate for mayor in Borjomi, Samtskhe-Javakheti region, 2021

Gharibashvili held many meetings with representatives of economic organizations, Georgia received support from them many times. In 2021, the semi-revival of tourism and taking the right steps was followed by a significant growth of the Georgian economy. Imports and exports increased in 2021, and the country saw 10.5% growth at the end of the year, a record for the decade.

After the high economic growth, the country's budget increased in 2022, a number of events brought the country closer to European Union and increased the presence of European investors. Tourism has improved even more in 2022, about 2.6 billion GEL has entered the budget from tourism in 2022. The currency has strengthened. According to the data of 2023, the GEL has strengthened from 3.7 to 2.5 against the dollar.

In 2022, the economic growth in the country amounted to about 9.5%, and the gross domestic product became about 25 billion dollars, which is a significant increase compared to the data of 2020.

Foreign Policy[edit]

PM of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova met with President of the European Council Charles Michel, November 2021

Irakli Gharibashvili went on his first official visit to Brussels in March 2021, met with the President of the European Parliament and other important political figures, before that Charles Michel visited Georgia on March 1, 2021, when the country was still in a political crisis, the Prime Minister thanked his European colleague for his support in many ways.

During his term, Gharibashvili stated that his goal was to join Georgia to the European Union and bring peace to the country, that is why he visited many countries of the world and started bilateral relations with them, such as Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China.

The Prime Minister visited Ukraine on August 21–23, 2021, met with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and talked with him about the deepening of relations between the countries, he called Ukraine a strategic partner and Zelensky's friend, this was still 7 months before beginning of Russian invasion of Ukraine

In September 2021, Irakli Gharibashvili arrived in New York and addressed the 76th session of the United Nations, where he declared his readiness to be a moderator in the improvement of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and he also said that Georgia would take all possible steps to achieve peace in the South Caucasus.While in New York, he met many world leaders including the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Chancellor of Germany and others.

Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida at the 2022 Madrid summit.

On October 18, 2021, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Georgia. Gharibashvili met him personally, and they talked about the improvement of defense cooperation between the US and Georgia.

Meeting of Irakli Garibashvili with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Batumi, 2022

On October 24, 2022, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev visited Georgia, the Prime Minister and the President of Azerbaijan held a briefing with journalists in Mtskheta, the parties announced that they will deepen the relationship and Georgia will transport an even larger amount of oil from Azerbaijan through the Black Sea.

On December 17, a decision was made in Davos to build a new oil terminal. between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Hungary. Billions of dollars will be spent on it and all parties will win. At the briefing held after signing the contract, it was announced that the project should be ready by 2027.

Application to join the European Union[edit]

As a result of the outbreak of the 2022 Russian invasion in Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and fears that Russia might once again invade Georgia as it did in 2008, on 3 March 2022, Prime Minister Garibashvili signed the letter with which the country officially applied for membership in the European Union (EU).[45] The same day, Moldova (which experiences troubles regarding the Russian backed separatist state Transnistria) also signed its letter to officially apply for EU membership.[46]

In June 2022, the European Council expressed readiness to grant Georgia the status of a candidate after completing a set of reforms recommended by the commission.[47]

Political positions[edit]

Irakli Garibashvili - keynote speech at CPAC Hungary 2023

Garibashvili has been described as a conservative-leaning politician.[48] On several occasions, most notably with the Gay Pride march, he backed the conservative side of the debate, adopting a majoritarian approach while noting that "95% of our population are against holding propagandistic parade in a demonstrative manner" so as an elected official he should follow that. Garibashvili added that Georgia "is a conservative society" and has unique values based on Orthodox Christianity, emphasizing that the minority should not decide fate of the majority.[49] In 2014 he proposed to solidify the definition of marriage as union between a man and a woman in the Constitution of Georgia to balance the opposition from conservatives and Orthodox Church to the adoption of the Anti-Discrimination law, which was Georgia's precondition to get a visa free regime with the EU.[50]

In his address to parliament in 2021, Gharibashvili criticized the idea of a minimal state and the "invisible hand of the market". He said that "small state idea is a myth impeding the country's development" and called on the government to play an active role in economy.[51] Gharibashvili stated that "history does not know the precedent of development by allowing processes to flow on their own" and "neither Europe nor America developed in this way".[52] Gharibashvili also emphasized that Georgia should become economically more self-sufficient.[53]

Gharibashvili opposed mandatory vaccination against COVID-19, saying that Georgian citizens should enjoy "the right and an opportunity of free choice".[54][55]

Personal life[edit]

Garibashvili is married to Nunuka Tamazashvili (born 1983), with three sons, Nikoloz (born 2005), Andria (born 2010), Gabriel (born 2015) and one daughter Nino (born 2016).[56][57] His father-in-law, Tamaz Tamazashvili, is a former police general who was arrested on charges of illegally carrying and keeping weapon and explosives in October 2011. Garibashvili, a member of then-opposition Georgian Dream party, claimed the arrest was politically motivated. After the Georgian Dream acceded to power in October 2012, Tamazashvili was released from prison.[58] In addition to Georgian, Garibashvili also speaks English, French and Russian.


On 23 August 2021, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky awarded Garibashvili with the first degree order of merit during the Crimea Platform summit.[59]


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  55. ^ "PM Garibashvili Reviews Year, Unveils 10-Year Plan During Parliamentary Address". 25 June 2021. Archived from the original on 28 September 2021. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  56. ^ "Asset Declaration". Government of Georgia. Archived from the original on December 25, 2015. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
  57. ^ "Third son born to Georgian PM's family". Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  58. ^ "Political Motives of General Tamaz Tamazashvili's Imprisonment Was Doubtlessly Proved". PirWeli Information Agency. 16 August 2013. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  59. ^ "Ukrainian president awards Georgian PM with order of merit". Agenda. 23 August 2021. Archived from the original on 23 August 2021. Retrieved 13 December 2022.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Georgia
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Georgia