Garibashvili, Irakli (Georgia)
Irakli Garibashvili took office as the prime minister on 20 Nov. 2013. A protégé of his predecessor, billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, Garibashvili was the world’s youngest elected leader at the time of his appointment.
Born on 28 June 1982 in Tbilisi, Garibashvili earned a master’s in international relations from Tbilisi State University in 2005. A year earlier he had begun working with Ivanishvili in several of the billionaire’s organizations. Standing for the Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia coalition (Georgian Dream having been launched by Ivanishvili in 2011), Garibashvili was elected to parliament in Oct. 2012 and was appointed interior minister in Ivanishvili’s first cabinet. Ivanishvili stepped down after the Oct. 2013 presidential election, which saw a landslide victory for his party’s candidate, Giorgi Margvelashvili. Ivanishvili’s nomination of Garibashvili as his successor as premier was ratified by parliament in Nov. Garibashvili was also selected as Georgian Dream’s leader.
Garibashvili rejected allegations that he was a pawn through which Ivanishvili would continue to exercise power. His first cabinet’s composition was interpreted as a conciliatory gesture towards Russia, particularly with respect to the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, his desire for better relations with Moscow sat uneasily with his aim of greater integration with the European Union. Although Georgia signed a trade partnership agreement with the EU in June 2014, Garibashvili dismissed the pro-Western defence minister Irakli Alasania in Nov. that year, which prompted a political crisis within the ruling coalition. In May 2015, following a series of ministerial resignations, Garibashvili nominated a new government. Most key posts were unchanged, although Tinatin Khidasheli, a pro-Western deputy, became the country’s first female defence minister. Further changes in Aug.–Sept. saw the appointment of new interior and foreign ministers.
In March 2015 the government denounced an alliance and integration treaty between Russia and South Ossetia as a move by Moscow to annex Georgian territory.
Garibashvili resigned as prime minister in Dec. 2015 after polls suggested a steep decline in popularity for the coalition government and his Georgian Dream party. He was succeeded in the post by incumbent foreign affairs minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.