Giorgi Margvelashvili (Georgian: გიორგი მარგველაშვილი😉 is a Georgian academic and politician who has been the fourth President of Georgia since 17 November 2013.
A philosopher by education, he was twice the rector of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs from 2000 to 2006 and again from 2010 to 2012. In October 2012, he became a member of the newly formed cabinet of Bidzina Ivanishvili as Minister of Education and Science of Georgia. In February 2013, he was additionally appointed as First Deputy Prime Minister. Margvelashvili was named by the Ivanishvili-led Georgian Dream coalition as its presidential candidate in May 2013 and he won the October 2013 presidential election with 62% of votes. Margvelashvili is not a member of any political party.
Margvelashvili in 2014
|4th President of Georgia|
17 November 2013
|Prime Minister||Bidzina Ivanishvili
|Preceded by||Mikheil Saakashvili|
|Minister of Education and Science|
25 October 2012 – 18 July 2013
|Prime Minister||Bidzina Ivanishvili|
|Preceded by||Khatia Dekanoidze|
|Succeeded by||Tamar Sanikidze|
|Born||4 September 1969
Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
(now Tbilisi, Georgia)
|Alma mater||Tbilisi State University
Central European University
Georgian National Academy
Education and academic career
Giorgi Margvelashvili was born in Tbilisi in the family of Teimuraz Margvelashvili (born 1938), an engineer, and Mzeana Gomelauri (born 1933), a psychologist. Margvelashvili graduated from the Tbilisi State University in 1992 with a degree in philosophy. He continued his post-graduate education at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary (1993–1994) and the Institute of Philosophy, Georgian Academy of Sciences (1993–1996). In 1998, he obtained a doctorate in philosophy from the Tbilisi State University. Early in the 1990s he worked as a mountain guide at the Caucasus Travel agency. He joined National Democratic Institute’s Tbilisi office as a program consultant in 1995 and worked for it before becoming affiliated with the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), a joint Georgian–United States educational establishment, in 2000.
Margvelashvili twice served as a rector of the GIPA from 2000 to 2006 and, again, from 2010 to 2012. In between his two tenures as a rector, he headed the GIPA’s research department from 2006 to 2010. During these years, he was a frequent commentator on politics and society of Georgia.
Margvelashvili was not a household name in Georgia until 2012. His first direct involvement in politics briefly came in 2003, when he joined the opposition election bloc Burjanadze-Democrats prior to the November 2003 parliamentary election, being in the top ten of the bloc’s list of candidates. After the allegation of electoral fraud brought about street protests and a change of power in the Rose Revolution, the Burjanadze-Democrats merged with the Mikheil Saakashvili-led United National Movement, and Margvelashvili quit politics.
In 2008, Margvelashvili was again associated with Nino Burjanadze, the former parliamentary chairwoman, this time as a member of the board of advisers of Burjanadze’s think-tank Foundation for Democracy and Development. By 2012, Margvelashvili had become a critic of Mikheil Saakashvili’s government. He publicly supported the Georgian Dream coalition set up by the billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, but he was not directly involved in the coalition’s election campaign.
After the victory over Saakashvili’s party in the October 2012 parliamentary election brought Ivanishvili to the premiership of Georgia, Margvelashvili, described by Ivanishvili as “a personal friend” and “an intellectual”, became Minister of Education and Science on 25 October 2012.In February 2013, Ivanishvili appointed Margvelashvili as First Deputy Prime Minister, replacing Irakli Alasania, the Defense Minister.
Margvelashvili’s program as a minister envisaged several changes in the educational system, including a model of school graduation exams, the role of schools, and the financial independence of universities.
During his tenure, Margvelashvili came to public attention several times. In March 2013, he was accused by the opposition and student groups of political meddling in academia after his ministry revoked authorization of the Tbilisi-based Agrarian University, run by a foundation founded by Kakha Bendukidze, an entrepreneur and ex-minister in the Saakashvili government. Within two weeks, the authorization to the Agrarian University was renewed after the ministry said that the shortcomings had been addressed. In April 2013, Margvelashvili’s announcement that the government would provide to country’s 650,000 school students with text books free of charge was denounced by publishers as a blow to the publishing business and by political opponents as a populist move in violation of intellectual property rights. In May 2013, Margvelashvili was again in media headlines after he slammed proposed amendments to the labor code, calling them a “nightmare” for businesses.
On 11 May 2013, the Georgian Dream coalition named him as its candidate for the October 2013 presidential election. The leader of the coalition, Ivanishvili, claimed the decision was unanimous. The outgoing President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, expressed skepticism about the nomination, comparing it to Caligula’s alleged naming of “his horse to the senate.” Both Margvelashvili and Ivanishvili rejected claims by opponents that Margvelashvili was “a puppet” in the hands of a wealthy prime minister. Although not obligated by the law, Margvelashvili resigned, as he put it, to avoid allegations of misuse of administrative resources during the election campaign. On 18 July 2013, he was succeeded by Tamar Sanikidze in his ministerial position. Margvelashvili campaigned aggressively, with Ivanishvili frequently appearing by his side and expressing support in his public appearances. On 17 October, Margvelashvili announced, following Ivanishvili’s “advice” earlier that day, that he would withdraw from the race in case of a runoff.
On 27 October 2013, Margvelashvili won the presidential election, getting 62% of the vote and beating the United National Movement’s David Bakradze by about 40 percentage points. After the election, Margvelashvili stressed that deepening ties with Europe would remain Georgia’s priority and the government would work towards defusing tensions with Russia in collaboration with the country’s international partners.
Margvelashvili was sworn in as the fourth President of Georgia at a ceremony in the courtyard of the Parliament’s old building in Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi, on 17 November 2013. With this, a new constitution came into effect which devolved significant power from the President to the Prime Minister.Margvelashvili’s inauguration was not attended by his predecessor Mikheil Saakashvili, who cited disrespect by the new government towards its predecessors and opponents.
Margvelashvili initially refused to move to the luxurious presidential palace built under Saakashvili in Tbilisi, opting for more modest quarters in the building of the State Chancellery until a 19th-century building once occupied by the U.S. embassy in Georgia was refurbished for him. However, he later started to occasionally use the palace for official ceremonies. This was one of the reasons for which Margvelashvili was publicly criticized, in a March 2014 interview with Imedi TV, by the ex-Prime Minister Ivanishvili, who said he was “disappointed” in Margvelashvili.
Margvelashvili was critical of the ruling Georgian Dream’s position in the ongoing constitutional reform process, which he denounced as a tool to weaken the presidency. He also accused the GD of refusing to engage in dialogue with other political groups over the reforms. Margvelashvili stated that the GD’s winning the constitutional majority in the 2016 parliamentary election implied “a threat of concentration of power”, but at the same time “opened up opportunities for bold reforms and initiatives”.
Beyond his native Georgian, Margvelashvili is fluent in English and Russian. His hobby is knitting. Margvelashvili has rarely commented on his private life. He has a daughter from his first marriage, Anna (born 1995), who studied in Moscow. On 10 September 2014, Margvelashvili married at the town of Dusheti his long-time partner Maka Chichua (born 31 March 1965), formerly a makeup artist and sometime singer-actress. On 2 February 2015, the couple became parents of a son, Teimuraz.