3 Dec 2018 17:59

Outgoing, newly elected Georgian presidents discuss handover of responsibilities

TBILISI. Dec 3 (Interfax) - Incumbent Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and President-elect Salome Zourabichvili met at the presidential palace in Tbilisi on Monday.

Margvelashvili congratulated Zourabichvili on her election and wished her success in her work.

"It is very important that we start a new tradition with this meeting," Zourabichvili said.

Administrative issues dealing with the handover of responsibilities were also discussed, the Georgian presidential press service said.

Former Georgian economy minister Lasha Zhvania, who will head Zourabichvili's presidential administration, attended the meeting.

Georgian media reported on Monday that Zourabichvili's swearing-in ceremony, which is scheduled for December 16, may take place in a different Georgian city, possibly Poti, instead of Tbilisi.

Zourabichvili told reporters earlier that she would not use the presidential palace built in Tbilisi in 2009 as her residence; she and her presidential administration will occupy the renovated antique manor house of the princely Orbeliani family, to whom she is related.

The Georgian authorities repeatedly said earlier that utilities at the presidential palace cost about 6 million lari (over $2 million) a year, which is quite burdensome for the state budget.

Outgoing President Margvelashvili had been offered to move to a more modest building, especially as the new Constitution significantly narrowed the powers of the president, but he refused to follow this recommendation, which contributed to disagreements with the government and the parliament that lasted several years.