Zelenskyy’s Vice PM Offer for Saakashvili Angers Georgian President

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili released a statement on April 28 regarding potential appointment of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakahvili as the deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, which, she says, “triggered legitimate concerns” among Georgian authorities and society.

The President stated that appointment of a person – convicted by Georgian courts and prosecuted for corruption offenses – on a high-level position was “both incomprehensible and unacceptable.”

President Zurabishvili reiterated her commitment to the strategic friendship and strong bilateral relations, noting that Georgia and Ukraine share history to gaining independence, common goals and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, all of which became “even more important” in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, she warned against the outcome of such an act that would only benefit “forces” longing for sowing discord between the two countries.

“It is impossible to imagine what splitting our ways and weakening our unity could bring to either Georgia or Ukraine. I, for one, can’t even consider such option,” noted Georgian President.

Zurabishvili regretted that the friction between Georgia and Ukraine eroded “solidarity” in the fight against the pandemic, and squandered “time” which should have been spent on “joint proposals and plans to be submitted to Brussels” in an effort to double down on the Euro-Atlantic integration.

“I regret the decrease in trust among our countries,” stressed President Zurabishvili.

The Georgian President expressed hope that “common state interests” would prevail and “will prove more valuable worth saving, than narrow political games and ambitions.”

“I wholeheartedly hope, that our shared past, present and future will never be put to the test,” concluded the President.

Prospects of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s appointment as the Vice Premier of Ukraine have stirred controversy among Georgian politicians.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia warned of summoning the Ambassador from Ukraine, if Ukraine’s Parliament approved Saakashvili’s candidacy.

Georgian Parliament Speaker addressed a letter to his Ukrainian counterpart admonishing foreign state’s MPs not to vote for ex-President for fear of harming two countries’ relations.

Opposition figures slammed the Government for putting partisan interests ahead of the national concerns by questioning the resilience of “strategic” bilateral relations.

Salome Zurabishvili, born to an immigrant family that fled Georgia following the Soviet occupation in 1921, was invited to serve her ancestral homeland by then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in 2004.

Prior to the appointment, she served as the French envoy to Georgia.  Saakashvili then said he has received consent from French president Jacques Chirac and FM Domonique de Villepin to appoint Salome Zurabishvili as Georgia’s Foreign Minister.

Zurabishvili served as the country’s foreign minister in 2004-2005. She joined the opposition after being sacked from the post, following months of confrontation between Foreign Ministry and the Georgian Parliament.

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