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Salome Zurabishvili Joins Presidential Race

Salome Zurabishvili, a French-born career diplomat and a member of the Parliament of Georgia, will run in the October presidential elections as an independent candidate, reportedly on GDDG’s tacit approval.

Zurabishvili, who served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2004-2005, announced the decision at a press briefing today, saying it was her own decision and a decision that she had been pondering over “for quite some time.”

Salome Zurabishvili, who was born to an immigrant family that fled Georgia in 1921, after the Bolshevik Red Army crushed the country’s short-lived independence, said the decision was also “an obligation to her ancestors, as well as to those who declared independence one hundred years ago and failed to maintain it.”

The candidate spoke on her priorities as well, saying her primary objective would be to maintain stability, both internally and externally. Here, she also said a woman president could be “more pacifying than politicians engaged in [everyday] scuffles.”

Zurabishvili also stressed the society requires “more agreement on major issues.” She also said she would work actively with diaspora representatives: “we need to be ready to keep ties with these people; Georgia will not be able to develop without their involvement.”

Zurabishvili touched upon the country’s European aspirations, saying the country’s “Europeanness” has to go beyond mere declarations and has to be implemented in daily life.

In the Q&A section, Zurabishvili said she would welcome if the ruling Georgian Dream party endorsed her, but declined to comment whether she had agreed any specific plans for cooperation. She also urged voters and businesses to rally behind her candidacy and support her pre-election campaign.

Asked to comment her earlier remarks on the Russo-Georgian war, she said the war “was started by Russia a century ago,” but “the [2008] part of the war was launched by Georgia” and that the country “was provoked and took the bait.” “A small country like Georgia cannot afford to be provoked: when you are a small country, you have to be smarter than your enemies.”

Zurabishvili, a majoritarian MP from Mtatsminda district in Tbilisi was invited to become the country’s Foreign Minister in March 2004 by then President Mikheil Saakashvili, but was sacked in October 2005 after a confrontation with the parliamentary majority. In 2006, he went into opposition and set up a political party – Georgia’s Way, which she led until 2010.

In November 2010, Zurabishvili announced about “temporarily quitting” politics and left the country after she was appointed as a coordinator of the United Nations panel of experts on Iran. Zurabishvili returned to Georgia to run for the presidency in 2013, but her bid was rejected by the Central Election Commission on the grounds of having dual citizenship.

Although Zurabishvili is outside GDDG’s 116-member majority group and maintains the status of an independent lawmaker, her voting record and public statements have been closely aligned with that of the ruling party lawmakers.

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