Prospects of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s appointment as the deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine have stirred controversy among Georgian politicians.
Ruling Georgian Dream party representatives 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.
Civil Georgia offers a compilation of these assessments:
Ruling Party’s Assessments
Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia: “The Ukrainian people are our brotherly people. Ukraine is our strategic partner. A narrow political conjuncture cannot alter this in the long run. However, for us it is absolutely intolerable from a strategic partner [like Ukraine] to appoint a person, who is convicted and persecuted for serious crimes in Georgia, as a deputy Prime Minister… We have not yet recalled an ambassador, but if such a decision is made [to appoint Saakashvili as Vice PM] we will recall him at least for consultations.”
Ex-Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze: “Saakashvili’s appointment will not bear any fruits and our country, as well as Ukraine, has learned a lesson. However, that lesson does not seem to be enough [for Ukraine]. Therefore, it is our obligation, as a friend, to remind our Ukrainian friends what Saakashvili’s presence in active political space meant for Georgia and what it might mean for Ukraine… From social and economic issues, and to handing over 20 percent of our territories to Russia… We have a reason for optimism that finally the Ukrainian parliament and individual lawmakers will make the right decision…This is an acid test of friendship between the two states… [If Saakashvili will become Vice PM] it will negatively affect the friendship between the two governments.”
Former MP Nika Melia, United National Movement: “Mister Talakvadze – a Parliament Speaker in name only – is very well aware of the fact that success of the Ukrainian state, has been achieved, among others, owing to very active role played by Mikheil Saakashvili – which only benefits Georgia. He knows this, does not he? Sooner or later, he will not be occupying his chair, he may not even be in politics. What will he answer, when asked why he hindered the development of [Georgia’s] partner state [Ukraine], therefore impeding Georgia on its way to progress? He would better reflect on this.”
MP Giga Bokeria, European Georgia party: “This letter authored by Speaker Talakvadze, along with Ivanishvili’s [chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party] team’s statements, and potential steps they are considering to take, directly harm Georgia’s [national] interests. Our country needs a strategic partnership with Ukraine for security, economy, everything – this is in our interest. They should not be sacrificing national interests for the sake of their rivalry with the former President or personal animosity…[On the other hand] Neither Ivanishvili’s Government, nor the opposition and, among others, ex-President, must not bring up internal matters of Ukraine for political discussion in Georgia.”
Nino Burjanadze, United Georgia – Democratic Movement party: “[Saakashvili’s appointment] means that our Government does not enjoy respect in the world, in particular, in Ukraine – our strategic partner state. This [Georgian Dream] Government has absolutely irrelevant visions and improper remedies for every challenge that Georgia is facing. Therefore, ruining relations with Ukraine now will have very grave and complicated [consequences]. The Government should take heed of these [consequences], and ignore that [Saakashvili’s appointment] is a slap in its face.”
Shalva Natelashvili, Georgian Labor Party: “It seems that they try to exert pressure on Ukrainian President in order to prevent appointment of ex-President [Saakashvili as Vice Premier of Ukraine]. I reckon that [Government’s attempt] is doomed – [Georgian Dream’s standing] cannot be saved neither inside our country, nor in Ukraine, Europe, or the U.S. Whether they tap Saakashvili or not for whatever is the job, [Georgian Dream] is doomed, for this is a fight against [political] phantoms.”