Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to engage in returning former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, currently, a Ukrainian citizen and chair of Ukraine’s Executive Reform Committee, to Kiyv after Saakashvili’s trip to Georgia ended up with his detention.
“As the President of Ukraine, I am constantly engaged in returning the citizens of Ukraine. Using the various opportunities I have due to my office. Mr. Saakashvili is a citizen of Ukraine, so it also applies to him,” the President told reporters at a press conference in Truskavets on October 3.
According to President Zelenskyy, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine and diplomatic missions working in Georgia, the Ambassador of Georgia to Ukraine, as well as the Prime Ministers of the two countries are engaged in the process.
Noting that he was unaware of Saakashvili’s decision, President Zelenskyy said his return to Georgia was “still wrong because he is in state power [in Ukraine]. But we need to understand all the details and risks,” he added.
Remarks in Tbilisi
In Georgia, state officials reckon that Saakashvili’s arrest could not affect relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on October 3 that Saakashvili would not be able to deteriorate the “very positive” relations between Ukraine and Georgia.
The Prime Minister emphasized his own role in thawing relations with Tbilisi after it had been strained by Saakashvili’s appointments in Ukraine. After several bilateral meetings in Tbilisi and Kyiv “we have established a very good, friendly, and trustful relationship, including with President Zelenskyy and his administration,” PM Garibashvili said.
Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani today ruled out Saakashvili’s extradition to Ukraine. He emphasized the ex-President was convicted for wrongdoings during his tenure as Georgia’s President and faced charges according to Georgian laws. “The Ukrainian government has the right and duty to care for its citizens,” he added.
According to the top Georgian diplomat, the Ukrainian and Georgian sides exchanged information about Saakashvili’s arrest, with the Georgian embassy informing the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry about Saakashvili’s convictions and the circumstances of his detention after their request to be briefed on the situation.
FM Zalkaliani also said the new Georgian Ambassador to Ukraine “will provide additional information about the case to our Ukrainian partners in case they are interested in it.”
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