German Ambassador to Georgia Hubert Knirsch has been forced to respond to an article published by Berlin-based daily newspaper Bild, which suggested possible collusion between the diplomat and the Georgian Dream government and the ruling party founder, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The November 22 article, authored by Responsible Editor Julian Röpcke, cited the Ambassador’s past controversial statements against government-critical Georgian CSOs and allegedly against the opposition, as well as the employment of his wife Eva Maria Knirsch at Ivanishvili-funded Kutaisi International University (KIU) as signs of possible collusion. MORE & MORE
The report pointed out that Eva Maria Knirsch has worked since February 2021 as a visiting lecturer at the KIU, as well as a “Georgia representative” at the Technical University Munich International, a subsidiary of the TUM university, which advises KIU on behalf of the Georgian Government.
Thus, according to the article, the Ambassador’s spouse “twice benefits from the richest man in Georgia” Bidzina Ivanishvili by working at the university that Ivanishvili financed and working for the German company that “advises oligarch’s university on behalf of the Georgian government.” Citing Mrs. Knirsch’s lawyers, the report said she receives the lowest of the four salary levels for German professors at the KIU, and only works 30 hours per month at the TUM.
The article said Bild reached out to the German Federal Foreign Office, which reportedly responded that it does not see any problems with the employment of the Ambassador’s wife and support the “professional activities of the partners of employees posted abroad.”
Ambassador Knirsch Responds
Ambassador Knirsch stated on November 23 that everyone is free to form or express an opinion about his work, adding “the article will no way affect our good cooperation with civil society organizations.”
“We will continue to work for the freedom of assembly, for a pluralistic political life in Georgia and for easing the tensions between political forces,” he pledged.
As for his wife’s work at the Kutaisi International University, the diplomat said “I am truly proud of the good and intense work she is doing in training Georgian students in Computer Science, just as I am proud of her civil society engagement.”