Georgia’s Ambassador to France, Tea Katukia, stepped down from her position citing “constant pressure” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Ministry says the accusation is “slanderous” and says Ambassador was relieved of her duties due to unsatisfactory performance.
Katukia was nominated in 2019. She had not been a career diplomat and her candidacy was reportedly suggested by President Salome Zurabishvili. Katukia holds double, Franco-Georgian citizenship and worked as editor-in-chief of the French magazine Diplomatie before her appointment to Paris.
“Deep-rooted clientelist practices”
Announcing her departure through a Facebook post on July 1, Ambassador Katukia thanked President Salome Zurabishvili for the nomination and stressed her goal throughout the mandate “was to protect the interests of Georgia to the maximum, without political bias, and to bring our country closer to France and the EU.”
She stressed, however, that “from the very first day [of the appointment], I became witness to a number of serious violations and structural malfunctions in the Embassy which significantly harms the interests and image of Georgia in France.”
She complained of “constant abuse, slander, pressure, harassment, and threats, which originate from the deep-rooted clan and clientelist practices in the [Foreign Ministry’s] system, that contradict the values and aspirations that I hold towards Georgia”.
Katukia reiterated she continued to “defend Georgia’s European future with decision makers in France” throughout her mandate, complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and acknowledged the weight of the mission at this crucial stage when Georgia is trying to realize its European aspirations.
Criticism towards government
“Today our nation’s European future and its democratic development depend solely on the political choice of the Georgian government,” Amb. Katukia underscored. “In this crucial context, significant staffing and structural problems, as I myself have witnessed and which Georgia’s diplomatic service faces, prevent the country from pursuing an effective foreign policy in response to the challenges facing us.”
The resignation comes in the context of growing dissent between the government and President Zurabishvili, who blamed the government for compromising the country’s European ambitions, and as the public pressure mounts on the government to resign.
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Despite leaving her post, Katukia concluded “I will continue to care for the political and democratic development of the country and spare no effort to make Georgia’s move towards the EU and, in general, towards democratic, progressive, and tolerant values irreversible.”
Foreign Ministry retorts
The Ministry expressed surprise at Katukia’s “slanderous accusations” and said the Ministry was dissatisfied with her performance. “The Ambassador resigned following [our] preliminary consultation with her, in which it was explained to Ms. Tea Katukia that the agency was not satisfied with her performance during her tenure as Ambassador to France,” the statement reads.
“Unfortunately, she failed to ensure the proper fulfillment of the rights and duties assigned to her and the protection of Georgian interests in this most important, European country,” it said.
The Ministry emphasized Georgia’s move into an important stage of its European integration “requires the appointment of a highly qualified and experienced diplomat to this leadership position in the embassy.”