The Foreign Ministry wants to replace at least nine of Georgia’s ambassadors abroad accusing them of pursuing narrow party interests of President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM).
Only the President has the right to dismiss an ambassador upon a recommendation from Foreign Minister.
“There is a list of about ten ambassadors, whom we deem appropriate to be replaced,” Maia Panjikidze, the Georgian Foreign Minister, said on January 4.
She did not specify which ambassadors were included in the list, but said that these were diplomats in “important” countries. Panjikidze said that embassies in those countries should be staffed by diplomats “who will properly pursue policies of the new government”. She also said that ambassadors in these countries were “in service of the National Movement’s partisan interests.”
Few months before the October 1 parliamentary elections, Tbilisi-based watchdog group Transparency International Georgia released emails sent out by the Georgian embassy in Washington to U.S.-based Georgia watchers and analysts in which, the watchdog group said, a Georgian diplomat was trying to “discredit” then opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili and his opposition Georgian Dream coalition. Then leadership of the Foreign Ministry denied the allegations.
Georgia’s ambassador to the U.S. Temur Yakobashvili announced about intention to step down in early November. Georgia’s ambassador to Italy Kote Gabashvili, father of a senior UNM lawmaker Giorgi Gabashvili also stepped down and Georgia’s UN ambassador Alexander Lomaia also announced after the parliamentary elections about the intention to quit.
Foreign Minister Panjikidze said that resignations of Yakobashvili and Gabashvili were accepted, while Lomaia’s term in office was anyway expiring in late February, 2013.
Panjikidze also said on January 4, that there were several ambassadors, who would be replaced as part of a routine diplomatic rotation.
Among them she named ambassador to Austria and OSCE Paata Gaprindashvili, who was confirmed on the post by the Parliament in March 2009; ambassador to Latvia Konstantine Korkelia, who was confirmed on the post in October 2007; as well as ambassador to the Czech Republic Nino Nakashidze and ambassador to Hungary Zviad Chumburidze, both confirmed on the post by the Parliament upon President’s nomination in December 2008.
Georgia has diplomatic missions in about 57 locations around the globe, plus permanent representatives to number of international organizations.
“All the carrier diplomats will remain on their posts, unless their term in office expires,” Panjikidze said.
Since becoming Foreign Minister, after the new government led by PM Ivanishvili took office in late October, Maia Panjikidze has said for number of times that she submitted list of ambassadors to the President she wanted to be replaced in November; she has also complained for number of time that the President was dragging out the process.