Nikoloz Vashakidze, who quit deputy foreign minister’s post, said that he resigned because of “serious question marks” over new government’s foreign policy.
“Serious question marks over the foreign policy were triggered by [PM Ivanishvili’s] remarks made in Yerevan,” Vashakidze said and stressed on two aspects of Ivanishvili’s comments – the one in which he said that Georgia’s foreign policy course would not change in “near future” and another one in which he said that Armenia was a good example of how it was possible to have good relations with Russia and NATO simultaneously.
Speaking at public TV’s political talk show Accents late on January 22, Vashakidze said that to suggest that there would be no change in “near future” actually implied that there might be change at some point in the future. He also said that naming Armenia, which does not aspire NATO membership, as a model for Georgia required serious explanations.
“I think that the PM himself should make a clear explanation about those remarks he made in Armenia,” Vashakidze said, adding that he will be “very glad” if his resignation serves as a catalyst “to clarifying our foreign policy.”
He said speculation that his resignation was prior agreed with President Saakashvili and his UNM party in the context of the latter’s allegations that the new government was shifting Georgia’s pro-western foreign policy towards Russia, was groundless. Vashakidze said that he was not even UNM supporters and had critical opinions over many of UNM’s domestic policy issues.
Vashakidze, who joined the Foreign Ministry in 1996, worked on number of senior posts in recent years including in the National Security Council and Ministry of Defense before becoming first deputy foreign minister in 2010. He retained one of the deputy minister’s posts after the new government came into office following the October 2012 parliamentary elections and became Georgia’s chief negotiator in Geneva talks.
Vashakidze said that he accepted offer from the new government to remain on deputy foreign minister’s post because of Georgian Dream’s declared pro-western foreign policy course; he, however, also said that since then he became disillusioned even before PM’s remarks in Armenia. He said that during one meeting with PM Ivanishvili recently to discuss an issue, which was agreed with Foreign Ministry leadership, the PM rejected the issue citing that it was not in line with his policy priorities. Vashakidze declined to specify the topic in question citing “sensitivity of the issue.”
First Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani told Maestro TV on January 22, that Vashakidze’s decision to resign was a surprise for him.
“We have not heard any complaints from him over foreign policy course and it was a surprise to certain extent,” Zalkaliani said.
Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili told Rustavi 2 TV’s political talk-show Position late on January 22 that as far as he knew reason behind Vashakidze’s resignation was not the one cited by former deputy minister himself, but was something else; Usupashvili refused to specify.