PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said that it was not clear for him what former deputy foreign minister Nikoloz Vashakidze meant when citing disagreement with new government’s foreign policy course as a reason behind his resignation.
“What does he disagree with? Our course is towards Europe and Euro-Atlantic space and what does he disagree with? Does he disagree on this European course or maybe with NATO course?” PM Ivanishvili told Georgian journalists on January 23 in Davos where he attends the World Economic Forum.
Ivanishvili said that Vashakidze filed for resignation “probably after he sensed my attitude towards him.”
The PM said that while preparing for the visit to Armenia last week he met twice with Vashakidze, who was briefing him on the Foreign Ministry’s position over various issues that were expected to be discussed during the visit. Ivanishvili said that among the topics over which he was briefed by Vashakidze there was no mentioning of “such an acute” issues like Georgia-Russian railway via Abkhazia, which in case of reopening will also link Armenia with Russia.
“When I asked him what his position on this issue was, he responded that he was not ready for it. I was leaving for Armenia next day and I asked him when he would have been ready… He responded that he would have been ready in a week. I thought he was joking,” PM Ivanishvili said.
“So he saw my reaction that it was unserious response and maybe he was upset about me, but he gave me very unserious answer on a very serious question. So maybe he means it when saying that there is no concurrence of opinions,” Ivanishvili added.
Vashakidze, who quit deputy foreign minister’s post earlier this week, said on January 22 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.
Vashakidze, who was deputy foreign minister during the previous government as well, said that he accepted offer from the new government to remain on the post because of Georgian Dream’s declared pro-western foreign policy course; he, however, said that since then he became disillusioned even before PM’s remarks in Armenia. He said that during one recent meeting with PM Ivanishvili 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 issue in question citing “sensitivity of the issue.”
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.