Nine ambassadorial nominations, among them candidates for diplomatic posts in Washington, Paris, Brussels and Rome, were confirmed by the Parliament on February 20.
New ambassadorial nominations were made by President Saakashvili, as required by the law, but the candidates were actually selected by the new government led by PM Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Foreign policy analyst Archil Gegeshidze has been confirmed with 82 votes as Georgia’s ambassador to the United States.
Gegeshidze is a senior fellow at the Tbilisi-based think-tank Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS). In 1990s he served as head of the foreign policy analysis department at the president’s office and was President Shevardnadze’s senior foreign policy advisor. Gegeshidze holds a diplomatic rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary; he, however, has never served in any diplomatic posts.
Before joining GFSIS, Gegeshidze was a Fulbright scholar at the Stanford University. Gegeshidze is replacing on the post of ambassador in Washington Temur Yakobashvili, who before joining President Saakashvili’s government in early 2008, served as an executive vice-president of GFSIS.
Natalie Sabanadze has been confirmed with 96 votes as Georgia ambassador to Belgium and the European Union. Sabanadze has been a senior political advisor to the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities since 2005.
Ekaterine Siradze-Delaunay has been confirmed with 85 votes as ambassador to France; a graduate of University of Paris I, Pantheon-Sorbonne, Siradze-Delaunay, a newcomer in diplomatic and government service, was an executive director of a Tbilisi-based election watchdog International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) in 2007-2011.
Zaza Kandelaki, who was Georgia’s deputy foreign minister in 2003-2004 and then served as ambassador to Poland in 2004-2005, has been confirmed by the Parliament with 94 votes as ambassador to Hungary.
Teimuraz Janjalia, who is head of the department for international economic, cultural and humanitarian relations at the Foreign Ministry, has been confirmed with 94 votes as ambassador to Latvia; he was chargé d'affaires at the Georgian embassy in Latvia in 2006.
Konstantine Zaldastanishvili, who was Georgia’s ambassador to Brussels in 2000-2005, has been confirmed with 95 votes as ambassador to Austria and permanent representative to OSCE and other Vienna-based international organizations. Zaldastanishvili has been secretary general of Brussels-based EU-Georgia Business Council since 2005.
Zaal Gogsadze, who served as Georgia’s ambassador to Italy in 2004-2008, has been confirmed with 87 votes as ambassador to the Czech Republic; in the October elections Gogsadze ran as Georgian Dream’s majoritarian MP candidate in single-mandate constituency of Terjola, but lost the race to UNM candidate.
Kakha Sikharulidze, who was Georgia’s deputy foreign minister in 2002-2005 and ambassador to the Czech Republic in 2006-2007, has been confirmed with 92 votes as ambassador to Italy. Sikharulidze has been head of international news at PM Ivanishvili-funded Channel 9 TV station since July, 2012.
Mikheil Ukleba, who was first deputy foreign minister in 1990s and minister for privatization in 1998-2001, has been confirmed with 93 votes as ambassador to Ukraine. Ukleba was ambassador to China in 2005-2008 and ambassador to Bulgaria in 2008-2012.
Few hours before the new ambassadors were confirmed by the Parliament, Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze praised ambassadorial nominations as “high level professionals” and added that the Foreign Ministry’s decision to replace some of the ambassadors was “right.” She also said that she was not satisfied with the work of those ambassadors who had been recalled; she said without specifying that some of them were not following instructions received from the Foreign Ministry.