Alexander Kvitashvili, who served as healthcare minister for two years in Georgia, will now take the same role in the Ukrainian government as the Parliament in Ukraine confirmed new cabinet members on December 2.
Several hours before the confirmation of the ministers, President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, granted on December 2 Ukrainian citizenship to Kvitashvili, who was healthcare minister in Georgia in 2008-2010; he then served as rector of the Tbilisi State University till June, 2013.
Poroshenko said on December 2, when commenting on inviting foreign nationals in the government, that difficult challenges facing Ukraine, among them the need for drastic reforms and fight against corruption, require extraordinary solutions.
Two other foreign nationals, who have been granted Ukrainian citizenship to take posts in the new government are US citizen Natalia Jaresko, who became finance minister, and Lithuanian investment banker Aivaras Abromavicius, who was appointed as economy minister.
“I’ve been working on reforms in Ukraine for last three months, but my love for this country has much longer history,” Kvitashvili said on December 2 while being granted Ukrainian citizenship.
“I accepted proposal to work in the Ukrainian government because of my deep respect towards Ukraine. I am proud to be a citizen of this great nation, which has a great future,” Kvitashvili said.
Another Georgian ex-official who may also take a post in the Ukrainian government is Eka Zguladze, who was deputy interior minister in Georgia in 2006-2012. According to the Ukrainian media outlets, Zguladze was nominated by President Poroshenko’s political bloc as Ukraine’s deputy interior minister.
When consultations about forming the new government were still ongoing among Ukrainian politicians, reports emerged last week about possible nomination of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and Georgia’s ex-justice minister Zurab Adeishvili for government posts in Ukraine – both are facing criminal charges in Georgia and are wanted by the Georgian authorities.
Speaking from Kiev on December 1, Saakashvili told Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV that although he had been offered the post of vice-premier in Ukraine, he had to decline it; Saakashvili said that in case of accepting the post he had to take Ukrainian citizenship, automatically leading to losing the Georgian citizenship – something, he said, he did not want.
Officials in Tbilisi warned that appointing those Georgian ex-officials in the Ukrainian government, who are facing criminal charges in Georgia, would have had negative consequences on the bilateral relations.
“The Foreign Ministry has an instruction to intensify good neighborly relations with Ukraine and efforts are underway to prepare Georgian Prime Minister’s visit to Ukraine… If Georgian former officials, who are facing charges over grave crimes in Georgia, are appointed, it won’t be positive for these efforts,” a newly appointed spokesman for the Georgian Foreign Minister, Davit Kereselidze, said on December 1.
Georgia’s Energy Minister and deputy PM, Kakha Kaladze, said on December 2 that appointing Saakashvili or Adeishvili in the Ukrainian government “will be painful of us, because we consider Ukraine as our friendly country and it would be a bit awkward, and unimaginable, to see those people in the Ukrainian government, who are now wanted in Georgia.”
State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Paata Zakareishvili, said on December 2 that it was highly unlikely for Ukraine to appoint those Georgian ex-officials on political posts in Ukraine, who are facing criminal charges in Georgia.
“As far as those ex-officials are concerned, who are not facing any criminal charges in Georgia, of course it is up to Ukraine, they have their views about it. But I would be surprised by appointing on Ukrainian government posts of those politicians, who have actually failed reforms in Georgia and brought the state to the verge of collapse and the people had to vote them out of office,” Zakareishvili said.