PM Irakli Garibashvili said that he had to delay his visit to Kiev because of being too preoccupied with domestic affairs and not because of being “unhappy” about Ukrainian leadership’s decision to appoint several former senior Georgian officials on government posts.
“Ukraine is our friendly state and I am very concerned about what is happening there,” he said at a news conference on March 26 when asked if he was going to pay visit to Ukraine; Garibashvili said in December that preparations were underway for his visit to Kiev.
“As far as my visit to Ukraine is concerned, at this stage I am preoccupied with domestic affairs and I maximally try to avoid foreign visits if there is no urgent need,” the Georgian PM said.
He noted that both of the Georgian deputy prime ministers – Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the economy minister and Kakha Kaladze, the energy minister, visited Ukraine in January. “Regrettably, neither [Ukrainian] president nor the prime minister had free [time] and the meeting was not held with them,” Garibashvili said.
He also noted the visit of President Giorgi Margvelashvili to Ukraine in February when he participated in March of Dignity, commemorating the victims of clashes between protesters and police in Kiev a year ago.
“We will do everything to support Ukrainians and the Ukrainian government. I know that they need reforms in justice ministry, finance ministry, police. I offered them assistance. I phoned President Poroshenko for several times, as well as Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, and told them to name any area where you need our help – I am ready to send ten, twenty, thirty people for a long-term mission and provide assistance on the ground. At this point we have no formal request from them for such assistance.”
In February President Poroshenko appointed Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is wanted by the Georgian law enforcement agencies, as his adviser and head of the International Advisory Council on Reforms. Saakashvili’s close ally, former Georgian MP from UNM party Davit Sakvarelidze was appointed as Deputy General Prosecutor of Ukraine in February, joining several other former Georgian officials who took senior government posts in Ukraine, among them Eka Zguladze, who is Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister; Gia Getsadze, who is Ukraine’s Deputy Justice Minister, and Alexander Kvitashvili, who is Ukraine’s Healthcare Minister.
“We are not delighted and happy that Saakashvili and others have some kind of status, even though informal, in Ukraine – I would say Saakashvili is an informal adviser, but it’s not pleasant for us and I told President [Poroshenko] about it. But it is their [Ukraine’s] choice and they need it in the existing situation,” PM Garibashvili said.
“But the reason behind postponing visit is not the fact that several former senior officials have been appointed in the Ukrainian government – I don’t’ really think about them, I think about the Ukrainian people… There is a very difficult situation in Ukraine and that’s what we should be thinking about and not about what Saakashvili is doing in Ukraine. We all know what he is doing there – the same things he was doing in Georgia,” Garibashvili said.