TBILISI, DFWatch — Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili Friday evening signaled that he largely agrees with the Ivanishvili government over what to do with the ambassadors.
In a statement, Saakashvili’s press office writes that the president has decided to call back full and special ambassadors from ‘a whole number of countries’.
In his short statement, the president agrees with the government about dismissing several ambassadors and appoint one candidate proposed by the new government.
The statement does not reveal what his exact position is in the row, and does not specify names and countries, but Mr Saakashvili writes that he has had consultations with the government. This likely refers to a list of names sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Georgia’s National Security Council, recommending which ambassadors should be let go after their current tour of duty ends and which have asked to be let go.
The president informs that those diplomats who want to resign, but cannot until the president confirms their resignation, and those whose current term is ending, will also leave.
Saakashvili also presented a candidate for the post of Ambassador to France. A candidate has been proposed by the government, but the president’s administration didn’t specify whether this is the same person. There are several names being mentioned in Tbilisi as to who will be the next ambassador to France.
A debate broke out after the surprise victory of the Georgian Dream coalition in the October 1, 2012 parliamentary election, about whether to replace the ambassadors who have been appointed by Saakashvili. The issue came to the fore because although largely agreeing about Georgia’s foreign policy direction, Saakashvili and Prime Minister Ivanishvili have been at odds over who should represent the country on the international stage. Both leaders visited Brussels the same week telling European leaders different versions of a series of cases against former officials. Another contentious issue is Ivanishvili’s effort to mend ties with Moscow.
Under Georgian law, only the president has the power to appoint or call back ambassadors. The Ivanishvili government said it was in negotiations with President Saakashvili about letting some of the jailed former associates of the president be treated leniently in return for not replacing some of the ambassadors loyal to the president. This week it became known that up to 18 ambassadors may be replaced, or let go after their tour of duty ends. The government says only five of them are actually dismissed, the rest will be phased out at the end of their term.