TBILISI, DFWatch–President Mikheil Saakashvili has postponed for a month the signing of a document passed by parliament about confirming the country’s new ambassadors.
Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze claims in an interview with DF Watch that the president is dragging the process out on purpose, and she fears that the country may have problems because of it.
Appointing new ambassadors is one of the issues which has required a cooperation between the two main power blocs in Georgian politics, but is still an unsolved problem between the president’s party and government officials. When it came into power, one of the complaints of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition was that ambassadors were not representing the country as such, but rather the interests of the United National Movement, Saakashvili’s party.
After the change of government, a few ambassadors resigned, including the ambassador to the US. Some of the ambassadors were finished with their tour of duty.
Under Georgian law, the president presents parliament with candidates for ambassadors after agreeing with the foreign minister. When parliament makes a decision, it is enforced after the president signs it.
Panjikidze explains that the foreign ministry presented 19 candidates for ambassador to the president, but he only presented nine out of those to parliament. The president’s administration did not explain why Saaksahvili did this.
Parliament February 20 confirmed those nine ambassadors, including the ambassador to the US and the representative to the EU. The UNM also supported the nine candidates. Now, one month has gone by without the president signing the decision, which means that parliament’s decision is still not in force.
Representatives of the president’s administration told DF Watch that the president has much work to do, but it is not known why hs has not signed this document.
Georgian law doesn’t define any specific time limit for when the president must sign a document in this specific case.
“If he signs it even today, the procedure which the ambassador candidate must go through needs so much time that, in fact, we won’t be able to send new ambassadors until summer,” the foreign minister explains.
She fears that the country might experience some problems because of this. She points out that EU’s Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius is getting closer and there is an ongoing process to agree on the text of an association agreement with the EU.
“This is related to the success of our country’s foreign policy, including towards the EU, NATO and ending the occupation – all these things require a strong diplomatic corps, while the president and his team create artificial barriers so that the diplomatic corps doesn’t work well. This, I think, is anti-state action,” she added.