TBILISI, DFWatch–Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has given up his citizenship of his own country in order to assume the post as governor of Odessa in Ukraine.
The former president was appointed head of a reform council in Ukraine earlier this year. As soon as it became known that he was also appointed governor of Odessa, questions were raised about his citizenship, because it is necessary to be a citizen of Ukraine to hold this post. Becoming a citizen of Ukraine means automatic suspension of one’s Georgian citizenship.
Saakashvili earlier refused to give up his Georgian citizenship. A few months ago, he declined a high post in the Ukrainian government, because he didn’t want to give up his the citizenship of his native country.
Under Ukrainian law, Ukrainian citizenship is a condition for public service on a higher level. Under Georgian law, if a person obtains citizenship in another country, the Georgian citizenship is automatically revoked. But it is possible to have dual citizenship, after permission from the president, who decides each case on an individual basis.
“Publishing the president’s decree about granting Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship automatically revokes his Georgian citizenship. In other words, Saakashvili is not a Georgian citizen anymore,” lawyer Levan Alapishvili explained to DF Watch.
He says that in order to receive dual citizenship it is necessary for Saakashvili to apply to the president and then Margvelashvili has to make a decision. But this requires appropriate documentation, and recommendations from the Justice Ministry and Interior Ministry.
Representatives of the President’s Administration told us they have not received any application in Saakashvili’s name yet.
Members of his party have not commented yet regarding whether Saakashvili will apply to Margvelashvili for dual citizenship.
Another issue related to Saakashvili’s citizenship is him being a leader of the National Movement. Today he is UNM leader, but under Georgian law, a foreign citizen cannot be leader of a political party in Georgia.
But spokespersons for the National Movement say that it is too early to tell whether Saakashvili will leave the position as party leader; this depends on what the government will do.
Giorgi Vashadze from the National Movement told journalists that the party will not comment until after the government has made a decision about Saakashvili’s dual citizenship, but he didn’t specify if the ex-president plans to submit an application for dual citizenship.
Spokespersons for the ruling coalition say that if Saakashvili decides to get dual citizenship, this will be ‘an irresponsible and insulting decision.’