TBILISI, DFWatch–Former President Mikheil Saakashvili says he doesn’t need Georgian citizenship in order to make a comeback in his home country.
Former President Eduard Shevardnadze didn’t have citizenship when he came to power in 1993; neither did Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2012, he pointed out.
Sunday, Saakashvili was criticized by his predecessor for his decision to give up his Georgian citizenship in order to become a regional governor in Ukraine.
Current President Giorgi Margvelashvili said the decision was ‘incomprehensible behavior’.
Margvelashvili said this during a celebration of Police Day in Kutaisi, Georgia’s second largest city.
“I want to express a negative attitude to this. A former president shouldn’t give up [his] Georgian citizenship. This way he insulted the country and the office of president. I think values are more important than career and those values include Georgian citizenship. I cannot understand his behavior,” he said.
Saakashvili responded in an interview with Imedi TV, by saying that ‘citizenship never has been a barrier for anyone.’
He continued saying that if the president of Georgia decides to deprive his citizenship it won’t be a ‘drastic factor’ because people make such decisions. Besides, he is confident that people will abolish the criminal cases against him, ‘as soon as he returns to Georgia.’
“Eduard Shevardnadze wasn’t a citizen of Georgia when he arrived and became leader of Georgia, Ivanishvili wasn’t a citizen of Georgia when he was running round, holding election campaign and became leader of Georgia,’ he said.
Saakashvili continued saying that right now being a citizen of Georgia means for him means ‘sitting in Matrosov Prison’ with his friends and it was necessary to ‘avoid it’.
“I cannot come back to Georgia whether I am citizen or not. It doesn’t change anything.”
President Poroshenko granted Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship so he could be appointed as governor of Odessa, a position which requires being citizen of the country. The decree was published on Saturday.
Georgian legislation says one’s citizenship is automatically revoked if one receives citizenship of another country.