mikheil saakashvili - bill clinton 2013-05-18

President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, and former US President Bill Clinton meeting recently. (Photo published on Saakashvili’s Facebook page.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The foreign ministry and the president’s administration in Georgia are embroiled in a quarrel over who is to blame for the bad coordination of foreign visits.

The ministry accuses the president’s administration of not coordinating visits abroad, while the president administration accuses the ministry of putting out incorrect information.

On Monday, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Davit Zalkaliani said at a routine briefing that President Mikheil Saakashvili barred Archil Gegeshidze, Georgia’s Ambassador to the US, from attending his meetings during a visit to the US.

He also said that Gegeshidze proposed to attend the meetings, but the president said he didn’t need the embassy to participate in his meetings.

The president’s administration immediately responded by calling this statement ‘shameful.’

“It would have been better for the deputy minister to review the facts and then make strong statements,” the administration wrote.

It further claimed that Gegeshidze’s deputy, Mikheil Darchiashvili, attended the meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, and that Archil Gegeshidze wasn’t even in the US. The president’s visit took place April 24-May 2.

“It is shameful when instead of actively supporting the president in successfully carrying out visits abroad, the foreign affairs ministry is passive and also tries to mislead society and blames its own inconsistency on the president’s administration.”

Even though the government does not agree with the statement of the president’s administration, they expressed readiness to participate in the president’s future visits.

The two main power blocs in Georgian politics, Prime Minister Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream and Saakashvili’s National Movement, have for the last seven months been sparring over who is entitled to represent the country abroad, each offering different accounts of current and historic events.

The disagreement comes against the background of a bumpy power-sharing process which will continue until the new constitution comes into power next year and shifts power almost entirely to the parliament.

Saakashvili has several times used his right to veto laws passed by Georgian Dream, but the coalition controls enough of a majority to force the laws through by overturning his vetoes, which happened last when a bill about common courts recently came into force.

The level of disagreement is still less than it was before the parliamentary election in October, 2012, when the Georgian Dream coalition was promising to not only clean up in the previous regime’s crimes but also to impeach Saakashvili.

After the coalition assumed government power and started prosecuting former officials, cooperation broke down between the two blocs. Then a model of power-sharing was introduced called ‘cohabitation’ largely due to outside pressure to adhere to a process of post Soviet transition meant to steer the country towards a more mature democracy.