TBILISI, DFWatch — The Georgian government is in negotiations with President Saakashvili’s associates about releasing detained officials against replacing ambassadors appointed while he held government power.
The unusual high level “prisoner exchange” has become increasingly clear as several ambassador who have handed in their resignation, are still going to work as usual, awaiting further instructions from Tbilisi.
After getting into government, Georgian Dream asked the president to replace several ambassadors, arguing that they are politically biased and unsuited to represent the country’s interests.
Several ambassadors handed in their resignation, including Temur Iakobashivli, Georgia’s Ambassador to the US, Kote Gabashvili, Ambassador to Italy and Kakha Lomaia, Ambassador to the UN. Of these, only Gabashvili has so far been relieved from duty, Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze says.
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Saturday that the government has been requested to release several persons from prison in return for confirming new ambassadors.
Panjikidze shed further light on the issue Monday saying that there were talks that cohabitation will mean certain concessions from both sides.
The minister explained that the government has sent a list of ambassadors it wants removed to Giga Bokeria, Secretary of the Security Council, whom she met in the beginning of November. The list also includes names of people who themselves don’t want to cooperate with the new government.
“There was no reaction from the Georgian president on this issue. Before leaving for Washington, I appealed to president saying that the list is transferred to Mr. Bokeria and we expect specific actions, but no actions have been implemented yet,” she said.
The foreign minister didn’t specify which countries the new government would like to change ambassadors to.
Although the president appoints ambassadors, he needs to have them approved by parliament. In case of suspending an ambassador, the parliament can do that itself, without the agreement of the president. The new government controls an absolute majority in parliament.
The National Movement party, which is in minority in parliament, denies that there are negotiations over releaving ambassadors in exchange for releasing former officials from jail.