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Ex-Ambassador wants to testify

By Temuri Kiguradze
Tuesday, November 4
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, former Georgian Ambassador to Russia, has demanded to be questioned by the Temporary Parliamentary Commission on the investigation of the August conflict.

“I demand to be invited to, and heard at, a session of the Commission. I am the person who most actively participated in the process that preceded the conflict of July-August,” said Kitsmarishvili. “I know all the things which explain why we didn’t manage to avoid a large-scale confrontation,” he said in his interview to Georgian weekly Kviris Palitra.

The Temporary Parliamentary Commission, headed by MP Paata Davitaia, has already questioned several high-ranking Georgian figures including the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Zaza Gogava, the Secretary of the National Security Council, Alexandre Lomaia, the State Minister for Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili and Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili. In her own testimony, Eka Tkeshelashvili said that Erosi Kitsmarishvili “misunderstood his role and task,” whilst serving as an Ambassador. “I worked with our Ambassador to Russia for a short period of time. I got the impression that he was new to that country, not well oriented and had no local political channels there. For us he was not a serious diplomatic source,” said Tkeshelashvili.

Kitsmarishvili was once the owner of the most popular Georgian TV station, Rustavi 2, playing the decisive role in the Rose Revolution. He was a close ally of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili until September, when he made a statement accusing the Government of not taking the proper steps to avoid the conflict. “I, as the last Georgian Ambassador to Russia, would like to stress that the Georgian authorities did not take into account the position of top diplomats regarding conflict resolution issues,” Kitsmarishvili said in September. “Hence, I, who stood beside the authorities despite numerous disagreements, wish to announce that there is no way for me to stay within the Saakashvili Government… I distance myself from him [President Saakashvili],” he added. Kitsmarishvili was recalled in July 2008, after the Russian Federation admitted the violation of Georgian airspace.

Commenting on the recall of the Ambassador and his subsequent statements, the Georgian Foreign Minister had said that Georgia’s decision was “very appropriate, but some of his remarks made afterwards were inappropriate. He said that he was sorry that we [the Georgian side] had failed to convince the Russian side about the sincerity of our peace intentions.” Replying to these accusations Kitsmarishvili says, “According to her [Tkeshelashvili] I was a newly-appointed Ambassador and didn’t manage to establish proper contacts with Russia. I categorically don’t agree with that, because even foreign diplomats know the amount of work I did in May-June [2008]. Many very important visits were conducted from Georgia to Moscow and back during that time…as a results of this labour I found there was the chance to find a real possibility to avoid the military confrontation. I know what kind of position the Embassies of the USA and European countries had after the aggressive demarche concerning the recall of the Ambassador.”

The hearings of the Parliamentary Commission will be resumed on November 8. Kitsmarishvili says, “If the Commission is not interested in my position, it means it was set up just for show.” MP Levan Vephkhvadze, a member of the Commission, says that it is not excluded that Kitsmarishvili will be questioned. “I have already heard Kitsmarishvili’s statements. They were interesting, but there was nothing extraordinary in them. If he has such a strong desire to testify before the Commission we may allow this. As soon as Paata Davitaia comes back to Tbilisi I personally will propose that he invites Kitsmarishvili,” said Vephkhvadze, talking to The Messenger.