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Dramatic resignation

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Monday, December 8
Georgian Ambassador to the United Nations Irakli Alasania officially confirmed his resignation to Georgian TV channels on December 5, although he avoided making detailed comments. He said he will announce his future plans soon after returning to Tbilisi. “I will speak in detail about the motives behind my resignation and my future plans when I arrive back in Tbilisi in the near future,” Alasania told Kavkasia.

Alasania’s resignation was announced shortly after the Cabinet reshuffle undertaken by newly appointed PM Grigol Mgaloblishvili on December 5. It has been discovered however that he spoke to former Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili about it a day before, on December 4, to gauge her reaction and ask her to mediate with President Saakashvili. Alasania added that his intention to resign was known to Saakashvili. "I informed the President of my intention to resign two months ago and recently submitted my resignation formally," Alasania told the Georgian TV channel.

Speaking with Kommersant radio Alasania said that he had made this decision much earlier but had not mentioned it then due to the tense situation in the country. “The Georgian Ambassador to the UN Security Council should be the defender of the country’s interests, and the NATO Ministerial was due to occur. I did not want my decision to have any negative influence on our performance,” Alasania said, adding that the decision was not easy for him.

There is unconfirmed speculation that Alasania has been in consultation with two leading opposition parties, New Rights and Republicans, who are planning to merge this week. Alasania neither confirms nor denies this. “I know both parties…but this does not mean I have undertaken political consultations with them,” he said. The Republicans and New Rights have not made any official statement about this supposed cooperation with the former Ambassador but they do not deny their positive attitute towards him.

Member of New Rights Manana Nachkebia, speaking to The Messenger, said that the quick Cabinet reshuffle carried out on Friday was a response to Alasania’s decision to resign. She thinks that the Government wanted to bury this news by making some changes in the Cabinet. Nachkebia says these doubts were confirmed when Grigol Vashadze, who was appointed the new Foreign Minister, stated that all his deputies as well as all Ambassadors should file reignations. Nachkebia says that this is the first time a newly-appointed Foreign Minister has openly made such a decision.

Nachkebia is sure that if Alasania decides to start an active political carrer after returning to Tbilisi he will join the New Rights and Republicans, who are due to announce their merger today. She says Alasania’s step was quite adequate and the right one. “It was clear that Alasania did not agree with all the decisions Saakashvili and his Government made. He had good relations with the Abkhaz leadership and wanted to resume direct dialogue and negotiations with them, something not discussed by the Georgian authorities. If anyone realized that Georgia should have direct dialogues with the Abkhazians it was Alasania,” Nachkebia said.

The fact that Alasania has a good relationship with Abkhaz separatists is known. When he was appointed the President’s aide for Abkhaz conflict issues in March, 2006 the news was well received by the Abkhaz side. “We have very positive impressions [of Alasania]… He is a person with whom it is possible to speak,” Foreign Minister of de facto Abkhazia Sergey Shamba said then.

34-year-old Alasania is one of the most popular figures in Georgia and seriously considered as a possible Presidential candidate. He enjoys support in domestic political circles. He had been Georgia’s Ambassador to the United Nations since September 11, 2006, and his previous assignments included Chairman of the Government of Abkhazia(-in-exile). Alasania was the only Presidential envoy for conflict resolution who managed to gain the trust of the de facto Government of Abkhazia. His father was General Mamia Alasania, who was killed together with other Georgian politicians upon the fall of Sukhumi to the Abkhaz separatist forces on September 27, 1993.

Alasania has a spouse and two children. Most interestingly, he will be 35 on December 21, a birthday he shares with President Saakashvili, who became 35 in the year of the Rose Revolution, thus becoming eligible for the Presidency under the Georgian constitution.