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Ex-UN envoy enters politics

By Temuri Kiguradze
Thursday, December 25
Irakli Alasania, Former Georgian envoy to the UN, has announced that he is beginning “consultations” with Georgian political parties.

Speaking in Tbilisi on December 24, Alasania stated the country needs “fundamental changes.” “The most important thing is to consolidate all the healthy political forces,” he said at a press conference. However Alasania denied the possibility of founding his own political party. “There are more than enough parties in Georgia,” he stated. He underlined that he considers snap elections should be held in Georgia “as soon as possible,” however “society and legislation should be prepared for them.”

The former UN envoy accused Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of being incapable of avoiding the August conflict, which he evaluated as a “tragedy.” “There were ways to avoid the war with Russia. The drawing of Georgia into this prevocational war is the responsibility of the President,” he stated, adding that the conflict was a “provocation set up by the representatives of Russian special and security services,” but that there had still been possibilities to avoid it by organising direct dialogue between all the interested parties. “Only direct and peaceful dialogue with Abkhazian and South Ossetian society can restore the territorial integrity of the country.”

Irakli Alasania is known for his active involvement in the restoration of relations with Abkhazia. In May 2008 he travelled to Sukhumi to meet the separatist leadership, being the first Georgian to meet the de facto Government in an official capacity for two years. The Georgian media suggested that Alasania had proposed a plan for the peaceful resolution of the conflict to Sukhumi, and that for unknown reasons this plan was rejected. Alasania refused to go into detail about this visit even when speaking on December 24. Alasania was a respected negotiator in Sukhumi; in June 2006 he was sidelined from talks with the Abkhaz after President Saakashvili appointed him as Georgia’s envoy to the UN – a move which was criticized by a number of political experts and opposition politicians. Sergey Shamba, the so called Foreign Minister of the breakaway region, has said several times that Alasania is “a very constructive person” with whom it was possible to hold negotiations.

Alasania explained why he left his position as UN envoy on December 5. “The disagreements with the Government on principles and our differing ideas about how to get the country out of its crisis became clear to me. This crisis was caused by individualistic and chaotic decision making. I often provided my critiques of policy to the President [Saakashvili]. Unfortunately they were not taken into consideration,” he stated. The ex-envoy added that after his resignation representatives of the Government offered him different Government posts, but he refused all their proposals. “I refused them because I didn’t see that they had the will to correct their mistakes and change the philosophy of state management, and what’s more important, I didn’t see any plan for the strategic development of the country,” he said.

Speaking about the possibility of the return of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Georgian jurisdiction, Irakli Alasania noted that “the chance still exists,” however it has become much more difficult after the mistakes the Government made in August. “We should change our philosophy of state governance; we should create strong, democratic, transparent state institutions and a competitive business environment,” Alasania said, reading a written statement. “These changes would be an expression of the Georgian people’s will and will be peaceful, not going beyond the constitutional framework. “

On foreign policy, Alasania said that “Georgia’s future lies in integration with European security systems,” however he added that under the “existing dangers” the new reality requires Georgia to take some “principled diplomatic steps” to restore relations with Russia.