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Welcome home, Mr. President

By Messenger Staff
Friday, May 14
Recently President Saakashvili was out of the country for quite a time, though he returned yesterday. His official spokespersons either does not tell us where he was or said they did not know. Therefore the media and opposition relied entirely on rumours, though this is something of a tradition in Georgia.

In April Mikheil Saakashvili was in the USA for around three weeks, though he made a one day trip to Poland and back from there. Having gone there for the nuclear summit he stayed for an unusually long period of time for a Head of State. Much confusion followed the postponement of his scheduled visit to Romania. Saakashvili came back on approximately May 3 and on May 6 he attended the Police Day celebration and then left for Adjara where he opened a clothes factory and a hospital and unveiled a monument to Shota Rustaveli. However the same day he left again, for The Vatican. On May 7 he met Pope Benedict XVI and then flew to Costa Rica to attend the inauguration of its new President, Laura Chinchilla Miranda.

We were so proud to know that our President was the only non-Latin American President to be invited to this inauguration. Furthermore, it has been announced that new Georgian Embassies will now open in Brazil and Mexico. However the opposition say that it is very unusual for a Head of State to leave the country for such a long time, as the President controls almost every aspect of government in Georgia, internal and foreign policy and other everyday executive matters. Some suggest that his long absence had a more sinister reason, spreading rumours about him being involved in a car crash in the USA, though no evidence of this has been provided so far.

Some analysts suggest that the President's absences create a vacuum of executive power and have negative consequences. Gia Khukhashvili thinks that apart from everything else such visits are very costly. According to official statements the President conducts very useful meetings whilst abroad, promoting the country, establishing good contacts. It should be said that establishing diplomatic relations with remote countries in the Americas and elsewhere is indeed vitally essential at present in order to prevent these countries recognising Georgia’s breakaway territories as sovereign states, as they doubtless are/will be targets of Moscow's usual bribery and blackmail. If the President has been doing this, fine, but in fact the necessary contacts could have been made at Ministerial level, by Foreign Minister, other Ministers or PM.

The second positive aspect to the President's absence which officials claim is that if he is not in Georgia he is not interfering in the election campaign, thus making this more transparent and democratic. This may be true, but officials need to watch what they are saying. If this is so, we can only infer that whenever the President is in the country he automatically interferes with the elections! That is not what official mean, but it is effectively what they say. If the President does not wish to interfere in the elections he simply refuses to do so, like other Presidents he does not need to leave the country to do so.

Observation suggests that President Saakashvili loves travelling, seeing different countries and meeting people. There is nothing wrong with that, but spending such long periods of time doing so when he is Head of Government as well as Head of State raises odd questions.