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Are foreign leaders avoiding meeting Saakashvili?

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, October 28
President Mikheil Saakashvili’s press speaker Manana Manjgaladze held a press conference dedicated to the issue of President Saakashvili meeting foreign leaders. The press speaker tried to deny rumours that foreign leaders had purposefully avoided meeting with Saakashvili. At the press conference, the press speaker confirmed that no meeting with Barack Obama is planned for December.

It should be noted that meeting world leaders is very important for Saakashvili if he has aspirations of becoming a PM of Georgia when his presidential term expires. Rumours of the world's leaders avoiding Saakashvili started to spread shortly after 08/08/08. Of course, he has become persona non grata in Russia, but when the EU fact finding commission stated that the firing of missiles started from the Georgian side at Tskhinvali, the Georgian opposition parties started disseminating information that western leaders avoided meeting with the Georgian President. According to the opposition, this signified that the westerners are not supportive of Saakashvili remaining in Georgia’s leadership after 2013. Some opposition members seriously think that the west will not allow Saakashvili to stay in power after the expiration of his presidential term. Other opposition members however consider such opinion to be naive. They stated that if the opposition wants to remove Saakashvili and his party from power, it should do so with its own forces as nobody else will do their job for them.

Rumours about the unwillingness of world leaders to meet Saakashvili create discomfort for his associates and staff, therefore some steps are being taken to counter balance the situation.

The President’s press speaker also said that there was no official meeting of Saakashvili and Sarkozy at the summit, however they physically met and spoke together.

There was a similar situation in New York at the UNGA where Saakashvili did not meet Obama officially though, physically, they did meet and shared a few phrases.

At the Francophone summit, Saakashvili had official meetings with representatives of Switzerland, Cameroon and Dominican Republic.

Press speaker Manjgaladze did not confirm the suggestions that foreign leaders are avoiding meeting Saakashvili. In particular, she mentioned that Obama and Saakashvili met at a Washington summit and had several telephone conversations as well. But indeed mentioning such problems at press conference indirectly means that the problem exists. It is difficult to explain the reasons behind it; perhaps it is just a technical coincidence. But one way or another, the issue has become a matter for speculation and rumours in Georgia.

Analysts thinks that, to neutralize the situation, the Saakashvili administration will try to show his high rating in the polls as well as making statements on a new wave of democratic moves and even certain practical steps in this direction. Moreover, the Georgian leadership is desperately trying to initiate dialogue with Russia. If this can be achieved, the situation will become more relaxed in terms of Georgian foreign policy and would help President Saakashvili to meet with foreign leaders.