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President criticizes foreign embassies

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 22
Earlier this week, President Mikheil Saakashvili criticized some foreign embassies for their bureaucracy, although he did not specify which countries he was accusing. His comments came as a surprise, but were backed up by government members, notably Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze and MP Akaki Bobokhidze.

On March 19, Saakashvili criticized certain embassies in Georgia, as well as their Georgian employees, for their "bureaucratic" approach towards Georgian citizens. Vashadze expressed his support for the criticism, noting that Georgian citizens often receive unjustified refusals for visa applications. “Some embassies do not understand what a visa regime agreement between two countries mean. We will not allow anyone to abuse the interests of our citizens," he said.

As the election campaign in Georgia is nearly here, some commentators saw the President's comments as an indication of his negative attitude towards foreign governments in Georgia. Some wonder whether this was a slip of the tongue or a deliberate political move. If this was a slip of the tongue, official comments would have played it down, attempting to write it off as a misinterpretation. But Vashadze confirmed that the President said what he intended to say.

By openly criticizing foreign embassies, some analysts believe that Saakashvili is trying to attract more sympathy from the population, showing that he is not a humble politician but a president with guts. While the opposition often appeals to foreign embassies for support before an election, Saakashvili choose another direction. This position was supported by MP Bobokhidze, who stated that the Georgian government works according to its own legislation and not according to the likes and dislikes of foreign ambassadors – singling out United States Ambassador.

Bidzina Ivanishvili's opposition coalition Georgian Dream released a statement addressing the President's remarks, saying that such a position goes beyond the political interests of the administration and has very dangerous possibilities. However, it is unlikely that embassies in Tbilisi will not get more involved in the Georgian elections, regardless of government outbursts.