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Ambassadorial nominees visit Parliament

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, February 8
Nine ambassadorial nominees were invited to Parliament on February 7th. Following procedures they addressed Parliament and responded to several questions.

Reportedly seven out of the nine ambassadorial nominees attended a closed meeting of three committees: the Foreign Relations Committee, the European Integration Committee and the Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Committee. At the meeting the candidates were asked to present their future plans and priorities if they are approved. Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Tedo Japaridze said that all nominees are very experienced and he is sure that the committee hearings will be very interesting.

Tinatin Bokuchava of the United National Movement (UNM) said that the new ambassadors are expected to follow the foreign policy the Georgian people have chosen, which is integration with NATO and European Union.

The candidates were actually selected by the new government and presented to President Mikheil Saakshvili, who officially made the nominations as is required by law.

Georgian ambassador to the U.S.A Temur Iakobashvili will be replaced by Archil Gegeshidze, who hold the diplomatic rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. A Fulbright scholar at Stanford University, Gegeshidze served as President Shevardnadze’s senior foreign policy adviser, but has never served in any diplomatic posts.

Teimuraz Janjalia has been named as Georgian ambassador to Latvia and as was announced earlier Ekaterine Siradze-Delaunay has been nominated as Georgian ambassador to France. The current Georgian ambassador to Hungary Zviad Chumburidze will be replaced by Zaza Kandelaki, a former Deputy Foreign Minister and ambassador to Poland from 2004-2005. Kakha Sikharulidze, who was Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister in 2002-2005 and ambassador to the Czech Republic in 2006-2007, has been named as ambassador to Italy; the same post in Ukraine will be taken by Mikheil Ukleba, who was the first Deputy Foreign Minister in the 1990s.

Konstantine Zaldastanishvili has been named as new ambassador to Austria and permanent representative to the OSCE and other Vienna-based international organizations. Natalie Sabanadze, who has been a senior political adviser to the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities since 2005, has been nominated for the post of Georgian ambassador to Belgium.

It was expected that the ambassadors to every important international organization would be replaced. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided not to replace the Georgian ambassador to NATO, therefore Gega Mgaloblishvili will keep his post. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Maia Panjikidze said Mgaloblishvili will remain in the post till his term of rotation expires. She also expressed her hope that Parliament will approve all the nominees.