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Who will attend the Vilnius Summit?

By Messenger Staff
Friday, October 18
Georgia has received an official invitation to attend the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius and there is considerable speculation in the Georgian media about who will head the official delegation to Lithuania.

If a presidential election winner is not decided on October 27th, then President Saakashvili will stay in office until the second round of voting (at this point unscheduled). If that were the case, then Saakashvili would head the delegation at the Vilnius Summit on November 28-29th. However, if Georgian Dream candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili wins the election outright then he will be inaugurated on November 17th; therefore his first official visit as president will be to Vilnius.

There are high expectations for this summit. Georgia and Moldova are expected to initial the association agreement with the EU, while Ukraine is expected to sign the association agreement.

Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus received official invitations to the summit. The invitation is issued to countries, not individuals. Georgia will have an eight-member delegation attending the summit; usually presidents head such delegations.

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze thinks that Margvelashvili will win the presidential election and will therefore head the Georgian delegation.

However, Saakshvili’s adviser, former MP Nino Kalandadze, mentioned that President Saakashvili said some months ago that the Vilnius Summit will be the last summit for him as president.

The Georgian Dream coalition does not want to have Saakashvili as the head of the Georgian delegation in the Lithuanian capital. To avoid this happening, Margvelashvili needs to win the presidential election on October 27th. Margvelashvili is confident he will win and no run-off election will be necessary.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Legal Issues Committee, Vakhtang Khmaladze, stated that according to the constitution, a new president should be inaugurated on the third Sunday after the elections. Three Sundays after October 27th is November 17th. Khmaladze is also confident that a presidential election run-off is unlikely.

Saakashvili can still go to Vilnius, but as an invited guest, not as a member of the official delegation.

If Margvelashvili wins on October 27th, it is uncertain whether Saakashvili will attend the Vilnius Summit-but you never can tell with Saakashvili. This is just one more intrigue before the presidential election.