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Opposition asks Georgia’s envoy to Russia to step down

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, March 4
The opposition Free Democrats chaired by former Minister of Defence Irakli Alasania, has appealed to Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze to quit politics.

This was in response to Abashidze’s recent statements with regard to Georgian-Russian relations. Abashidze counter-attacked the opposition.

In his interview with Russia’s Ria Novosti, Abashidze stated that Georgia was seeking new opportunities for dialogue with the de-facto regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and he would be glad if Russia encouraged such direct contact.

Abashidze also stated that Georgia’s NATO membership was a long-term perspective.

Abashidze and his statements, as well as the meeting format between Georgian and Russian special envoys, are looked at as an obstacle for Georgia’s Western course by Georgia’s pro-Western forces.

Despite the fact Abashidze made the statements several weeks ago, he is still strongly criticized.

Perhaps it was his recent meeting with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin that has triggered the irritation.

Alasania advised Abashidze not to become a part of former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “dirty game.”

“The Free Democrats and the president are unanimous that Abashidze’s responsibilities should be clearly specified,” Alasania said.

“The foreign Ministry should perform a leading role in the foreign policy field. We appeal to the ministry and the Ministry for Georgia’s European Integration to dissociate themselves from Abashidze’s vision,” Alasania added.

Former Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze claims that through his actions Abashidze hinders Georgia’s move towards NATO.

The opposition United National Movement is more generous in its appeals, and demands the dismissal of the whole government.

Responding to the accusations, Abashidze strongly criticized his opponents, advising the Free Democrats to be more professional.

“They know very well that Georgia’s NATO membership will not take place soon, just trying to say something and reveal themselves positively in the public eyes.

“NATO representative James Appathurai has proved my words when he said that Georgia was steadily striving to NATO, but there were no new plans in terms of Georgia’s NATO membership. Why did the Free Democrats refrain from opposing him for the statement?” Abashidze asked, noting that regulating relations with Russia was one of the priorities for Georgia.

Georgian Dream coalition members describe Abashidze as an experienced diplomat and trust his professionalism.

Majority MP Gia Volski stated that Abashidze was an ambassador to NATO for a long time and he was aware of what he offered.

“I cannot say these are grounds for accusing Abashidze, as he repeated the words of NATO representatives. We are going to NATO, it’s a hard way, including many issues,” Volski said.

It is likely that a fight concerning Georgia’s foreign course will continue and the main blow will target the Abashidze-Karasin meeting format.