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Former deputy Foreign Minister Zalkaliani may re-occupy post

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 8
Davit Zalkalinai, the former first deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia, who was once a member of the Free Democrats (FD) opposition party, may occupy the post once again.

Georgia’s current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikheil Janelidze, has confirmed that negotiations were ongoing with regards to Zalkaliani, who quit the post in protest to the government in November 2014.

“Zalkaliani is a very valuable figure for the Ministry and we are negotiating with him,” Janelidze stated, adding that he had worked with Zalkaliani on a range of issues and described him as a high-class professional.

Zalkaliani himself has not made any comment yet. However, he quit the Free Democrats party several months ago.

A member of the Free Democrats, Zurab Abashidze, has stated that he “welcomed Zalkaliani’s appointment as the deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia.”

“It is only welcome if the current Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, returns such professional people to high-ranking posts again.”

Meanwhile, the United National Movement (UNM) party has revealed their surprise over the possibility.

The party members hinted at some “hidden cooperation” between the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and the Free Democrats.

The majority members have stressed they would be happy if they again saw Zalkaliani in the Foreign Ministry.

“Georgia needs such professionals,” majority leader Zviad Kvachantiradze said.

In November 2014, Georgia’s then-Defence Minister Irakli Alasania was dismissed by former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

Alasania stated that some of his employees were dismissed because of his intentions to get Georgia closer to NATO. Consequently, Alasania, the leader of the Free Democrats, stated that Georgia’s “Euro-Atlantic course” was at risk.

Following the firing of Alasania for his statements over Georgia’s foreign priorities, several other politicians quit their posts; Foreign Minister Maya Panjikidze, who is Alasania’s sister-in-lawl her deputy Davit Zalkaliani, who was a member of the Free Democrats; the Minister of Georgia’s Integration to European and Euro-Atlantic space Aleksi Petriashvili; and as well as another deputy of Panjikidze, Tamar Beruchashvili.

They all shared the view that Georgia’s foreign course was at risk under the current state leadership.

However, shortly after making the statements Beruchashvili changed her view and she returned to power as Georgia’s new Foreign Minister, replacing Panjikidze.

After several months, Beruchasvili was replaced with Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who has just become Georgia’s new Prime Minister. Beruchashvili is now Georgia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

When Parliament confirmed the new Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers at the end of last year, the former Deputy Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze was promoted as Georgia’s Foreign Minister. Consequently, his position became vacant.