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Georgian opposition insists on dismissal of EU envoy

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, May 19
The United National Movement (UNM) opposition party requests the dismissal of the European Union's (EU) Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Crisis in Georgia, German diplomat Herbert Salber, who, during his visit to Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia, congratulated ‘president’ Anatoly Bibilov on his new ‘post’ and expressed their wish for further cooperation.

The UNM released a statement detailing their ‘extreme concern’ over the incident.

The party claims this is not the first case when the diplomat makes a statement damaging our state interests, adding the Georgian government left all of his statements without response.

“We believe that his statements blatantly violate the territorial integrity of our country and are radically different from the official position of the European Union, which supports Georgia's territorial integrity and non-recognition policy,” the statement reads.

The UNM says that Salber’s steps as the EU Special Representative directly harms both the interests of Georgia and Georgia-EU strategic relations.

The party calls on the Georgian authorities to immediately demand the dismissal of Herbert Salber and the suspension of his mandate.

“We think that the irresponsible statement made by the German diplomat is a direct consequence of the policy of Georgia's current government, as a result of which, the issues of Georgia's occupied territories and annexation are removed from the international agenda,” says the statement.

Moreover, Georgian parliament member, Salome Zurabishvili says that "it is he dignity of the state that the representative of the EU to be declared a persona non grata."

Vice Prime Minister Aleksandre Jejelava says Salber’s actions are “unacceptable” for the government.

"The steps of Herbert Salber are absolutely unacceptable and our response will be very strict. The final decision will be made by the Georgian Foreign Ministry, "he said.

Moreover, Georgia’s Culture Minister Mikheil Giorgadze says that the Georgian side wants Salber to be replaced by another official from the format of Geneva International Talks, where the German diplomat serves as the co-chair.

Sopo Katsarava, Chair of Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Relations of Georgia, says that Salber’s statements have nothing to do with the EU’s official position over Georgia, which supports Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

“We have active communication with the EU and we are waiting for an adequate response from them,” she added.