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Ex-FM starts to quit French Citizenship ahead of Georgian Presidential Elections

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, August 1
Former Foreign Minister of Georgia, who now occupies a seat of an independent MP in the Georgian parliament, Salome Zourabichvili, has launched procedures to quit her French citizenship, which gave a deeper ground to the speculations that she will be supported by the ruling party in the upcoming presidential elections.

The Georgian Dream ruling party member Eka Beselia confirmed that Zourabichvili started the procedures and added that she will have the “highest chance of winning” if she participates in the race.

Zourabichvili has neither confirmed nor dismissed the speculations.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze stated in his earlier comment that it is less likely for the ruling party to support Zourabichvili in the role.

Zourabichvili was mentioned in the comment of the Georgian Dream ruling party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, who said that it would be better if Georgian Dream supports an independent presidential candidate or “give the position to the opposition.”

Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze shared Ivanishvili’s view on an independent candidate.

Main opposition parties have already nominated their candidates- ten opposition parties raised the candidacy of former Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze and the European Georgia chose the former Parliament Speaker David Bakradze.

Both the ruling party and the opposition call on the president to announce the election date and reveal his plans for the elections.

It is expected that Margvelashvili will name the date in the week and the date will be October 28.

Salome Zourabichvili, 66, was born in Paris, in a family of Georgian political emigrants. She attended some of the most prestigious French schools, such as the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), and began a master's program at Columbia University in New York in the academic year of 1972-1973.

She quit her studies and joined the French foreign service in 1974, becoming a career diplomat with jobs in Rome, the United Nations, Brussels, and Washington.

Salome Zourabichvili was a Head of the Division of International and Strategic Issues of National Defence General Secretariat of France in 2001-2003. She was appointed as the Ambassador of France to Georgia in 2003.

Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili nominated her as Foreign Minister in his new cabinet and Zourabichvili was the first female to be appointed to this post in Georgia on 18 March 2004.

Former Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli fired her in October 2005 after a series of disputes with parliament members.

Shortly before her dismissal was announced, Zourabichvili resigned from the French foreign service, which had continued to pay her a salary while she was a minister, and announced that she would remain in Georgia to go into politics.

In November 2005 she set up the organization "Salome Zourabichvili's Movement." In January 2006 she announced the establishment of a new political party "Georgia's Way."

On 12 November 2010, Zourabichvili announced her withdrawal from the leadership of Georgia's Way and continued her career abroad, as a coordinator of UN panel of experts on Iran.

In the 2016 parliamentary elections in Georgia, now under the Georgian Dream leadership, Zourabichvili participated as Tbilisi Mtatsminda District majoritarian candidate and won the race, took her seat in the legislative body.