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Ruling Team Says their Position on the War Differs from Zourabichvili’s Views

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, August 10
Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani says that the position of the Georgian government on the Russia-Georgia 2008 differs from the view of the independent presidential candidate Salome Zourabichvili, the one who Georgian Dream might support in the upcoming race.

Zalkaliani says that official position of Tbilisi is that Russia created grounds and then carried out aggression against Georgia in 2008, while Zourabichvili says that then-President Mikheil Saakashvili was provoked by Russia to launch the war.

Zourabichvili also did not exclude that Saakashvili could have deliberately acted according to Russia's interests.

Georgian PM Mamuka Bakhtadze says that the ruling team has not yet decided whether to support Zourabichvili, a Paris-born politician who served as Foreign Minister under the United National Movement and later opposed Saakashvili’s government.

Zourabichvili, who announced about the participation in the race last week and who earlier enjoyed the support from the Georgian Dream party, dismissed any previous consultations with the ruling team regarding their support.

However, experts and the opposition do not believe in her statement and say that without the previous agreement, Zourabichvili who has a “very low rating” in Georgia, will not dare to participate in the elections.

The opposition says it will be “ deplorable” if Zourabichvili becomes the Georgian president.

Zourabichvili,66, was born in Paris into 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 abandoned her studies and joined the French foreign service in 1974, becoming a career diplomat with jobs in Rome, the United Nations, Brussels, and Washington.

The first time Zourabichvili visited Georgia was in 1986 during a break from her job at the French Embassy in Washington.

Salome Zourabichvili was 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.

Mikhail Saakashvili, the 3rd president of Georgia, nominated her as foreign minister in his new government 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.

The Georgia Dream did not name any candidate in Mtatsminda to help Zourabichvili win the race.