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Ruling Party Supports Salome Zourabichvili as President

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, September 11
Georgian Dream ruling party has supported former Foreign Minister, who is now an independent MP, Salome Zourabichvili as president, the candidate who is strongly opposed by the opposition.

“Salome Zurabishvili is a representative of a prominent Georgian family, a descendant of Niko Nikoladze and Ivane Zurabishvili; she has an exceptional diplomatic experience – withdrawal of Russian bases from Georgia is associated to her name; for several years, she was also ardently opposing Saakashvili’s regime in defense of justice,” Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze stated.

“We think Salome Zurabishvili can establish a new tradition in our constitutional system, she can fulfill the president’s functions, not in the interests of an individual party or a political group, but based on the interests of the country and the society; we call on the Georgian society to support her candidacy,” Kobakhidze stated.

Zourabichvili stated that she was glad about the support of the ruling team and added that she does not like the presidential palace in Tbilisi, the place which was long disputed between current President Giorgi Margvelashvili and the ruling team.

The opposition says that Zourabichvili, “who says that the Russia-Georgia war was unleashed by Georgia”, will not play for Georgian national interests.

The presidential candidate of the European Georgia opposition party David Bakradze has called on the opposition to merging forces against Zourabichvili.

Zourabichvili said that Russia provoked Georgia's third president Mikheil Saakashvili in 2008. Later she added that Russia has always triggered conflicts in Georgia and Saakashvili must not have been provoked.

Salome 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 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.