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President Zurabishvili: “I am no longer a political figure”

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, January 14
Georgian President Salome Zurabiashvili, who will hold the post for six years, says that she is no longer a political figure and that it is why she will not comment on the recent turmoil regarding the lifetime appointment of controversial judges or the internal disputes within the Georgian Dream ruling party.

Zurabishvili made the answer on several questions during her first meeting with the media last Friday.

She also said that “it is the merit of the Georgian people and not any political party” that she became the fifth president of Georgia, despite the fact she received the support of the Georgian Dream ruling party in the first and the second round of elections.

Zurabiashvili also did not congratulate the Ukrainian people on the independence of their church from Russia and explained that her decision to do so is related with the current silence of the Georgian church on the issue.

“If the Georgian church is cautious regarding the issue for now because of the possible consequences why should I take the responsibility,” she said.

Zurabishvili stated that her first foreign meetings will take place at the headquarters of the NATO and the EU and her three foreign priorities will be: raising Georgian issues more intensively on the international arena, further enhancing Georgia-EU relations, supporting closer relations with representatives of the Georgian diaspora.

She said that as the president she will not receive a salary and will use the money for charity, as she receives a pension from France which is sufficient for her.

The opposition says that the statements made by Zurabishvili proved that “she and the whole Georgian government are puppets in the hands of Bidzina Ivanishvili,” a billionaire which founded the Georgian Dream ruling party for the 2012 parliamentary elections and defeated the nine-year rule of the United National Movement.

Zurabishvili was born in France into a family of Georgian emigrants. She served in the diplomatic service of France for years. She was invited to Georgia as a foreign minister by former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in 2004. However, after several years she opposed Saakashvili’s team.