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The latest tasks of the latest Georgian Cabinet2008-12-12 09:30
Today Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the newly reshuffled Cabinet of ministers for the first time. He called for "coordinated work to move closer to Europe, to maintain stability in the country and to build up and reform the armed forces in the correct way".
One can only guess at how exactly these stated tasks will be accomplished. But the president himself is in no doubt that the outcome will be successful: "The new appointments to the cabinet of ministers mean that we, as a country and a government, will move even closer to European institutions and Europe as a whole in order to guarantee peace in our country".
In this extremely important matter, the foremost role naturally belongs to the worldly-wise diplomat Grigol Vashadze, who replaced the thirty year-old Eka Tkeshelashvili.
The new Foreign Minister was presented to the staff of the foreign ministry this morning, even before the aforementioned government session. Vashadze told his new subordinates (setting the stage for the president's address): "The parameters of Georgia's foreign policy remain unchanged. Our aim is to move as close as possible to the European Union and NATO".
Following the December meeting in Brussels, entry into the alliance has turned out to be an insurmountable obstacle, and now Georgia is pinning all its hopes and expectations on the EU.
Now Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are trying to influence each other via the Europeans. Have all the clauses of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan been met, should EU observers be allowed into Abkhazia and South Ossetia and what should these republics be called, separatists or independent states? These are just some of the intractable questions which the disputatious neighbours are hoping to clarify with the help of their Old World partners.
Representatives from Moscow, Tbilisi, Tskhinvali, Sukhumi, the EU, OSCE and UN will be meeting in precisely a week's time. What will the third round of talks bring? And meanwhile the same things are being discussed which preceded both earlier rounds: the status of the delegations, their composition and the format of the meetings.
This is what Vashadze will now start to tackle on Georgia's behalf. Nobody is in any doubt about his professionalism. Even the opposition thinks that his is the only "sensible" appointment among the authorities' "schizophrenia" over personnel. The expert Gia Khukhashvili makes the following comment: "The only serious signal was the appointment of Vashadze as foreign minister. In this way the Georgian government is trying to scare Washington by apparently changing course and improving its relations with Russia". It is worth clarifying that Vashadze is well known for his respectful attitude towards Russia.
Nevertheless, most Georgian political analysts are convinced that it will not be that easy for either Vashadze or the new cabinet of ministers as a whole to achieve the priorities declared by the president.
The appointment of 35-year old Lasha Zhvania as Economics Minister provoked significant scepticism. And that is not even because he immediately, and also today, heaped criticism on Grigol Vashadze. He said that he could not understand why Vashadze had suggested that all ambassadors write letters of resignation.
"Not only ministers but also regimes change, however these changes do not usually affect the body of diplomats," exclaimed Zhvania vehemently. Incidentally, he used to head up the parliamentary international affairs committee, so he knows what he is talking about. But will he have the requisite economic knowledge to be minister in this sphere?.