Salome Zourabichvili was sacked by Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli late on October 19 after the uncompromising demand of parliamentarians from the ruling National Movement party. Senior lawmakers accused Zourabichvili of mismanagement, lack of coordination with ambassadors and favoritism at the Ministry. But Zourabichvili, who has strongly denied these allegations, described this move as a “well-planned campaign” and an “an attack” by the representatives of “neo-communist system.”
Thousands gathered on October 20 at the Tbilisi Hippodrome after ex-Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili called on supporters on October 19 to express solidarity towards her. Although she said that has not yet defined her future plans, her statements made at the rally clearly indicated Zourabichvili’s political intentions.
“This is not a political gathering… This does not mean a call for revolution. Georgia has already undergone a revolution [referring to the 2003 Rose Revolution] and this was the correct way; but unfortunately they [authorities] have turned away from this road,” Salome Zourabichvili said in her very brief speech.
“Don’t be afraid, don’t be lazy, start working and elections will come soon,” she said.
“People, who need democracy, who want a civilized European system, are here. Today, I will start a new life, together with you - for you and your children, calmly as it should be in a civilized country... This means that a very strong force will come,” Salome Zourabichvili said.
“I wanted to meet you today to demonstrate to the world that in Georgia devils are not coming, they are leaving,” she added.
In her statement made shortly before the dismissal on October 19, Salome Zourabichvili described ruling party officials as “devils” who were behind “a well-planned campaign” against her.
“So far the foreign policy was the only positive [development] of the current authorities. But an end was put to this with the dismissal of Salome Zourabichvili, who has become a victim, sacrificed by President Saakashvili to the Kremlin,” MP Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights party, said at a news conference on October 20.
But influential MP from the ruling National Movement party Giga Bokeria downplayed these assumptions as “unserious.”
Leader of the opposition Republican Party Davit Usupashvili has also criticized the authorities move and said that he would be happy if Salome Zourabichvili joins his party.
“The Republican Party has many prominent leaders and the enlargement of this circle is, of course, desirable. But Mrs. Salome Zourabichvili should make a decision herself. For a year and a half she represented the government, against which we were actively fighting. Now, it is up to her to decide. It will not be correct if we are the first to offer her a membership,” Davit Usupashvili told Civil Georgia.
Davit Usupashvili said that “personal irritation” was a major reason of the demand by certain parliamentarians for the dismissal of Salome Zourabichvili.
Opposition Conservative party leader MP Koba Davitashvili said that although his party was against Zourabichvili’s appointment, “I began sympathizing with her later, especially after her very principled position in respect to Russia.”
Opposition Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili described Zourabichvili’s dismissal as “very unfair.” "The dismissal of a highly professional diplomat is a step made against France and the European Union," he said.
But Georgian Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze, who is among Zourabichvili’s major opponents, kept criticizing the ex-Foreign Minister on October 20 and even blamed her for a failure to carry out an active foreign policy in respect of the European Union.
“If the Minister thought that the situation was so alarming [in the country], the Parliament was so terrible [that it] destroys the country and should be dissolved, she [Zourabichvili] ought to have talked about it much earlier, or should have left this team... but I do not believe in those persons who resort to criticism only after their chairs are endangered,” Nino Burjanadze told reporters on October 19.
Nino Burjanadze also said that Salome Zourabichvili’s moves after her dismissal were equivalent to “the launch of a new opposition movement.”
Burjanadze blamed Salome Zourabichvili for “losing opportunities in respect to the European Union, which the country had at the time of Zourabichvili’s appointment.” However, she did not specify these “opportunities.”
Earlier, Burjanadze said that Georgia’s “successful foreign policy” was not due to Salome Zourabichvili, but was a result of a policy carried out by the President and the Parliament.
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