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Ex-Envoy Alleges Politics Behind Dismissal
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 16 Mar.'10 / 17:30

Georgia’s ex-ambassador to the Netherlands, Maia Panjikidze, alleged that she was dismissed one year before her term of posting was expired because of being a relative of Irakli Alasania, leader of opposition Alliance for Georgia.

She said in an interview with RFE/RL Georgian service that neither the presidential order, nor notification by the Foreign Ministry, signed by deputy foreign minister Nino Kalandadze contained any explanation of reasons behind her dismissal.

Panjikidze, who is a sister of Alasania’s wife, said she was told unofficially by Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, who earlier this month visited the Netherlands, that the only reason of dismissal he was aware of was an incident in which “a senior Georgian official” and his wife were mistakenly arrested in a shop in the Netherlands.

The official in question was Davit Kereselidze, head of the chancellery of the Georgian government. After Panjikidze’s allegations became public, Davit Kereselidze told the Georgian public television on March 16, that the Georgian embassy showed “ignorance” and acted with delay to resolve his problems.

The Foreign Ministry on March 16 cited the same reason behind Panjikidze’s dismissal.

The Foreign Ministry said that Panjikidze retained her post even after Alasania went into opposition in December, 2008 and was dismissed more than year after that in connection to a concrete case, which has nothing to do with the politics.

Ia Makharashvili, a spokesman for Georgian foreign ministry, told Civil.Ge that the Ministry was refraining to make this fact public, but “had to do so” after Panjikidze herself started talking publicly on the matter.

She also said that the decision about dismissal was made after “an official inquiry”, which concluded that the ambassador failed “to properly perform her duties.” The decision has nothing to do with the politics, Makharashvili said.

Panjikidze, however, says that she and the embassy staff “immediately” launched all the necessary efforts to resolve the incident involving Georgian official and she believed that this case was only used as a pretext for her dismissal. She said the real reason was the fact that she was a relative of Alasania.

Irakli Alasania also said on March 16 that Panjikidze could have been dismissed because of being his relative.

Panjikidze joined the Georgian foreign service in 1994 and served at various positions in the Georgian Foreign Ministry and embassy in Germany before becoming Georgia’s ambassador in Berlin in 2004. She was then appointed as ambassador to the Netherlands in 2007.

She said that had no intention of going into politics and would like to return back to her previous job of school teacher of German language, which she had practiced before joining the Foreign Ministry.

The Parliament approved Shota Gvineria as Georgia’s new ambassador to Netherlands on February 26.

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