Temur Yakobashvili, former state minister for reintegration who has been nominated for Georgia's ambassador to the United States, said on November 21 that "new realities" had emerged recently, which creates opportunities for "lifting U.S.-Georgia relations to a new level."
In the cabinet reshuffle, announced on November 20, which also involved changes in Georgia's National Security Council (NSC), Yakobashvili was replaced on the post of the state minister by Eka Tkeshelashvili, who served as NSC secretary.
"Two years after the war, situation has been clarified... on the other hand Obama is no longer a new president and the U.S. foreign policy priorities have been defined; it has also been defined that Georgia should not be treated only in the context of Russia," Yakobashvili told public broadcaster's weekly program, Accents, on Sunday evening.
Yakobashvili, who in parallel to the state minister's post also served as vice-premier, said that under the new conditions more active efforts were required in "various directions" to further boost bilateral ties.
"Sending a vice-premier as an ambassador it is first of all a political signal and I think it is a message from Georgia that against the background of these new realities we want to lift relations with the United States to the new level and [that Tbilisi wants] full-pledged implementation of Charter on Strategic Partnership [with the U.S.],"
He said that there was "whole range of new possibilities" in the bilateral relations with the U.S. and during "very substantive, business-like and warm" meeting between the U.S. and Georgian Presidents in Lisbon "whole range of priorities have been defined to broaden our relationship."
Yakobashvili's new post - his ambassadorial nomination has yet to be approved by the Parliament, which is a mere formality - will mark his comeback in the diplomatic service. In 1990s he served in the Georgian Foreign Ministry, holding various positions there, including the director of the Department for USA, Canada and Latin America.
Yakobashvili, who holds diplomatic rank of Envoy Extraordinary, joined the government in January, 2008, when he was appointed on the post of state minister; before that appointment he was executive vice-president of Tbilisi-based think-tank, Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS).
Yakobashvili said in the TV interview on November 21 he was "glad" that Eka Tkeshelashvili replaced him on the post of state minister, "because she is not only well-qualified but also well-informed in this matter."o
"We've been working together on these issues, so there are all the pre-requisites in place that [the work on these issues] will be continued," Yakobashvili said.
Yakobashvili will replace Batu Kutelia, who was approved as Georgia's ambassador to the U.S. in December, 2008.