French ambassador named Georgian foreign minister

French ambassador named Georgian foreign minister

TBILISI, Georgia (Reuters) – Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili
picked France’s ambassador in Tbilisi to be his foreign minister
Thursday, saying he had cleared the appointment with French President
Jacques Chirac.

Saakashvili said 51-year-old Salome Zurabishvili, a descendant of 19th
century Georgian writer Niko Nikoladze, was a diplomat of
international standing whose family had emigrated to France early in
the 20th century.

He told a news conference he believed the appointment was
“unprecedented in the history of diplomacy.” Diplomats are normally
expected to remain loyal to their own country and not take up jobs in
foreign governments.

He said he would grant her Georgian citizenship in addition to her
French passport, a dual status the constitution allowed in special

Zurabishvili has worked in the United States, the European Union and
NATO and headed the international department of France’s national
security general secretariat until taking up her post in Georgia.

After the fall of communism, many people whose families had migrated
to Western Europe and the United States returned to their Eastern
European roots. A U.S. lawyer, for instance, served for a short time
as foreign minister in Transcaucasian neighbor Armenia in the 1990s.

Saakashvili himself is a U.S.-trained lawyer who led a bloodless coup
last November that brought down veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze, a
former Soviet foreign minister.

Saakashvili won a landslide election victory in January and promised
to integrate the republic into NATO, the European Union and the
European mainstream.

03/11/04 14:14 ET