Georgia is recalling its ambassador in Kyiv for consultations after former President Mikheil Saakashvili was appointed as head of the Executive Committee of Reforms under the President of Ukraine.
This was stated by Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani on May 8, Interfax-Ukraine reports.
He explained that in diplomacy "it is a common practice that indicates an emergence of certain problems in bilateral relations." Therefore, a consultation with the ambassador is needed to determine further steps.
At the same time, the minister assured that, despite this decision of the Ukrainian side, "Georgia is not considering the severance of diplomatic relations or the revision of the strategic partnership."
This comes a day after President Zelenskyy appointed Saakashvili chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Reform Council on May 7.
The Georgian authorities believe that this is "utterly unacceptable" on the part of a strategic partner, i.e. Ukraine, to appoint a person to a high position who has been convicted in Georgia under a "grave article" and is on the international wanted list.
In reaction to Georgia's decision, Zelenskyy called it a mistake that he is sure they will be able to realize after the consultation.
"Mr. Saakashvii is a Ukrainian citizen, he has a Ukrainian passport. And I'm the [Ukrainian] president that has appointed him chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Reform Council under the President of Ukraine," Zelenskyy said just hours after Georgia's statement, while speaking to journalists in the Luhansk region.
Zelenskyy also highlighted that Saakashvili's appointment is part of Ukraine's domestic politics.
In 2018, Saakashvili was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison for abuse of power while pardoning convicts for the murder of businessman Sandro Girgvliani and to six years’ imprisonment for beating MP Valery Gelashvili in 2005. Saakashvili is also accused of embezzling budget funds.
Initially, the Ukrainian head of state reportedly offered Saakashvili a position of the deputy prime minister for reforms. The former Georgian president called it a "great honor” at the time. However, it later turned out there were not enough votes in the Ukrainian parliament for this appointment and Zelenskyy decided to give Saakashvili another position.