French citizen to be new Georgian minister of foreign affairs

The new Georgian minister of foreign affairs has been named as the French ambassador to Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili Kashia, according to an announcement made Thursday by the country's president, Mikhail Saakashvili.

In his words, he has long dreamed that the prominent diplomat, Salome Zurabishvili, a descendant of famous Georgian йmigrйs, should become a member of the government in her historic homeland. He said that during a recent meeting in Paris with French President Jacques Chirac, he asked for his endorsement of the nomination. Chirac agreed, which, in Saakashvili's opinion, 'represents a highly significant gesture on France's part, and speaks of its enormous support for Georgia.'

He recalled that Zurabishvili is a granddaughter of the founder and builder of the port of Potiisko and the Georgian railway. Her other grandfather was a comrade-in-arms of the great writer and social activist, Ilya Chavchavadze. The family was obliged to emigrate to France nearly a century ago as the result of the Sovietization of the republic. Saakashvili noted that Zurabishvili has held leading roles in the French foreign ministry, was her country's ambassador to a number of governments, and represented France in international organizations. 'Not a single country has such a highly ranked foreign minister,' noted the president. 'This is a unique opportunity for the integration of Georgia into the European structure, and it is beneficial for relations with Russia, the European Union and NATO.' Former minister Tedo Dzhaparidze thanked the president, who said that he greatly appreciated the minister's professionalism.

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