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Citizenship row holds back change

04.10.2012 / 05:20 CET
Tornike Gordadze will not fool anyone.

Tornike Gordadze, Georgia's state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, has attempted on your letters page to whitewash the Georgian government's political vendetta against the opposition movement Georgian Dream and its leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili (“Ivanishvili and the rules of Georgian citizenship”, 27 September-3 October). His attempt to gloss over the indefensible will not deceive anyone familiar with the true state of affairs.

If Gordadze maintains that the government acted legally in depriving Ivanishvili of Georgian citizenship he should make his case before the European Court of Human Rights, where a petition has now been lodged by Ivanishvili.

Ivanishvili was forced to take this route after relentless political and judicial machinations by the government to frustrate him. He has renounced his Russian citizenship and sought to renounce his French citizenship, but this cannot take effect until he becomes a Georgian citizen.

Bizarrely, in rejecting Ivanishvili's request for Georgian citizenship, the government indicated that he should have indicated a desire to hold joint French-Georgian citizenship.

This is not only contrary to what Ivanishvili wants; it also reflects the perverse and nonsensical approach of the government, which simultaneously prevents Ivanishvili from assuming Georgian citizenship while denigrating him for remaining a French citizen.

It is curious that Gordadze, himself a dual citizen of France and Georgia, does not seem to have any trouble in this respect, and does not feel the need to demonstrate his loyalty to Georgia in the same way that Ivanishvili has tried to do.

President Mikheil Saakashvili has the constitutional authority to enable any Georgian citizen also to hold the citizenship of another country. He could resolve this issue in a heartbeat. The fact that he has not shows his determination to abuse his power purely for political gain.

Gordadze also knows that although Ivanishvili can run for office under his current status, he would have to resign once the current law that would allow him to do so expires in January 2014. But then this kind of disingenuous misinformation is what we have come to expect from Saakashvili's discredited government.

Benjamin Chew Attorney for Bidzina Ivanishvili, Patton Boggs LLPWashington, DC

© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.

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