Saakashvili Accepted Zelensky's Offer To Take The Post Of Deputy Prime Minister Of Ukraine
A former head of the Odesa region and ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili agreed to the proposal of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to take the post of Deputy Prime Minister for reforms in the government of Denis Shmygal.
"I accepted the offer of President Zelensky," he said on Friday before a meeting with members of the "Servants of the people" faction.
Saakashvili said that Zelensky instructed him to "engage in negotiations with the IMF," as Ukraine has a "catastrophic situation in the economy."
What to do?
Saakashvili stressed that Ukraine needs much more help from international financial institutions, adding that it is impossible to cross red lines, but did not specify which ones. "I am for the integration of Ukraine into the world community, I am for, of course, accelerated integration of Ukraine into Europe, but on our terms," Saakashvili stressed.
"We need to take extraordinary measures. I need to strengthen my work with the Parliament, we must push aside oligarchic and private interests and do everything possible to liberate Ukrainian business since Ukrainian business is now in feudal dependence on the state," he outlined his priorities. Saakashvili criticized Ukraine's policy throughout its independence, saying that everything that has been done in the past 30 years "does not work in an economic sense, and we need to do exactly the opposite." Saakashvili also promised to present a "program of urgent changes" in the Parliament.
With great responsibility
On Wednesday, Saakashvili said that the President of Ukraine offered him the post of Deputy Prime Minister for reform, and noted that he considers this proposal "with very great responsibility." Later it became known that Zelensky met with Saakashvili. Several Ukrainian media, referring to the office of the President of Ukraine, reported that at the meeting, the head of state expressed the opinion that the former Georgian leader "has the potential to support the Cabinet of Ministers," and invited him to share his "vision and experience with the government and Parliament."
Saakashvili on Thursday in an interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Novoe Vremya said that if he gets a position in the Cabinet of Ministers, he intends to focus on working with the IMF, as well as "on the process of deregulation." According to the Director of the Ukrainian Institute of politics, Ruslan Bortnik, Saakashvili's appointment can be made to improve Zelensky's image in the West, as well as to create a certain balance within the Cabinet of Ministers.
The issue of Saakashvili's appointment to the government of Ukraine may be considered in the Verkhovna Rada at an extraordinary session on Friday, but so far the document on his appointment is not listed among the items on the agenda of the meeting published on the Parliament's website. Now Saakashvili participates in the meeting of the "Servants of the people" faction, where he presents the program of his possible activities as Deputy Prime Minister. After that, the deputies must decide whether they have enough votes to support Saakashvili's candidacy in the Parliament.
Saakashvili in Ukrainian politics
Former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in 2015 invited Saakashvili to the country, gave him citizenship, and appointed him head of the Odesa region. However, soon there was a conflict between them. In July 2017, when Saakashvili was abroad, Poroshenko stripped him of his citizenship.
In September 2017, the former President of Georgia, with the support of his colleagues, was able to return to the territory of Ukraine and tried to obtain the status of a citizen who needs protection through the court. On December 5 of the same year, Saakashvili was detained by the security Service of Ukraine on charges of collaborating with criminal groups and organizing rallies, as well as allegedly receiving about $500,000 from Russia to Finance protest actions aimed at overthrowing the current government. However, supporters of Saakashvili, surrounding the car where the SBU officers sat the ex-head of the Odessa region, achieved his release.
On December 8, Saakashvili was again detained, but three days later he was released in the courtroom. The Prosecutor General's office appealed the decision, and the politician was placed under partial house arrest from January 27 to February 6, 2018. In the same month, Saakashvili was again detained in Kyiv and expelled to Poland. Having neither Georgian nor Ukrainian citizenship at that time, he received a residence permit in the Netherlands, of which his wife is a citizen. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky returned Saakashvili's Ukrainian citizenship in May 2019, and at the end of the same month, he returned to Ukraine.