Irakli Alasania

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Irakli Alasania
ირაკლი ალასანია
Irakli Alasania, Minister of Defence, Georgia - Chatham House.jpg
Minister of Defense
Incumbent
Assumed office
25 October 2012
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili
Preceded by Dimitri Shashkin
Personal details
Born 21 December 1973
Batumi, Soviet Union
(Now Georgia)
Political party Our Georgia – Free Democrats
Spouse(s) Natia Panjikidze
Children 2
Alma mater Tbilisi State University
Religion Georgian Orthodoxy
Military service
Allegiance  Georgia
Service/branch Georgian Army
Years of service 1994 – 2004
Rank Colonel
Awards GEO Vakhtang Gorgasal Order 2rank BAR.svg

Irakli Alasania (Georgian: ირაკლი ალასანია) (born 21 December 1973) is a Georgian politician and former diplomat, currently the Minister of Defense of Georgia. He was Georgia’s Ambassador to the United Nations from September 11, 2006, until December 4, 2008. His previous assignments include Chairman of the Government of Abkhazia(-in-exile) and the President of Georgia’s aide in the Georgian-Abkhaz talks. Soon after his resignation, Alasania withdrew into opposition to the Mikheil Saakashvili administration, setting up the Our Georgia – Free Democrats party in July 2009.

Early life and career[edit]

Irakli Alasania was born in Batumi, Adjara. He participated in the Abkhazian war even not being an adult, but in the last days of war with the pressure of his father General Mamia Alasania he was forced to live in Abkhazia, his father was killed together with other Georgian politicians upon the fall of Sokhumi to the Abkhaz separatist forces on September 27, 1993. Irakli Alasania graduated from the Tbilisi State University with a degree in international law in 1995. Simultaneously he also took courses at the Georgian Academy of Security from 1994 to 1996. He worked for the Ministry of State Security of Georgia from 1994 to 1998. In 1999 the Pankisi Gorge crisis began, he was one of the key figures of resolving this conflict. He was against of cooperating with Russian forces against Chechen Boeviks.[clarification needed] In October 2001 he was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. He then served as deputy Minister of State Security from February 2002 to February 2004, and deputy Minister of Defense from March 2004 until July 2004, when he was moved to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia.

Diplomatic service[edit]

On September 28, 2004, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili appointed Alasania as chairman of the Tbilisi-based Abkhazian government-in-exile. On February 15, 2005, Saakashvili also made him his aide in the Georgian-Abkhaz peace talks, a move that was initially opposed by the Abkhaz secessionist leadership, but later accepted under pressure from the U.N. mission (UNOMIG). During this tenure, Alasania succeeding in establishing good ties with several Abkhaz politicians and was instrumental in resuming the Georgian-Abkhaz Coordination Council, a tool for direct talks between the two sides, in March 2006. That month, however, he was appointed as Georgia’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., a decision which triggered some controversy, with critics saying that sidelining Alasania from the Georgian-Abkhaz negotiations would hinder the positive momentum recently observed in the process.[1]

Alasania continued working on Abkhazian issues, and with through his efforts, the UN General Assembly discussed the issue of displaced persons due to the conflicts in Georgia and passed resolution GA/10708 which recognized the right of return by refugees and internally displaced persons to Abkhazia as well as restitution of property.[2]

Alasania retained his position of the President’s special envoy for the Abkhazia issue and in this capacity, paid a surprise and largely unpublicized visit to Sukhumi on May 12, 2008, where he presented a Georgia-Abhkaz peace plan. The move came amid the stalemate in the Georgian-Abkhaz talks and increasing Russian-Georgian tensions over Abkhazia.[3]

Due to his appointment as Georgia’s Representative to the UN during the 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia, Alasania was the Georgian government’s key negotiator with the UN Security Council and voiced the need for quick and decisive UN and international pressure on Russia to end the conflict.[4]

Alasania resigned his position as Georgia's Permanent Representative at the U.N. on December 4, 2008, citing concerns over the Georgian government’s handling of the 2008 war with Russia.[5]

Political career[edit]

On 26 December 2008, several days after his return to Georgia, Alasania announced that he was in talks with Georgian opposition and would actively enter Georgian politics. Alasania criticized the government’s handling of recent events, blaming it for "falling into a Russian trap" (a reference to the August 2008 war with Russia). Alasania also called for the creation of strong and transparent democratic institutions. In a subsequent interview on January 25, Alasania called for Saakashvili's resignation and early presidential elections.[6][7]

On February 16, 2009, Alasania held a press conference, naming members of his group and declared his vision for Georgia's political and economic future. Among people appearing with him as supporters were several former ambassadors including Levan Mikeladze, a former Georgian ambassador to the U.S and the OSCE as well as Switzerland and UN missions in Geneva, Victor Dolidze, who recently quit his post as envoy to the OSCE and Alexi Petriashvili, Georgia’s former ambassador to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The lawyer Shalva Shavgulidze was also named as a member of Alasania's team. Representatives from most of Georgian opposition parties attended the presentation; most of them expressed their interest in cooperating with Alasania's newly formed party.[8] Two days after the announcements were made Gia Karkarashvili, former Minister of Defense during the War in Abkhazia, expressed his full support for Alasania's ideas.

On February 23, 2009, Alasania's team joined the Republican and New Rights parties in an alliance called "The Alliance for Georgia". Alasania became the alliance's chairman, while Davit Usupashvili of the Republican Party and Davit Gamkrelidze of the New Rights became co-chairmen. The alliance called on President Saakashvili to agree within next ten days to allow the voters decide whether they wanted early presidential elections through a nation-wide referendum.[9]

On 16 July 2009, the political party Our Georgia – Free Democrats was founded and Alasania was chosen as its chairman.[10] In September 2009, the Alasania announced that he would run for Tbilisi mayor’s post in local elections in May 2010.[11]

In February 2012, the Georgian Dream Political Coalition was founded with the Free Democrats as one of three co-founding political parties.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alasania’s UN Appointment Triggers Controversy. Civil Georgia. March 13, 2006.
  2. ^ General Assembly Adopts Resolution Recognizing Right of Return by Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons to Abkhazia, Georgia 15 May 2008
  3. ^ Georgia’s UN Envoy Meets Abkhaz Leader in Sokhumi. Civil Georgia. May 13, 2008.
  4. ^ Georgia’s UN Ambassador Urges International Pressure on Russia. “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty”. 9 August 2008
  5. ^ Alasania Resigns with Politics in Mind. “Civil Georgia”. 6 December 2008
  6. ^ Another Saakashvili Friend Turns Foe. Eurasia Insight. December 25, 2008.
  7. ^ Alasania: Saakashvili Must Resign. Civil Georgia. January 25, 2008.
  8. ^ Irakli Alasania Presents His Political Team. Georgia Today. February 20, 2009.
  9. ^ Alasania Leads New Alliance with New Rights, Republicans. Civil Georgia. February 23, 2009
  10. ^ rferl. rferl (2009-07-17). Retrieved on 2012-06-05.
  11. ^ Alasania to Run for Tbilisi Mayoral Office. Civil Georgia. 23 September 2009
  12. ^ Ivanishvili Launches Coalition. “Civil Georgia”. 21 February 2012