Presidential Candidate Apologizes for Unethical Address to Reporters

Salome Zurabishvili, an independent Presidential Candidate and former Foreign Minister of Georgia, has apologized for her unethical address to reporters which was followed by criticism from the media.

Zurabishvili, who will reportedly be supported by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party during the elections on October 28, told reporters to “shake their brains” (“wake up”) when one of them asked her a question about the presidential residence and her views about the issue.

The candidate said she had already made a comment about the issue the previous week and stated the “journalists should also wake up” and look into her previous comments.

“I already said that for me the Presidential Palace in Avlabari is not suitable. I think the Orbeliani Palace suits me better. But as I said before, I will live in my house and this will be the new platform for the presidential institution in Georgia,” she stated.

The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics has responded to Zurabishvili’s comment. They say making such remarks to representatives of the media is unacceptable.

Charter Director Nata Dzvelishvili stated that if such acts are repeated, the Charter will publish a proper statement.

“There is a high public interest towards the presidential candidates, so they are obliged to respond to all the questions of journalists, regardless of whether they are boring, unacceptable, uncomfortable, etc. Such address is unacceptable from a person who is an acting MP,” she said.

Dzvelishvili noted the media should always react to such cases, adding it reveals how politicians carry out their roles and communication responsibilities with the media.

Parliament Vice-Speaker and GD member Tamar Chugoshvili says she does not share Zurabishvili’s view. “On the contrary, I confirm my respect for media. However, GD need only make comments on her statements if we are supporting her during the elections. We have not made such a decision yet,” she added.

After the wave of criticism, Zurabishvili apologized, saying her statement was a joke and not all of her comments should be taken seriously by the media.

“I apologize to those who took my statement seriously,” she said.

The France-born Georgian politician visited Georgia for the first time in 1986 during a break from her job at the French Embassy in Washington.

In 2001-2003, she was Head of the Division of International and Strategic Issues of National Defense General Secretariat of France and in 2003 she was appointed the Ambassador of France to Georgia.

Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili appointed her to the post of Foreign Minister on 18 March 2004.

Over a year later, then Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli sacked her after some disputes with MPs. Right after this she set up the Salome Zurabishvili Movement. In January 2006, she announced the establishment of a new political party Georgian Way.

Five years later, she gave up her party and moved abroad and started a job as a coordinator of the UN panel of experts on Iran.

Zurabishvili, 66, was an independent candidate in the 2016 parliamentary elections and the GD decided to withdraw their candidate in Mtatsminda region to help her win a seat in the legislative body.

By Thea Morrison

16 August 2018 17:44