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Embassy Row: Caesar salad days
Question of the Day
The ambassador from the former Soviet republic of Georgia is tired and frustrated after only a year in Washington.
Temur Iakobashvili has had little success in getting officials to pay attention to his small but strategic nation, which is consolidating its democracy while fending off aggression from neighboring Russia.
“I feel exhausted [in] my mission and activities in this position,” the 45-year-old career diplomat said earlier this month when he announced his resignation on his Facebook page.
He said he believes President Mikheil Saakashvili should appoint a new ambassador after consultations with Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose Georgia Dream political party defeated Mr. Saakashvili’s United National Movement in parliamentary elections in October.
Mr. Iakobashvili on Monday told students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill about the difficulty he has had in Washington in drawing attention to the problems of a small country about the size of South Carolina with a population of only 4.6 million.
“In the U.S., you have to talk to 200 different people to accomplish anything small, and all of them matter,” he said.
The ambassador assumed his office in November 2010 but had to wait three months before he could present his diplomatic credentials to President Obama and formally begin his duties.
Mr. Iakobashvili noted that much of Washington diplomacy swirls around dinners and social events, the Daily Tar Heel student newspaper reported.
“I haven’t eaten so much Caesar salad in my life,” he said.
Mr. Iakobashvili said Georgia deserves credit for its transformation to democracy, after Mr. Saakashvili led massive popular protests in 2003 that forced former President Eduard Shevardnadze to resign amid widespread allegations of voter fraud.
Mr. Saakashvili was elected in January 2004 and re-elected in January 2008.
The ambassador said the so-called Rose Revolution removed an autocratic government run by a former Soviet apparatchik and replaced it with an open and democratic one.
“We had one of the most corrupted countries in the world. Now we have one of the least corrupted,” Mr. Iakobashvili said.
In terse language for a diplomat, Mr. Iakobashvili denounced Russia as a “product of Stalinism.” Russia has been supporting separatist movements in two Georgian regions — Abkhazia on the Black Sea coast and South Ossetia in the mountainous northwest.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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