07TBILISI2084, WHO’S RUNNING GEORGIA: IT’S THE EKA’S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2084 2007-08-21 07:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5438
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2084/01 2330731
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 210731Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7361
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TBILISI 002084 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DAS BRYZA, EUR/CARC, DRL, AND INR 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PINR PHUM GG
SUBJECT: WHO'S RUNNING GEORGIA:  IT'S THE EKA'S 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 2050 
     B. TBILISI 1604 
 
Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES MARK X. PERRY.  REASONS: 
1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  Amid the crowd of young, talented, 
Western-educated officials in Georgia, one feature often 
stands out:  many of those in key power positions are 
women. In addition to the prominent role held by the Speaker 
of Parliament,Nino Burjanadze, one of the founders of the Rose 
Revolution in 2003 and a moderating force in Parliament 
(reftel A), Georgia boasts a large number ofwomen in 
pivotal positions across the Government, including in the power 
ministries.  We offer the following analysis of who these 
women are and the role they play.  End summary. 
 
 
Eka Zguladze:  A Force in a Power Ministry 
------------------------------------------ 
 
2. (C) Eka Zguladze, twenty-nine years old, became Deputy 
Minister of Interior (MOIA) in May 2006, replacing Eka 
Tkeshelashvili who moved to become the Chief of the Tbilisi 
Court of Appeals.  The joke between them is that this 
position at the MOIA is reserved for people named "Eka." 
Zguladze is a tireless bureaucrat, arriving in the mornings 
before her very active boss, MOIA Merabishvili, and often 
finishing work in the wee hours of the following day. 
She is sharp, and sometimes slightly sharp-edged, 
knowledgeable and a fierce debater.  (Note:  This would not 
be so notable ifshe were male and in fact, would be the 
norm in Georgian politics.  End note.)  Eka rarely, if ever, 
concedes a point. At times, this quality makes her seem 
rigid in her positions but her fluent English and her strong 
debating skills make her the Ministry's choice spokesperson 
on a range of issues. It was she who was sent to the 
Geneva- style meeting in Bonn on Abkhazia (reftel B) to defend 
Georgia's position in the Upper Kodori Valley.  She also 
travels regularly to Brussels to participate in meetings on 
Georgia's desire to join NATO.  Zguladze speaks fluent 
English and is married. 
 
Eka Tkeshelashvili:  The Brain Behind Judicial Reform 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
3. (C) Eka Tkeshelashvili, thirty years old, is the Chief 
of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals.  She was a Muskie Fellow to 
the University of Notre Dame Law School, where she received 
an L.L.M. in International Human Rights Law.  She is smart, 
capable, and dynamic.  Prior to her position at the 
Ministry of Interior, she was a Deputy Minister of Justice and 
before that she held a number of positions outside government in 
the rule of law sector, focusing on human rights issues. 
While Chair of the Supreme Court Kublashvili is viewed as 
somewhat of a lightweight, she is the brains behind 
judicial reform.  Like Zguladze, Tkeshelashvili is perhaps 
too right all the time for some.  She is, however, a better 
diplomat in the sense that she frames her disagreements in 
polite, legal terms.  Tkeshelashvili will readily admit the 
gaps in judicial reform but has a plan for how to address them 
and is not afraid to disagree when internationals have 
ideas that she believes will not work in Georgia.  If there was 
ever a judge who could not be swayed by outside forces, it 
is Tkeshelashvili.  She speaks fluent English and is 
married and expecting her first child in September.  She is 
planning to take only one month off after the birth. 
 
 
Eka Gigauri:  A Can Do Achiever in the Border Police 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
4. (C) Eka Gigauri, in her late 20s, is the Deputy Chair 
for Resource Management for the Georgian Border Police.  She 
first came to the Border Police in mid-2004, after a period in 
the private sector, and within six months was promoted to her 
current position, replacing a Brigadier General.  In her 
position, Eka has ushered in legislation converting the 
Border Police from a military to a law enforcement force. 
She also led the arduous process of replacing the conscript 
force with contract personnel, coordinating the testing, 
interviews and training for new hires.  She is known to work 
well and productively with her boss, Badri Bitsadze (also 
Speaker Burjanadze's husband) despite his reputation of leading 
with a management style that harks back to Soviet times by being 
personality rather than organizationally centered.  Eka is 
not, contrary to rumor, the god daughter of Speaker 
Burjanadze. Eka is unmarried and lives with her parents. 
Her father held a high level position in the Shevardnadze 
government in the late 1990s. 
 
 
TBILISI 00002084  002 OF 004 
 
 
Eka Sharashidze:  The Operator in the President's Office 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
5. (C) Eka Sharashidze, a dual Georgian-American national, 
is the Chief of Staff to President Saakashvili since this 
year. She previously worked in the Office of the Prime Minister 
as an advisor on economic issues and left to work in the 
Mayor's office after a falling out with the Prime Minister. 
The
 President picked her up on his staff and she quickly moved 
to become Chief of Staff with the departure of Giorgi 
Arveladze to the  Ministry of Economic Development. 
Educated in the U.S., Eka speaks fluent English. 
 
Anna Zhvania:  The Respected NGO Figure 
--------------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) Anna Zhvania, in her mid-thirties, is the head of 
the Georgian Counter-Intelligence Service.  She came to the 
position last year trying to fill the large shoes of Batu 
Kutelia, who was moved to become first a Deputy Minister of 
Foreign Affairs and then a Deputy Minister of Defense.  It 
has not been an easy transition.  Zhvania moved from being the 
President's Advisor on Civil Integration -- after a 
distinguished stint in the NGOsector -- to one of the most 
machosectors of Georgian society.  She is smart, thoughtful 
and soft-spoken.  We have heard she has had trouble with, 
among other people, her Deputy, who refuses to report to 
her in any meaningful way.  Although Zhvania is someone to 
watch in futureas she has widespread respect in Georgia for 
her integrity and principles, she has suffered some recent 
serious health problems from which she is undergoing medical 
treatment in Israel.  She is married and expecting her 
first child this fall.  She speaks fluent English. 
 
Nona Tsotsoria:  The Velvet Glove of the Prosecutor's Office 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 
 
7. (C) Nona Tsotsoria, Deputy Prosecutor General, is the 
behind-the-scenes right hand to a behind-the-scenes 
Prosecutor General.  She is helpful and responsive and has 
a lot of credibility among Georgian and internationals for 
her measured and results-oriented approach.  In her 
mid-thirties, Tsotsoria is slightly older than Zguladze 
and Tkeshelashvili and of a different generation of 
Georgian women.  Being slightly more experienced in dealing 
with internationals, she is considered by some to be a more 
favorable interlocutor.  She is also more "feminine" in the 
traditional sense in that she is not overtly outspoken and 
opinionated.  She recently cut short a graduate program in 
the U.S. at the University of Pennsylvania in order to 
return to Georgia to take up a position in the near future as 
a judge on the European Court of Human Rights.  Tsotsoria 
is unmarried. 
 
Lali Papiashvili:  A Quiet but Effective Operator in Parliament 
--------------------------------------------- ------------------ 
 
8. (C) Lali Papiashvili is a former Chief of Staff to 
Speaker Burjanadze and currently a party list National Movement 
MP. At thirty-five, she is also of a slightly older generation 
of Georgian women in politics and her dress and demeanor 
reflect her generation. Like the Speaker, she appears to take 
care with her appearance (and her color coordination and pitch 
perfect make-up and nails remind many of Burjanadze.)  She is 
composed, polite and articulate and is carefulnot to cause 
offense. As a result, she is respected for her well-considered 
and thoughtful views which she articulates with quiet strength 
of purpose (as well as with the knowledge that she remains an 
insider to Burjanadze.)  Papiashvili was the operator in 
Parliament whohelped to push through a number of reforms in 
support of Georgia's anti-trafficking efforts this year, 
resulting in its movement to Tier 1 on the Trafficking in 
Persons report for the first time.  Papiashvili speaks 
fluent English and is married with one child. 
 
Irina Kurdadze:  The Speaker's Right Hand 
----------------------------------------- 
 
9. (C) Irina Kurdadze is a the current Chief of Staff to 
Speaker Burjanadzeand a party list National Movement MP. 
She is perhaps the most trusted confidante on the Speaker's 
staff and also the most effective.  Like Papiashvili, she 
is careful to think through issues before articulating a 
position.She is discreet and does not have a large role 
outside of theSpeaker's office but she appears to be given 
the most importanttasks by the Speaker.  For example, when 
the Embassy approachedthe Speaker last year on passing a 
law banning ex partecommunications, the Speaker assigned 
the task to Kurdadze.  Attimes, one wonders how Kurdadze, 
who is soft-spoken, does in the rough and tumble of 
Georgia's feisty Parliamentary debate.  It is clear that 
 
TBILISI 00002084  003 OF 004 
 
 
the ex parte legislation was only passed after key 
Parliamentarian Giga Bokeria -- we are told at the order 
of President Saakashvili -- decided to putit front and center. 
Kurdadze speaks passable English and is married with two 
children. 
 
Nino Nakashidze:  The Seller of Georgia Abroad 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
10. (C) Nino Nakashidze, fifty-one, is the current Deputy 
Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee and, according to 
Parliamentary sources, the likely next Chair of the 
European Integration Committee to replace David Bakradze 
became the State Minister for Conflict Resolution on 
July 23.  Nino is a party list National Movement MP. 
Brash and opinionated, Nakashidze is one of the older and 
long-standing female fixtures in Parliament.  She travels 
frequently to Europe to sell Georgia's position abroad. 
Part of her power comes from her close association to 
Speaker Burjanadze and key Burjanadze staff members 
including Irina Kurdadze and Thea Goguadze-Apfel, with whom 
she is close.  She is married and has one child. 
 
Maia Nadiradze:  The Party Face 
------------------------------- 
 
11. (C) Maia Nadiradze, forty-six, is the Head of the 
Majority Faction inParliament.  As such, she is the 
spokesperson for the United National Movement (UNM.) 
When an issue of importance is decided, Maia offers an 
explanation.  Her reputation is somewhat tarnished by her 
history of changing parties frequently.For example, she was 
in the past a supporter of former President Gamsakhurdia 
and then became a leader of the traditionalists and finally 
a prominent member ofthe UNM.  She is married with two 
children. 
 
Helen Khoshtaria:  The Fighter for Georgia in NATO 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
12. (C) Khoshtaria is a Deputy Minister in the Ministry 
for Euro-Atlantic Integration, focusing on NATO issues. 
Her intellectual capacity, hard work ethnic,and ability 
to coordinate efforts on the myriad reforms linked to 
NATO integration have been crucial in advancing Georgia's 
NATO bid.  She has excellent relations with NATO staff, the 
international community, and the Georgian defense and 
foreign affairsministries linked to NATO reform implementation. 
Khoshtaria moved to the Euro-Atlantic Affairs Ministry from 
the MOIA where she worked as a staff assistant to Minister 
Baramidze -- then Minister of Internal Affairs and now 
Ministerfor Euro-Atlantic Integration.  Khoshtaria is also 
a close friend of Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, 
Eka Zguladze.  Recently turned thirty, Khoshta
ria is a 
rising star, and is unmarried.  She speaks fluent English 
and is a graduate of the prestigious Moscow State 
Diplomatic University. 
 
Tina Khidasheli:  The Opposition Voice 
-------------------------------------- 
 
13. (C) Tina Khidasheli, in her late-thirties, is a 
prominent member of the opposition Republican Party.  She 
is a former head of the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association 
(GYLA), a respected local NGO.  She is a member of the "Class 
of 1995" at Tbilisi State University,which included, among 
others, prominent Georgians such as Georgian Permanent 
Representative to the United Nations Irakli Alasania, Chief 
of the Supreme Court Kublashvili, and formerDefense Minister 
Irakli Okruashvili.  There is no love lost between her and 
Okruashvili,although she is a well known voice and face 
of the opposition.Khidasheli is smart and personable. 
Some believe she talkstoo much and at times overwhelms her 
interlocutors with relentless and unbending (and at times, 
unbalanced) positions on issues.  She is married to David 
Usupashvili, the Chair of the Republican Party.  They have 
one child. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
14. (C) From our view, the twelve women listed above are 
the women to watch for in the future of Georgian politics. 
Remarkably, they manage the blood sport of Georgian 
politics (and the nuances of Georgian society, which remains 
largely patriarchal and male-dominated),in their own way, but 
to a person, effectively help produce the reform results that 
mark the Saakashvili administration.  We also note that almost 
all of them, like so many key people in the Saakashvili 
government, has been trained in Western Europe or the United 
States.  End comment. 
 
TBILISI 00002084  004 OF 004 
 
 
PERRY

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