Georgia nominates Habsburg duchess as envoy to Germany

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The new ambassador, a member of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty, is currently an arts teacher in Tbilisi and has Georgian citizenship.

Tbilisi -- Ex-Soviet Georgia has nominated Gabriela Von Habsburg, a Tbilisi art professor and granddaughter of the last emperor of Austria, as its ambassador to Germany, the foreign ministry said Monday.

Von Habsburg, a 53-year-old member of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty also known as Archduchess Gabriela of Austria, was born in Luxembourg and is the daughter of Otto von Habsburg, the former crown prince of Austria.

"Gabriela von Habsburg-Lorraine will be appointed as Georgia's ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Germany," foreign ministry spokeswoman Ia Makharashvili told AFP.

"Her appointment procedure is underway and her candidacy has already been officially transmitted to parliament," she said.

Von Habsburg has been teaching at the Academy of Arts in Tbilisi since 2001 and has Georgian citizenship. She is well-known as a sculptor of abstract stainless steel structures.

She has constructed a stone memorial in Tbilisi to the 2003 Rose Revolution that brought President Mikheil Saakashvili to power and participated in pro-Georgia protests during last year's conflict with Russia.

The Habsburgs ruled the Holy Roman Empire from 1438 to 1806, and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 until its demise in 1918 at the end of World War I when it was allied with Germany.

Georgia has a history of unusual appointments in its foreign service.

In 2004 it named Salome Zurabishvili, a French diplomat of Georgian descent, as foreign minister. He was fired from the post after less than two years and now is an outspoken opposition politician.

Neighbouring Armenia also raised eyebrows earlier this year when it named French singing legend Charles Aznavour, who is of Armenian descent, as its ambassador to Switzerland.


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