Mikheil Saakashvili

Mikheil Saakashvili, President of the Republic of Georgia, graduated with honors from Tbilisi Secondary School N51 in 1984 and was accepted into the prestigious Kiev University Institute of International Relations where he graduated with honors.

Mr. Saakashvili attended Columbia Law School as an Edmund S. Muskie Fellow where he received his master of laws (LL.M.) in 1994. From 1995 to 1996, he studied law at the doctoral level at The George Washington University National Center of Law in Washington, D.C. He received a diploma in comparative law of human rights at the Strasbourg Human Rights International Institute. In 1992 he spent time specializing in minority issues at the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights and organized a conference between Georgians and South Ossetians that led to the first signed ceasefire agreement.

At the Human Rights Committee of Georgia, 1992 to 1993, he secured prisoner exchange agreements between Georgians and Abkhazs and also between Armenians and Azeris captured in the fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh. Admitted to the New York Bar, he practiced commercial law for nearly a year at Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler in New York City.

When he returned to Georgia, he was elected to Parliament in 1995 and was immediately elected by his peers in Parliament as chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal Issues and Legal Affairs.

In August 1998 he became majority leader of Parliament when his party, the "Citizen's Union," elected him leader of their parliamentary delegation. He was re-elected to Parliament in 1999, but this time elected directly by the constituents of the Vake district in central Tbilisi.

The Georgian Parliament elected him head of Georgia's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In January 2000 in Strasbourg, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe elected Mr. Saakashvili its Vice President.

On October 12, 2000, then-President Edward Shevardnadze appointed Mr. Saakashvili Minister of Justice of Georgia. Seven out of eight parties in a deeply divided parliament voted in his favor.

In September 2001, less than a year after his appointment, Mr. Saakashvili resigned as Minister of Justice over the government's unwillingness to end corruption within itself. He also resigned from his party, the "Citizens' Union." Only weeks after that resignation and now running as an independent, he was overwhelmingly re-elected to Parliament in October of 2001 by the constituents of Tbilisi's Vake District. Before the end of 2001, he formed a new party, "The United National Movement," pledging to take the fight to the government over corruption.

Mr. Saakashvili resigned his seat in Parliament to be eligible to run locally for Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo). He won on the platform, "Tbilisi without Shevardnadze" and was elected council chair.

As council chair, from 2002 to 2003, he put new energy into the neglected city and jumpstarted programs to create real city services. He became a candidate again for Parliament for the new "National Movement" party in what would become the historic Georgian national elections scheduled for November 2003.

In the special elections held on the January 4, 2004, the people of Georgia overwhelmingly elected Mikheil Saakashvili as president.

President Saakashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia on December 21, 1967, the eldest son of three brothers. President Saakashvili currently lives in a 3-room apartment in a private residential building in Tbilisi with his wife, Sandra, and their two sons.

Source: University Programs and Events Planning Resources, September 2007