Giorgi Latso

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President
Giorgi Latso
Coat of arms of Varkana.png
36th President of Varkana
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 January 2012
Prime Minister Council of Ten
Preceded by Zurab Avalishvili
SSD Chief
In office
1 January 2006 – 31 December 2011
President Zurab Avalishvili
Preceded by Anna Zhvania
Succeeded by Antoniu Rikovilo
Ambassador to Aetolia
In office
8 February 2004 – 31 December 2006
President Zurab Avalishvili
Preceded by ??
Succeeded by ??
Councilor of Finance
In office
3 December 2000 – 31 December 2003
President Zurab Avalishvili
Succeeded by ??
Minister of Finance
In office
1 January 2000 – 3 December 2000
President Zurab Avalishvili
Preceded by ??
Personal details
Born Giorgi Marius Latso Søborg
(1968-03-02) 2 March 1968 (age 51)
Oni, Varkana
Political party Conservative Party
(1992-1996)
New Anticapitalist Party
(1999-)
Spouse(s) Marianna Bajusz
Children Pipa (born 28 April 2000)
Liesel (born 31 August 2006)
Amiran (born 17 May 2009)
Residence Klow
Alma mater Oni University
Religion Armazism

Giorgi Latso Søborg (Varkan: გიორგი ლაწო სოებორგ; born 2 March 1968 in Oni, Varkana) is a Varkan politician, economist, author, and the current President of Varkana since 1 January 2012.

Latso was a member of the Conservative Party from 1994 to 1996, running for the Senate in the 1996 election. He eventually left the party in 1996, after several disagreements. He then moved to Aetolia and lived there as an economic analyst until 2002. Coming back to Varkana, Latso joined the New Anticapitalist Party and was appointed Temporary Councilor in the newly established Council of Ten after the Varkan revolution. Leader of the Conservative wing of the AAP, in 2010, he started his campaign for the 2012 presidential election. He won the nomination inside his party and won the election with 50.1% of votes, one of the closest presidential election in Varkan history.

During his first three years in office, Latso advocated "an acceleration of the establishment of a Varkan-Aetolian civic service, the creation of a Varkan-Aetolian research office, the creation of a Varkan-Aetolian industrial fund to finance common competitiveness clusters, and the establishment of a common military headquarters". Latso made a state visit to Aetolia in February 2014; a state dinner was given in his honor, and he addressed their Parliament. In September 2015, Latso described his policies as anti-imperialist, and being a vocal critic of neoliberalism and laissez-faire capitalism. His style has been described as "confrontational" but "assertive" by several media.

In 2015, Latso was reelected President with 68.3% of votes.

Early life and education

Latso's Tetri Guard portrait

Latso was born in the commune of Oni, Varkana, to Tsiuri Latso (died 1996) and Hugo Søborg (of Skadian origin). His mother was the daughter of Juliana Látzló, a Tourkian immigrant who was naturalized a Varkan citizen and Varkanized her family name to Latso.

Latso attended a compulsory and upper secondary school in Oni, and graduated from the Oni University in 1990 with a double major in Aetolian and Economics.

Early political career

From 1990 to 1991, Latso worked as a Tetri Guard in Armazia. After 1991, he was hired as an economic analyst for ??? in Klow, and worked there for three years. Latso entered politics in 1992, becoming a member of the Conservative political party. He became a leading Youth branch activist, eventually joining the party list for the 1995 Senate election.

Latso's election literature in the 1995 senatorial election endorsed radical communitarian traditionalist conservative policies that the Conservatives advocated during Alasania's presidency. He called for Varkana to leave the WAO and WWF. He also supported unilateral nuclear disarmament as a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In an election speech on 26 December 1995, Latso stated, "in 1947, during the campaign, the Conservative Party proudly stated that under Alasania, Varkana kept key nationalized industries, workers' equality and our country's culture and dignity, while being open to the world. Today, the Conservative Party sells our industry to foreign companies and spits on our culture and workers, and income inequality has never been this high." Latso was eventually beaten in his hometown commune of Oni by the Socialist Whoever.

After the election, which saw the end of 12 years of Conservative rule, Latso eventually left the party in February 1996. In August of the same year, he appeared on STV 1, arguing that the Conservative government's economic policies were a threat to Armazist values and the Varkan population.

Private sector

Latso worked from March 1996 to February 1998 as a research director and portfolio manager for Sinora Kapitali, in Klow. From February 1998 to March 1999, he was a vice-president at Financial Company in Palaiochori, Aetolia.

Return to politics and Varkan revolution

Latso in 1999

In March 1999, Latso returned to Varkana and joined the New Anticapitalist Party led by Zurab Avalishvili in August of the same year. He became a leading figure in the party, representing "dissidents from other political parties who understood the necessity of aristocratic communalism," according to Avalishvili. Despite joining AAP, Latso continued to be a vocal supporter of his conservative values, while promoting socialist and progressive economics. In the 1999 National Assembly election, he was elected as part of the AAP party list, where the party won the largest amount of seats but without a majority. AAP party leader Zurab Avalishvili won the presidential election, and the AAP and allied parties won a majority of Senate seats. The AAP led a coalition government for the first time in its history, and Latso was appointed Minister of Finance.

Avalishvili established a constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution, and eventually created the Fourth Republic of Varkana after it was endorsed by the population through referendum. Latso was then appointed temporary councilor in the new Council of Ten, responsible of the newly formed Department of Finance, a successor of the Ministry of Finance.

Minister and Councilor of Finance

Under the presidency of Zurab Avalishvili, Latso was appointed as temporary councilor of the Department of Finance, as part of the Council of Ten. His tenure lasted for four years, as prescribed in the Transition Act established during the Varkan revolution.

During his Council years, he successfully implemented the current Varkan financial system, including the energy standard, the Varkan Stock Exchange, and the Bank of Varkana. He was revealed to be the chief architect of the 2001 Varkan financial crisis which was confirmed by Prosecutor General PERSON.

Asked at the end of his tenure if he would have preferred to remain as Councilor, Latso answered that he wouldn't. "I was starting to lose my objectivity on certain issues, believing too strongly in my earlier plans. The system with the Universities and young new ideas are very much needed if we want to always be progressive," he explained.

Ambassador to Aetolia

After his tenure as temporary councilor ended, Latso was appointed by President Avalishvili as Ambassador to Aetolia in February 2004. Upon his arrival in Aetolia, Latso pledged his commitment to "strengthening the ties that bind our two great nations." In an April 2004 interview, Latso reiterated that sentiment stating, "we have a vital relationship, a symbiotic relationship for the last two millenniums. To just remind ourselves on both sides of the Sinora how important we are to each other and keep trying to make it stronger -- that's certainly my goal." He remained ambassador for two years until his nomination as SSD Chief in 2006.

SSD Chief

Nominated by President Zurab Avalishvili to replace the retiring Anna Zhvania, Latso took office on 1 January 2006. He implemented a wide range of reforms through the SSD, most of which are classified. He reorganized the internal structure of the SSD, giving new titles, merging, replacing, creating or removing different positions. Latso replaced around 40% of all SSD staff with AAP faithfuls, according to various domestic sources and foreign experts. Human rights activist Evgeni Kharadze has also claimed Latso was infiltrating the Varkan government with staff loyal to him at a level almost similar to that of Levan Gotua, in preparation for him to officially take power and becoming President. This alleged consolidation of power has been propagated by most mainstream media in Illypnia, especially in Breisland.

Presidential campaigns

2011 presidential campaign

In the primary campaign for presidential candidacy for the New Anticapitalist Party, Latso secured his position as candidate in the first round of votes at the September 2011 party congress with the primary vote conducted online. The campaign was characterized by the aim for Varkan neutrality and promoting aristocratic communalism in Adonia.

Latso campaigned with a foreign policy agenda of Adonian wide co-operation and the rule of international law, strongly emphasizing on spreading Varkan values throughout humanity. Surprisingly, Latso and his communication team done did something U/C.

Latso won the 2011 presidential election, elected by universal preferential suffrage with 56.7% of votes on a platform focusing on the rule of international law and improving Mesogean ties; a significant part of Latso's success was his charisma and his views on religion issues. His popularity at the time as a charismatic, well-educated and dedicated professional and knowledgeable candidate helped as well.

2015 presidential campaign

Presidency (since 2012)

Inauguration and staff

Latso and Ina Vang in May 2013

The Presidential Office appointed, or allowed to remain in office, 2,152 ambassadors. Most were career diplomats. He reappointed Liza Nozadze as Hand, she who was already Hand during the last mandate of former President Avalishvili. He appointed Akaki Asatiani as Secretary of Defence, a personal friend of Council of Ten member Irma Borodin, head of the Department of the Interior. To the position of Secretary of Foreign Affairs, he appointed Ina Vang, the youngest nominated secretary at 26 years old and 261 days at the time.

Foreign policy

Marianna Bajusz and Latso with Aetolian President Tryfon Iordanou and his wife in Palaiochori

Latso named Ina Vang as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, who was initially reluctant, but after discussing privately with Latso on the phone, she accepted the position. Vang took the oath of office and became the youngest nominated secretary or minister at 26 years old and 261 days at the time.

Supporters of Latso's foreign policy applaud what they describe as his cooperation with allies and multilateralism, and his harsh stand on human rights abuses. Latso's foreign policy has been labeled as Gerissenpolitik in Breisland and internationally, following an in-depth publication in Außenpolitik.

Latso with the SS

His foreign policy has received criticism across the political spectrum. Secular activists have accused him of establishing an "Armazist Connection", favoring Armazist countries over others and looking away at human rights abuses by some Armazist countries. On the other hand, leftist politicians such as former President Zurab Avalishvili have accused him of cynicism and heavy-handedness. More specifically, some critics charge that he has pursued similarly policies to those of the First Republic, discriminating upon non-Armazists.

Military

Defense Secretary Akaki Asatiani and Latso in the Falasi Fortress, headquarters of the SSD

While from the early 1990s Varkana started reducing investments in its military and defense industry, it was only in 2012 that the full-scale Varkan military reform began, aimed to modernize the Military of Varkana and made them significantly more effective. The reform was largely carried by newly appointed Secretary of Defense Akaki Asatiani under Latso's supervision.

Key administrative elements of the reform included reducing the armed forces to a strength of a hundred thousand; reducing the number of officers; centralizing officer training into 10 military training centers; reducing the size of the central command; introducing more civilian logistics and auxiliary staff; reducing to eventually dismantle the Naval Forces into the Coast Guard; reorganizing the reserves; creating the Cyber Forces; reorganizing the air force into an air base system instead of regiments. The number of Varkana's military districts was reduced to only one for the whole country.

Major equipment reforms were implemented, including the phasing out of a significant stock of tanks (many of which were sold to other nations to increase funding for new equipment), the abandonment of automatic rifles, and major investments and focus in APCs. Secretary Asatiani requested additional funding to acquire fleets of UAVs and to update its fleet of F-14 fighter jets.

In February 2014, Secretary Asatiani announced an international competition for the procurement of 100 4.5-generation multirole fighters. Volisania entered the competition with the MiG-35 while Aetolia bid with the JAS 39 Gripen. Other bidders included Kalinova's Rafale, Zong's Su-35S, the East Fosian Typhoon and Nusaraya's F-CK-1. In April 2014, Volisan MiG-35s flew demonstrations in Varkana, including air-to-air combat against Varkan F-14s. In July 2014, the SD shortlisted the MiG-35 and Su-35S for the ₭4 billion contract. On 15 September 2014, the SD announced the MiG-35 as the preferred bidder and on 7 October 2014 contracts were formally signed during a state visit by Latso in Ampuria.

On 3 December 2014, Volisan Prime Minister Lucie Llobregas announced the postponement of delivery of the first aircraft due to the Varkan chemical weapons program. Varkana threatened to cancel the deal outright in early 2015, but the Volisan government agreed to continue with the deal pending the results of the Adonian Community investigation. Following an inconclusive report, the Volisan government decided to go forth with the deal despite heavy protests from opposition parties in Volisania. Secretary Asatiani met with Volisan Defense Minister ??? in January 2016 to sign delivery documents, guaranteeing delivery of the first MiG-35A in FY2018.

In 2017, Asatiani and Latso announced Varkana would participate in the development of a Varkan version of the upcoming 6th generation MiG-41 fighter jets alongside Volisania.

Latso has also sought to increase Varkan military cooperation with Mesogean countries. Yearly massive joint military exercises are held with Aetolia, including military simulations of war between the two nations. These simulations help both nations improve their flaws should they be attacked and keep their military ready at any time. Latso publicly supports the creation of a unified Mesogean Air Force and a Mesogean Navy.

Image

Latso is distinguished by his way of life, looks and ideals. He has been declared one of the most attractive politician in the world by various magazines. Latso does not own any car, and he lives with his wife and children in the Presidential Palace in Klow, despite owning a house in Oni. Latso travels with his blue bicycle all year long, despite rain and rare snow. For inter-communal travel, he prefers to use InterCommunal rail, and for international travel, conventional high-speed rail.

Caricature of Latso

According to a January 2012 public opinion survey, Latso' approval rating was 63%, at the start of his presidency. In January 2014, Latso's approval rating rose to 72%. After the Huwei speech in July 2016, Latso's approval rating reached 87 percent, an all-time high for any democratically elected Varkan president. By January 2017, Latso's approval had fallen slightly to 81%. Observers see Latso's high approval ratings as a consequence of the successes of aristocratic communalism in Varkana, as well as Varkana's leadership in the MOZ with initiatives such as the ESO. One analysis attributed Latso's popularity, in part, to his youth, attitude, and proximity in opinion to the public, which has been labeled as populism and even demagoguery by his critics.

Former President Zurab Avalishvili credited Latso with having "created the communalist economy", but has also criticized Latso for straining foreign relations with several countries and militarizing Varkana, he who envisioned to reduce considerably the military in the long-term. According to human rights activist Evgeni Kharadze, Latso is turning Varkana into a "theocratic authoritarian state."

According to a leaked BND report, the Breislandic government views Latso as "moderately sensitive to slights - direct or inferred - to himself, his beliefs, or his nation, all of which he views more or less interchangeably. Capable of extraordinary frankness, and in his own eyes no doubt unusually honest, Latso can also on occasion be a gambler and a dissembler expert in calculated bluffing. He doesn't fear adversity nor being faced with unknown variables due to his unwavering trust in his own capabilities."

Around Adonia

Latso with Chief of Staff Khatia Nutsubidze, who is fluent in Zong, in Gudong, Zong

All 25 countries covered in an October 2015 poll said they would prefer to see Mamuka Papashvili elected president ahead of Latso being reelected. In 15 of the 25 nations, people expected relations between Varkana and the rest of Adonia to decrease if Latso stayed president. More than 22,000 people were questioned by GlobeScan in countries ranging from Zong to Breisland and across Kaftia, Fosia and Illypnia. The margin in favor of Latso ranged from 2% in Breisland to 92% in Svaneti, while an average of 25% across the 25 countries preferred Latso compared with 35% preferring Papashvili. Some four in ten did not express a view.

In addition to this, Latso has established close relationships with prominent foreign politicians and elected officials even before his presidential candidacy, notably with Echian prime minister Gennaro Amendola, who was already a close friend, and with Svanetian President Pizhina Anzour, who he met through his role as SSD Chief in 2009. After his election, he befriended Matriarch Salome, of the Armazist Church, which is a big improvement from Avalishvili who had a feud with her, as an atheist. Salome described Latso as a "perfect leader" who brought "back Varkana into Armazist values and traditions" and now aims to "bring reason to the rest of the world." Latso has also warm relations with Sakalian President Apostol Ianevski, who founded a sister political party to the AAP in his home country.

Polls have shown that approval ratings of Varkana in other countries have significantly decreased since Latso took office, including a 54 percent decrease in Kastruneto, a 38 percent decrease in Sarta and a 46 percent decrease in Breisland. On the other hand, approval ratings of Varkana in Mesogean countries have increased since he took office, especially in Echia, Kotcija, Monsora and Lagash.

Speech

During his pre-inauguration transition period and continuing into his presidency, Latso has delivered a series of weekly Internet and Intranet video addresses. Latso has a northern Varkan accent when speaking Varkan, and a Central Aetolian accent when speaking Aetolian. He speaks both languages flawlessly, while his Breislandic accent remains with notes of Varkan and sometimes Aetolian pronunciation.

A point of contrast between Latso and his 2012 second round opponent was Latso's perceived calm and even temperament, which was praised by former president Zurab Avalishvili as well as numerous media sources as "professional" and "a contrast with Avalishvili". Perceptions of such temperament are not without drawback, as Latso has been accused many times of not being emotional or angry enough to satisfy the public. To those accusations, Latso simply said that the public had become too accustomed to Avalishvili's outbursts.

Faith

Latso describes himself as a devout Armazist and an active member of the Armazist Church. On religious faith in general he has said: "I do think that organized religion can get things wrong but the Church of Varkana and the other churches do play a very important role in society. I don't think that Varkana would be so progressive and advanced on Adonia if it wasn't for Armazism." He views Varkana as a tolerant "Armazist country".

It has been rumored that Latso was once part of the Unseen, in his youth. When asked in an interview on Varkan television if he was ever part of the Unseen during the time he served at the Akropolis as Tetri Guard, Latso simply responded "maybe". Many argue that he was simply mocking the idea, while others think he was serious.

Personal life

Latso and wife Marianna Bajusz selfie
Latso, Bajusz and their dog, Budu, in Borjomi

He lives in Klow, in the Presidential Palace. Apart from his native Varkan, he speaks Aetolian, Breislandic, and Tourkian, although not that fluently for the latter.

He is married to Marianna Bajusz, a naturalized Varkan citizen from Tourkia whom he met while visiting his cousin in the country in the mid 1990s. They were wed on 5 March 1999 in an undisclosed forest in the commune of Oni. They have two daughters, Pipa (18 year old; born 28 April 2000 in Oni, Varkana) and Liesel (12 year old; born 31 August 2006 in Klow, Varkana), and one son, Amiran (9 year old; born 17 May 2009 in Klow, Varkana). Latso starred alongside Bajusz in the latter's 2018 biographical film Millennium about the events surrounding the 1999 Varkan revolution.

Latso often is seen on outdoor activities with his wife, promoting sports and healthy way of life among Varkans: they were seen alpine skiing in the Tsunda resort, playing tennis, cycling and especially swimming. Latso has been swimming since childhood and entered competitions for his secondary school's swimming team. One of Latso's favorite sports is the Varkan martial art of Khridoli, which he continues to practice today. Latso supports Khoni Mamali S.K. football club.

Latso owns a male Border Terrier named Budu (named after Budu Shevardnadze), given as a gift in 2008 by Whoever.

Quotes

Quotes of Latso

If you have trouble, if life is nasty with you, take refuge in the forest, she will never disappoint you. Every plant, every flower, every tree, every animal, are living proof of the power of the gods and the forest will give you courage.
—Giorgi Latso on 5 March 1999 in Oni, on his wedding day.
Que que que
—Giorgi Latso on 18 February 2012 in Skopelos, Aetolia
Whatever about Breisland
—Giorgi Latso on 7 July 2016 in Huwei, Zong

Quotes about Latso

Avalishvili was the necessary evil, the unchallenged, uncompromising and unattainable visionary leader Varkana needed for the Revolution and for its needed changes, a true old politician who knew the system inside out and therefore knew how to break it. But the new Varkana starts with Latso as President.
—Dude on DATE in PLACE
Latso is a very capable man who understands better than anyone the need for aristocratic communalism. We may disagree on religious issues, but he is very much needed as Councillor in the beginning of this Fourth Republic.
President Avalishvili on 23 June 2004 in Klow
Latso is not a born diplomat, he doesn't lower himself to anyone. He listens to his staff, however, and especially the First Lady. He's a very capable man, and we get along very well, even if we disagree on many issues, we respect each others opinions. You have me as a more internationalist moderate pragmatic, Ina as the ultra-nationalist radical, Marianna as the empathetic populist. Latso is surrounded by different opinions, but he always favors consensus building within the Presidency.
Akaki Asatiani on 5 March 2013 in Klow