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Agreement on Georgian monuments

By Keti Arjevanidze
Monday, February 18
A Georgian delegation paid an official visit to Turkey on February 14. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili led the delegation which was accompanied by Minister of Economy and Sustainable development Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Foreign Affairs Minister Maia Panjikidze, Defence Minister Irakli Alasania, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Kakhi Kaladze and the representatives of the finance and culture ministries.

During the one-day visit to Turkey, the Georgian delegation met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Economic and political relationship between the two countries and the priorities of collaboration were among the issues highlighted at the meetings.

The Georgian delegation left Turkey with an achieved agreement about cultural issues. The Georgian PM with his Turkish colleague, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, negotiated that Georgian experts will observe the reconstruction process of Georgian Ishkhani and the Oshki churches located in Turkey, while the Georgian side will look after the Turkish monuments in Georgia and also build a mosque in Batumi as an opportunity for Muslims to pray according to their beliefs.

According to Guram Odisharia Georgian Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, the location of the mosque in Batumi has not been determined yet. However, the Georgian delegation pointed out that the Turkish State budget will guarantee construction of the mosque.

The Georgian delegation excluded any political significance by building the mosque in Batumi.

PM Ivanishvili said one of the main topics of discussion was the issue of joint economic projects.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili welcomed Georgia’s engagement in the Ishkhani and Oshki reconstruction process, although he criticized his political opponents for delaying the restoration process of the cultural monuments. According to him, when he was trying to achieve an agreement about this issue with Turkey, his opponents were confronting him and prolonged the process, and as a consequence, "Georgian monuments are in poor conditions,” he said.

Approximately a year ago, the media speculated that instead of Oshki and Ishkhani reconstruction based on Turkey-Georgia agreement, the Azizia mosque should be built in Georgia, which resulted in a protest within Georgian society. According to Murman Dumabdze, the Georgian Dream MP in Batumi, the sides discussed the problems around building the mosque in Batumi and the agreement has been achieved, but it will not be the Azizia mosque.