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Turkish xenophobia rears its ugly head in Georgia

By Ernest Petrosyan
Friday, August 17
The Centre for Tolerance at the Georgian Ombudsman’s office responded to several recent occurrences of anti-Turkish xenophobia.

“Unfortunately, cases of hate speech have recently become more frequent and have assumed a new direction. Anti-Turkish propaganda has become the main element of xenophobic rhetoric of a part of the political spectrum, the media, and experts,” said the statement of the Centre.

According to the statement, anti-Turkish statements are made both by politicians and representatives of the media. “Politicians often make statements that “Adjara must be cleared of anti-Georgian forces”, “The Turkish expansion on the territory of the region must stop” and so on…

Unfortunately, racist statements were also made at a recent political rally in which speakers talked about the various types of Turkish threats in Georgia; among them was the perceived Turkish economic expansion in Adjara.

The Centre claims that Anti-Turkish appeals and statements are also commonplace in the media. In a number of cases, the media serves as a conduit of similar statements, while in other cases, the media outlets themselves are the authors of such statements.

Quotes like: “Is Batumi Turkey’s territory?” “Turkish expansion is underway in Adjara”; “Only the Turkish flag”; “The Azizization of Adjara” – frequently appear in the news of some TV stations and print outlets.

The aforementioned process portrays Turkey as a hostile country which is engaged in the process of purposeful conquering of Georgia– especially Adjara, through different methods – economically, religiously, culturally, and politically.

Moreover, in addition to the rhetoric and media, as of late, graffiti inscriptions like “Batumi without Turks” have begun to appear on buildings in Batumi.

Intensive anti-Turkish propaganda may cause a change in the attitude of citizens of Georgia, the society and the formation of stereotypes and negative attitudes. The aforementioned could also potentially create a significant barrier to friendly Georgian-Turkish relations, on the one hand, and may pose real threats to Turks who live in Georgia and are related to our country in one way or another, on the other hand.

“We call on political parties, the media, social organizations, and the public once again to refrain from using xenophobic or hate speech. Ethnic and/or religious intolerance is not encouraged in Georgian society,” said the Tolerance Office.