Special commission will prepare a report on Rabati complex
By Ana Robakidze
Monday, April 8
The possible reface of Rabati fortress was one of the hot issues discussed by President Mikheil Saakashvili and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their official meeting in Turkey. They spoke about the possibility of altering the color of the dome and removing stones with cross carvings from the mosque in the complex.
Saakashvili said after the meeting that Turkey had never requested the mentioned changes to be carried out on the Rabati complex. "The PM of Turkey agreed with me that the dome should remain of gold color," he said, adding that the issue is very delicate and requires comprehensive discussions with experts, so the interests of both Georgian and Turkish sides are considered.
The president advises the new government to focus on construction rather than on deconstruction.
The Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia arranged a round table meeting in order to discuss details over the possible reface of Rabati complex. The Minister of Culture, deputy Ministers, Chairman of the Protection of the Cultural heritage and the General Secretary of the United National Movement (UNM), Vano Merabishvili, as well as priests and other representatives of society participated in the meeting. The meeting aimed at providing detailed information on the current situation in the complex and the planned work to the interested parties. The round table meetings will be continued until the final details are agreed upon over the reconstruction of the monument.
The Ministry of culture is worried that the issue has become politicized. According to the minister, Turkish experts had requested the Georgian side to change the color of the fortress dome as it is not an authentic color. Deputy Minister Marine Mizandari said that neither the president of Georgia nor the Turkish PM is authorized to decide the issue related to the Rabati complex. The issues should be dealt with by the experts, who are working on fixing the errors made during the reconstruction of Rabati complex and will provide the final report shortly, Mizandari added.
During the meeting at the ministry, Vano Merabishvili announced that the complex has been under deconstruction. Therefore he is starting up a new movement for saving Rabati fortress and he will not allow the new government to demolish the complex.
The manager of Rabati complex, Elguja Bichashvili denies the recent allegations by Merabishvili that the destruction of the fortress has been started. He advises Merabishvili to stop thinking that the Samtske-Javakheti region is his property and also end the speculations around the complex.
Minister of Culture, Guram Odisharia, announced at the meeting in the ministry, that a special group has been created in the Ministry of Culture to study the current situation around the fortress. The head of the group, Beso Matsaberidze, confirms that the complex is intact. At the meeting at the ministry he also provided footage depicting the current view of the fortress.
"The management is taking care of the complex," Matsaberidze said. He also mentioned that the management of the complex has been facing some minor problems and they are trying to fix it.