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Georgia celebrates Language Day

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, April 15
Georgia celebrated Language Day on April 14. The Ministry of Education and Science spread a special statement regarding the day.

“Our language is strengthening our country and the government continues to work in defending it. Our country exercises controlled use of language; this means that all official documentation must be filled in in Georgian,” reads the statement.

According to Ministry, the Georgian language is taught in schools as a mother language, secondary language and a foreign language.

“We intensively work to developing our educational system. For those who live in Georgia and are not native speakers, it is important for their integration to learn Georgian. However, for ethnic minorities, it also is important to keep their own language and we take this fact into consideration as well,” reads the statement.

According to Ministry, for popularization of Georgian language special program Irbakh was launched.

“Materials for this program are allocated on and are accessible for everyone. It is renewable and all necessary materials for language learners are added periodically. Since April 14 2015, this page had over 28, 000 users from different countries of the world,” reads the statement.

Different activities were held for celebrating Language Day. In the Mother Tongue Park, school students held a gala performance at the monument of Mother Tongue.

“We should keep our mother language, because this is one of the most vital things that unites us as a nation,” stated school teacher Naira Mandzhavidze.

The 14 April 1978 demonstrations in Tbilisi, capital of the Georgian SSR took place in response to an attempt by the Soviet government to change the constitutional status of languages in Georgia. After a new Soviet Constitution was adopted in October 1977, the Supreme Soviet of the Georgian SSR considered a draft constitution in which, in contrast to the Constitution of 1936, Georgian was no longer declared to be the sole state language.

A series of indoor and outdoor actions of protest ensued and implied with near-certainty there would be a clash between several thousands of demonstrators and the Soviet government, but Georgian Communist Party chief Eduard Shevardnadze negotiated with the central authorities in Moscow and managed to obtain permission to retain the previous status of the Georgian language.

This highly unusual concession to an open expression of opposition to state policy of the Soviet Union defused popular anger in Tbilisi, but triggered tensions in the Abkhaz ASSR (Abkhazia), an autonomous republic in northwest Georgia, where Abkhaz Communist officials protested against what they saw as a capitulation to Georgian nationalism and demanded that their autonomy be transferred from Georgia to the Russian SFSR. The request was rejected but a number of political, cultural and economic concessions were made.

Since 1990, 14 April has been celebrated in Georgia as the Day of the Georgian Language.