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Stir over Turkish School in Batumi

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze and Mariam Chanishvili
Friday, September 23
One of the leaders of Georgia’s Republican Party, Khatuna Samnidze, has stated that the opening of a Turkish school in Georgia’s western seaside town of Batumi on September 19 had only been possible through a “violation of necessary procedures.”

Samnidze said the school had no mandatory approval from Batumi City Hall to be constructed and was fined by 9,000 GEL by the local supervisory agency for illegal construction activities.

Samnidze also said that official representatives from Turkey attended the opening ceremony of the school without an invitation from local authorities or the Ministry of Education.

She added the school had no accreditation issued by Georgia’s Ministry of Education.

“We demand the issue to be addressed and the Prime Minister of Georgia and Minister of Education answer all questions about the issue. Until now there is no responses therefore we demand the temporal suspension of the school's functioning.”

“Turkey is Georgia’s strategic partner and we cooperate in many directions. We hope the relevant Turkish bodies will also address the issue,” Samnidze said.

Georgia’s Education Minister Aleksandre Jejelava said his body and the Turkish Embassy in Georgia had held consultations over the school and an agreement was, in fact, reached, that the school be authorized based on Georgian legislation.

The Minister stressed if there was no official permission for the construction, the issue must be addressed, as it was illegal.

He also said he was unhappy that the school's leadership decided not to invite Ministry officials to the opening ceremony of the educational institution.

“Despite all the problems I am sure we will settle the issue, as we have very good ties with Turkey and the country's representations,” Jejelava said.

The Turkish Consulate commented on the issue and said the school for citizens of Turkey was constructed by a philanthropic businessman and if there were some questions over the legality of the building it should be cleared out with the construction company leadership and with Georgia’s relevant state bodies.

The Consul said the Turkish Embassy was working in close cooperation with Georgia’s Ministry of Education and one of the priorities of the school was to teach the Georgian language.

He also said only an unofficial opening ceremony of the school took place, and for the official opening ceremony local leadership and representation from the Ministry of Education would be invited.

“The school was opened on September 19 and it is under the subordination of the Turkish Embassy in Tbilisi. It is in service of only Turkish citizens; 170 Turkish students are registered in the school now with 25 teachers,” the Consul said.

He stressed Turkey had a range of schools abroad under the subordination of Turkey’s Ministry of Education.

He said Georgia and Turkey planned to broaden educational ties and said it was possible for Georgian schools to also open in Turkey in the near future.