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Will Azize Mosque exist?2013-03-27 20:27
The issue of construction of a grand mosque "Azize" in Batumi is being discussed for the past few years. Representatives of the Turkish and Georgian sides have met several times and even signed the agreement. But every time something went wrong, and the construction was postponed. Christian population of Batumi has held numerous protests. Some do not like the place, chosen by the Turkish side while others do not like the context and meaning of the Azize Mosque - a living reminder of the Turkish domination, the symbol of the Turkish rule in Adjara. After Ivanishvili's official visit to Ankara the question arose again. So, will the mosque exist in Batumi?
Former Minister of Culture Nika Rurua, under whom negotiations over the construction of the Azize mosque in Batumi in exchange for the restoration of 4 Georgian churches in Turkey began, yesterday gave a press conference. He said that the project of the Azize Mosque is likely to be abolished and replaced by another grand mosque, but under another name. Rurua considered auspicious the fact that those who under the previous government opposed construction of the mosque have finally realized that there was nothing bad in such building.
"Statement about the fact that there has occurred a breakthrough in this area is exaggerated and is not true. We have agreed with the Minister of Culture of Turkey on this issue last year. According to the agreement, Georgian cultural monuments located in Turkey were to be restored, and instead we were to restore the Azize Mosque. Today they present this fact incorrectly," the former Minister said.
During the official visit of the Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili to Ankara they have discussed the issue of Azize Mosque. As stated by Ivanishvili after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, they have failed to agree on fundamental issues and to find a compromise solution. According to him and according to the statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maya Panjikidze and the Minister of Culture of Georgia Guram Odisharia, new mosque in Batumi will be built. Construction is likely to be funded by the Georgian side, but the place of construction of the object will be determined also by Batumi City Hall, not the Turkish government, as originally intended. Thus, it turns out that it is not about construction of the museum-mosque "Azize". It will be just another mosque.
This decision was supported by Murman Dumbadze, majoritarian MP from the "Georgian Dream", as well as other members of the ruling party, who have called the compromise the "diplomatic victory" of Tbilisi. In return, the Turkish side has committed to allow Georgian specialists to restoration work in the two temples - Ishkhani and Oshki located in Turkey.
But the agreement has caused discontent in the ranks of ordinary supporters of the "Georgian Dream" and the Orthodox faithful. They originally were generally against the construction of a large mosque in the center of Batumi. According to them, there's a process of successful "return" of Adjara residents to "religion of ancestors", thus it's unacceptable to allow the construction of mosques in Adjara, the more they believe it is not needed. However, the real situation on the ground is different.
Trying to figure out how important is a new mosque in Batumi we have talked to the local people. It is noteworthy that the media often remind of the presence of only one functioning mosque in the city. In fact there are several. However, the most popular of them is only one - the central "Ortadzhami", located at the Black Sea.