People in Tbilisi protesting against construction of Aziz Mosque in Batumi. (DFWatch photo)

Tbilisi, DFWatch – Georgia has found a solution to a controversy concerning a planned mosque in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea coast.

Locals have been outraged over the plans, as it should have been named after the historic Turkish leader Aziz. Now, the government suggests building a new mosque in the city, but calling it something else.

The plans to build Aziz Mosque in Batumi caused rallies and protests among Georgians in the area. This was a part of an agreement between Georgia and Turkey which foresaw a mutual restorations of each others historic monuments.

A week ago, Guram Odisharia, Culture Minister of Georgia said that according to a new agreement, Aziz Mosque won’t be built, but new mosque will be built instead; however the location of new mosque is not yet known.

The solution to the controversy, which has led to large demonstrations in Batumi and Tbilisi, was announced at a joint press conference between Turkish Prime Minister Tayeep Erdogan and Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The two said they had discussed cultural heritage, as well as problems regarding the construction of the mosque. Ivanishvili said they successfully solved outstanding issues and finally agreed.

The decision was made during a Georgian delegation’s visit to Turkey recently, and will see a separate place allocated for the new Batumi mosque.

According to the agreement, Georgian specialists will be allowed to participate at Oshki and Ishkhani, two Georgian heritage sites located on Turkish territory, while Georgia will build the new mosque.

Maia Panjikidze, Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, on Saturday said on Maestro TV that Georgia will finance the construction of it.

She said people of each religion should have the opportunity to pray where it is acceptable for them to pray.

“Muslims have this demand, but they do not have location to do this. That’s why a mosque should be built,” she said.

Even though there already is one mosque in Batumi, it is not enough to cater to all the locals living there. That’s why another mosque needs to be built, and the local government of Adjara will allocate the location for this.

At a meeting with members of parliament from the National Movement party, the foreign minister explained that Aziz Mosque won’t be built in Batumi.

Goka Gabashvili, an MP from UNM, asked her to specify what has changed in the new agreement, because all the above mentioned issues were mentioned in the previous agreement as well.

“And so additional thing is that you won’t use photograph of 19th century and won’t make new mosque look like Aziz Mosque?” he asked.

Panjikidze explained she doesn’t know the architecture of the new mosque, but she knows it won’t be Aziz architecture