Outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili on a previous trip to Turkey. (Photo published by the president’s administration.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–President Saakashvili has granted Georgian citizenship to more than a thousand Turks.

According to the State Service Development Agency, Saakashvili granted citizenship to Turks under special rules, which means that they will receive citizenship without going through the normal procedures defined by the legislation.

This is the prerogative of the president, who, as promised, granted citizenship to 1 088 Turks by issuing a decree on October 21.

In another decree September 10, he granted Georgian citizenship to 935 Turks.

According to the service agency, 93 people have so far obtained a Georgian ID card.

Members of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition say the president’s decision to grant citizenship to thousands of Turks is not understandable. They imply that it has to do with the second term of his presidency coming to an end.

But spokespersons for Saakashvili’s own party, the National Movement, say there are several reasons why the president is making such decisions and underline that it has been their request to the president to grant citizenship to these people.

Irina Imerlishvili, an MP from the Georgian Dream coalition, says that for the nine years Saakashvili’s movement has held power, there haven’t been one case when the president granted citizenship to such an unprecedented number of people. She says she cannot see how the president became ‘so generous’ toward these people, but he has the right to do it.

Levan Berdzenishvili, another MP from the coalition, recalls that in about twenty days Saakashvili will have to leave office, and now at the end of his presidency, he is taking such serious steps.

“Of course this president needs to be studied not in a political way, because no president in the world has done such things before leaving,” he told journalists. “The reason is that he is grieving that he won’t be president anymore.”

UNM members explain that for years, Georgian Turks living in Turkey used to apply to Georgian bodies to be granted Georgian citizenship. The president decided that people in Turkey retained their Georgian culture, Georgian language and commitment to Georgian values, that is why UNM members and the president considered it important to grant them citizenship.