Gigi Tevzadze

Gigi Tevzadze, Rector of Ilia State University in Tbilisi. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The rectors of two large universities in Georgia ask President Mikheil Saakashvili to use his right to veto a law amendment which in their opinion will restrict the autonomy of universities.

Gigi Tevzadze, Rector of Ilia State University, also known as Iliauni, said on Tuesday that the amendments gives the government the right to change the legal status of universities without permission from the university itself or its councils. Such a right may be used to change the body’s status as a private law entity into a public law entity.

“The fact that the university’s autonomy will be restricted, causes our concern. That’s why we appeal to the president to block those amendments,” Tevzadze underlined.

The Parliament of Georgia April 19 passed a bill of amendments to the Civil Code. The bill now awaits the president’s signature in order to come into force.

In a letter dated May 7, Gigi Tevzadze, Rector of Iliauni, and Alexandre Kvitashvili, Rector of Tbilisi State University, ask Saakashvili to use his right to veto the bill. The letter says that the bill gives the government an opportunity to interfere in the functioning of state universities and may reorganize them without asking permission from their management.

During a press conference Tevzadze said he has met with Speaker of Parliament Davit Usupashivli to discuss this issue, and that he promised to assist them in the negotiations.

“He told me he would help in negotiations, but it is a fact that the bill was passed by all three hearings,” he added.

The president, who is currently on a visit to Azerbaijan, has not yet responded.