Georgia blocks Gulen-linked school enrolling new students

TBILISI, AUG. 22 (The Conway Bulletin) — Six days after Turkey’s ambassador in Tbilisi complained that Georgia had not closed down all its Gulenist schools and universities, the Gulen-linked International Black Sea University said it had been banned from enrolling students for the new academic year.

Despite passing inspections, the International Black Sea University said the ministry of education had blocked the enrolment of 800 new students because of a tax dispute.
“The irresponsible decision of the authorisation board hinders the development of one of the leading and internationally recognised universities in Georgia,” it said.

Its supporters scoffed at the government’s insistence that the ban was linked to a 2013 tax dispute and said it was pandering to Turkey.

Ankara blames supporters of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for attempting a coup in Turkey in 2016 and has pressured its allies to disrupt various Gulenist networks. Gulenists headed to the South Caucasus and Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s to set up schools and universities.

Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan acquiesced but Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan resisted. Last year, Georgia closed the Gulen-linked Shaheen school in Batumi and detained and deported the manager of the Gulen-linked Demirel school in Tbilisi. Even so, on Aug. 16, Turkey’s ambassador accused the Georgian government of being soft.

“FETO still has its university in Georgia,” Fatma Ceren Yazgan was quoted as saying.
“Expectations regarding FETO have not yet been met by the Georgian government.”
FETO is the Turkish government reference to what it regards as the Gulen terrorist network.


>>This story was first published in issue 383 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper

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