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 Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze: “The brotherhood between the Georgian and Jewish peoples is a song to my ears.”

Tbilisi, Georgia, 28 November 2018

As a Member of the European Jewish Parliament (EJP), Dr. Shimon Samuels – Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre – presented a report on “The Theft of Jewish Identity.”

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In the midst of the second round of Presidential elections and surrounded by OSCE Electoral Observers, the EJP delegation was received by Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili.

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Lt. to Rt. Marco Katz of Romanian Centre to Combat Antisemitism,
Ukrainian MP and EJP President Vadim Rabinovich,
Georgian Jewish community representative Moris Krikheli,
Shimon Samuels, Turkish historian Denis Ojalvo
(present but out of the picture are EJP Vice-President
Chefi Kamhi of Turkey and the Prime Minister).

The delegation leaders presented their concerns at the brutal murder by neo-Nazis, last September in Tbilisi, of a young Georgian Jewish student, Vitali Safarov.

They noted that Jews had lived peacefully for 2,600 years in Georgia, in the absence of antisemitism. The Prime Minister acclaimed “the brotherhood between the Georgian and Jewish Peoples,” as “a song to my ears.”

In separate meetings, both the Prime Minister and the Parliament Deputy Speaker committed themselves to encourage a swift judgement of the perpetrators. Though one of the three killers was a 17 year old minor, the Deputy Speaker underlined the aggravated penalty for hate crimes under Georgian jurisprudence.

Samuels offered the Centre’s exhibition, “People, Book, Land: The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land,” for display at the Parliament. The proposal was immediately endorsed by both officials and an appropriate opening date will be announced.

Dr. Graciela Vaserman Samuels, Advisor to UNESCO Director-General, congratulated the Speaker of Parliament, Irakli Kobachicte, on the initiative to obtain “intangible heritage” status for Georgian folklore.

She agreed to update this project for the attention of the UNESCO Director-General.

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Dr. Shimon Samuels with Deputy Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili.

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Dr. Graciela Vaserman Samuels with Speaker Irakli Kobachicte.

Samuels noted that he “was last in Tbilisi 26 years ago, together with then UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayer, to mark Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union” ... “It is wonderful to return to Georgia as a vibrant democracy and a friend of Israel,” he concluded.