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Margvelashvili Offers to Give Glass-Domed Presidential Palace to Planned University
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Nov.'13 / 17:43

President-elect Giorgi Margvelashvili said he has floated an idea before Georgian Dream coalition leadership to house a planned Georgian-American university in a glass-domed presidential palace, which is now occupied by outgoing president Saakashvili and his administration.

The glass-domed presidential palace, built by the previous authorities, will no longer serve as a residence of the president’s administration after Margvelashvili takes office following his inauguration on November 17. The new president will be based in a building, which is currently undergoing major reconstruction on the Atoneli Street – the venue which several years ago was housing the U.S. embassy. The previous authorities started reconstruction of this building on Atoneli Street, which initially was designed for PM’s office, but the new authorities changed plans and it will now become president’s residence. But before major renovation works are over, president’s office will temporarily be located in the State Chancellery, which also houses PM’s office.

“During the meeting of [Georgian Dream coalition’s governing body] political council, I offered to locate the university there; then I spoke with Education Minister [Tamar Sanikidze] and we agreed that it should be a Georgian-American university, which is planned to be launched next year,” Margvelashvili told journalists on November 4.

Education Minister Tamar Sanikidze said on November 4 she is favor of this idea to give building of the presidential palace to the university, which is expected to be launched as part of new U.S. aid program in frames of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

U.S. government’s foreign aid agency, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), approved in June a five year USD 140 million program for Georgia, which will be focused on development of country’s science and technology education. One of the components of the program is to attract one or more American university partners to modernize science, technology, engineering, and math education by offering high-quality degree programs in Georgia.

“This is very interesting project, which will bring really high quality education to Georgia and I am glad that the money spent on such fashionable building [presidential palace] will serve Georgian students and Georgian education,” Margvelashvili said.

The previous authorities were planning to house institute of technology in Batumi; outgoing president Saakashvili said in January, 2011 that it was his “dream” to have such university in Batumi. A high-rise building with a ferris wheel in it was built in Black Sea resort of Batumi for that purpose, but the plan was revised after GD came into government for which Saakashvili was often criticizing the current authorities. It remains unclear how the building in Batumi will be used.

“I think the society will very soon get bored with this pointless game and we will all demand from this government to let us know at last what they want – whether it is the issue of university of technology or other issues in which they have no idea at all what they have to do. They think up all kinds of absurd things just for the reason to maximally distance themselves from what Saakashvili and UNM is bequeathing,” Andro Barnovi, chief of outgoing president’s administration, told journalists on November 4.

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