On February 8, Georgia will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Tbilisi State University, the country’s oldest and largest university.
Georgian intellectuals, led by historian Ivane Javakhishvili, whose name the University now bears, founded the University in 1918, just as the dissolution of the Russian Empire was giving way to the short-lived Georgian statehood, proclaimed in May 1918.
To mark this milestone, President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze have issued statements. Below are excerpts from their statements.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili
We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of an institution, which has played a very important role in the intellectual development of our nation, and has contributed to public and political processes in very difficult times for our statehood.
The University was established in the wake of the independence of Georgia and its founding has been inspired by the work, and the thoughts of previous generations of Georgians.
The University gave us a crucial foundation which was very important in living through 70 years of [Soviet] occupation. It was a period when all expressions of national identity were considered as a rebellion against the system. It was a period when all manifestations of our national identity were considered against the Soviet ideology, and the University was exactly the place, the center, where our ancestors were creating, gathering and sharing with the society who we were [as a nation] and what we should have been in the future.
The University was the center where we obtained knowledge, and learned about our identity as well. As a result, 70 years later, when the Soviet empire fell apart, we were ready, because we knew who we were, we knew what our purpose was: the purpose of this country’s citizens, the purpose of the people who identified themselves with Georgia.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili
This year, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the University we are all proud about. Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University has not been only an educational institution for Georgia: it has been a very important cultural center and a place for maintaining our national vigor and our identity.
It was the Tbilisi State University that has raised generations in Georgia, who have carried on the national vigor and helped maintain our independence. It was the Tbilisi State University that has raised many prominent patriots, who have managed to promote Georgia abroad. We are proud of our university.
It is very important that the anniversary celebrations will be held under UNESCO auspices. It is also important that we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary together with 147 delegates from various countries, including from academic circles and foreign governments.
Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze
I congratulate the Tbilisi State University on its 100th anniversary and the entire Georgia, in whose modern history the University has played a very important role. I congratulate the professors of the University, its alumni, and especially its students who are studying within these historic walls.
This is a date of particular importance for me personally, as one of the alumni and a professor of the University.
The importance of the Tbilisi State University has always been, is and will always be special. The University is a guarantor of our national identity and of Georgia’s European future. The university - its professors and students - stood on guard of our national interests in the most difficult times of Georgia’s modern history.
The Tbilisi State University, as a temple of knowledge, continues the pursuit it started 100 years ago, and our duty is to support it in this great mission. We must always remember that the University is of vital importance for the progress of Georgia and the strengthening of its independence.