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The News in Brief

Tuesday, December 9
Georgian Patriarchate denies religious discrimination

The Patriarchate of Georgia has denied reports about religious discrimination against the local Armenian population and expressed the hope that the brotherly relations between the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and the Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians would contribute to the diffusion of tension that has arisen recently and would lead to the reasonable and fair resolution of the problem.

“The Patriarchate of Georgia expresses its regret at the assessments Armenian and international media sources have recently made concerning the Georgian Church and their reports about religious discrimination against Armenians residing in Georgia. The Armenian community has been developing in Georgia for many centuries and the eparchy of the Armenian Apostolic Church has been acting in Georgia freely, without any restriction. Centres of Armenian culture – such as theatre, the pantheon of public figures, regional Armenian-language TV and schools - have been established; Armenian sections have been opened at the higher educational institutions and Armenian newspapers have been published. This proves our respect and good will towards our Armenian fellow citizens,” reads the official statement of the Georgian Patriarchate, released on December 8.

“As is known, the Georgian and Armenian Churches have different opinions about the origin of the monument (Norashen in Armenian sources), located near the “Jvris Mama” Church, on Leselidze Street, in Tbilisi. Since the situation concerning that monument has aggravated, we believe it is necessary to conduct scientific studies and establish an expert commission to assess the results of those researches. We clearly stated our position on this at a bilateral meeting at the Georgian Patriarchate on November 26. Metropolitan of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti Theodor (Chuadze), Head of the External Relations Department, Metropolitan of Zugdidi and Tsaishi Gerasim (Sharashenidze) and Tbilisi Vice-Mayor Mamuka Akhvlediani were representing the Georgian side. The Armenian side was represented at the meeting by Archbishop Vazgen Mirzakhanian, Vicar of the Armenian Church in Javakheti, Father Babaken and a representative of the Armenian community, editor of “Vrastan” newspaper Van Baiburt,” the document reads.

According to the Georgian Patriarchate, during this meeting the decision was made to: immediately stop all works on the territory adjacent to the disputed monument, to address the Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sports of Georgia in writing with the request to assess the current condition of the monument and take all necessary measures, to authorize the bilateral commission to start work to determine the origin and background of the aforesaid monument and draw relevant conclusions based on historical, artistic and archaeological expertise, and to announce a bilateral moratorium with regard to the monument before final conclusions are drawn by the commission.
(Black Sea Press)

Georgian PM introduces new Education Minister

Prime Minister of Georgia Grigol Mgaloblishvili introduced the new Minister of Education and Sciences of Georgia Nikoloz Gvaramia on Monday.

Mgaloblishvili once again emphasized the major trends of the Government’s activities.

“Important reforms have been planned and the process of their implementation shall not be hampered. It is important to fulfill all the promises we gave to the population within the 18-month programme, especially to ensure an appropriate working environment for teachers,” the Georgian PM said. Ex-Minister of Education Gia Nodia also wished success to his successor and claimed that he was to return to his academic activities.

Nikoloz Gvaramia, in turn, expressed his hope that Ministry staff would support him. “The work of all qualified personnel will be evaluated and a certain personnel reshuffle will be carried out, but it will not be a large-scale one,” Gvaramia said.

Gvaramia was the Deputy Prosecutor-General and Minister of Justice of Georgia prior to last week’s Cabinet changes. These saw Batu Kutelia appointed Acting Defence Minister of Georgia and Grigol Vashadze (former Deputy Foreign Minister and afterwards Minister of Culture) replacing Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The vacant position of Minister of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sports was offered to Zurab Abashidze, ex-Ambassador of Georgia to Russia, but he declined it.
(Black Sea Press)

Two Georgians reported missing after shipwreck off Libya

A rescue team has been searching for two Georgian citizens who were on board the SUNDUS, which sank off the Libyan coast on December 4. The vessel belonged to the Turkish Afa Shipping Company.

The vessel sank as a result of a heavy storm close to Tripoli. One more citizen of Georgia on board, Gocha Mzhavanadze, is currently in a hotel in Tripoli, Eteri Kamarauli, Head of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told journalists on Monday. Mzhavanadze will be brought home with the assistance of the Consular Service of Ukraine in Libya.

Three of the eight members of the vessel’s crew were Georgian nationals. Ruslan Khozrevanidze and Pridon Takidze are the ones reported missing. Eter Kamarauli said that the General Consular Office of Georgia in Istanbul has been involved in trying to find the missing Georgian sailors.
(Black Sea Press)