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The News in Brief

Monday, December 15
Catholicos-Patriarch familiarizes Georgian Foreign Minister with results of his visit to Moscow

Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Grigol Vashadze in the Georgian Patriarchate on Friday. The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church familiarized Vashadze with the results of his recent visit to Moscow – Black Sea Press was told at the Press and Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.

“The meeting of His Beatitude with the Russian President is the resumption of dialogue, and before his departure to Moscow he held a meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili,” Grigol Vashadze told journalists after the meeting.

The Georgian Foreign Minister added that: “We will probably resume talks with Russia at the Governmental level as well. The Georgian Government and Georgian Orthodox Church, which enjoys great authority in Russia, as well as all Georgians, will never tolerate the separation of Samachablo (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia from Georgia. Georgia ‘s territorial integrity will be sooner or later restored. After that, there will be conditions for normal diplomatic and cultural relations between Russia and Georgia,” the Georgian Foreign Minister said.

As the Catholicos-Patriarch told journalists upon his arrival from Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev supported the ideas of IDP return, opening borders and the reestablishment of embassies. Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II was visiting Moscow to participate in the funeral of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexey II.
(Black Sea Press)

Eastern Partnership may be approved in March 2009

The implementation of the Eastern Partnership project will begin during the summit of heads of state of the EU in March 2009. This was stressed at the conclusion of the summit of heads of EU countries held in Brussels on December 11-12.

The Eastern Partnership aims to establish closer cooperation in economic and political spheres between the EU and countries of the post-Soviet area – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and the Ukraine. According to head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, the Eastern Partnership is designed to “considerably increase the level of political interaction between the EU and these countries, widen their integration into the EU economy, consolidate energy security and increase financial aid.” Belarus might also join the project if Minsk consents to European Union requirements on the democratization of Belarusian society.

“The Council of Europe greets the proposals made by the Commission on December 3, 2008 and commissions the Council to study them and report, taking into consideration the ambitious initiative which will be approved at the sitting in March 2009, and the Eastern Partnership, which will start acting at the summit with partner countries, which will be organized during the forthcoming Presidency of the Czech Republic,” the document which was passed in Brussels says.

It was noted at the summit that the Eastern Partnership would consolidate considerably EU policy with regard to Eastern partners of the European Neighbourhood Policy (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) in terms of bilateral and multilateral relations, replenishing them with other forms of cooperation, such as the Black Sea Synergy initiative.
(Black Sea Press)

Georgian Church commemorates St. Andrew the First-Called and St. Vakhtang Gorgasali, King of Georgia

On December 13, the Georgian Orthodox Church commemorated Saint Andrew the First-Called and Saint Vakhtang Gorgasali, King of Georgia.

As Black Sea Press was told at the Patriarchate of Georgia, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II conducted a festal mass in the Blue Monastery Church of St. Andrew the First-Called late on December 12. A festal service was held at St. Vakhang Gorgasali Cathedral in Rustavi at 9 a.m. on December 13, and the feast celebrated in all Orthodox churches throughout Georgia.

Under the resolution of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church, since October 17 2002 Georgia has been commemorating St. Andrew the First-Called twice a year, on December 13 and May 12. The decision was prompted by the importance of the Apostle for Georgia. St. Andrew was the first to preach Christianity in Georgia in the 1st century A.D. St. Andrew’s Day has been declared a holiday in Georgia.

The Holy Apostle St. Andrew the First-Called, a fisherman, was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. He was the first to follow the call of Christ and brought his elder brother Peter. St. Andrew witnessed the life, death and resurrections of Jesus Christ. After the descent of Holy Spirit, the Apostle Andrew left for the eastern countries to preach Christianity there. He passed through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, the Black Sea shore and the Crimea. During his missionary service St. Andrew the First-Called visited Georgia, to which he brought the icon of the Holy Virgin. St. Andrew was martyred by crucifixion at Patras (Patrae) in Achaea, in approximately 62 A.D.

Saint Vakhtang I Gorgasali was the Georgian King of Kartli (Iberia) in 447-522 who led a lengthy anti-Persian liberation war, founded Tbilisi, Georgia’s modern capital and helped the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church gain autocephaly.
(Black Sea Press)