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The Patriarch has solutions

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Thursday, January 8
“We wish peace to everyone, but not at the expense of losing territories,” Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II said in his Christmas epistle, read at Holy Trinity Cathedral on January 7.

The Patriarch said that the troubles of the Georgian nation would be replaced by joy, and God would return to Georgia its lost territories. “This trouble will be changed to gladness, God will return to us the Georgian lands. The day will come when the Abkhazians and Ossetians will realize that their future is only with Georgia. May God let us to live in a united Georgia,” the Patriarch said.

The Christmas festal liturgy was attended by high ranking Georgian figures including President Saakashvili and his family. After attending the liturgy President Saakashvili stated that the Georgian people want peace but agreed with the Patriarch that it should not come at the expense of giving up our territories. “This is a very important, fundamental concept, a foundation of our national policy,” he added.

In his epistle to the faithful, read by one of the cathedral clergy, the Catholicos-Patriarch talked about the global crisis and highlighted that people can solve every problem. “The world stands before a very serious crisis, however, the solution to every problem is in the hands of a man, as is the better future of our country,” he said.

His Holiness also discussed small business and agriculture. He said Georgia had always been the country of wine and wheat but the situation regarding these is crucial today. People are being asked to accept a significant sum to destroy vineyards they have reared like their children and plant other things instead. At the same time peasants are paid a minimal price for their grape harvest. The Patriarch suggested that the Government should export organic wine. The Patriarch also expressed his worry about wheat, saying that the wheat flower is at the edge of disappearing. “The production of wheat has reduced catastrophically and satisfies only 9% of peoples’ demand. Even within this 9% we find much imported wheat, not traditional to Georgia, which is distinguished by its low quality and is not safe for health,” the epistle said. The Patriarch appealed to Georgians to save the oldest Georgian species of vines and wheat, refuse to use low quality substitutes and start working the land themselves and create small business.

Immediately after the Patriarch’s epistle had been read President Saakashvili commented on the global economic crisis, saying that it had not touched Georgia yet and “we should spare no efforts to prevent its infestation of Georgia.” Saakashvili highlighted that the top priority for the country today is to have a secure energy supply, as implied by the situation in Europe. “The gas supply to the whole of Europe is cut, but Georgia, unlike most European states, has managed to secure gas and electricity supplies,” Saakashvili said.

Yesterday the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture also responded to the Patriarch’s statement about official encouragement to cut down vines and stated that it is up to peasants in Kvareli and Dedoplistskaro whether they cut down their vines. According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture Aleko Tsintsadze vine growing in Dedoplistskaro is not profitable and the Government is helping peasants with this programme.

“The Government will not get involved in their affairs, and the peasants should decide for themselves whether to uproot their vines or not. If they refuse to cut them down the Ministry of Agriculture will stop giving them the sum that was given them for cutting down unprofitable vines,” Tsintsadze said. Under the programme peasants are given GEL 2,000 for each hectare of unprofitable vines they cut down.