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Church Renovation deal unfair

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, February 7
On February 4 Nika Vacheishvili, General Director of the National Agency for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage presented the plans for 2011 to the media. Explaining the details of negotiations with Turkey, Vacheishvili stressed that the historical Georgian monuments at Tao-Klarjeti (now in Turkish territory) would undoubtedly be restored. Considering the interests of the Georgian Patriarchate towards the renovation of the four Georgian churches, Vacheishvili expressed his hope that the Patriarchate would become more active in these processes.

Documentation about the deal between Georgia and Turkey is about to be signed but the Georgian Patriarchate has doubts in its fairness. Turkey has demanded that mosques are built in Georgia in return for the renovation of the Georgian churches Khandzta, Otkhta, Ishkhani and Oshki. Pointing out that the two other monasteries at Khakhuli and Ardasheni are also medieval Georgian monuments; the Patriarchate has stressed the necessity of their renovations also. In a special statement released on February 4 the Patriarchate said that they had hoped to be actively involved in the negotiations with the Turkish side but unfortunately these processes have been going on without them.

Explaining that the mosques would belong fully to Muslim organisations while the churches in Turkey are not considered to be Georgian property, the Patriarchate found the decision “unfair.” “Ardasheni is not only a church but part of historic Lazeti eparchy (in western Georgia). The renovation of this church would mean the introduction of the entire Lazeti as a unique part of Georgian culture,” the Patriarchate commented hoping that the Georgian Government would consider their constructive proposals during negotiations with its neighbours.