Church promotes dialogue on conflict issues
By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, March 2
His Holiness and Beatitude, Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia, Archbishop of Mtskheta-Tbilisi, Metropolitan of Bichvinta and Tskhum-Abkhazia Ilia the Second appealed to the Georgian and Russian Governments to begin negotiations. In a statement released to the media yesterday, His Holiness encouraged the leaders of the both countries to “show wisdom and bravery” and start dialogue on the most burning issues.
“The non existence of dialogue between Georgia and Russia on a state level causes doubt and mistrust between the sides and hinders any solution of the conflict,” said the Patriarch. Talking about the tension in the Caucasus due to the unresolved conflicts, Ilia the Second asked the authorities to try their best to solve the problems. The Patriarch recounted that some measures had been taken in terms of freedom of movement last year but unfortunately no appropriate steps had followed.
Concerned that statements made by the sides might have a negative impact on the possible reconciliation of the countries, Ilia the Second encouraged his parish to do everything to prevent negative occurrences, commenting, “We should learn lessons from the past and think of the future - foreseeing the interests of our peoples and states. No hostility should continue between neighbours!”
Press Speaker of Georgian President, Manana Manjgaladze confirmed the readiness of the Georgian side to begin full-scale talks with Russia “at any time and in any location” and stressed that the Patriarch’s appeal was “fully compatible to the aspirations of the Georgian Government.”
A delegation of the Georgian Orthodox Church left for Moscow on Monday to negotiate with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kiril I and other religious figures. Political analyst and adviser to the Georgian Patriarchate, Zurab Abashidze who is among the delegates spoke to The Messenger about the importance of the Patriarch’s appeal. He told us, “Discussions in the Geneva format are not enough to solve the problems in the region. His Holiness worries that the situation in the neighbourhood is being made more difficult as a result of the lack of dialogue between the sides.”
Abashidze is hopeful that the appeal of the Patriarch will be considered and respected by the Russian political figures and highlighted the necessity of starting negotiations among various state agencies to reveal the truth about the conflict between the sides.
In an interview to the BBC Russian edition during his official visit to the UK in February, the Patriarch said he would visit Abkhazia soon, as the head of the Tskhum-Abkhazia diocese. Abashidze supposed that this might also be among the topics for discussion in Moscow. Talking about Georgian-Russian relations regarding the Abkhazian and Ossetian issues, Abashidze hoped that the churches would make decisive changes in establishing peace within the region.
Nika Laliashvili MP from the Christian-Democratic Movement spoke of the influence of Ilia the Second on the whole Orthodox world and expects that the negotiations with the Russian church will be followed by an agreement to the Georgian Patriarch’s visit to Abkhazia. Believing the Patriarch will even have an influence on political conflicts, the MP expressed his confidence that the appeal of His Holiness “wouldn’t remain without a positive echo from both sides.” “Georgian Patriarchate is the only institution in the country which controls each statement and activity and makes wise strategic decisions,” Laliashvili said referring to the addition of the title of Metropolitan of Bichvinta and Tskhum-Abkhazia to the rank of the Patriarch.