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Russian and Georgian religious leaders meet in Kiev

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, July 26
The respective Patriarchs of Georgia and Russia, Ilia the Second and Kirill will today discuss the issue of Ilia the secondís visit to Abkhazia at a meeting in Kiev, head of the press service of the Patriarchate of Georgia Davit Sharashenidze stated on July 25.

The Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia the Second departed for Kiev yesterday and will meet with the President of Ukraine and chairperson of Ukraineís parliament. His meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill is scheduled for today.

Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia ll asked His congregation to pray that the meeting with the Russian Patriarch will end with positive results.

"The topic of the meeting will be the ecclesiastical processes taking place in Abkhazia and restoring jurisdiction of the Georgian Orthodox Church in Abkhazia and Samachablo," Sharashenidze stated.

Despite the fact that the Georgian Foreign Ministry does not have much information on the issues which would be discussed between the Patriarchies' of Georgia and Russia, it welcomed the meeting. As Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze stated, the Georgian authorities have been trying to start dialogue with Russia and any kind of step towards this is acceptable for the Government, " we are trying to carry out a dialogue on problematic issues with Russia and if spiritual leaders take part in this, this can only be welcomed by us."

One of the leaders of the opposition Labour party called the meeting 'historical' while speaking with The Messenger, " it is a very important, historical meeting between the patriarchies of two orthodox states, especially when very soon there will be the three years' anniversary of the August war and I have always considered that each war is caused by a lack of diplomacy and a lack of dialogue," Nestan Kirtadze stated and mentioned that the Russian Patriarchate has made a very positive step when it refused to restrict the Georgian Patriarchate's jurisdiction on the occupied regions and that is the sign that Georgian and Russian patriarchies have got a lot of things to talk about and the meeting too is seen as one part of the chain of the process of relations. At the same time, she has underlined the importance of the Patriarch's visit to Abkhazia, where there is some split in the church due to the non existence of the leader of the eparchy. She also told us that Georgian youth, under the leadership of her daughter have created a fund for a copy of the Virgin of Bichvinta to be made and be transported to Sokhumi with Georgia's Patriarch, Ilia ll.

The meeting is also of great importance from a Russian perspective, analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze told The Messenger , " the meeting itself is very important , however more important is that the meeting was initiated by the Russian side. When somebody initiates something it means that he has something to tell or has some job with you, " Sakvarelidze stated, adding that the meeting might be seen differently and might have positive or negative connotations for Georgia, "on the one hand it might be a sign that Russia is trying to assist launching dialogue with Georgia. However, on the other, it can also be possible that the Russian side will demand from Georgias removing its religious function in the occupied regions, which would be the start of more tension. "