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Ilia II hopes Putin fulfills promises

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, August 1
Georgian Patriarch Ilia II has visited Russia twice this year and has done his to contribute to reestablishment of relations between the two neighboring countries. He is full of Christian tolerance and the sense of forgiveness. However, his visits have yet to yield any tangible results thus far.

It looks like Moscow is not interested in keeping its promises. After his last visit the Patriarch returned to Georgia full of enthusiasm and hope, as he reported to the Georgian people that Russian President, Vladimer Putin, promised him that he would return internally displaced persons from Georgia to their original places of residence in the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Ilia II was in Russia July 23-30 at the invitation of Russian Patriarch Kiril to celebrate the 1,025th anniversary of the country’s baptism. The most interesting issue for Georgia was the meeting of Ilia II with President Putin.

Not much is known about this meeting to the media. Most of the information comes personally from the Georgian Patriarch who said that he had categorically demanded that the Russian side ensure the return of Georgian IDPs to their homes. Ilia II expressed his confidence that this issue would be solved.

As it is understood, the return of IDPs should take place within the frames of taking care on the Christian parish of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. Ilia II stated that both the Russian patriarch and President Putin will fulfill this promise.

“The Russian president, most probably, will fulfill his promise,” Ilia II has stated.

There seems to be a significant gap between the promise and its fulfillment and many questions have arisen around this issue. Politicians and analysts wonder how the IDPs will return to their homes when in the Tskhinvali region, the villages of the Georgian population have been demolished and Russian military bases have been constructed instead.

The Georgian Minister for Reintegration, Paata Zakareishvili, is skeptical towards this promise. He welcomes the effort taken by the Georgian Patriarch. However, he expresses his skepticism over this issue.

Generally, Georgian society positively assesses Ilia II’s commitment to playing a positive role in this issue; although some are more radical suggesting that is the part of the Russian PR machine aimed at showing the public Russia's "goodwill", whereas in reality Moscow does not intend to do anything... at least for the time being.