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The state will fund 4 religious denominations

By Natalie Osipovi
Tuesday, January 28
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili announced at the cabinet session on January 27th that the four religious denominations Muslim, Gregorian, Catholic and Judaism, will receive financial support from the state budget apart from the Orthodox Church.

Gharibashvili also discussed the bill on the reimbursement of damages which were inflicted on these four religions during the Soviet Union period.

“I have heard allegations recently that animosity on religious grounds has become frequent under our government. It is not the truth. The situation has not deteriorated, we have made improvements,” the Prime Minister said.

He also mentioned that the new administration has equal respect for all religious denominations.

The cabinet of ministers discussed this topic during the government session. Paata Zakareishvili, Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality said this initiative belongs to the former Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Minister Zakareishvili said approximately 4.5 GEL will be allocated to the four confessions proportionately. “We will work on it together with the Ministry of Finance,” Zakareishvili said.

Commenting on this decision, Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili said on the same day that none of the confessions should be left without funding. “Our recommendation is not to leave anyone in a discriminatory condition,” Nanuashvili stated.

Netgazeti reports that the Georgian Orthodox Church is the only religious organization that receives 25 million GEL annually from the state budget.

While collecting information regarding the state budget’s funding of various religious denominations, Transparency International Georgia reported that from 2002 July 2013, the government of Georgia had allocated up to GEL 200 million to the Georgian Patriarchate.

After Monday’s announcement, the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Georgia and the Chief Rabbi of Georgia welcomed the Georgian government’s initiative.

"This is a very good step which indicates the government’s attitude towards religious minorities" Rabbi, Avishai Batashvili told Netgazeti.

The Chief of the Department of Integration and Legal Issues of the Armenian Church, Levon Isakhanian, also emphasized the importance of this decision because he said the equality will thus be restored.