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Turkish religious figure visits Georgia

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Tuesday, September 16
President of Religious Affairs of Turkey Mehmet Gormez visited Georgia on September 12. He stressed that he had very positive and important talks with Georgian government and spiritual leaders. Gormez emphasized that nothing will threaten the friendly relations between the two nations.

Gormes made a statement regarding the Kobuleti incident and said that even such things cannot spoil a positive relationship between the two counties. We remind you that a group of locals in the town of Kobuleti in the Adjara region who opposed the opening of a Muslim school in their neighborhood, slaughtered a pig at the entrance of the building intended for the school and nailed a pig’s head to its door on September 10. He appealed to journalists for not to exaggerate such incidents.

In the framework of the visit, Gormes met with the Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II. The official guest of the patriarch was received at the Patriarchate at a high level ceremony.

At the meeting Gormez said that Turkey and Georgia had historically good relations. He recalled the year of 1800, when Georgia was left by a lot of people of different religions and settled in Turkey. He stressed the people have deep links to Batumi and Akhaltsikhe, where they have relatives.

He expressed sorrow over the fact that humankind is developing in various spheres, though people of different religions still have problems.

He expressed his respect and gratitude to Ilia II and hoped that mosques will be built in Batumi and Akhaltsikhe.

According to him, in Ankara all Georgians have freedom of religion. They have a right to bring up their children according to their religion.

“All Muslims living in Georgia should also have the right of free belief, giving religious education to their children and performing religious rites,” Gormes stressed.

The Patriarch requested the restoration of Georgian prayers in 8 Georgian churches. According to Frontnews these Georgian cultural monuments are: Khandzta; Opiza; Bana; Shatberdi; Oshki; Khakhuli; Ishkhani and Otkhta. Ilia II also asked the religious figure to give permission to the Georgian side to make marks on Georgian architectural monuments in Turkey, as according to the Patriarch, some countries might try to claim them as theirs if left without special signs.

A joint group on Georgia’s and Turkey’s religious issues will work as well. The decision was taken during the meeting.