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Several Religious Confessions Disagree with Patriarchate’s Statement


Salome Achba, www.religiebi.info

On May 10, Representative of the Muslim Department Vagiph Akperov left the working meeting of the inter-religious group in the German House in protest. He was irritated by a statement from Thea Gogotishvili, representing the Patriarchate, about Aziziye Mosque. Gogotishvili said that Sultan Abdul Aziz was killing Christians and the construction of a mosque in his name in Georgia is the same as building a monument in Israel celebrating the Holocaust.

During the inter-religious group meeting in the German House, representatives of various religious confessions disagreed with the Orthodox Patriarchate’s statement and did not sign it.

The Patriarchate requested their involvement in the Turkish-Georgian negotiations on construction of Aziziye Mosque in Batumi in exchange for the rehabilitation of Oshki and Ishkhani churches in Turkey, and wanted to publish a working version of the agreement, underscoring the issue in their statement.

Ilia Osepashvili from the Baptist-Evangelist Church said that the Patriarchate and State should resolve this problem through dialogue and thought that the involvement of other religious groups in this dialogue wass incorrect.

“We are not lawyers. We just represent various religious groups. Since we’re hearing contradictory statements from the Orthodox Patriarchate and Ministry of Culture of Georgia, we cannot get the real picture. So, we think the Patriarchate and the State should resolve the problem without our involvement,” Ilia Osepashvili said.

The Georgian Patriarchate claims they had never participated in the [Turkish-Georgian] negotiations. According to Besik Matsaberidze from the Culture Ministry, however,  the Patriarchate was informed on the current situation at every stage of negotiations. “The Patriarchate has been involved in the process since the very first day the negotiations launched. So, we don’t really understand why they are making this statement,” Besik Matsaberidze said.

The discussion about Aziziye Mosque in Batumi caused disagreement during the meeting in the German House.

Vagiph Akperov from the Muslim Community left the hall in protest after Thea Gogotishvili made a statement likening the construction of Aziziye Mosque in Georgia to setting up a Holocaust Monument in Israel.

The Rector of the Theological Seminary, Protopresviter Giorgi Zviadadze said he was surprised by the religious minorities’ statements on the Patriarchate’s proposal. “I was surprised by their statements. Everybody knows that various confessions freely co-exist in Georgia and that it is only thanks to the Georgian Patriarchate.”

The inter-religious group was established in 2009 And is coordinated by nongovernmental organization Union XXI Century. The purpose of the group is to promote integration between religious minorities and the Orthodox Church. Eleven different confessions are included in the inter-religious group.

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