‘I Will Be Happy If The Boys Are Found Innocent’
21 July, 2011
‘I Will Be Happy If The Boys Are Found Innocent’

Interview with Gigi Tsereteli, member of the Parliament Majority

“The way the President felt was exemplified by his behavior in Svetitskhoveli Church, during his meeting with the Patriarch. His face displayed a mix of extreme discomfort and conniving smile. I would not wish anyone to be in his place at that moment. I hope it was true how I saw it. It was intended to show that the President too had human emotions,” – said expert Soso Tsiskarishvili. The meeting between the

Georgian Patriarch and the President was attended by Gigi Tsereteli, Parliamentary Vice-Speaker. Our interview with him started with this very issue.

 

A: I do not know, who noticed a peculiar expression on the face of the President. The Patriarch and the President have warm relations. Maybe a part of the public had different expectations after the recent emotional events and assumed that the meeting should not warm any longer.  In stark contrast to it, the Georgian Patriarch blessed the President two times. Consequently, I did not notice anything peculiar.

Q: The public is anxious that the recently introduced legal permission for the registration of religious organizations as legal persons of public law may represent an attempt of belittling the Georgian Church.

A: This law does not undermine the status of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The constitutional agreement that currently regulates interrelations of the State and the Church, the draft of which fortunately was approved by me among others, is an important document. No one is going to belittle the Georgian Orthodox Church and moving of any religion up to its level. I believe, more preliminary consultations should have been held with the Patriarchate. Yet, I repeat that we have been discussing this topic for years. So, it was not something new for the Patriarchate. I will tell you more. The Civil Code already had a passage before 2005 about the registration of religious unions. However, the current passage is more refined and precise.

Q: The Armenian side demands handover of five churches.

A: It’s a matter of negotiations between the Patriarchs of two countries. The position of the Patriarchate is right. When we respect the rights and status of others, others too must respect our rights and status abroad.

Q: It was reported that Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava promised to Karekin II to hand over a disputed Church located on Vertskhlis Street.

A: I cannot say anything about it. I have not heard of it. What I know is that ownership of some churches is disputed because many Armenian churches sit on the sites of Georgian Orthodox Churches that once stood there. It is therefore the matter of scientific discussions.

Q: it was said that the photo reporters were arrested in order to cover up the widespread frustration by the developments around the registration of foreign religious organizations.

A: The arrest of photo reporters for allegedly spying activities is a very sad fact. I am worried by the chance that the court may find them guilty of this crime because I know them very well. I would be happy if they are acquitted.

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