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The court session of the Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church continues PDF Print E-mail
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A1On October 24, 2018, in Tbilisi City Court, the next court hearing on the issue of Tandoyants Surb Astvatsatsin (Tandoyants Holy Mother of God) church took place chaired by judge Nana Chichileishvili. The Armenian Diocese in Georgia had initiated a lawsuit against the National Agency of Public Registry of Georgia.
Both the plaintiff and the authorized representatives from the National Agency of Public Registry and the National Agency of State Property of the Ministry of Economy of Georgia were present at the trial. The Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church was present as a third party.
During the court proceedings the advocates of the responding parties made speeches and expressed the following positions.
a)    National Agency of Public Registry offered to stop discussion on the complaint of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia against the Agency of Public Registry, motivating that Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church belonged to the Georgian state and the Public Registry, without violating any point of the law, has registered the church as the property of the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Therefore, the lawyer proposed to remove the issue from the discussion.
b)    Representative of the Ministry of Economy of Georgia spoke on the cancel of the decision on alienate the Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church from the state property and the return of the church to the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, mentioning that this issue should also be removed from the discussion. In accordance with the comments of the advocate, there are not legal basis for the Armenian Diocese in Georgia to be considered as legal owner of the Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church, in addition, according to the legislation of Georgia, spiritual and cultural monuments are not subjects of privatization, thus, if the church will not be returned to the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, the latter cannot privatize it.
It is necessary to mention that, unlike other religious communities, the Georgian Orthodox Church has its privatized churches and territories in Georgia.
c)    The demand of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia is that Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church, which was also confiscated during the Soviet period as other sanctuaries, must be returned to the Armenian Diocese. The advocate of the responding party, the Georgian Orthodox Church, announced that only standing part of the church was confiscated by the Soviet authorities and the Georgian church considers that a several sanctuaries ago in that same place, on the basis of the church a Georgian church was built, thus, Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church is the property of the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church. It should be added, that all the cultural and religious buildings in the territory of Georgia are Georgia's property.
In contrast to the expressed opinion, it should be mentioned, that the Georgian party has no scientific and factual justification for the fact that there was a Georgian church in the mentioned place. As for all cultural and religious buildings in the territory of Georgia are country's property let's mention that this expression is manifestation of apparent discrimination against national and religious minorities.  
The lawyer representing the interests of the Patriarchate mentioned that if today the Armenian Diocese in Georgia receives what it demands, soon the Muslims will demand their mosques and Jews their synagogues, in which case the state will face a difficult situation.  
Perhaps the lawyers were not aware of this, but let's mention, that the Government of Georgia has returned to the Muslim community more than 150 mosques and 25 synagogues were returned to the Jewish community.
d)    Referring to the demand of the Armenian Diocese's to return the Armenian churches, which were built in different periods and various places of Georgia and now are destroyed and becoming ruins or were turned into different objects or Georgian buildings, the advocate of the Georgian Orthodox Church announced that the hope and demand of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia that one day these churches could be returned to their true owners, are fanciful, not realistic and not prospective.
It should be noted that such attitudes of Georgian Patriarchate's and responding parties' lawyers are worrying because there are expressions of national and religious discrimination not only towards Armenians but also towards other nation and religious communities living in Georgia. The lawyer representing the interests of the Agency of Public Registry, Ministry of Economy of Georgia and Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church ignored that Georgia considered the Soviet system as an occupation regime. In fact, the illegal acts of the occupied regime related to the confiscation of religious communities’ property are not condemned and steps to restore justice are not taken. It seems that discrimination towards the religious communities continues in Georgia.
It should be mentioned that all the property seized during the Soviet period from the Georgian Church and more was returned to the Georgian Orthodox church, but the issue of property confiscated from other religious communities remains unsolved.  
The responding party asked the plaintiff to present substantiated arguments in response to their questions. Though the lawyers of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia were ready to give argumentative and substantiated answers, the judge proposed to postpone the court hearing for a thorough preparation.
By the decision of the court and with the consent of the parties, the trial was postponed. The next court session will take place on December 5, 2018, at 11:00.

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