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The next court session on the Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church took place PDF Print E-mail

A1On December 5, 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 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.
At the session the lawyers of Armenian Diocese in Georgia Davit Berdzuli and Gvantsa Lomia would represent answers to the questions raised by the lawyers of the Georgian Patriarchate during the previous court hearing. Two advocates of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia properly prepared answers to respond to the questions properly, relying on historical sources, facts and laws.
Davit Berdzuli, lawyer for the Armenian Diocese, based on international law and declarations on national and religious minority rights, made his speech on the direct connection of the Armenian Diocese with the Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church. Touching upon in detail the issues raised by the lawyers of the Georgian Patriarchate, the advocate stressed in his speech:
A.    Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church is Armenian Church, which was operating as a church of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, which is confirmed by archival and architectural facts. During the Soviet era the building of the Armenian Church was confiscated. The argument pushed forward by the Patriarchate's lawyer that a few centuries ago a Georgian church was build at the same place, does not give grounds by international law to register it with the right of the owner to the balance sheet of the Georgian Patriarchate.
B.    Referring to the interest of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia to return this church to the community, the lawyer mentioned that the confiscated religious buildings with the right of ownership, besides the Georgian Patriarchate, were also returned to Muslim and Jewish religious communities. Thus, this is a manifestation of discrimination against the Armenian Church.
C.    The lawyer of the Armenian Diocese also raised the issue of construction works carried out by the Georgian Patriarchate in the Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church, mentioned that these works damages the appearance of the church which has a status of monument and violates the right of its protection.
The second lawyer of the Armenian Diocese, Gvantsa Lomia, made a speech saturated with facts. He intended to prove that such actions violate the right of religious minorities, in this case the rights of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, restricts freedom of conscience, becoming a demonstration of discrimination and inequality.
By giving the right for speech to the lawyer of the Patriarchate Natia Tkepladze, judge Chichileishvili demonstrated her prejudiced attitude towards the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, without limiting the long speech of the Georgian Patriarchate's speech, which also was saturated with disrespectful attitude towards lawyer Davit Berdzuli and Gvantsa Lomia.
The lawyer of the Patriarchate in her speech repeatedly stressed that Armenian churches in Georgia were built by Georgian citizens and they are part of the Georgian cultural. Therefore, Georgia has the right to own its property, in this case the Tandoyants St. Astvatsatsin church, even without examining its history, transferring it to the Georgian Patriarchate. Besides, the return of the Tandoyants church to the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, according to Patriarchate's lawyer, will become a bad precedent for multinational Georgia, as the church legal balance will be violated in the country.  
Referring to the construction works carried out at the Tandoyants church, as a result of which the appearance of the historical heritage is violating, Patriarchate's lawyer Tkepladze denied the construction process. Patriarchate's lawyer represented groundless accusations that Armenian churches were built by the means of Russian Empire of Tsarist era, emphasized that the Georgian Patriarchate can also demand Georgian churches built outside the country.
By the decision of the court and with the consent of the parties, the next court session will be held on January 24, 2019, at 17:00.

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