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The Message of the Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia at the conference organized in the occasion of International Day for Tolerance PDF Print E-mail
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November 15, 2017

Honorable state officials, politicians, public figures, representatives of the diplomatic corps, spiritual brothers, beloved brothers and sisters,

We are pleased to greet you on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, and we ask God grant you long life, peace and lead you to salvation.

In the course of history, humankind has undergone many trials and tribulations, has been shaken by war, genocide and resettlement over and over again. The world is not at peace today, the Middle East is in flames, a group of people kills and annihilates others in the name of God and in the name of religion, destroys places of worship and historic-cultural monuments of outstanding universal significance. These villains have nothing to do with God. Unfortunately, humanity remains the same as it had been for thousands of years. It has not learned to respect, tolerate and love one another in the name of God and in the name of religion.

We, the representatives of different nations and religions living in Georgia, by being peaceful, respectful and tolerant of others, will pass on our walk of life and will to the world and future generations. The least we can do is to raise our children in such an environment, that they will not remain indifferent to someone’s pain or sufferings, they will learn that being different does not make someone an enemy or a rival.

Our differences and diversity do not divide us, but make us beautiful. The Scripture says: “Love one another” – it does not say love Jews, Christians, Muslims or representatives of other religions and nations, but says – love one another, to put it another way – everyone. Our diversity is our beauty. How sad it would be if all of us looked the same, had the same opinion, had the same haircut or dressed the same. Representatives of different nations and religions are the real wealth of Georgia. Our society should make the most of this diversity. People of different nations living in Georgia have no choice, but to live together in peace and to be respectful.

We, the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church, treat the Georgian Orthodox Church, other Churches operating in Georgia, the Muslim and Jewish communities, other ethnic and religious minorities with love and respect. And we do expect the same in return, stressing once again that our differences do not imply that we should be enemies. Our national and religious peculiarities and traditions are a specific seal that we bear as citizens of multinational Georgia.

The establishment of the State Agency for Religious Issues in 2014 has played a big role in outlining ways to deal with the issues, which have accumulated in religious organizations in Georgia. Government has made a significant step in integration into the European family, as new Georgian authorities attend to the religious entities issues and devote particular attention to them. The Georgian state expressed its readiness to return mosques to Muslims, synagogues – to the Jewish community, houses of worship - to the Christian communities. Partial compensation of damages inflicted upon religious communities during the Soviet regime should be noted. Through the allocated government funds for compensation of damages inflicted by the Soviet Union, the Armenian Diocese in Georgia was granted the opportunity to expand the scope of its spiritual, cultural and educational activities. The Agency expands its activities every day, which inspires confidence in religious entities in Georgia. The aforementioned steps have contributed to an increase of political trust in the state and have opened new avenues for cooperation. We highly appreciate the respective approach of the Georgian state to the issues of religious organizations.

It is our hope that the issue, concerning the restitution of property that has been confiscated from the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church in Georgia during the Soviet period, will be successfully settled. The government has begun to pay more attention to the Armenian historical monuments. There has been some visible progress in this regard. This is strongly exemplified in restoration works of the St. Norashen Church.

We strongly believe that a fair solution can be found to the issue of Yerevantsots St. Minas Church, which acquired the status of a historical monument, while the building together with its territory was privatized. We strongly believe that progress will be made towards suspension of the construction project of the high residential building near the remains of the Shamkhoretsots or Karmir Avetaran Holy Mother of God church, which is also a historical monument, because the construction project has been approved in violation of all norms, groundlessly and illegally. Our hope is that works being undertaken on restitution of Saint Gevorg of Mughni Church and Surb Nshan Church in Tbilisi, Surb Nshan Church in Akhaltsikhe will be taken into account.

We would like to emphasize once again that the houses of worship belonging to other religious communities are located on the territory of Georgia and are the spiritual and cultural monuments of Georgia, thus the state and the relevant authorities are obliged to ensure preservation of monuments of spiritual and national importance.

At the same time we would like the Georgian authorities to make reference to the issue of granting tax privileges, which will enable us to use savings for renovation and preservation of churches.

We believe that the television and media can significantly help familiarize different religious and ethnic minorities with each other and the majority. If public or private TV channels show more interest and properly introduce important religious and national holidays and traditions of different religious communities and ethnic minorities to the massive television audience, this will surely contribute to better mutual recognition, respect, and acceptance.

It is surely an oversight in today’s reality of Georgia that TV channels are often reluctant to cover minority festivals and important events, thus Georgian public remains uninformed on minorities living next to them. Taking into consideration the example of other countries, we believe that TV channels should make more room for and give more time to minorities which will provide us, the residents of Georgia, with an opportunity to get to know each other, to better understand and accept each other.

We offer our prayers for a peaceful and secure life in Georgia. Let the religious entities and ethnic minorities living in Georgia in peaceful cooperation continue to create a safer and more prosperous future for the country inherited from our ancestors.

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