Voices from Russia

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Patriarch Ilya of Georgia to Discuss Reconciliation in Moscow

00 Patriarch Ilie of Georgia. 20.01.13


On Sunday, Catholicos Patriarch Ilya Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili of all Georgia will arrive in Moscow on a visit that could create a general background for progress in bilateral relations that have been almost non-existent since the two countries fought a brief war in August 2008. On Saturday, after Epiphany services at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi, Patriarch Ilya said, “I’m going to Moscow to discuss issues that are vital for Georgia”. During his six-day visit, Ilya’s expected to meet Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias and with the Russian leadership. On Monday, he’ll receive an award from the International Fund for the Unity of the Orthodox Peoples {editor: a non-existent “paper” organisation} in recognition of his contribution to strengthening ties between Orthodox believers and Local Churches worldwide. The Georgian patriarch, a known strong advocate of normalising relations with Russia, maintains active ties with the MP.

On 11 January, President Vladimir Putin sent greetings to Ilya on his 80th birthday and on the 35th anniversary of his enthronement, saying, “We greatly value your warm attitude toward Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church (sic). Your personal efforts … greatly helped in maintaining the centuries-long ties of friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples during a difficult phase of history”. Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia after its August 2008 war over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia lost one-fifth of its territory after the two republics broke away. Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream coalition won the 1 October parliamentary election, said in November that Tbilisi is restarting its ties with Moscow “from a clean slate”, but that restoration of diplomatic relations will be linked to the issue of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Moscow, however, rules out any negotiations on the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognised as independent states. Russian and Georgian official representatives held a meeting on 14 December in Genève in a first attempt to launch the reconciliation process.

20 January 2013




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