THE CHURCH IN GEORGIA TODAY

Ivlian KHAINDRAVA


Ivlian Khaindrava, Director, South Caucasian Studies Program, Development and Cooperation Centerthe Center of Pluralism (Tbilisi, Georgia)


I have not set myself a task of covering all possible aspects related to the place of the Church in Georgia in the early 21st century. The situation in the confessional sphere is probably even more contradictory than in other spheres of the republics social life. Georgia is brimming with contradictions to the extent that it can be likened to a train the passengers of which are going to opposite destinations: this train will never go far.

To offer you an idea about the place and role of the Christian Orthodox Church in the Georgian state I invite you to two walks along Tbilisi streets.

Visiting Not So Distant Past

Late in the 1980s a wave of national-liberation movement, rallies, hunger strikes and demonstrations swept Georgia. Together with the tricolor (and other historical banners), portraits of outstanding Georgian public and political figures the cross figured prominently at mass gatherings. The Fatherland, Language, and the Faith, the national slogan formulated in the 19th century by Ilya Chavchavadze, posters and slogans of the Long Live Free, Democratic, and Christian Georgia! type were readily embraced by the national-liberation movement.

Under Soviet power religion as part of dissident thinking was always present in the republic: even highly placed party functionaries baptized their children to follow the tradition or being unwilling to break from God in case He existed. The dissidents spoke about the freedom of conscience and religion; students and the boldest part of intelligentsia raised their voice in protection of historical monuments (in Georgia all churches and monasteries were such monuments). On the whole, the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) together with the Tbilisi Dynamo football team and the Folk Dance Ensemble of Sukhishvili-Ramishvili was perceived as one of the few surviving national institutions.

Collapse of the communist ideology, the fact officially recognized in the post-perestroika period, left a vacuum to be filled to help people recover their identity. It was at that time that the slogans moved from one opposite to another: from totalitarianism to democracy; from communism to freedom; from lack of faith to religion. In short, the image of a Soviet robot without God in his soul and without any ethnic roots who used the language of inter-national communication (by which the Russian language was meant) was opposed to an image of a Christian Orthodox Georgian with a glorious past. The Soviet people who belonged to various nationalities and were deprived of their ethnic individuality were eager to recover it together with their historical identity or, at least, to obtain a new one. The Georgians decided to revive their Orthodox identity and present themselves as an Eastern outpost of the Christian worldobviously religion was used as the necessary instrument. Yet the souls degraded by several decades of Soviet power were not ready to return to the Church. On the grass-root level this process was perceived as a fashion or as a need to ape those at the helm. All prominent figures of the national-liberation movement unfolding in the republic (Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Merab Kostava, Zurab Chavchavadze, Tamar Chkheidze, Gia Chanturia, and Irakliy Tsereteli) freely demonstrated their religious feelings.

This was outward appearance and ignorance when it came to the questions of religion and faith rather than profound knowledge about Orthodox Christianity (there is still no such knowledge in the republic). Few people can explain the difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, to say nothing about the Lutherans and the Church of England. The rest are convinced that Christian Orthodoxy is the only genuine religion.

It was at that time that religious feelings without true faith (neither here nor elsewhere do I intend to doubt the feelings of the genuinely religious persons) perfectly fitted the formula Orthodoxy without (or outside) Christianity, which can also be described as Orthodox atheism. The tragic night of 9 April, 1989 is the best illustration of the above. When it became obvious that the troops were prepared to attack the hunger strikers and the crowd that supported them, Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, came out to invite the people to the cathedral opposite the Government House so that to pray there to avoid bloodshed. A loud No! was an answer. It came from the people holding candles and reciting prayers.

Having become a fellow traveler of the national-liberation movement, the Orthodox Church became a fellow traveler of post-Soviet power in Georgia and an attribute of the new statehood. This happened contrary to the simple idea that underlay the freedom of religion according to which political unity within a country is not merely necessary but also sufficient for its normal functioning (Nodar Ladaria).1 Significantly, President Gamsakhurdia and his followers, who had no warm feelings toward Ilia II, invited him to the important parliament sittings (the first session, inauguration of the president). I have in my archive two photographs cut out from newspapers that look absolutely identical. In one of them the Patriarch receives an oath of allegiance from President Gamsakhurdia; in the other, the president is Eduard Shevardnadze. This means that both of them looked at the blessing of the Georgian Orthodox Church as one of the elements of the legitimacy of their power.

Naturally enough, church blessing came into fashion; the official authorities and the opposition started inviting priests to all sort of meetings, congresses and other events. I watched over TV how a priest blessed a newly opened totalizator. (Fortunately, nobody invited a clergyman to bless a brothel.) I should say that the following information differs but little from a hypothetical blessing of a brothel: On Friday, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II blessed the spot in the General Prosecutors Office courtyard on which the Church in the name of St. Czar Vakhtang Gorgasali will stand. Friday was the professional holiday of all public prosecutors. According to the head of the Judicial Review Department of the General Prosecutors Office Temur Moniava, construction would start later the same year and donated money would be used. The prosecutors have been celebrating their professional holiday for the sixth time.2

Lets complete our first excursion with an overview of Georgias legal field within which confessional life is unfolding: dynamics in this sphere is part of the state policy in the sphere of religion.

The Legal Field

International Treaties

In 1994 Georgia ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; in 1999 it joined the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The Constitution

The Fundamental Law enacted in 1995 contains all the right words about the freedom of religion. Its preamble says that the strong will of the people of Georgia is to guarantee universally recognized human rights and freedoms. Art 14 says: Everyone is born free and equal before law, irrespective of race, skin color, language, sex, religion, political and other opinion; national, ethnic and social origin, property and title of nobility, place of residence. Art 19 says: 1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of speech, thought, conscience, religion and belief. 2. Persecution of an individual on the grounds of his speech, opinion, belief or religion, also compulsion to express opinions about them shall be impermissible. 3. The rights enumerated in this article may not be restricted unless their exercise infringes upon the rights of others. Art 24 says: Every individual shall have the right to receive and disseminate information, express and disseminate his opinion orally, in written or any other form. Art 35 says, in particular: Every one shall have the right to education and to free choice of its form. Art 38 says: Citizens of Georgia are equal in social, economic, cultural and political life regardless of national, ethnic, religious or linguistic origin.

Art 9 is the key one when it comes to religious matters: The state recognizes the special importance of the Georgian Orthodox Church in Georgian history but simultaneously announces complete freedom in religious belief and the independence of the church from the state. In 2001 the article was completed with Point 2 that said that the relationships between the state of Georgia and the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia were determined by the Constitutional Treaty that should completely correspond to the universally recognized principles and norms of international law, in particular, in the sphere of human rights and freedoms.

Other Normative Acts

The issues related to the process of creation of new religious organizations seem to be regulated by the Civil Code adopted in 1997 Art 1509 of which said that all nongovernmental organizations (political parties, religious associations, etc.) set up in accordance with laws are considered legal persons of public law. Yet the Law on Legal Persons of Public Law adopted in 1999 does not presuppose the procedure of forming a religious association as a legal person. Art 5.2 of the Law says that a legal person of public law can be set up: (1) according to the law; (2) under a presidential decree; (3) under an administrative act of a structure of state administration. Obviously, none of the points can serve as the foundation for a religious organizationfor this reason the problem of their registration remains unsettled. The situation became even worse when the Supreme Courts disposition order with respect to registration of the Jehovahs Witnesses determined that any religious association should function as a legal person of public law and described as illegal registration of religious organizations in the form of alliances (associations) as legal persons of private law envisaged by the Civil Code. This made the problem of registration and legal functioning of religious associations even more complicated.

Art 101 of the Tax Code envisages certain tax privileges for the Patriarchate of Georgia (it was exempted from the VAT); the code contains no mention of other religious associations (see also Art 6.5 of the Constitutional Treaty); Art 47 says the same (exemption from the profits tax). Under the state budget for 2002 the Patriarchate received slightly less than 1m lari (about $450 thou). On top of this the Patriarchate received money from the presidential fund, the budget of Tbilisi and district budgets. The St. Trinity Cathedral is being built using the money that comes from the state coffers and private sources.

The Law on Education describes as the key principle independence of educational establishments from all political and religious associations (Art 1). Art 13, however, says that in order to preserve and develop the national-cultural traditions the state helps religious educational establishments. Under Art 5 the Patriarchate could participate in elaborating educational programs and standards; similar rights are registered in Art 5 of the Constitutional Treaty. Under the Law on Imprisonment (Art 26) the prisoners have the right to perform religious rituals and use all the necessary implements and literature.

Art 155 of the Criminal Code envisages punishment for illegal interference in religious rites while interference with the establishing or functioning of political, public or religious associations is punishable under Art 166 of the Criminal Code. The Law on Taking out of Georgia and Bringing in Cultural Values presupposes participation of the Patriarchate representatives in the expert-consultative commissions in case of doubts. The Law on Protection of Cultural Heritage mentions in Art 2 the Patriarchate as an owner of a considerable part of the cultural heritage, yet does not regulate the relations between the state and the Patriarchate. The Constitutional Treaty pays much more attention to these issues, yet it also fails to regulate all aspects of the relationships in this sphere.

By way of conclusion let me quote from a survey Freedom of Religion in the OSCE Member Countries: Even the shortest overview of the Georgian laws makes it possible to conclude: the laws lack consistency; they do not offer enough guarantees of the freedom of religion; practice in this sphere demonstrates that Georgia is far removed from the international standards in the sphere of freedom of religion.3

Art 9 of the Constitution and the Constitutional Treaty

While working on the Constitution and discussing it in parliament (I took part in both processes as a member of parliament in 1992-1995 and member of the State Constitutional Commission) the deputies could not agree on whether the Constitution should mention the Georgian Orthodox Church and in which of its sections. A compromise was reached: the Constitution mentions special importance of the Georgian Orthodox Church in Georgian history and declares freedom of religion and independence of the church from the state. Each of the sides has invested the formulas with its own meaning: the secularists believed that the problem had been resolved once and for all while the clericals hoped to use the mention of special importance to proceed to other normative and legal acts to increase the social role of the GOC. The latter won: on 30 March, 2001 the parliament unanimously (with 191 votes) adopted a Law on Introducing Changes and Amendments into the Constitution of Georgia which added Point 2 to Art 9 of the Constitution. Even though on the same day the parliament passed a decision On Manifestations of Religious Extremism that instructed the relevant power structures to cut short all manifestations of religion-related violence, everybody was aware of a radical change in the sphere of religion. The Georgian Orthodox Church, more equal than the others, became the first among equals. In other words, it was the only confession that acquired a constitutional status.

On 14 October, 2002 the state in the person of President Shevardnadze and the Apostolic Autocephalous Christian Orthodox Church of Georgia in the person of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II signed a Constitutional Treaty; on 22 October of the same year it was ratified by the parliament and the Holy Synod.

While the draft was still being edited, Rick Lawson, an EU expert and professor of the department of jurisprudence, Leiden University, pointed out that the connection between the Georgian Constitution and the Constitutional Treaty was not quite clear.4 Another EU expert, Doctor of Law Ringolds Balodis pointed out that the treaty reminded of the Catholic concordats in force in Italy, Spain, and Poland. It should be said that in these countries the concordats are normative acts that existed side by side with laws on religious organizations while in Georgia it was elevated to the status of a constitutional treaty. At the same time, it says nothing about the sides responsibilities while some of its provisions obviously require amendments to existing laws or adoption of new ones. For example, under Art 3 of the Treaty the state recognizes church marriages, yet the document says nothing about the relevant procedures and legal consequences (the rights of women and children, and the property issues).5

Prominent Georgian scholar Zurab Kiknadze described Art 11 of the Treaty as an odious one under which the state assumed partial responsibility for restitution. He has written with a great deal of puzzlement: The Patriarchate demands that the material losses the Church incurred under Soviet power be repaid as if Sovietization, de-kulakization, collectivization, confiscation, the prewar and postwar repressions never affected the entire population of Georgia irrespective of ethnic, religious or social affiliation.6

Without going into details one can say that the Treaty adoption indicates that freedom of religion and the confessional relations in Georgia are far removed from the democratic standards. It is interesting to note that experts and analysts insist that having signed the Treaty the Georgian Orthodox Church undermined rather than consolidated its positions. Political scientist Ramaz Sakvarelidze has pointed out: There is a danger of the Churchs weaker religious position while its administrative might will increase. This happened many times in the past: Inquisition gave rise to European atheism; the administratively strong Russian Orthodox Church led to communist atheism, etc. We can say that the course the Church is pursuing today (that manifests itself in religious intolerance) is fraught with its weakness that is equally dangerous for the Church and the state.7

In his World Religions in Georgia Nugzar Papuashvili has written: It was in the early days of perestroika when the national-liberation movement manifested itself that a certain category of the clergy and society was trapped by the church-nationalist and church-rigorist (that is ultra-clerical) emotions and ideas. These ideas found support in political parties. In this way the country acquired an anti-ecumenical front. The Catholicos-Patriarch and the Holy Synod abided by the radical demands and, on 20 May, 1997 the GOC withdrew from the World Council of Churches and the European Conference. By doing this they averted an inevitable discord, yet the problems remained. The radicals are convinced that together with the membership in the ecumenical organizations the Eucharist alliance with the churches within the ecumenical movement that take part in joint prayers with the non-Orthodox churches should be regarded as a form of ecumenism.8 A schism of a limited nature did take place when several groups left the fold of the Patriarchate of Georgia. It should be noted that the Church is not an exception to the general rule that says that all concessions to blackmailers inflate their demands and create dead ends. It seems that the obscurantists are increasing their pressure on the Catholicos-Patriarch and push the Church toward complete self-isolation and intolerance smacking of the early Middle Ages. The GOCs refusal to start living according to the Gregorian calendar (something that the majority of the Orthodox churches have done) is another sign of the same.

Visiting the Present

How did all this happen to us? To answer the question lets stroll along the streets of Tbilisi of the 21st century. We shall witness attacks at meetings of members of other confessions that go unpunished (the Jehovahs Witnesses suffered most) carried out by the mob of unbalanced schismatic Basil Mkalavishvili (there have been hundreds of similar ugly incidents); burning religious books in public; a skirmish on 10 July, 2002 at the office of NGO Liberty Institute that was bold enough to defend the victims rights; and invectives against all those who oppose all manifestations of religious intolerance and violence. Member of the Georgian parliament Guram Sharadze, the secular leader of religious, and not only religious, obscurantism, was especially successful in demonstrating intolerance and resorting to violence. It seems that he has monopolized the right to protect the purity of the faith and nation with an encouragement of certain circles.

The law enforcement bodies and supreme power were contemplating these developments in silence, which looked like an encouragement. It was quite recently that criminal proceedings were instituted against Mkalavishvili who was detained for three months. Despite the stormy protests of his unruly crowd, he remained in custodyno social cataclysms followed. Several scores of kind-hearted members of parliament signed a petition asking to change the measure of restraint: the step that speaks volumes about their moral, intellectual, professional and other qualities. One can expect that the detention will make a martyr out of Mkalavishvili and the ranks of his supporters will swell. There are certain limits to this too: few people will be bold enough to follow an excommunicated person.

Here are more details. In summer 2001 the Church awarded a charter and a silver cross For Personal Contribution to Strengthening the GOC and in Connection with the 2000th Anniversary of Christianity blessed by the Catholicos-Patriarch to the then representative of the president in Samtskhe-Javakheti (governor) Gigla Baramidze.9 In February 2002, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Self-Administration and Regional Policies said that Baramidzes administration regularly misused the money allocated by the state for teaching of Georgian to the local people and spent it on its own staff.10 By that time the governor had already been dismissed at his own request, therefore this statement had no legal consequences.

Recently, the Patriarchate tried to prevent a tour of an English theater in Tbilisi. The statement signed by the Patriarch said that the plays based on Shakespeares sonnets contained homosexual and erotic scenes that had created a scandal in London.11 New churches and chapels of dubious architectural value built using dubious money are appearing everywhere; a huge St. Trinity Cathedral is being erected on one of the heights. This monument of the Shevardnadze-Ilia II epoch will dominate the city where children and elderly beg in the streets and where many people cannot buy medical services.

Their Customs

In 2001, the embassies of the United States and Great Britain issued a joint statement about the facts of religious intolerance in the republic. In this connection Ben Campbell, Chairman of the Senate Commission on Security and Cooperation pointed out that President Shevardnadze and Georgian authorities appear to have turned a blind eye to the ongoing violence against church groups, and expressed his hope that the statement would be taken as a clear sign of the United States extreme concern. He said further: It is expected that the Georgian authorities will take all the necessary measures to protect people irrespective of their religious beliefs.

Every year (or rather every six months) the ombudsman tries to attract the parliaments attention to the sad state of affairs in the field of the freedom of religionwith no results. Civil society is doing its best to attract attention to the same issue. In December 1999, the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development organized a discussion on the subject Religious Minorities in (Semi)democratic Societies. I have used many of opinions voiced at the conference in this article. Several scores of academics and public figures wrote an open letter to the Catholicos-Patriarch with a request to answer several signally important questions. No answer followed.

It is interesting to say that none of the prominent Georgian politicians is religious. The depth of their faith cannot be measured, yet their way of life and deeds speak for themselves. President Shevardnadze, state minister Jorbenadze, ruler of Ajaria Abashidze, the main Labor activist Natelashvili, the main figure in the Socialist Party Rcheulishvili, the main industrialist Topadze (the list is much longer) were party and Komsomol functionaries in the Soviet past. Their political activities have nothing in common with Christian values. The new opposition, formerly part of the presidents party, is not too religious either: the speaker Nino Burdjanadze; the leader of the National Movement Saakashvili, the chief united democrat Zhvania; the chief New Right Gamkrelidze and Gachechiladze and well as the leaders of the republicans and traditionalists (two parties that have survived since the national-liberation stage). None of them is bold enough to openly talk about the disturbing trendsthis may cost them votes. The National Democrats (that back in the 1980s formulated a dubious and vague idea of a teo-democracy without going into details) stand apart from the rest of the political crowd.

Paata Zakareishvili has said: The pernicious trend to use religious values as small change is obvious. Time will come when the tension among religious organizations will block the way to a more democratic state. Regrettably, the Georgian political forces either refuse to look at that problem as a serious one or, being sure of their positions because of ignorance and quasi-patriotic incompetence, remain in the hold of illusory complacency.12

Papuashvili has written: Ignorance or to put it mildly, inadequate competence of the authorities, administration and considerable part of those working in the system of education in the religion and law issues is the greatest problem.13 According to Zurab Chiaberashvili: The person who declares his adherence to one (Christian Orthodox) idea and lives according to different (non-Christian) ideas is the best possible support for those who look at society as a mob and an ignorant crowd. This person is a complete analogue to a communist of Soviet times who declared one kind of things (equality, fraternity, and unity) and did others (embezzlement).14

The Polls

What is behind this state of affairs? Public opinion has been always regarding Georgia as a country of religious tolerance that knew neither pogroms nor persecutions. Lets have a look at the religious map of Georgia (information was borrowed from different sources; about 3.5m are counted as Orthodox Christians while no information about the atheists could be found).

Table 1

No.

Confession

Numerical strength

%

1.

Armenian Apostolic

200,000

5.0

2.

Muslims

400,000

10.0

3.

Catholics

50,000

1.25

4.

Yezidi

30,000

0.75

5.

Jehovahs Witnesses

15,000

0.375

6.

Jews

10,000

0.25

7.

Baptists

6,000

0.15

8.

Pentecostalists

5,000

0.125

9.

Molokans

2,000

0.05

10.

Dukhobors

1,500

0.04

11.

Salvation Army

800

0.02

12.

Lutherans

700

0.02

13.

The New Apostolic Church

700

0.02

14.

Bahaists

500

0.0125

15.

Adventists

400

0.01

16.

Krishnaites

200

0.005

17.

Others

200

0.005

As distinct from its Caucasian neighbors, Georgia is a poly-confessional country. Avto Jokhadze believes that in these conditions cooperation among the confessions, their mutual tolerance are not sufficient yet necessary conditions to maintain peace more than once political, ethnic or other conflicts acquired religious hue, it so happened that the conflict (non-religious) causes disappeared while the conflict dragged on as a religious one.15

Experts of civil society are aware of this. One wonders whether society as a whole is aware of this. After all, these trends receive support from certain quarters.

Table 2 offers the returns of a nationwide sociological poll that involved over 1,200 respondents.16

Table 2

Level of Trust in Various Institutions

 

Trust

Do not trust

No answer

Refused to answer

Police

51

1,006

57

114

President

124

910

89

88

Court

116

913

87

95

State security

82

947

86

96

Parliament

51

982

75

103

State Chancellery

44

949

111

107

Auditing Chamber

78

914

114

105

Ombudsman

174

749

187

101

Tax service

39

984

84

104

Christian Orthodox Church

767

235

118

91

Environmental Protection Ministry

118

838

148

107

Anticorruption Council

80

881

144

106

This is a convincing proof that while the nation has no trust in the totally corrupted, absolutely incompetent state structures that have no interest in the nation the people try to find a structure to pin their hopes on and to preserve their confidence in the future. Whether this structure is reliable is another question: more often than not clergymen betray themselves as people of dubious moral and intellectual qualities while together they are perceived as the most respected institution. Strange are Thy ways!

Table 3

What Spouses Parents Do Not Want for Their Children

Affiliation with a different religion

306

Low cultural level

292

Criminal past

262

Other sexual partner in the past

211

Different nationality

180

An earlier family

166

Physical deficiency

140

Unemployment

121

Low wages

65

Lack of respect for traditions

58

Lower social status

49

Unattractive personal appearances

21

No higher education

16

Wrong political ideas

15

Refugee

14

Domicile in a different part of Georgia

10

Other

9

Foreign citizenship

7

Higher social level

7

The figures in Table 3 proved much more unexpected than those in Table 2 to an extent that none of the experts volunteered with their analysis. Obviously, we have to ponder on them longer.

There was an earlier poll mentioned by Gia Nodia.17 In 1997, the poll conducted by the Arnold-Bergstrasser Institute (Germany) and the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development in Georgia revealed that 65 percent of the polled believed that faith and religious values should determine all aspects of social and state life. In the world sociological practice it is the answer to this question that identifies the degree of public support for religious fundamentalism. To put it differently, the answer means that the public refuses to separate religion from the sociopolitical life and that the former should dominate over the latter. According to the 1997 poll, Georgia was ready to embrace religious fundamentalism.

Significantly, about 70 percent of supporters of fundamentalism were studentsthe fact that speaks a lot about the countrys future. While in 1978 only 1 percent of the polled among the students of Tbilisi University regarded themselves as religious persons, in 2000 the share rose to nearly 89 percent.18 Obviously, in 1978 few were bold enough to admit that they were believersin 2000 part of the respondents proved not bold enough to speak about their atheism. The trend is clear enough.

To tell the truth, even if there is a threat of Orthodox fundamentalism in Georgia, the country has no inner resources to export it abroad.

Why?

Here is how Sozar Subeliani answers this question: A considerable part of society looks at Christian Orthodoxy as national ideology of sorts and places its national role much higher than the Churchs mystical or social role. This explains why all other religious trends are seen as a threat to the Georgian state and national unity, which breeds aggressiveness toward them.19

According to Z. Kiknadze: Confessional peace in Georgia is directly connected with the nations social awareness. As long as all other confessions are perceived as alien and therefore hostile, there will be no peace in the country This is what we have inherited from Byzantium. Just like in Byzantium our society is excessively politically awareconfessional contradictions are manifestations of this. We are dealing with Byzantine mentality and no law, no matter how efficient, can deliver us from it.20

G. Nodia has offered another interesting comment: One can say that there is a contradiction between the corporate interests of the Church and the national interests. Georgia needs state unity, stronger democratic institutions and, what is even more important, confessional tolerance The Orthodox Church interprets this course as a certain threat to its corporate interests.21

A. Djokhadze agrees with the above: Across the post-Soviet expanse economic and political systems are drifting toward the West (at least, there are attempts at Westernization) while Christian Orthodox and Islamic revival steers society away from the Western values. Obviously, society cannot move in two opposite directions simultaneously which adds intensity to the already intense contradictions in our transition society. This is fraught with internal conflicts.22

* * *

The roots should be sought in the sad condition of our society (or rather proto-society); oases in social life are even fewer and farther between than in the desert. In an absence of reasonable state administration policy in all fields (education, etc.) the state of affairs in other spheres (football and religion included) will remain sad.

Today, the country looks like a train in which the passengers are willing to go in opposite directions. There are three solutions: either the passengers will start fighting and will smash the train even before it starts moving, or the train will move backwards toward the Middle Ages and a corresponding way of life, or it will go forward to the way of thinking and life based on liberal pluralistic values.

If Georgia succumbs to fundamentalism it will no longer be Georgia.


1 The Church, the State and Religious Minorities in Georgia: Is There a Danger of Religious Fundamentalism?, ed. by G. Nodia, Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, Tbilisi, 2000, pp. 7-13 (in Georgian).
2 Prime News Agency, Tbilisi, 30 May, 2003.
3 Freedom of Religion in the OSCE Member Countries. Legal Survey, Liberty Institute, Tbilisi, 2002, p. 9 (in Georgian).
4 See: Svoboda (Published by the Liberty Institute in Tbilisi), No. 3, 2002, pp. 20-22.
5 See: Svoboda, No. 1-2, 2002, pp. 24-30.
6 Svoboda, No. 1 (13), 2003, pp. 31-43.
7 The Church, the State and Religious Minorities in Georgia: Is There a Danger of Religious Fundamentalism?, pp. 49-52.
8 N. Papuashvili, World Religions in Georgia, Liberty Institute, Tbilisi, 2002, pp. 95-96 (in Georgian).
9 See: Prime News Agency, 1 August, 2001.
10 Prime News Agency, 26 February, 2002.
11 Prime News Agency, 13 June, 2003.
12 The Church, the State and Religious Minorities in Georgia: Is There a Danger of Religious Fundamentalism?, pp. 14-21.
13 Ibid., pp. 44-46.
14 Ibid., pp. 39-42.
15 Ibid., pp. 22-26.
16 See: Your Rights (a periodical of the Peoples Defender of Georgia), No. 1, 2001 (in Georgian).
17 See: The Church, the State and Religious Minorities in Georgia: Is There a Danger of Religious Fundamentalism?, pp. 57-68.
18 See: N. Papuashvili, op. cit.
19 The Church, the State and Religious Minorities in Georgia: Is There a Danger of Religious Fundamentalism?, pp. 27-37.
20 Ibid., pp. 52-55.
21 Ibid., pp. 57-68.
22 Ibid., pp. 22-26.

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