MINELRES: Armenian Diocese in Georgia: Press Release on the Church Norashen

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Mar 29 14:48:31 2005

Original sender: Levon Isakhanyan <isakhanyan@yahoo.com>

Armenian Diocese in Georgia


The conflict surrounding the Armenian Church Norashen is gaining new
momentum and the frontiers of trust, it seems, are being left far
behind. After the attention it attracted in relation to the "fake
tombstones with Georgian inscriptions", which are still not taken away
from the church's yard, Georgian Church officials convincingly assured
the Armenian Diocese that the Georgian Patriarchate had best intentions
for a positive resolve of the Norashen question and that the actions of
Father Tariel were very much his own. 

However, just a few days later, Father Abgar, Deputy Head of the
Armenian Diocese in Georgia, witnessed the undertaking of new works by
the Georgian clergy and handymen in front of the Armenian Church
Norashen (digging of holes, planting of trees etc.). Despite the earlier
agreement, the appropriation efforts aimed at the Armenian Church of
Norashen continue secretly, probably with the intention to put the
Armenian Diocese in front of a fait accompli. The Georgian priest Tariel
(the same who had destroyed famous frescoes from the Hovnatanyan school
and Armenian khatshkars) stated: "the land is ours, hence the church is
ours and we do what we want and what I have been told. Leave us in
peace, you are getting on our nerves…"

Against the backdrop of the Norashen problem, the Armenian Diocese in
Georgian is worried about a growing anti-Armenism in Georgia (where
according to official figures from 1989 about 500.000 Armenians live),
which finds expresses in the form of anti-Armenian propaganda in
Georgian mass-media, such as in the Georgian Times of 24.02.2005:
"Armenians do anything to undercut the formation of Georgia as a state…
and this is why it is necessary to create a one-nation-state", "if the
Armenians had the material means, they would destroy our language", "I
don't remember one single time, when Armenians did something good for
Georgia", "a Georgianised Armenian can never become a Georgian, he will
always strive to power. The clearest example for this is the Georgian
President himself". The Diocese is furthermore worried about the
continuous acts of vandalism that Armenian cemeteries are subjected to
in Georgia.  The century old cemetery of Vera, in Tbilisi, has been
almost completely destroyed in the past 17 years. The graves of well
known politicians, generals, professors and poets, who were not just
Armenians but who played an important role in historical Georgia are
being annihilated. And the latest horrendous news, reaching the Press
Office, are from Dusheti (a provincial town in Georgia), where yet
another Armenian cemetery has become the victim of acts of vandalism. 

The Armenian Diocese in Georgia requests that acts of vandalism and
offense to the dead be put an end to. It asks not to impede the fruitful
dialogue between the Georgian patriarchate and the Armenian
Katolikosate, which is undercut by the unqualified actions of Father
Tariel, resulting in a negative impact on the century old, brotherly
relationship between the two churches. The Diocese hopes to attract the
attention of the international community to this situation.

Armenian Diocese in Georgia
Press Office 
5 Krasilnaya Str., Tbilisi, Georgia
Tel: +995 32 75 41 11 
Fax: + 995 32 75 17 90
Mobile: +995 99 41 34 74 
Email: isakhanyan@yahoo.com