TBILISI—The Georgian Patriarch Ilya II, the spiritual leader of Georgian Orthodox Church was embroiled in controversy when he denied comments attributed to him by Azeri press sources after a meeting with the leader of Caucasus Muslim Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh.
During the meeting late last week, the Georgian Patriarch reportedly spoke about territorial disputes in the South Caucasus, including the South Ossetian and Abkhazian conflicts in Georgia.
The Azeri news agency ANS quoted Ilya II as saying: “I will never agree with the opinion that we have lost our land. Not at all, we just temporarily lost control over these territories. But justice prevails. As Abkhazia and South Ossetia are the traditional lands of Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh has belonged and will belong to Azerbaijan.”
A Georgian Patriarchate spokesman said earlier this week said that the Azeri media misquoted the Georgian patriarch and the words attributed to Ilya II were false.