Etchmiadzin Slams Georgia’s Ilia II

Catholicos Karekin II with Patriarch Ilia II

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The Armenian Apostolic Church hit out at Georgia’s Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II on Tuesday for making what it called “inappropriate” references to its supreme head, Catholicos Karekin II, just days after his visit to Georgia.

Speaking in Tbilisi’s St. Trinity Cathedral on Sunday, Ilia attributed the failure of the two pontiffs to settle disputes between their churches to Karekin II’s perceived young age.

“Karekin II is young and apparently lacks experience,” the 78-year-old head of the Georgian Orthodox Church was reported to say. “He is intelligent but wants to do things quickly, which will not work. I told him that I have a 30-year experience and that staying calm is the best thing.”

Senior clerics at the Armenian Church’s Mother See in Etchmiadzin denounced these remarks.

“Considering the logic of the ethics of relations between church heads, it is inappropriate to make such statements,” said Bishop Arshak Khachatrian, the Mother See chancellor. “I will refrain from making further comments.”

The bitter exchange highlights lingering tensions between the two churches that center on ownership of Christian worship sites located in Georgia and Armenia. Karekin II, who has headed the Armenian Church 1999 and will turn 60 in August, hoped to ease those tensions when he began a weeklong visit to Georgia on June 10. But he and Ilia II failed to reach any concrete agreements.

Ilia II insisted last week that the Armenian Church should gain official recognition in Georgia only if the Georgian Church is granted the same status in Armenia. He also effectively dismissed Armenian demands for the unconditional return of six mostly derelict churches in and outside Tbilisi that used to belong to Etchmiadzin. He said they should be repaired only “in case of the restoration of Georgian churches in Armenia.”

The Georgian patriarch referred to several medieval and mostly abandoned churches located in Armenia’s northern Lori province. The Armenian Church disputes Georgian claims to these churches, saying that they were built and always used by Armenian adherents of the Greek Orthodox denomination.

Archbishop Yeznik Petrosian, another senior Etchmiadzin cleric, claimed that the Georgian side is exploiting the uncertain status of the Lori churches as a bargaining chip in the long-running negotiations on Armenian religious heritage in Georgia. “This is an artificially created situation,” he said at a joint news conference with Bishop Khachatrian.

“My impression is that there is too much intolerance and manifestations of extremism in the Georgian Church,” Khachatrian charged for his part. “I cannot explain the reasons for that.”

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18 Comments

  1. AraK said:

    Sorry to say but Echmiadzin should have studied the situation much more before going to Georgia hoping to gain a few crumbs from these Georgian losers! Very amateurish and ill prepared, our Catholicos returned after losing face. Now huffing and puffing from Echmiadzin is completely useless! I consider Georgia who pretends to be a christian country as much an enemy as Azerbaidjan. Georgians are a bunch of fanatic criminals! Karekin II does not have the knowledge, the strength or the personality of Vazken. He’s weak and useless. I apologize but that’s the truth.

  2. Halo said:

    It seems Armenia needs to do a little more than “slamming” verbally. There are two people in the world who are ignorant and backwards enough to actually desire becoming Turkified: 1. Azeris, 2. Georgians, in that order.

  3. Satenik said:

    Someone should point out to IIia II that “white hair is no sign of wisdom” . I smell treason on the side of the Georgians. Just think of the elements that run Georgia now and then you realise why their policy towards Armenians stinks!
    I think Georgia is perhaps itching for another visit by its cuddly bear boss. Georgians are forgetting who built Tiblisi . Armenians were the most vibrant, successful and sophisticated people in Georgia in the last century ,whereas Georgians are now known for their running of illigal activities and dubious dealings. Georgians have stolen Armenian churches and its architecture, this is well documented and now they are openly engaged in theft and treachery of the Armenian heritage and culture in Georgia.
    Shame on Georgia! Shame on IIlia II! Long Live Armenia!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nick said:

      Treason?))) funny))) reasons?))) facts?))) I somehow do not exactly remember position of Armenia during conflict between Georgia and Russia))) could you remind me?)))

    • Nick said:

      If you were Georgian speaking about Armenians and Armenian church in this way I would gladly clean your mouth up)) but you are Armenian))) if I do so, they will say: you see how aggressive are Georgians))) so I think that Armenians themselves have quite reasons and intelligence to understand that you words is provocation directed against relations between two nations. Because of such gays as you are Georgians have no confidence in Armenians.

  4. MikeD said:

    I say 250,000 Armeians stand up and show Ilia who those belongs churches too. Let them go in thousands each week and pray in those churches and also pray for mental health of Ilia. The God will answer to their prayers!

  5. Christo said:

    I wonder what Ilia’s view are in regards to Saakhashivili, Putin, Sarkozy, Obama, JFK, George W., Bill Clinton

  6. Armanen said:

    Arak:

    Garegin is a good administrator and there have been a number of improvements in the AAC under his reign. It’s just that many Armenians, like you, have the mentality where they will not follow an Armenian but will gladly follow a foreigner.

  7. Armenak said:

    Don’t fight the symptoms, but fight the disease. Throughout the history of Armenia and Georgia, we never had any problems living with each other, our nobles married each other, we liberated and defended our lands together, and lived like a one big family. Since the day one, when Seljuk trespassed along with Mongols, Arabs, and Persians, Armenians and Georgian fought alongside to protect themselves from these monsters. They always wanted piece of Caucasus to claim their domination over East and West, imperialistic ambitions. With Russians taking over the Caucasus and then Soviets, the relationship between Armenians and Georgians only deteriorated, because all of the aforementioned nations that trespassed our lands, realized to dominate Caucasus Georgians and Armenians shall not be united. Every time we united, we were able to liberate our lands and take control. Read the history of our people, Vartan Mamikonyn’s daughter was married to a Georgian Nobleman, Georgian king David the Great, and queen Tamara The Great, on numerous occasions liberated Ani, and walked all the way to Van crushing Suljuks. Name me one battle before the 20th century, where Armenians and Georgians fought each other. Good luck, you will not find any. Armenians and Georgians are brothers and sisters by blood, we share very similar genes. Our salvation is unification of these two nations which no body wants, They will break you and then conquer you.

    • Christo said:

      Armenak, it’s interesting your brief history of Armenia and Georgia. However, isn’t a very infamous Georgian, who partitioned Armenia between Georgia, azerbaijan and turkey? You might want to contact a Southern California editor and publisher of Nor Hayastan, and ask him to either fax or mail you several articles that were published in 2010 over a period of two weeks of Georgian atrocities against Armenians in the past 500 years.

    • David Agmashenebeli said:

      thanks for saying that. As Georgian I can’t tell you how sad it is to see and to hear negative stuff from both about eachother when we have more things in common then differences and when we are stronger and better off together then apart. Together we will prevail and that is what scares our enemies. We have to overcome our fears and build friendship. I love Armenians and I am 150% Georgian. Thanks Again. Finally some pure truth from a friend. In fact I had Armenian friends who are closer to me then Georgians.

    • Nick said:

      Unexpected for me but very reasonable. And this is the thing: either you have partner and share his interests either you have no partner and you have to achieve your goals on your own. Armenian politics choose their partner and it is not Georgia. What surprises you, guys?)))

  8. David Agmashenebeli said:

    I am Georgian and I am very saddened to see so much haterit from so many Armenians. It is true there are disagreements between all countries sometimes even disagreements between friends but namecalling and dirty language is a sign of weakness and inability. I think the visit was positive and it was a great start for Geo Armenian relationship. I think if it is true what the Patriarch Illia II said about his Armenian counterpart then that was a huge mistake and I apologize to all Armenians. Patriarch Ilia II must be too old to be able to keep his mouth shut. I am 100% Georgian and in where I am from we say that the best Georgia’s and former Armenians LOL. I salute you my dear friends and I ask each one of you to make an effort to make our two countries get along be friends and cooperate not compete. We as two oldest Nations in the region, two Christian Nations must find common ground and build on our many similarities not differences. We must build bridges not birn them. I know we can do that, it is in our best ineterest. God Bless!

  9. Avetis said:

    @David.

    You are a manifestation of what Armeno-Georgian relations can be like. However, Armenians do not have any problems with Georgians. It’s Georgians that have severe problems with Armenians. Your nation has become very close with Turks, Azeris and Jews. Your nation has developed irrational animosity and deep seated paranoia towards Russians and Armenians. Your nation today, both general society and government, is virulently anti-Armenian and anti-Russian. The Western trained war criminal at the helm in Tbilisi must be toppled. Armenians of Javakhq must have autonomy. Armenians historical sites in Georgia must be properly preserved. Georgia must reestablish good relations with Russia. Georgia must stop its suicidal flirtations with the West. Georgians must realize that their two most important neighbors are Armenia and Russia and not Turkey and Azerbaijan. You seem to be one of the few good/decent Georgians I have seen or met. Instead of trying to convert Armenians I suggest you try converting your kin. The potential in Armeno-Georgian relations remains great. All it requires, however, is a real effort on the part of Georgians.

    • Nick said:

      It is the simplest way to say that your opponent has to do something. But it never works without bribes or forth. The thing which works is compromise. As for me Armenian politics are not ready for compromise. And as I see from these comments some people is not ready for compromise and even more, are very aggressive))) or I assumed wrong?)))

    • Nick said:

      Some more questions: why Armenians must have autonomy in Georgia?))) Armenians feel bad in Georgia?))) and how fill Georgians in Armenia?)))

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