MINSK (Combined Sources)-Armenia’s Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan told his Georgian counterpart Lado Gurgenidze’s Friday that his country’s recent encroachment on the rights of an Armenian Church threatens to spur unnecessary tension in Georgian society.
The statemen’s came during a meeting in Minsk between the two premiers ahead of an annual summit of CIS Heads of Government, which both are set to take part in. During the meeting, Sargsyan brought to Gurgenidze’s attention a number of issues of concern for the Armenian Government, the most recent of which, he said, is the status of the Armenian Church in Georgia.
Earlier in May, the St. Norashen Church in Tbilisi was illegally fenced off by a Georgian Orthodox priest who claimed it belonged to the Georgian Church. Sargsyan stressed that such violations of the rights of the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Church would have negative consequences and requested that Gurgenidze intervene in the matter.
On May 15, a group of workers led by Georgian Orthodox Church priest Fr. Tariel Sikinchelashvili began actively constructing a concrete-metal fence with wicket-gates along the whole perimeter of the church. The Supreme Body of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is going to call an emergency consultation on the "Georgianization" of the Armenian Surb Norashen Church in Tbilisi, Karen Elchyan, Chairman of the Armenian Center of Cooperation of Georgia, said on May 19.
The Georgian Premier condemned what he termed as the "extremism" and "provocative actions" that led to the situation and pledged to investigate the matter to correct the situation.
Sargsyan also brought up the unnaturally high transit fees imposed by the Georgian Government on goods entering or leaving Armenia. He said that the Armenian Government would like an explanation from Gurgenidze’s government regarding the method it employs to calculate and set its transit fees.
The agenda of the meeting was to discuss the overall bilateral relations of the two countries as well as the status of an inter-governmental cooperation commission. The two men agreed that the commission, tasked with building closer ties, would hold its next meeting in July. A new meeting of the commission, they both noted, would give more impetus for the body and further strengthen relations between the two countries.
They also spoke about various ongoing projects between the two countries as well as a number of existing problems between the two.
Both agreed that Armeno-Georgian cooperation in the field of energy production and distribution had an overall successful record. But partnership in banking and finance, as well as a number of other key industries required more work, according to both men.
In related news, the head of a British NGO working in the South Caucasus Friday said that a regular meeting between parliamentarians from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan is scheduled to take place in London during June.
The Initiative had been created by parliamen’s from the three countries on the basis of a memorandum signed in 2003, South Caucasian Parliamentary Initiative Head Dennis Samout said.
Samout, who was in Baku on Friday, said that the meeting aims to support the exchange of ideas and opinion through dialogue among the members of parliament in these countries.