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Patriarch’s statement and President

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, December 9
After the Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II clarified his position and said that he did not intend to demand legislative changes in order to grant him the right to pardon prisoners, Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili visited him at the Patriarchate.

The President, who has a unique role through the Georgian constitution to pardon prisoners, stated after the meeting that the Patriarch is a very valuable figure for the state and everyone should respect him.

Later, in his interview for Kavkasia TV, the President made his first comment over the recent stir which emerged over the right to pardon prisoners.

On December 5, when Georgian inmate women for the first time staged a play at the Rustaveli Theatre for a big audience, the Patriarch said that it would be good if he also had the right to pardon prisoners.

Following the statement, the Prime Minister addressed the President and Parliament and recommended that they discuss the issue.

Significant parts of the ruling parliamentary majority supported the idea. However, the Republican Party, the parties of the parliamentary opposition and a number of NGOs were strongly against such an amendment, saying that it would be negative for the country’s European and democratic image.

In response the Patriarchate released a statement, saying that the situation at the Theatre was very emotional and the Patriarch just voiced his wish and not an appeal for any legislative changes.

Despite being a major part of the institution, the President kept silent during all these discussions. He made his statement only after all the sides revealed their final positions.

The President stressed that the Patriarchate made a clear statement on the issue, but at the same time, he said it is worthy to pay attention to the actions and statements of politicians.

"We actually went through a dramatic two-day debate, the main actor of which was civil society. A very clear statement was made by the Patriarchate. But at the same time, completely confused political positions showed that politicians often do not have a basic understanding of the details of our statehood and Georgian constitutionalism,” said Margvelashvili.

Unfortunately, it is a fact that other politicians and not the main actors’ statement encouraged the stir in the country.

It would be good for politicians to wait for clear messages from the Patriarchate and the President and only afterwards reveal their own positions to avoid embarrassment.