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Patriarch calls to de-occupy Georgian territory

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, March 23
The parliamentary delegations of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which arrived to Georgia on March 20 on a two-day visit, were hosted by the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, at the Patriarchate on Wednesday.

The key issue raised by the Patriarch was the developments in Georgia’s occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“20 percent of Georgian territories are occupied by Russia…I have been the Metropolitan of Abkhazia for 11 years but I cannot visit it now and meet local believers,” Ilia II told the delegation members.

The Patriarch thanked the delegates for visiting Georgia and in particular for visiting the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) between the South Ossetia region and Georgia.

“Your arrival is very important and I hope this visit will have a positive impact,” the head of the Georgian Church said.

The Russian Federation occupied 20% of Georgian territories after the August 8 2008 war, which left 228 Georgian civilians, 170 soldiers and 14 police officers killed.

The war initially displaced around 200,000 people in Georgia. But recently more than 20,000 people cannot return home.

After the August 12 2008 ceasefire agreement, which obliged Russia to withdraw its troops, Moscow mostly completed this requirement by withdrawing most of its troops from Georgia, but it did not withdraw from Abkhazia and South Ossetia territories. Moreover on August 26 2008, Russia then recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

Since then, the Georgian authorities, as well as the international community, have been calling on Russia to duly fulfill its obligations under the ceasefire agreement and withdraw its troops and reverse its recognition of Georgia’s breakaway regions.