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Prime Minister’s statement causes turmoil

By Khatia Kardava
Wednesday, July 26
The statement of Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, that secularism, in its classical sense, has no place in Georgia became a subject of criticism.

“Despite the fact that the state and church are independent today, secularism, in its classical understanding, has no place in Georgia. We think that there is a model in our country that is unique in the world,” said Kvirikashvili.

In his statement, Prime Minister stressed that “The [Orthodox] Church in Georgia has the biggest power, and based on that power, our nation managed to survive throughout the centuries and [managed to] keep its identity which we have today.”

Prime Minister’s statement was received extremely negatively by civil society.

Lasha Bugadze, a popular Georgian writer labeled the speech as “humiliation of the Constitution and religious populism.”

The head of the Republican Party Khatuna Samnidze also considers that the statement is dangerous and unconstitutional. According to her, Prime Minister needs to explain the reasons for making a statement that “goes beyond the Constitution.” At a press conference, held on July 24, Samnidze said that the current Constitution is based on the historical and judicial inheritance of the Constitution adopted in 1921, where not only the separation and independence of the state and the church is declared, but also, according to the paragraph 144, which clarifies that expenses incurred from the state treasury and local governance bodies should not be used for religious affairs.

"We have repeatedly admitted in terms of each government, over many years, there has been established an unhealthy practice between the state and the church. Direct financing of the Patriarchy from the municipal budget and reserve funds, the transfer of real estate and movable property in possession, lands - gifted or sold in a symbolic price - all this has long gone beyond the constitutional agreement between the church and the state," she declared.

“In a normal country the statement that made Prime Minister, would be the subject of his impeachment,” stated Roman Gotsiridze, the head of the fraction “National Movement.”

Kvirikashvili’s team members do not think that they have to comment additionally on this. ”The Prime Minister simply emphasizes the principles according to which we live, the way we have come until today and preserved stability and everyone should take this into account,” said Gia Volsky, a member of parliamentary majority.

Some theologians believe that the Prime Minister misinterpreted the term “secularism” while making his statement in the village of Sno. They think that this might provoke stimulation of religious extremists .

However, theologian Mirian Gamrekelashvili voices a different opinion. He believes that some type of a religious arrangement model is conceived. “As a rule, as in the case of the previous authorities, here is the issue of creating a fetish of the religious leader and equipping the church with finances, political and public power. This is really a threat to newly created democratic rudiment, such as Georgia” .

So far the Prime Minister has not responded to the critics with further explanations.