Ivanishvili on Georgian Orthodox Church

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi – 10/4/13

PM Ivanishvili said on April 10 that “problems exist” in the Georgian Orthodox Church too and speaking publicly on these issues should not be a taboo.

Ivanishvili was speaking during a press conference, held for a group of senior editors from some print media and major television channels. He made these remarks after he was asked about his stance on relations between the state and the Georgian Orthodox Church in general and in particular on recent debates in which some senior Orthodox clerics were criticized for driving luxury cars in the country with large number of socially vulnerable population; critics also claimed that spending of taxpayers’ funds, received from the state budget, by the Church was not transparent.

“The Church should be independent from the state,” Ivanishvili responded, adding that Orthodox Christianity “is a huge part of our culture, so I have a huge respect” towards the Church.

“How religious personally I am – that’s another issue and it’s not interesting for you,” he said.

He defended practice of allocating funding to the Georgian Orthodox Church from the state budget. This year the Church has GEL 25 million funding from the state budget.

“But the state should not in any way try to use levers to influence on the Church,” PM said.

“No matter how we try to hide it and no matter how much we take care of our Church, which we respect, we know that problems exist there too and in some cases representatives from the society react on these [problems],” Ivanishvili said when he was asked what his stance was on some criticism voiced recently against the Church.

“I think it’s normal and everyone should have a possibility to express [opinion] on everything and there should be no taboo topics. Every representative of the society should be able to ask a question, but without insult,” the PM said.

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