27 October 2007, 11:56

Azerbaijan and Patriarchy of Georgia continue dispute on Kurmukh church

The Kurmukh St George church located in the Gakh District of Azerbaijan (adjoining Georgia with partially Georgian population) is still closed. The "Caucasian Knot" correspondent informs about it with reference to the message of the Patriarchy of Georgia.

Early in October the executive authority of the Gakh District made a decision to ban weekly sermons and close the temple. Priest Gabriel Dzhanbazashvili was driven out of the church, and its door was nailed up. In parallel, information was disseminated by mass media that the temple is the Albanian monument and has nothing to do with the Georgian culture, the Patriarchy of Georgia indicates.

"In Azerbaijan, they probably do not know that the Albanian ethnos degenerated in the 8th century. And the Kurmukh St George's church was erected much later - in the 15th century, in the most ancient territory of Georgia - Khereti, which was then presented by Bolsheviks to Azerbaijan," the Patriarchy of Georgia asserts.

"Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani authorities have forgotten that back since 2005 a written agreement exists between the Patriarchy of Georgia and President of Azerbaijan about the use of the Kurmukh St George's church," runs the statement of the Patriarchy of Georgia.

In their turn, officials of the State Committee of Azerbaijan for Work with Religious Organizations have noted: "During many years this relic was transformed into a Russian church. After restoration of independence of Azerbaijan, some Georgian residents of the region removed the Russian cross from the church and installed the Georgian one there. After that, they named this church the Georgian one."

The "Caucasian Knot" earlier informed that according to the decision of the State Committee of Azerbaijan for Work with Religious Organizations, the priest of the St George church should take the Azerbaijani citizenship, and make it urgently - within a month. Otherwise, he will have to leave Azerbaijan.

Nevertheless, according to Ziyafet Khasaeva, deputy head of the Executive Authority of the Gakh District for the matters of science, education and culture, citizen of Georgia Dzhanbazashvili, appointed by the Catholicos of Georgia Patriarch Elias II to serve as the priest of the St George church, does not wish to be naturalized as an Azerbaijani.

Author: Zaur Rasulzade, CK correspondent;

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