Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, met with the Georgian Orthodox Church’s delegation, which is currently visiting Moscow.
A brief statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website does not give details of the meeting, which marked the first official contacts between the two countries since the August war. The negotiators from Russia and Georgia have failed to meet face-to-face during the Geneva talks on October 15.
The Georgian church delegation, which is led by Metropolitan Gerasim of Zugdidi and Tsaishi, a chairman of the church’s foreign relations department, arrived in Moscow for a five-day visit on November 4.
The delegation, which is also accompanied by Zurab Abashidze, who served as Georgia’s ambassador to Russia before 2004, has already met with Patriarch Aleksy II of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Issues related with the canonical jurisdiction of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – breakaway regions, which Russia has recognized – topped the agenda of talks between the Georgian and Russian church officials.
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who chairs foreign relations department of the Moscow Patriarchate, said canonical jurisdiction limbo in which these two regions remained was “the most painful and the most difficult issue, which may not be resolved today or tomorrow.”
He told Russia’s Vesti news channel that these two canonical territories were only under the Georgian church’s jurisdiction, but de facto the Georgian church was not able “to take spiritual care” of parish in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Metropolitan Kirill said “some kind of temporary, transition solution” should be found to this problem.