- Saakashvili: 'I am sure that the Georgian Patriarch will give a dignified response to and deter attempts of returning Georgia back to Russian orbit'
Screengrab from a video footage released by the President’s office showing PM Ivanishvili (left) and President Saakashvili (right) during a reception at the Georgian Patriarchate.
Prime Minister Ivanishvili and President Saakashvili appeared side-by-side at a reception in the Georgian Patriarchate on the occasion of Orthodox New Year last night.
In two video recordings, released separately by press offices of the Prime Minister and the President, the PM and the President are seen talking to each other during the reception hosted by the Georgian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Ilia II and also attended by Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili who was sitting next to the President. Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who visited Georgia on the occasion of 80th birthday of Patriarch Ilia II and of 35th anniversary of the Georgian Patriarch's enthronement, was also present.
“We, the seculars, the government representatives have the obligation to embrace the love given to us by His Holiness [referring to Patriarch Ilia II] and to build the country with love,” said PM Ivanishvili before raising a glass, holding a lit candle in one hand and a microphone in another.
“This gathering today is very symbolic; so many Patriarchs are blessing us… It might be a sign for the beginning of a genuine rebuilding of our country and the huge love which you [referring to Patriarch Ilia II] have seeded spiritually will also spill over to secular [leadership] and we all hand in hand will build our beloved Georgia. Let it be the year of love in Georgia,” the PM added.
After saying the toast PM Ivanishvili passed microphone to President Saakashvili telling him: “Take it Misha.”
“I join, I join,” President Saakashvili responded and put down the microphone, suggesting he agreed to what the PM said and was not going to add anything to it; Saakashvili then also told Patriarch Ilia II, after the latter apparently asked the President to say few words, that he shared what was said by the PM.
From left to right: Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church Ilia II; Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I; PM Ivanishvili; President Saakashvili and Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili. Photo: PM’s press office.
President Saakashvili spoke during an official dinner in honor of the Georgian Patriarch earlier on the same day where PM Ivanishvili was also present.
While making a toast, praising Patriarch Ilia II’s role in Georgia’s recent history, President Saakashvili recalled the August, 2008 war with Russia.
“I was always very impressed by the firm values and firm orientation of His Holiness in the today’s not so simple world,” Saakashvili said adding that he remembers very well the role the Georgian Orthodox Church played during the August, 2008 war.
“I know well what kind of messages His Holiness was receiving - I know it from him – in the aftermath of 2008 [war] from the occupant country [calling on] him to play such a role that would have distanced the Georgian Church from the idea of Georgia’s independence and irreconcilability with occupation. And the Patriarch gave a very dignified response to it,” Saakashvili said.
“And I am sure that he [the Georgian Patriarch] will give a dignified response to and deter attempts of returning Georgia back to Russian orbit,” Saakashvili added. “Our Christianity is also our passport to Europe and no one will distance us from the European home.”
Patriarch Ilia II said on January 14 that a significant event took place last night as “the President, the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Chairman spoke about Georgia’s future.”