Georgian FM on Ukrainian church independence: we welcome any step which strengthens Ukraine

Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani says that Georgia welcomes decisions which will help Ukraine resolve its conflicts. Photo: Foreign Ministry press office., 16 Jan 2019 - 18:15, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani told journalists today that Georgia is happy about each step which strengthens the statehood of Ukraine, its independence and sovereignty.

We are gladdened by and welcome any step that solidifies the statehood, independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. This is not only welcomed in [our] declarations but confirmed by [our] actions”.

As for sending an official congratulatory letter to Kiev, Foreign Minister Zalkaliani explained that this decision should be made within the Georgian Orthodox Church and it is unacceptable for the state to interfere in the Church’s affairs.

I would like to very clearly state that the Georgian Orthodox Church is reviewing this question. Considering the canonical processes, the attitude towards the [issue] should first be determined by the Orthodox Church of Georgia. Regarding the state, it is not interfering in the activity of the Church," said Zalkaliani.

He underlined that Ukraine is the strategic partner of Georgia and the two countries are connected by many important agreements.

I would like to state that our support for Ukraine is expressed not only in declarations but also in United Nations formats, where Georgia has initiated numerous resolutions jointly with Ukraine. Furthermore, Georgia is not only a co-initiator but also a co-sponsor of these resolutions," commented Zalkaliani.

Georgian Vice Prime Minister Maia Tskitishvili also stated yesterday that she welcomed the independence of the Ukrainian church from the Russian one, adding that the first official statements regarding the issue should be made by the Georgian Patriarchate.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Epifaniy, head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, attended a signing ceremony marking the new Ukrainian Orthodox church's independence on 5 January in Istanbul, Turkey.

The decision has been criticised by Russia.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili also said a couple of days ago that she was waiting for the statement of the Georgian Patriarchate regarding the independence of the Ukrainian church.