#46 - JRL 2009-164 - JRL Home
Georgian Church Leader Says Georgia "wants Peace With Russia"

TBILISI. Sept 2 (Interfax) - Georgia "wishes peace with Russia," the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church said at a meeting on Wednesday to which two Russian journalists were unable to come, being denied entry to Georgia because of allegedly illegal visits to Abkhazia.

The two journalists, who were stopped at Tbilisi airport, were members of a three-member delegation that had arrived in Georgia to meet with the head of the church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II.

As a result, only one member of the delegation, ethnic Ossetian Alan Kasayev, was able to see Ilia.

"I'm glad that at least part of the Russian delegation has been let into Georgia," the patriarch said. "Our guest has been able to see that Georgia wishes peace with Russia and will do all it can for this, but wisdom and work are needed for it."

Ilia expressed particular joy over the fact that his guest was an ethnic Ossetian. As the patriarch, Kasayev was born in Vladikavkaz, capital of the Russian republic of North Ossetia.

Kasayev told reporters after the meeting: "The wise words that I heard from the Georgian patriarch will definitely be brought to the attention of the Russian people."

"Everyone will know about this meeting. I want to thank the patriarch for the wise words that I have heard from him. We want friendship to be restored between the Russians and Georgians. Everything possible must be done for this," Kasayev said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the foreign relations committee of Georgia's parliament, Akaki Minashvili, accused the two Russian journalists who had not been allowed into Georgia, Maxim Shevchenko and Vladimir Mamontov, of visits to Abkhazia that involved offenses against Georgian law.

Minashvili told reporters there were records in the journalists' passports that they had been to Abkhazia.

Shevchenko and Mamontov are on a Russian-Georgian public commission.

Russian and Georgian members of the commission deplored the fact that the two journalists had been denied entry into Georgia.

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