Religions to be financed proportionally in Georgia
by Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili has recently announced that Islam, Gregorian Church, Catholicism and Judaism will have proportional state budgets to prove that all religions were equal in the country.
Speaking about religious tolerance, Garibashvili was probably meaning the incident at Chela, where a minaret had been taken down and then restored in summer 2013. The incident caused tensions between Orthodox Christians and Muslims.
Concerning proportional financing, the PM did not mean equal sums for every religion. The Patriarchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church receives about $15 million annually, basing on the concordat signed during Shevardnadze’s rule in 2001.
It appears that Georgian authorities have responded to criticism of financing religion but has not signed concordats with other religions. This may trigger more criticism from other religions that have not been included in the list, which may be interpreted as a sign of disrespect by Lutherans, for example. The US is expected to show a sharp reaction over the idea.
Ex-Prime Minister Ivanishvili’s team risks being accused of dual standards instead of praising for tolerance.