Tolerance and Diversity Institute


TDI’s Work Meeting on Restitution Issues

TDI continues working on the issue of return of religious property confiscated during the Soviet times and consultations with religious organizations on this matter.

On December 9, in Frontline Club Georgia, TDI held a work meeting with religious organizations. TDI presented the information about the international experience related to the issue of restitution and the possible ways of the problem solution.  

Representatives of Evangelical-Lutheran, Catholic, Armenian Apostolic Churches, Yazidi and Muslim communities attended the meeting. Representatives of religious organizations spoke about the problems they encounter related to the confiscated property and expressed the readiness to actively engage in the working process.  

The return of the confiscated property during the Soviet times is one of the acute problems and priority issues for religious entities. Pursuant to the Constitutional Agreement, signed between the State and Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia in 2002,  “Orthodox churches, monasteries (functional or not), their remnants, and the land on which they are located” were transferred to the Georgian Orthodox Church into ownership. However, the State has not made a similar step in reference to other religious organizations.

With the aim to define historical origin of the houses of worship and their historical owners,  several governmental and inter-religious commissions were officially created. However, their function was nominal and they never worked. Until now, religious minority organizations have not been able to return their historical heritage. The State has not adopted the law on restitution. Religious minorities have not been able to regain not only the property that Georgian Orthodox Church had the claim on, but the property that is currently under the state ownership.  

The issue of the return of historical property to religious organizations has been going on for years and stands as a  clear example of systematic discrimination on religious-ethnic grounds