TDI published the policy document on restitution of religious property
On 30 July the Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) published the document: Restitution Policy of Religious Property in Georgia.
The Policy Document overviews the challenges related to the property retrieval by religious communities, as well as the policy and practice of European countries in this regard. The document outlines the possible ways to carry out restitution policy in Georgia and offers specific recommendations to relevant State institutions. With this document, TDI intends to start the extensive advocacy work with the State.
In the 20th century, under the Soviet totalitarian regime, religious groups in Georgia lost their community properties. The Soviet government deprived them of both religious and non-religious property (religious buildings, cemeteries, schools, lands etc).
After gaining independence, the State adopted legislation and returned the property only to the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC). The state recognized all active and inactive GOC churches, their remnants, and plots of land on the territory of Georgia as the property of the Church and handed it over to the latter. Unlike the GOC, Armenian Apostolic, Roman-Catholic and Lutheran Churches, Muslim and Jewish communities did not get back the biggest part of the property. Part of their historical property is owned by the state; the other part ended up in the ownership of the GOC Patriarchate.
It is noteworthy that the major part of religious buildings are cultural heritage sites, however, as far as the property is not returned to the historical and confessional owners, it faces destruction, despite the fact that the state bears the legal responsibility to maintain them.
The Policy Document on Restitution of Religious Property is available here:
The document is prepared by Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) within the framework of East-West Management Institute’s (EWMI) "Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia" (PROLoG) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).