08 October 2019, 10:07
Georgian patriarch hopes for German president to facilitate settlement of Transcaucasia's crises
Tbilisi, October 8, Interfax - Germany can help the settlement of the crises in Abkhazia and South Ossetia "to get off the ground," Catholicos and Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia said.
The issue of territorial integrity for Tbilisi is "the biggest and most pressing problem," the patriarch said at a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Georgian Patriarchate.
"About 20% [of our territory] has been taken over by another country, but I want to say that this problem constitutes a heavy burden for Russia. It is necessary to do everything for this problem to be solved. We believe that Germany has enough forces and authority to take active part in this process. I think that military bases should be withdrawn from these territories," Ilia II said.
In this regard, the German president's visit is very important for Georgia, and the Georgian people pins high hopes on it, according to the Georgian patriarch.
"We have passed such a path in diplomatic work that we will easily get it off the ground," Ilia II told Steinmeier.
The German president, in turn, said at the meeting that he saw the Georgian leadership's attempts to settle crises diplomatically.
"I know that the Georgian government is seeking a solution to settle the conflict diplomatically," he said, noting that Russia's active involvement in this process is inevitable.
The German president recalled the attempts to settle the crisis in July 2008, when he visited Georgia as the German foreign minister. "Then, we wanted to find a solution for that not to grow into a conflict, but we unfortunately failed to do so," he said.
On Tuesday, he wants to visit the border with South Ossetia and meet with members of the EU Observer Mission who are monitoring the situation in border regions, Steinmeier said.
He said that he was well informed of the situation that has emerged there in recent months, noting that building border barriers from the side of South Ossetia "very badly affects people, who live on both sides."