Placing of crosses in Azerbaijani villages of Georgia suspended

Politics Materials 3 February 2009 17:03 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 3/ Trend E. Rustamov/ Placing of Christian crosses in Azerbaijani villages in Georgia was suspended because of local Muslim population's discontent.

Several months ago Georgian Patriarchate placed 7-10 meters height crosses in Gochulu and Kepenekchi villages of Bolnis Georgian region (Kvemo-Kartli-Borchali). Population consists of Azerbaijanis there.
After population's appeal to Patriarchat, placing of Christian crosses in Azerbaijani villages of Georgia was suspended.

"Our purpose was not to allow placing crosses in regions where Azerbaijanis live. We managed to suspend the process. As concerns placed crosses, they remain there," Azer Suleymanov, Georgian MP, told Trend over phone from Tbilisi on Feb. 3.

Official organizations were appealed because of this fact but no reply was got, Suleymanov said.

"Azerbaijani people were explained that placing of crosses in the territory of their living wouldn't be repeated, Lela Gedgelava, head of inter religious relations under Georgian Patriarchate, told Trend over phone. I don't think people want crosses to be removed. At least nobody told about it. As far as I know they don't want this to be repeated."

Placing of crosses in Muslim villages was a mistake, Ali Aliyev, akhund of Juma Tbilisi mosque, told Trend . He hoped this wouldn't take place in future.

"There weren't any religious contradictions between Georgians and Azerbaijanis. We don't want this contradiction to occur, Alibala Askerov, chairman of Geyrat People's Movement of Azerbaijanis in Georgia, told Trend . We would like local organizations to solve the problem and remove crosses. Otherwise, people living there will solve the problem."

According to unofficial information, roughly 500,000 Azerbaijanis live in Georgia, mainly, in Kvemo-Kartli (Borchali). According to statistics, Georgian main population (about 70 percent) - Georgians. Armenians (380,000), Azerbaijanis (350,000), Russian (207,000), Ossetins (150,000), Abkhazians (100,000), Greek (80,000), Kurds, Assyrians, Udins, Avars, Kistins live in Georgia as well.

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