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FAITH IS AN ACT OF FREEDOM !
NEWS
The Ambassador of the United States of America visited the Agency
23.10.2020
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Today, October 23, at the Administration of the Government of Georgia, the Chairman of the State Agency for Religious Issues, Zaza Vashakmadze, met with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Georgia, Kelly Degnan.

The Chairman of the Agency briefed the Ambassador on the history of the establishment of the Agency and the role it has in terms of relations between religious organizations and the state. According to the Chairman, the activities of the inter-religious council with the Agency are of special importance, which discusses important issues for religions in a collegial, tolerant environment. The agency holds meetings of the Property and Finance Commission to discuss the issues of transferring religious buildings to religious organizations. In addition, the state, in good faith, funds religious organizations that suffered material and moral damage during the Soviet era. Georgia is a multireligious country where people of different religions coexist peacefully and this is a unique example for the world. It is the 27th century, Jews live in our country, Georgian Islam is a special event - against the background of the controversy in the world, Shiites and Sunnis pray in one mosque - said Z. Vashakmadze.

The Agency is actively involved in the Governmental Human Rights Action Plan. In this format, across the country, our experts conducted seminars and trainings to raise public awareness in terms of religious tolerance for the representatives of District Administrations and municipalities, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as religious organizations, students and the media. In 2016, the Agency established the Conference "Interreligious Dialogue for Peace", which aimed to express the positions of religious organizations on current issues, strengthen peaceful coexistence and cooperation. The fifth conference will be held this year, dedicated to the role of religious organizations in protecting the rights of the child and against domestic violence. Since 2014, a unique, interreligious calendar project has been created that brings together holidays from different religious communities in a single calendar format. In 2016, a new format of the interreligious calendar was developed - the calendar in Braille for the blind. In the format of inter-religious dialogue, the State Agency for Religious Issues in 2016 launched a new project, "Religious Map", which shows the quantitative and percentage indicators of the religious composition of the population. We have published a map of the existing religious buildings, which shows the number of existing religious buildings - at the level of municipalities and the percentages at the level of regions, as well as the numerical data of most religious denominations in Georgia.

On November 16, 2016, the Agency established a tradition of celebrating International Day for Tolerance, according to which one of the religious communities in Georgia hosts leaders and parishioners of other religious organizations. The religious-cultural diversity of Georgia is reflected in the photo album - "Religions in Georgia", and the photo album "Faith is an Act of Freedom" is a photo chronicle of our activities. This year we have published the work "Freedom of Religion under Georgian and International Legislation", which includes the main Georgian or international legislative acts in the field of religion, the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms on freedom of religion. We actively cooperate with counterpart organizations. Of particular importance to us is our active contacts with Samuel Brownbeck, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. The activities of the agency are transparent and are reflected in the annual reports - said Zaza Vashakmadze at the end of the conversation.

The US Ambassador praised the Agency's activities and stressed its positive role in strengthening the tolerant environment. According to the ambassador, inter-religious dialogue and bringing them together at one table is both difficult and very important this year, because such dialogue must continue. The US is a very religious country where religious tolerance is paramount, your country is doing the same and we are united in this regard. We share the respect that your state has for religions. "This approach needs to be further strengthened because it is a very sensitive issue," Kelly Degnan said. At the end of the meeting, the Ambassador thanked the Chairman of the Agency and said that US support for Georgia will continue, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election.