Today, on May 19, the State Agency for Religious Issues hold a meeting with Vida Montvidaite, Head of the Department of National Minorities under the Administration of the Government of Lithuania, Artur Ludkovsky, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Lithuania on National Minorities and Andrius Kalindra Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to Georgia at the Government of Georgia.
The Ambassador noted the great importance of sharing the experience of the countries and the wide contribution of such a dialogue in the relations between Lithuania and Georgia.
The Chairman of the Agency informed the Lithuanian delegation about the functions, tasks, of the Agency and the projects, trainings and activities implemented by the Agency within the framework of the Human Rights Action Plan. Special attention was paid to the funding of religious organizations, the activities of the Interreligious Council and the annual, traditional conference "Interreligious Dialogue for Peace".
Zaza Vashakmadze gave a short excursion about Christianity to the guests. He focused on the 26-century Georgian-Jewish relationship, which has been granted the status of a monument of intangible cultural heritage at the national level, and also on the phenomenon of Georgian Islam, its different character and in the light of the controversies in the world, on the experience of peaceful coexistence of Shiites and Sunnis.
The meeting discussed the situation with regard to religious freedom in the occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, the facts of persecution and harassment of the Georgian Orthodox Church, restrictions on worship, as well as the evcroachment of religious buildings in the Russian-occupied regions and the destruction of Georgian cultural identity in them.
Vida Montvidate noted that the work of the agency is not just a bureaucratic issue, it is a very sensitive issue. There is no such service in Lithuania because the state and religion are separated. The Department of National Minorities of Lithuania resumed its work in 2015, now new directions are being created and developed, which did not exist before, and the experience of Georgia can help us a lot in this, although the problems in the society are more ethnic in nature than religious, but these two are closely linked and religious dialogue is very important. The Lithuanian state, in the light of the recent intensification of religious issues in the world, thinks that the religious dimension and its importance should be taken to a higher level.
The guests thanked the State Agency for Religious Issues for providing information, praised the projects implemented by the Agency, and noted that the state's support for religious organizations is appreciated. They also highlighted the Chairman's experience in theological matters and the effective work of the Agency. Representatives of the Lithuanian government expressed a desire to cooperate with the Agency in the future and invited the Agency to pay a working visit to Lithuania. The Agency as a rapporteur, is also invited to a conference scheduled for September.