Public Radio of Armenia
The Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church will take the case of the Armenian Tandoyants Church to the Court of Appeals.
The decision comes after a municipal court in Tbilisi turned down an appeal on the return of the Tandoyants Surb Astvatsatsin Church to the Armenian Diocese.
The 19th century church was transferred to the Georgian Government in July 2017. The First Instance Court says it belongs to the National State Property Agency, which reserves the right to hand over the building to any organization.
Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia, Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan says the verdict jeopardizes the fate of a number of other Armenian temples in the country.
“The fact that all of 60 Armenian churches and chapels have not been legally returned to the Armenian Diocese is a cause of concern. Any moment such actions can be taken against any of the functioning or non-functioning churches or historic property,” he said.
According to archive materials, the church was built in 1866 by Isahak Martiros Tandoyants, an honorary citizen of Tbilisi. It was seized under Soviet rule like many other religious buildings.
All 20th century maps (from 1913 and 1924) , and even the “New Tbilisi” project refer to it as an Armenian temple.
In a number of reports the Georgian Ombudsman’s Office has also insisted that Tandoyants belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Georgian-Armenian Diocese is resolute continue the fight until the highest instance and believes it can set a precedent for other religious organizations, as well.