Church debts not forgotten23.06.2010 | 10:31
Unanimity, Georgia's Orthodox channel has to stop broadcasting in view of debts to Evrika TV company, the frequency owner. By now there has been no reaction to Unanimity withdrawal from air by the country authorities.
Paradoxically, Georgia's Orthodoxy now has the price of USD 60,000 in Georgian TV space. It was the amount for which Evrika, Unanimity Orthodox channel frequency owner, banned broadcasting despite the blessing by Catholicos Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II named the person of the year in the republic.
Unanimity leaders can't tell the exact date of the channel's return on air. Zakaria Tskhovrebadze, director general, only hopes that sooner or later the channel will have its own frequency and won't depend on anyone.
So far Georgian authorities make no comments on Unanimity broadcast suspension. Recently Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili spoke a lot about the meaning of winemaking for the republic, saying not a word about the incident with the Orthodox channel though only a month ago he and Ilia II were opening a rehabilitated building of Gelat spiritual academy in Kutaisi. The president also promised to go on with the works. Silence of the representatives of the regime is particularly interesting since literally last week USD 27,000, not a small sum for Georgia, were allocated from Georgia's state budget for restoration of the Armenian church of Saint Gevork in Tbilisi. Why is there no reaction to Unanimity problems?
It was the topic GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed with Maxim Obukhov, president of Life medical and enlightenment center, and Valery Alexeev, president of International Public Foundation of Unity between Orthodox Nations.
What do you think about closure of the Orthodox channel in the republic?
I can only express regret over Unanimity channel closure. The modern mission is very complicated without the use of such media as Internet and television. I think Russian sponsors could react to the problems of the Georgian TV channel. This would be great since Georgia must be an Orthodox country. Broadcasting an Orthodox TV channel is much more important than plasterwork or bell painting. If we lose our Orthodox faith, who will come to church? People's minds and spirits must be taken good care of. I wish that Unanimity find Russian or Georgian sponsors that would be able to revive the channel. Otherwise, Internet broadcasting should be launched, but the project must be pursued at all costs.
No broadcasting for Georgian Orthodox channels makes it impossible for the Georgian Orthodox Church to influence public opinion and have a direct communication channel with the people timely informing the Georgian people of the church's opinion on up-to-date issues and pursuing important work of creed building. Television today is a powerful medium that can't be replaced by anything.
Why do you think the state ignores the process and provides no support to the church?
Probably Georgian authorities think that problems of the Orthodox channel are a private case. But the state support is crucial for Orthodoxy also in terms of public well-doing and law-abidance. Apparently the authorities now stick to a secular position. But I think tax payers would not mind if their money was spent on support for an Orthodox channel. My personal opinion is that the state must make up for those 70 horrible years of unthinkable persecution to the church. Democracy principles suggest compensation. It is true that we can't revive killed monks and priests but the state must offer a different form of compensation like large-scale projects, spiritual seminaries and Orthodox TV.
Evidently the church and the state are not connected by really good relations that exist in other states - some kind of social partnership. At the time of Shevarnadze a treaty between the state and the church was signed and its effect on the society was very positive. Specific zones of cooperation were outlined. It seems today this agreement is either no more in force, or is invalid since if it were fully complied with, there would have been no such a sad incident.
Should Georgia's orthodox channel have its own frequency to become fully independent?
Yes, of course. Such resources don't require serious investment. I also believe that Orthodox channels must be satellite first of all in the interests of diasporas. There is a multi-million Orthodox diaspora living in the Western hemisphere that has begun to forget its native language. That is why those Georgians that live in France, for instance, are unable to view the channel in Georgian.