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Georgian Patriarch set to solve demographic problem31.08.2010 | 16:22
Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia is going to invite the church to solve the country's demographic problems. He is ready to donate lands belonging to the Orthodox Church to construction of new villages for the population. But will this action change the situation in the republic? Experts and representatives of the Russian clergy discussed this question with GeorgiaTimes correspondent.
The demographic issue is particularly acute in Georgia now, - Catholicos Patriarch highlights. - While some villages with wonderful soil and solid crop potential lay empty". According to Ilia II people must live in these territories to create 21st century villages and multiply the nation. He also adds that the republic's authorities are ready to make this idea come true.
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Well, the Catholicos-Patriarch's decisiveness is understood. According to the forecasts by the World Bank in 15 years' time - by 2025 - Georgia's population might shrink by 1/5. As Mukes Chavla, the bank's leading economist and an author of the report said, today's Sakartvelo is one of the European and Central Asian countries that need to solve demographic problems pursuing reforms and modernizing the economy.
For the time being the Georgian economy does not show much progress. The privatization reform is de-facto on halt, the republic has failed to launch new markets, and the industrial sector has been on the drift for years. That is why most probably the church undertook to solve Georgia's demographic problems.
What is the outlook for Ilia II's idea?
Yuri Krupnov, director of the Institute of Demography, Migration and Regional Development: the position of the Georgian church looks perfectly timed and absolutely adequate. In this case the church rejects certain earthly amenities for their corporate interests preferring to support the country's future - the youth, i.e. people who bear the energy of the society. The issue of their settlement is basically the key problem of any state's development. That is why this initiative arouses admiration. It can be evaluated only as positive. I think this action will surely influence the demographic situation. The thing is that demography is closely connected with settlement and its type. Progressive countries have long been carrying out manor- landscape urbanization on the basis of privately owned family homes. Today this is the most promising way of settlement. In essence, a large family home stands for a multi-generation family that can afford having many children. This progressive settlement means a large family whose birthrate makes demography successful.
Maxim Obukhov, head of the Orthodox Zhizn (Life) medical and enlightenment center: I think this is really good. Georgia's density of population is not that great, so the land can be used more efficiently. The main thing is that owning a private home boosts birth rate and strengthens families. I will remark that the land is good when it is used. Not always inherited church lands can be used efficiently. The only thing to be done is to avoid transfer of Georgia's church lands to investments purposes. There must be some investment contract binding new owners to build homes in that land. Anyway, Ilia II's initiative can bring a real change to the demographic situation in the republic.
Are there any examples of successful transfer of state lands to population?
Yuri Krupnov: one hundred years ago Russian citizens mainly lived in low-rise buildings creating close-knit families. And this is a good reference. There are such examples like the post-war situation in the USA where an urbanization revolution took place due to transfer of the army's low-rise buildings to the needs of mass construction. Now over 70% of the US population lives in private homes.
Maxim Obukhov: I can refer to Stolypin's reform as an example. It had an enormous economic effect from the transfer of lands located in the areas of risk farming. Several years of this reform helped to determine Siberia's future development considerably. I think, now something similar must be done.