According to the information spread by Armenian media, on October 23rd, Garegin II must have come to Georgia for five days visit. This information is as real as Armenian origin of Akhtala monastery, what our neighbor country tries to claim.
On October 22nd, in the evening, we made the Armenian Embassy a call and asked if the head of Armenian church would be going to arrive in Georgia. We were told that Garegin II was not going to visit Gerogia”.
Georgian agencies “Pirweli” and “InterPressNews” spread the information gained from Armenian media about expectable visit of Garegin II to Georgia on October 5th. According to the information, during his visit, Garegin II would discuss the problem of the salvation ways of functioning of Armenian churches in Georgia together with other important issues.
The leader of St. Echmiadini Press Office, bishop Arshak Khachatryan noted while speaking with the journalists:
“According to the Georgian legislation, Armenian apostolic church has no legislative status. Georgian power offers Armenian churches to implement their own activity under the style of social organizations. The negotiations around the conditions of Armenian churches in Georgia, have always played a prominent role for Garegin II. This issue will also be raised by him when he visits Georgia”.
As you see, the Armenians do not deny either that Armenian churches do their work in Georgia. But they say nothing about the fact that no Georgian temple functions on Armenian territory - on historically Georgian land. Moreover, they try to convert and declare Georgian churches in Armenian ones.
Recently, in historian Lore, which is now on the territory of Armenia, they failed to misappropriate our monastery complex - Akhtala monastery. On September 14th, government and church representatives said at the joint press - conference on September 19th, that they would convert Akhtala monastery in Armenian one. They made invitation cards specially for that day which were signed by both representatives of Georgian government and Armenian church.
This information reached also to the Patriarchate of Georgia. As it was mentioned during our talk, they had been trying to frustrate the plans of neighbor Armenians. I transpired that also Armenian government officials were involved in the matter of converting Georgian monastery complex into Armenian one. Consequently, involvement of government officials of Georgia became also essential. On the other hand, on September 19th, Georgian youths would hold a protest meeting near the Embassy of Armenia.
Activeness of Patriarchate of Georgia and an expectable protest meeting made the government officials involve in settling this problem that finally resulted positive effects. Our neighbors refused to convert the Georgian temple into the Armenian one. But on September 19th, they decided to hold public strolls on the nearby areas of the temple.
On September 19th, the crew of internet TV - itv.ge arrived in Akhtala earlier than an appointed time. Akhtala is on the way about two hours and a half ride from Tbilisi. Presa.ge talked with TV operator Akaki Pertaia about the situation on the nearby areas of Georgian monastery complex and the condition of the temple:
“They were making preparations for converting the Georgian temple into the Armenian one. The temple was empty. First, there was one priest and two assistants. They spread the carpet and put a little table near the alter. The people were gathering time by time. They were holding the invitation cards in their hands. The gathered people said they were going to convert the temple. They kept saying nothing in the beginning and followed us step by step. Later, they wondered who we were and for what reason we arrived there.
We recorded an interview with the priest of the Armenian church. He said: - “I have come here but I can not hold a service as I have no right to do it. We expected the temple to be converted but this has been postponed for some reason today.”
The temple is in a very awful condition- frescos are scrapped here and there; water leaks in many places; the dome is removed and the roof is covered with a handicraft material; There is grass on the door and the walls- it looks like a neglected house where nobody enters and moss is spread everywhere. The monastery complex is collapsed and there is thorny undergrowth on it. When we came there, we thought the yard was being cleaned. But in fact, it turned out that the small trees were being cut for grilling shashlyks.
In the yard, a special scene was arranged. The representatives of the government, the MPs and businessmen came there. Certificates were given to some people. Then, traditional music was on and young people dressed in a national garment, began dancing and games. The shashlyks were grilled there and the entire event was called “public strolls”.
Akaki Pertaia reports the mood of the people gathered in the yard of Akhtala monastery as following:
“I don’t know whether they think or specially say it but in the interviews and personal speech, they tried to claim that Akhtala monastery was their own property historically. When we saw Georgian inscriptions on Melikishvili’s tombs buried inside the temple, we told them that those people still were Georgians surely. They responded us: - “They are Armenian Melikyans who left Armenia for Georgia. They dominated there, then came back and they were buried here”.
When we were recording the inside part of the temple by a television camera, one of the people came up to us and asked: “Why are you recording? For what do you need it? “ When we explained that it was a Georgian temple, that we were from Georgia and we were going to make the story about the temple, he got irritated and said that it was not Georgians’ temple, it had been theirs and would be theirs for ever. One of our reporters asked: “How is it Armenian? You have never been to Tbilisi. Don’t you see the difference?” He turned to us and said: “All churches in Tbilisi are Armenian but converted into Georgian ones. There will be time when things will develop in a proper way”.