Ilia II, the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, said in Moscow he believed all sides were interested in resolving differences between Russia and Georgia peacefully.
Speaking at a meeting with a Georgian community in Moscow, Ilia II said in remarks, aired by the Georgian television station: “We [Georgia and Russia] are brothers, we are friends, we are of the same faith [Orthodox Christians] and we should be closer to each other.”
Ilia II, who led the Georgian church delegation in Moscow attending funeral of Russia’s late Patriarch Alexy II, met with Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, during the visit.
“I had a meeting with the Russian President and I think that everyone is interested in resolving the problems, existing between our countries, peacefully,” he said.
In separate remarks, as quoted by the Moscow-based radio station, Echo Moskvy, Ilia II said: “Georgia needs strong Russia, like Russia needs united and friendly Georgia. I think we will achieve this with the help of the god.”
Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia, Zurab Abashidze, who was a member of the delegation, said that the Georgian Orthodox Church played “a positive role” in building a dialogue between the two countries.
He also said that a visit of a delegation of the Russian church was planned in Georgia later in December.
The Georgian Orthodox Church delegation visited Moscow a month ago and met with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, which was the first official contact between the two countries after the August war.