And it’s not a joke. This initiative was first voiced by Georgian Patriarch and later echoed by the ruling team members" />

Long live the king! Possible restoration of monarchy considered in Georgia

And it’s not a joke. This initiative was first voiced by Georgian Patriarch and later echoed by the ruling team members

The crossing ceremony of Davit Bagration-Mukhraneli and Ana Bagrationi at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Tbilisi, 08.02.2009. Photo: Reuters / David Mdzinarishvili 

During a Sunday sermon, Ilia II, the Catholicos-Patriarch of the whole of Georgia, once again raised an issue that he had been repeatedly coming back to over the past few years: The Patriarch spoke out for restoring the constitutional monarchy in Georgia.

According to Ilia II, ‘the constitutional monarchy will bring peace to the country’.

“Georgia is an ancient country with an ancient culture. Perhaps we should think about the fact that Georgia is the oldest monarchy. The king ruled our country with God’s help. Today, there are numerous cases worldwide, when a monarch reigns but doesn’t rule. This is called a constitutional monarchy. Naturally, this will not happen either today or tomorrow, but it is necessary to analyze our past, present and future,” Ilia II stressed during the Sunday sermon on 18 June.

It’s not the first instance that the Georgian Orthodox Church leader has advocated restoring the constitutional monarchy in the country. Until now, this theme was mostly limited to witty jokes on Facebook social media, but this time it’s all different – government officials actively engaged in a dialogue on restoring the monarchy literally the day after the Patriarch’s statement.

According to the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), Irakli Kobakhidze, the Georgian Parliament Speaker, visited the Patriarchy on 19 June to meet with Ilia II.

Before meeting the Patriarch, he made a brief, but a rather meaningful comment on the aforesaid: “”What His Holiness stated is the truth. In fact, the constitutional monarchy could bring peace to the country’s political and social life. We must take into account all factors, including our local peculiarities,” Kobakhidze said, adding that the constitutional monarchy and the presidential institute couldn’t coexist.

Earlier, some other representatives of the parliamentary majority group also approved this initiative: for example, Eka Beselia, a member of the parliamentary majority, termed this idea as ‘interesting’, while Gia Volsky, the Parliament Vice Speaker from the parliamentary majority group, argued based on the best practices of Western European countries that the monarchy could have a positive impact on the country. According to Mamuka Mdinaradze, the chairman of the ‘Georgian Dream’ faction, the constitutional monarchy will attach individualism, uniqueness and particular attractiveness to Georgia. Salome Zourabichvili, an independent MP close to governmental circles, believes that the constitutional monarchy is the only way for Georgia to join the European family.

Meanwhile, the opposition stands against this initiative. The opposition politicians believe that the authorities deliberately raised this issue in order to divert public attention from some real problems.

“This tradition has long ceased to exist and it’s impossible to restore it artificially. I doubt that Georgia actually needs it. There are many more serious problems that our country is facing. Thus, the government would better address those problems,” said Gigi Ugulava, an individual leader of the opposition ‘European Georgia’.

“The reason the ruling team has taken up this initiative is to prevent us from focusing on real problems in this country. It’s obvious for us, as well as for His Holiness, the Patriarch of Georgia, that Ivanishvili’s unofficial ruling has led the country to a blind alley,” said Salome Samadashvili, a member of the United National Movement.

The monarchy issue has traditionally become a subject matter for jokes on Facebook social media. Social media users have been trying to figure out for two days already, which social class they belong to: to commoners or nobles.

First discussions on the possible restoration of the monarchy in Georgia began in the early 1990’s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then, this theme has been raised from time to time, but it has never been considered seriously.

Today, the representatives of several branches of the royal dynasty, the Bagrationi family, reside in Georgia and beyond its borders. The Georgian Patriarch himself ensured the nomination of the would-be monarch, when he blessed the marriage of the representatives of two branches of the royal dynasty, Anna Bagrationi and David Bagrationi-Muhraneli. In 2011, a son, Giorgi, was born to this couple. The patriarch baptized him and personally became his godfather. During the baptism ceremony, Ilia II declared Prince Giorgi as heir of the Bagrationi dynasty.

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