The Georgian Orthodox Church’s claim to several monasteries in neighboring Armenia is stoking religious tension between the two South Caucasus neighbors.
The fact that Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion (in 301 AD) is a source of national pride in Yerevan, and government officials accordingly tend to be quick to defend the prerogatives of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Authorities in Georgia, the third country to make Christianity its state religion (in 326 AD, after Ethiopia), feel similarly strongly about the rights of the Georgian Orthodox Church. These deeply held opinions ensure that cross-border property claims are a delicate topic.
Neither church today enjoys the status as a state religion, although both represent the faith of a large majority of Armenians and Georgians respectively.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for ArmeniaNow.com in Yerevan.