Address of Georgian National Committee of the Blue Shield on planned restauration works on Ikorta Monastery


Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Mr. Julien Anfruns, President of the International Committee of the Blue Shield

Mr. Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO


Dear Sirs,


According to recent news published by the News Agency „RES“ of the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia, government officials of the self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia visited Ikorta Monastery in village Arcevi and announced about their plans to restore the historical monument. Representative of the so called ‘‘Monuments Protection Division of the Ministry of Culture of South Ossetia’’ talked about the restoration needs of the church and expressed that its restoration project has been included in the investment programme aiming at the socio-economical development of the republic.

This is not the first and by far not the only case, as similar news concerning the restoration of cultural heritage monuments in the oppucpied Tskhinvali region had been reported also during the years 2009-2012 ( relating to a number of other monuments. Earlier news reports also actively addressed the restoration of wall painting in Tiri Monastery situated 8km outside Tskhinvali. Earlier reports on the devastation of the Church of “Gverda” in the Znauri region and Tigva Church had also raised alarm and was addressed by the Georgian NGOs and officials during meetings with the Council of Europe representatives in early 2012.

Georgian National Committee of the Blue Shield founded in March 2013 and its  members (ICOM Georgia, ICOMOS Georgia, Georgian Library Association and National Archives of Georgia) express their deepest concern about the state of conservation of Georgian cultural heritage on the occupied territories in Tskhinvali region and particularly that of Ikorta (1172) and Tiri Monasteries (17th c) where recent activity from the side of the so called “Ministry of Culture of South Ossetia” had been reported. Among others, it is the task of our committee to support the implementation of the UNESCO Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and thus we seek for international support in this endeavor.

It is our professional belief, that the planned projects should include Georgian heritage professionals who have significant experience with working on the above monuments and have access to the specialized archives. Without the necessary information about the history of the monuments and the previous stages of their conservation, it will be impossible to achieve quality results.

Taking into account the negative experience of Ilori Monastery “restoration” by local clergy in the occupied  Abkhazia, we ask the international organisations involved in the protection of cultural heritage, to stay alert of the developments, monitor the process and help mediate to start negotiating joint restoration project of monuments of cultural heritage in Georgia's occupied Tskhinvali region.

We are aware that the alleviation of the Russia-Georgia war consequences remains a priority for the Council of Europe and its decision-making body as well as the international community at large. As we are persuaded that the issue of preservation of the cultural heritage on the Russian occupied territories of Georgia is having intrinsic bearing for the eventual settlement of the conflict between the two member states of the Council of Europe and since we are confident that these matters fall within the mandate of the Council of Europe, UNESCO and the International Committee of the Blue Shield, we have decided to bring these issues to you attention.

We also believe that both Russia and Georgia being member states of the UNESCO Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, it should be made possible to enforce its provisions for the sake of safeguarding cultural heritage on the occupied territories.

We do count on your necessary attention to this important matter and believe that  involvement from the side of international community is the only way to prevent damage to the monuments of common European heritage. We ask for your help in organizing deployment of an international monitoring mission to study the current state of conservation of the numerous monuments on the Russian occupied territories of Georgia.

Yours sincerely,

on behalf of the Georgian National Committee of the Blue Shield

Ms. Manana Tevzadze






Mr. Benjamin Goes

Chairperson of UNESCO Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict

Ms Catharina Bolognese, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia


Gianluca Silvestrini
Head of the Regional Co-operation Division
Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage
Council of Europe - DGIV

Mikhael de Thyse & Alison Helm
Regional Co-operation Division
Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage
Council of Europe - DGIV


Ikorta - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ikort’a church of the Archangel (Georgian: იკორთის მთავარანგელოზის ტაძარი), commonly known as Ikort’a (იკორთა) is a 12th-century Georgian Orthodox church located at the outskirts of the village Ikort’a in Shida Kartli region of eastern Georgia.

Commissioned by the ducal family of Ksani in the reign of King George III of Georgia in 1172, Ikort’a is the earliest in a series of the 12th-13th-century churches of Georgia that set a final canonical model of a Georgian domed church.

The Ikort’a church is a centrally planned, domed rectangular design, with a semicircular apse on the east. The dome, with 12 windows pierced round its tall base, rests upon the corners of the altar and two hexangular pillars. Walls and vaults were plastered and frescoed at the time of construction; but only some fragments of original murals survived in the apse, northern wall and the base of the dome. The façades and a lower portion of the dome are lavishly ornamented. The church was renovated in the 17th century, but the original design was largely preserved. There are two entrance portals, one to the south and one to the west. Original porches have been ruined, and the extant porch to the south is of much later period. There are a solar clock and an ancient Georgian asomtavruli inscription on the western wall.[1]

During the earthquake of 1991, a large portion of the dome collapsed, and inflicted a significant damage on the church. In 1999 the monument was listed among the "100 Most Endangered Sites" (World Monuments Fund, 2000-2001).[2] A reconstruction project is currently under progress.[3]

The Ikort’a church served as a burial ground of the dukes of Ksani, and houses, among others, the tombs of the brothers Shalva and Elizbar of Ksani, and their associate Bidzina, Prince Cholokashvili. These noblemen were tortured to death for having revolted against the Persian domination of Kakheti (eastern Georgia) in 1659, and were eventually canonized by the Georgian Orthodox church.[1]

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