Narikala Castle in Tbilisi. (Photo published by

TBILISI, DFWatch–Parliament in Georgia is discussing a draft law about cultural heritage which may remove the protected status of 6 319 historic sites.

Among the sites are Borjomi Park in southern Georgia and Romanov Palace in Abastumani, as well as Narikala Castle, the Opera, Rustaveli Theatre and Marjanishvili Theater in the capital Tbilisi, according to Nato Tsintsabadze, Secretary General of the conservation group ICOMOS Georgia.

Lifting the protected status of these sites means that it will be allowed to use them for different purposes, which may be problematic in terms of protecting cultural heritage.

Other endangered sites are Uraveli Monastery, Bebris Tsikhe in Mtskheta and important buildings in Tbilisi like the National Library, Tbilisi State University, Narikala Castle, Tbilisi Observatory, Kashueti Chuch, the Georgian Orthodox Church’s former main church building Sioni and Mtatsminda Pantheon, where many of the country’s most famous persons are buried.

Tsintsabadze said at a briefing on Thursday that 6 803 sites are registered in the State Registry. 484 of them are of national importance, 484 – local importance, the rest – 6319 – may be stripped of their protected status through simplified rules.

She warned that the draft bill prepared by the Ministry of Economy which aims to simplify the procedures to strip a site of its protected status, gives too much power to the governmentand will coerce the ministries into going along.

“If the Culture Ministry doesn’t agree to remove the [protected] status, what will happen next?” she asks. “This is having pressure on the Culture Ministry in the legislation. This shows a desire to make the Culture Ministry a mere formality.”

Tina Khidasheli, a member of parliament from the governing Georgian Dream coalition, says she will not support the draft. She thinks legislation concerning cultural heritage needs to be improved, but not by general regulations. She says the current draft would grant authority to certain officials to make decisions.

Khidasheli expressed hope that a compromise version of the draft will be presented to parliament for discussion.