Georgia-Azerbaijan Border Demarcation Commission to Resume Work

Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani says that Georgia and Azerbaijan agreed to resume the work of the delimitation-demarcation commission, and that movement at certain points of the Davit Gareji monastery complex, located at the border of the two countries, will be possible without difficulties.

Zalkaliani noted he had intensive communication with his Azerbaijani counterpart under the order of the Prime Minister of Georgia.

“An agreement has been reached based on which the delimitation-demarcation commissions will be staffed and will resume work,” he said.

Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia also made a comment on the David Gareji issue. While answering the questions of MPs on Thursday, the Minister said the delimitation-demarcation of the border with Azerbaijan is a key issue.

“The issue of Davit Gareji is quite delicate. This issue has been raised consistenyl since 1996, and this is a post-soviet heritage. For some years there was an uncertain pause, and there are issues which need to be solved urgently,” he said.

Gakharia noted that in the near future, a new commission of demarcation will be set up and will start work together with the neighboring country.

“The Commission will start to work urgently and within the possible time frames, we should all try to solve this issue once and for all. While everyone understands that Azerbaijan is a strategic partner of Georgia, our friend nation, of course, within the frameworks of the work of the demarcation commission, we will solve all the problems that are related to the cultural heritage issues, as well as the issues that are in the interests of our Church,” he said.

The Georgian Orthodox Church also released a statement saying the recent events related to David Gareji have caused a "fair sense of grievance" among the people.

The Patriarchate says the Davit Gareji monastery complex is an important shrine, one of the oldest monuments of Georgian culture, and the Georgian Church will do its best to protect it.

“Active negotiations are underway with the Azerbaijani side, and some positive steps have already been taken. The Patriarchate of Georgia is categorically distancing itself from all attempts by any religious or secular person to affect relations between our states and peoples, and is also distancing itself from insulting remarks against Muslims, and considers such remarks as a deliberate or unintentional provocation,” the statement reads.

The David Gareji issue became controversial again a few days ago when Georgian clerics from the David Gareji monastery stated that Azerbaijani border guards had restricted access to some parts of the site.

The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitages in Georgia is listed among the 7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe.

The site is a Georgian Orthodox cave monastery complex located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia, on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareji, 60–70 km southeast of Georgia's capital Tbilisi. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face.

Part of the complex is located in the Agstafa district of Azerbaijan which has many times been the subject of a dispute.

By Thea Morrison

Related stories:

Minister: Azerbaijan to Open Closed Points at David Gareji Complex

Georgia’s MFA Confirms Azerbaijan Restricted Access to David Gareji Complex

European Experts Publish Report on Georgia’s David Gareji Monastery Complex



03 May 2019 09:36