MIA: Situation is Calm at Davit Gareji Monastery Complex

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the situation is calm at the David Gareji Monastery Complex, on the conditional border between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

There was a "small incident," they say, between locals and Azerbaijani border guards on the Davit-Gareji section, though the situation was defused timely and now is "calm on the ground."

On July 14, information was spread through social media that the situation was tense at David Gareji. Namely, public activists said that Azerbaijani border guards took icons from the Monastery and handed them to Georgian guards, signifying that the territory no longer belongs to the Georgian side. Locals then forced the Azerbaijani border guards from the territory. Now public activists claim that the situation is calm at David Gareji.

The situation at the Georgia-Azerbaijan border has been tense over the last several months.

On May 23, a local guide published photos in social media, saying that Azerbaijan side was constructing a road to the Chichkhituri Church at the David Gareji Monastery Complex.

The Georgian-Azerbaijan commission working on border issues met in Baku in May. The Foreign Ministry explained that works were definitely being conducted on the territory of Azerbaijan.

In May, Georgian clerics and public groups held a peaceful rally at the Davit Gareji Monastery Complex.

The rally came amid negotiations between Georgia and Azerbaijan on the border, which has not been agreed upon since the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991.

The Georgian protestors claimed that the sixth-century Gareji monastery complex is the country’s cultural heritage and the border issue must be settled so that the whole complex can be located within Georgia.

In April, Azerbaijani borders guards closed the road and did not allow visitors and clerics into the Monastery. However, the problem was resolved after negotiations.

Davit Gareji is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia, on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja, some 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 region of Azerbaijan and has become subject to a border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Photo: David Gareji Monastery Complex; Wiktor Bubniak/Shutterstock

By Ana Dumbadze 

15 July 2019 11:23