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Georgia and Azerbaijan will solve monastery issue

by | May 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia and Azerbaijan are working on delineating their border, in order to solve the problem regarding Davit Gareja monastery complex, which is a source for concern.

Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nikoloz Vashakidze said Monday that the process will be guided by the administrative border during Soviet times.

“98 percent of Davit Gareja is on Georgian territory today, but there are problematic areas,’ the Foreign Minister says, ‘our common desire is to solve issue constructively, with friendship and cooperation spirits.’

Vashakidze said that an agreement should mean that anyone will be able to visit the monastery complex. He notes that there is one session on delineation held annually, but there hasn’t been held one so far this year.

David Gareja monastery complex is located right on the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia, about 60-70 km to the southeast from Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. It is an official Georgian religious and cultural monument, consisting of a number of churches.

The complex was established in first half of the sixth century. Since October 24 2011, it has been on the

UNESCO World Heritage tentative list as a historical-cultural monument.

In the beginning of May, witnesses reported information that Azerbaijani border guards were not letting visitors in to visit Udabno Monastery, which is part of the complex.

During NATO’s meeting in Chicago, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili met with Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s President, and the two discussed the monastery issue.

After their meeting, Georgia’s foreign minister said that the main part of the discussion was about Davit Gareja, adding that this problem is not new to both countries.

“Back in Soviet times I don’t know on purpose or without reason, they drew the administrative border so that 2 percent of the complex occurred on the side of Azerbaijan of those times.”

He said that as soon as they arrive back in Georgia, on the president’s orders they will demand a gathering of a border commission to continue working on this issue.

A few days ago, it was reported that Azerbaijan and Georgia achieved agreement on the issue; however this does not yet seem to be the case.

The presidents of Azerbaijan and Georgia instructed border bodies to solve this issue at the meeting in Chicago.

Shota Utiashvili, Head of Interior Ministry’s Analytical Department told today to news agencies that Zaza Gogava, head of Georgia’s Border Police met with his Azeri colleague, which was held in Davit Gareja. They agreed that Georgian citizens as well as foreign tourists will be let onto the whole territory of the complex without any restrictions, until the delineation process is finalized.

Utiashvili said Georgia took on an obligation to not let visitors enter Azerbaijan’s section until the process is ended.

Giga Bokeria, Georgia’s Secretary of Security Council was today at Channel 1. He spoke about the events surrounding the monastery complex, criticizing those who complain about this issue.

When churches were damaged on Georgia’s occupied territories and clerics were arrested, certain politicians weren’t so brave, didn’t hold any demonstrations, but there was a call for action not to make the occupants angry, Bokeria says, but when it came to Azerbaijan they are almost calling for a declaration of war.

He says there is a difference between enemy and friendly countries.

“Friendly countries try to solve issue though negotiations, which currently is taking place, but enemies have attempted to overthrow the state.”

He notes that all interested parties including clerics were informed about the situation and it hasn’t been a surprise for anyone.

On Sunday, several hundreds of protesters gathered in Vake Park some distance from central Tbilisi. They organized a demonstration to parliament building and then to foreign ministry holding large posters and flags of Georgia and the Georgian Church.

Organizers of the event called for the Azerbaijani ambassador to restore the status quo before May 6, so that tourists and people who come to pray are able to visit the complex.

They also demand that all documents related to this issue are made public.

 



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