PM: Churches in Davit Gareji Complex Will Open for Georgian Clergymen Tomorrow

“Churches within the Davit Gareji Complex will open for Georgian clergymen tomorrow,” Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said at a government meeting today, adding he had an open conversation with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, about the current problems yesterday.

“We could not avoid discussing such an important issue as the Davit Gareji Monastery. Everyone knows that unfortunately, there are sections at the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan that have not been established, this is our post-Soviet legacy, and this problem has not been resolved for 25 years.

"Mr. President Aliyev noted that our countries have a history and geography that links us very close to each other. Of course, I can fully agree with these words. We had an open conversation on the current problems and as a result, I can say that the churches within the Davit Gareji Complex will open to Georgian clergymen starting tomorrow. Therefore, we need to make serious progress in this direction step by step. We have repeatedly stated that this problem must be resolved within the national interest of the two countries, taking into account its historical heritage. This is the most important component of our approach. I would also like to remind you that our citizens are responsible and cautious in the context of every step, word, and we should all remember that love and patriotism do not mean pseudo-patriotic expressions and thoughtless steps. This is the approach we should have in this direction and we must maintain it,” he said.

On October 9, Gakharia had his first official visit to Baku, where he met with President of Azerbaijan. Throughout the meeting, the parties discussed the issues of vital importance, including major aspects of strategic partnership and joint regional projects. Georgian PM accentuated that partnership between the two states had upgraded to an international level, especially with regards to economic, transport, trade and energy spheres.

The newly appointed PM will also visit Armenia next week and will arrive in Turkey at the end of October.

Gakharia replaced Mamuka Bakhtadze in the role in early September, previously serving as the interior minister of the country.

After being nominated as Prime Minister on 8 September, Gakharia's incoming cabinet won the parliamentary vote of confidence with 98 votes for with none against.

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.

By Ana Dumbadze  

Photo source: Government of Georgia

Related Story: Gakharia has his First Official Visit to Baku


10 October 2019 10:42