Staunton, April 26 – Although Azerbaijan has long insisted that it has no border dispute with Georgia, in recent days, its border guards have blocked tourists, monks and religious pilgrims from reaching a monastery which Tbilisi claims as its own, creating a situation that was temporarily solved only after the foreign ministers of the two countries intervened.
The monastery is the David Garedzhi complex which is located about 60 kilometers southeast of the Georgian capital in the mountains. That topographically difficult portion of the border has never been fully delimited and demarcated, although Baku has insisted for some years that there is no problem (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/206958/).
But there obviously is, and during her visit to Baku at the end of February, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said that the two countries would resolve the situation by the end of the year. She noted that the two countries each face a situation in which parts of their territory are occupied. They don’t need border disputes as well (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/334781/).
Several days ago, however, Azerbaijani border guards blocked the road to the monastery, adding urgency to this effort even though the blockade was quickly lifted after the foreign ministers of the two countries spoke. Lasha Zhvaniya, head of the Georgian presidential administration, said a border accord would eliminate such problems.
“It is very sad,” he continued, “when such things happen at Easter. They indicate that the issue of delimiting the borders between our countries is very important.” The fact that a Christian monastery and a Muslim state are involved makes the situation potentially more problematic.