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Orthodox Church on Investigation into Ceding Lands to Azerbaijan

On September 29, Archpriest Andria Jagmaidze, Head of the Public Relations Department of the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC), said in response to the Prosecutor’s launching of an investigation into ceding lands to Azerbaijan by State Border Delimitation commission members, that the work of the previous border delimitation commission was “ineffective” and that “raised great doubts.”

In his remarks, Archpriest Jagmaidze stated that “all disputes [regarding the disputed border with Azerbaijan] were resolved to the detriment of Georgia” by the previous state experts working in the commission.

Commenting on the work of the renewed border delimitation commission, however, the Archpriest stated, “we hope that some results will be achieved through the principled approach [of the new commission] we have been seeing.”

The Archpriest stated that the GOC’s view on David Gareji Monastery issue – located on the disputed section – is “unequivocal”, and underlined that “all the churches and monasteries on the territory of Georgia belong to the Patriarchate [GOC].” “As we talk about the David Gareji monastery complex, we are referring to the property of the Patriarchate,” the Archpriest underlined.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia said on September 29 that it started probing into the case following information received from the Defense Ministry of Georgia on August 17, according to which specific sections of the Georgian-Azerbaijani border were agreed upon inappropriately, against the country’s national interests.

Two-thirds of the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan has been agreed, while the remaining one-third of the border, where the medieval David Gareji Monastery complex is located, has yet to be agreed. Lack of agreement on where the border passes came into a sharp focus in April 2019, when Azerbaijani border guards restricted access to parts of the Monastery.

During meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov to Tbilisi on September 24, Georgian FM Davit Zalkaliani said Tbilisi relayed Baku with documents regarding David Gareji section, adding that “I don’t rule out either, that the 2006-2007 agreement may need to be revised.”

Commenting on the issue, Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgian President in 2004-13, slammed the investigation as “long-planned provocation” by the Georgian Dream government aimed to blame Saakashvili “for transferring these territories” to Azerbaijan ahead of upcoming October 31 general election.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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