16 December, 2010

‘We can’t go to LOO because there are armed Azeris and we’re afraid’.

The offered material is of State importance. It’s true that we have friendly and partnership relations with our fraternal Azerbaijan but when it comes to the protection of Georgian State border, we mustn’t close our eyes.
The village of Erisimedi is in Signagi region of East Georgia, at Georgian-Azeri border. It’s true that officially it’s in Georgian jurisdiction but you can’t go into the village unless you

are registered at the border police post. The post is one km away from the village. It’s interesting that our border guard set up the post not right at Georgian-Azeri border (we mean the former USSR border; as for Georgian-Azeri border, it can’t be determined for the last 17 years) but at the entrance of the village as if they aren’t even interested what goes on beyond the post.
Border control became strict since 2010 after an Azeri border guard killed 16-year-old Ahmed Gaurgashvili, inhabitant of the village.
‘Ahmed went to the forest to collect some wood. When he was coming back, he saw that the cattle had gone beyond the fence. He tried to bring them back but was shot in the head. An Azeri border guard shot him without warning. The whole village gathered at that place but they didn’t let us take the body.
The Azeri border guard pointed submachine guns at us, warning in Russian not to go closer; otherwise they threatened to shoot. The boy’s corpse was on our territory but they didn’t let us go closer’, the dwellers of Erisimedi told us.
It’s not clear, what is the Georgian border guard doing at the entrance of the village when they have to control the Georgian-Azeri border. This vagueness made the inhabitants think that Georgian Government is soon going to concede the village to Azerbaijan (!). According to Kakheti Information Center, a reliable source of Georgian-Azerbaijan delimitation bilateral Government commission said that half of the Erisimedi village will be given to Azerbaijan (!).
The fate of Erisimedi and its inhabitants is uncertain. This was proved by the declaration of Nino Kalandadze, deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs:
‘The village of Erisimedi is on the territory that is in the process of delimitation and is subject of dispute. Consequently, if there is any problem of free movement, it’s due to the debatable territory. The issue of Erisimedi is discussed in the format of delimitation working group and the final decision will be taken by this group’.
A member of Georgian political opposition, namely Malkhaz Khutsisvili of Signagi regional organization of ‘New Rightists’ called Nino Kalandadze’s declaration as the one made against the State interests.
‘The inhabitants of the village are restricted in their movement. When entering a Georgian village it’s inadmissible to undergo procedures, as if you are crossing Iranian border. This circumstance urged the Azeri side to demand the territory. The case of killing of the boy by the border guard is not investigated till now. As far as I know, the Georgian side hasn’t even demanded to punish the culprit. It seems that they need the territory for bargaining with Azerbaijan; mercenary interest of somebody isn’t excluded either. Maybe they are expecting something from Azerbaijan at the expense of Georgian territory’.
Mamuka Areshidze (an expert): Negotiations on border demarcation between the representatives of Georgian and Azerbaijan Ministries of Foreign Affairs are underway. Azerbaijan doesn’t intend to concede a section of Davit Gareji (Bertubani) that is on the Azeri side. As far as I know, the Georgian authorities offered another territory to Azerbaijan. It could be Erisimedi. The position and function of block-post at the entrance of the village is not clear for me either.
Kakha Khandolishvili, center for border security and migration research: Azerbaijan had similar problems with Russia but they were settled this year during Medvedev-Aliev meeting.
According to Kakheti Information Center, the school LOO is several meters’ away from the barbed wire where the Azeri border guard is located. The school-pupils say that often they can’t go there because armed Azeri guard is nearby and they are afraid of them.
On the territory where the boy was killed, the Azeri border guard walk around and they even take cattle from there. They even drink water from our well. We, the villagers are afraid of going to the well because they are armed and we are afraid of being shot.
This is the reality of Erisimedi dwellers, forgotten by our authorities.

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