17 May, 2012

‘They must be warned strictly to stop willful actions’

‘Azeri border guard is willfully occupying David Gareja Monastery territory prohibiting movement of the pilgrims’ – the clergymen from Gareja Monastery informed us. We arrived at David Gareja. When approaching the Chichkhituri Monastery we noticed about a dozen of Azeri guards at the mountain crest and tower.

On seing our car, they got agitated; so we decided not to go up there before seeing the monks - we secured ourselves as we

were warned that without the clergymen they would not even allow us to go near the territory controlled by them.

According to the clergymen and pilgrims, last October Azeri border-guard detained Georgian and foreign tourists exactly at Chichkhituri Monastery. The detained did nothing but take photos fo the tower. Timely interference of Georgian guard saved the foreigners and spared Azerbaijan from diplomatic scandal but they couldn’t manage to protect Georgian tourists.
Azeris took the detainees to the base and released them only after three days.
Having arrived there, I too had to speak to the translator who, heavily breathing hurried up the slope from the base. But before this we visited the Laura Monastery where archimandrite Ilarion (Chigladze) accepted us. According to him on May 6 (St. George’s day) at about 12.30 the Azeris occupied both paths of Udabno Monastery leading to Resurrection and Samartvile churches. The liturgy of St. George’s celebration was finished a couple of minutes ago when they heard from the Udabno Monastery about the ‘incursion’ of Azeris.
Archimandrite Ilarion: - 5-men groups stand at the churches. As our border-guard told us they were armed even with machine-guns. It wasn’t only making round or special inspection, it looked like armed intervention. They declared that our Udabno Monastery was their territory and they wouldn’t allow anybody there (?!).
Q. – Has anything like that happened before?
A.I. – This problem has been on the agenda since last century. Several years ago the situation became tense but we achieved agreement – until final approval of borders and demarcation to keep status quo, i.e. the monks, tourists and pilgrims would be allowed to visit the whole territory of the Monastery. The border issue is still undecided so the Azeris’ had no reason to violate the agreement.
They keep saying that it’s a border and movement of people is not allowed. But there is no border at Resurrection Church and the Azeris had no right to be there.
This issue must be settled at the state level. To this end even commissions have been set up but it can’t be moved from the dead point. If we want to retain good neighborly relations this issue must be solved promptly.
An order came from above – only clergymen to be allowed to go up to the Monasteries and churches. Tomorrow they won’t allow even us. We know that Azerbaijan has pretensions about our territory but does the Georgian side still have doubts that it’s a disputable territory and we need proofs? Aren’t the monasteries themselves a proof? And besides, if Azeri guard is at the border, why don’t we do the same? According to the law, nobody is allowed to stand at the border. There is a buffer zone where nobody should stand.

We are monks and monastic elders; we are neither a state body nor police force to adhere to restrictive measures. We can only inform the Georgian nation that we are losing national shrine – the Gareja Monastery.
There were only Georgian border police at Resurrection church. Our attendant told them that we were guests and wanted to visit Udabno Monastery. The guard couldn’t refuse the clergyman’s request and said that they’d accompany us.
To observe the safety measures Georgian border police themselves accompany us to Chichkhitura. Nobody meets us there. We try to take photos and shoot video but nothing comes out without a flash.
We use light and in 10 minutes the sheep-dogs start barking fiercely. ‘They are coming’, says one of the Georgian guards. Soon two out-of-breath soldiers appear in the weathered rock arcs. Neither of them speaks Russian. Our attendants forbid us to talk to them promising to look to everything themselves. I obey not wishing to strain the situation. Soon an interpreter comes – little boy, a soldier. He says that taking photos is forbidden (?!), that their chiefs told ours about it. From the conversation it turns out that when meeting with Georgian side the Azeris tried indeed to restrict movement of pilgrims and tourists, besides they have language problems and they can’t make the tourists understand what are they allowed to do and what – not. Should I believe that the Azeri border services issued the strange order of incursion into the Monastery and restrictions because of the tourists? Should I believe that thus are they trying to put things in order at the border? Unfortunately there is nobody to answer these questions; neither the Georgian authorities ‘hand out’ desirable answers. In the meantime the Azeri border guard believes that Chichkhitura as well as Udabno and Bertubani belong to them.
Q. – Are we, Georgians and Azeris enemies or friends? - I ask the Azeri border guard.
A. – Of course, friends –he answers.
Q. – Then where is friendship? We came to our land to take photos; if you see something dangerous for your country I will destroy everything right away!
A. – Thank you, I’m not interested in photos. It’s a border and I have orders not to let you come close to it – answers the man who has no idea who David Garejeli was. One thing is obvious – it’s obscure why the Gareja problem lingers to be solved till today and why is the sacred place where on Shah Abbas’s order 6000 monks were tortured disputable?


Other Stories
German President arrives in Tbilisi, welcomes dialogue between Georgian, Russian FMs
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomes resumption of dialogue between Georgia and Russia at the level of Foreign Ministers.
Rose Gottemoeller visits Georgia
This visit is an opportunity to deepen and strengthen our cooperation with Georgia even further.
Georgia needs to find peace to evolve, former Swiss ambassador says
One year before the elections the former Swiss ambassador Lukas Beglinger is sure that the country will soon face big changes.
Georgian MP slaps colleague, an argument erupts in the Parliament
Eka Beselia, the lawmaker who left the Georgian Dream party, hit majority MP Vano Zardiashvili at the sitting of the Legal Issues Committee.
Georgia will use all available means to rise up to the new Russian challenge, says Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
Georgia will use all available means to give a proper assessment and to stop Russia doing such things, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Vladimir Konstantinid said
Swiss State Secretary: “Georgia is safe, we do not grant asylum”
2500 Georgians have sought asylum in Switzerland since 2016. Not one request has been granted. Now Switzerland wants Georgia to tackle irregular migration.
"Georgia has a long way to go in Tourism"
Because of the booming tourism industries, the Georgian government starts to implement regulations. “But this happens not fast enough, not efficient enough and not rigorous enough”, says Stefan Meister from the Heinrich Böll Stiftung.
Former US diplomat Matthew Bryza discusses Georgia, NATO membership and Trump’s presidency with GJ
How can we explain the statement made by the former Secretary-General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rassmussen about the possibility for Georgia to join NATO?
NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Madeleine Moon visits Khurvaleti village
President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Madeleine Moon has arrived in the village of Didi Khurvaleti, in the Gori municipality, located near the Administrative Boundary Line.
“Georgia could soon be ready for regulations”
“With big money you can either build or destroy something”, says Vano Vashakmadze. The consultant for development in tourism helped to work out the new zone planning implemented by the government.
Mamuka Khazaradze establishes Lelo movement
The public movement of TBC Bank's founder Mamuka Khazaradze will be called Lelo.
TBC Bank founder Mamuka Khazaradze to establish social movement in Anaklia
The presentation of the social movement of the founder of TBC Bank Mamuka Khazaradze will be held tomorrow, September 12, in Anaklia. The event begins at 12:00.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen offers Georgia a way to join NATO
Georgia should start an internal discussion of whether it would be acceptable to join NATO without Abkhazia and South Ossetia, - Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secreatry General of North-Atlantic Teaty Organisation, said.
“These protests are different”
«In Georgia protesting is almost a tradition», says the historian Simon Janashia who works at the American School in Tbilisi. But the current demonstrations are profoundly different.
Kelly Degnan nominated as the next U.S. ambassador to Georgia
President Donald Trump has submitted the nomination of Kelly Degnan to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Georgia.
Development of the Anaklia deep sea port should be in the interest of every Georgian, says Kurt Volker
Importance of the Anaklia deep sea port is huge for Georgia and the Georgians have heard about it from many politicians inside or outside of the country.
Clashes and whistling in the Georgian Parliament after nomination of new PM
Clashes took place at the entrances to the Parliament building today, as protesters held the "Shame on You" event.
“Georgian Dream” Party introduced Georgy Gakharia as Prime Minister
“Georgian Dream” party has introduced Interior Minister Georgy Gakharia to the post of Prime Minister.
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has resigned
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has resigned. Bakhtadze released the relevant statement on the social network.
There will be no war with Georgia, says De-facto official
Georgia's provocative actions at the "borders of South Ossetia" are just an attempt by the Georgian authorities to divert their population's attention from acute domestic problems
After the summer Tbilisi is expecting another hot season
Every evening in June and July hundreds of protesters came to the parliament to demonstrate.
Why so called South Ossetian delegation gave ultimatum to the Georgian side?
Representatives of de-facto regime of the Tskhinvali region gave ultimatum to the Georgian side to abolish the Georgian police block post near Tsnelisi until 6:00am, August 30th.
Former Russian Duma member sees theoretical chance of solution the Abkhazia problem
Former member of the Russian Duma, Ilya Ponomarev, believes that there is a theoretical chance of resolving the problem of occupied Abkhazia
Georgian president calls Brexit new opportunity (Watch video)
Georgians feel that they are Europeans. It is not something they are striving for. They are European, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili said in her interview with Euronews.
So called elections in Abkhazia go into second round
The “Presidential elections” in Abkhazia do not bring a clear leader. Nor are they recognized by a variety of states, among them the US, the UK, Ukraine and Latvia.
GEL Exchange Rate
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange
October 2019
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31