GEO / RUS       12+

Tabooed "Davit Gareji"

The chief task of Georgia is a reoccupation of its territories and all efforts must be directed there. I believe all steps of Georgian government in this direction will be met with approval of our citizens. Frankly speaking, the frequent visits of foreign high ranks for the last period of time raised some hopes. However I cannot say this about the Ilkham Aliev, Azeri President's visit results. I had an impression as if these two countries have nothing in common except of oil sector and Heidar Alieve's "wise decision" in connection with Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline construction. Our President underlined, - seems like our two countries alongside with other problems have no problem with very painful question - Davit Gareji monastery complex.

After the meeting of two presidents in Batumi, during the press conference, they talked about great number of subjects but not about Davit Gareji. Both Presidents praised each other's countries - how beautiful became Batumi and how prosperous becoming Azerbaijan day-to-day.

My expectations to hear at least one declaration with gentle hint about this subject were unsuccessful. The Davit Gareji monastery complex issue is poised in mid-air and remains unsettled. The independent Georgian media did not remember this subject; for sure Azeri media would not touch this issue. They know that monastery complex is of Albanian Culture origin, but now the Azeri side is heir-at-law of this heritage. The government keeps silence on the tabooed "Davit Gareji" question. It makes no comments. The reason for this is unclear, as unclear is the dispute over the Church in Tbilisi at Leselidze Street. It is not decided is this Church of Georgian origin or Armenian. Up to today it is debated who sold it to whom for what price.

By the way, I have heard about the recent meeting of deputy Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Georgia in Baku. Davit Jalagania and Halaph Halaphov conducted the consultations. They both are heads of governmental commission for the state border delimitation-demarcation between Azerbaijan and Georgia. At this meeting they agreed to conduct next one sitting of this commission in September this year. The commission on delimitation-demarcation exists since 1999 and until now they managed to agree only about the 65% of the disputed border. All meetings of the commission ended without any results.

Georgia has a borderline with 7 Azeri regions. The borderline is 480 km long.

As the information about the meeting was disseminated only from Azerbaijani side, I will provide with its point of vision on unsettled question. The foreign body of Azerbaijan said the undecided question on the Georgian-Azerbaijani border delimitation-demarcation is connected with the one of the most important Culture and Religious sights - Davit Gareji monastery complex.

The monastery complex is located in 60 km distance from Tbilisi. The main monastery of the complex is lavra of St. Davit. It is located on the Northern slope of the ridge. Actually this ridge divides Georgia from Azerbaijan. Garib Mamedov, chairman of Azerbaijani land and cartography committee declared that the monastery which is located at the Keshishadag ridge is of Albanian origin.

Halaph Halaphov, deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, who at the same time is a chairman of Georgian-Azerbaijani state border Commission for delimitation-demarcation names the Davit Gareji monastery complex as a "Kesheqchi" and said that it is of Albanian origin. He said this monastery is of a disputed ownership. Even in 2007 he was declaring that the Georgian side never mentioned during the Commission sittings the ownership question of the monastery and problems deriving from this question.

"The theme of Albanian monastery is a question of dispute. However the task of the Commission is to determine the border line where the border will be laid between two countries. What about other questions this is out of the competence of the Commission, "- Halaphov said.

This very delicate question between these countries was interesting for opposition in 2007. Dressed in Georgian national costumes in "chokha" they attended Davit Gareji several times. Then as it happen usually, these problems were forgotten. Moreover Zviad Dzidziguri, leader of then oppositional union "Democratic Front" was declaring that he has documentary materials about Davit Gareji, dated from 1918 concerning two countries. He said that lawyers of "Democratic Front" are researching these materials. 3 years passed since then, and if we will ask about results, the answer will be - the "Democratic Front" does not exist anymore and for sure this question as well will be poised in mid-air.

In one word, on the background of prosperous Baku-Batumi relationships, nobody remembers the Davit Gareji. And if even remember, nobody talks about it. In the interstate politics the backstage politics is understandable; sometimes it is have to be accepted. Because we are told - the negotiations are pending. For the oppositional "politbusinessmen" only the hot themes are interesting which are to be announced inevitably dressed in "Chokha", but now is a very hot summer. The nakedness is right for summer. Nevertheless the naked reality in this case does not look advantageously.

GHN, Temur Chumburidze