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As a result of PM Gakharia’s and President Aliyev’s meeting David Gareji monasteries are to reopen today

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, October 11
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia says that the Udabno and Chichkhituri monasteries in Georgia’s 6th century David Gareji monastery complex, which has been closed by Azerbaijani border guards since the beginning of the year, will reopen to Georgian clerics starting today, October 11.

Gakharia said that the situation in David Gareji, which is located on the conditional border between Georgia and Azerbaijan, was openly discussed during his meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.

“We could not avoid such an important issue as the David Gareji Monastery, Everyone knows that, unfortunately, there are border sections between Georgia and Azerbaijan which so far have not been agreed upon. This is a Soviet inheritance and the issue has not been resolved over the past 25 years. Aliyev said that history and geography unite us, which I completely share and we openly discussed the issues regarding David Gareji. The result of the discussion is that the monasteries will reopen to Georgian clerics and gradually, step by step we will achieve further progress in this regard,” Gakharia said.

Gakharia did not say whether or not the two monasteries will also reopen to tourists and parish.

He stated that the border issue with Azerbaijan must be resolved through considering the national interests of both countries, cultural heritage and the church interests.

Gakharia called upon the public to refrain from any actions hampering the negotiation process with Azerbaijan regarding border issues. “I would also like to appeal to our citizens to take responsibility and caution in the context of every step, word, and everyone should understand that love and patriotism of the homeland do not mean pseudo-patriotic expressions and thoughtless steps. This is the approach we must take in this direction,” said the PM at a government meeting on October 10. He paid his first official visit to Azerbaijan on 9 October as Prime Minister.

Georgia and Azerbaijan have not agreed on borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union back in 1991. The Georgian-Azerbaijani state border demarcation commission renewed work in May 2019.

“The next sitting of the Commission on Delimitation and Demarcation of the state border between Georgia and the Republic of Azerbaijan is expected to be held in Georgia,” Foreign Minister of Georgia Davit Zalkaliani said after the government meeting yesterday, adding that the Azerbaijani side has already expressed readiness regarding this issue.

He reviewed the first foreign visit of the Georgian Prime Minister to Azerbaijan and noted that the delegation returned to Georgia with a significant tangible result, according to which the churches within the David Gareji Complex will open for Georgian clergymen starting tomorrow. Foreign Minister positively assessed the results of the meeting of Azerbaijani and Georgian officials, noting that further steps are already being taken on how to open the space for pilgrims as well.

The newly appointed PM will also visit Armenia next week and will arrive in Turkey at the end of October.