The situation around the controversial monastery of David Gareji has again heated up
Another incident has occurred on the undivided section of the Georgian-Azerbaijani border, near the David Gareji monastery complex, between local residents and Azerbaijani border guards.
The discontent of the local Georgian population was caused by information that the Azerbaijani border guards carried icons from the Georgian temple Udabno and handed them to their Georgian colleagues.
According to local Georgians, the border guards did not have the right to touch the relics of the Georgian temple. As a result, there was a clash between the local Georgian population and Azerbaijani border guards.
The Azerbaijani press writes that one of the locals took away weapons from the border guards and then returned them.
Head of the Georgian border police Teimuraz Kupatadze confirmed that the Azerbaijani side took the icons from the cells – after a bilateral meeting on the border with Azerbaijani colleagues, Kupatadze told reporters that Azerbaijani border guards did this in order to protect the icons from weather damage.
“They said that the icons could be damaged by wind, rain, and other weather conditions. And so that they would not be blamed for the damage to the icons, they brought them out and handed over the icons to our border guards”, Kupatadze said.
The Georgian side has not commented on the incident with weapons.
However, Baku sharply reacted to what happened. Military experts and others have wondered about how unarmed people managed to take away weapons from Azerbaijani border guards.
The Azerbaijani news agency APA reports that the Georgian ambassador was called to the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan for clarification. The details of this meeting are not known.
In its official statement, the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan called the incident a “provocation aimed at inciting conflict between the two countries.”
Baku demands an investigation into the accident.
The cave monastery complex of the 6th century, which in Georgia is called David Gareji, and in Azerbaijan – Keshishdag, is the reason for ongoing disputes and incidents between Georgia And Azerbaijan.
The border runs right through the complex. Georgia claims the area is a monument of Georgian culture. Azerbaijan believes that the complex is part of Albanian culture and is not related to Georgians.
Negotiations are underway between Tbilisi and Baku on demarcation and delimitation along disputed parts of the border.
The situation around the cultural monument heats up from time to time – the last aggravation was in April, when there were reports that Azerbaijani border guards restricted access to the David Gareji monastery.