The Alliance of Patriots held a rally called “David Gareji is Georgia” in downtown Tbilisi, and also demanded the government give up its NATO plans
The Alliance of Patriots held a protest rally on Freedom Square in Tbilisi with the motto David Gareji is Georiga on June 15.
Members and supporters of the Alliance of Patriots came from different parts of the country to be at the rally.
The Alliance of Patriots is a conservative parliamentary opposition party that advocates restoring relations with Russia, as well as rejecting NATO integration. The party received five per cent of the vote in the parliamentary elections of 2016.
Party leaders stated that the main goal of the rally was to make it clear to the authorities of Georgia and Azerbaijan that the people of Georgia would not abandon the David Gareji monastery located on the disputed part of the border of the two countries.
“We respect the Azerbaijanis, we consider the president of this country wise, and we urge him to understand the situation in our country well. The Georgian people are not going to give up David Gareji”, said one of the party leaders, Irma Inashvili, during her speech.
Tension on the Georgian-Azerbaijani border where the ancient monastery complex is located has been growing since May, after Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced the need to immediately establish an exact border in the David-Gareji region, and Azerbaijani border guards temporarily blocked access from the Azerbaijani side.
Georgian activists held several demonstrations at the border, while negotiations on the demarcation of the border between the countries were resumed.
David-Gareji – in Azerbaijan known as Keshikchi – has its roots back in the 6th Century. Since then, state borders in this region have repeatedly changed, and today a part of the Georgian-Azerbaijani border that has not been demarcated passes right through the complex. Negotiations on the delimitation of this section of the border and, accordingly, on the fate of the historical monument, have been repeatedly resumed between two countries, but so far they have failed.
The narratives about the site differ strongly between Azerbaijan and Georgia about who owns David Gareji / Keshikchi: Georgia says that the area is a legacy of Georgian culture, while Azerbaijan says the complex was a part of Albanian culture.
The leaders of the Alliance of Patriots accused the former United National Movement government for the issue on the border.
“We demand the start of an investigation, the punishment of the members of the commission [on demarcation], which sold David Gareji. To punish Saakashvili [ed. the former president of Georgia], Bokeria [ed. the former secretary of the security council] and all those who sold the territories”, said one of the party leaders, David Tarkhan-Muravi.
Tarkhan-Muravi also said the party demands the “military non-alignment” of Georgia, “because today this is the only correct decision for peace, [given] NATO [membership] is completely unattainable.”
Protesters held posters against NATO and for the resumption of relations with Russia.
During the rally, one participant tore a NATO banner from the balcony of the building of the Tbilisi City Council.
საკრებულოს შენობაზე „ევროპული საქართველოს“ ახალგაზრდულმა ფრთამ ბანერი „ნატო აქაურობას“ გამოფინა. პატრიოტთა ალიანსის“ ერთ-ერთმა მხარდამჭერმა ბანერი ჩამოხია და გაიქცა.
Posted by Rustavi 2 on შაბათი, 15 ივნისი, 2019
The Alliance of Patriots also put forward social demands: in particular, the party came out for free food in schools, the creation of a special agency to support family businesses.
The party plans to continue rallies in the regions of Georgia.