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Territorial aggression from a strategic partner

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, May 16
Recently, a long-simmering border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan has come to a head. Azeri border guards have appeared at the Davit Gareji monastery complex, interfering with worshippers and tourists. Now Azerbaijan is claiming historical rights to the monastery, inflaming the Georgian people.

But it is not just the Azeri government with whom Georgians are upset - many are blaming their own government for failing to prevent the situation through effective border negotiations. On May 6, while the country's leadership was celebrating Police Day in Gori, Azeri border guards entered the monastery and occupied half of it, allowing only monks to enter and dismissing all visitors. The monks informed the Patriarchate, who informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All the Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze could do was to note that this territory did not belong to Georgia under Soviet rule. Meanwhile, Minister of Culture Nika Rurua limply suggested that Udabno monastery, part of the Gareji complex, is on Azeri territory. Vice-Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani stated that the government asked Azeri officials to maintain the status quo before the border between the two countries is officially drawn.

This negligence, and failure to defend Georgia's historical, cultural, and religious treasures, is what caused the most controversy. Some people now even claim that the Georgian government made a closed-door agreement with the Azeris, allowing this to happen.

Georgian Dream released a statement that suggested it is unlikely that the government will be able to permanently solve the issue, as Azerbaijan is Georgia’s strategic partner and the country's gas supply almost entirely depends on Azerbaijan.

We have lost Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Russia, and now we are losing territory to Azerbaijan.