Kakachia: There is no easy solution to the David Gareja monastery complex border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan

ПОНАРС Евразия
04 Sep 2019

(Reuters) UDABNO, Georgia, Sept 4 - Standing near an ancient monastery perched on a rocky ridge in southeast Georgia, armed border guards keep a watchful eye over tourists visiting the site, stopping those who venture too far uphill.

On the ridge's opposite slope - where the tourists are headed - sit mountain caves with 1,000-year-old religious frescoes etched into their walls, a dozen kilometres from the village of Udabno.

But access has been restricted since late April due to a flare-up in a border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan. [...]

Georgia and Azerbaijan set up a joint commission to demarcate the 480-km (300-mile) border between the two countries in 1996, said Kornely Kakachia, head of the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP), a think tank based in the capital Tbilisi.

But after they agreed on almost 70% of it, progress halted in the mid-2000s, he added.

The David Gareja monastery complex, a sixth-century rock-hewn site sprawling across the barren slopes of a mountain about 60km (35 miles) southeast of Tbilisi, has represented one of the "major stumbling blocks" to the negotiations, Kakachia noted. [...]

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