Azerbaijan warns of ‘possible provocations’ at disputed David Gareji monastery complex as ‘Garejoba’ holiday marked

  • David Gareji is a sixth century monastery complex in Georgia’s south-east. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 4 Jun 2020 - 18:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Azerbaijani border service has warned of possible provocations ‘by a group of Georgian citizens’ near Georgia’s 6th century David Gareji monastery complex, which is located at the conditional border between Georgia and Azerbaijan. 

Georgia and Azerbaijan have not agreed borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union back in 1991, while the Georgian-Azerbaijani state border demarcation commission renewed work only May of 2019, after several-year suspension. 

Situation at the site got tense several times last year as clerics and parish were not allowed to enter Udabno and Chichkhituri monasteries of the compex by Azerbaijani border guards. 

Today Garejoba is marked in Georgia, commemorating one of the Assyrian fathers, David Garejeli, who founded the monastery complex. news agency cited the Azerbaijani border service as saying that the Georgian border guards have been informed regarding the possible provocation. 

Azerbaijan said that if there is any provocation, the organisers would be responsible for that. 

Georgian PM and Azerbaijani president discussed the issue of David Gareji last year. Photo: AP.

Archbishop Shio, who delivered a service today in David Gareji, reiterated that Udabno and Chichkhituri monasteries, ‘where we are unable to enter today’ were built by David Garejeli and are historic monuments of Georgia. 

Today we pray and ask Saint father David Garejeli to help improve the situation, to make it possible for us to deliver a service in Udabno and Chichkhituri monasteries,” Archbishop Shio said. 

The patriarchate says that all the evidence points to Udabno and Chichkhituri monasteries of David Gareji being on the Georgian territory.

There are historic, cultural, legal and cartographic materials proving the two monasteries are on the Georgian territory, unlike the Bertubani monastery, which is also a part of David Gareji monastery complex and appeared on the Azerbaijani territory,” the patriarchate says.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said after his meeting with Azerbaijani president in October 2019  that the Udabno and Chichkhituri monasteries of David Gareji monastery complex would be reopened for Georgian clerics. 

 David Gareji is a complex of 22 rock-hewn monasteries and more than 5,000 cells and cave-cells, located in Georgia’s south-east.