Cartographers’ Case: Church Endorses Prosecution’s Map of Choice
The Holy Synod, the governing body of the Georgian Orthodox Church, said after its February 11 meeting that it endorses using a map dated 1937-1938, with a 1:200,000 scale for Georgia to negotiate border disputes of David Gareji Monastery Complex with Azerbaijan.
The Church’s position comes as the prosecution is for months pressing the controversial criminal case against the former border delimitation experts for concealing the original “1938 map, with scale 1:200 000” during delimitation talks with Azerbaijan.
In its statement, the Synod also underscored that Chichkhituri and Udabno Monasteries, two of the three disputed sites of the David Gareji Complex, are part of Georgia’s religious, cultural, and historical heritage, and called on Georgian authorities to negotiate with Baku to allow pre-2007 and pre-2019 status quo for Chichkhituri and Udabno monasteries, respectively, when the Georgian parish freely entered the sites. It also recalled that since 1996 there have not been any legal agreements with Azerbaijan on the section in question which would alter the “status quo.”
The defense side of one of the former experts said using the 1937-1938 map in talks with Baku would mean Bertubani, the third contested Gareji complex monastery located deeper into Azerbaijani controlled territory, to remain on the Azerbaijani side.
The border dispute with Azerbaijan came into the spotlight again as weeks before October parliamentary elections Georgian authorities launched a criminal investigation and detained two former state demarcation commission experts, MFA’s Iveri Melashvili and Interior Ministry’s Natalia Ilychova. The two were released on bail as they are still facing land selling charges.
Much of the Georgian opposition and the civil society outfits regard the case as politically motivated, repeatedly underscoring that prosecution’s charges do not refer to David Gareji Monastery section, while some of the clergymen, as well as the ruling Georgian Dream party members, were steering public mood against the two former civil servants, speaking of the revered medieval monastery complex in the context of the criminal investigation.
- Georgia Suspects State Experts of Ceding Lands to Azerbaijan
- Backgrounder: the “Cartographers’ Case”
- Georgian Orthodox Church Reacts to Cartographers’ Release
- Prosecution Says Detained Cartographers Followed Superiors’ Instructions
This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)