Extremists staged another provocation at Georgian-Azerbaijani border
Georgian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Zurab Pataradze had to explain and make excuses over another incident that happened at the internationally recognized border between Georgia and Azerbaijan, where ancient monastery complex David Gareja (Keshikchidag) is located. A group of residents of Georgian border villages attempted to cross the border to the monastery of Udabno, located at Azerbaijani territory, despite warnings from border officials of Azerbaijan.
The fact that provocateurs tried to stage a scandal, despite the risk of further complication of intergovernmental relations, is proved by the fact that incident was filmed on camera and then spread to the entire Caucasus region as evidence of supposedly irreconcilable problems in relations between the two neighboring partner countries. But this video shows one more thing: in spite of physical violence against border guards, they didn't use any weapons or non-lethal special equipment that they had.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry demanded from Ambassador Pataradze to explain why such incidents occured, as well as report what measures Georgian authorities have taken against participants in the incident. In diplomatic language, this basically means that Baku is closely following Tbilisi's specific reaction and will take further steps after evaluating reaction of Georgian authorities. For the time being, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan has only spoke to Ambassador, without resorting to more broad diplomatic measures.
It seems that Georgian authorities have realized that this time, since it came to physical confrontation, they are obliged to take specific measures to at least prevent this from happening again in the future. Therefore, following negotiations, border agencies of the two countries decided to temporarily (for a week) close Georgian-Azerbaijani border in this sector. That's why no one from the territory of Georgia will be able to go to the monastery of Udabno for several days, and Georgian border guards guarantors of this agreement, despite dissatisfaction of the nationalists.
In a sense, intervention of Georgian authorities also explains statement of the Association of Guides of Georgia: they also pledged not to carry out tours in the direction of that part of the monastery complex, which is located at Azerbaijani territory, for the duration of this ban.
As for the rumors about removal of icons from Udabno, which was used by extremist elements as an excuse to physically oppose the border guards, Georgian Interior Ministry confirmed that they were handed over to Georgian authorities to ensure safety and even partially returned them to the site after talks.
The best results of this incident was how Georgian society viewed such provocation in social networks. In the local Facebook segment, absolute majority (approximately 80-90%) of users unequivocally condemned radicals for provoking situation around the monastery complex and complained that the status quo that has persisted around David Gareja for decades has been disrupted by these people.
Almost everyone agrees that preservation of relations with such an important partner as Azerbaijan requires sensitivity and caution - both for the sake of people and for preservation of cultural heritage of universal significance.