Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister Khalf Khalafov has said both Baku and Tbilisi are trying to properly handle the demarcation of the border between the two neighboring nations, and urged both sides not to politicize the process.
“We continue working within the framework of delimitation of the Azerbaijani-Georgian border, as this is relevant for the two sides. Two-thirds of the border has already been agreed on, there are some disagreements on one-third of the border,” Khalafov told reporters on 9 December.
He also said that meetings with experts and a review of the documents, including the primary sources and archival files, are necessary to settle the discontent.
“Expert meetings will go on up until the next meeting of the commission in order to achieve progress,” Khalafov said. He also added that the upcoming expert meeting will occur in Tbilisi. It is set to be held before the end of this year as the meeting of the commission will be held in the first quarter of 2020, the deputy minister said.
Khalafov also said that official Baku expects to complete the process of demarcation of the state border between Azerbaijan and Russia within the next 2-3 years.
“The border demarcation with Russia successfully continues. In November there was a meeting in Moscow where new plans were identified. Much has been done over the past two to three years, we can say 30-40% of the work has already been completed", Khalafov told reporters on Monday.
According to him, within the framework of the works done so far the Azerbaijani and Russian sides already have a full understanding. “We hope that the process of demarcation of the border with the Russian Federation will be completed in 2-3 years,” the deputy minister added.
The delimitation of the Azerbaijani-Georgian state border has been going on since 1996. As part of the negotiation process, the parties agreed over 314 out of 480 km of the state border. The latest meeting of this commission was held in Baku late May of this year, after the ancient monastery complex David Gareji (Keshikchidag monastery complex) in the mountains on the undivided part of the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan caused a serious diplomatic dispute between the two countries.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili traveled to David Gareji on 20 April and raised the demarcation issue of the border in a meeting with Georgian border guards in the area. Later, Baku closed access to the complex for several days, a move that caused protest in Georgia.
Three months later, on 14 July, a group of Georgian citizens attacked Azerbaijani border guards on the territory of the David Gareji after the local media reported the Azerbaijani side removed all the religious icons from the complex. Border representatives from both Azerbaijan and Georgia soon held a meeting, during which they jointly investigated the incident, and discussed measures that need to be taken to stop such cases in future.
On 15 July, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry summoned the Georgian ambassador to Baku and demanded they conduct an appropriate investigation of the incident and inform the Azerbaijani side of the results. The foreign ministry regarded the incident as a provocation aimed at creating confrontation between the two states.
On 16 July, Khalafov said that any religious-cultural and other non-legal facts cannot form the basis for the delimitation of borders. “The territory covering the complex of Keshikchidag caves (David Gareji) always refers to Azerbaijan according to all existing legal documents,” Khalafov said.