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Erisimedi Split in Two

Friday, 11 March 2022 15:32 hits 1347 times

You need a permit to enter this village, for which you must apply to the Georgian Border Police at least five working days in advance. Do not be confused by the content of the instruction posted on the official website of the police that the information is intended for tourists. Special permission to enter Erisimedi is not only requested from the residents there, it is mandatory for everyone else.

The application form for the permit, which you can also send electronically, should describe the purpose of the visit and the period of stay in the border area, as well as the planned itinerary.

According to the Law on State Border of Georgia, a border zone is a land strip not more than 5 kilometers wide from the state border line or coastline to the depth of the territory of Georgia. In exceptional cases, taking into account the terrain, the border zone may be defined as 30 kilometers from the state border line.

Erisimedi is on the upper border. The village was established in 1989 and most of the people affected by the disaster from mountainous Adjara, Khulo and Shuakhevi districts (eco-migrants) have settled here. The village is also home to several ethnic Kist families from the Pankisi Gorge. One family of Narindoshvilis, from a neighboring village, Jugaani, moved there before the Adjarans were resettled and the government of that time built houses for them. During this period, the Alazani River has already changed its course and the part of the arable land where Erisimedi was later cultivated, its surrounding area - forest and pastures, about 800 hectares, remain across the river, on the side of the Republic of Azerbaijan. But before and now, the Georgian-Azerbaijani border mainly runs through Alazani. The Sighnaghi district, which includes Erisimedia, could no longer use the area beyond Alazani until an iron bridge was built over the river. This bridge is still the only way to get there by land.

If you follow the Khirsa-Samtatskaro road from Tsnori, the road in the village of Khornabuji turns down (to the left). It is 22 kilometers to Erisimedi. There is a Georgian Border Police post on the Alazani River, a 5-minute drive from the village. Two guards armed with machine guns indicate a stop. After getting acquainted with the identity and saying that the permit has been issued to us and we will meet the persons indicated by the border police in Erisimedi, we will be allowed to continue the journey. As soon as we crossed the bridge, they gave us passes and told us that if we needed help, we could contact them at any time. We were warned that the drone could not be used, it is forbidden to move directly on the state borderline.

The houses in the village are built in six rows. The Google map shows that the Georgian-Azerbaijani border runs along the third street, on the upper road. The first two streets with houses, yards, plots and roads, a kindergarten, a village dispensary, part of the school yard and a sports field built a few years ago, are also on the Azerbaijani side.

Givi Narindoshvili's house is on the corner of First Street, but because this section of the Georgian-Azerbaijani border (Erisimedi strip) is inconsistent, the border wire is 50 meters from his house. Behind the fence there is an observation tower of the Azerbaijani side. When Georgian border guards patrol here, they rely on Erisimedi - everyone in the village remembers the story of a 17-year-old boy who was killed by Azerbaijani soldiers on April 13, 2010.

"He was a 12th-grade student. An Azeri soldier shot himself in the head when he was about to pull his cattle near the forest. Killed there, the bullet had hit him in the forehead.”

We, women, laid on the ground and dragged this child on the other side of the fence, otherwise, we probably would not have been able to drag the dead person. ”- Taliko Makharadze, a resident of Erisimedi, recalls other cases, which fortunately did not end in casualties:

" Badri, my son, was caught and taken away while he was driving the cattle. They had him for three nights in Belakan. Then they released him from Samtatskaro bridge (Georgian-Azerbaijani border in Dedoplistskaro district). If the cattle have moved to the other side, no matter how much we wish, you will not dare to go there. There is no fence so that the cattle do not enter the forest. As he moves, he is no longer ours. Even now, for more than a week, my two cows are lost. They took it probably. We can not move, no one can guarantee that someone will help you.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia responded to the murder of 17-year-old Ibragim Gaurgashvili by Azerbaijani border guards on the same day with a statement. That was the last time they mentioned him.

"Against the background of the traditional good-neighborly relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan, which are based on the full coincidence of the interests of the two countries in a number of strategic issues, the murder of an innocent citizen by individual law enforcement officials is particularly outrageous. We are deeply convinced that a citizen of a neighboring state who inadvertently enters the territory of a friendly state should not be the victim of a direct shot. The Georgian side demands a full and timely investigation of the incident. We are convinced that as a result of the efforts of the Azerbaijani side, the perpetrators will be punished with the full force of the law. On April 14, Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Jalaghania met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Georgia Namig Hasan Oglu Aliyev. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia expresses its condolences and condolences to the family of the deceased Ibragim Gaurgashvili, "he said.

Ibrahim's father died shortly after the murder, and the rest of the family fled Erisimedi.

Before building the border fence (presumably before 2003), Erisimedi residents moved to Belakan to buy or treat their produce. The nearest village is 3 kilometers to the Azerbaijani side, 10 kilometers to Belakna (district center). Erisimedi is 50 kilometers away from Tsnori. Now the road is paved, but there was a time when even an ambulance took more than an hour and a half to get from Tsnori to Erisimedi, and many times the sick were picked up dead.

In the village divided in the middle, on the streets that, according to the map, are in the territory of Azerbaijan, neither the house nor the land can be registered as property. Marine Narindoshvili and her neighbors were denied registration in the public register several times: “You are in the border area. I have lived here for so long and have nothing to own. We can not take a loan from a bank, nor can we charge it with a mortgage. We will not be able to resist anyone.

Ioseb Tsetskhladze is also an eco-migrant from Adjara. According to the map, the border divides his yard and house in the middle.

Iveri Melashvili, former head of the Border Relations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and former member of the State Border Delimitation and Demarcation Commission, recalls that the Georgian and Azerbaijani sides discussed the issue of Erisimed several times, but could not make a decision:

"Part of the village is cultivated on the territory of Azerbaijan. This issue was discussed at the level of delimitation commissions. It has been said that the actual situation is this, are we not enemies, tell each other to take your population and destroy these houses. We discussed what territory can be exchanged for it, and what our population has occupied. If they find a replacement area, it seems that the Azerbaijani side also had internal discussions. Postponed, quite stretched. This issue was not discussed at all until 2010, for some reason everyone ran away, I mean the Azerbaijani side. Since then there has been an active conversation about exchanging here, in the same place. Our approach was that we have such territories with Azerbaijan, somewhere our population has moved, somewhere the Azerbaijani side has moved. It is possible to count everything civilly, with such an approach, to negotiate in a civil way, and this is how it should be done as a rule. "

To negotiate a border on the Erisimedi section, so that the whole village remains on our side - in exchange for another location, negotiations between the parties began in 1998. For 24 years the agreement failed.

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