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OCTOBER 13 - 16, 2017

National Interests & GeorgianArmenian Relations Cupola of Kumurdo



omething is surely going on in GeorgianArmenian relations. It’s been months since Official Tbilisi diplomatically refused to accept the candidate presented by Armenia for the post of Ambassador of Armenia to Georgia. This was preceded by a delicate refusal to open the transport corridor to Tskhinvali and that’s leaving aside the constant disagreement with Armenian officials arriving from Yerevan to talk about historic monuments. Now it seems that these events have affected the everyday relations between the two nations, since recently the Armenian diaspora kicked out Georgian restorers who came to their village (Kumurdo) to fix a church. The so-called “Armenian Bomb� that the political analysts have been referring to from the times of the Soviet Union nearly blew up last week in Kumurdo. All the fuss was about a 10th century Georgian church which is due for a complete rehabilitation to allow it to be used actively. The local Armenian “movement� made to hinder this process: for now, until the “favorable moment� arrives, they prefer it to stay as it is, rather than become an active Georgian church. They are especially against holding the (Greek-style) liturgies in the Georgian language. Obviously, the monument is Georgian, proven by the preserved inscriptions and frescoes on the walls. In order to delay the restoration works, locals arranged a burial in the churchyard and decided to put a holy stone cross on it. The National Agency of Cultural Monument Protection holds the position that the burial should be moved outside of the yard and the stone cross erected there. The Arme-

nian diaspora is against this and has threatened to start a “war.� Experts believe, that this is a very well-planned action and that if the government compromises this time, it may later evolve into pretension from the Armenian side to take ownership of said Georgian church. “Nobody can convince me that two or three cit-

izens thought of burying remains in the churchyard and putting a cross on it, which in future might perfectly serve as an argument for the Armenian church,� said political analyst Soso Tsintsadze. “Tomorrow or the day after, Armenian officials might well arrive and declare that Armenians have sacrificed their lives to the construction of the church and so on. This is a well-planned action for future and I don’t believe they are in any sense doing this for the remembrance of their ancestors. Such cases are the reason Georgia have not accepted the Armenian Ambassador’s candidacy. Now, by all means, we shouldn’t allow our government to compromise to comfort the locals and get votes in the upcoming elections�. We don’t know whether the issue of restoration of the Church in Kumurdo village is directly linked with the case of the ambassador, because diplomatic circles never make these nuances public. The candidate of Armenia Sergei Minasian comes from Javakheti and is Deputy Director and Head of the Political Studies Department at the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan; he is a political analyst and has been working on Georgian-Armenian relations for years. Armenian media reports, “The issue of Minasian’s appointment has been drifting ever since the delegation from the National Council arrived to Tbilisi headed by Baloian, who raised the issue at a meeting with Mikheil Janelidze, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. Official Tbilisi remained silent, thus implying to Yerevan

that they should have offered another candidate,� wrote the Armenian newspaper Zhamanak. Regardless of today’s diplomatic nuances and restoration issues, the history of these “modern� relations is quite old in reality. Political analyst Mamuka Areshidze recalls feeling aggression from locals as early as in 1986, when he visited Kumurdo village together with an archeological expedition. “We won’t let you restore it, it is our temple.� “I remember that one of the main goals of our visit was not only examining the church, but also my journalistic interest following the fact that the students from the faculty of restoration where beaten by locals. Armenian locals are convinced that this is an Armenian historical and cultural monument and that their ancestors are buried there under the floor of the church; they also claim that the inscriptions are made in the Armenian language when in reality they are undoubtedly Georgian. But they do not wish to consider these arguments,� he says. Despite the historical ignorance of locals, it is still very doubtful that there were no special provocateurs behind the recent fuss around the church: more likely they had specific future plans and are waiting for a favorable moment to seize the monument. Everything will now depend on the political and diplomatic skills of the government. If others know how to choose the “right� moment, shouldn’t we also learn it in order to fulfill our national interests?

The Mediterranean World at the Mercy of Geography Continued from page 6

Caesar, August, Diocletian and other Roman leaders were also not particularly keen on capturing entire Germany as the Rhine and Danube rivers were seen as good defensive barriers to rely on. The same could be said about the Middle East, where the Romans (barring some instances) did not think to permanently occupy the lands beyond the Euphrates River.

FIRST BRAND HOTEL IN KUTAISI UNDER BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL Within the framework of the Georgian Hotels’ Regional Network Development Project “12 hotels in 12 regionsâ€? by GHYHORSPHQWFRPSDQ\Âł6LPHWULD´WKHÂżUVWEUDQGKRWHOKDV been opened in Kutaisi under the Best Western International brand. The hotel accommodates 45 guest rooms, including 40 standard rooms and 5 suites. The hotel was designed taking into consideration special conditions and safety for guests with disabilities.

Address: 11 Grishashvili Str., 4600, Kutaisi, Georgia TEL 219 71 00

Three mobile conference halls are available with a total capacity of about 100 persons. (XURSHDQFXLVLQHFDQEHHQMR\HGLQWKHJURXQGĂ€RRUFDIp and a grill-bar menu in the roof top restaurant with panoramic views over the city. The International Hotels Management Company “T3 Hospitality Management,â€? providing the hotel management, has 20 years’ experience in hotel management in different countries globally.

CONNECTION TO THE MODERN ERA We see the Mediterranean world had been united before. For the Phoenicians, Greeks and particularly the Romans, what was going on in North Africa and the Middle East was of major importance as, economically and militarily, the lands were connected to one another. The Arab conquests limited this connection. In the 7th c. North Africa and the Middle East came under Islam while the rest of the Mediterranean remained Christian. Throughout the following centuries, the economic and military development of these regions varied, while there were cases (for instance, the Cru-

sades) when clashes occurred. Europe experienced industrialization in the 18th-19th cc., but the Middle East and North Africa lagged behind. European colonization, followed by two devastating world wars, again increased the connectedness of the Mediterranean world. Germans and Italians were in Africa while the British were defending themselves in Egypt. In short, it mattered to Europeans what happened in North Africa. But, again, the interconnectedness of the Mediterranean world diminished thereafter, until the Syrian and Libyan conflicts in the early 2010s again reignited the idea. Thus, although we live in a highly connected world with modern technologies at times trumping geography, geographic features still play a powerful role in shaping human behavior. What we now see in the Mediterranean world with the migrant crisis is what has been happening in the region for centuries with various intensity. Today, it has again become clear that Italy, Spain and Greece, although participating in the grand European project of the European Union, are nevertheless now very much linked to what happens in North Africa and the Middle East.

Issue #989  
Issue #989  

October 13 - 16, 2017