A Georgian-Armenian Border Dispute?

Armenia-Georgia border

Armenia-Georgia border

The complicated situation plaguing the Georgian regions bordering Armenia, known as the Armenian-populated Samtskhe-Javakhk region, is being compounded as Georgian authorities are prohibiting farmers there to work, essentially claiming that the land on which they live is Georgian territory.

The focal point of this recent flare up is the border city of Bavra, whose residents were issued deeds by the Armenian State Committee on Real Estate from 1992 to 2004. But, because the Soviet demarcation of borders left a legal uncertainty, Georgia has intermittently annexed portions of that land and claimed it as its own by planting trees and vegetation and expanding its “forests.” This move is beeing seen as effectively seizing Armenian territory.

This has created confusion in the area, with Armenian border guards not allowing Armenian residents of Bavra to cross the border, in an effort to not enflame matters, while on the other hand, Georgian border guards are being granted permission to arrest the people who have been living and working there for decades.

Bavra community head Koriun Sumbulyan said that Georgian authorities have prevented the farmers to enter a 300-hectar lot on the “legally uncertain” area. This move has affected the economic well-being of the residents, who have appealed to the Armenian Foreign Ministry for assistance but have not received clear-cut answers.

It is estimated that if the current status quo is not challenged and Georgian authorities are allowed to continue this “restructuring of the border,” Georgia could advance within the current Armenian border to the tune of 400 meters, where the boundaries of the Bavra village end.

This revelation further enflames an already volatile situation for the majority-Armenian-populated region of Javakhk as a direct result of Tbilisi’s treatment of ethnic groups in Georgia. Javakhk Armenian community organizations have appealed to the central authorities and to the international community, thus far, to no avail.

The Armenian government has reassured that the proper procedures were in place to address the issue, yet Armenia, since its independence has not had a clear strategy or policy toward Javakhk.

Aside from the fallout from last summer’s war, which continues to have adverse effects on Armenia, Azeri and Turikic nations are increasing the population in the areas immediately bordering Armenia. In fact, on Wednesday, the Meskheti Community of Azerbaijan announced that it would be disbanding at the beginning of next year, because it has fulfilled its mission of populating the “displaced” Meskheti Turks in Georgia, “per Georgian law.”

The Saakashvili administration has not learned its lesson from last year’s war and continues to embroil its population in conflicts fraught with intimidation and violation of basic human rights. Unfortunately, this behavior is only encouraged—and Armenian lives further endangered—partially by the flawed policies of the US, which has allowed Georgian authorities to take liberties that are outside of democratic norms.

At the same time, the Armenian authorities’ unwillingness to engage in matters related to the threat facing the population of Javakhk, as well as Armenia’s border, exacerbates the situation further. It’s high time for a clear and concise policy toward Georgia, and more important a strategy on Javakhk.


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  1. armo dude said:

    Looks like Saakashvili has not learned his lesson and is looking for more bruising. If only he’d learn that the US will not stick out its neck for li’l old Georgia, every time his napoleon complex rages on.
    It aalso demonstrates the lack of balls on part of the Armenian government to protect its citizens, as this will in no way fatten their bank accounts.

  2. Armanen said:

    Well I would love to see georgia break into tiny little statelets tomorrow but it will not happen that soon. However, with their insistence on georgianization they will ensure the dismemberment of georgia rather quickly.

  3. donald said:

    when are the georgin’s are going to understand that their relations with armenians are the base of their excitance

  4. Elar said:

    This is only an encroachment of a quarter of a mile (.25 miles) in a very small area. Though this is clearly unacceptable, we need to know when to fight a battle and when not to. Georgia is the only border we have open to Europe, the Black Sea, and Russia, and at this time it is not wise to raise tensions with Georgia. Of course, if Georgia continues or broadens these incursions, further steps may be required.

  5. Krikor said:

    It is very sad that the Armenian government is neglecting this very strategic area.It is time to wake up and protect every little inch of Armenia,from any intrusions. Either they are done by sneaky way(Georgia) or acts of war (Azerbaijan) they are aggressions.
    AS Teddy Roosevelt once said “Speak softly ,but carry a Big stick”

  6. Armenak said:

    Armenian government needs to learn to negotiate, and if necessary simply buy the lands for the farmers, and let the territories belong to Georgia. Engaging into a full blown war with Georgia just for 400m, will cost Armenia lives, and much more than just buy ing the lands for the farmers. After all, thats what turkey and azeris are waiting as well. These are difficult times and Armenia needs to act wisely.

  7. Garo said:

    Dear Brothers and sisters,
    When it comes to territorial matter, we as Armenians have a lot to get and ZERO to give. Not even 1cm of Armenian land should be given to anyone arround us, BUT the problem with Georgia is not a smiple one. Georgia is our only border with Europe and Russia. We cannot afford another war for 400metres. We have to be diplomatic and clever, and use all our resources before we raise arms. Georgia wouldnt be a problem for Armenia (if arms were raised), we have a stronger, better trained and more experienced army, however we cannot have two frontiers, one in Kharabach and one in the North.