More than a thousand Georgian citizens appealed to Ilham Aliyev: Open the borders!

Georgian-Azerbaijani border. Photo: Ana Flasker/shutterstock

The appeal urges the reopening of Georgia-Azerbaijan land border for families and travelers.

Over a thousand citizens of Georgia have submitted an appeal to the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, pleading the reconsideration of the ongoing closure of the land border between the two nations.

For the past three years, the once-fluid border separating Georgia and Azerbaijan has remained shut due to COVID-19 pandemic-related concerns. The petition emphasizes the historical connection and strategic partnership shared between these nations, compounded by the ties that bind their citizens.

Central to the appeal is the fact that intertwined familial ties span across these borders, encompassing Azerbaijanis residing in Georgia, Georgians residing in Azerbaijan, as well as Georgian Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijani-Georgian dual citizens.

“Requesting the opening of these land borders and the establishment of a more economical mode of passage, the plea emphasizes the unique circumstances faced by those dwelling in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Unlike citizens of other nations, the individuals within these borders remain interlinked through complex bonds,” the petition emphasizes.

The petition garners support from a broad spectrum of signatories, with over a thousand individuals stressing the urgent need for cross-border travel and passage. These concerned voices appeal to the relevant authorities to formulate solutions that allow for greater accessibility and ease of movement.

Initiated by Samira Bayramova, an advocate for human rights based in Georgia, the petition originated from the plight of those stranded at the Red Bridge (the land border crossing point between both countries) departure point, who are unable to afford air travel. Thousands face travel restrictions due to financial constraints or health considerations, highlighting the need for the reopening of land borders.

While Georgia reopened its land borders on June 1, 2021, the land crossings into Azerbaijan remain shuttered for more than three years. This asymmetry in border policies raises questions about the reasons behind such restrictions. While the World Health Organization has declared the pandemic’s conclusion and many nations have eased their travel bans, Azerbaijan’s land border policy remains cautious, citing ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 threat.

The complexities behind the prolonged border closure encompass a range of factors, as outlined by independent experts in the field. The interplay of geopolitical, strategic, and health-related considerations all contribute to the decision-making process that continues to impact the mobility of citizens and families across these nations.

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