On January 28, following the release of Iveri Melashvili, various ultra national actors made statements on the social network and TV channels regarding Iveri Melashvili, detained for Cartographers' Case, ceding 6 hectares of Georgian land to Turkey. This information is primarily used as a proof of Melashvili’s “treason”.
Reports on Georgia ceding 6 hectares of land to Turkey is disinformation. In reality river Jakistskali bordering Turkey, periodically changed its riverbed, and in 2016, it was restored according to the 1973 border re-demarcation materials.
Various ultra national groups has disseminated disinformation on this topic aiming to stir Turkophobic sentiments since 2016, and this time same groups use it in the discrediting campaign against Iveri Melashvili.
- In 2016, Jakistskali’s riverbed was restored to its original state and no land was ceded.
State border between Georgia and Turkey was settled in 1973, and in 1992, following the collapse of Soviet Union, both sides recognized the 1973 border agreement.
One of the border rivers Jakistskali changed its riverbed due to natural conditions and as a result, Turkish territory ended up on a Georgian side. In 2016, restoration work was carried out on river Jakistskali and another border river Karzametistskali for boundary line to be aligned with 1973 agreement, therefore, parties have neither ceded nor received new territory.
In 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a special statement regarding these events, which, among other information, highlighted the fact that any negotiations and a new agreement on the border between Georgia and Turkey and its change were ruled out, as the state border was final during even in the Soviet era.
- The aim of disseminating disinformation today and yesterday: from pre-election Turkophobia to Iveri Melashvili
Pro-government, ultra-national and pro-Russian groups launched a discrediting campaign against Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilichova released on January 28 and among other accusations, they spoke about the “alleged ceding” of 6 hectares of Georgian land, which they considered as his personal responsibility and treason.
In reality, no land from Georgian territory was ceded to Turkey, as for the Iveri Melashvili’s involvement in the processes of restoring riverbeds in accordance with border agreement, his attorney Giorgi Mshvenieradze explained that at that time Melashvili worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was member of Border Delimitation and Demarcation commission. The decision to restore the original riverbeds was agreed with other high-ranking officials of the Ministry, and other agencies, such as Border Police, Ministry of Regional Development etc, were involved in this process.
Prior to discrediting campaign against Iveri Melashvili, the identical information has been used for years to stir Turkophobic sentiments. For example, in 2019, member of “the Alliance of Patriots” Davit Tarkhan Mouravi draw parallels with “gifting” land to Turkey when speaking about Davit-Gareji:
Davit Tarkhan Mouravi, Alliance of Patriots, June 15, 2019: This government gifted 6 hectares of land to Turkey and says they didn’t do that.
In 2018, the identical disinformation about ceding of Georgian land was voiced in the statement by Gela Khutsishvili, a presidential candidate of "Political Movement of Armed Veterans and Patriots of Georgia". In 2017, disinformation wave was connected to anti-immigrant demonstration organized by "Georgian March", celebration of “Didgoroba” and alleviated Turkophobic sentiments.
Turkish news agency Daily Sabah first disseminated unverified reports on Georgia ceding land to Turkey in 2016. Disinformation also spread online in Georgia based on this media outlet.
Prepared by Mariam Dangadze
The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.