Georgian authorities do their best to clear Samtskhe-Javakheti region from Armenians

Georgian anti-Armenian policy is gaining momentum, and the recent elections showed it best.

The upcoming elections in Javakhk, if held, might bring this Armenian-populated region in Georgia to confrontation with the central government of Tbilisi. Today’s Akhalkalaki, alas, is no different from what was here 20 years ago: broken roads, poverty, unemployment, mass migration of the working population into Russia. In fact, all of the Georgian President’s statements on the “care taken of the problems of this region” have no value: there are neither normal roads, nor jobs. People here warm themselves with wood not because the region has no gas, but because the latter is too expensive. The situation in Akhalkalaki further deteriorated after withdrawal of the Russian military base, thanks to which Armenians could work in Javakhk instead of leaving it.

PanARMENIAN.Net - However, the base was gone, and problems appeared instead of it, unemployment being the most serious of them. Today only 800 people live in the region but they too are already packing up. The situation of the Armenians in Javakheti can be compared with the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh before 1988. The Georgian authorities are doing their best to clear the region from Armenians. There have remained almost no Armenians in the City of Akhaltsikhe, the center of the region. In Akhalkalaki and the neighboring villages, Armenian population forms a majority yet. According to local activists, the only requirement of the Armenian population is to be given autonomy within Georgia and permission to keep records in their native language, develop a culture and literature. But this is what Official Tbilisi cannot and does not want to provide. Instead, they force georgianization of remaining Armenian churches, mandatory introduction of the Georgian language in schools as the principal language. In short, Georgian anti-Armenian policy is gaining momentum, and the recent elections showed it best. But it is not only about the elections. Authorities have turned the Armenian community of Tbilisi into a kind of ephemeral society that can do nothing and does only what it considers good for the Armenians of Georgia. And there are only a few people who assess the situation adequately and realize where the policy of President Saakashvili leads.

Mikhail Saakashvili himself finally came to the conclusion that the best thing to do is to make friends with Turkey and Azerbaijan against Armenia. But, Armenian authorities have their share of guilt in the Georgian leadership’s current policy against the Armenian community of Georgia, too. For some reason we believe that it is erroneous to spoil relations with Georgia, because it is through Georgia that Armenia receives gas and the necessary goods from Russia. That is, we have put ourselves in the position of an applicant, in the position of the weak. No one in the world has yet reckoned and will ever reckon with the weak. If Saakashvili felt the tough position of Armenia in the issue of Javakhk, he would never dare to pursue an active policy of assimilation of Armenians. The region of Kvemo Kartli in Georgia is populated with Azeris, and they enjoy more rights than Armenians. However, it should be noted that any national minority is perceived as unfavorable in Georgia, and so in this respect there is no much difference between Armenians and Azeris in Georgia. The same is true about the Jews, the remaining Russians and other nationalities. Special treatment is given to Meskhetian Turks, whom Tbilisi is reluctant to accept, despite the commitments signed in the Council of Europe. It should be noted that authorities and opposition share the same view in this issue: Georgia must be populated with Georgians. Here a direct parallel with the pan-Turkists suggests itself: everyone living in Turkey, regardless of his nationality, is a Turk. In fact, Georgia has chosen the same track as Ataturk, who decided to specify the religion instead of the nationality in passports, which is actually done now in Turkish identity cards. Such a democrat as Saakashvili will not probably take this extreme measure, but an attempt to “easy deportation” is already made. Whether Georgia will succeed or fail is difficult to predict. The Javakheti Armenians, for example, are not going anywhere, and it becomes clear from a conversation with them that they are waiting for the Russian military to return. This is not yet announced directly, but the truth is that there are such sentiments. And they cannot but be in a country in which monuments are erected and plaques are put in memory of the butchers of the Armenian nation, bot “eternal friendship and love” is sworn in word, on the other hand.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan / PanARMENIAN News
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