Georgian journalists left for Samtskhe-Javakheti region
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The Messenger, Georgia
July 12 2006

As reported in Svobodnaya Gruzia, a group of Georgian journalists >From leading national and regional newspapers left for the Samtskhe-Javakheti region (Eastern Georgia) July 10. During the five-day visit, journalists will become familiar with the political and social problems of the local population. They will hold meetings with representatives of local self-governance bodies, public and non-governmental organizations and colleagues from the local media in Akhaltsikhe, Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda. This visit is part of the programme "Overcoming the information vacuum in Samtskhe-Javakheti," which is being implemented under the aegis of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) with the financial support of the OSCE. According to the coordinator of the project, Shorena Ratiani, taking part in the project will help journalists get information regarding the real situation in the region, and lead to objective coverage of the issues. "The Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda districts of Samtskhe-Javakheti are over 90 percent populated by Armenians who do not know the Georgian language. In terms of access to information they are in isolation compared to other regions because they cannot read the Georgian press. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the Georgian media does not have representatives in the region, and they know almost nothing about the problems of the local population," stated Ratiani. Ratiani also said that this project is mainly directed to helping journalists find out the cause of the processes which have been taking place in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. "All this will help destroy the stereotypes which exist concerning Armenian areas, and the integration of the region into the country," Ratiani noted. Newspapers 24 Saati, Rezonansi, Akhali Versia, Akhali 7 Dghe, Khvalindeli Dghe, Batumelebi, Akhali Gazeti, Samkhretis Karipche and Panorama took part in this project. The paper notes that the first visit took place in 2005 within the framework of the same project. During that journey to Samtskhe-Javakheti journalists met with representatives of local government structures and the NGO sector, a first step toward overcoming the information vacuum in the region. After the visit, over 30 articles were published regarding the life and problems of this region.