Everything is fine in Javakhk

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Rafael TEIMURAZYAN | December 17, 2005 "168 hours"

As we have already informed, another event took place on December 11 in Javakhk. A big demonstration was organized by the Armenian population of Javakhk protesting against firing Armenian customs officers at the Armenia-Georgia border located in the village of Zhdanovakan and substituting them with Georgian officers.

The demonstrators had destroyed some of the barriers of the Georgian border and then moved toward the Armenian border. On December 12, the three commanders who have participated in the Artsakh war, including Arkadi Ter-Tadevosyan, Arkadi Karapetyan and Zhirayr Sefilyan, sent a letter to Georgian president Mikhael Sahakashvili on behalf of the volunteer soldiers that took part in the Artsakh war. The letter states: “By going against the Armenians living in Georgia, the Georgian government is creating problems and that may hurt Georgian-Armenian relations, which could be better. We urge Tbilisi to get serious. We would like to state that, based on what we have seen going on in the world, applying force can cause problems for everyone.” Is the situation in Javakhk really that tense? What really happened? According to Stepan Markaryan, adviser to the Prime Minister of Armenia, the situation is not tense at the present. “The demonstration happened and now it's over. However, the demonstrators declared that they will do the same thing again if the government doesn't solve their issue,” says Mr. Markaryan. He believes that the reason for changing the entire customs border staff is that there are signs of corruption within the country. “The thing that worries people is the fact that those individuals are from the outside. One of the youth organizations was the one that organized the demonstration and broke the barrier. There has not been any major destruction. Some barriers located on the border have been broken,” he said.

Fine, but what were the demonstrators after when moving towards the Armenian border? “They reason that the customs points create obstacles for Georgian-Armenian relations and problems for business and economic ties between both countries.” However, he believes that the protest should be made to the law and not to the customs border. At the present, Georgian and Armenian authorities have not reacted to the event. “If we went deeper into the demands, we can see that there shouldn't even be a customs point or it should be just formal. This has to do with principles. Can we have any customs services in Georgia?” asks Mr. Markaryan who believes that it is theoretically possible if we suppose that Armenia and Georgia can be included in one customs zone; however, he does not see that as practical. Markaryan thinks that the issue regarding the customs services was more of something that happened on the occasion and that we must go deep into the issue to find out the reasons. “The visa system in Russia also plays a role here. Many get Russian citizenship so that they can travel to Russia, but they continue living in Javakhk and upon their return as Russian citizens, they face some problems at the customs point,” he says. As he referred to the abovementioned announcement made by the Armenian commander, Mr. Markaryan is of the opinion that any announcement made or anything done in Armenia is looked at differently in Javakhk, which is negative in many cases. “Very often those processes have a negative influence. This is a fact. The Georgian government is waiting for something to happen after an announcement is made and as a result, we get an adequate reaction. The social movements predict some things and then start the processes,” concluded Mr. Markaryan.