ARMENIANS OF SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI TO HOLD A REFERENDUM

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Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 10:59:24 -0500
ON JANUARY 11 THE NEWSPAPER 3AKHALI TAOBA,2 REFERRING TO THE INFORMATION FROM THE REGIONAL ADMINISTRATION OF SAMTSKHE- JAVAKHETI, REPORTED THAT AN ARMENIAN NATIONALIST ORGANIZATION 3JAVAKHKA2 INTENDED TO HOLD A REFERENDUM AMONG THE LOCAL ARMENIAN POPULATION. THE REFERENDUM WOULD BE ON ESTABLISHING A SEPARATE REGIONAL ADMINISTRATION IN THE TOWNS OF AKHALKALAKI AND NINOTSMINDA. HOWEVER, THE REQUEST PROVIDES FOR THE HEAD OF THE NEW ADMINISTRATION TO BE APPOINTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA. ACCORDING TO BLACK SEA PRESS OF JANUARY 8, RESIDENTS OF JAVAKHETI ADDRESSED A LETTER TO THE PARLIAMENT1S CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE SAYING THAT 3IF A FEDERATIVE STRUCTURE IS ESTABLISHED IN GEORGIA, JAVAKHETI MUST ACQUIRE THE STATUS OF A SEPARATE SUBJECT.2 ACCORDING TO 3RESONANSI2 OF JANUARY 9, RECENTLY SHEVARDNADZE PASSED A DECREE ON THE 3MEASURES FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF SOCIAL-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN THE REGION OF JAVAKHETI.2 3RESONANSI2 CITES 3EXPERTS2 WHO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE STEP FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A SEPARATE ADMINISTRATION IN THE REGION TO THE REQUEST FOR AUTONOMY. 3RESONANSI2 CLAIMS THE ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER 3VREMI2 OF DECEMBER 6 QUOTED A GEORGIAN MP OF ARMENIAN NATIONALITY, HENRIKH MURADIAN, WHO SAID 3THE POLITICAL ACTIVITY OF THE ARMENIANS OF JAVAKHETI CANNOT POSE ANY THREAT TO THE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF GEORGIA.2 3RESONANSI,2 HOWEVER, WAS ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT THE 3HISTORIC POPULARITY2 OF THE NATIONALISTIC ARMENIAN PARTY 3DASHNAKSUTUN2 IN JAVAKHETI. THE PROGRAM OF THE DASHNAKS, WRITES 3RESONANSI,2 PROVIDES FOR ARMENIAN SOVEREIGNTY IN AKHALKALAKI. MOREOVER, THE NEWSPAPER POINTS TO THE RUSSIAN TROOPS BASED IN AKHALKALAKI AS 3RELIABLE DEFENDERS2 OF THE POLITICAL INTERESTS OF ARMENIANS. ACCORDING TO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE 3GEORGIAN TIMES2 OF JANUARY 14, ONE OF THE REASONS FOR INSTIGATING A SEPARATIST MOVEMENT IN THE REGION COULD BE DESTABILIZATION ON THE WESTERN ROUTE OF THE OIL PIPELINE. It seems that Georgians, eager to avoid complicating relations with the Armenian government, blame the Dashnak ultra-nationalists for the agitation. The Dashnaks have been seriously repressesd by the Armenian authorities recently. It remains to be seen if this tactic of the Georgians can be succesfull. ASBAREZ ON LINE 02/25/97 GEORGIAN NATIONAL SECURITY CHIEF DISCUSSES JAVAKHK YEREVAN (Azg)-Georgian National Security Advisor Archil Gegeshidze declared that the instability in Javakhk (a region in Georgia, mainly inhabited by Armenians) was caused by certain opposition forces in Armenia. "The Republic of Armenia doesnt have any territorial claims to Georgia," Speaker of Armenias National Assembly Babken Ararktsian declared during his two-day trip to Georgia, last week. Parliament spokesperson Vahagn Mkrtchian said that problems may appear between the neighboring countries, but these can never affect the friendly relations between Armenia and Georgia. /end report/ This encouraging statement needs to be tempered with the knowledge that Armenia and Georgia fought a short but vicios war over approximately the same area in 1918 when Armenia and Georgia were both in their deathroes and despite the real threat of Georgian blockade of Armenia. NO DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN ARMENIA AND GEORGIA YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 24, ARMENPRESS. During his February 21 press conference, the newly appointed Foreign Ministry spokesman Arsen Gasparian emphasized [...] the Armenian delegation's visit to Georgia. ... During the Armenian delegation's visit to Georgia, issues connected with state border between Armenia and Georgia were discussed. Mr. Gasparian reminded that in 1996, decision was made in Armenia and Georgia to establish committees on drawing state border between the two states, and he noted that the committee signed its first statement on February 19, during the Armenian delegation's visit to Tbilisi. The statement was signed by Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Manaserian and Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Burdouli. Identification of legal basis and principles for drawing the state border will be completed by April 20. Mr. Gasparian, pointed out that there has been no disagreements between the sides during the discussions in Tbilisi. [end report] I bet we haven't heard last on the subject yet. Levan kverenckiladze.1@osu.edu

Subject: Yes, Storm Brewing in southern Georgia?
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 11:01:36 -0500
From: Your_user_name@osu.edu
Organization: OSU
Newsgroups: soc.culture.rep-of-georgia

SHEVARDNADZE SIGNS DECREE ON REPATRIATION OF MESKHETIAN TURKS ------------------------------------------------------------ ON DECEMBER 9 PRESIDENT SHEVARDNADZE SIGNED A DECREE ON A STATE PROGRAM FOR SOLUTION OF 3LEGAL AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS OF DEPORTED AND REPATRIATED MESKHETIANS.2 THE PROGRAM1S PURPOSE IS 3MANAGEMENT, COORDINATION AND CONTROL OF THE PROCESS OF REPATRIATION2 OF MESKHETIAN TURKS DEPORTED FROM THE SOUTHERN REGION OF SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI OF GEORGIA IN 1944. THE PROGRAM PROVIDES FOR: RESTORATION OF GEORGIAN CITIZENSHIP AND NATIONALITY OF REPATRIATES, ENSURING ECONOMIC PRIVILEGES AND SOCIAL PROTECTION, AS WELL AS FACILITATING THE ADAPTATION AND RE-INTEGRATION PROCESS. THE FIRST STAGE OF REPATRIATION COVERS THE PERIOD UNTIL 2000 AND ENVISAGES REPATRIATION OF ABOUT 5,000 MESKHETIANS. THE PROGRAM WILL BE FINANCED BY THE CENTRAL BUDGET, REGIONAL BUDGETS, STATE CREDITS, FUNDS ALLOCATED BY INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, FUNDS ALLOCATED ON THE BASIS OF AGREEMENTS BETWEEN GEORGIA AND INTERESTED PARTIES, PRIVATE RESOURCES OF MESKHETIANS AND CHARITY FUNDS. AN AD HOC STATE COMMISSION, CHAIRED BY MINISTER OF REFUGEES AND ACCOMMODATION VALERIAN VASHAKIDZE, WILL SUPERVISE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAM. THE PROGRAM ALSO NOTES A NEED TO 3PREPARE PUBLIC OPINION FOR THE REPATRIATION PROCESS.2 THE PUBLIC REACTION TO THE PRESIDENTIAL DECREE WAS QUITE MIXED. ON DECEMBER 25, THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION AND COMPATRIOTS LIVING ABROAD, CHAIRED BY GURAM SHARADZE FROM THE AJARAN REVIVAL UNION, HELD A PRESS CONFERENCE STRONGLY CRITICIZING SHEVARDNADZE1S DECISION. THE NEWSPAPER 3RESONANSI2 OF DECEMBER 26 QUOTED SHARADZE AS SAYING THAT THE DECISION 3BYPASSED2 THE GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT. HE SAID GEORGIA HAD NOT ACCEDED TO THE BISHKEK AGREEMENT SIGNED IN 1992 ON THE REPATRIATION OF PEOPLES DEPORTED FROM THEIR NATIVE COUNTRIES DURING THE STALIN-BERIA REGIME. THEREFORE, GEORGIA HAD NO OBLIGATIONS BEFORE THE 3SO-CALLED MESKHETIAN-TURKS.2 SHARADZE EXPRESSED HIS CONVICTION THAT 3THE PRESIDENT WAS MISLED,2 SINCE THE RETURN OF THE MESKHETIANS TO SAMTSKHE- JAVAKHETI WOULD CREATE ANOTHER 3HOT-BED2 IN GEORGIA. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE KAKHA JIKIA, FROM THE OPPOSITION NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY, SAID THAT 3WHILE GEORGIA HAS 300,000 IDP1S AND ITS TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY IS NOT RESTORED, PASSING A DECISION ON THE ISSUE IS HASTY.2 MOREOVER, THE PROCESS OF REPATRIATION OF MESKHETIANS WOULD VIOLATE THE IMMIGRATION QUOTA ESTABLISHED BY THE PARLIAMENT, WHICH WAS 100 ALIENS PER YEAR. DESPITE THE NEGATIVE ASSESSMENT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE, A NUMBER OF MP1S SUPPORTED SHEVARDNADZE1S DECISION. ACCORDING TO 3RESONANSI,2 DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE PARLIAMENT EDUARD SURMANIDZE, ALSO OF REVIVAL UNION, BELIEVES THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE MESKHETIANS VIEW GEORGIA AS THEIR NATIVE COUNTRY. 3THESE PEOPLE WERE DEPORTED ILLEGALLY AND WITHOUT ANY GROUNDS. THEIR DEMAND TO RETURN TO THEIR HISTORIC MOTHER COUNTRY IS FAIR,2 SAID SURMANIDZE. SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE CITIZENS1 UNION OF GEORGIA MIKHEIL MACHAVARIANI BELIEVES THAT 3GEORGIA DOES NOT HAVE A LEGAL RIGHT TO HINDER REPATRIATION.2 MACHAVARIANI ALSO RULES OUT THE POSSIBILITY OF A CONFLICT BETWEEN THE MESKHETIANS AND THE LOCAL, MOSTLY ETHNIC ARMENIAN POPULATION. HOWEVER, SOME EXPERTS, CITED BY THE SAME NEWSPAPER, BELIEVE THAT RESETTLEMENT OF THE MESKHETIAN TURKS IN THE PLACES OF THEIR FORMER RESIDENCE IN SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI WOULD DESTABILIZE THE REGION. 3RESONANSI2 SPECULATES THAT THE RESUMPTION OF THE MESKHETIAN ISSUE MAY WHIP UP SOME ANTI-TURKISH SENTIMENTS IN GEORGIA, WHICH HAVE NOT YET SUBSIDED FOLLOWING THE ISSUE OF OPENING A TURKISH UNIVERSITY. IN CONCLUSION, THE NEWSPAPER WRITES THAT GEORGIAN PUBLIC OPINION IS NOT READY FOR 3A COMPACT SETTLEMENT OF MESKHETIAN TURKS IN GEORGIA.2 TO FACT, THE MESKHETIANS REPATRIATED WILL BE FREE TO CHOOSE THEIR PLACE OF RESIDENCE IN ANY PART OF GEORGIA, NOT NECESSARILY RESTRICTING THEMSELVES TO SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI.