16:04 02/15/2006

"Expulsion of the Armenian population from Javakh will be a severe blow to Armenia's strategic stance," Haykazun Alvrtsyan, PhD in Philosophy, is quoted as saying at conference "Javakh in the face of 21st century challenges" on February 14. According to him, "Armenia is surrounded by Muslim countries and areas." "Javakh is the only corridor that connects Armenia with the external world, and populating it by Muslims, in particular, by Meskhetian Turks, is fraught with great danger." The Georgian parliament intends to discuss this problem soon, and the EU is ready to allocate 2 billion euro for resettlement of the Georgian Meskhetian Turks. Only in Azerbaijan, 45,000 Meskhetian Turks live, and all of them can be resettled to Javakh.

The Georgian officials declare that Armenians are alien people. According to Georgians, presence of Armenians in the region poses great danger, because if they resort to a riot against discrimination, it can become premises for collapse of the Georgian state. Not to raise tension in the region further, Georgia has come to implementing its action plan: an institute on Javakheti problems has been established that drafts state policy in education, healthcare, social and other fields, churches are being opened, although the "monks" sometimes destroy Armenian monuments with hammers," assured Alvrtsyan. According to him, "by losing Javakh Armenia will lose an opportunity to influence the situation in the region." "The area should be used not for deteriorating Georgia, but to sustain balance," he says.

Meanwhile, Alvrtsyan stressed necessity of opening a branch of an Armenian state high school in Samtskhe-Javakheti, refurnishing of all Armenian schools, establishment of a foundation for assisting teachers, healthcare workers etc. "All these measures can be implemented in accordance with the international law, as well as the Georgian constitution," he concluded. In his turn, Head of the Akhalkalaki-based A-Info news agency Khachatur Stepanyan announced that "Javakh is native land of the Armenians." Commenting on the claim of local Armenians for autonomy of the region, Stepanyan declared that "Armenians want to live peacefully and freely on the land of their ancestors that was occupied by the authorities of the first Georgian Republic."

"The term 'autonomy' is associated by Georgians with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In our view, autonomy in no way restricts Georgian territorial integrity," noted Stepanyan, adding that "the shortest way to solve all the problems is to establish the Georgian Federation, in which Samtskhe-Javakheti will receive status of its member." According to Stepanyan, power gives rise to law, but it is not the time yet to use force. "It is necessary to appeal with a claim for autonomy, first of all, to the country's authorities. If the claim is rejected, it will be necessary to turn to international institutions. Autonomy is not an end in itself, it is a way of self-preservation of Javakh Armenians, and if it is not enough, they will claim for independence," noted Stepanyan. "The main reason for the claim for autonomy is the demographic policy pursued by the Georgian authorities. It is aimed to the ends of Georgians and against Armenians.

Today Georgian settlers are exempted from taxes, they are sponsored from the state funds. Javakh residents are forced to study the state language (Georgian). Giving the official status to the Armenian language will become a guarantee of security and preserving the Armenian culture and will reduce hostility towards governmental institutions. The autonomy will also foster social and economic development of the region," he said