Noyan Tapan news agency
14 Mar 06

Yerevan, 14 March: The Javakhk council [political group demanding autonomy for ethnic Armenians in the southern Georgian region of Javakheti, referred to by the group as Javakhk], which comprises 15 public organizations, has appealed to the Armenian government to pay proper attention to the problems of Armenians in Javakhk and recognize the political component of this problem. This was set out in a statement issued by the council on 14 March.

"Encouraged by the total indifference of the authorities of the Republic of Armenia, Georgian circles have become even more unrestrained," the authors of the statement say. Recent anti-Armenian steps in Georgia have included the dismissal of judges of Armenian origin on the pretext of them having no knowledge of the Georgian language, the opening of an eparchy of the Georgian church on the territory of Armenia [as received] and the killing of an Armenian youth in Tsalka.

"Without ruling out the possibility of a third party, including Azerbaijan and Turkey, having been involved in provoking and instigating these Anti-Armenian steps, the Javakhk council considers the authorities of Georgia and the Georgian Orthodox Church to be the main culprits. A share of the responsibility is borne by the authorities of the Republic of Armenia, who have done nothing to help resolve the problem of Javakhk," the statement says.

"The core of the Javakhk problem is political. As long as Javakhk's political status is not clarified and Javakhk does not have guarantees that Armenians will not be victimized, these issues will be impossible to resolve," council representative Razdan Madoyan said.

According to him, an overwhelming majority of Armenians in Armenia are concerned about the problem of Javakhk because they understand that it cannot be viewed in isolation. "On the one hand, it is the question of Hay Dat [Armenian cause] and, on the other, it is the question of Armenia's physical survival because Javakhk is currently the only possible link to Europe. We understand that if Armenians leave the area, they will be replaced by Turks, which means that Armenia will be complete blockaded," he said.

Madoyan sees two possible scenarios: this will develop into either another Naxcivan or another Karabakh. In his words, if Armenia wants to continue its existence in the region as an independent state, it should manage to preserve everything Armenian that remains there. According to council representatives, Armenia should, if necessary, send troops into Javakhk. Asked if Armenia was capable of fighting on two fronts, council representative Gagik Ginosyan replied that this would be a fourth front for Georgia. He said that one should not be afraid of war if there was a threat of the motherland and national dignity being lost and that Javakhk's case was about the physical survival of the republic of Armenia.