GEORGIA IS ON THE VERGE OF SPLIT
by Irakly Gelashvili

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Agency WPS
DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia)
March 29, 2006 Wednesday

Tbilisi Plays The Dzhavakhetia Card; The Problem Of Dzhavakhetia Poses
A Threat To Georgia'S Security; Dzhavakhetia is another potential
hot spot on the Georgian map.

Residents of the region protest against the withdrawal of the Russian
military base.

The problem of Dzhavakhetia, which is inhabited by Armenian, poses
a serious geopolitical threat to Georgia. Incidents happen in this
region from time to time. A conflict between Georgians and Armenians
recently happened in Tsalka. One Armenian was killed.

Those who understand the mechanism and nature of ethnic conflicts in
the South Caucasus know that the matter concerns a qualitative change
of relations between residents of Dzhavakhetia and Tbilisi. Social
organizations support the federative structure of Georgia.

Dzhavakhetia is a region in the south of Georgia, which borders Turkey
and Armenia. Expert Alexei Vashenko said that the region plays a
very important role in Georgia's geopolitical destiny. He noted:
"Dzhavakhetia could become a hot spot in the late 1980s. Armenia
established the Karabakh committee, which sought to restore Great
Armenia. The committee made decisions concerning the armed struggle.

Ass a result of voting the committee decided to start in Karabakh;
not Dzhavakhetia."

Georgia faced a lot of ethnic problems after 1991. Abkhazia and the
South Ossetia became independent. Azerbaijanians defended their rights
in the east of the republic.

Saakashvili understands the challenges of the time. What does he do?

Firstly, he appoints Georgian officials in this region and tried to
merge Dzhavakhetia with neighboring regions inhabited by Georgians. A
branch of the Georgian University opened in Akhalkalaki in order
to integrate Armenian young people into Georgian society. All this
irritates Armenians. A serious conflict happened in the region last
year. Armenian customs officers were replaced with Georgian on the
border between Georgia and Armenia. At present, Armenia social forces
organize actions of protest against the withdrawal of the Russian
military base from this region. They note that the base created almost
2,000 jobs. Georgia tries to convince residents of Dzhavakhetia that
unemployment does not threaten them