Regnum, Russia
June 15 2006

"Javakhk should become a link rather than a gap between Georgia and Armenia," the chairman of the Javakhk association Shirak Torossyan said at a news conference in Yerevan on June 14. He says that all the region's problems will be resolved if "the status of local self-government is raised." "We must not go to extremes and claim independence, we must claim powers that will allow us to independently solve our problems," says Torossyan.

Special attention must be given to solving financial-economic problems, preserving the region's historical-cultural legacy, attaining the recognition of the Armenian language. Financial and economic problems can be solved if the region forms its own budget non-dependent on governmental transfers. "When a regional budget depends on governmental transfers, this means that the government follows its own purposes. A region cannot solve its problems if it is in financial dependence from the central government," says Torossyan. As regards the status of the Armenian language, Torossyan says that his association is supporting the Javakheti Armenians in their struggle for having Armenian recognized as the second state language in the region. "Of course, the Georgian authorities are trying to oppose this, but they can't reasonably explain why they don't want to recognize Armenian as the second state language," says Torossyan. He says that there are almost 100 Armenian schools in Javakhk. "We oppose the demand of the Georgian authorities that all subjects, except Armenian language and Armenian history, should be taught in Georgian. We have taught our children in Armenian for centuries, and this tradition must be continued," says Torossyan. Of course, he who does not want to sell potato in Javakhk should learn Georgian to be able to integrate into Georgian society and to work in Georgian governmental structures. "However, when they put a ban on the Armenian language people's natural reaction is to oppose the introduction of the Georgian language," says Torossyan.

The association is also concerned for the fate of the historical-cultural legacy of Javakhk. "The Georgian side has recently begun to very often doubt if this is Armenian or Georgian legacy. They have not so far officially acknowledged the Armenian Apostolic Church." "So, we have decided to make a kind of inventory of the monuments to decide what belongs to whom," says Torossyan. He says that his association is doing its best to prevent tensions and to find fair solution - "so that we honestly say: this is Georgian and this is Armenian." "Javakhk is now on the crossroads of the geo-political interests of various states, and this is the key source of problems for the local Armenians," says Torossyan.