JAVAKHK (A-Info.)—Georgian authorities directly undermined a community gathering during which the coordinator of the Council of Armenian Organizations (NGOs) of Javakhk and director of the A-Info news agency Artak Gabrielyan was scheduled to brief the Armenian community about his meetings with European officials in Brussels earlier this month.
The organizers of the community forum had invited leaders and representatives of human rights, political, cultural and education organizations as well as the media from throughout Javakhk, including Akhalkalak, Nino-Dzminda, Akhalktskha and Dzalka.
However, according to organizers, hours before the meeting was scheduled to begin, members of organizations began calling to say that they had received calls from “above” dissuading them from attending the community forum. The organizers were also not allowed to use a municipal hall for the gathering.
During his meetings in Brusseles, Gabrielyan introduced the plight of the Armenian community Javakhk, highlighting that his visit to Brussels comes as a result of the refusal of Georgian authorities to meet with representatives of the Javakhk Armenian community.
According to Gabrielyan, the move to impede participation in the community forum demonstrates the importance of the gathering and signals a direct involvement by the Power Structures—Prosecutor’s Office, Internal Ministry and Armed Forces—which is a serious concern for the Armenian of Javakhk.
The community forum instead was held at the offices of the Council of Armenian Organizations (NGOs) with only 30 participants who were briefed about the meetings and a Memorandum to the European Parliament, which details the issues facing Javakhk and highlights demands that have been put forth by the Council of Armenian Organizations (NGOs) of Samtskhe-Javakhk.
The demands Samtskhe-Javakheti Armenians include:
1. Granting of autonomous territorial status (with its own directly elected assembly) to Samtskhe-Javakheti and the adjacent Armenian majority Tsalka district within a federal Georgia;
2. Allowing the use of the Armenian language in public administration in those municipalities―such as Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda―in which Armenians make up a majority; an unfulfilled accession commitment Georgia undertook when it joined the Council of Europe in 1999, namely the signing of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages;
3. Social and economic development projects for the region to bring it up to par with the rest of the country;
4. Improved Armenian representation in local and state institutions; and
5. An end to social engineering by the settlement of ethnic non-Armenians from other parts of the country in Samtskhe-Javakheti.
In addressing the authorities efforts to undermine the forum, Gabrielyan expressed disappointment that community members were deprived of the opportunity to hear, first hand, about the meeting in Brussels and will have to now get their information from second-hand, unreliable, sources.
Gabriyelian reiterated the position that Georgia must become a federated state, a concept, which he said was echoed by many of the European officials he met in Brussels. He stressed that he viewed Javakhk’s future as an autonomous entity within the proposed federated Georgia.
In Brussels Gabrieylan (right) met with Traian Ungureanu (left) member of the Euro-Parliament Committee of Foreign Relations with Kaspar Garabedian (center)