Armenians of Akhalkalak Demand Autonomy Says Sherinian

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"Our main goal is to achieve autonomy in the Akhalkalak region," one of the leaders of the Armenian People’s Movement "Javakhk" Ervand Sherinian said in an interview with a Georgia-based Caucasus Press news agency.

"If Georgian authorities refuse to grant us autonomy–we’ll conduct a meeting of villagers–after which proxies from each village will gather in Akhalkalak and adopt a resolution to apply to the Georgian authorities for the second time. If we are refused again we’ll seize the power," Sherinian said–noting–however–that this will be done in a civilized way–since Armenia’s do not want to point guns at their Georgian brothers. He stressed that "no unification with Armenia is planned."

"The public interest towards the Akhalkalak region was aroused after a recent incident in that region–during which Armenia’s of Akhalkalak blocked the road and didn’t allow Georgian military forces–heading for an Akhalkalak-based firing ground–to enter the region. According to Sherinian–Ajaria has autonomy within Georgia–while the Akhalkalak region populated mostly by Armenia’s (Armenian population constitutes 92 percent) has not been given such status.

"We demand autonomy as we have full right to this," Sherinian said. According to Sherinian–the Armenia’s of Akhalkalak simply want to maintain their native language and national traditions. He also noted that he doesn’t understand why the Georgian Justice Ministry blocks the teaching of Armenian history.

"I do not understand why Georgia doesn’t recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915–while world powers such as France do. I don’t understand many things. "Why Georgian authorities want to run a railway to Turkey via Javakhk (Akhalkalak) when they know our relations with the Turks," Sherinian said. "I know why. they (the Georgian authorities) want the Armenia’s of Akhalkalak to leave–but this will never happen–since Armenia’s have been living here for centuries," a leader of "Javakhk" said.

Sherinian said that the Armenia’s of the Javakhe region do not want the Russian troops to leave Akhalkalak–since "they are the only force that can defend us in case of Turkish aggression."

"We object to the Georgian troops being deployed here. In 1918 Turks attacked Javakhk–while the commander of the Georgian troops Arjevanidze fled to Borzhomi and 40,000 Armenia’s were killed by Turks," Sherinian said. According to him–Arjevanidze did not allow Armenia’s who survived at that time to enter Borzhomi–saying that they were suffering from a contagious disease.

"We don’t believe the Georgian troops," Sherinian stressed.

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