Javakhk Armenians Concerned Over Russian Troop Withdrawal

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The Armenia’s of Javakhk are facing a massive socio-economic crisis and are concerned with the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia–said Stepan Markarian–the vice-president of the Strong Homeland organization told a group of students Tuesday in Armenia.

The Georgian-Armenian leader said that while discussions on the withdrawal of the military units from Akhalkalak have not yet taken place–the Armenian population there fears that by the closure of the base–a significant portion will be affected–since they are employed at the base.

Markarian explained that while the three Armenian-populated cities of Akhalkalak–Akhaltskha and Bogdanova are under the governing jurisdiction of the larger Samtskhe-Javakhetia province–the local government is not doing its utmost to address socio-economic conditions in the area.

Markarian–in discussing the severe socio-economic situation–said that high unemployment has resulted in lack of savings among the population–especially in the rural areas of Javakhk. He explained that most people are seeking employment in Russia–and the new decision to require visas for travel within the Commonwealth of Independent States–will adversely affect the Armenian population of Javakhk.

Another issue plaguing the Armenian community in Javakhk is a decision by the European Union to populate the area with displaced Meskhet Turks. The Georgian government–however–is not ready to make that commitment. The government could underscore the Armenian factor in its negotiations with the EU–for fears that populating the area with Meskhetis could lead to ethnic conflict.

Markarian said that Armenian make up 90 percent of the Akhalkalak and Bogdanova population–while in Akhaltskha they make up 40 to 45 percent of the population. He explained that 60 percent of the entire population of the Javakhk province is Armenian.

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