Virk Leader Calls for Permanent Russian Military Presence in Javakhk

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Leaders of ethnic Armenian organizations in Georgia’s region of Javakhk have come out for the "permanent" presence of Russian military forces in the region.

David Rstakian–leader of the Virk party–reiterated in an interview with Georgian Prime News agency that the 62nd Russian military base was the only stability guarantee for the region populated mostly by Armenia’s.

Rstakian claimed that the majority of Georgian citizens believe–like the Armenia’s in Javakhk–that the military base must not be pulled out–despite a 1999 OSCE Istanbul summit resolutions–which requested that Russia withdraw its bases from Georgia–without setting a time frame for it.

"If a referendum is held on this issue now we think that the majority of Georgian citizens would vote for the maintenance of the base–though the country’s leaders think differently about it," he said.

Rstakian brushed aside some reports that local Armenia’s do not want the base pull out as hundreds of them work for it. "The question is a political one," he said–"in which the interests of the local population and Russia coincide." He also added that the party–which is still denied registration by the Georgian justice ministry–has already 15,000 members.

In his interview–Rstakian also said that Virk is ready to cooperate with forces that defend the principle of Georgia’s federative structure.

Javakhk should become a subject of such a federation–Rstakian said. He thinks that national agreement is possible in Georgia only if the country becomes a federative union.

Rstakian thinks that a "local referendum" is possible to hold in order to define what regions may be involved into Javakhk as a subject of federation.

In response to the question what are the forces for partner cooperation–David Rstakian said he is interested in getting acquainted with the programs and regulations of the political organization United Democrats–led by the former parliament chairman Zurab Zhvania–as well as the Citizens Union.

In May–Rstakian said that the Virk party would not participate in the June 2 local government board elections–saying that the constitutional provisions for those elections did not correspond with international norms. He did–however–state that his party would support individual candidates in the polls.

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