Armenian National Committee Senior US Officials Discuss Situation in Georgia

ANCA UNDERSCORES IMPORTANCE OF JAVAKHK ARMENIANS’ OUTREACH TO NEWLY ELECTED GEORGIAN PRESIDENT

WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) held a series of meetings with White House and State Department officials–as well as the Georgian Ambassador to the United States–HE Levan Mikeladze–over the past two weeks to inquire about the current situation in Georgia–to share the Armenian American community’s concerns about the Armenian-populated Javakhk region in Southern Georgia–and to discuss the needs of the Armenian community in Tbilisi and elsewhere in the republic.

"The urgent appeal by the grass-roots organizations of Javakhk–which has long suffered under the policies of previous Georgian administrations–represents a major move by the Javakhk civil society to advance the process of change within Georgia and place it on a fast track," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "For the long-term stability of the Caucasus–it is imperative that long-neglected regions–such as Javakhk–are early beneficiaries of this change. We sincerely hope that President Saakashvili and his team will respond promptly and pro-actively to this appeal by seizing this historic opportunity and forging a model partnership with this resourceful and uniquely strategic region."

In reviewing the specifics of the economy–the ANCA team pointed out the present poor state of the region’s basic infrastructure–the lack of jobs–the region’s inability to communicate with the outside world–and the immediate need for new investment. Javakhk has been deprived of any meaningful level of US or other international aid over the past decade. To launch an early economic take-off–ANCA proposed a multi-year and targeted US economic assistance program for Javakhk within the Georgia aid package. Such a package would have to be based on the region’s development priorities and would actively engage the grass-roots leadership of the region.

The recent changes in Georgia were also examined in the larger context of US-Russian relations–the conflicts in the region–the policies of Turkey vis–vis Armenia and Georgia–and the changing geopolitics of energy.

These meetings–which were all held in a positive and constructive atmosphere–coincide with the January 16 letter of the Council of Armenian Non-Governmental Organizations of the Javakhk Region to the newly-elected Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. This letter states that Javakhk–which prides itself as being part of the historic Armenian homeland–sees the future of the region in the development of a genuine democracy within the context of a pluralist Georgia. The letter also outlines the expectations of the region’s leadership organizations–emphasizing Javakhk’s Armenian identity within the diversity of Georgia–its needs for autonomous self-government–and its desire to take part in the future nationwide debate that would reshape Georgia as a fair-minded modern democracy able to engage the full potential of its multi-ethnic society.

A similar letter was sent on December 30–2003 to then Acting President of Georgia Nino Burjanadze. The points raised in these letters were also shared directly with Ambassador Mikeladze–a senior diplomat with extensive experience in regional affairs–and keen insights into the importance of Georgia’s relations with Armenia.

The letter to Burjanadze was signed by A-INFO Union–Akhalkalak; Akunk Union–Akhalkalak; Areg Art Charity Union–Akhalkalak; Armenian Relief Society–Javakhk Chapter; Armenian Sports General Union–Javakhk Chapter; Center for Democracy Development and Reforms–Akhalkalak; Charles Aznavour Charity Union–Akhaltsikha; Lernashkhar Union–Ninotsminda; Oda Union–Ninotsminda; War Veterans Union–Akhalkalak; Writers Union of Javakhk–and; Youth Sports and Culture Union of Javakhk. These organizations now constitute the Council of Armenian Non-Governmental Organizations of Javakhk.

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