Saakashvili Pledges Jobs for Akhalkalak Armenians after Russian Base Pullout

TBILISI (Armenpress)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili assured local residents of Akhalkalak–who are currently employed at the Russian military bases stationed there–that they will not be unemployed after Russian troops pull out from Georgia.

"After the pullout of the Russian military bases from Georgia–we will help all the employees–including local residents of Akhalkalak–get jobs in the Georgian armed forces. Not a single high-skilled person will remain unemployed," Saakashvili said while visiting the 11th Battalion of the Defense Ministry deployed in a town of Telavi in eastern Georgia on March 14.

He also reiterated that no troops of any foreign country will be deployed in Georgia after Russia closes down its bases. Around 4,000 local residents of Akhalkalak–which is predominantly populated by ethnic Armenia’s–rallied on March 13 to protest the withdrawal of the Russian military base stationed there. Rally organizers said they are seeking to protect the local Armenian population of Javakhk–and are guided by security concerns and joblessness–as many locals are employed by the base.

Armenian member of the Georgian parliamentarian Van Bayburdian said he believes the dissatisfaction of the Akhalkalak inhabitants is not of a political–but rather a social nature.

According to Baiburtian–"the well-being of about one thousand Akhalkalak residents depends upon the Russian military base activity–and they fear job loss."

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