Saakashvili Bows to Resilience of Javakhk Promises Improvemen’s

BATUMI (Armenpress)–Georgian President Saakashvili acknowledged the severity of the social and economic condition in the country’s southern region of Javakhk–saying that there is no other way–but to spur its development.

Resulting from over a decade of neglect by the Georgia’s central government–Javakhk faces a crisis of mounting severity. Its majority Armenian population has recently demanded–both from Georgia and international organizations–the implementation of social and economic reforms to remedy not only unemployment and substantial poverty–but also education and health care problems.

Saakashvili briefed Armenian journalists–who are in Batumi with a delegation of Armenian businessmen–on plans to improve the region; plans include the construction of a road from Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi to Akhalkalak–Javakhk.

He said construction would be launched in spring 2006–and completed in 2 to 3 years–with a price tag of $20 million. "Funds will be provided by the US–but because we won’t receive the funds in the coming year–we will start the construction on our own," Saakashvili said–adding that the people of Javakhk have consistently remained loyal to the Georgia–even though cultures and history differ.

"People living in Javakhk are just wonderful and I bow before them for their endurance and talent," the Georgian leader said.

Saakashvili also spoke of opening a school in the city of Ninotsminda–which would be "properly furnished and have computers."

"They [people of Javakhk] must be integrated. I am very much concerned about the flow of people from Javakhk to mainly Russia. I do not want that," said the president–who also mentioned that flights from Akhalkalak to Tbilisi would restart this year.

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