YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The predominately Armenian population of Georgia’s Akhalkalak region has voiced serious protests against the intention of Georgia’s authorities to remove the Russian military base deployed in Akhalkalak "because the local residents link their material well-being with their presence."
An official of the region’s administration told Georgia’s PNA news agency that virtually half of the region’s 76,000 population is engaged in providing various services to the base’s personnel. Melik Radissian–an official of the local administration–told PNA that the region’s Armenia’s who make nearly 90 percent of the total population still remember atrocities committed by the Turkish soldiers in th 1920’s. He said that the Georgian-Turkish border was guarded just symbolically. "The presence of Russian military bases makes us feel safer," he said to PNA.
By July 1–2001–two Russian bases in Vaziani and Gudauta are to be removed from Georgia’s territory. The negotiations on removal of Russian bases from Akhalkalaki and Batumi will follow.