AKHALKALAK (A-Info)—Representatives of several Javakhk Armenian organizations met in a closed-door session Wednesday with representatives of the European Union in Georgia to address issues of concern to the predominantly Armenian population in Samtskhe-Javakheti and urge support for the granting of autonomy to the region.
According to sources at the meeting, the local organizational leaders reiterated their call for the creation of federated Georgian republic, whereby Javakhk would be granted autonomy under the proposed federation. They assured that this proposal would not threaten Georgia’s territorial integrity, but rather facilitate a quick resolution to concerns facing local populations.
They also assured the EU representation that the Armenian population of Javakhk was fully integrated within Georgian society and were striving to live their lives as Georgians by taking part in local, state and federal elections and other similar processes.
The Armenian organizational leaders told the EU representative that their continued appeals to Tbilisi have gone unanswered, indicating the government’s unwillingness to address the concerns of its citizens in Javakhk.
The EU representatives, for their part, acknowledged receipt of a report from an EU fact-finding mission to the area several months ago, adding that the report served as the impetus for the representative’s visit to the region.
Javakhk Armenians are mainly seeking the adoption of Armenian as an official language in the region, the inclusion of Armenians in local governmental structures and the establishment of a joint Armenian-Georgian state university in the area.
The requests come in response to the deteriorating socio-economic conditions in the province. Residents in Javakh say the central authorities in Tbilisi have been engaged in a systematic campaign of discrimination against the Armenian population.
This sentiment was discussed at the meeting with the Armenian leaders expressing concern over government policies aimed at ridding the area of its indigenous Armenian population.
Official inaction toward the deliberate rejection of Armenians in public institutions and the hiring of Georgians in local government offices, as well as the continued conflict between the Armenian and Georgian churches were cited as examples.