TBILISI (Combined Sources)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said that the skirmish between ethnic Georgians and Armenia’s of the Tsalka region on May 9 is not an ethnic conflict–and should not be over dramatized. "Let’s not make the situation tragic. It’s not an ethnic conflict–rather a fight between Georgians and Armenia’s. But we won’t tolerate disorder and we don’t intend to be drawn into provocation," he told journalists on Tuesday.
He noted that while Georgia’s enemies have retreated since the quelling of the recent Ajarian upheaval–"some enemies of Georgia" seek to involve the country in a new conflict. "We won’t allow anyone to blackmail us and will respond appropriately to such tactics."
Stressing that Georgia’s neighbors are peaceful–he said that both the Presidents of Armenia and Ukraine applauded the peaceful settlement of the Ajaria conflict.
Though officials from the Armenian Embassy in Georgia have not issued a statement on the incident–they did indicate the issue lies within the jurisdiction of Georgian internal affairs–excluding Armenia’s active involvement in the matter. A statement was to be released late Wednesday.
Georgians living in the Tsalka region meanwhile rallied in front of the State Chancellery in Tbilisi on Tuesday–demanding to meet with President Saakashvili to discuss disarmament of the Armenian population in Tsalka. The rally participants said that almost all the Armenian families keep firearms.
There is a pending threat that the frequent conflicts in the Kveda Kartli region may turn into the armed clashes. Notably–what began as an argument among soccer fans at the Tsalka stadium on May 9 grew into a brawl–with scores reported injured.
After the incident–the Georgian government deployed regional police and interior forces.