Armenia: Protest action against Tbilisi policy in Javakheti held in Yerevan
r.amirejibi-mullen at qmul.ac.uk
Fri Feb 27 14:56:56 UTC 2009
Moscow’s Program to Dismember Georgia
February 27, 2009
WINDOW ON EURASIA
Vienna, February 26 – Last summer, a Moscow news weekly is reporting,
Moscow officials discussed creating an “Abkhaz-South Ossetian
Federation,” a move that Russian officials believed would allow them
the ability to more effectively control Tbilisi and to hold “the
territory of Georgia ‘between two fires.’”
But Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh was totally opposed, noting that
the Abkhaz and the Ossetins are two completely different peoples
speaking different languages, practicing different religions and
perhaps most importantly lacking a common border, “Argumenty nedeli”
reports, and as a result, the Moscow plan was shelved.
Nonetheless, this report which at present cannot be independently
confirmed deserves broader attention for three important reasons.
First, it shows the utter cynicism and dishonesty of Russian claims
that they were acting in support of the “legitimate national
interests” of the Abkhazians and Ossetins.
Second, it suggests that Moscow has long viewed a federal approach to
Georgia as the best way first of weakening and then ultimately of
dismembering that South Caucasus country, an approach that various
writers near the Kremlin like Eurasianist leader Aleksandr Dugin have
long been pushing.
And third, and perhaps most important at the present time, it calls
attention to Moscow’s ongoing efforts to exacerbate tensions in the
Armenian-populated portion of southern Georgia, Samtskhe-Javakhetia,
and put that region in play against Tbilisi in much the same way it
sought to exploit Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
While some have blamed Yerevan for stirring this, official Tbilisi has
no doubt that Moscow is behind it. The recent spate of articles in the
Armenian , Van Bayburt, who advises the Georgian president on ethnic
issues, said this week, is “a link in one chain of the information war
unleashed by Russia against Georgia”.
On the one, Georgian officials point out, the situation in
Samtskhe-Javekhetia is relatively calm, the result they suggest of the
arrest of two extremists that has sparked so much controversy and of
Tbilisi’s support for new roads and Armenian-language schools there.
Indeed, the “language” problem in that region is for ethnic Georgians
there who have only one school.
And on the other, they point to the fact that it has been the ethnic
Armenian Javakhetian diaspora in Moscow that has taken the lead in
trying to attract attention to that region’s “aspirations.” Last week,
for example, this diaspora released an open letter calling on Armenia,
Russia, and Georgians (as opposed to the Georgian government) to help
And following a scenario that was used in Abkhazia and South Ossetia,
the diaspora noted that it had sent “several complaints” to Thomas
Hammerberg, the human rights commissar of the Council of Europe, and
to Amnesty International but that they had not responded, thus
providing the justification for action by Moscow – or at a minimum the
threat of such action.
Such a possibility was even more directly hinted at by the appeal
which called on the Georgian authorities to “develop and put in place
various measures for the improvement of the legal, economic, ethnic
and social status of every resident of the region,” the kind of direct
challenge to Tbilisi that the Russian government appears likely to
But even though both the ombudsman for the Georgian government and
human rights activists who have visited Samtskhe-Javakhetia in recent
weeks say that the situation there is normal and calm, more stories to
the contrary are likely to appear not only in Armenia where attention
to this area might seem entirely natural but also in Moscow where it
clearly is not.
And such articles, appeals, and demonstrations outside of
Samtskhe-Javakhetia on behalf of that region are, according to
Tbilisi’s Bayburt, clear evidence that “Russia is doing everything it
can to provoke the rise of separatism in Georgia and in particular in
[that] region where Armenians live in a compact group.”
Quoting Harold Schiffman <hfsclpp at gmail.com>:
> Protest action against Tbilisi policy in Javakheti held in Yerevan
> 25.02.2009 20:41 GMT+04:00
> /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Mitq analytical center, Javakhk Association and
> Yerkir Union has organized a rally in front of the Georgian Embassy in
> Yerevan to demand immediate release of the Armenian activists in
> Javakheti, respect for the rights of the Armenian population and
> determination of the AAC Georgian Diocese legal status.
> “Georgia is our friendly state and the parliament should respect the
> rights of the Armenian community. The Georgian government should
> recognize the Armenian language as the second state language in
> Javakheti,” said Shirak Torosyan, leader of Javakhk Association.
> The rally, which was authorized by Yerevan city administration,
> brought together some 500-600 people. The initiators handed a
> statement to Georgian Ambassador to Armenia, who promised to bring it
> to the notion of the Georgian leadership.
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