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Will Armenian language obtain regional status?2013-03-19 17:38
In Georgia, after a long silence, they have started talking about the granting the Armenian language regional status. The issue was raised in the Armenian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Besides this, the Armenians also demand the Parliament to ratify the European Charter for Regional Languages. "United National Movement" opposes the ratification, since according to the "Nationals", this would threaten national security.
Initiative to change the status of the Armenian language has again caused the tension in relations between the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. Saakashvili sees in this idea a threat to national security. President's argument is associated with the fact that as a multinational state, Georgia cannot afford such a luxury. Saakashvili has also condemned the actions of the new leadership, accusing it of promoting Armenian nationalism.
The decision to appeal to the parliament to ratify the European Charter for Regional Languages was made by the district council of Akhalkalaki region of Javakheti, since the new government is attentive to this issue. Moreover, at first the question was initiated by the central authorities. Recall, the issue of granting the Armenian language regional status has been raised in Georgia in different periods depending on the political situation.
Last time the local council adopted a similar decision in 2006, but the central government gave a hostile reception to this decision. The issue has been postponed "until better times". As noted by observers, the position of Saakashvili's administration in the national question is "smoothing" acute angles not without the help of security forces.
Previous administration believed that the weakening of control of the central government over the regions (especially in Javakheti and Kvemo-Kartli, which are inhabited by Armenians and Azerbaijanis) could provoke centrifugal processes. This phobia is reinforced by the fact that in Georgia, ethnic identity prevails over civil. This was clearly evidenced by the statement of Georgian Ambassador to Armenia. At one press conference, touching the subject, he just said that in case of granting the Armenian language regional status other minorities would demand the same.
In Armenia, they considered the decision of the Akhalkalaki district council belated. Saakashvili's party has not failed to criticize the new leadership. The authorities replied modestly: "We have no choice but to ratify".
"The Georgian Parliament has to ratify the European Charter for Regional Languages, which we joined in 1999", said the head of the district council of Akhalkalaki Hamlet Movsesyan. Akhalkalaki was and remains very active part of Javakheti from political point of view. Previously, there was deployed Russian military base, and the region enjoyed actual autonomy prior to the arrival of Saakashvili to power. Movsesyan added that the initiative came from the coalition of "Georgian Dream".
In response to Saakashvili's accusations the government of Georgia reminded him of the past. According to the new leadership, the language issue is the inheritance they received from the president himself. "It was Saakashvili who, being the head of the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, irresponsibly lobbied joining the Charter in 1999", said State Minister for Reintegration Paata Zakareishvili. "He insisted that Georgia has committed to ratify the document", reminded the Minister. He added that now there is nothing left but ratifying the Charter. Otherwise, Georgia "cannot expect for European integration".