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Shirak Torosian: Saakashvili's party has created atmosphere of fear in Javakhk2013-03-22 19:01
The change of power in Georgia in 2012 has led to a change in government policy towards national minorities. Issues of national sense have surfaced. Georgia is going to ratify the European Charter for Regional Languages. Javakheti Armenians have raised the issue of granting Armenian language the regional status, and the opposition "National Movement" perceived this as separatism. Besides the problems of the national sense, Javakheti expects resolution of the socio-economic issues. GeorgiaTimes reporter has talked to the deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), the chairman of the Patriotic Association "Javakhk" Shirak Torosian about these and other issues of concern of the Javakheti region of Georgia. Originally from Javakheti, he is one of the critics of Saakashvili's
administration in relation to national minorities.
- Mr Torossian, general secretary of the opposition party "United National Movement" (UNM) Vano Merabishvili stated that in recent years the UNM has invested a lot in various projects aimed at improving the lives in Javakheti. Is it true? And what's the attitude of Javakheti residents to the "United National Movement"?
- The phrase "big investments" means the following: under the program "Millennium Challenge" in Javakheti there was built a road (connecting the region with Tbilisi). This is an American program, which was to be realized back in 2008, however, it was implemented in 2001. The second stage is gasification of the region. This is a business project with great profit. Here, we are rather talking not about investments but about big money. Gasification process there is much more expensive than, for example, in Armenia. In addition, in the 21st century it seems ridiculous that the whole region is suffering from lack of gas, and the roads are in poor condition. Let the UNM does not consider it an achievement, since it is about ensuring basic living conditions of their citizens who pay taxes.
I know nothing about others large-scale investments in Javakhk I do not know, since they do not exist. On the contrary, the former Georgian government directly and indirectly squeezed out funds from the region. It is about the legal system. Over the past few years, as we know, several million GEL has flowed only from the Akhalkalaki region to Tbilisi through imposing heavy fines. This is the result of very strict and sometimes illegal activities of the judicial system. And how the Javakheti residents should treat the "Nationals"? They definitely have a negative attitude towards Saakashvili's party as the political force that has created a climate of fear in Javakhk through repression.
- Saakashvili's party expresses fears that allegedly the recently raised issue of the status of the Armenian language can provoke separatism in Javakheti. Is there such a threat?
- Now in Javakhk there's no separatism or such mood, since the promise of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili are aimed at resolving almost all the socio-economic and national issues in the region. Unless, of course, all these promises are implemented. The most important thing is that now there's no atmosphere of fear in Javakhk. People are quietly talking about political issues without fear of denunciation. There was a group of Armenians in Armenia and Russia, whose entry into Georgia was forbidden by the previous leadership, but now the ban is lifted. This group included me. In addition, they have released from prison all political prisoners, including Chakhalyan (Armenian activist in Akhalkalaki) who is of great interest for us. He was sentenced to 10 years on fictitious charges.