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Georgian besom for ethnic minorities2012-10-10 10:47
The issue of political, economic and cultural freedoms of national minorities, particularly the Armenians, has always been and remains important for Georgia. Recently new Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili added fuel to the fire, saying "why do the Armenians live in Georgia while their homeland is close". It is still unclear what will be the policy towards ethnic minorities now, after the election. In recent years, this policy "is as much similar to the declared official policy, as a besom is similar to a rose", said the expert Karen Elchyan.
For years, the relevance of the problem of Georgian Armenians was "supported" by the actions of the authorities, aimed at putting pressure on politically active elements: for example, those who stood for granting legal status to the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), for the promotion of the teaching in the local Armenian schools in Armenian, as well as for granting the Armenian language the regional status.
In general, despite the importance of the problem, active discussions around it are phased and cyclical in nature, which is mainly connected to the powerful "pushes" both from outside the country and within it. Another significant reason for the activation of this topic was the parliamentary election, won by Bidzina Ivashnivili's "Georgian Dream". Ivanishvili's bloc, at least during the campaign, overaccentuated the idea of civil equality, unity and ethnic harmony.
However, despite campaign slogans, leader of the "Georgian Dream" has recently made a rather provocative statement in an interview to The New Times saying "why do the Armenians live in Georgia while their homeland is close". Thus he has opened a new ground for discussions about the problems of ethnic minorities in Georgia, especially the Armenians. Of course, the application was soon disclaimed. Ivanishvili said it was "taken out of context and presented in a false light".
In the pre-election period, the population of Javakheti (Armenian-populated region of Georgia - Ed.) was pretty politically inactive. Javakhk residents were quite indifferent to the election, which is the result of skepticism towards the institution of elections in general, as well as pressure on the part of the security forces.