Agasi Arabyan: "United National Movement" throws dust in people's eyes22.03.2013 | 15:34
Statements of the "United National Movement" that during the reign of Saakashvili's party in the Armenian region Samtskhe-Javakheti got financial assistance which was aimed at improving its infrastructure are far from reality. This was stated by the head of Javakhk Diaspora of Russia Agasi Arabyan.
"Merabishvili's statement that they have invested a lot of money is not true. They have allocated money for the development of agriculture in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, but the money was allocated as part of the so-called Eastern Partnership program. It was not even their money, it was allocated from abroad under the general program", Arabyan said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes.
Recall, on the eve, former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili said that "Georgian spirit, Georgian government has never been so strong in Javakheti, as in recent years". "Our government has launched a large-scale infrastructure projects in Akhalkalaki. Recall, in Akhalkalaki we have installed gas equipment, we have constructed high quality highway linking Tbilisi with Akhalkalaki," said Merabishvili.
"They are throwing dust in people's eyes saying that they have built a couple of roads. In the 21st century it is ridiculous to talk about that," says Agasi Arabyan in response to the words of Merabishvili. "For so many years there was no road - of course, people are glad of them. But they have built only major roads, while the rural roads are still in poor condition. There are highland villages that are cut off from the civilized world in the winter. They have built a couple of roads, renovated a couple of houses, painted roofs, and now they are boasting of that. Of course, generally speaking, nothing has been done. In the past there were no jobs, and in the reign of the UNM the situation became even worse. The people have left homes in the countryside and went to other cities, so it was impossible to live there under the UNM".
Mikheil Saakashvili's party has also recently upbraided the "Georgian Dream" for intensified separatist sentiment in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. This was announced after the issue of granting the Armenian language the status of regional in Samtskhe-Javakheti had been raised. "There is no threat of separatist sentiment in the Samtskhe-Javakheti," says Arabyan. "In the region there have been conducted public opinion polls. Both Armenians and Georgians living in Javakheti say that if the Armenian language obtains regional status, this would not affect anyone, and there's no breakaway sentiment. Armenians should learn their language to be able to read their literature and learn their history. Talking about the threat is nonsense. Saakashvili is tryin to create an image of enemy to escalate the situation and worsen the Armenian-Georgian relations", said the leader of Javakhk Diaspora of Russia.
Although now the UNM representatives claim that they have paid enough attention to the problems of Armenians in Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili's party has always been keen to please Azerbaijan, even at the expense of the Armenian population of the country, Arabyan recalls. "The previous government has always played on several fronts: on the one hand, they carried out orders of Azerbaijan, on the other hand they told the Armenians that they have built a road for them. Even when they were building the railroad, the choice was between Azerbaijani organizations".
"They also say they have installed gas equippment. But do not forget that this is the Azerbaijani gas, and Armenia and Azerbaijan have quite strained relations. Samtskhe-Javakheti is highland region where the winter lasts 6-7 months. If some disputes rise, people would be deprived of gas. So this is also a kind of leverage. After all, they could supply gas from neighboring Armenia, which is simpler, closer and safer," Javakhk leader says.
A famous Russian ethnographer Sergei Arutyunov recalls in an interview to GeorgiaTimes that Saakashvili pursued special interests in Javakheti. "Mikheil Saakashvili's party has really special relationship to Javakheti, but this is explained not by the fact that a lot of money was invested there, but by the fact that he had stable political relations with the political leaders of Javakheti, which strongly affected the results of various elections. That's why in the last election the "National Movement" won there," explains Arutyunov.
As for the threat of separatism, Arutyunov believes that such a threat potentially exists in any region where ethnic minorities reside. "The president managed to keep the situation under control through close links with local political leaders, as well as the repression of the other part of the population, which was perceived as disloyal, and through dialogue with the authorities of neighboring Armenia, which had a pacifying effect and strongly contributed to the fact that situation in Javakheti was quite calm," says Sergei Arutyunov.
Pressure on the local population was also noted by Agasi Arabyan. "Under Saakashvili in Samtskhe-Javakheti there was police regime. They tapped phones, the people were unable to speak freely with each other - they were afraid even to say hello on the street. So today, after the change of government, the people of Javakhk live in hope".