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Tolerance canceled in Georgia02.04.2013 | 14:01
Traditionally influential in Georgia Patriarchate has issued a statement about the threat of separatism in case of ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, giving an opportunity to grant the languages of minorities the status of the regional language.
Georgian Patriarchate warns - discussion of the issue of regional and minority languages contains the danger of the growth of separatist movements. This statement, on behalf of the Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II who has departed for treatment in Finland, was made by his personal secretary Michael Botkoveli right at the Tbilisi airport. "Until the issue of knowledge of the state language among the national minorities is resolved, and prior to the restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia, ratification of the Charter by the Parliament, in our opinion, is unacceptable," said Botkoveli.
When joining the Council of Europe in April 1999, Georgia committed itself to sign and ratify the Charter within the year, but failed to do that. Some regional languages are not recognized in Georgia as languages, but are considered the dialects of the Georgian, and the dialects of the state language are not entitled to protection under the Charter.
According to analysts, the right approach to the problem will not cause secessionist sentiment after ratification of this document. At the same time, all in one voice insists that, first of all, they should teach the national minorities the state language and then speak about the rights of regional languages and national minorities.
"Opponents of ratification of the Charter are afraid this may strengthen separatist tendencies in Samtskhe-Javakheti. In other words, there can arise certain problems of the unity of the country," political expert Georgi Khutsishvili said in an interview to the Big Caucasus. "We are talking about the danger of alienation of the region. Imagine the situation: after the adoption of the law residents of Samtskhe-Javakheti may say, why should they speak Georgian? Our regional language is Armenian, so learn the language and speak Armenian. But in fact this danger does not exist. The Charter does not mention how the government must fulfill it. This is the matter of the countries that have signed the Charter. I do not see any separatist tendencies in Samtskhe- Javakheti, people just need to improve social conditions. At the same time, they demand to make Georgian legislation and white papers more accessible. Though there is a paradoxical situation - many cannot speak Armenian and communicate in Russian. This is quite complicated issue, but I'm sure it can be solved without further problems. Naturally, each country defines its own way of the implementation of the recommendations - it is written in the document; the country even may refrain from fulfillment of certain items.
- How can you comment on the statement of the Patriarchate of Georgia?
- As for the Patriarchate's statements, I can say that it is caused by certain instability in the country - a change of government, the tension of recent months, and the discussion of this issue can cause unhealthy tension. Today, the government may start the discussion, but they are unable to solve all these problems soon. At the same time, I consider it wrong to link this issue to the restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity, since in this case it would mean that Georgia is not going to discuss it in the near future," said Khutsishvili.
Expert Soso Tsiskarishvili also recalls that until recently, the "working" language of communication with the non-Georgian population was the Russian, but the policy of the previous government has led to the fact that today fewer Georgians and other ethnic groups in Georgia know the Russian, which creates problems for the citizens of the country and leads to alienation of some regions.
"I think the issue of regional languages can be discussed in those countries that have no problems with the state language. Existence of a regional language does not mean that people in these regions do not have to know the state language," political expert Soso Tsiskarishvili said in an interview to our edition. "Otherwise there is a risk of inciting separatism, which is certainly not in the interests of Georgia. If anyone is going to solve the issue, then, first of all, we need to talk about knowledge of the state language in these regions."
- But why the discussion of this issue has arisen now?
- Judging by the information from the media, recently General Secretary of the "United National Movement" Vano Merabishvili visited Samtskhe-Javakheti, met there with local people and gave them recommendations. In any case, Merabishvili has not denied this information. Perhaps, all of this is being done on the basis of the desire to arrange a cheap provocation. Today, there is such a situation when doctors in these regions cannot communicate with children in plain language, as well as with their parents, and only grandparents know the language to communicate with them. I believe they were to work through the issue of the Russian language when introducing some limitations, since this is the international language in the post-Soviet space, and this may affect only the citizens of Georgia.
Expert Nika Chitadze also encourages the authorities to show restrained attitude in discussing this issue.