Samtskhe-Javakheti: The next Nagorno Karabakh?
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Samtskhe-Javakhk-Tsalka is a historical region, which has a profound influence on political development of the Transcaucasia, says a statement issued by Mitq analytical center.[…]
We call on the Georgian authorities to understand that Armenia’s blockade any anti-Armenian program imposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey will kill Georgia and lead to unpredictable consequences,” says the statement obtained by PanARMENIAN.Net.
However, what the organization fails to acknowledge is that the repatriation of Meskhetian Turks is not a plan local design, but rather a demand from the Council of Europe that Georgia is obliged to fulfill as part of its agreement on accession to the international human rights and democracy body. Successive Georgian governments, including that of the current president, Mikhael Saakashvili, have long delayed fulfillment of the obligation precisely because of Armenian and Georgian concerns, as EurasiaNet detailed.
In 1944, tens of thousands of Meskhetian Turks were deported en masse by Stalin from the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of southwest Georgia to Central Asia for alleged security reasons. In 1989, a similar number fled Uzbekistan after being targeted during an outbreak of violence in the Ferghana Valley. Many have since received refugee status and have immigrated to the West. Those who remain in Central Asia tend to suffer from discrimination, according to international human rights monitoring.[…] […] For parliamentarian Zviad Dzidziguri of the Conservative Party, which has opposed the bill, the lack of clarity on this count poses a threat to national security. “[T]his is treacherous because the bill doesn’t envisage possible complications if, say, 100,000 repatriates want Georgian citizenship,” he said on Imedi television on June 14. […]
Fellow Conservative Party parliamentarian Kakha Kuklava worries that the return of Meskhetian Turks to Samtskhe-Javakheti, a predominantly ethnic Armenian region that borders on Turkey, risks triggering a fresh outbreak of regional separatism. Local tensions ran high in the early 1990s when Meskhetian Turks who identified themselves as ethnic Georgians returned to the region.
“We have a bad experience with minorities in Georgia,” said Kuklava. “After independence, Russia used our minorities against us [in the breakaway pro-Russia regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia] and they plan to make another conflict in Javakheti.”[…]
Meanwhile, in the deportees’ homeland itself, feelings are mixed. Former Samstkhe-Javakheti Deputy Governor Armen Armirkhanian commented that the local Armenian population is not particularly eager to live with a people with whom they share many historical differences, yet noted that the feeling is not universal.
Meanwhile, Georgian and Turkish analysts also acknowledge that repatriation would create significant problems for the country and say that Tbilisi would be better to encourage their settlement throughout Georgia rather than in the specific location of Samtskhe-Javaketi. Pan-Armenian.Net quotes the two as saying that their return would create additional separatist fears in addition to those being promoted by Russian and Armenian nationalist groups.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Georgia won’t allow compact settlement of Meskhetian Turks in Samtskhe-Javakhk-Tsalka to avoid tensions in the Armenian-Georgian relations and threats to the territorial integrity of the country, a Georgian expert said.[…]
For his part, Turkish expert Ufguk Tavkul remarked that the Georgian authorities, fearing for the country’s territorial integrity, will by all means prevent return of Meskhetian Turks. “Given the demographic growth of the repatriates may, they could claim autonomy,” he said, Trend Azeri news agency reports.
But as two ethnic Armenians in Javakheti are detained on charges of espionage and forming an armed militant organization in the region, Mitq’s Abrahamyan continues to play the nationalist card by warning of a second Armenian Genocide. The same news site carries a reportÂ quoting a former Armenian Ambassador who not only lays claim to the region, but potentially risks encouraging a new armed conflict.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Present-day Geor
gia has no right to Javakhk, for no agreement on state border was signed between Armenia and Georgia after the war in 1918, said Ara Papyan, head of Modus Vivendi center, historian and former Armenian Ambassador to Canada.
[…] Under the circumstances, Armenia should take the only outlet to the Black Sea under its political, economic and public control,” Abrahamyan said.