Presidents discuss problems of Georgia’s Armenian community
12 Mar 04
Georgian Armenians should be full citizens of our country with equal
opportunities, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told a news
conference in Yerevan today.
At the same time, the Georgian president noted the need for concrete
work in regions. For example, he said that a Russian military base is
the only employer in Akhalkalaki [Georgian region populated by ethnic
Armenians]. “This is not a normal situation,” he said, adding that one
could not survive without a well-developed economy. Moreover, he
mentioned tough climatic conditions in the region. This circumstance,
as well as the fact that the region is located on the border, became
obstacles to the development of the region back during the Soviet era.
As for the demands that the political status of the Georgian region be
changed, Saakashvili said that this kind of issues could be resolved
exclusively within Georgia.
I am thankful to the Armenian president for his strict position on
territorial integrity and stability in Georgia and in the region as a
whole. This is in the interests of Armenia, Georgia and of the future
of the South Caucasus,” Saakashvili said.
At the same time, he noted that “any attempt to artificially disrupt
stability is doomed to failure, as Armenia has a president who
understands very well the significance of stability and peace and
second, understands that this intention can lead to tragedy, which I
would not advise anybody even to think about”.
He noted that he even did not welcome debates on this issue. He said
that sometimes people think about this. Those are the people who have
no idea about the region and its problems but are engaged in
theoretical alterations to maps, Saakashvili said.
Armenian President Robert Kocharyan also underlined the similarity of
the positions of the Armenian and Georgian authorities, which called
for more harmonic and deeper integration of the Armenian diaspora into
Georgia’s economic, political and cultural life.
“This is the core on the basis of which concrete actions should be
taken. These include a road linking Tbilisi with the region of
Javakheti, a road which will create conditions for selling produce
from the region on Tbilisi’s markets and also economic programmes.
“We could work on this together,” Kocharyan noted. He said that the
main goal was proper integration of the Armenian community into
Georgian communities of these regions. “This is Armenia’s official
position,” the Armenian president said.