I Needed To See Javakheti Myself, Armenian FM Said During His Visit


Lragir, Armenia
July 30 2007

"The Armenian government focuses on Javakheti, and we collaborate the
Georgian government to improve the social and economic state of the
Armenians of Javakheti. It was important for me to see and to meet
with the Armenian community, at least for a short period, because I
had never been to Javakheti," the Armenian foreign minister Oskanyan
told reporters in the yard of St. Cross Church of Akhalkalaki.

The visit of the minister was scheduled in the morning but Vardan
Oskanyan arrived in Akhalkalaki at about 4 pm on July 28. The minister
visited St. Cross Church of Akhalkalaki and the seat of the primate
of Samtskhe-Javakheti, Javakhk Info reported.

The people of Javakheti and representatives of different NGOs gathered
in the churchyard and wanted to discuss their problems with the
minister and ask him questions, but the minister and Primate Babken
Salbiyan were in a hurry, and a lot of questions were not answered.

Only at the seat of the primate could people come up to the minister
and ask him questions. When the foreign minister asked them if
everything is fine, they unanimously said no.

The minister promised to hand over the proposal on adopting Armenian as
an official language in the region and try to find a solution. As to
the problem of obligatory study of Georgian, which has been worrying
the people of Javakheti for a long time now, Vardan Oskanyan proposed
to demand that the Georgian government give them time, 10-15 years,
for instance, until the new generation learns the language and studies
the Georgian culture.

The minister declined to comment on the project of establishment of
an Armenian-Georgian university and deployment of a Georgian military
unit instead of the former Russian military base.

The minister described the construction of Kars-Akhalkalaki railroad as
an incorrect move. "In political terms, it is not the right decision,
we think. We have stated this for a number of times because it is
a meaningless investment. The same goal could be reached with must
lesser money, by operating the Armenian railroad. We think politically
it is not a far-sighted decision."

The minister said it is necessary to make efforts to improve the
social and economic state of Javakheti. "I think there must be more
targeted investments in this region and both countries focus on this
problem. There is progress, and I believe that the Georgian government
will make more efforts."

Since there was little time, the Armenian foreign minister Vardan
Oskanyan promised to return and to talk to the people of Javakheti
about their problems.