Ethnic Armenians in Georgia urge Tbilisi to set up federal governmen

A-Info news agency, Akhalkalaki
Aug 19 2008

ETHNIC ARMENIANS IN GEORGIA URGE TBILISI TO SET UP FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Akhalkalaki, Georgia, 19 August: The following is the declaration of
the Council of Armenian Non-Governmental Organizations of
Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli.

Declaration

Now that the military operations have stopped and the repositioning of
military forces in the country is slowly returning to the status quo
of 6 August;

When the conflicting parties and the international community are
searching for ways out of the current situation and in order to
re-establish the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty;

It is clear that the main victim of attempts to resolve inter-ethnic
issues through military operations is the peaceful population, without
any positive movements on the political front, on the contrary, with
complicated political consequences;

We, the public representatives of the Armenian population of
Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli, concerned with re-establishing
peace and stability in our country, assert that:

a) In order to re-establish Georgia’s territorial integrity and
sovereignty and, as a guarantee to the country’s stability and
democratic development to resolve the ethnic conflicts in an
objective, just and legal manner, Georgia should have a federal state
structure, composed of territorial units and a central government;

b) Under the federal system of state structure, the central
authorities of Georgia will retain all the powers provided by the
subsections of the first section of Article 3 of the Constitution of
Georgia;

c) The basis for the creation of the territorial units should be the
needs for preserving and advancing the ethnic identity of the
nationalities comprising Georgia’s population;

d) Samtskhe-Javakheti – with its current boundaries and with the
neighbouring mainly Armenian-populated areas of the Kvemo Kartli
region – should have the status of a territorial unit comprising the
Georgian federal state, with broad self-governing rights, including
the right to free elections by the population for all local
self-governing bodies and jurisdiction over cultural, educational and
socio-economic policies, as well as the spheres of public order, local
self-government and environmental protection in Samtskhe-Javakheti;

e) Guarantees should be provided through the constitution, that the
Armenian language will be a regional official language in
Samtskhe-Javakheti, in addition to the official state language;

f) The representation of Samtskhe-Javakheti in the legislative,
executive and judicial branches of government of Georgia should be
constitutionally guaranteed.

It is about time, that the political elite of Georgia acknowledge,
once and for all, that:

– The way to the development and strengthening of the state is through
its formation on the basis prescribed above;

– In order to re-establish the integrity of the country the
law-abiding citizens should be sufficiently appreciated, their
concerns and reasonable demands should be heard, and they should be
provided with at least as much jurisdiction as is being promised to
those who have raised arms against the state;

– The country’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures first of all
requires complete adoption and application of European values and
the complete and immediate realization of obligations – including
those regarding the full protection of national minorities –
undertaken vis-a-vis European institutions.

We are aware that this declaration will not be received
unequivocally. There will be efforts to misconstrue or misuse it. But
we, as citizens concerned with Georgia’s destiny, could not refrain
from repeating the truth, which we have been proclaiming for years. We
are guided solely by the interests of Georgia and Samtskhe-Javakheti,
which is a component unit of the country. This is what the memory of
those who fell during the last clashes requires; this is what the
right of return of those hundreds of thousands of the recently
displaced people requires; this is what the future of Georgia
requires.

[signed] Council of Armenian Non-Governmental Organizations of
Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli

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