By Emil Danielyan
An Armenian government delegation led by a top aide to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian was in Georgia’s Javakhetia region over the weekend, discussing with local officials grievances of its predominantly ethnic Armenian population.
The local A-Info news agency reported that the Armenian officials met with the recently appointed governor of the larger Samtskhe-Javakhetia province, Teymuraz Mosiashvili, in the town of Akhaltsikhe, the regional administrative center. Speaking at a joint news conference at a local Armenian school, Mosiashvili and the head of the Armenian delegation, Stepan Markarian, said the discussions took place in a “friendly atmosphere.” They said periodical outbreaks of tension in Javakhetia will not damage relations between Georgia and Armenia.
Markarian, himself a native of Javakhetia, said most local Armenians are campaigning for greater “self-government inside Georgia,” rather than autonomy. He accused unnamed mass media of “disseminating reports about the autonomy that do not correspond to reality” and said forces outside the region are the ones who want to destabilize it. “The whole problem lies not in Javakhetia, but outside it,” Markarian said.
One of the Armenian nationalist groups operating in Javakhetia, Virk, has recently rejected Georgian accusations of separatism that followed its renewed calls for greater local self-rule. Virk said it will not take any steps that could destabilize the situation in the two main Armenian-populated districts of the region: Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda.
The situation in the area bordering on Armenia and Turkey is a subject of regular negotiations between Georgian and Armenian government officials. The government delegation that visited Akhaltsikhe also included Armenia’s ambassador to Georgia and the chief of staff of the Armenian Constitutional Court, according to A-Info.