Anti-Azerbaijani provocation by Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakheti
    Tbilisi still silent

    ANALYTICS  22 March 2023 - 15:44

    Bahram Batiyev

    Georgia's region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, which is located in southern Georgia, and where about half of the population are ethnic Armenians, has always been trouble. Having turned into a political playground for the security services of several states, in particular Russia and Armenia, Samtskhe-Javakheti (or rather, not the region itself, but its Armenian population) has often caused additional headaches for Tbilisi through externally instigated separatism.

    The Moscow-created "Javakheti diaspora of Russia", Russian and Armenian passports, Armenian textbooks for local schools, [notorious Javakheti separatist] Vahagn Chakhalyan, "centuries-old aspirations of Armenians of Javakheti" for autonomy or even accession to Armenia - all this has occurred in this troubled region (unlike, incidentally, the Azerbaijani-populated Borchali (Kvemo Kartli), where there was never even a hint of separatism). However, while the centrifugal sentiments in Samtskhe-Javakheti ebbed and flowed, the hatred of the Armenian population of the region towards Azerbaijanis and Turks did not cease even for a moment.

    Let us recall, for example, the installation of a monument to the executioner of the peaceful Azerbaijani population in Khojali, Mikhail Avagyan, in the village of Bugashen in Akhalkalaki municipality on January 20, 2019. Despite protests from both Azerbaijan and the local Azerbaijani community, official Tbilisi was then unable (or unwilling?) to slap the initiators of this provocation from among certain pro-Armenian forces in Georgia. By the way, there is another interesting point. I remember that Georgian nationalists vehemently opposed the monument of [Azerbaijani Bolshevik revolutionary, writer, publicist, politician and statesman] Nariman Narimanov, but there is no word about the monument to Avagyan. Although, as far as we know, he fought not only against Azerbaijanis in Karabakh, but also in Abkhazia against Georgians.

    The Armenians of Javakheti, despite their Georgian citizenship, have always actively supported Yerevan's occupation policy. In this context, one of the most recent examples should be recalled. Already in the early days of the Second Karabakh War in the autumn of 2020, Yerevan began actively recruiting Javakheti Armenians as "volunteers", without the slightest concern that such actions could lead to inter-ethnic clashes in Georgia itself. Thus, on September 28, 2020, registration of Armenians for sending to Karabakh started at the stadium named after brothers Vladimir and Gayos Garslyan in Ninotsminda. According to some reports, between 3,000 and 5,000 Armenians of Javakheti signed up. The registration of fighters also took place at the stadium in Akhalkalaki. Buses of Armenia’s Defence Ministry were already waiting for the Armenians of Javakheti arriving in the territory of Armenia to be immediately sent to Karabakh. During those days, by the way, notorious Javakheti separatist Chakhalyan appeared in Karabakh with his unit of 50 bayonets, who fought under the command of Armenian MP Rustam Gasparyan, later successfully destroyed by the Azerbaijani army.

    However, even today, Javakheti Armenians continue to organise their own provocations against Azerbaijan. For example, in Akhalkalaki on March 21, members of the youth unions "Zori Zoryan" and "Javakhk" held a march in support of the Karabakh Armenians. Members of the "Zori Zoryan" union also sent a letter to Samvel Manukyan, a Georgian MP from Javakhk.

    "Participants in the procession in Akhalkalak with Armenian and Georgian flags and banners with inscriptions in Armenian and Georgian - 'Open the road to life for Artsakh', 'Artsakh, we are with you', 'Artsakh in blockade for 100 days', 'Blockade of Artsakh leads to genocide' - left the Youth Centre and headed first to the City Hall, then to the yard of Surb Khach church, where they chanted 'Artsakh will never be part of Azerbaijan!", the Armenian media reports.

    It is strange that the Georgian law enforcement agencies did not try to stop this action aimed at undermining good neighbourly relations with Azerbaijan. In general, it is surprising that there is an Armenian "youth union" in Georgia named after Zori Zoryan. For the uninitiated, Zori Zoryan was a cousin of Stepan Zoryan, one of the three co-founders of the "Dashnaktsutyun" party. Zori Zoryan was actively involved in the killing of Azerbaijanis and Turks, and was even arrested twice during the Armenian-Georgian war of 1918. That is, while being a Dashnaktsutyun MP in the Georgian parliament, Zoryan was at the same time advocating the annexation of Javakheti to Armenia...

    The relevant structures of Georgia, which unconditionally recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan (as, indeed, Baku unconditionally recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia), should pay attention to this anti-Azerbaijani action in Akhalkalaki, as this stunt by local Armenians casts a shadow on relations between Baku and Tbilisi. Furthermore, any provocative action by Armenians in Javakheti on the issue of Karabakh can cause serious opposition from the Azeris of Kvemo-Kartli. Yes, as noted above, the Azeris in that region, unlike the Armenians, have never raised territorial claims against Tbilisi, but rather fought for it, particularly in the wars of the early 1990s and in 2008. However, this does not mean that they will silently watch the provocations of Armenians in Javakheti. Destructive actions of Armenians in Georgia can lead to serious ethnic conflicts in Georgia, which will inevitably destabilise not only the country itself, but the entire region. Should Tbilisi then turn a blind eye to the provocations of the Armenians of Javakheti, which contradict and harm the national interests of the country?

    P.S. In addition to Javakhetian MP Samvel Manukyan, there are also Azerbaijani MPs in the Georgian parliament. Including those from the ruling Georgian Dream. I wonder whether they are aware of these provocations, and whether they are ready to confront them. I would very much like to believe that they are aware and ready...


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