CRIA - The Armenians of Georgia: A New Flashpoint in the Caucasus?, CU Issue 50, October 12, 2009
The Armenians of Georgia: A New Flashpoint in the Caucasus?
As Turkey and Armenia prepare to open their mutual border and begin a thaw in their relationship, there are fears that a recent spat between Tbilisi and Yerevan could heighten regional tensions once again.
In early September, Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian set out plans to improve the situation of Georgia’s ethnic Armenians. He called for the preservation of Armenian national monuments in Georgia, registering the Armenian Apostolic Church and – most importantly – recognising Armenian as an official language in Georgia.
The series of measures followed a visit by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to Yerevan in June, when Georgia’s Armenians formally called onPresident Sarkisian to raise their demands - for greater cultural and political rights - with President Saakashvili (RFE/RL, June 18). Not wishing to antagonise a vital ally when the ‘Turkish thaw’ still seemed distant, President Sarkisian quietly ignored the demands. Indeed, he actually praised the Georgian leader for his efforts at improving the social and economic welfare of Javakheti, a region mostly populated by ethnic Armenians in southern Georgia (RFE/RL, June 25).
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