Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakheti

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Location of Samtskhe-Javakheti within Georgia
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Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakheti are ethnic Armenians of Georgian nationality living in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of the Republic of Georgia. The southern part of the region (Javakheti) borders the Republic of Armenia to the south. Here, ethnic Armenians form the great majority of the population with minorities of Georgians, Russians and Greeks.[1] Among Armenians of Samtskhe-Javakheti, Armenian is the common language spoken.[2][2]

History[edit]

Many of the Armenians in the region immigrated from the province of Erzerum in the Ottoman Empire after the area became part of Russia in 1829 while most of the Muslims (Meskhetian Turks and Adjaris) in the region emigrated to the Ottoman Empire.[3][4][5] More Armenians came to region later on as a result of Turkish massacres and the Armenian genocide.[citation needed]

Ethnic Armenians are chiefly concentrated in Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda districts. At the beginning of 1918 in Akhalkalaki region had 120,000 population, from which Armenians were 89,000 (74%), Meskhetian Turks were 8,000 (7%), representatives of other nationalities 23,000 (19%) [6][verification needed] During this period in Ahalkalak district there were 111 villages from which 66 were Armenian, 24 Turkish, 9 Russian, 10 Georgian (including former Armenian villages Vargav and Hzabavra, the population of which had assimilated with Georgians), and one village with the Armenian-Georgian mixed population.

In 1944 the government of the Soviet Union decided to exile the Meskhetian Turkish population living in Meskheti (approximately 100,000 person) to Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan). The five villages of Sagamo, Khavet, Erindja, Davnia, and Karsep in the Akhalkalaki district and the Bogdanovka areas were settled by Armenians.[citation needed]

During Zviad Gamsakhurdia's presidency (1991), Javakheti remained de facto semi-independent and only in November 1991 the Tbilisi-appointed governor was able to take power.[7] The issue of Javakheti was in the 1990s "clearly been perceived as the most dangerous potential ethnic conflict in Georgia", however, no actual armed conflict ever occurred.[8]

An incident took place in Akhalkalaki district on August 14, 1998. The Georgian military units were to hold exercises with the Russians in Akhalkalaki, while the local Armenian population was uninformed about it. The Georgians units entered the Armenian-populated areas and met some 25 Armenians, who "believed that the Georgian army was coming to deport Armenians from their homes". The group of Armenians were armed and allegedly had mortars and other artillery. The Georgian units eventually left,[9] avoiding a possible clash with the armed men.[10][11] According to the Georgian national security ministry was the incident was a provocation organized by the Javakhk organization.[12]

Vahagn Chakhalyan, the leader of United Javakhk, was arrested in 2008. Chakhalyan was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in 2009 for "acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition, organizing a group action which grossly disrupted public order, hooliganism committed against a government representative."[13] Chakhalyan was released from prison in January 2013 under amnesty law after Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgia Dream coalition came to power in Georgia.[14][15] It is expected that his release and the power change in Tbilisi will reduce the existing tension in the area.[16]

Demographics[edit]

This table is a comparing table of Armenian population of Samtskhe-Javakheti in 1939, 1989, 2002.

District
1939[17]
1989[18]
2002[19]
Total Armenians Armenian % Total Armenians Armenian % Total Armenians Armenian %
Akhalkalaki
64,655
54,081
83.6
62,977
57,209
90.8
60,975
57,516
94.3
Akhaltsikhe
55,490
16,454
29.7
50,430
25,753
51
46,134
16,879
36.6
Ninotsminda
34,575
27,376
79.2
32,064
27,090
84.5
34,305
32,857
95.8
Adigeni
41,314
942
2.3
19,598
1,627
8.3
20,753
698
3.4
Borjomi
37,437
3,946
10.5
32,422
3,124
9.6
Tsalka
40,286
11,726
29.1
44,438 [20]
12,671
28.4
20,888
11,484
55
Aspindza
32,644
1,741
5.3
11,265
2,068
18.4
13,010
2,273
17.5
TOTAL 306,401 116,266 37.9 220,772 126,418 57.3 228,487 124,831 54.6

Politics[edit]

Tensions in Samtskhe-Javakheti have run high at times. One reason is based in the official Georgian language policy that does, officially, not allow the Armenian language to be used in public or administrative offices, even if citizen and officer speak better Armenian than Georgian. International monitoring missions on the situation of national minorities in Georgia have critically commented in this aspect as recently as 2009.[21]

The ethnic Armenian United Javakhk Democratic Alliance calls on a local autonomy for Javakheti within Georgia.[22][23]

Some Armenian political groupings of the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian diaspora, amongst them most notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) claim that Javakhk (Armenian name for Javakheti) should belong to Armenia,[24] United Armenia shall include all territories designated as Armenia by the Treaty of Sèvres as well as the regions of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Javakhk (Armenian name for Javakheti), and Nakhchivan.[25] However, Javakhk (Javakheti) is not officially claimed by the government of Armenia.

A small number of Turkish Meskhetians returned to Georgia in recent years.[26] With little employment opportunities in the region, the re-migration caused tensions with the local Armenian population. In consequence, the Georgian authorities preferred to settle returning Turkish Meskhetians in other areas in the country.[26]

The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan oil pipeline and South Caucasus gas pipeline which passed through the region, has met opposition from local Armenians, as well as the planned Kars-Akhalkalaki-Baku railway as it isolates Armenia.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ E. Cornell, Svante (2002). Autonomy and conflict: ethnoterritoriality and separatism in the South Caucasus : cases in Georgia. Dept. of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. p. 137. 
  2. ^ a b "European Yearbook of Minority Issues". European Centre for Minority Issues 3: 316. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Boeschoten, Hendrik; Rentzsch, Julian (2010). Turcology in Mainz. p. 142. ISBN 978-3-447-06113-1. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Pro Georgia: journal of kartvelological studies, Issues 11-14, Uniwersytet Warszawski. Studium Europy Wschodniej.
  5. ^ Caucasus region: geopolitical nexus? (2007), Aleksandro I. Kapidze, Nova Science Publishers.
  6. ^ National Archive of Armenian Republic F200 list 1
  7. ^ Cornell 2002, p. 164: "The area remained effectively outside the control of Tbilisi for virtually the entire tenure of Gamsakhurdia."
  8. ^ Cornell 2002, p. 196.
  9. ^ Cornell 2001, p. 167.
  10. ^ Peimani, Hooman (2008). Conflict and Security in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. pp. 270–271. ISBN 9781598840544. 
  11. ^ Barnovi, Andro (2009). "Detailed Review on Samtskhe-Javakheti". Tbilisi, Georgia: Institute for Strategy and Development. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Violent Incident in Javakhk Averted". Asbarez. 14 August 1998. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Ionesyan, Karine (22 September 2009). "Defending Chakhalyan: Tbilisi accused of “dragging out” appeal hearing in high-profile “Armenian activist” case". ArmeniaNow. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Georgia’s President comments on release of Javakhk activist Vahagn Chakhalyan". Georgian Public Broadcaster. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Georgia: Armenian political prisoners Vahagn Chakhalyan released from prison". Minority Rights Newsroom. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "The new power is liberating Javakheti". Georgia Times. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  17. ^ (Russian) ETHNO-CAUCASUS, НАСЕЛЕНИЕ КАВКАЗА, РЕСПУБЛИКА ГРУЗИЯ, НАСЕЛЕНИЕ ГРУЗИИ
  18. ^ (Armenian) Սամցխե-Ջավախքի բնակչության թվի և էթնիկական կազմի դինամիկան
  19. ^ ETHNIC GROUPS BY MAJOR ADMINISTRATIVE-TERRITORIAL UNITS
  20. ^ (Armenian) Ծալկայի շրջանի բնակչության թվի և էթնիկական կազմի դինամիկան
  21. ^ ACFC [Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities] (2009) Opinion on Georgia. Adopted on 19 March 2009 (ACFC/OP/I(2009)001)
  22. ^ Harutyunyan, Arus (2009). Contesting national identities in an ethnically homogeneous state. Western Michigan University. p. 204. 
  23. ^ Kernic, Franz (2006). European security in transition. Ashgate Publishing. p. 151. 
  24. ^ Goals of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation[dead link]
  25. ^ Programme of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
  26. ^ a b "166 CSCDG 05 E - MINORITIES IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS: FACTOR OF INSTABILITY". Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  27. ^ (Armenian) "Պաշտպանության բոլոր նախարարները [Armenia's Defence Ministers]". Slaq.am. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 

External links[edit]