Difference between revisions of "Georgia"

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[[Georgia]] is divided into 10 regions ([[Georgian language|Georgian]]: [[Mkhare]], მხარე) and 2 [[autonomous republic]]s (capitals in parentheses):
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[[Image:Regions of Georgia.png|thumb|300px]]
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Autonomous Republics:
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*[[Abkhazia]] 1 ([[Sokhumi]])
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*[[Ajaria]] 4 ([[Batumi]])
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Regions:
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*[[Guria]] 3 ([[Ozurgeti]])
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*[[Imereti]] 6 ([[Kutaisi]])
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*[[Kakheti]] 11 ([[Telavi]])
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*[[Kvemo Kartli]] 10 ([[Rustavi]])
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*[[Mtskheta-Mtianeti]] 9 ([[Mtskheta]])
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*[[Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti]] 5 ([[Ambrolauri]])
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*[[Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti]] 2 ([[Zugdidi]])
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*[[Samtskhe-Javakheti]] 7 ([[Akhaltsikhe]])
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*[[Shida Kartli]] 8 ([[Gori]])
 
*[[Tbilisi]] 12 ([[Tbilisi]])
 
 
 
The status of the former autonomous administrative division, [[South Ossetia]] or [[Samachablo]], is subject of negotiation with the [[Russia]]n-supported separatist government there. The breakaway republic claims the northern part of [[Shida Kartli]] region as its territory, with small parts of neighbouring regions.
 
 
 
The regions are subdivided into districts ([[Georgian language|Georgian]]: [[Raioni]], რაიონი), which may or may not have a legal status:
 
 
 
Abasha (district), Adigeni, Akhalgora, [[Akhaltsikhe]], Akhmeta, Ambrolauri, Aspindza, Baghdati, Bolnisi, [[Borjomi]], Chkhorotsq'u, Chokhatauri, Dedoplistsq'aro, Dmanisi, Dusheti, Gardabani, Gurjaani, Java, Kareli, Kaspi, Kharagauli, Khashuri, Khobi, Khoni, Lagodekhi, Lanchkhuti, Lentekhi, Marneuli, Martvili, Mestia, Mtskheta, Ninotsminda, Oni, Ozurgeti, Q'azbegi, Q'vareli, Sachkhere, Sagarejo, Samtredia, Senaki, Sighnagi,Telavi, Terjola, Tetritsq'aro, Tianeti, Tsageri, Tsalenjikha, Tsalka, Vani, Zestaponi, Zugdidi
 
 
 
==Timeline==
 
Armenian related events in Georgia
 
*2006
 
**Jan 6 - [[Georgia: Riding the Potato Train]]
 
**Jan 6 - [[Georgia Closes Armenian Schools]]
 
 
 
==See also==
 
*[[Keeping a home in Georgia and a heart in Armenia]]
 
*[[Autonomy vs. Identity: Georgian-Armenians Make a Play for Power Amid Diminishing Clout]]
 
*[[Armenian Cooperation Centre of Georgia]] (ACCG)
 
----
 
 
 
POLICE QUASH ARMENIAN PROTEST IN SOUTHERN GEORGIA. Georgian police
 
resorted to violence on 5 October to break up a protest demonstration
 
by some 300 people in the predominantly Armenian-populated town of
 
Akhalkalaki, Caucasus Press reported. The demonstrators, some of whom
 
converged on Akhalkalaki from outlying villages, were protesting the
 
closure by Tax Police of 10 local stores, which local activists
 
interpreted as retaliation for the formal demand by the regions
 
Armenians last month for autonomous status (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26
 
September 2005). Several demonstration participants have been
 
hospitalized after being beaten by police. LF (RFE/RL Newsline - 10/06/2005)
 
 
 
----
 
Panorama
 
 
 
15:54 07/10/05
 
 
 
TAX HUBBUB IN AKHALKALAKI
 
 
 
 
 
`The Tax officers from Akhaltsakha checked some ten shops in Akhalkalaki. In
 
some shops they found Armenian products without excises and closed them. The
 
result was that a group of people have gathered in front of the local
 
administrative building and organized the act of complain', said today the
 
administrative member of `Hzor Haireniq' party Shirak Torosyan commenting
 
the situation in Akhalqalaqi took place on October 5. `Then came newly
 
formed gendarmerie and fired in the air with guns. Fortunately there are no
 
victims. The head of Samtskhe-Javakheti (Akhalkalaki region) Georgi
 
Khachidze qualified it as a crime, and he has promised to punish the
 
criminals', added Shirak Torosyan.
 
 
 
Panorama.am was also interested in the nationality of gendarmes, and
 
concerning this question Mr. Torosyan answered, `They are all Armenians from
 
Akhalkalaki and neighboring villages'. /Panorama.am/
 
 
 
{{copy}}
 
 
 
----
 
NEW UNREST IN JAVAKHETI PROMPTS WARNING FROM YEREVAN
 
By Zaal Anjaparidze
 
 
 
Eurasia Daily Monitor, DC
 
The Jamestown Foundation
 
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
 
 
 
Akhalkalaki, the main town in the predominantly Armenian-populated
 
and Armenia-bordered Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia, was the
 
site of an anti-government protest rally on October 5. The incident
 
reaffirmed that this turbulent region remains unstable, despite the
 
Georgian government's efforts to normalize the situation there.
 
 
 
The unrest began after tax officials from Tbilisi, conducting a
 
routine inspection of local retailers, closed 10 shops for financial
 
irregularities. The shop owners, mostly ethnic Armenians, and about
 
300 supporters, evidently influenced by local provocateurs, gathered
 
outside the Akhalkalaki district administration building to protest
 
the alleged violation of the Armenians' rights. The protestors's
 
complaints quickly moved from economic issues to political demands
 
such as stopping the closure of Russian military bases and granting
 
political autonomy for the region.
 
 
 
Local police dispersed the rally using rubber truncheons and firing
 
shots in the air. The clash between the authorities and the protesters
 
left several people injured. The police efforts to break up the rally
 
instead prompted more residents of Akhalkalaki and nearby villages
 
to join the protest, making the situation even tenser.
 
 
 
Civic groups based in Samtskhe-Javakheti, as well as some Russian
 
sources, have alleged that the government deliberately planned
 
the brutal end to the protest in order to intimidate the local
 
Armenian population following local demands for political autonomy
 
in the region. A council of local non-governmental organizations,
 
meeting September 23-24, adopted a resolution calling on the Georgian
 
government to grant autonomy to the region (see EDM, September 29).
 
 
 
Javakhk-Info, the local news agency, distributed a bellicose statement
 
by regional Armenian non-governmental organizations saying that the
 
aggressive behavior by the Georgian authorities towards the region's
 
ethnic Armenians leaves them "no other choice than the use of force
 
to protect their interests and dignity" (Regnum, October 5).
 
 
 
However, a source in Georgian law enforcement told Kavkas Press that
 
the police shot into the air only after one of the protesters had
 
taken a shot first (Kavkas Press October 5).
 
 
 
Giorgi Khachidze, the presidentially appointed governor of the region,
 
managed to calm the angry crowd through negotiations.
 
 
 
Khachidze criticized the police for excessive use of force and
 
promised to hold some of them accountable. "In my opinion, they had no
 
right to fire shots, even in the air," he said (TV-Rustavi-2, October
 
6). Meanwhile, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili hailed the police
 
actions, saying, "there is no serious problem" and emphasizing that
 
law-enforcement officials were merely maintaining order in a region
 
that had been poorly controlled in recent years (TV-Imedi, October 6).
 
 
 
Saakashvili and other Georgian officials have tried to downplay the
 
latest events in Akhalkalaki, claming that the radical organizations
 
advocating autonomy for the region do not enjoy serious popular
 
support.
 
 
 
Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili told the Armenian
 
newspaper Aikakan Jamanak that Tbilisi welcomes autonomy
 
for Javakheti so long as that means no more than ordinary
 
self-governance. Merabishvili said he is not interested in the
 
Javakheti civic groups expressing political ambitions. "We are going
 
to listen to the elected deputies," he said (Regnum, October 6-7).
 
 
 
A diplomatic warning from Yerevan snapped the Georgian authorities out
 
of their complacency. On October 8, Garnik Isagulian, national security
 
aide to Armenian President Robert Kocharian, warned Tbilisi to show
 
restraint when dealing with the predominantly Armenian-populated
 
Samtskhe-Javakheti. Of the October 5 clash, Isagulyan commented,
 
"Georgian authorities should be extremely cautious and attentive
 
in their actions, because any minor provocation could turn into a
 
large-scale clash." Isagulian also dismissed rumors about Russian
 
intelligence playing a role in recent events in Samtskhe-Javakheti
 
(Regnum, Civil Georgia, October 8).
 
 
 
However, the Russian media's wide and largely biased coverage of
 
the October 5 unrest in Akhalkalaki, routinely voicing the Kremlin's
 
position, suggests that Russia is not a mere observer.
 
 
 
Georgian media have long speculated that Russia and several radical
 
Armenian groups are behind the provocations in Javakheti. Van Baiburt,
 
an Armenian member of the Georgian parliament, confirmed this in an
 
interview with GazetaSNG.ru. Meanwhile, Levon Mkrtichyan, from the
 
Armenian Dashnaktsutiun party, one of the alleged supporters of the
 
Javakheti radical organizations, insisted that Javakheti Armenians
 
advocate only for cultural autonomy.
 
 
 
The Armenian newspapers are increasingly linking the recent unrest
 
in Samtskhe-Javakheti with the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki
 
railway, which bypasses Armenia. They suggest that as Georgia
 
increases its ties with Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia may be left
 
isolated. Armenian papers also argue that if Georgia's national
 
interests conflict with those of Armenia, Tbilisi "should not be
 
astonished at the eruption of a natural expression of self-preservation
 
and self-defense among the Samtskhe-Javakheti population."
 
 
 
As the problem becomes increasingly complicated, Tbilisi will be
 
forced to act. When he visited Armenia on September 29-30, Georgian
 
Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli stated that Georgia would not implement
 
any programs directed against Armenia. Meanwhile, Nogaideli publicly
 
underlined that regional autonomy in Georgia is only available for
 
Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Ajaria.
 
 
 
Nogaideli's Armenian trip, coming on the heels of the demands
 
for autonomy in Samstkhe-Javakheti, suggests that stability in
 
Samtskhe-Javakheti greatly depends on Yerevan's good will, as
 
Tbilisi has always appealed to the Armenian government to mediate
 
serious disturbances in the region. Saakashvili's government, which
 
inherited the unresolved problems of Samtskhe-Javakheti from former
 
president Eduard Shevardnadze, follows the same pattern. Saakashvili,
 
like Shevardnadze, strives to resolve the region's problems with
 
short-term decisions (see EDM, March 23, May 24, August 3).
 
 
 
Meanwhile, Yerevan is gaining more leverage to manage the situation
 
in Samtskhe-Javakheti and may be clandestinely urging Tbilisi to
 
reconcile itself to this fact.
 
 
 
{{copy}}
 
----
 
Georgian MPs savage human rights ombudsman over his stance on religion
 
 
 
Imedi TV, Tbilisi
 
23 Dec 05
 
 
 
[Presenter] For the first time the [parliamentary] opposition and
 
members of the majority are on the same side of the argument.
 
 
 
Parliament members walked out of the debate chamber today in protest at
 
[human rights ombudsman] Sozar Subari's report.
 
 
 
Nodar Grigalashvili was the first to make a critical statement. He
 
refused to listen to Subari's report, describing it as hideous.
 
 
 
Grigalashvili's remarks were greeted with applause. Roman Kusiani and
 
opposition members followed suit. [Majority leader] Maia Nadiradze
 
thinks, however, that the human rights ombudsman's report does not
 
change anything and does not merit reaction of this sort.
 
 
 
Sozar Subari said that the constitutional agreement between the
 
state and the Georgian Orthodox Church was against the constitution
 
and breached other faiths' rights. At present Subari is addressing
 
a half-empty chamber.
 
 
 
[Kusiani, MP] We should ask the human rights ombudsman to read out the
 
section in his report concerning freedom of religion. I should tell
 
you that 18 pages of the 120-page report are dedicated to this issue.
 
 
 
[Davit Gamqrelidze, New Right MP] We refuse to enter into debate with
 
Mr Subari who is a defender of the Liberty Institute, not a human
 
rights ombudsman. Everyone knows what his position on the Orthodox
 
Church is.
 
 
 
[Nodar Grigalashvili, MP] Is it acceptable to describe the historically
 
justified privileges given to the Orthodox Church as discrimination
 
against other religions?
 
 
 
[Khatuna Gogorishvili, chair of the committee for procedural issues]
 
We will not achieve anything by not asking Mr Subari questions and
 
not debating with him. It is precisely for this reason that I am
 
staying in the chamber.
 
 
 
[Mikheil Machavariani, deputy chair of parliament] The Orthodox Church
 
has a special role in Georgian history. Only the Georgian Orthodox
 
Church should have [a constitutional agreement with the state]. As
 
far as I am aware, representatives of all confessions accepted this
 
when the issue was discussed.
 
 
 
[Nadiradze] The majority's attitude is that the constitutional
 
agreement between the state and the Church has been concluded. We
 
have undertaken an obligation. The human rights ombudsman is not a
 
supreme leader. His report does not change either the situation in
 
the country or our attitude.
 
 
 
[Van Baiburt, MP] I think that it was the right decision because the
 
Armenian Apostolic Church, which has existed here for centuries and
 
has followers, should be -
 
 
 
[Subari, interrupting] The Georgian constitution states that all
 
citizens of Georgia have equal rights. This should be reflected in
 
real life.
 
 
 
{{copy}}
 
 
 
 
 
==Armenian Church confiscations==
 
MAJORITY RULE OR RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY?
 
By Eka Basilaia
 
 
 
The Messenger, Georgia
 
Jan 20 2006
 
 
 
In interview, Georgian Public Defender debates constitutional status
 
of the Orthodox Church
 
 
 
Ombudsman
 
Sozar Subari
 
 
 
The ongoing political debate over religious issues has caused the
 
Public Defender to speak out in public against the perceived hegemony
 
of the Orthodox Church. Leading politicians meanwhile accuse him of
 
unjustly defending sectarian religions in a country where Orthodox
 
Christianity is the religious majority's historic faith.
 
 
 
Wednesday's session of the parliamentary committee for human rights
 
protection turned into a panel for heated debate and clashes when
 
Ombudsman Sozar Subari spoke up in defense of the rights of religious
 
minorities.
 
 
 
Subari stated that discrimination along religious lines is commonplace
 
in Georgia and proposed a reconsideration of the 2001 Concordat that
 
was made between the Georgian Orthodox Church and the government -
 
a proposal that was met with outrage by many Georgian politicians.
 
 
 
"According to the Georgian Constitution every person is born equal,"
 
Subari said in an interview with The Messenger on Thursday adding,
 
"Of course this does not rule out the possibility that one particular
 
religion might have a special or different status, but this status
 
should not turn into a privilege."
 
 
 
The Georgian Constitution calls for the protection of the freedom
 
of speech and condemns the persecution of people on the bases of
 
their opinion, confession or faith. At the same time there is a
 
constitutional agreement between the government and the Georgian
 
Orthodox church according to which the Georgian state acknowledges
 
the historical significance and contributions of Christian Orthodoxy.
 
 
 
"However, this status should not serve as a means to make exceptions
 
for only those who posses it. When the difference turns into a
 
privilege or a form of dominance which puts religious minorities in
 
an unfavorable condition, it contradicts the Georgian Constitution
 
and can be labeled as discrimination," Subari said.
 
 
 
He said that the status grants the Orthodox clergy and church a
 
variety of benefits not offered to other faiths such as the right
 
bow out of military service; certain tax advantages; the Orthodox
 
wedding ceremony is given the same legal status as a civil wedding;
 
and chaplains at government run institutions, such as prisons or the
 
military, are only Orthodox Christians.
 
 
 
Subari protested against privileges such as the tax break and military
 
exemption stating, "I believe that if we grant these favors to only
 
one religious faith then we neglect the rights of other religions."
 
 
 
Another thing that Subari is concerned about is the issue of Armenian
 
churches that he said historically belonged to Armenians residing in
 
Georgia, but are now in the hands of the state.
 
 
 
"The state should by all means return these churches to their
 
historical owners," Subari demanded, noting "If the provenance of
 
any of these churches is debatable a commission should be set up to
 
study the historical background and determine its rightful owner."
 
 
 
Subari pointed to two cases - Norasheni church in Tbilisi in Leselidze
 
Street and Surbnisani church in Akhaltsiakhe - which he believes call
 
for immediate attention.
 
 
 
"I will never be able to feel like a true Christian when the
 
territories and churches that historically belonged to certain
 
religious groups are taken away illegally," Subari contended.
 
 
 
{{copy}}
 

Revision as of 11:08, 2 March 2007

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