Sergey Minasyan is a political scientist and holds a Ph.D. in History. His numerous publications focus on regional security and conflicts in the South Caucasus. He has headed the Yerevan based Caucasus Media Institute (CMI) Caucasus Studies Department since March 2006.
In 1998, Sergey was awarded an MA at the Department of International Relations, Yerevan State University. In 2002, he defended his Ph.D. thesis on Military History of Armenia at the Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. Since 2002, he has lectured on the theory of international relations and regional security at various institutes and universities of Armenia. In 2003-2006, he headed the Scientific Research Centre for South Caucasus Security and Integration Studies.
In 2017, Georgia refused to accept Armenia's nominee for its envoy to Tbilisi, Sergey Minasyan, because of fears that Minasyan -- a native of the Armenian-majority Georgian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti -- harbored some irredentist desires with respect to Georgia.
Usanogh: Dr. Minasyan, very recently you have published a book titled “Ethnic Minorities in Georgia: Potential for Integration. A Case Study of the Country’s Armenian Population”. What did motivate you to write this book?
Sergey Minasyan: My main goal of writing this book was to explain to Georgian authorities, political forces in Georgia and to Armenians of Javakhk the legal framework that requires the Georgian government to protect the ethnic minorities in Georgia by highlighting the international obligations that the Georgian government has taken upon itself to implement, show real life examples of such obligations being implemented elsewhere, and to provide suggestions on how to resolve various problems experienced by the Armenian population of Javakhk.
Usanogh: When did you decide to write this book?
SM: This book was the end result of my analytical work about Javakhk and the Armenian community of Georgia as a whole, which I have been engaged in for the last several years.
Usanogh: What did you find out about the Armenians of Javakhk as you were doing your research to write this book?
SM: Armenians of Javakhk have made major contributions in the development and political life of post-Soviet Armenia. One of such contributions was their active participation in the liberation struggle of Artsakh. They are very patriotic and attached to their ancestral lands. At the same time they have became hostages of history and geopolitics and as such their fate depends upon the general development of Armenia-Georgia interstate relations.
Usanogh: How long did you research before your book got published and what sources did you use in writing your book?
SM: Although I have been studying this topic for several years now, the concrete realization of this project was possible thanks to active support of Yerkir NGO on repatriation and settlement (www.erkir.org) and was published by the Caucasus Media Institute www.caucasusmedia.org within one year.
My main sources for writing this book were the interviews that I have conducted with residents of Javakhk, representatives from various political organizations and non-governmental groups, representatives of Georgian government, international organizations and various international experts who work on issues of protecting the rights of minorities, etc. Aside that, I have also analyzed Georgian legislations and legal framework in regards to ethnic minorities, and have studied and analyzed relevant international laws, conventions and documents and their applicability to corresponding legislations adopted by the Georgian government in their own country. I have also utilized various foreign media reports and expert studies that were published on this topic.
Usanogh: Do you think that granting autonomy to the Armenians of Javakhk will resolve various economical and political problems experienced by our compatriots in that province?
SM: Of course, the granting of autonomy to the Armenians of Javakhk could be the solution of political and economic problems experienced by them. However we need to take into consideration that the Georgian public has negative attitudes associated with the word “autonomy” itself, (due to the negative consequences of the last decade, associated with conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which as a result of wars have territorially detached themselves from Georgia), and as such it is unlikely that any compromise with the Georgian authorities and the Georgian public in general could be expected on this issue. At the same time I believe that there is a room for dialogue and possibility to achieve mutual compromises between the interests of Georgian majority and the interests of Armenian minority in Javakhk.
In my opinion the optimal solution of this problem that could be realized is granting to Javakhk a wider local, self-government and perks in terms of allowing the Armenians to study school subjects in Armenian language, as well as allowing them to conduct daily business and legal matters in Armenian language, and allowing locally registered political parties representing the interests of Armenian community of Javakhk to freely function. This way the level of social and political tensions prevailing in Javakhk will subside and the possibility of local confrontation will sharply decline. These steps will also result in more efficient work of local governments through out the Georgia, and in case of Javakhk specifically, it will attain the status of asymmetric regional self government (by providing a specific approach to the rights and functions of regional public organizations, resolution of educational and linguistic problems and preservation of culture and traditions of the local population).
I would like to hope that the protection of ethnic and religious minorities’ rights in Georgia will be an important part in Georgia’s drive for euro-Atlantic integration. Possible membership of Georgia in NATO that will become possible after successful completion of MAP (Membership Action Plan) will create the necessary prerequisites for the Georgian government to pay serious attention to their international obligations in defending basic human rights, language rights, and ethnic and religious minorities’ rights, first of all in Javakhk.