YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—Awarding Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili with the highest honor of the Armenian Republic, despite his heavy-handed policies in his country’s predominantly Armenian region of Javakhk, was a mistake by all accounts, according to a prominent professor in Yerevan, familiar with the socio-economic crisis facing the impoverished region.
“How could we award the highest state medal to a President whose fate is unknown; who has always come forth with anti-Armenian policies and has done nothing worth getting the highest state medal of the Republic of Armenia?” Professor Haykazun Alvrtsyan asked reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.
Saakashvili received the Medal of Honor from President Serzh Sarkisian at the start of his two-day official visit to Yerevan on June 24. Sarkisian’s office cited his contribution to “strengthening the centuries-old Georgian-Armenian friendship.”
But the move to award him did not go down well with Armenian activists who tried to stage a protest on June 25 outside a Yerevan hotel where the Georgian leader stayed during the trip. Saakashvili government has been deliberately neglecting the socioeconomic woes of Georgia’s Javakhk region and violating the rights of its predominantly Armenian population.
The medal, Alvrtsyan explained, was given to Saakashvili for expectations rather than merits. “This was incorrect but predictable.”
Shortly after bestowing the award, Armenia was strongly criticized by two senior members of the Russian parliament who described it as “an untactful and unfriendly step towards Russia.”
Alvrtsyan said that sort of reaction “could be expected,” with the hostile nature of Russian-Georgian relations. “Fortunately, it does not reflect the official position of Russia,” he noted.