TBILISI (Armenpress)–Chairman of Georgia’s Central Election Commission Levan Tarkhnishvili met Tuesday with Armenian Ambassador to Georgia, Hrachya Silvanian to inform him that the Georgian CEC plans to print ballot-papers in Armenian for the January 5 special presidential elections. The move is aimed at accommodating voters in the predominantly Armenian Samtskhe-Javakheti region in the country’s south.
Tarkhnishvili also said that apart from ballot-papers the CEC wants to publish in Armenian, finalized voter lists, the Election Code and other information bulletins.
He said members of local election commissions will recieve special training courses as well.
Armenia’s are the largest ethnic minority in Georgia making about 6% of the population. The Armenian community is mostly concentrated in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, which borders the Republic of Armenia to the south. Ethnic Armenia’s are the majority in the region with over half of Samtskhe-Javakhetia’s 240,000 populations are Armenian.
One of the biggest problems facing the Armenia’s in this area is the inability to use their language in public life. The government’s new language policies have become a source for strong resentment and it is accused of abolishing minorities’ former rights to use Armenian or Russian and thus limiting access to jobs and education.
Armenia’s are also underrepresented in the government (holding 5 seats in the Parliament, for example), leading to the perception of discrimination and distrust. There have been several protests against this reality, some of which turned violent after clashes with law enforcement agents.
President of Armenia, Robert Kocharian, urged ethnic Armenia’s during a visit to Georgia, to learn the Georgian language, which he said is essential for their integration into the Georgian society.