TBILISI (Armenpress)–According to the Prime-News agency–after visiting the region of Samtskhe -Javakheti with predominant Armenian population–Chairwoman of Georgian Parliament Nino Burzhanadze told reporters that only "a small and ambitious political group" is provoking talk about granting autonomy to the region.
The Georgian news agency also quoted David Rastyan–the leader of an ethnic Armenian organization in Javakheti "Virk" as saying that the issue of granting the region autonomy should be put on a referendum–on which the total eligible population of the region could vote.
David Rastyan also said the demand for autonomy should not be identified with separatism. "We believe that with the new status the region’s administration will be able to give a more efficient resolution to numerous problems of the local people."
The Armenian organization plans to begin a collection of signatures under an appeal to the Parliament of Georgia to pass a corresponding law–that will allow holding of referendum.
The Prime News also reported that the representatives of the Armenian population Javakheti demanded that Tbilisi officially recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915.
"Armenia’s living in Javakheti region will agree to re-settlement of Meskhetian Turks–deported from the region in 1944 by Joseph Stalin–provided that international organizations secure the return of local Armenia’s to their historical lands in Turkey–from where they had been forced to flee some 180 years ago," Van Baiburtian–a Georgian parliament deputy from the Armenian region was quoted as saying.
Ensuring return of Meskehtian Turks is one of the obligations Georgia has assumed to fulfill upon its accession to the Council of Europe.
During an interview Wednesday–the leader of the "Javakhk" movement said that the concept of autonomy comes from the people–adding that another region of Georgia–Adjaria–is geographically a smaller territory but nevertheless has the autonomy to self govern.
"In our opinion Javakhk must be autonomous within Georgia," announced the community leader.