(akhaltskha.net , March 18) – The decision of Akhalkalak Regional Assembly to apply to Georgia’s Parliament for the latter to ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages  and therefore give the status of a regional language to Armenian has caused much noise in that country.
Yesterday in reference to this matter, President Saakashvili stated that the ratification of the Charter poses a menace to national security and accused Armenians of nationalism.
United National Movement Secretary and former Internal Affairs Minister, Vano Merabishvili said that during his nine-year in office has done everything within his power to exclude the language issue from being part of the agenda. “Davit Rsdakyan who was a member of the Akhalkalak Sacrebulo (Regional Assembly) was always trying to raise this issue and that is why we, along with the rest of the political forces did everything so that he and other extremists like him don’t get in the Akhalkalak Sacrebulo” revealed Merabishivili.
In the words of Eka Beselia, Chairperson of the Georgian Parliament’s Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, the granting of regional language status to the Armenian language is not on the Parliament’s agenda. Beselia said that this matter hasn’t come out of the political council yet and that the Parliament hasn’t received any application and therefore it hasn’t discussed about it.
Tinatin Khidasheli, MP and leading figure of the Republicans thinks that this is an issue for the Georgian people to consider. “If we are moving in Europe’s direction then we should fulfil this obligation and it shouldn’t matter who raised it because we undertook this obligation in 1999” he said.
Georgia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister, Davit Zalkaliani believes that to be integrated in the Council of Europe, ratifying the Charter is not necessary; moreover a negative decision from the Parliament wouldn’t affect the visa facilitation process with the CoE. “The Parliament must make its decision by taking national interests under consideration” Zalkaliani stated.
Circles close to the Georgian government are pointing that in 1999, Saakashvili who was in favor of the approval of the Charter because he wanted to accelerate Georgia’s membmership in the Council of Europe.
The calls to ratify the Charter have also echoed in Akhalkalak. Regional Assembly Chairperson Hamlet Movsisyan stated: “We insist that the Parliament ratifies the Charter, which Georgia has joined in 1999” and he stressed that the initiative belongs to “The Georgian Dream” MPs.
The historic session
The members of the Assembly considered the March 14 session a historic one, sknews.am reports (March 14). It lasted almost two hours and was attended by Assembly members, civic organization and media representatives. It was an initiative of the “Georgian Dream-Republicans” coalition for the Assembly to discuss and then apply to the Parliament for granting the Armenian language the status of regional language. On February 25, the coalition fraction had submitted a relative application to the Assembly and the Republicans assumed that it would be discussed on the 27th but since it was not properly evaluated it hadn’t been included in that day’s agenda.