Ethnicity, Language, Justice

Vulnerabilities of Samtskhe-Javakheti:

Samtskhe-Javakheti region was the location of another journalistic mission carried out in November 2010, with the representatives of the eight mainstream media outlets participating in it.

The region is made up by six districts: Borjomi, Adigeni, Aspindza, Akhaltsikhe, Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda. Two of these districts – with the centers in Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda – are predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, who make up to 40 % of the entire region’s population. The mission focused on these two cities as well as on remote villages. Special attention was also paid to the families of Muslim Meskhetians, deported from Samtskhe-Javakheti by Stalin during the WWII and, during last years, one by one repatriating to the region, which consistently creates the problems of ethnic identification, language, and unsolved legal issues.

  • Seventy-year-old Zhanna Merdilieva returned to Georgia last year. She was only four when the Muslim population of Southern Georgia was deported.

Ethnic minority communities in Samtskhe-Javakheti usually have no or little knowledge of the Georgian language. Therefore, the Georgian-language media are not comprehensible for the local residents. Moreover, the Tbilisi-based mainstream media mostly don’t have their correspondents in the places where the ethnic minorities live. As a result, media stories about the region often are based on rumors, they don’t provide opinions of local residents; the coverage of the communities’ social and economic problems in the Georgian media is minimal, and, consequently, people in the rest of the country have little knowledge of the real situation in Samtskhe-Javakheti. All these factors cause the discontent among the members of the Armenian-speaking community and aggravate inter-ethnic relations.

Lack of communication between local Georgian and Armenian communities; often irresponsible attitudes of the local governments caused by the absence of the media watchdog; the unawareness of the political and social events taking place in the rest of the country contributes to the feeling of alienation in the public and, particularly, in the Armenian population.

With the background of the unresolved questions of regionalism, the substantial lack of transparency in regional politics and weakness of the local government, the abovementioned factors might offer fertile ground and become the main catalyst for the number of problems which have been cumulating in the region.

The journalistic mission is expected to reduce the information vacuum regarding the region.

Mission participants:

Maia Tsiklauri, Liberali magazine
Malkhaz Chkadua, Interpressnews agency
Magda Lekiashvili, 24 Saati newspaper
David Kanchashvili, Netgazeti online newspaper
Eka Basilaia, Resonansi newspaper
Nino Mikiashvili, news agency

GO Group Media
© Copyright 2010 GO Group Media