TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia’s Armenian community asks parliament to recognize the events of 1915-1923 in Turkey as genocide and also asks Tbilisi City Hall to build a memorial dedicated to victims of the genocide.
Two years ago, the community received a positive answer from City Hall about the memorial, and now they are waiting for an answer from City Council.
But in Parliament there was loud discussion Tuesday about anti-Armenian statements by Azer Suleimanov, a majority MP of Azerbaijani origins, directed at Jondi Baghaturia, an opposition MP.
In 1915-1923, ethnic Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed and according to various data, the number of victims ranged from 0.6 to 1.8 million. The Turkish Republic, the legal successor to the Ottoman Empire, categorically denies that it was a genocide, but acknowledge that there was mass death of Armenians.
Government officials accused Baghaturia of provocation, but condemned the things Suleimanov said, and he later apologized for his ‘emotional’ statement. Despite this, about 35 organizations within the Armenian community asks President Mikheil Saakashvili as head of National Movement to exclude Azer Suleimanov from his party.
They also appealed to prosecutor general’s office and demanded that he launch a criminal case against Suleimanov.
In addition, the Union of Armenians in Tbilisi appealed to Patriarch Ilia II, the authoritative head of the Georgian Church.
“Considering that Your Holiness is the highest clerical authority for the orthodox parish, but also for the absolute majority of the Georgian population, we request to intervene against programmed provocation and apply God’s word to the protection of peace in our homeland,” the letter says.
Ethnic Azeris are the largest ethnic minority in Georgia, accounting for about 6.5 per cent of the population, while 5.7 per cent are Armenian , according to dData from 2002.
Arnold Stepanian, of Armenian origins, head of Multinational Georgia, organization protecting rights of ethnic minorities, says that lately xenophobic statements are frequently made and this is a quite dangerous tendency.
“Not only Azer Suleimanov shouldn’t be in the next parliament assembly, nut none of the MPs who suffer from xenophobia. The government shouldn’t name such people for the next elections on the party list and also major and by this it will prove that Suleimanov’s statement hasn’t been agreed with the government,” he says, adding that there is a tendency in the country of controversy between minorities and the government doesn’t take adequate steps to reduce this dangerous tendency.
Aly Babayev, of Azerbaijani origins and head of the organization Georgia My Homeland says that a discriminatory statement had also been made directed at Azeris, but there was no reaction to this.
“Armenian Van Baiburt, president’s assistant stated, when you talk about Javakhi separatism, there is also Borchalo and they also demand autonomy. We considered this as abuse, but this incident wasn’t followed by any reaction. Azer Suleimanov made this statement on an emotional background and apologized; and Suleimanov isn’t elected by Armenians,” Babayev says.