The residents of Akhalkalaki region are expecting some changes after the Presidential Elections in Georgia.
Education, infrastructure, relations with Russia and Armenia are among the most important problems that Akhalkalaki residents list when they talk about the major concerns in their region.
“First of all we would like to have good roads, open customs house between Armenia and Georgia. We’d like to have equality, equally shared property, so that no one could take property from people. In Saakashvili times we often witnessed such cases,” said 62 years old Levon.
He totally agreed with Vahagn Chakhalyan, when he accused Saakashvili for ignoring Armenian citizens’ concerns. “Chakhalyan was right. The questions he arose were really important. Moreover, I think the incident somehow affected people’s choices.”
Another resident, a pensioner Ilush Koghoyan told Newscafe that there are numerous problems, which need to be solved in Javakheti. By opening roads with Russia so that people could freely leave and come. Unemployment is also among the major problems in Akhalkalaki. They are expecting opening of new workplaces, new factories.
“People work hard to grow potatoes here. We want the government to buy potatoes from us rather than buy it from Turkey for Georgian army,-” he said.
Akhalkalakian residents think Armenian history should definitely be taught in schools and universities of Georgia properly. Every citizen has to know where his/her roots come from. Modern school books do not teach pupils Armenian history, they only study Georgian history.
“You can find very little information about Armenian history in books, if any at all. Chakhalyan said that this is a gap which should be filled, but as Saakashvili answered in Georgian. Only 10 people could understand what he was saying,” said another resident pointing the latest incident that “Saakakashvili’s wife said let’s go, if we leave, Armenians will return.”
“We can do nothing with the language problem but to study Georgian gradually, especially our children. It’s our republic, we have to study Georgian no matter we like it or not,” Ilush said.
“You can find few things about Armenians, Armenian history and culture. I want our people to be free, free in everything and not be frightened like in Saakashvili’s times,-” said Zarmaryan Artashes. “Saakashvili put an end to Armenian literature in Akhalkalaki, so that people would study only Georgian. I think this quarrel affected on them both,” said Jora Zaqvinyan, a resident of Akhalkalaki region.
Another important problem that Akhalkalaki residents mentioned was Georgia’s relations with Armenia and Russia. “We shouldn’t separate nations into Georgians and Armenians because we lived together as a unit in Akhalkalaki without having any problems. We were good friends and relatives by engaging our sons and daughters. But then Misha came and spoiled everything,” said Jora Zaqvinyan.
One of the voters told Newscafe, “I hope the relations between the two nations, Armenians and Georgians, will be better. Before, when we were coming From Armenia to Georgia and taking some goods with us, we were having no problems in the borderline: no car checking, no goods checking but now you can’t bring for example much cigarette, you will face problems, it was deformity.”
“We expect from the new government to have good relations with Russia because our sons are in Russia and we have problems in visiting them, so we ask them to open the roads, train ways, so that people would be satisfied with everything. Or else we are voting for 20 years without any result,” said Ilush Koghoyan, the pensioner.
Ilush expects from the new government to increase the amount of the pensions.
Ilush also thinks Chakhalian was right to arise such questions as language, literature and history. Later, Saakashvili told media he had three enemies: Chakhalian, Putin and Medvedev. Though Ilush doesn’t think the quarrel affect people’s decision on the election day.
Elections were held in peace, no major violations were identified. Giorgi Rijamadze from Akhalkalaki N40 Regional Electoral Committee staff told that the absence of violations gives him hope. ”We expect a colorful future from whoever is selected,” he said.
A. Ayvazyan is a journalist at the newspaper “Southern gate”. She compared this with Parliamentary elections, and said that during the 2013 Elections people are not actively participating. For a year ago they believed their voice could actually change the reality.