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Echoes of Ivanishvili’s Armenian visit

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, January 24
The PM’s recent visit to Armenia brought to the forefront several interesting issues. The Messenger has previously touched on some of them, but there is one other issue that is worth addressing.

On January 17th, while meeting in Echmiadzin with Armenia’s Patriarch Garegin II, the Georgian PM was asked by Garegin II to introduce the History of the Armenian People as a subject in Georgian schools. This is not an extraordinary request, as every school in Georgia can introduce and teach a subject as an optional issue at school. However, in this case, what becomes intriguing is the question: what kind of manual will be used while teaching this particular subject?

The previous Georgian administration appeared to go through great pains to remove Armenian written history manuals in schools in Georgia. The explanation is very simple; in the Armenian written manuals the historical events sometimes are interpreted and stated in a very different form compared to the manuals written by Georgian authors. Georgians by the way, translated Georgian written history books into the Armenian language, recommending teaching regional history according these manuals. For example, some Armenian written history books declared that Javakheti is historically Armenian-owned land. They claim that this territory was seized by Georgia in 1918. Therefore it launched a war with Armenia. Georgian written books however, state that the war in 1918 was initiated by the Armenian side, and that Armenia aggressively tried to occupy Georgina owned territory. It is worth mentioning here, that the ethnic Armenian local population never participated in any kind of military hostilities during those periods, neither did they later.

Some Georgian analysts believe that the introduction of Armenian history manuals in Georgian- Armenian language schools will hinder the integration of ethnic Armenian Georgians into Georgian civil society. Furthermore, it can stimulate the development of separatist tendencies. Of course, neither of the sides will benefit from such possible conflicts and both parties will have serious problems. Furthermore, an increase in such studies will trigger similar claims from the Azeri population in Georgia. Occasionally there are territorial claims from the Azeri side as well, against Georgia– for example the David Gareji Monastery complex.

Some analysts also believe that such a distinct division between the ethnically different Georgian populations could facilitate growing antagonism between the Azeri and Armenian ethic population within the country. Of course this is not in the interests of ether of the nations, neither Armenians nor Azeri, and of course not in Georgia’s interest either.

It would have been ideal if the historians of all three countries could sit together and by interpreting different facts, find a common solution. At least the history books should not contribute to hostility and ethnic intolerance. Certainly it is very difficult to achieve such an ideal situation, so the current Georgian administration and the Ministry of Education in particular, should pay extra attention to this issue, so that this does not become a greater aggravation.