15 Jan 2016
Javakheti – December 2015-January 2016
Opening of Kartsakhi border crossing point, concerns of Javakheti residents, unification of two municipalities into one electoral district, building of Justice House in Akhalkalaki, potato harvest and other issues
On October 18, the new Georgian-Turkish customs border crossing point (BCP) “Kartsakhi” was opened in Javakheti. The total construction budget of the BCP was 11 532 940 lari ($4,800,000). The construction provided employment to approximately 50 local residents. The residents of Javakheti had mixed feelings around the opening of the “Kartsakhi” BCP. For some people the opening of the crossing point raised concerns, while others saw it as an opportunity for increased economic activity. According to the online news webpage jnews.ge, one of the reasons for concern was the Turkish-language sign “We will be back” posted on the walls of the Akhalkalaki fortress. This alarmed the local residents, and some linked it with the growing number of terrorist acts in different parts of the world. A few days later, the sign was gone from the wall.
The construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad passing through Akhalkalaki that is carried out by the Turkish company “POLAT” is moving forward but at a slower pace than in the beginning. The launch of the railroad was planned for 2015, but the construction was carried out slower and was not completed in time. At the same time, reconstruction works on the 183-km-long Tbilisi -Marabda-Akhalkalaki segment have been completed; a railroad station in the village of Kartsakhi and a tunnel connecting Georgia and Turkey have been constructed. In addition, bridges are being built. The Kartsakhi station construction area is being watched by border guard services, and access to it without a special permit is prohibited. The construction site is closed also for journalists, and no information is provided about the progress of the work.
On December 18, the Georgian Parliament reviewed amendments to the “Electoral Code” according to which the municipalities of Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda will be united into one majoritarian electoral district and will be represented in the Parliament by a single deputy. Further, several villages of the Akhalkalaki municipality – Azavret, Kochio, Prtna, Baralet and Chunchkha are united with Aspindzi and Borjomi municipalities and will constitute one majoritarian electoral district. This step was aimed at preventing corruption in the electoral system, reports jnews.ge.
The residents of Javakheti were dissatisfied with the grain and potato harvest in 2015. According to Head of the Akhalkalaki Information and Counseling Center of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia Ramaz Gogoladze, in 2015 the yield of grain crops and potatoes has decreased, but the yield of carrots, onions, beets, garlic, and cabbage increased. In 2015, in the Akhalkalaki municipality 8,414 hectares were used to grow potatoes, which yielded 108,761 tons of harvest.
6.9 km of roads were renovated in Akhalkalaki in 2015. According to the official webpage of the Akhalkalaki municipality, 1,420,000 lari ($590.000) from the local budget and 868,000 lari ($360.000) from the state budget was allocated for this purpose.
December is the month when many seasonal workers return home from Russia. Due to the devaluation of the Russian ruble many of them came home almost empty-handed. Many families continued to keep their savings in Russian rubles and were taking consumer loans in Georgian lari hoping that the ruble will grow again. As of now those expectations have failed and these families found themselves in an even more difficult situation.
The construction of the House of Justice will begin in Akhalkalaki in 2016. It will be moved from the city center to the southern part of the city. Now the Civil Registry service is housed in the same building with the House of Justice. According to the online news webpage jnews.ge, during different events or quite frequent problems with documents, the building becomes extremely overcrowded and stuffy. There is also a shortage of workers.
Since 2013, the Armenian schools in Javakheti had not receive supplies of Armenian language and literature textbooks. Previously the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia provided them. During the past two years, this responsibility was shifted to the Ministry of Diaspora of Armenia, which after long negotiations with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia only in November 2015 shipped 5,265 textbooks for Armenian schools in Georgia, reports jnews.ge. These textbooks will be distributed among the 135 Armenians schools in Georgia. Part of the textbooks already arrived in Akhalkalaki, but they are not enough. It is expected that in the future the number of textbooks will increase.
On August 18, 2015 Georgia moved to digital broadcasting. Due to the high prices of digital transmission, ATV12 and Evrika channels stopped broadcasting in Akhalkalaki. This even further exacerbated the information vacuum in Akhalkalaki, where the majority of the population does not speak Georgian and relies on Armenian- and Russian-language channels for information. Currently there is only one local informational webpage operating in the city – jnews.ge, which publishes in Armenian and Russian languages.
On October 25, the Tbilisi Open Cup 2015 weightlifting tournament was held in Tbilisi, where Sipan Shipaktsyan from Javakheti came first. The tournament was organized by the federation “Georgian powerlifting National Alliance”. In 2015, Sipan Shipaktsyan also became a Champion of Europe in the 75kg weight category.
The European youth boxing championship was held in the Polish city of Kolobrzeg from November 20 to 28. Athletes from over 40 countries in Europe took part in the championship. Seven athletes represented Georgia, and the Georgian delegation returned with three medals, one of which was won by an athlete from Akhalkalaki sports complex, the 18-year-old Gagik Pozoyan, who took the third place. According to his coach Atom Elizbaryan, Gagik Pozoyan is a well trained and clever boxer and can continue making Javakheti and Georgia proud. He hopes that Gagik Pozoyan will participate at the Olympic Games of 2020. He will not participate in the 2016 games because he will not qualify for license because of this young age.
On December 21, an event dedicated to the Armenian-Georgian friendship was held at the Akhalkalaki Russian school №2. High school students presented the history of friendship of the two nations.
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