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Author: Smbat Minasyan -
changes of Armenian population of Georgia (Javakhk,
The city of tiflis, Borchalu) and their political consequences
(at 1918-since our days)
During many decades Georgia conducted the
nationalist and chauvinistic policy in relation to ethnic people living on
territories controllable by her. On all extent of 20-th century this policy
basically has been directed mainly against the Armenians living in
Samtskhe-Javakhk, Kvemo-qartli, Kaheti, Tiflis, Sukhum, etc.
What kind of
consequences brought this policy? Was it possible for Georgian
government to assimilate or to oblige the Armenian population to leave
their historical native land?
beginning of 1918 the population of present territory of South
Caucasus was 6.500.000, from which 2.450.000 Muslims, 1.650.000
Armenians, 1.600.000 Georgians and 800.000 representatives of other
basically lived in Tiflis and Kutais provinces, tatars
(Azerbaijanians) in Elizavetpol and Baku provinces. What concerns to
Armenians of Transcaucasia their number in former Transcaucasian
provinces was following:
province - 600.000 Armenians
province - 400.000 Armenians
province - 110.000 Armenians
- 110.000 Armenians
Province (including Zakatal region) - 400.000 Armenians
province (With the Batumi area and Suhum district) - 35.000 Armenians
number of 1.650.000 native Armenians of South Caucasus it is necessary
to add also more than 600.000 Armenians-refugees from the Western
Armenia the majority of which has found a shelter within the limits of
new established Armenian republic, and nearby 150.000-200.000
to pass over the Georgia, pursuing the purpose to make the way to
to statistics of 1918 a significant part of the Armenian population
lived in the territory which became a part of the Georgian republic.
In 1918 number of Georgians in Georgia did not exceed 50% (1.500.000)
, and Armenians 30% (500.000-600.000)
 their significant part
lived in the city of Tiflis, consisting 46% of population of this
350.000-th city. Other part of the Armenian population lived basically
on the historical native land - on a southern part which officially
was a part of the Georgian Menshevist Republic.
beginning of 1918 in Akhalkalak region had 120,000 population, from
which Armenians 89,000 (74%), turks 8000 (7%), representatives of
other nationalities 23.000 (19%)
period in Ahalkalak district there were 111 villages from which 66
were Armenian, 24 - Turkish, 9 - Russian, 10 Georgian (including
former Armenian villages Vargav and Hzabavra, the population of which
had assimilated with Georgians), and one village with the
Armenian-Georgian mixed population.
Armenian families lived also in Borchalu. In 1916 the number of
Armenians in this district exceeded 69.000 (40.5), Tatars - 50.000
(2.3), Greeks - 30.500 (17.8), Russians - 10.000 (5.8), Georgians -
7.600 (4.1) Germans - 4.000 (2.4).
beginning of 1918 Armenians were the comparative majority of Borchalu
successes of assimilation of Armenian population by Georgians could be
easily seen in the beginning of 20-th century when the majority of
Armenians-Catholics (more than 15.000) who lived in Tiflis province,
were assimilated with Georgians in the period less than two decades
(for example Hzabavra, Vargav, Bnel, Hetz, Shaft, Bolodjar, Asral,
Abastuman, Ude, Ivlata and other villages with Armenian-Catholic
beginning of 1917 in Tiflis and Kutais provinces have begun strong
oppressions against Armenians. In 1918 these oppressions began to get
more severe character as the anti-Armenian policy was coordinated and
executed by Menshevist circles of the government of Georgia. This
policy has led to decrease in number of the Armenian population within
that the Georgian authorities haven’t
allowed the Armenian-refugees inside borders of Georgia to pass to
North Caucasus or to return home leaved them without a roof over the
head and food, doomed them to destruction. So in 1918-1920 every day
on territory of the Georgian republic from a cold, famine and
different illnesses were being died more than 1000
Armenian-Georgian war in December 1919 which has been provoked by a
Menshevist government, tens of thousands of Armenians had been exiled
in concentration camps on territory of Georgia. Majority of those
Armenians never returned to their homes. Already in 1926, on
territory of the Soviet Georgia remained only 279.891 Armenians
(according to census 1926). They were only 11,8% of all population of
the country whereas in 1918 the number of Armenians was nearby 30%.
Basically the number of Armenians was reduced due to the died
refugees, the genocide of Armenians in Borchalu district and due
leaving the Armenian population from Tiflis.
little period Armenian population of Georgia was decreased by half -
from 600.000 up to 300.000 person.
Can we call
this phenomenon a white genocide ? A genocide of Armenians in Georgia
which sometimes got severe character - similar with the Genocide of
Armenians in Ottoman empire.
native Armenian population of Samtskhe-Javakhk and Tzalka somehow
tries to resist against the anti-Armenian policy of Georgian
remind, that in the first years of Soviet system ruling in Georgia, on
the territory of today's Samtzske-Dzhavakhk region lived 200402
persons. The Region had following national structure
- 109,748 (54.8),
Turk-meskhetzs (including all Moslems) - 57.079 (28.5),
- 18.536 (9.2),
nationalities - 15.040 (7.5):
As we see,
Armenians made overwhelming majority in Samtskhe-Jaavakhk,
Turk-meskhets 1/4 and Georgians - obvious minority.
In 1944 by
decision of a government of the USSR the Turkish population of
Samtskhe-Javakhk (already about. 100.000 person) has been exiled to
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Their former residences have been populated
by Georgians from Imereti
. From 120 villages left by
Turks-meskhetzs 115 were in Adigen, Axaltzxa and Aspindza
administrative areas from which 65 have been resettled by the alien
Georgian population from Imereti. Other villages became basically
thrown. Only 5 villages (Sagamo, Xavet, Erindja, Davnia, Karsep) were
in Akhalkalak (4) and Bogdanovka (1) areas which in a consequence have
been populated by Armenians. The Georgian local government forbade
Armenian population to settle the thrown villages, and has agreed on
it only when has seen, that the Georgian newcomers have flatly refused
to settle and live there in these severe climatic conditions.
are numerous debates about returning the turks-meskhetzs on former
places of residing. It is necessary to note, that from those left 120
villages in 65 lives Georgians, about 50 settlements are thrown and
now have already ruined, and only in 5 villages belonged
turks-meskhetzs, now live Armenians.
obvious, that the slightest attempt to return Turkic ethnic minority
in edge will provocated a tension situation, first of all for the
Georgian population, who occupied former turks-meskhetzs settlements.
The little conflict between the local Georgian population and
immigrants can strongly destabilize the all region, and Georgia will
loss the territories which has been ''won’’
nearby 100.000 turks-meskhetzs has noticeably changed demographic
picture of Samtskhe-Javakhk. According to census of 1979 the
population of region had approximately 190.000 person. Armenians are
124.000 (65.3%), - Georgians 44000 (23.2%), and others - Russians,
Ukrains, Greeks, Jews, etc.
census of 1979, administrative area Samtskhe-Javakhk had following
Adigen - the population 20.000
nationalities - (7,5%)
Akhaltskha - the population 50.350
nationalities - (9,2%)
Akhalkalak - the population 69.455
nationalities - (3,9%)
Aspindza - the population 12411
Bogdanovka - the population 36632
Representatives of Other nationalities - (0,2%)
In the same
1979, Dnamis, Bolnis and Marneul (3 from 5 areas of former Borchalu
district) had 120.000 inhabitants. More than 90.000 were descendants
of shiits turks (azeries), Armenians were 20.000, and the other part
of the population were the representatives of other nationalities,
including Georgians. In area Tetri-Txarsk from 36.000 person nearby
6.000 were Armenians, Georgians were 25.000, the others -
representatives of other nationalities. An aggregate number of the
population in Tsalka area made 40.000 person, from whom Greeks were
approximately 16.000, Armenians - 14.000, the others - representatives
of other nationalities, including Georgians and azeris.
If we take
1918 - 1979 interval, we shall see, that the Armenian population in
Samtskhe-Javakhk has increased only for some thousand person. It
proves the fact that it is impossible to trust data of census
unequivocally on 100%. However the facts beat in a bell, and to
escape from them isn’t
probably. For last 60 years the Georgian leaders excellent managed not
only a policy of not admitting a natural increase of the Armenian
population on all territory of the Georgian Soviet republic, but also
organize the maximal outflow and assimilation. In particular, number
of Armenians in territory of former district Borchalu for last 60
years was decrease almost by half, and in a percentage parity of the
general number of the population at least in 4 times.
last 40-50 years more than 200,000 Armenians have been compelled to
change the Armenian termination of their surnames "ian" on Georgian
"dze" and "shvili".
statistics shows, that for 70 years the Armenian population of Georgia
was reduced at least in 2 times from 600,000 up to 300,000-250.000,
and in a percentage parity from the general number of the population
at least in 5 times hole 30% up to 6%.
these horrifying numbers, nevertheless it is obvious, that the
Georgian policy of nationalism or a white genocide of Armenians has
not crowned desirable success for them. This fact is proved with
materials of census 1989 and 2002. We shall compare them:
with 1989 census in Georgia, Armenians were 360.000 according to 2002
census this number has decreased up to 250.000. It is necessary to
note, when in 1989 in Georgia was spent the population census, in
this period Abkhazia and South Ossetia were been in structure of
Georgian SSR. In this states lived nearby 85.000 Armenians. Thus,
excepting independent formations from structure of Georgian Republic
we shall receive about 290.000 Armenians in republic.
the fact, that for last 15 years Georgia has left more than one and a
half million person it is possible to tell with confidence, that the
Armenian population even if we trust 2002 statistics in a percentage
parity has decreased slightly in comparison with the Georgian
population of the country. However it doesn’t
mean that the situation of Armenians in Georgia became better than 20
years ago, even on the contrary, the anti-Armenian moods in the
country lately have noticeably risen, and government of Saakashvili
conducts a policy with more dangerous methods.
analysis showed with what persistence the Georgian government tried
and try to supersede, kill and assimilate in every possible way the
Armenian population, finally, having reduced it up to symbolical
that for last 60 years the Georgian leaders never thought that
replacement of the Armenian ethno cultural element can lead to
significant changes of ethno religious shape of the Georgian
statehood. As we see, on a place of Armenian-Christians which during
centuries peacefully coexisted on the native ground, in the
neighborhood with Georgians, are coming shiit turk-meskhets (read
azeris) which proceeding from an ethno cultural and religious
structure, completely can’t
be integrated into the Georgian reality and a way of their life. More
likely the contrary, the history shows, that this ethnic element of
Georgia is adjusted by aggressive passion on all "not Azerbaijan".
In days of
the USSR demographic parameters of ethnic Azerbaijanians were high
enough. On statistical data of 1989, on one thousand Georgian about
16 children, the same parameter in relation to the Azerbaijan minority
of the country had about 29 children on 1000 Azerbaijanians.
thirty years of the Soviet authority (1959-1989) number of ethnic
Azerbaijanians in Georgia has increased twice. The peak of a
population explosion has fallen on 80th years. Parameters of
demographic growth among Azerbaijanians of Georgia exceeded even
similar parameters in the Azerbaijan Soviet republic. It was promoted
by set of factors, including social and economic, and also the fact,
that living in Kvemo-Kartli Azerbaijanians felt comfortably enough
that it was impossible to tell about Armenians of Samtskhe-Javakhk.
disintegration of the USSR Azeris in Georgia stand in the face of big
problems. Nationalistic government of president Gamsahurdia
considered, that fast rates of growth of the Azerbaijan ethnic element
in the country can lead to the ethnic conflict. In the beginning 1990
replacement of azers in Marnelul, Bolnis and Dmanissk areas, was
reflected of ethnic structure of these areas. In 1989 in Georgia lived
307.600 azers, according to official statistical data, they had 5.7%
from an aggregate number of the population of Georgia.
2002 the number of Azerbaijanians was reduced (it is possible to tell
about all population of the country), however they became the second
ethnic group after the Georgians. According to 2002 their number were
284.761. But in difference from Armenians of Samtskhe-Javakhk, the
birth rate of Azeirs are incomparably high, and the percent left the
country considerably is low in comparison with Georgians.
informal Azerbaijan statistics, number of Azerbaijanians in Georgia
vacillate from 350 thousand up to half million. According to some
Azerbaijans analysts and demographers number of Azerbaijanians in
Georgia makes from 500.000 up to 600 thousand.
the most conservative estimates, today the Azerbaijan population
almost in 2 times more than number of Armenians in Georgia, 3 times
more than population of Abkhazia and in 6 times more than population
of South Ossetia.
If Baku and
Tiflis has convergence with their national interests it can bring with
him a big conflict between Azerbaijan and Georgia.
on the above-stated facts, it is possible to note with confidence,
that the policy of the countries of Caucasus under the attitude to
each other proceeds in 1918, practically right after declarations of
year became the beginning of territorial claims of three republics
that has led to conflicts in Samtskhe-Javakhk, Borchalu, Artzax and in
Zakatal district. Conflicts have been actually frozen of Sovietization
of Caucasus, however it has not solved the reason and an essence of
next years as well as Armenians, the Azerbaijan population of Georgia
on a regular basis addressed to the central authorities with
complaints to an arbitrariness of the Georgian officials, but each
time spontaneous discontent of representatives of the largest in the
country ethnic minority skilfully disappeared and neutralized by
Shevardnadze has approached to itself the most authoritative leaders
of Diaspora and has entered Azerbaijanians into structure of
parliament, and its friend and adherent Gejdar Aliev actively
convinced fellow countrymen of necessity of display of loyalty to
authorities of the country which citizens they are.
which has abated only for a while has renewed at once after a victory
over Tbilisi of " pink revolution ". In searches of the political
decision of an obvious problem new authorities have preferred the
effective special actions lead in region under aegis of struggle
against corruption and contraband and directed as it has appeared,
exclusively against representatives of the Azerbaijan Diaspora. The
law and order in region has not guided by special troops, but has
caused discontent of national minority, and only Bakus' "connection"
has allowed to avoid a new aggravation of a situation.
conditions in areas of Georgia where lives azeri population has not
changed. In the summer-autumn Georgian army have lead in Marneul and
Gardaban areas the whole series of special operations as a result of
which have been detained 200 arrested azeris.
"nose" such threat, the Georgian government is continue the
anti-Armenian policy, thus, creating the strained situation in
Samtskhe-Javakhk instead of giving Armenians of this region these
rights which must has the people living on its historical native land
within the borders of other state.