The Georgian Orthodox Church said on Sunday that ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages was “unacceptable”.
“Discussions have been renewed recently about the European charter of regional and minority languages, which we think is unacceptable, because it will cause strengthening of separatist movement and creation of new grave problems for the country,” says a written statement by Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II.
The statement also says that ratification of this Charter by the Parliament is “inadmissible” before level of knowledge of the Georgian language among national minorities in Georgia remains low and before Georgia’s territorial integrity is not restored.
Georgia undertook commitment to ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 1999 upon joining the Council of Europe.
In mid-March the local town council, Sakrebulo, in pre-dominantly ethnic Armenian populated Akhalkalaki, discussed to appeal to the Parliament with the request to ratify the Charter.
Secretary general of President Saakashvili’s UNM party, Vano Merabishvili, said on March 18 that discussion of this issue in Akhalkalaki Sakrebulo was “provoked” by the Georgian Dream and accused the latter and the current government of a failure to properly handle situation on the ground in the pre-dominantly Armenian populated region. Merabishvili said that when UNM was in power it was handling situation in a way that “this issue was not put on the agenda at all”.
State Minister for Reintegration Issues, Paata Zakareishvili, said that sooner or later Georgia would have to ratify this Charter as it was part of country’s international commitments; he said that the previous government was trying to paper over this issue, instead of taking any substantial step to resolve it.