Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 25 / Trend , E.Rustamov /
Georgian MP Ramin Bayramov spoke with Trend in an exclusive interview.
Trend : What is the goal of visit of Georgian Parliamentary delegation, headed by the Vice Speaker Fridon Todua?
Ramin Bayramov: The key goal is to establish closer relations with the Azerbaijan Parliament for further work. Georgia and Azerbaijan are strategic partners, and the more we meet, the more we will inform each other of our ideas and plans, discuss problems, the more this will help improve co-operation and solve existing problems.
Q: What work did You do as a member of Georgian Parliament?
A: After becoming MP, for me the most important was to obtain real information on the problems of Azerbaijanis, since the opinion of population has great significance. Frequently people raise any problems, but they do not know the source of these problems and how to solve them.
Unfortunately, the non-governmental sector has weakly developed, in the regions densely populated by the Azerbaijanis, and this also creates certain barriers. And one of my priorities is to make more active the work of the existing non-governmental organizations so that they would begin activity at the professional level, hold monitoring and reveal problems. Due to lack of knowledge of official language, the non-governmental organizations have problems, since they can not prepare projects. A local human resource must be used, it is necessary to give necessary knowledge to people.
We must reach activity of the Azerbaijanis in the public political life. Centers, new innovation groups, non-governmental organizations have been established in several regions. We study problems and try to resolve them.
Q: With what problems do Azerbaijanis appeal to You?
A: There are many problems. Mainly people appeal with regards to pardoning of their relatives, who are in prison. Appeals are made on grants because due to lack of knowledge on official language, people do not know how to appeal to obtain grants. There are serious problems in the sphere of agriculture, mainly melioration.
We can solve some questions, but there are questions that contradict the legislation of Georgia, and therefore, we try to explain this to people appealing.
Q: How can you characterize the current social situation of the Azerbaijanis in Georgia?
A: We try to work on the issue. There are many social programs both at the local level and at the level of the central government. The Azerbaijanis are engaged mainly in agriculture, and there are many problems in this sphere that affect their social status.
One of them is related to reclamation. The water supply system is in a deplorable condition, irrigation canals are not repaired for decades, and many farmers lost their crops for this reason. We try to make sure that water reaches the crops.
The Azerbaijanis, who are engaged in commercial activities, are not informed about the legislation and taxation. Therefore, many appeals have been made.
I do not think that the situation of the Azerbaijanis differs from that of the Georgians.
Q: What about the land issue? Much has been said in the media that the Azerbaijanis were not given lands after its division?
A: I constantly read from media of Azerbaijan, which states that the Azerbaijanis in Georgia have no land. This is not true. The majority of Azerbaijanis living in Georgia owns lands. Even if there are problems, it covers no more than 10 percent of the population.
There are several types of land. If we talk about gardens, these lands have been distributed to all. With regard to agricultural land, then auctions were held. Any citizen of Georgia regardless of where he lives might buy land in an open auction. If someone from other territories of Georgia bought the land in places where the Azerbaijanis live, nobody can take away it from him, because it is his property.
Residents of only one village participated at the auction. If someone does not have land, it's likely that he was not in the territory of Georgia, or whether those people have bought these lands and resell them. Of course, there are problems, but they are not as dramatic as presented by the media. The existing problems must be reconsidered.
Q: What Azerbaijan can do for its compatriots in Georgia?
A: One of the issues is agriculture. The development of agriculture will help to improve the social status of the Azerbaijanis. The problem is in the lack of agricultural machines and equipment. The market is also of a great importance. Azerbaijan could also help its counterparts by providing opportunities for marketing in Azerbaijan.
Development of small and medium scale business and training of professional personnel, who would investigate the sphere and reveal problems and provide information on business development so that local population knows what it can do.
Q: What is the situation with education of Azerbaijanis living in Georgia?
A: Education is one of the major issues impacting on Azerbaijanis' integration into the Georgian society. There are certain problems of legislative character and we are addressing them. We believe there are gaps, for example, education in the Georgian language. We are dealing with these problems. As far as ignorance of the Georgian language is concerned, the young people should be prepared to study the state language, because for adults it is very difficult to learn a language.
The authorities were reported to do plan to replace Azerbaijani principals at schools by Georgians. The reports are false. There was a law with certain shortcomings, but reform is not finished. It is underway.
For admission to high schools students can take exams in the Georgian and Azerbaijani languages. Previously, there were very few Azerbaijanis studying in universities of Georgia. They mostly came from Azerbaijan or other countries. Now the number of Azerbaijanis studying in Georgian higher education establishments has increased. An obstacle for entry into higher education establishments was lack of knowledge of the Georgian language, but it has been removed. This does not mean that Azerbaijanis will not be taught in Georgian. They are simply given an opportunity to take the exam in Azerbaijani, but they must study in Georgian. There are problems with textbooks, and Azerbaijan can help us in this regard.
I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the Azerbaijanis of Georgia: Do we want to live in Georgia and become full citizens of this country in order to prevent our children from suffering discrimination in this country when they grew up? If so, we need integration into the Georgian society.
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