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Georgia Vows To End Its Armenian Region's Isolation

(RFE/RL) April 19, 2006 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today vowed to end the isolation of the country's Armenian-populated region of Samtskhe-Javakheti.

Saakashvili made the pledge while attending a ceremony to mark the beginning of renovation work on the Akhaltsikhe-Akhalkalaki road.

The Georgian president said his government would spend 300 million Georgian laris ($165 million) to build a new road to link the small town of Akhalkalaki to the capital, Tbilisi.

Residents in Samtskhe-Javakheti complain that successive Georgian governments have neglected their region, leaving it isolated it from the rest of the country.

Russia has a military base in Akhalkalaki, which it has pledged to vacate by the end of 2007. Many in this overwhelmingly ethnic Armenian town fear the base's closure will add to their economic hardship.

(Imedi TV, Civil Georgia, Novosti-Gruziya)

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