AKHALTSKHA, Javakhk—Renowned singer and Armenia’s Ambassador to Switzerland Charles Aznavour has angered the Armenian population of Javakhk by agreeing to perform at an official ceremony on Thursday for the reopening of the historic Rabat Fortress, where reportedly he will be performing in front of a mosque, which has also been renovated by official Tbilisi.
Several organizations from Samtskhe Javakheti and Kvemo Kartili, in an announcement, expressed distress over Aznavour’s decision to perform at this government-sponsored celebration, arguing that while official Tbilisi has funded the reconstruction of a mosque, it is dragging its feet to return the St. Mark (Neshan) Church back to the Armenian Diocese.
The group urged Aznavour to cancel his plans.
“By taking part in the concert, Aznavour will inadvertently bolster the official Georgian policy of violating the rights of the Javakhk Armenians,” the statement by the several organizations warned.
“Aznavour’s participation will have a negative impact on the great singer’s reputation among Javakhk Armenians,” the organizations claimed
Aznavour, whose ancestors are from Akhltskha, reportedly will be joined by a 25-person orchestra and will perform his traditional repertoire during the government-sponsored celebration. He arrived in Georgia on Wednesday.
Last week, a group of Javakhk Armenians in Russia also made a similar request from Aznavour. They claimed that while the majority of the funding for the renovation of the 16th century fortress was provided by the Georgian government, there was Turkish funding that augmented the costs of the renovation.
The Russia-based Javakhk Armenians stated that according to Georgian press reports that during negotiations with Turkey, Georgia has proposed that alongside renovation of the Azizieh Mosque in Batumi, the Ahmadieh Mosque at the Rabat Fortress be included in the plans. In return, the Georgian government will declare the Ahmadieh Mosque, in front which Aznavour is reportedly scheduled to perform, will be declared a historic monument.
Aznavour nor his representatives have commented on whether the singer is scheduled to perform at the fortress opening ceremonies.