Critics of European language charter warn that granting legal rights to linguistic minorities could weaken Georgian statehood.
By Natia Kuprashvili - Caucasus
CRS Issue 563,
22 Oct 10
The Georgian government regularly says it wants to live up to European standards, but the question of granting rights to minority language groups remains deeply divisive.
Back in 1999, the then government gave itself a year to decide whether to ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. More than a decade on, no decision has been taken either way.
The debate in Georgia is complicated by the question of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two separatist regions with their own languages which Moscow has recognised as independent states.
In Georgia, there are fears that awarding a formal status to languages and dialects might promote other separatist tendencies in this small country, perhaps spurred on by Russia.
Experts who took part in a September 13-14 conference in Tbilisi expressed concern that ratifying the European language charter could weaken the state.