The main topics of the day in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 27 February - 3 March, 2023
Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia – кey headlines from local media for 27 February – 3 March, 2023.
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Friday, 3rd March,Georgia
● A protest against the “law on foreign agents” was held in the parliament and outside the building in Tbilisi (pictured). It began spontaneously after it became known that the parliamentary committee, despite all the protests of representatives of the media and NGOs, began to discuss the draft law “On the transparency of foreign influence.” Several participants of the rally, including journalists, were detained by security forces 👉 https://rb.gy/n6h3n9
● While protests were taking place outside parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the ruling party, appeared on the pro-government Imedi TV channel and said that the law “will contribute to the implementation of the EU’s first recommendation, depolarization.” “One of the main causes of polarization is ambiguity. On the one hand, they say that depolarization must take place, on the other hand, someone is financing the polarization. I think that the law will immediately have a preventive effect: some will refrain from financing polarization,” he said.
● In the meantime, the text of a petition supporting Georgia’s accession to the European Union and NATO appeared on Facebook. The stated goal is to collect a million signatures from the people of Georgia. The collection of signatures was previously announced by three opposition parties – Girchi More Freedom, Droa and Agmashenebeli Strategy.
● The Tbilisi Court of Appeal dismissed the lawsuit filed by Mikheil Saakashvili’s lawyers.
The defense tried to challenge the decision of the Tbilisi City Court of February 6, which left the ex-president in custody, recognizing the application for a suspension of the sentence and release on health grounds as groundless.
● Registration for the 2023 Unified National Exams has begun.
Friday, 3rd March, Azerbaijan
● The 82nd day of the protest action of Azerbaijani activists on the Lachin road (pictured). They demand monitoring of gold and copper deposits in the part of Karabakh controlled by Russian peacekeepers, as well as a meeting with the commander of the RMK.
● This year, the authorities will allocate $1.7 billion for the restoration of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur. In 2021-2022, about $4 billion was spent for these purposes, President Aliyev said, speaking at the summit of the Contact Group of the Non-Aligned Movement to Combat COVID-19 in Baku.
● Aliyev proposed the creation of a Group of like-minded countries affected by mines. “Because of the Armenian occupation, Azerbaijan is among the most heavily mined countries in the world,” he said.
● Human remains discovered during demining work in the Fizuli region, which returned to Azerbaijani control after the second Karabakh war.
● Aliyev believes that the composition of the UN Security Council should be expanded. In his opinion, this is necessary in order to make the Security Council “more representative and geographically fair.” “The UN Security Council is ineffective today,” he said.
● Azerbaijan called on France to apologize for “bloody colonial crimes and acts of genocide” and “respect the rights of the people of New Caledonia and other peoples in the French overseas communities and territories.”
● In Azerbaijan, some taxi operators may switch to a new payment system. Information has spread in social networks that soon the cost of the trip will be calculated per minute, as a result of which services will rise in price. So far, the information has not been officially confirmed.
● Baku will host an exhibition of electric vehicles on March 12-14. As part of the Auto Eko-2023 auto show, the premiere of the latest models is expected.
Friday, 3rd March, Armenia
● In the near future it is planned to sign an agreement regulating the presence of the EU civil mission in Armenia. This was announced by Prime Minister Pashinyan during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. At the moment, the activities of EU observers are regulated by mutual official letters.
● Yerevan does not help Russia circumvent sanctions, it is “transparent and interested in relations with the EU,” Pashinyan said in Berlin.
● The Armenian Foreign Ministry commented on the accusations of Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov of “unconstructiveness”. The Armenian side is not trying to slow down the negotiations around the peace treaty, the Foreign Ministry said.
● The Indian company VDA Diamonds will open a diamond cutting plant in the city of Abovyan. The factory building has already been built.
● The Armenian authorities plan to complete the ambulance reform by 2025. The transformations began last year and aim to make the work of ambulance teams more efficient and mobile.
● A ski resort and an eco-village will be created on the slopes of Mount Aragats. The complex will occupy more than 4 thousand hectares and will include 300 mini-farms with guest houses, a reservoir, ski slopes, cable cars, hotels.
In the photo – Prime Minister Pashinyan with his wife Anna Hakobyan in Berlin
Thursday, 2nd March, Azerbaijan
● This morning, at the age of 49, the plenipotentiary representative of the Caucasian Muslims Office and famous Azerbaijani theologian Haji Shahin Hasanli, passed away due to a heart attack.
●The first official meeting between representatives of the Azerbaijani authorities and the Armenian population of Karabakh took place in Khojaly. “It’s good that the discussions focused both on immediate issues and broader issues,” EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar wrote on social media.
● Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Mehdi Safari, who arrived in Baku to attend the Non-Aligned Movement’s Contact Group on Combating COVID-19.
Bayramov said that Azerbaijan is continuing to investigate the January terrorist attack at the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, and noted the need for Iran to answer the questions of the Azerbaijani side related to the incident.
●The Iranian authorities closed the Centre for Azerbaijani Studies at the University of Tabriz. On February 27, two members of the centre were arrested.
●Azerbaijan is considering the issue of suspending the construction of residential buildings above nine floors.
In the photo – theologian Haji Shahin Hasanli.
Thursday, 2nd March, Armenia
● Yerevan is awaiting Baku’s response to its proposals on the draft peace treaty and the rules of procedure for the commission on delimitation and demarcation of borders, said Pashinyan.
● Modern teaching laboratories should start working in all schools in Armenia by 2026, Minister of Education Zhanna Andreasyan said in Parliament.
● The number of selective abortions of female embryos has increased in Armenia. The 44-day war has had an impact, speculated Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan.
● A monument to the victims of the riots in Yerevan on March 1, 2008 was opened in the centre of Yerevan. 10 people died on that day.
● A draft on the use of electronic bracelets as an additional measure to prevent domestic violence has been submitted to the Armenian Parliament. They will be worn not only by the offender, but also by members of his family who have been subjected to violence. They want to allocate about one and a half million dollars from the state budget for this.
Thursday, 2st March,Georgia
●”It will jeopardize Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic future”: outgoing US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan on the “foreign agents” law.
● “We are now largely dependent on the internal political situation in Georgia,” said Sergey Shamba, Secretary of the Abkhazian Security Council, at the conference “Special Military Operation as a Factor of World and Regional Policy” held in Sukhumi. “The current Georgian leadership is neutral towards Russia. Moreover, it is actively resisting the attempts of the Ukrainian authorities and its own opposition, which are demanding the opening of a second front against Russia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
● The presidential administration said that its representative was not invited to participate in the meeting of the country’s Security Council.
● “He told me that I was a secret service agent. I will no longer enter his ward,” stated the attending physician of ex-president Saakashvili.
● Students in Georgia will no longer be exempted from military service.
Photo by David Pipia
Wednesday, 1st March,Georgia
● “We don’t talk about Georgia the way we used to, and this is a huge tragedy,” said Former Director of the National Security Council for Europe and Russia Fiona Hill.
● The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunya Mijatović sent a letter to the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Shalva Papuashvili, in which she called on Parliament to ditch the draft law on “foreign influence.”
● Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has promised to veto the law on foreign agents if it is passed.
● Nun Sidonia, known in Georgian society for critical remarks about the government and the Church, condemned the bill and called on Catholicos Ilya II to “tell the people the truth”.
● The political party “European Socialists” has announced that it will collect signatures for the prosecutor’s office to investigate “the crimes committed by the Saakashvili regime” during the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. Representatives of the ruling party have already expressed their willingness to support such an investigation.
● Saakashvili’s condition, the rollback of democracy in Georgia, the role of Bidzina Ivanishvili, and LGBT+ rights were all discussed in the House of Lords in the British Parliament.
● “If someone wants to take care of Saakashvili’s health, let them urge him to consume more calories,” said Georgian Dream authority Mamuka Mdinaradze.
● “Relations with Tbilisi are quite strained, the authorities there are killing Saakashvili,” stated Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba.
● Lasha Khetereli, illegally detained in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict in December 2021, is at large, the State Security Service of Georgia reports.
● My Room, directed by Soso Bliadze, will arrive in Georgian cinemas tomorrow. This is the most titled Georgian film of 2022. It won the main actors Taki Mumladze and Mariam Khundadze the Best Actress award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and is also a laureate of the Batumi and Tbilisi International Film Festivals.
My Room movie poster
Wednesday, 1st March,Armenia
● Representatives of the US border service visited the border of Armenia with Georgia and Azerbaijan. The purpose of the visit is “to discuss the possibilities of cooperation in matters of border security.”
Defence Minister Suren Papikyan instructed the Military Police to intensify the fight against hazing and the use of smartphones in the army.
● China will provide free assistance to Armenia amounting to $14.5 million.
● Armenia wants to introduce criminal liability for actions and calls for the renunciation of sovereignty. The punishment for actions will be from 10 to 15 years in prison, and for public calls you could be punished by anything from a fine to imprisonment for up to 2 years.
● Armenian Kapan will become the youth capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 2026. This was announced by the Secretary General of the organization Sergei Lebedev.
Wednesday, 1st March, Azerbaijan
●The arrested activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev ended his hunger strike on its 51st day. This was announced by his lawyer.
●Non-Aligned Movement Summit starts today in Baku. The heads and officials of the countries participating in the movement have arrived in the capital. Residents of the city were warned about possible road closures during the summit days – March 1-3.
●”Since the start of the EU mission, the position of Armenia on all tracks of the negotiation process has become more destructive,” said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov during a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
●”Russian economic operators are ready to be actively involved in reconstructing Azerbaijani territories post-conflict,” Sergey Lavrov speaking from Baku.
●Azerbaijani Ambassador to Israel Mukhtar Mammadov has taken up his duties.
●10 families of total 50 people settled in the village of Agali in the Zangilan region (pictured), which came under the control of Azerbaijan as a result of the second Karabakh war. The next stage of the resettlement will take place on March 3, when 10 more families will move. As part of the Great Return project, a total of 86 families (420 people) were resettled.
Tuesday, 28th February, Armenia
● “Azerbaijan grossly violates its international obligations, as well as the norms of humanitarian law and the protection of human rights”; “It is necessary to send an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin corridor,” Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said at a meeting with International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spolyaric-Egger in Geneva.
● The Armenian parliament has tentatively approved a nearly 100% salary increase for prosecutors. The decision is related to the decline in the interest of young lawyers in serving in the prosecutor’s office due to the high workload of prosecutors, – explained Levon Badalyan, Deputy Minister of Justice.
● On the anniversary of the pogroms of Armenians in Sumgayit, officials laid wreaths at the memorial in Tsitsernakaberd. The EU Delegation and the American Embassy in Armenia wrote on social networks about how they “mourn with the Armenians and honor the memory of the victims.”
Photo by David Pipia
Tuesday, 28th February, Georgia
●The EU Ambassador to Georgia Pavel Gerchinsky handed over an official appeal from all 27 EU countries to the Minister of Justice of Georgia, which expresses concern about the state of Mikheil Saakashvili’s health.
●“Another five to seven kilograms, and he will be completely bedridden,” said an expert group of doctors after an examination of the ex-president convened by the Office of the Public Defender of Georgia. Saakashvili is rapidly losing weight. He is expected to reach a critical low of 52-53 kilograms within 1-2 months, after which the changes will become irreversible, doctors say.
● The ruling party of Georgia will support both versions of the law on foreign agents in its first reading, announced Irakli Kabakhidze, chairman of the Georgian Dream, saying that one of these projects will eventually be adopted into law anyway.
● The representative of the US State Department is lying and criticizing the bill on foreign agents, said Mamuka Mdinaradze. “Is Ned Price lying too?!” you ask with surprise, as if Price is not a person and cannot lie.”
Price previously stated that a bill proposed by pro-government Georgian MPs to create a “registry of agents of foreign influence” echoes Russia’s Law on Foreign Agents, poses a threat to freedom of speech in Georgia, and could undermine the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
● A lawsuit has begun in Batumi regarding violence and discrimination due to appearance. The accused attacked two underage girls on the street at the end of last year because “Georgian girls should not dye their hair red and green.” A verdict will be handed down in the coming days.
Photo by David Pipia
Tuesday, 28th February, Azerbaijan
● Today, Azerbaijan is celebrating the second Tuesday of Novruz – Od Chershenbesi (Tuesday of Fire). On this day, it is customary to light fires and jump over them. Participants jump over the fire seven times, while saying “Let my hardships burn in this fire!”.
● “Moscow and Baku are preparing several mega-projects that will be both bilateral and regional – some even global,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting with President Aliyev in Baku. “This is an indication of how promising the interaction with the leading participation of Russia and Azerbaijan in this region is.”
● Azerbaijan has started an interstate arbitration process against Armenia. “The Azerbaijani side demands compensation for the violation of Azerbaijan’s sovereign rights to energy resources during the period of occupation from 1991 to 2020,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said.
● The new summit of the Organization of Turkic States will be held on March 16 in Turkey, announced head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Mevlut Cavusoglu. The ATC includes Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Hungary and Turkmenistan have the status of observers.
● Wealthy Azerbaijani citizens are interested in investing in cryptocurrencies. This was stated by a member of the Bar Association Akram Hasanov. According to him, it is impossible to get information about the approximate number of people from Azerbaijan who have invested in cryptocurrencies.
Monday, 27th February , Georgia
● A second bill on foreign agents will be initiated at a meeting of the Bureau of the Georgian Parliament today, amid warnings from the EU that such laws are incompatible with the pursuit of candidate status.
Its authors, who broke away from the Georgian Dream, propose to put both bills to the vote, stating that the criticism of the first was unfounded, since it was softened as much as possible, and offered a second, tougher version for comparison.
● The Ministry of Culture of Georgia has been delaying permission for more than a year for a US Embassy-funded conservation project for the facade of Jvari, a monastery and temple of the 6th-7th centuries.
This was stated at the National Research Centre for the History of Georgian Art and the Protection of Monuments. The work was supposed to begin in November 2021. Half a million dollars were allocated from the Cultural Heritage Fund of the US Ambassador to Georgia.
● The Georgian national basketball team entered the World Cup for the first time in history. The Georgian team secured its participation in the world championship, despite losing the match against Iceland 77:80.
● The Georgian SAMBO team took the first team place at the European SAMBO Cup. Four golds, three silvers and two bronzes.
Photo by David Pipia
Monday, 27th February, Armenia
●Representatives of the unrecognised NKR and Azerbaijan have met, under the mediation of Russian peacekeepers. An agreement has been reached to ensure uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity to the region.
●Decisions of the International Court of Justice, including decisions “concerning the provision of unhindered movement in both directions along the Lachin corridor of people, vehicles and goods,” are binding, said UN Secretary General António Guterres.
●More than 70 female entrepreneurs from Armenia and the unrecognised NKR have organised a charity exhibition-sale under the title “Artsakh in our heart.” The proceeds will be used to purchase wood-burning stoves for Karabakh residents.
●Freestyle wrestler Vazgen Tevanyan won the international tournament in Egyptian Alexandria.
●Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian, playing under the American flag, has been declared the winner of the WR Chess Masters tournament in Dusseldorf.
Monday, 27th February , Azerbaijan
● Azerbaijan celebrated the 31st anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy yesterday. Thousands of Baku residents laid flowers at the Mother’s Cry monument.
A rally dedicated to the anniversary of the tragedy took place in Vienna. It was attended by about a thousand Azerbaijanis from various European countries.
●A group of people holding Armenian flags staged a provocation in front of the Azerbaijani embassy in the United States on the anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy, said Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United States Khazar Ibrahim.
“Armenians cheer with songs brutal killing of defenseless Azerbaijani kids, women & elderly during #KhojalyGenocide this very day in front of our Embassy in Washington DC.” he wrote on Twitter.
●Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will arrive in Baku today. He is expected to meet with President Aliyev and Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.
●“Failure to fulfill the legitimate demands of the Azerbaijani side led to a protest on the Khankendi-Lachin road. Baku is in daily contact with the Russian peacekeeping contingent,” Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said in an interview with journalists.
●The hunger strike of arrested activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is now on its 50th day. On social media yesterday there was information that he had agreed to intravenous injections, but his lawyers did not confirm it. In addition, personal correspondence and intimate photographs of Hajiyev have been circulated on social media by unknown people.
Key headlines from local media for 20-24 February, 2023