The main topics of the day in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, 6-10 March, 2023
Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia – кey headlines from local media for 27 February – 3 March, 2023.
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Friday, 10th March, Georgia
● Today, the Georgian parliament is convening a plenary session, and there will be only one item on the agenda – the second reading of the draft law on foreign agents. As expected, the only topic is the final annulment of this bill, after several days of thousands of rallies with such a demand, which were dispersed with gas and water cannons.
● What is the procedure for withdrawing the law “on foreign agents” from the Parliament of Georgia – comment by a lawyer 👉 https://bit.ly/3ZVbAid
● Protest in Tbilisi in photo and video 👉https://bit.ly/3ypY8Hu
● Parliament initially announced that there would be no plenary sessions this week as protesters damaged the parliament building and infrastructure. But in the end, the meeting was appointed. Yesterday morning, the ruling Georgian Dream party announced that it was withdrawing the bill. In the evening, about 100,000 people again came to the parliament to remind them that they would follow the final repeal of the law. Today, an action is also scheduled for 11 am, in parallel with the process of hearings.
In the photo – youth protesting against the bill on foreign agents. Photo JAMnews / David Pipia
Friday, 10th March, Armenia
● Azerbaijan is ready to use military pressure to achieve its goals in negotiations with Armenia, according to the Global Threat Assessment 2023 prepared by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies. “Some progress has been made in the peace talks, but the most difficult issues related to the delimitation of the border and the future of Nagorno-Karabakh are far from being resolved.”
● Financial liability is introduced for the Armenian military for disciplinary violations. The military can now lose up to a third of their salary or allowances.
● An investigation into the theft of Armenian citizens’ WhatsApp accounts is underway. Expert Samvel Martirosyan says that the first suspects in the crime are Turkey and Azerbaijan, but there is no evidence of this yet.
● Armenia lost 19 positions in the WIPO Global Innovation Index in two years. Now the country is in 80th place among 132 countries, dropping from 61st position.
Friday,10th March , Azerbaijan
●“Every conflict has its own story, its own dynamics and its own conclusion. But the important thing is that disputes between countries are resolved on the basis of international law, territorial integrity and sovereignty cannot be changed by force. This is Azerbaijan’s view. And this position applies not only to our case, but to all conflicts in the world. We publicly voice this position,” said President Ilham Aliyev, speaking at the opening of the Baku Global Forum.
● Baku handed a note to Tehran due to the loss of an Azerbaijani citizen. This was announced by the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Aykhan Hajizade. Farid Safarli, a 25-year-old student at the University of Jena in Germany, went on a visit to Iran, but there has been no news of him since March 4.
● The EU called on Baku and Yerevan to dialogue. “Strongly concerned about the recent fatal collision and new reports of shootings. There is no justification for violence, all issues must be resolved only through negotiations,” EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar wrote on social networks.
● A resident of the Terter region of Azerbaijan was blown up by a mine in the territory that returned under the control of the country as a result of the second Karabakh war. His leg was amputated.
The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan reported on shelling of Azerbaijani positions by the Armenian Armed Forces. “By systematically shelling our positions, the Armenian Armed Forces are provoking our army to return fire, thereby trying to create a false opinion among the representatives of the EU civil mission operating on the conditional border, as well as create artificial tension,” the ministry stressed.
● “Dangerous” chocolates were brought from Russia to Azerbaijan. In the batch of Russian chocolates “Fejdra”, the amount of mold and yeast fungi exceeded the norm. The products were disposed of, the Food Security Agency of Azerbaijan reported.
● Azerbaijan at Eurovision 2023 will be represented by twin brothers Tural and Turan Bagmanov (pictured). 22-year-old musicians will perform a song of their own composition Tell Me More.
Thursday, 9th March, Georgia
The main news in Georgia: the scandalous bill on “foreign agents”, which led to mass protests in Tbilisi, has been withdrawn from the Georgian parliament. This was reported by the ruling Georgian Dream party.
“We see that the adopted bill has caused controversy in society. The lie machine was able to present the bill in a negative light and mislead a certain part of the population. The bill was labeled falsely as a “Russian law” and its adoption in the first reading was presented in the eyes of a part of the public as a departure from the European course.
We must be most attentive to peace, tranquility and economic development in our country, as well as to Georgia’s progress along the path of European integration. Therefore, it is necessary to spend the energy of each of our fellow citizens not on confrontation, but on developing the country in the right direction.
Taking into account all of the above, we, as an authority responsible to every member of society, have decided to unconditionally withdraw the bill supported by us without any reservations.
As the emotional background subsides, we will better explain to the public why the bill was passed and why it was important to ensure the transparency of foreign influence in our country. To do this, we will start meetings with the population and bring the whole truth to the general public.”
Thursday, 9th March, Azerbaijan
● Azerbaijani feminists held a traditional 8 March procession in Baku, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day. The police did not use force against the protesters. A statement was read out by the organizers of the march, who demanded an end to violence against women.
● The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan reported the arrest of two more people suspected of involvement in the attack on a hypermarket in Baku on March 4. According to the latest data, there were four of them.
● The 10th Global Baku Forum has started its work. The main topic will be “The World Today: Challenges and Hopes”. The forum has been held since 2013 under the patronage of the President of Azerbaijan and organized by the Nizami Ganjavi International Center. It is attended by dozens of former and current heads of state from different countries.
Thursday, 9th March, Armenia
●“To have a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan that is sustainable, strong and balanced, it must include Nagorno-Karabakh,” Louis Bono, US State Department senior adviser for Caucasus negotiations, said in an interview with Azatutyun.
●Armenia ordered Indian self-propelled howitzers MArG 155/39. Before placing an order, Armenia conducted tests, Indian Defense Research Wing writes about this.
●US Congressman Frank Pallone called for $100 million for Armenia and $50 million for the unrecognized NKR.
●Armenia will send observers to early parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan.
●”My muse is a woman” – an exhibition with this title was held in Yerevan on International Women’s Day. It presents the works of the Honored Artist of Armenia Vladimir Abrahamyan.
Tuesday, 7th March, Georgia
● The bill “on foreign influence” will be discussed at the plenary session of the parliament on March 9, said executive secretary of the ruling party Mamuka Mdinaradze.
“We’ve had a few heated days these days and it looks like it’s going to be like this all week.”
●There are a growing number of statements of protest against the law, which many in Georgia consider a perfect copy of the repressive Russian law on foreign agents.
Here are some of them:
•Georgian Muslim Board: “We support the European direction of the country.”
•Rector of Ilia Chavchavadze University: “[The law] will affect the reputation of donors and harm us.”
•Deputy rector of Tbilisi State University: “If we passed this law against [Russia], it would be understandable.”
•Dean Tamaz Lomidze: “Russia brought us destruction, Europe finances the restoration of churches.”
•Annual Tbilisi Open Air festival: “These unscrupulous people should not carry out their plan.”
•Dinamo Tbilisi football club: “We support Georgia’s European path, and we consider any initiative that hinders this path as a threat.”
● Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili also spoke about the “European perspective” of the country at the opening of the ITB Berlin 2023 tourism exhibition in Berlin. He did not say a word about his government’s plans to pass a law on foreign influence.
Photo by David Pipia, JAMnews. A protestor is pictured holding a sign with the slogan “you are playing with fire.”
Tuesday, 7th March, Armenia
● At the center of media discussions in Armenia is the statement by the president of the unrecognized NKR, Arayik Harutyunyan, about the ultimatum that the Azerbaijani side conveyed to him through its channels: either he accepts an integration policy, or the solution of problems will be tougher. “We have chosen the path of struggle, and this means that provocations are not ruled out in the near future,” Harutyunyan is quoted by the Armenian media.
● A meeting was held at the Armenian Foreign Ministry with the heads of diplomatic missions accredited in the country and representatives of international structures. The Karabakh events on March 5 were also discussed. “This terrorist act was carried out in the context of the unfulfilled decision of the International Court of Justice on the unblocking of the Lachin corridor, which indicates that Azerbaijan has become a malicious violator of international law,” the Deputy Foreign Minister said.
● The second power unit of the Armenian NPP will be safely operated until 2036, Prime Minister Pashinyan was informed during a visit to the plant (pictured). Already this year, the overhaul of the nuclear power plant will begin, which will last 3 years.
● Turkish fans will not be present at the European Championship qualifier between Armenia and Turkey, which is due to take place on March 25 in Yerevan, according to the official website of the Armenian Football Federation.
● Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not return to the Armenian football team. “I do not regret my decision, although it was not easy for me. The only thing I can say now is to wish success to the national team of our country in the upcoming matches, especially against Turkey,” Mkhitaryan said.
● Mobile measles vaccination stations to be launched in Yerevan amid outbreak. 15 out of 20 measles cases in Armenia are children: Minister of Health.
Tuesday, 7th March , Azerbaijan
●Today, Azerbaijan celebrates the penultimate Tuesday before Novruz – Yel çərşənbəsi, Wind Tuesday (pictured).
●“Azerbaijan is committed to the Brussels peace agenda,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said at a meeting with EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar.
●”The provocations of the Armenian side show that Armenia is not interested in achieving a lasting peace in the region and establishing relations with Azerbaijan,” – Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.
●Official Baku responded to Pashinyan, who accused Azerbaijan of “terrorism”. “Terrorism is a continuation of the shameful policy and military aggression against Azerbaijan (whose sovereignty and territorial integrity you recognize) by moving troops, weapons, mines and killing civilians,” Aykhan Hajizade, spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, said.
● The Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan called the Russian statement on the events in Karabakh on March 5 a “distortion of facts”. “The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation disseminated false information in its bulletin about the armed incident on the Khankendi-Khalfali-Turshsu road. To expose Armenian servicemen, fully equipped with weapons and ammunition, as police officers carrying out a “passport and visa” service is nothing but hypocrisy,” the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement.
●The Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan to Yerevan: “The transportation of military goods by Armenia to the territory of Azerbaijan, the dispatch and rotation of the personnel of the Armenian Armed Forces must be stopped, and the troops must be completely withdrawn from the territory of Azerbaijan. Otherwise, the Azerbaijani side will be forced to take absolutely necessary measures to disarm and neutralize illegal armed groups using all possibilities.”
● An audio recording is being circulated in the Azerbaijani segment of social networks, in which an unknown person warns of a terrorist attack allegedly being prepared in the coming days in the Baku metro. The man urges citizens not to use the subway if possible. Local media turned to the Interior Ministry for comment, where they said they were already investigating.
●Citizens of Azerbaijan who are at least 35 years old and who have two children will be able to undergo medical sterilization in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy. This item was included in the draft law “On Reproductive Health”.
Monday, 6th March , Georgia
● The Parliamentary Apparatus announced a regime of limited access to the building from today.
● The Association of Journalistic Ethics calls on Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Parliament, to restore the accreditation of journalists. Read more here 👉 https://bit.ly/3ZHLbEt
● The Association of Civic Education Lecturers and the Teachers’ Forum of Georgia opposed the adoption of the “foreign agents law”, which is widely referred to in society as a Russian model.
● The Heritage Platform (ICOMOS) and member organizations are calling on the Georgian Parliament to stop discussions on Russia’s Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence.
● MP Ana Natsvlishvili: “Russian law is a continuation of the events of July 5 [when journalists were beaten in the streets]. Then it was lawless, now it is being legalized.”
● Today, the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights is considering the candidacy of Levan Ioseliani for the post of Ombudsman.
● A high level of avalanche danger has been declared at the Gudauri-Kobi section (from the Russian border). The movement of all types of vehicles is prohibited.
Monday, 6th March, Armenia
● The Armenian Foreign Ministry assessed yesterday’s incident in Karabakh as “a provocation planned by the top leadership of Azerbaijan.” Three Armenian police officers were killed. All the details are here 👉 https://bit.ly/3kMt9lR
● The number of laboratory-confirmed cases of measles has skyrocketed in Armenia. 18 people are hospitalized.
● The owner, director and chief accountant of the Nor Zovk supermarket chain were arrested. They are accused of hiding the real turnover of goods in the amount of about $34.2 million (equivalent in drams). The underpaid tax amounted to about $10.6 million (equivalent in drams).
● Artur Davtyan won the gold medal at the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup.
● Georgian singer Tamara Gverdtsiteli, who has been working in Russia in recent years, arrived in Yerevan, where she is preparing for the premiere of a Russian-language remake of the Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard by Andrew Lloyd Webber (poster pictured). The musical will be presented by Poghos Harutyunyan’s production company SKYFIST Studio Corporation. Stage director Anton Muzykantsky. The performance involves the State Symphony Orchestra of Armenia and Armenian actors. Gverdtsiteli plays the lead role of silent film star Norma Desmond.
Monday, 6 March , Azerbaijan
● On Saturday, March 4, there was an armed attack on the collectors of one of the Azerbaijani banks at the moment when they were carrying out the work of placing money in an ATM at the entrance to the hypermarket (pictured). As a result of the attack, one of the collectors was killed, two people were injured. The attackers were found in the evening of the same day, one of them was killed during the operation, the other was arrested.
● The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan issued statements according to which “Armenians carried out the delivery of ammunition from Armenia to Karabakh along a dirt road bypassing the Lachin road”. “During a skirmish with illegal armed groups in the part of Karabakh controlled by the Russian peacekeeping contingent, two servicemen of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were killed,” the reports say. Read more here 👉https://bit.ly/3yjX33K
● EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar arrived in Baku on a visit. “After the meetings in Munich, I look forward to substantive negotiations with the leadership of Azerbaijan to develop the peace process,” he wrote on social networks.
Key headlines from local media for 27 February - 3 March, 2023