Latest news in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 17-21 July, 2023
Friday, July 21, Armenia. Yerevan has proposed a demilitarised zone on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan
● According to Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, speaking at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Yerevan has proposed a demilitarised zone on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the withdrawal of troops in accordance with the borders outlined in the 1975 USSR General Staff maps of 1975. Mirzoyan claims that Baku will not consider the proposals.
● According to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, the World Congress on Information Technologies (WCIT) will be held in Yerevan in 2024.
● Dutch citizen and member of ARF “Dashnaktsutyun” Aslan Aslanyan was banned from entering Armenia – wrote MP from Hayastan faction Kristina Vardanyan wrote in social network. Earlier, Murad Papazyan and Masis Abrahamyan, both from the ARF, were recognised as persona non grata in Armenia.
● Armenia has moved up 23 places in the UN Industrial Development Fund’s 2023 index.
● New rallies in support of Nagorno-Karabakh took place in Yerevan outside the UN and EU offices. Protesters are demanding international intervention to lift Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor.
● Canada has become part of the EU civilian mission to Armenia, with the Armenian Foreign Ministry welcoming the initiative.
Friday, July 21, Azerbaijan. All names of Armenian settlements in documents will have the "historical Azerbaijani toponyms"
● Ilham Aliyev travelled to Khojaly district in Garabagh for the first time to visit the villages of Chanaghchi and Sygnagh.
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has responded to Pashinyan’s statement yesterday, claiming, “Yerevan’s attempts to interpret the existence of the Lachin checkpoint as ‘road blocking’ are wrong.” “Armenia’s refusal to use the Aghdam-Khankendi road demonstrates the groundlessness of claims about the ‘tense humanitarian situation’ in the region and the intention to continue illegal activities in Azerbaijan,” the Ministry said.
● “The chances of holding a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia in Moscow are very good,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing. She promised to provide further information concerning dates after working out all issues with the parties.
● Baku has demanded that Yerevan suspends the construction of a large metallurgical plant on the border with Azerbaijan.
The letter addressed to the Armenian government on behalf of the head of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Mukhtar Babayev, says that according to the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment, Yerevan is obliged to notify Baku about the environmental impact of the said activity.
● “Iran and Azerbaijan have no border problems,” said Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, following an inspection of the situation on the border. “Economic relations between the two countries are developing and deepening day by day,” he added.
● The Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers has decided that from now on all names of Armenian settlements in documents will have the “historical Azerbaijani toponyms,” recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.
● According to a new media law, all journalists and media outlets in the country must be entered into a single register. Independent journalists were denied registration. “All serious media entities have entered their data into the media register, this process has been completed,” the state media support agency said in a statement.
Friday, July 21, Georgia. Two opposition parties - "Strategy Agmashenebeli" and "United National Movement" have announced the creation of an alliance
● The leaders of the Agmashenebeli Strategy party and the United National Movement party have announced that they are creating a political alliance.
● The Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office have uncovered a drug trafficking scheme. Dozens linked to the scheme have been detained and prosecuted.
● According to the Georgian Ambassador to Belgium,”There is nothing threatening the visa-free regime for Georgian citizens in the European Union,” after the Belgian government decided to remove Georgia from the list of safe countries.
● Davyd Arakhamia, leader of the ruling Servant of the People party, claimed, “If anything is hindering Georgia’s European integration, it is Russia and the ruling Georgian Dream party.”
● The remains of 13 people who died during the war in Abkhazia in the early 1990s have been returned to Tbilisi and buried after 30 years.
● The 20th anniversary Art-Geni Folklore Festival has started in Tbilisi. The Festival is held on the territory of the open ethnographic museum. On weekends from 20 to 30 July, folklore groups, as well as musicians from other genres, will perform there.
Thursday, July 20, Georgia. "Progress on the 12 priorities to obtain the status of an EU candidate is on track" - Georgian Foreign Minister
● A Brussels meeting between Georgian Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili and the European Commissioners Olivér Várhelyi and Gert Jan Koopmann focused on Georgia’s readiness to obtain EU candidate status.
● “Minister Darchiashvili assured me that progress on the 12 priorities is on track. It is important to continue and accelerate this work before our 2023 report on EU enlargement plans,” Olivér Várhelyi tweeted.
● MEPs have demanded targeted sanctions against the Georgian public interest group Alt-Info and the oligarch Konstantin Morgoshia behind it. “A strong condemnation is needed of the actions of this aggressive group that attacked LGBTQ activists in Tbilisi on 8 July,” reads a letter sent to EU President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, European Union Ambassador to Georgia Pavel Gerchinski, and European Commissioner for Equality Helene Dahl. Read about the group’s actions in Georgia here
● The Polish Foreign Ministry has called the claims that a Polish doctor tried to smuggle a biological sample from imprisoned former President Saaksashvili out of a clinic “unintentional and unforeseen”. However, they also described the reaction of the Georgian authorities as “emotional and contrary to the principles of cooperation in good faith”.
● Commenting on the incident, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said, “All trust has been lost. There was unusual and suspicious behaviour on [Poland’s] part and we have no desire to continue cooperation. But our offer remains open for the family: they can bring any doctors to Saakashvili if they feel they need to.”
● Five million euros in aid for Ukrainian refugees in Georgia will be provided by the German government, with another half a million euros from the German charity organisation Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund. According to the UN, there are currently 25,000-26,000 Ukrainian refugees in Georgia.
Photo: The German Embassy in Georgia
Thursday, July 20, Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Justice rejected the electoral lists of three opposition parties
● The Ministry of Justice rejected almost half of the list of members of the opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan and gave the leadership of the political organization 30 days to correct. Otherwise, the party will not be able to pass state registration. The same fate has befallen the opposition parties Musavat and Republican Alternative in recent days.
● If Armenian journalists want to visit Azerbaijan, there will be no problems. Spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Aykhan Hajizade specified that one of the necessary factors is respect for the laws of Azerbaijan.
● The Ministry of Foreign Affairs excluded from its “black list” 58 foreign journalists who got there due to visiting Karabakh through the territory of Armenia during the years of occupation.
● The trade turnover of Azerbaijan with the CIS countries in January-June increased by 21% and exceeded $3.3 billion. The export of Azerbaijani products to the CIS amounted to $1.54 million, and the import of goods from the CIS – $2.47 million, follows from the report of the State Customs Committee.
● A mobile application will be created in Azerbaijan to combat domestic violence.
● In Azerbaijan, the scope of women’s activities will be expanded, Chairman of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Affairs Bahar Muradova said. “We receive complaints about a large number of areas where women are prohibited from working. We have prepared proposals in this regard, it is planned to reduce the number of such works as much as possible,” she noted.
● Qarabag Aghdam successfully passed the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, defeating the Gibraltar club Lincoln in the return match in Baku with a score of 4:0. The next opponent of the Azerbaijani team in this tournament will be “Rakow” – the champion of Poland.
Thursday, July 20, Armenia. "All those wounded during the 44-day war to make a full recovery" - Nikol Pashinyan
● Defence Minister Suren Papikyan visited the front line to get acquainted with the construction of positions, engineering, and fortification works.
● Nikol Pashinyan said that the government’s aim is for all those wounded during the 44-day war to make a full recovery.
● The Prime Ministers of Armenia and Russia spoke by phone. Nikol Pashinyan and Mikhail Mishustin touched upon current programmes and issues of cooperation within the EAEU.
● Tariffs for pre-election advertising of the elections to Yerevan Council of Elders were approved. It will cost more than $3 per minute on Public Radio and more than $120 on Public TV, the TV and Radio Commission decided.
● Parents of missing military personnel from Echmiadzin held a protest, demanding that the leadership listen to their concerns.
Wednesday, July 19, Georgia. "Visa-free regime between Georgia and the EU is not threatened", - Ambassador of Georgia to Belgium
● The Georgian Ambassador to Belgium Vakhtang Makharoblishvili has commented on the country’s decision to exclude Georgia from the list of safe countries. “There is nothing threatening the visa-free regime between Georgia and the EU.”
“Such decisions are sometimes made on the basis of one or another technical or statistical data. You know that last year, after the pandemic, we also had a certain growth in terms of mobility of citizens, but I will also add that this year we have a decrease in the number of asylum seekers,” the Ambassador said.
● Credit Suisse must pay $607 million to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s family. This decision has now been confirmed by the Bermuda Court of Appeal.
Lawyers for the billionaire and informal leader of Georgia hope that “the legal struggle will bear fruit and Bidzina Ivanishvili and his family members will be fully restored access to all assets,” which have been blocked since March last year.
● Imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili has commented on the Georgian penitentiary service’s claims that a Polish doctor, who came to examine him, tried to smuggle biological samples out of the clinic.
“I urge you not to replicate the information circulated about the ‘scandal with Polish doctors’. Every day of my torture and isolation is a scandal.”
● The water quality in the Black Sea is normal,” Georgia’s National Environmental Agency has said.
The Agency is conducting tests every 10 days to check that the destruction of the Kakhov hydroelectric dam has not polluted water on the Georgian coast.
Wednesday, July 19, Azerbaijan. Baku Olympic Stadium is among the best stadiums in the world
● The month of Muharram has started in Azerbaijan. According to tradition, weddings and other celebrations are not held during this period of two months. The day of Ashura falls on 27 July.
● A special report “on mine terror realised by Armenia against Azerbaijan” has been prepared.
The document compiles the results of investigations during the Second Karabakh War and in the post-war period, both on the front line and in neighbouring territories, Ombudsman Sabina Aliyeva said.
The report has been sent to international and national human rights organisations.
● The commission for studying the situation in Soyudliu village of Gadabay district has submitted their proposal to eliminate the problems to the Cabinet of Ministers.
The company’s activity in the village has been suspended, and an independent audit involving foreign specialists is also planned.
● Head of Iraqi Kurdistan Nechirvan Barzani has arrived in Baku on an official visit. He was received by President Ilham Aliyev.
● 31 political parties have issued a joint statement on self-dissolution.
According to the new Law on Political Parties, political organisations must submit a list of their members with their exact home address and telephone number to the Ministry of Justice. Each party must have at least 5,000 active members.
● The Baku Olympic Stadium was ranked 41st in the top 100 best stadiums in the world by FourFourTwo. The 70,000-seat sports facility was built in 2015 for the opening of the first European Games.
● Azerbaijan has increased petrol imports from Russia by more than 60%. In the first five months of 2023, more than 34,000 tonnes of Premium Euro-95 motor gasoline were imported. This brand of motor fuels is not produced in Azerbaijan.
Wednesday, July 19, Armenia. A new action in Yerevan demanding the unblocking of the Lachin road
● “Baku should not engage in self-rule. A proper solution to the existing problems is necessary for sustainable peace,” Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said, adding that “Armenia is waiting for effective steps from the UN Security Council and international actors to unblock the Lachin corridor.”
● A rally demanding the unblocking of the Lachin road was held outside the French Embassy in Yerevan. The protesters called on France to initiate a UN Security Council meeting and impose sanctions on the Baku authorities.
● The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee supported the normalisation of relations with Armenia and called on Ankara to “recognise the fact of the Armenian Genocide, protect the Armenian cultural heritage”.
● Former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and all members of his family, including his daughters-in-law, were summoned to the Department for Confiscation of Illegally Acquired Property of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
● The Armenian Ombudsman will send an extraordinary report “on Azerbaijani aggression” to international human rights organisations.
● The Catholicos of All Armenians and the head of the Georgian State Agency for Religious Affairs Zaza Vashakmadze discussed the issues of relations between the Armenian and Georgian churches and further strengthening of Armenian-Georgian ties.
● In the national park of Lake Arpi, the yellow martlets, which are included in the Guinness Book, blossomed.
Tuesday, 18 July, Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Justice rejected 90% of signatures for state registration of the opposition party ReAl
● Another 18 families (73 people) moved from Baku to Lachin this morning.
● Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov received the new Russian Ambassador to Baku Mikhail Yevdokimov. The sides discussed the situation in the region, the Azerbaijani-Armenian peace process, as well as issues of cooperation within international organisations.
● Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko held a meeting with Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu. The sides discussed the situation in the South Caucasus and the process of normalisation of relations between Baku and Yerevan. The Russian side stressed that it respects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Moscow stated readiness to hold a trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia in the near future.
● Baku and Tehran agreed on the completion of the joint State Commission meeting:
▪️ construction of Astara cargo terminal by the end of 2024;
▪️ creation of customs and border infrastructure on the road bridge over the Astarachay River.
● Azerbaijani MP Erkin Gadirli has said that a referendum on a new version of the constitution may be held in the country in autumn. The document may revise the administrative-territorial division of the country, he wrote in his Telegram channel.
● The Justice Ministry has rejected most of the signatures (over 90 per cent) collected by the opposition party Republican Alternative (ReAl) for re-registration. According to the new law “On Political Parties,” a party must have at least 5,000 members. According to the head of ReAl Ilgar Mammadov, they are not going to dissolve the party, “but the state can do it”.
● A new procedure for declaring a missing serviceman or other person dead has been established in Azerbaijan. According to it, the court, taking into account the circumstances that give reason to believe that the person died in the course of hostilities, may declare him dead, but not earlier than 6 months (previously 2 years) from the end of hostilities.
Tuesday, 18 July, Armenia. A rally in support of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh held in front of the UN office in Yerevan
● President of the unrecognised territory of Nagorno-Karabakh has announced that he is joining the protest in Stepanakert’s Revival Square. Araik Harutyunyan said that joining the sit-in, which is part of a nationwide movement, was an extreme measure, but “if within a week, through international intervention, the situation does not stabilise more or less, we will resort to tougher actions”.
● A rally in support of the residents of blockaded Nagorno-Karabakh was held in front of the UN office in Yerevan. The participants are demanding the opening of the Lachin corridor.
● According to Armenia’s Representative on International Legal Affairs, on 12 June the European Court of Human Rights confirmed the decision it made on 21 December decision, which obliged Azerbaijan to let the seriously ill and homeless pass through the Lachin Corridor.
● Zaruhi Muradyan, head of the Winegrowing and Winemaking Foundation, told journalists the number of tourists attracted to Armenia by wine has increased ten-fold: from 5,000 in 2011 to 50,000 annually now.
● A 12-kilometre section of the Yerevan-Yeraskh-Goris-Meghri highway has been restored. The state budget allocated for this was $3 million, the Armenian Cabinet of Ministers said.
Tuesday, 18 July, Georgia. Shenderovich filed a lawsuit against the Georgian Interior Ministry for not being allowed into the country
● Anti-Putin writer Viktor Shenderovich, who was included by the Russian authorities in the list of foreign agents, has filed a lawsuit in the Tbilisi City Court against the Georgian Interior Ministry for not letting him into the country in early June. Shenderovich wrote on social networks that he “decided to give the honourable Georgian state a chance to correct this mistake”.
● Belgium has removed Georgia from the list of safe countries.
● European Union Ambassador to Georgia Pavel Gerchinsky: “I hope the visit of Polish doctors will contribute to the proper treatment of Saakashvili”.
● “The West ignored my warnings about Putin”: The Times has published a letter from jailed ex-President Saakashvili.
● The man accused of attacking a journalist of the opposition TV channel Formula has been released on bail.
● The disaster damaged houses and farmland in Kakheti.
● Famous Georgian dancer, People’s Artist of Georgia Omar Mkheidze died at the age of 89. Mkheidze was the leading soloist of the Georgian Folk Dance Ensemble for decades. He was 88 years old.
Monday, 17 July, Armenia. Moscow is ready to organize a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers on the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement
● Armenia celebrated the Armenian holiday of Vardavar – the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On this day, it is customary to pour water on each other.
● A commemorative plaque of the founder of Armenian cinematography, director of “Hayfilm” Daniel Dznuni was unveiled on Yerevan’s Alley of Stars near the “Moskva” cinema as part of the “Golden Apricot” film festival.
● The humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, guarantees for the security of the people, issues of prisoners and missing persons: the topics of the trilateral meeting of Pashinyan, Michel and Aliyev.
● Moscow is ready to organize a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers on the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement in the near future and is concerned about the negative development of the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh. The statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that it is necessary to immediately start preparing a peace treaty between Yerevan and Baku, based on previously reached agreements.
● Sepuh-1 cars produced in Armenia are already undergoing state registration, Vahan Kerobyan, head of the Ministry of Economy, said on social networks.
● The Hayakwe initiative has already collected half of the signatures required to criminalize the surrender of Nagorno-Karabakh. Coordinator Avetik Chalabyan said at a briefing that they were supported by 25,000 people, of which almost 15,000 were in the capital.
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Monday, 17 July, Azerbaijan. Aliyev-Pashinyan-Michel discussed humanitarian aid to Karabakh Armenians
● According to the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, humanitarian aid to Karabakh Armenians along the Barda-Agdam-Khankendi (Stepanakert) road was discussed at the recent Brussels talks between Aliyev and Pashinyan, which Michel mediated.
● Baku has responded to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement on the situation around the part of Karabakh where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed. “It is unacceptable for the Russian Foreign Ministry to interpret and put conditions on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty when you consider that the Prime Minister of Armenia, which has occupied our territories for almost 30 years, recognises Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan,” the Ministry said.
● “Illegal Armenian armed formations are using radio interference to disrupt the GPS satellite navigation systems of passenger aircraft travelling through Azerbaijani airspace,” the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said. The ministry noted that the flights on AZAL Airlines Zangilan-Fizuli and Fizuli-Baku have been affected.
● The volume of water discharged into the Kura River from the Mingachevir reservoir has been increased by 80 cubic metres per second. The situation is expected to stabilise in the coming days, the AR State Water Resources Agency said.
Lower water levels in the lower reaches of the Kura River have been associated with shallowing of inland rivers of Azerbaijan.
● “Azerbaijan’s legislative permission in exceptional cases to allow marriages between minors has a negative effect on the country’s demographics,” claims Bahar Muradova, the Chairwoman of the State Committee for Family, Women, and Children.
According to her, marriage between persons under 18, even in exceptional cases, should be stopped.
Monday, 17 July, Georgia. "Polish doctor tried to take out a sample from Saakashvili by hiding it in his shoes" - Minister of Justice
● Georgian director, screenwriter, and actress Nino Kirtadze (pictured) has announced that she is ending her work with the Film Centre of Georgia and will no longer be representing the country for the Eurimages European Cinema Support Fund. She has cited the Ministry of Culture’s growing influence over the film centre as reasoning.
Filmmakers have been accusing the Ministry of Culture of trying to take control of the arts and have demanded a halt to the reorganisation.
● Leader of the European Georgia party Giga Bokeria: “If we had a normal government, we would be at the forefront of NATO membership right now. Instead, we are moving away from the civilised world.”
● The penitentiary service has claimed that one of the Polish doctors who came to see imprisoned former President Saakashvili tried to take out a sample by hiding it in his shoes. They have published a video showing the man taking something wrapped in a napkin out of his shoe. “The Polish doctor himself confirmed this fact. We urge everyone to refrain from provocative statements and attempts to deceive the public,” Justice Minister Rati Bregadze said.
● Four people have been detained for attempted “bride kidnapping” in Ponichala, a suburb of Tbilisi. Among those arrested was the man planning to kidnap his underage cousin, as well as three individuals who had agreed to assist him.
The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 10-14 July, 2023