Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 2-6 October, 2023
Friday, October 6, Georgia. A Russian Navy to be deployed in Abkhazia
● A Russian Navy permanent base is going to be deployed in the Abkhaz city of Ochamchira. Abkhaz president Aslan Bzhania confirmed this in an interview with the Russian publication Izvestia a day after meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. More detail available at:
● The Georgian parliament has fast-tracked amendments to the law on demonstrations, which will restrict the installation of tents, stages and other temporary structures during rallies.
Protests have been held in Tbilisi against the law, which the opposition says mirrors Russian legislation.
● The Constitutional Court has concluded its hearings on the impeachment case launched by the ruling party against President Salome Zurabishvili. A decision regarding whether Zurabishvili violated the Constitution by meeting foreign leaders despite the government’s ban is expected by October 14.
“Your president is a disgraceful woman”, chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, said, addressing Salome Zurabishvili’s representative at the Constitutional Court hearings.
●The Georgian Prime Minister said he had “received confirmation from all European leaders that they will support granting Georgia candidate status [for EU membership].”
“I told them that if the country does not get the status, it will be absolutely incomprehensible, it will be an insult to the Georgian people, it will be yet another undeserved attempt to oppress the country or treat it unfairly”
Friday, October 6, Azerbaijan. The European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling for EU sanctions against Azerbaijan.
● Azerbaijan’s security service confirmed the arrest of ex-presidents of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), Bako Sahakyan and Arkady Ghukasyan, along with the parliament’s speaker, David Ishkhanyan. They are facing charges of terrorism and will remain in custody for a period of four months.
● “Azerbaijan’s refusal to meet in Granada does not mean refusal to negotiate with Armenia. This decision of Baku is related to the biased actions and militaristic policy of France,” Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said.
● The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for EU sanctions against Azerbaijan. The document is not legally binding.
● Turkish Foreign Ministry called the resolution “an example of irresponsibility, bias and ignorance”.
●French President Emmanuel Macron called possible sanctions against Azerbaijan “counterproductive”, said it was necessary to continue dialog with Baku.
●”Armenia itself recognized Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan,” Putin said. “When Karabakh declared its independence, no one recognized it – not even Armenia, though it was strange,” he recalled.
● A serviceman of the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry exploded on a mine in the liberated territories. He received a leg injury and is hospitalized.
● Shusha has been chosen as the tourist capital of the Economic Cooperation Organization for 2026,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.
● Ilon Musk spoke online at the 74th International Astronautical Congress in Baku.
Friday, October 6, Armenia. “The so-called "Zangezur corridor" will lead to a new crisis in the region and intervention of third forces”: secretary of the Iranian Security Council.
● A joint statement was adopted following Nikol Pashinyan’s meeting with the leaders of France, Germany and the EU in Granada. The Armenian PM reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity of 86,600 square kilometers – this figure includes all of Karabakh. President Aliev had refused to come to the meeting.
●”EU head Charles Michel invites Pashinyan and Aliyev to a meeting in Brussels at the end of October,” a diplomatic source told reporters on the margins of the European Political Community summit in Granada.
● Putin: “For 15 years Russia had been offering Armenia to make a concession and return 5 territories of Karabakh to Azerbaijan and keep 2 for itself, but our Karabakh friends refused. They said: it would create certain threats for us, we will fight, we can’t go for it. It resulted in armed clashes in 2020.”
● European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčić is heading to Yerevan. He intends to discuss humanitarian problems of Karabakh Armenians and visit resettlement centers today.
● “The so-called “Zangezur corridor” will lead to a new crisis in the region and intervention of third forces”: Secretary of the Iranian Security Council.
● Armenian government allocated about $1.5 mln to accommodate Karabakh families.
Thursday, October 5, Armenia. "I will leave if I am sure that the country's security problems will be solved then. But so far the analysis shows that it will only get worse" - Pashinyan
● Nikol Pashinyan confirmed that the meeting with Ilham Aliyev in Granada will not take place, but the Armenian delegation will still travel to Spain.
● Yerevan will negotiate with Paris on the purchase of air defense equipment, said Armen Khachatryan, a deputy of Armenia’s ruling Civil Pact party. Read more here
● Presence of NATO forces in the South Caucasus is unacceptable for Iran – Mohammad Jamshidi, deputy head of Iranian Presidential Administration for Political Affairs.
● Nikol Pashinyan responded to questions from the opposition about the necessity of his resignation: “I will resign if I am sure that with my resignation all the security problems of the country will be solved. But expert analysis shows that the situation will be much worse in case of resignation.”
● Former Armenian Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan announced the creation of a political movement to “liberate the country from internal and external enemies.”
● More than 6.1 thousand students from Nagorno-Karabakh are registered in Armenian educational institutions, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Zhanna Andreasyan said.
Thursday, October 5, Azerbaijan. Aliyev refused to meet with Pashinyan and European leaders because Turkish President was not invited to the meeting
● Ilham Aliyev canceled his trip to Granada, where a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was scheduled. Baku cited the organizers’ refusal to include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the meeting, mediated by European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
● Former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov commented on Aliyev’s decision to cancel the meeting, stating that Azerbaijan didn’t accept EU mediation but welcomed its peacekeeping services. France’s attempt to mediate without diplomatic respect was unacceptable to Azerbaijan.
● Elchin Amirbayov, the Azerbaijani president’s representative for special assignments, mentioned the Zangezur corridor through Armenia, emphasizing that Azerbaijan recognizes this section as Armenia’s sovereign territory and doesn’t claim it. However, Armenia is expected to ensure traffic safety, a responsibility originally assigned to Russian border guards according to the trilateral statement in October 2020.
● Detained former president of the unrecognized NKR, Araik Harutyunyan, was questioned in Baku. His lawyer, Alov Safaraliyev, noted that Harutyunyan’s testimony could provide answers to various questions.
● According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Armenian armed formations in Karabakh have surrendered 84 armored vehicles, 104 field artillery pieces, and around 7,000 small arms and anti-tank weapons as of October 4.
● Azerbaijan’s migration service reported that 15 Armenian residents of Karabakh have applied for participation in the reintegration process. The total number of Armenian community members becoming Azerbaijani citizens has reached 98 people.
● Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated that the duration of Russian peacekeepers’ stay in Karabakh will be determined jointly with Baku based on the regional situation.
Thursday, October 5, Georgia. Ban on setting up tents during protests passed in the first reading
● Ombudsman Levan Iosseliani criticizes a draft law on assemblies and demonstrations, which prohibits the use of tents and structures during protests, as a serious violation of citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Read more here
● Activist Samira Bayramova shares her decision to change her place of residence due to threats and recent incidents, including the defacement of her home with a cross and a Russian flag. Read more here
● Remittances to Georgia saw a 14.1% decrease in August compared to the same period last year, with a total of $287 million received, according to the National Bank of Georgia.
● Georgia and Moldova top the list of countries whose citizens seek asylum in Germany but face high rejection rates. German government spokesperson Joachim Stamp states that they account for over 10% of all rejected asylum applications. In 2023, nearly 8,000 asylum requests were made by Georgians, with a 99.9% rejection rate.
● Heavy rains and flooding caused a bridge over the Bzhuzhi River in Ozurgeti district, western Georgia, to collapse, partially isolating several villages.
● The appointment of Koba Khubunai as deputy culture minister has sparked outrage among cultural workers, as he previously faced protests in August when appointed acting director of the National Film Center, replacing fired professional staff. Khubunai had previously served as deputy head of the National Crime Prevention Agency.
📷 Photo: Tents set up in front of parliament during protests in Tbilisi. (Credit: Vaho Kareli/Formula TV channel)
Wednesday, October 4, Georgia. Georgian Constitutional Court set to resume its proceedings regarding the impeachment case against the president today
● Hearings on the impeachment case against President Salome Zurabishvili will resume in Georgia’s Constitutional today. The ruling party, Georgian Dream, contends that her recent trips to Europe and meetings European leaders without the government’s consent constitute a breach of the Constitution.
● “Impeachment does not harm the president. On the contrary, it makes her stronger”: former public defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria.
● “We are confident that the European Union will recognize Georgia’s progress and geopolitical significance and will take another historic decision by granting Georgia candidate status [for EU membership]. This decision will firmly link Georgia to the European Union. We expect strong German support in this matter,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said at a reception dedicated to Germany’s Reunification Day.
● The ruling party has proposed amendments to the “Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations,” which would classify the act of setting up a protest tent as a legal violation. It argues that the changes are essential to prevent potential “destabilizing processes.” The move comes after the Georgian State Security Service claimed that a group of individuals, both within and outside Georgia, is planning to incite unrest in the country with the ultimate aim of forcibly overthrowing the government.
● A panel discussion titled “Captured by Russia: Assessing Russia’s Influence in Georgia and Adjusting EU Policy” will to take place in the European Parliament on October 10th.
Wednesday, October 4, Azerbaijan."Armenians who’ve left Karabakh retain the right to return" – spokesman for Aliev
● Three ex-presidents of the unrecognized NKR – Arkady Ghukasyan, Bako Sahakyan and Araik Harutyunyan – have been detained in Karabakh and transported to Baku. The former speaker of the parliament of the unrecognized republic David Ishkhanyan was also detained. The detentions were reported by the pro-government APA news agency. There is no official confirmation as yet.
Independent sources report that the current president of the unrecognized NKR Samvel Shahramanyan has also been detained and is now in Baku.
● Sarkis Galstyan, a representative of the Armenian community of Karabakh, was appointed Commandant of the city of Khankendi (Stepanakert), acting as a special representative of the President of Azerbaijan. This was reported by several independent sources. There is no official confirmation of the information yet.
● “Armenians who left Karabakh retain the right to return,” Elchin Amirbayov, the Azerbaijani President’s representative for special assignments, said in an interview with French Radio J.
● “[French foreign minister Catherine] Colonna’s statements that Paris is always on the side of Yerevan have finally removed all masks from France’s claims to be a bona fide mediator and neutral broker,” Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Aykhan Hajizadeh said commenting on the French foreign minister’s remarks in Yerevan.
● “The EU may reconsider cooperation with Azerbaijan if the situation in Karabakh worsens. But the document prepared by the Union’s Foreign Policy Service does not mention Azerbaijan’s energy sector,” Reuters writes.
According to the agency, a strong show of disapproval of Baku’s actions is supported by France, Germany and the Netherlands, while Hungary and Romania are opposed.
● Azerbaijani President’s Representative for Special Assignments Khalaf Khalafov has traveled to Tehran. He will meet Iranian officials today and discuss bilateral and regional issues.
● Azerbaijani, Turkish and Georgian servicemen are participating in the Eternity-2023 exercise in Azerbaijan. The military performs tasks to organize the protection of strategically important and regional economic projects. The purpose of the exercise, which will last until October 6, is to strengthen cooperation and ensure coherence between the armed forces of the three countries.
Wednesday, October 4, Armenia. Paris is prepared to sign an agreement with Yerevan to provide Armenia with military equipment": French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
● The Armenian Parliament ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. For more details on what this spells for the country follow the link: https://rb.gy/bl6ev
● “The Kremlin considers the ratification of the Rome Statute an incorrect step from the point of view of bilateral relations and would not want Putin to ever have to cancel a visit to Armenia,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
● “There is a possibility of imposing sanctions on Armenian parliamentarians who voted for the ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC”, first deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma foreign affairs committee Alexei Chepa told RIA Novosti.
● International partners never demanded that Yerevan withdraw from the CSTO,” Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said.
● French Foreign Minister believes that the EU mission of 100 people on the border with Armenia is not enough. Catherine Colonna officially addressed EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell with a proposal to expand the EU civilian mission in Armenia.
● Paris is prepared to sign an agreement with Yerevan to provide Armenia with military equipment,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said.
● Ethnic Armenian, Sarkis Galstyan, was appointed commandant of Stepanakert (Khankendi), acting on behalf of Azerbaijan, local media report.
● Ex-presidents of unrecognized NKR Arkady Ghukasyan, Bako Sahakyan, Araik Harutyunyan, as well as Speaker of Karabakh parliament David Ishkhanyan were detained by the State Security Service of Azerbaijan and taken to Baku, Azerbaijani media report.
● Trucks carrying 60 tons of humanitarian aid for the Armenians who left unrecognized NKR arrived from Iran in Armenia’s Syunik.
Tuesday, October 3, Azerbaijan. Aliyev hopes meeting with Pashinyan in Granada will give impetus to development of peace agenda
● President Ilham Aliyev criticizes international organizations for their inability to resolve the Karabakh conflict and emphasizes the sacrifices made by Azerbaijani forces to enforce UN resolutions.
● The Azerbaijani presidential administration unveils a reintegration plan for the Karabakh Armenian community. Read more here
● Seven representatives of the Karabakh Armenian community apply for Azerbaijani citizenship.
● The UN mission reports an estimated 50 to 1,000 Armenians remaining in Karabakh.
● Plans to restore healthcare and other services in Khankendi (Stepanakert) are underway by the Azerbaijani government, according to the UN mission.
● An unidentified person fires on a joint Russian-Azerbaijani patrol in Khankendi from a sniper weapon, with no casualties reported.
● Authorities discover a 100-hectare cultivated hemp plantation near Khojaly airport.
● Azerbaijani radio-TV broadcasting is restored in Khankendi, and broadband internet access is provided in Khankendi and Khojaly.
● President Aliyev expresses hope that his meeting with Armenian prime minister Pashinyan in Granada on October 5 will advance the peace agenda in the region.
● The defense ministry releases updated information on confiscated military equipment, weapons, and ammunition from Armenian armed formations.
Tuesday, October 3, Armenia. Parliament today decides on the ratification of the Rome Statute
● Azerbaijani shelling results in one military officer killed and two wounded while transporting food to combat positions, according to the defense ministry.
● “Statements from Armenia about possible withdrawal from the CSTO are a sovereign choice, but Moscow hopes that no temporary administration will destroy ties between the countries” – Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
● he US takes allegations of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh extremely seriously, but cannot yet reach a verdict – State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
● The Armenian parliament discusses the ratification of the Rome Statute.
● 75% of adult migrants from Karabakh now have bank cards to receive 100,000 drams (about $250) allowances for urgent needs, reports the deputy head of the Central Bank of Armenia.
● Armenian Security council secretary Armen Grigoryan and Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian discuss regional security and the importance of respecting the territorial integrity of regional countries during a meeting in Tehran.
Tuesday, October 3, Georgia. Continuation of the conflict around Canvas Georgia, which was accused of preparing a coup in Georgia
● Grigory Karasin, head of the Russian Federation Council Committee, insulted Salome Zurabishvili, stating, “Political schizophrenia is hard to cure, Madam President!” This was in response to Zurabishvili’s statement that “if Ukraine does not resist [Russia], Georgia and the Baltic states could be the next targets.”
● The conflict persists regarding Canvas Georgia, an organization accused by the security service of plotting a coup in Georgia. The U.S. Embassy called these accusations “false” and misrepresentative of their assistance goals in Georgia, which aim to teach people to assert their rights. Mamuka Mdinaradze, a leader of the ruling Georgian Dream, called the embassy’s statement “cynical.”
● Canvas Georgia reported pressure from the security service and harassment and sought help from international human rights organizations, asserting that their training focuses solely on non-violent civil actions. Additionally, three representatives of the Serbian office of Canvas left Georgia after being questioned by the SGB.
● Canvas member Nini Gogiberidze, who participated in USAID-organized trainings, was summoned for questioning by the State Security Service.
● Speaker Shalva Papuashvili stated, “Three Serbian citizens themselves confirmed that they were connected with the events of the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia in 2003 and came to Georgia at the invitation of the East-West Institute under the USAID program.”
● The Institute for the Study of Democracy characterized the actions of the state security service as another attempt to target civil society.
● Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili sent a letter to King Philippe of Belgium, apologizing for being “unjustifiably banned from participating in the opening ceremony of the Europalia-Georgia festival.” She cited the ongoing impeachment appeal scheduled to be heard by the Constitutional Court on October 3rd and 4th as another reason for her inability to attend.
📷 Photo: Formula TV collage
Monday, October 2, Armenia. 100,500 displaced individuals have arrived in Armenia from Karabakh
● The head of unrecognized NKR, Samvel Shahramanyan, along with responsible officials, will remain in Stepanakert/Khankendi until the search for those killed and missing in the September 19-20 fighting and fuel storage explosion is completed.
● French foreign minister Catherine Colonna is scheduled to visit Armenia on October 3.
● According to the latest data, 100,500 displaced individuals have arrived in Armenia from Karabakh, with 363 of them receiving treatment in Armenian medical centers.
● During a meeting with his Armenian counterpart, the secretary of Iran’s National Security Council emphasized that any alteration in the region’s geography poses a threat to security and exacerbates the crisis.
● Representatives of the Armenian community in Georgia organized a march and picket in front of the EU office in Tbilisi to show support for Nagorno-Karabakh. They called for a response to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the imposition of sanctions on Baku.
● A nationwide prayer for Nagorno-Karabakh took place at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, featuring one of the main Christian relics, the Spear of Destiny (Geghard).
Monday, October 2, Azerbaijan. "More than 300 Armenians are wanted" - said the prosecutor general and called on them to surrender voluntarily
Monday, October 2, Georgia. 11 years of Georgian Dream team in power: PM thanks Ivanishvili, opposition calls him "evil"
● 11 years in power of the Georgian Dream team with opposite assessments and appeals noted by officials and opposition.
● The Prime Minister made a speech thanking oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is considered the shadow ruler of Georgia. “In the October 1, 2012 parliamentary elections, the people expressed their trust in Ivanishvili, who transformed an anti-national, repressive system (referring to the period of Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidency) into democracy. In times of complete hopelessness Ivanishvili united the society, and this for the first time in history made possible a peaceful transfer of power” – Irakli Garibashvili writes on social media.
● “We must do everything to make sure that the pro-Russian regime [meaning the Georgian authorities] ends up in a political abyss. We must together stop the evil named Bidzina Ivanishvili” – said the chairman of the opposition United National Movement party Levan Khabeishvili.
● Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili also made a statement on his Facebook account, “My active actions will be seen by everyone in the coming weeks and months. Let the people judge me, in Era Square or Liberty Square.”
● Pension increases from January 2024 have been announced. The pension for people under 70 will be GEL 315 (about $115) and for those over 70 it will be GEL 415 (about $150).
● A Georgian citizen was killed in front of his wife and three minor children in Agios Panteleimon in Greece, Greek media reports.
● Tbilisi celebrated City Day – Tbilisoba – in Tbilisi over the weekend; tens of thousands of citizens and guests took part.
Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 25-29 September, 2023