Main topics of the day in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 12-16 June, 2023
Friday, June 16, Georgia. The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into the shooting of a stray dog
● The Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, Tornike Rizhvadze, described the August 2008 war as “lost” in a report on the government’s activities, which has been presented to the Supreme Council.
● Public defender Levan Ioseliani has finally arrived in Chiatura, where several thousand miners have been on strike for a week. 10 of them are entering the 4th day of a hunger strike. Despite attempts, the strikers and management of the Chiatura Manganese Company have failed to reach an agreement. Read more here
● Torrential rain in Gurjaani in the Kakheti region has led to floods. Locals posted video on social media last night showing water washing away cars and garden furniture, flooding several houses. The full scale of the damage is currently unknown. Rescuers are on the scene. Chairman of the United National Movement, Levan Khabeishvili, has called on top government officials to go to Gurjaani. He announced that he is taking the situation there “under personal control.”
● A soldier was wounded during a training exercise at the Orfolo training ground in Akhaltsikhe in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. His condition is critical.
● The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into the shooting of a stray dog in Tsalka. The day before, a video circulated on Facebook showed a man shooting a stray dog from a car, then getting out and continuing to shoot the animal.
● A man who wounded 5 people and killed one in Kiketi, Tbilisi has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
● US Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is in Georgia with his wife Marty Kemp. He is the first US governor to pay an official visit to the country. Kemp told reporters that it is important to continue the partnership between the US and Georgia.
● Shalva Iashvili, former husband of model Renata Begiashvili, who was arrested on charges of repeatedly abusing her, has been released by the court with a fine of 50,000 GEL (about $20,000). Read more here
Friday, June 16, Azerbaijan. "Yerevan must show their political will. Armenia must put on paper what it has officially announced. Namely, that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan" - Ilham Aliyev
● At a joint press conference with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said there was a chance of a peace treaty with Armenia. “To achieve this, Yerevan must show their political will. Armenia must put on paper what it has officially announced. Namely, that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan,” he said.
● “Today’s Armenian provocation took place on Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory. Prosecutors inspected the scene, documented the traces of the crime, and seized evidence. The criminal actions of the Armenian Armed Forces caused damage to the roadblock and disrupted operations,” the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement.
● “The passage of vehicles through the Lachin checkpoint has been stopped. The checkpoint will not operate until a full investigation has been carried out or Armenia accepts responsibility for the provocation,” according to the pro-government Azerbaijani publication Caliber.
● The Azerbaijani Ombudsman has appealed to international organisations regarding the incident on the border with Armenia. “Armenia’s military provocations against Azerbaijan, which contradict the norms of international humanitarian law and threaten peace in the region, continue,” Sabina Aliyeva said.
● During a trilateral meeting of the Prosecutor Generals of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia in St Petersburg, Azerbaijani Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev said: “Armenia’s provocative steps are an obstacle to the establishment of peace in the region.”
Friday, June 16, Armenia. "Russia is constantly engaged in Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement, despite the fact that there are many willing to 'moderate' - Zakharova
● An attempt by Azerbaijani soldiers to plant a flag on the Hakari bridge is linked to Armenia’s State Symbols Day, which is celebrated on 15 June, the Armenian Minister of Defence, Suren Papikyan, told Parliament.
● Foreign diplomats have gone to see the aftermath of Azerbaijani shelling at a factory in Yeraskh.
● According to Maria Zakharova, Russia is constantly engaged in Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement, despite the fact that there are many willing to ‘moderate’.
● The Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN, has said that Armenian heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh is on the brink of total destruction
● Nikol Pashinyan is considering changing Armenia’s anthem. “The problem is that the Armenian anthem ends with the words of death and images of death, but the ending could be different,” he said.
● The permanent Aivazovsky exhibition has returned to the National Gallery of Armenia. From 22 June, over 50 paintings and graphic works will be on display in the Gallery’s restored halls.
Thursday, June 15, Armenia. Azerbaijan opened fire on a metallurgical plant in the border Yeraskh, two were injured
● Paris has announced that 50 VAB MK3 armoured personnel carriers will be delivered to Armenia. No timeframe has yet been announced. In addition, the possibility of Yerevan purchasing Bastion and Sherpa armoured vehicles is also under discussion, said Emmanuel Dupuy, Director of the Institute of Forecasting and Security in Europe (IPSE).
● The Azerbaijani side opened fire on a steel plant in Yeraskh, injuring two foreigners, the Armenian Defence Ministry said.
The two Indian nationals have undergone surgery. Shrapnel was removed from the victims’ chests and they are now in a stable condition. Sarkis Khandanyan, an MP from the ruling party of Armenia, said that the shelling of a civilian facility in Yeraskh is alarming. “Particularly worrying is that this time Azerbaijan shelled a factory that was funded by US investments, making it important for Armenia. It is possible that the shelling was carried out deliberately, to show discontent with the implementation of the project in the area.”
● The rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee urged Yerevan and Baku to intensify negotiations and expressed hope that Russian peacekeepers would withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh no later than November 2025.
● The Armenian Military Police uncovered fraudsters who were posing as charities helping the army on social media. One of them managed to earn $2,500 from this fraud, the other about $300,000.
The Golden Apricot Film Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will be held from July 9 to 16 under the slogan “Looking Back to the Future”. Its artistic director Karen Avetisyan said that the festival will attract some well-known artists this year.
● The Armenian shooting team is ready to participate in the World Championships in Baku if they are given security guarantees, according to the head coach.
Thursday, June 15, Azerbaijan. "The French Foreign Minister's statement on the blockade contradicts France's statements on impartiality" - Foreign Ministry
● Today, Azerbaijan celebrates National Salvation Day. On this day in 1993, Heydar Aliyev was elected chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan and returned to politics. In 1998, it became a public holiday.
● Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has arrived in Azerbaijan. According to Pakistani experts, Sharif came to Baku to discuss liquefied gas supplies, as Islamabad needs gas.
● Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry: “The French Foreign Minister’s statement on the blockade contradicts France’s statements on impartiality, Azerbaijan believes. France does not wish to see free movement of Armenian residents of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in either direction.” French Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, has demanded that Azerbaijan “unblock the Lachin corridor”.
● Azerbaijani pilgrims will leave for Hajj on 17 June. A group of 1,440 people will fly to Saudi Arabia on eight planes. The cost of the trip this year is $5750.
● The most shared image on Azerbaijani social media yesterday was of a graduate sitting on a courier moped.
Thursday, June 15, Georgia. Adviser to the prime minister on relations with Russia denies that he called the Nazis protesters against Posner's visit to Tbilisi
● Zurab Abashidze, the Prime Minister’s advisor on relations with Russia, confirms that he had a phone call with Mark Zilberkvit, president of the Russian charity Tchaikovsky Foundation, but calls the YouTube video”fake”. An audio recording has been circulated on YouTube, in which Abashidze allegedly calls those who protested Posner’s visit to Tbilisi a “group of Nazis”.
● “The Georgian government now has the opportunity to shape a new direction for the next generations” – European Council President Charles Michel on his meeting with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Brussels.
● Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s arrival in Brussels was greeted by members of the NGO Advance Georgia who chanted “You are just Russians”, “Slaves” and “Georgia is Europe”.
● The EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Oliver Varhei: “I believe Georgia will meet the conditions next year and we will celebrate its EU candidate country status.”
● “Belgium supports Georgia’s European aspirations and we will act to create prosperous Europe from Lisbon to Tbilisi” – Belgian Foreign Minister.
● “Even obtaining candidate country status will not help integrate the country into the EU if Georgian Dream is in power” – Badri Japaridze, one of the leaders of the opposition Lelo party.
● “The de-oligarchization clause should be removed from the list of 12 EU recommendations” – Chairman of the ruling party Irakli Kobakhidze. The whole list is here
● “Russian occupation forces have resumed the so-called ‘bordering process’, advancing into the territory near the village of Khurvaleti,” according to the security services.
● Grigol Narsia has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking hostages at the Bank of Georgia branch in Kutaisi in September 2022.
● The McShaurma company has commented on the scandal, which erupted after the Russian-language receipt issued by its Batumi branch was posted on the social networks: “All documentation and receipts of the company are in the Georgian language. In this case we are talking about a self-service kiosk, where the customer chose the Russian language option when ordering”.
● A Georgian citizen has been arrested in Turkey for killing her husband.
Wednesday, June 14, Georgia. The ruling party actually presents an ultimatum to the European Commission in connection with the law on deoligarchization
● The Parliament approved several decisions at once, projects that were sharply negatively assessed by civil society and international structures. More details below:
● The bill on deoligarchization was adopted in the second reading – immediately after the Venice Commission assessed it as “undemocratic and inefficient” and called for it not to be adopted. The adoption of this law in an acceptable form is one of the 12 recommendations for obtaining the status of a candidate country for joining the European Union. Now the ruling party is actually presenting an ultimatum to the European Commission. “The law will be finally adopted by the end of the month in its current form, but its entry into force will be delayed until March 2024. If the European Commission removes this item from the list of recommendations, then the law will be repealed,” said Irakli Kobakhidze, leader of the ruling Georgian Dream.
● Parliament overcame the President’s veto and adopted amendments to the law “On the National Bank of Georgia”. Now changes will be made to the composition of the Council of the National Bank. This was opposed not only by the president, but by the leadership of the bank and the IMF, who warned of the risk of an imbalance in the leadership of the structure if the amendments were adopted.
● Amendments to the Electoral Code were adopted, against which civil society opposed, stating that as a result, the independence of the CEC would decrease. So far, candidates for the post of both chairman and members of the CEC have been nominated by the president, now it will be done by the chairman of parliament. Also, a simple majority of votes will now be enough for approval – before 2/3 were required. President Salome Zurabishvili warned a month ago that she would veto the law if passed.
● The case of Lazare Grigoriadis, an activist detained during protests in March against the bill on foreign agents (pictured). He is accused of throwing homemade incendiary mixtures at police officers. Prosecution witness Giorgi Maisuradze, a police officer, stated at the hearing that it was Grigoriadis’s fault that his car burned down, there were personal belongings worth more than 10,000 lari (about $4,000). The expert summoned to the hearing, however, claimed that he did not find traces of oil products on the burnt car.
● The scandal around the President of the National Academy of Sciences Roin Metreveli continues. He received a live call from a journalist who introduced himself as an employee of the prime minister and offered to award the prime minister the title of academician. Metreveli readily agreed. “For decades, the name Roin Metrevel has been associated with institutional corruption and nepotism in the higher education system in Georgia. The fact that Ivanishvili appointed him to lead the Academy of Sciences was, of course, yet another symbolic revenge on the government of the Rose Revolution (Saakashvili),” commented Alexandre (Kakha) Lomaya, former Georgian Ambassador to the UN and former Minister of Education of Georgia.
● The Prime Minister holds meetings in Belgium with the government of the country and with high-ranking officials of the European Union.
● “The distribution of children’s gift books of homosexual content in the McDonald’s network is unscrupulous and secretive behavior on the part of the responsible persons of McDonald’s – Patriarchy of Georgia.
Wednesday, June 14, Azerbaijan. "The opening of the Zangezur corridor is inevitable. All countries in the region will benefit from its launch" - Aliyev
● The next stage of resettlement in the Lachin region has begun. At this stage, 22 families consisting of 79 people will be resettled. During the first stage, 20 families of internally displaced persons (97 people) returned to the Lachin region.
● Aliyev and Erdogan discussed the opening of the Zangezur corridor in Baku. “It is inevitable. The sooner this corridor opens, the better. We will work in this direction. All countries in the region will benefit from its launch,” the President of Azerbaijan said.
● Erdogan expressed readiness to open the Turkish Consulate General in Shusha. “If we open it without delay, it will naturally become a message for the whole world, led by Armenia,” the Turkish President said.
● Baku called on Yerevan to refrain from growing aggressive rhetoric and stop steps that increase tension in the region. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry condemned another military provocation by the Armenian side on the border with the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. At the same time, the department categorically rejected Yerevan’s statement that Azerbaijan allegedly took aim at a metallurgical plant under construction in Armenia.
● The Armenian Armed Forces fired on a tractor of the Azerbaijani side, which was performing engineering work in the Kalbajar direction. There were no casualties, the defense ministry said.
● The next meeting between the officials of Azerbaijan and Armenia will take place in Brussels. The EU seeks to support the peace process between Baku and Yerevan, said Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy. “The only solution is in diplomacy. Both sides expressed their desire to continue negotiations,” he said.
● Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif will arrive in Azerbaijan on an official visit today.
● Azerbaijani MP spoke out against artificial insemination. Siyavush Novruzov claims that during the five years he headed the Committee on Religious Issues, he prevented the adoption of the Law on Reproductive Health. “Children should not be born through artificial insemination. If the Almighty did not give a child, then so be it,” Novruzov believes.
● The fire at the plant for the production of ethylene and polyethylene in Sumgayit, which began the day before in the morning, was extinguished only in the evening. One person was injured as a result of the incident.
● Today, the “last bell” will ring in the schools of Azerbaijan for graduates.
Wednesday, June 14, Armenia. Armenia and Azerbaijan will take part in public hearings of the ECHR
● “As a result of the shelling of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in the direction of Yeraskh, a civilian car and another object were damaged,” the Ministry of Defense said.
● Armenia and Azerbaijan will take part in public hearings of the ECHR. An open discussion will take place within the framework of the first interstate complaint “Armenia against Azerbaijan”, which accuses Azerbaijan of the events of the 44-day war and the subsequent period.
● An exhibition of the Prime Minister’s son, Ashot Pashinyan, took place. These are self-portraits and still lifes drawn in pencil on white paper (photo).
● The Ministry of Education is discussing with Moscow the prospects for opening schools in Armenia that will work according to Russian programs.
Tuesday, June 13, Armenia. "Everything will happen in due time," - ex-president Serzh Sargsyan on a street protests over the Karabakh issue
● Nagorno-Karabakh has now been under blockade for half a year. The Armenian Foreign Ministry stated that the fundamental rights and freedoms of the 120,000 people living there are being grossly violated.
● “Everything will happen in due time,” is how Armenia’s third president Serzh Sargsyan answered a journalist’s question regarding whether the RPA was ready for a fight over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
● A civil initiative has been launched in Armenia to criminalise the surrender of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Hayakwe initiative has submitted papers to the CEC on amendments to the Criminal Code to criminalise attempts to surrender Nagorno-Karabakh. If the application is accepted it will begin the process of collecting signatures (50,000), which must be collected within 60 days.
● An Amur tiger cub was born in Yerevan Zoo. This species is listed in the International Red Book as endangered. The girl was born on June 10 and is being monitored by veterinarians around the clock.
● Wounded soldiers undergoing rehabilitation at the Soldiers’ Home performed at the All-Armenian Sports Dance Championship and won special awards.
Tuesday, June 13, Azerbaijan. Erdogan arrived in Baku
● Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Azerbaijan as part of Turkey’s traditional first international tour after the elections.
● Ilham Aliyev has received a visit from Russian presidential aide Igor Levitin. The sides discussed issues related to the Zangezur corridor and shipbuilding in Azerbaijan.
● Normalisation of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be discussed today in the European Parliament. Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy, will answer questions relating, among others, to the situation in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and on the Lachin road.
● Azerbaijan will build a five-star hotel in Kyrgyzstan. The agreement has been reached by the presidents of the two countries. The construction will be carried out on Lake Issyk-Kul, Minister of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic Daniyar Amangeldiyev told Birinchi Radio. According to him, Kyrgyzstan currently lacks hotel room capacity.
● According to the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan, from January to May 2023, residents of the country spent most of their money in retail chains on food (52.9%).
● For the first time Azerbaijan will produce bulletproof defence products. Turkish textile company Akıncılar has signed a cooperation agreement with the Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Defence Industry of Azerbaijan.
● Former world champion Magnus Carlsen is attending the World Cup in Baku.
The Norwegian grandmaster will be the chess player with the most titles in the competition. The tournament will be held from July 29 to August 24. Chess players from Armenia declined to participate for security reasons. Nor will Levon Aronian, playing under the US flag, come to Baku.
● A speed limit of 17km/h for electric scooters has been set in Baku.
● In Lachin, a yak breeding farm has 26 new cubs. The yaks, brought from Kyrgyzstan, are adapting well to local conditions.
Monday, June 12, Azerbaijan. Images of schoolchildren's parents giving gold jewellery to teachers
● The Azerbaijani authorities plan to relocate 20,000 people to Aghdam by 2027. The return of the population will start at the end of 2024.
● An Azerbaijani soldier, Rahil Ahmedov, was shot dead. The incident took place in Gubadli. The fact was confirmed by the military prosecutor’s office in Azerbaijan.
● In Azerbaijan, 512 kg of drugs worth about $12 million were seized from illegal trafficking. The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs noted that the “white death” was supplied to the country via mountain paths, forests and across the Caspian Sea from the territory of Iran.
● Afruza Hajiyeva, a teacher at a school in Azerbaijan, a living symbol of unfair elections in the country, has died. She came to prominence after the 2014 municipal elections. Journalists caught the woman, a member of the election commission, stuffing a pile of ballot papers into the ballot box. Upon noticing the journalists, Afruza Hajiyeva attacked them.
● A 61-year-old woman died under strange circumstances in Baku. She was hit by a car, after which a conscious Baku woman was taken to hospital. A stretcher broke during transportation to the X-ray room at the medical facility, and the woman fell to the floor and died at the scene. An investigation into the case is underway.
● Images of schoolchildren’s parents giving gold jewellery to teachers in two schools in Absheron district have circulated on social networks. Both cases are being investigated.
● The Automobile Federation of Azerbaijan organised a high-speed sports car rally from Baku to Lankaran.
Monday, June 12, Armenia. Nikol Pashinyan has announced that his sole income is his Prime Ministeral salary
● Nikol Pashinyan has announced that his sole income is his Prime Ministeral salary. His full declared income in 2022 was 12.8 million drams ($32,900). The account balance shows 3 amounts: 114.7 drams (nearly 30 cents), 27.7 thousand drams (over $70), $3.84 and 154.5 thousand drams (nearly $400). And as cash, Pashinyan declared $800 and 800 thousand drams (more than $2,000).
● No agreement was reached on the control of transport communications by Russian FSB border guards.
This was reported to Armenpress by the office of Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan in response to the Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister, who said the Russian FSB would control the transport communications between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
● Armenia has won a third gold medal at the World Challenge Cup gymnastics tournament, which is being held in Croatia.
● Armenian paralympian Sarkis Stepanyan won the shot put and discus at the Para-Athletics World Cup in the Czech Republic.
Monday, June 12, Georgia. The ruling party and the president oppose the process of amending the law on the National Bank
● Deputy Director of the National Cinema Center Nino Kukhalashvili said that the Minister of Culture canceled her full-time position and fired her from July 12.
● Amendments to the law “On Citizenship of Georgia”, introduced at the initiative of the government, have been submitted to the Parliament and will be presented at a meeting on June 12 to start discussions.
● Today, the Finance Committee of the Parliament will discuss the possibility of overcoming the President’s veto on the draft amendments to the law “On the National Bank”. The ruling party intends to add two more members to the board of the National Bank, one of them is the Minister of Finance, the candidates must be approved by the President of the country. The powers of the last head of the National Bank have already expired, only a member of the board can become the new head. However, Salome Zurabishvili says that these changes pose a threat to the independence of the National Bank. The IMF also opposes the adoption of these amendments.
● Mamuka Mdinaradze, one of the leaders of the ruling party: “It was an unfair infringement on Georgia when last year we were not given the status of an EU candidate. I do not rule out that this will happen again, although I am still an optimist.”
The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 5-9 June, 2023