The main topics of the day in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 5-9 June, 2023
Friday, June 9, Azerbaijan. Protest in social networks against insufficiently harsh verdicts of the ECtHR on the statements of Azerbaijani citizens against the country's government
● The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Iran, Ceyhun Bayramov and Hussain Amir Abdullahian, have called to discuss bilateral relations, current problems, and possible solutions.
● The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus has arrived in Baku. “I am happy to be back in Azerbaijan. Looking forward to tomorrow’s productive discussions,” Toivo Klaar wrote on social media.
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aikhan Hajizade, has commented on the Armenian authorities’ announcement of the Washington meeting’s postponement. “As a rule, there is a practice of the coordinating country announcing the exact meeting date,” he said.
● Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited two Armenian citizens detained in Azerbaijan. Meetings were held with them and an opportunity was created for them to contact their families through the Red Cross Messenger Service, the ICRC Baku office said.
● The recent European Court of Human Rights verdicts on Azerbaijani citizens’ allegations are being discussed on Azerbaijani social media. Members of the public have been expressing their outrage that the Court is content with the minimum fine and said “the parties have reached an agreement” in the decision – despite the complainants continuing to protest.
● The Azerbaijani city of Gabala will become the CIS Youth Capital in 2025. The decision was taken at a meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government in Sochi.
Friday, June 9, Georgia. "Georgia fully complies with international sanctions and actively cooperates with partner countries" - the Finance Ministry
● A serviceman has been found dead in a military base. A criminal case has been opened under the charge of inducing suicide.
● The leader of European Georgia Giga Bokeria: “Instead of real engagement with the US and the EU, Georgia has ended up in the enemy’s camp.”
● The Finance Ministry has responded to an article in the British publication Politico, which stated that the US has identified five countries helping Russia evade sanctions – and one of them is Georgia; “Georgia fully complies with international sanctions and actively cooperates with partner countries.”
● National Movement MP Levan Bejashvili claims, “Saakashvili is destroying Georgian Dream’s autocratic regime from jail,”
● “Why should sanctions be imposed? There are no facts [to support this]” – Justice Minister Rati Bregadze regarding possible sanctions on Georgia.
Friday, June 9, Armenia. Armenian representatives attended a meeting of the CIS Border Guard Commanders Council in Baku
● A meeting scheduled for next week in Washington has been postponed. A spokeswoman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry said it was at the request of the Azerbaijani side.
● US Ambassador Christine Queen visited the border village of Tegh. “I’ve familiarised myself with the tense situation on the border. Everyone has the right to protection and security that will bring lasting peace,” she posted on Twitter.
● Turkey, Kazakhstan, Georgia, UAE, and Armenia are helping Russia circumvent sanctions, according to the US State Department sanctions coordinator.
● Levon Aronian has refused to travel to Baku for the World Chess Cup. “I would like to participate, but as an Armenian, I won’t feel safe in Baku,” he wrote on social media, adding that he would prefer to participate online.
● Armenian representatives attended a meeting of the CIS Border Guard Commanders Council in Baku.
● A tutor is suspected of bribery after he received sums ranging from 60,000-340,000 drams from students over a year. He has been detained.
Thursday, June 8, Armenia. The Armenian-Azerbaijani talks will continue with the participation of the EU, France and Germany
● Three new operational centers in the regions of Armenia will appear at the EU civil mission. They will be located in Jermuk, Ijevan and Yeghegnadzor, – according to the website of the EU delegation.
● Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan spoke on the phone with the new Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. Both expressed their readiness to continue work on the normalization of relations.
● The Armenian-Azerbaijani talks will continue in different formats, including with the participation of the EU, France and Germany. This was stated by the head of the commission on external relations of the Bundestag.
● “Peace formulas imposed from the outside, especially those pushed through in an accelerated mode, did not lead to anything good”: Maria Zakharova, official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the activity of the US and the EU in the process of settling Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.
● Armenian Ombudsman Anahit Manasyan stated that the Azerbaijani TV report about Armenian prisoners of war is unacceptable. “They should not be in the public interest, this is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, in order to protect their dignity and protect them from encroachment. Prisoners, being in captivity, cannot openly express their opinion about filming and dissemination of data about them, ”she said.
Thursday, June 8, Azerbaijan. Shusha will become a town of 20,000 people under the 'Great Return' project
● Since yesterday, some news websites blocked by the authorities several years ago can be accessed in Azerbaijan without the help of a VPN. According to experts, this is due to the fact that the PACE co-rapporteurs for the country are in Baku these days.
● Political activist Ziyafat Abbasova has been detained and taken to a psychiatric hospital. She went missing on her way to a book exhibition in Baku. An Interior Ministry spokesperson said that Abbasova’s behaviour had been complained about by neighbours in the shelter where she was staying.
● “The Armenian government, instead of properly investigating the torture and degrading treatment of two Azerbaijani citizens and taking measures to bring the perpetrators to justice, refuses to return them to their homeland due to trumped-up charges,” Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov told a special OSCE Permanent Council meeting.
● In the village of Azikh, Khojavand (Martuni) district in Karabakh, 20 marble tombstones were found dismantled in a cemetery belonging to Azerbaijanis in a house where Armenians lived. The slabs were found in the garage of the house where the Armenian family lived. Names, surnames, dates of birth and death were carved on the tombstones.
● In the next four years 2,000 people will be resettled in Shusha. Shusha will become a town of 20,000 people under the ‘Great Return’ project, said Aydin Kerimov, special presidential representative for the Shusha region.
● A cornea bank will be established in Azerbaijan. This will happen in the near future, Matanat Efendiyeva, a representative of the National Ophthalmological Centre, said. Today cornea transplants are performed in the country at the expense of donors from abroad.
● The cost of a visa for Azerbaijani citizens wishing to travel to the US will increase from $160 to $185 from 17 June.
● The cost of a visa for Azerbaijani citizens wishing to travel to the United States will increase from $160 to $185 from June 17.
Thursday, June 8, Georgia. “It’s fake that the government has anti-Western rhetoric. Peace is sometimes more difficult than war" - ruling party
● Roin Metreveli has been elected President of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences. From 1960-1972 he was Secretary and then First Secretary of the Central Committee of Komsomol of Georgia. From 1991-2004, he was Rector of Tbilisi State University. A 2012 World Bank study exposed corruption at the University during Metreveli’s rectorate.
● One of the leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream Mamuka Mdinaradze: “It is false that the government has anti-Western rhetoric. Peace is sometimes more complicated than war.”
● Vice-Speaker of Georgian Dream, Gia Volsky, on the events in Crimean Kakhovka: “To call it a terrorist act, there must be a decision of a certain body.
● A rally against the destruction of the Kakhovka hydropower plant was held on Wednesday evening in Tbilisi. It was organised by Svitanok, a Ukrainian youth organisation in Georgia, and Ukrainian activists in Sakartvelo, a NGO.
● Georgian Dream MP Irakli Zarkua: “Personally I do not like Salome Zurabishvili, but I respect the institution of the President.”
Photo: Tbilisi, David Pipia/JAMnews
Wednesday, June 7, Georgia. “It seems Prime Minister Garibashvili does not want Georgia to become a member of NATO” - Ben Hodges
● Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili responded to journalists’ questions about why he did not approach Zelensky during the recent European summit in Chisinau: “There were 45 leaders there, 5-6 approached Zelensky, there was no line to shake hands.”
● “Unless the authorities in Georgia change to become pro-western, EU candidate status will not help the country” – Giga Bokeria, leader of the opposition European Georgia party.
● Retired US general Ben Hodges: “I think Prime Minister Garibashvili does not want Georgia to become a NATO member”.
● Salome Zurabishvili: “I condemn the attack on the Kakhovka hydropower plant, Russia must answer for their crimes.”
● New members of the Georgian national team, Russian figure skaters Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin posted a photo in the national team uniform on social media (pictured). Diana Davis is the daughter of coach Eteri Tutberidze, who lives and works in Russia. Russian Telegram channels say that some time ago all her photos with Putin disappeared from Tutberidze’s social media.
● A new master plan for restoration works of the ancient Gelati monastery complex will be developed.
● Another domestic violence crime has been reported in Tbilisi. A resident strangled his ex-wife in his car with a rope after a verbal altercation, moved the body into the boot of a rented car the next day and dumped it into a ravine – MIA.
Wednesday, June 7, Azerbaijan. Baku is waiting for Yerevan to show political will
● Baku is waiting for Yerevan to show political will, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov said. According to him, disagreements in three areas of the peace treaty need to be resolved: “the illegal presence of Armenian military on the territory of Azerbaijan, interference in the internal affairs of the country, and the obstruction of dialogue with the Armenian residents of the Karabakh region.” The minister also added that Azerbaijan is determined to reintegrate ethnic Armenians into the country’s political, legal, economic and social space as equal citizens.
● Ilham Aliyev will visit Mongolia soon. The visit will take place at the invitation of Mongolian President Uhnaagiin Khurlsukh.
● President Aliyev attended the inauguration of the new building of the Ministry of Agriculture. Construction of the building started back in 2017.
● Airbus is closing its branch in Azerbaijan. Airbus Defence and Space SAS did not specify the reasons for the liquidation, writes Interfax-Azerbaijan. The company’s branch was registered in the country in early 2016.
● From now on, drivers under the influence of drugs in Azerbaijan will be imprisoned. Drivers without a license, under the influence of alcohol or drugs will face 1 to 3 months imprisonment.
● Azerbaijan has become a major supplier of cherries to Russia. Last year the country increased deliveries to Russia by 1.5 times – up to 29.2 thousand tons, compared to 2021. The top 3 suppliers also included Turkey with 24.3 thousand tonnes and Moldova with 9.8 thousand tonnes.
● In Astara district, a donkey bit off the ear of a local resident. Doctors managed to reattach the ear to the man who was rushed to hospital.
● The ‘Dear Shusha’ cycling race dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Heydar Aliyev starts today in Shusha. The road cycling race is included in the calendar of the International Cycling Union. It will bring together more than 100 athletes from 16 countries. The event will offer licence points to enable cyclists to compete for tickets to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Wednesday, June 7, Armenia. Washington is "looking forward" to a new round of Armenian-Azerbaijani talks
● Toivo Klaar, the EU special representative, praised his meetings with the Armenian Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on his blog.
● Washington is “looking forward” to a new round of Armenian-Azerbaijani talks. State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, says the meeting will take place in June.
● Yesterday marked Aram Khachaturian’s 120th birthday. A guard of honour was on duty at his monument..
Tuesday, June 6, Armenia. Gayane Hakobyan, who is accused of kidnapping the Armenian prime minister's son, has been sent back to custody
● The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, is on his way to Armenia, where he intends to hold a series of ‘high-level’ talks.
● Gayane Hakobyan, who is accused of kidnapping the Armenian prime minister’s son, has been sent back to custody, this time for a month and 15 days. Gayane Hakobyan’s lawyers are appealing the court’s decision to arrest her.
● In Armenia the military’s certification has started with the first day devoted to combat training. Ahead are exams in physical training, firearms training and testing of professional knowledge.
● The next round of talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will start on 12 June in Washington, DC, according to the press service of the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
● There is no final agreement on what map should be used to delimit the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, according to the Armenian Foreign Minister.
● Armenian servicemen kidnapped on the border met the Azerbaijani ombudsman.
Tuesday, June 6, Azerbaijan. Ombudsman visited Armenian soldiers detained on 26 May in Zangilan district
● Iran has asked Azerbaijan to resume the activity of the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov pointed out in this regard that the issues of resumption of the embassy’s activity and investigation of the circumstances of the attack on the diplomatic mission are interconnected. “The Azerbaijani side should be absolutely sure that the perpetrators of the attack will be strictly punished,” he stressed.
● Ombudsman of Azerbaijan Sabina Aliyeva visited Armenian soldiers detained on 26 May in Zangilan district. Arut Khovagimyan and Karen Gazaryan are arrested on charges of violating the Azerbaijani border and committing other illegal acts. The detainees reported that they had no complaints about the conditions of detention and treatment.
● The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, will visit Azerbaijan. The visit is expected to take place this week. Klaar will arrive in Baku from Yerevan.
● Azerbaijan increases fines for speeding on the roads. According to the draft law, a fine of 300 manat (about $180) will be imposed for speeding 61 km/h or more. Now it is fined 250 manat (about $150). It is also proposed to increase fines for speeding 41-60 km/h from 150 manat (about $90) to 200 manat (about $120).
● A baby Dagestan auroch was born in Baku Zoo.
Monday, June 5, Azerbaijan. Air travel between Azerbaijan and Iran has been halted
● Aliyev and Pashinyan held a brief meeting in Ankara. The Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders discussed the normalisation of bilateral relations and intend to meet again this week, Turkish television channel TRT reported.
● Air travel between Azerbaijan and Iran has been halted. Azerbaijani media reports that the measure is temporary in nature. Baku airport has denied the report and the airport’s online board still shows scheduling for a morning flight from Tehran.
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry is urging its citizens to refrain from travelling to Iran. Those who do visit are urged to exercise great caution. If necessary, the Azerbaijani consulate general in Tabriz is suggested to be contacted.
● Human remains were found while work was being carried out on the grounds of Shusha prison in Karabakh. According to preliminary information, the remains belong to four Azerbaijanis who were reported missing during the first Karabakh war.
● The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence periodically reports shelling of its positions on the border with Armenia and in Karabakh. The Armenian Ministry of Defence denies all these reports of ceasefire violations on the border.
● Azerbaijani oil production under OPEC+ is set to fall by 133,000 barrels a day next year.
Monday, June 5, Georgia. A group of influential Chechens has visited Georgia
● Napoli’s Georgian striker Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been named Italy’s best player of the 2022/2023 season. Kvaratskhelia scored 12 goals and made 10 assists in 33 league games.
● Georgian social media has been full of concerns after reports of a convoy of cars with Russian registration plates in Tbilisi, Batumi, and some other locations in the country. One of the number plates has also been spotted in a video uploaded to the Instagram page of a Chechen businessman, Aslanbek Akhmetkhanov. A group of influential Chechens has visited Georgia, including a well-known Chechen businessman and former mayor of Grozny, stated Georgian Dream MP Dmitry Samkharadze. He did not mention their names but said none of them had violated the law while in the country.
● Maria Zoidze, former manager of khachapuri restaurant Retro, posted a video on Facebook claiming that the restaurant owner Teimuraz Varshanidze is beating the waiter. The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation.
● Activists Levan Nishnianidze and Lasha Dzhanjgava, who were arrested at the rally in front of the parliament on June 2, have been released. A total of 7 people were detained at the peaceful rally (shown in video below), where participants were simply standing or sitting on the steps in front of the parliament with posters in their hands. Many of the poster slogans included the name of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
● The US Embassy said that it was closely following the case of the activists detained outside parliament on 2 June. The embassy stated that freedom of speech is the basis of democracy.
Monday, June 5, Armenia. A peace treaty with Azerbaijan could be signed by the end of 2023 - Secretary of the Security Council
● Nikol Pashinyan attended Erdogan’s inauguration in Ankara. Earlier, Pashinyan congratulated him on his victory in the presidential election, saying he looked forward to continuing to work together to fully normalise relations between the countries.
● Secretary of the Security Council, Armen Grigoryan: “Unblocking” communication routes for Armenia would mean border controls carried out exclusively by Armenian border guards.
He also said that a peace treaty with Azerbaijan could be signed before the end of 2023, if the current level of negotiations and the assistance of the international community are maintained.
● A video of a police officer hitting a citizen on their head with a fist has provoked outrage. The policeman has been suspended and a criminal case has been opened.
● The first free bicycle car park was opened in the centre of Yerevan. It is located in the underground parking area and has a capacity for 200 bicycles.
● The One Run International Half Marathon was held in Yerevan. The race included thr 5, 10 and 21 km distances.
The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 29 May-2 June, 2023