The main topics of the day in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, 13-17 March, 2023
Main events in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia – кey headlines from local media 13-17 March, 2023
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Friday, 17th March, Georgia
● Metropolitan Nikoloz Pachuashvili of Akhalkalaki and Kumurd called the burning of the EU flag by aggressive pro-Russian homophobic small groups at a March 14 rally in Tbilisi vandalism. Five people involved in this were fined 1,000 lari (about $400) each 👉 https://bit.ly/3mT0ITL
● Air Moldova starts flights from Chisinau to Batumi.
● “Improvements and development annoy you” – this is how the mayor of the city of Ozurgeti (Western Georgia) Avtandil Talakvadze reacted to a wave of indignation in social networks about the renovation of the city square. There are flower beds that are shaped like coffins.
● The Ministry of Justice agrees that foreign doctors will be involved in the treatment of Saakashvili “if the conditions are met.”
● “There is no need to speculate on the statements of former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili and blame the United National Movement party. He makes exclusively personal statements,” the party said. Merabishvili was an all-powerful minister during the period when the United National Movement was the ruling party (the period of Saakashvili’s presidency). The other day Merabishvili said that “in the coming months there will be a real process in Georgia, including on the street.” The authorities responded by accusing the United National Movement party of intending to open a “second front” in Georgia.
● A group of professors and scientists asked the President to pardon the imprisoned head of the leading independent TV company Mtavari, Nika Gvaramia
Friday, 17th March,Azerbaijan
● Azerbaijan and Georgia intend to open their land border from 1 May. The land borders of Azerbaijan have been closed since March 2020.
● Putin and Aliyev phoned and discussed measures aimed at ensuring security and stability in the South Caucasus within the framework of tripartite (with Armenia) agreements.
● Ankara hosted a summit of the heads of state of the Organization of Turkic States. At the summit, a decision was made to create a joint mechanism for the civil protection of the states that are members of the organization. These are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Hungary and Turkmenistan have the status of observers.
● Combat readiness check passed in the Azerbaijani army. Combat reviews were held in military units, weapons and combat equipment of personnel, their individual training were checked.
● The Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani parliament) condemned the “prejudiced European Parliament resolution on Azerbaijan”. “Text of the resolution:
▪️ consists of lies and offensive rhetoric aimed at destabilizing the situation in the Karabakh economic region of Azerbaijan;
▪️ deliberately ignores the country’s efforts to achieve peace;
▪️ provokes revanchist forces in Armenia.”
The parliament focused on the fact that “the resolution calls into question the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which is disrespectful of both international law and the charter of the European Parliament itself.”
● In two months, 223 people were infected with HIV in Azerbaijan. Among those infected, 212 people are citizens of Azerbaijan, 11 are foreigners.
In the photo: border with Russia, crossing point from Azerbaijan
Friday, 17th March, Armenia
● Armenia and Russia completely stopped settlements in dollars and euros and switched to rubles.
● Yerevan discusses projects of new schools in Armenia with the Russian side. According to the Minister of Education, Science and Culture Zhanna Andreasyan, not where and how many institutions to open, but the very model of cooperation in school education is being worked out. The Ministry of Education is ready to discuss the needs of Russian citizens who have moved to the country and send their children to schools here.
● At the customs terminal in the city of Gyumri, there were many kilometers of queues of trailers and car carriers with imported cars. The influx is associated with sanctions against the Russian Federation, since the lion’s share of cars after “customs clearance” in Armenia is re-exported to Russia. ● The Armenian Foreign Ministry called the statements of President Aliyev “false” and said that they “undermine the process of peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and slow down the positive dynamics in the Armenian-Turkish normalization”.
● “One must love art in oneself, not oneself in art,” Maria Zakharova replied with Stanislavsky’s quote to Nikol Pashinyan’s statements that the CSTO is leaving Armenia, and not Armenia is leaving the CSTO.
● On March 20, Sergei Lavrov will hold talks in Moscow with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.
● Major General Grigory Khachaturov will still be arrested: the Court of Appeal granted the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office. He was accused of money laundering, legalization of illegally acquired property using his official position. Then the Anti-Corruption Court decided not to arrest the military man, this decision was later appealed in court by the Prosecutor General’s Office.
● “We hope that Moscow will fulfill the role of a guarantor of the security of the NK population. But if our friend and ally cannot fulfill this role for an objective reason, I think that Russia should apply to the UN Security Council, report on the danger of massacres of the civilian population and the risk of destroying civilian infrastructures in Nagorno-Karabakh in order to activate international mechanisms,” said Nikol Pashinyan .
Thursday, 16th March,Georgia
● Georgian wrestler Diego Chkhikvadze became the winner of the European Under-23 Greco-Roman wrestling championship in Bucharest (pictured).
● Politicians Vano Merabishvili (was Interior Minister during Saakashvili’s presidency): “In May 2012 I was the most popular politician, and in November I became the most unpopular. These are objective results, so ratings mean nothing. If there is no Putin tomorrow, Georgia will be different, it will change in one day.”
● Vano Merabishvili: “With the victory of Ukraine, we will return Abkhazia and Samachablo (South Ossetia) without the use of force.”
● Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Irakli Kobakhidze, on the dispersal of protests in Tbilisi on March 7-8: “Only jets of water, sprayers and appropriate gas were used. No brute force was used against the protesters, despite the fact that there was very rough, completely un-European violence from the other side.
● New Public Defender Levan Ioseliani addressed the students: “I am ready to meet anyone who feels threatened by the government.”
● Koka Morgoshia, one of the founders of the pro-Russian aggressive group Alt Info: “Holding the EU flag in front of the parliament is a crime.”
● Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili tweeted: “I had a very fruitful conversation with MEP Roberta Metzola on how to improve Georgia’s prospects for candidate status. I emphasized the unshakable desire of the people of Georgia on this European path. We hope for the support of the European Parliament.”
Thursday, 16th March,Armenia
● Students of the Bryusov University in Yerevan greeted Minister of Education Zhanna Andreasyan with the chant “Shame on shame!”. She came to the university to answer the questions of professors and students about why their university is being merged with another, and also appointing the rector of someone who is not acceptable to the majority. Students held a rally in front of the building and demanded not to make such decisions.
● Trade turnover between Armenia and Turkey in 2022 amounted to about $320 million. It is mainly about imports – Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan.
● 168 edition writes that Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, returned a recent gift from the speaker of the Armenian People’s Assembly Alen Simonyan. A spokeswoman for Simonyan assured that they had a “warm business relationship,” but did not say whether the gift was returned or not.
● Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II strongly condemned the sanctions against the Russian Patriarch Kirill. The Catholicos also stated the importance of trilateral cooperation between the spiritual leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan for establishing peace in the region.
● Vahagn Mkrtchyan, 28, was elected Deputy Mayor of Gyumri. He is a member of the ruling Civil Contract. The media write that he is a relative of Nikol Pashinyan’s wife.
● The Azerbaijani authorities should withdraw troops from the sovereign territory of Armenia, the European Parliament report says.
● The “Aravot” publication reports that his youtube channel was hacked after they announced a story about government officials who made big fortunes after 2018. A little over an hour before the broadcast on the youtube channel, someone changed the name and began to delete stories from there.
● Armenian singer Brunet (Helen Yeremyan) will participate in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Future Lover” (pictured).
Thursday, 16th March, Azerbaijan
● Ilham Aliyev is on a visit to Turkey, where he has already met with President Erdogan. An extraordinary summit of the heads of the member states of the Organization of Turkic States will be held today in Ankara. Aliyev became the initiator of the summit. Issues of mutual assistance in natural disasters will be discussed.
● “Pashinyan’s unsubstantiated claims deal another blow to the process of establishing peace in the region.” This is how the speaker of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Aykhan Hajizade commented on the claims of the Prime Minister of Armenia, put forward during a press conference on March 14.
● Activist Rufat Safarov was attacked by an unknown man in Baku. After he reported this on social networks, Safarov was invited to the police, an investigation into the fact is underway.
● Kazakhstan will start shipping Tengiz oil to Azerbaijan in March. It is planned to ship 1.5 million tons per year along the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan route.
● The Caucasian Muslims Office has set prices for citizens wishing to make the Hajj this year. The cost of a tour package per person is $5,750. A visit to the holy places in Mecca last year cost $5,356.
● Harmful organisms were found in oranges and peppers imported from Iran to Azerbaijan. The products were destroyed at the Gyzyldash training ground in the Garadagh district of Baku.
● The Ministry of Health of Azerbaijan called on citizens to eat right on holidays. During Novruz celebrations, the diet abounds in sweets and nuts (pictured). Holiday holidays in the country will last from 18 to 26 March.
Wednesday, 15th March, Georgia
● Estonian President Alar Karis: “The Georgian people have chosen their path, and they are moving towards Europe”.
● European People’s Party (EPP) statement: “We are concerned about the Georgian Dream party’s attempt to attack the country’s democratic values. This is contrary to the European aspirations of the Georgian people!”
● MEP Reinhard Butikofer: “Georgian people show a very strong will because they know that the so-called Georgian Dream has actually turned into a Georgian nightmare. The Georgian government no longer follows European values, the European path, and we must not leave Georgian society alone in this struggle.”
● Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko: “The US and its satellites are trying to create hotbeds of tension in Moldova and Georgia for geopolitical confrontation with Russia”.
● A new protest action is due to take place in Tbilisi on April 9, a day celebrated in Georgia as the Day of National Unity and the Day of Remembrance of those who died for their homeland. The action was announced by the country’s leading opposition party, the United National Movement.
● Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov: “In Tbilisi, supporters of traditional values tore down the EU flag.”
● Ex-president’s son Eduard Saakashvili: “My father really wants to live, we want to help him.”
In the photo JAMnews / David Pipia – footage from one of the latest protests in Tbilisi.
Wednesday, 15th March, Azerbaijan
● An international conference on combating Islamophobia has started in Baku. Scientists, religious figures, representatives of non-governmental organizations from 32 countries and experts from international organizations take part in it.
● “Azerbaijan will become an exporter to Europe not only of natural gas, but also of green energy,” Ilham Aliyev said during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. “The country is increasing gas exports to the European space.”
● The UN raised the issue of “plundering the natural resources of Azerbaijan by Armenia”. Julia Rosso, Vice President of the Youth Parliament of the Sustainable Development Goals, spoke on this topic at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council. She noted that “large-scale and illegal exploitation of gold deposits and other natural resources was carried out in the once occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”
● Shusha (pictured) is getting ready to receive the first tourists. The cost of a two-day tour, including a bus transfer, hotel accommodation for one night, breakfast and guide services, is about $126 (equivalent in manats), a 3-day trip (with two overnight stays) is about $217 (equivalent in manats).
Wednesday, 15th March, Armenia
● “The guarantor of the security of Nagorno-Karabakh is Russia, but Yerevan is in constant contact with Stepanakert,” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said during a press conference in Yerevan that lasted more than 4 hours. The main theses of his speech – on the link: https://rb.gy/lkcu5q
● Commander of the Armenian-Russian united group of troops, Lieutenant General Tigran Parvanyan was dismissed.
● 20 new outpatient clinics and 5 polyclinics will be built in the regions of Armenia this year, said Anahit Avanesyan, head of the Armenian Ministry of Health.
Tuesday, 14th March, Armenia
● All tickets for the qualifying match of the European Championship between Armenia and Turkey have already been sold. 15 thousand tickets ended in just a week. The match will take place on March 25 in Yerevan, Turkish fans will not be present at the match.
● Since the beginning of the year, the flow of tourists to Armenia is 40% higher than in the pre-crisis 2019 – Economy Minister.
● An Armenian wrestler defeated an opponent from Azerbaijan at the European Greco-Roman Wrestling Championship (U23) in Bucharest. After the victory of Karapet Manvelyan, Rakhim Khasanov refused to shake hands with him and hit the representative of Armenia.
● Putin and Pashinyan discussed by telephone the implementation of the trilateral agreements between Baku, Yerevan and Moscow, the Kremlin said.
● Yerevan has no desire for territorial expansion, the speaker of the Armenian parliament said. Armenia wants peaceful relations with all countries and does not seek to expand its territory, Alen Simonyan said at the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
● The number of measles cases in Armenia has reached 50 people. The condition of the patients is assessed as moderate, one of them as severe.
Tuesday, 14th March, Georgia
● Today the European Parliament is discussing the issue of ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. Together with him, Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza and deputy of the Moscow Krasnoselsky village council Alexei Gorinov, who are in prison in Russia, are on the agenda.
● Lawyer for billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili (considered Georgia’s shadow ruler) Viktor Kipiani said he would like to hear “more balanced statements about Ukraine” from Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party. The day before, the lawyer had already criticized the actions of the ruling party and called the bill they passed on foreign agents unprepared 👉 https://bit.ly/3mSGlpK
● One of the initiators of the draft law on foreign agents, Mikhail Kavelashvili, in turn, spoke to Viktor Kipiani: “Our law applied to him, probably, that’s why he makes aggressive statements.”
● Polish authorities have said they are ready to send their doctors to Tbilisi to treat Saakashvili.
● “Pressure on the government must not abate,” says opposition party Girchi-More Freedom. Its leader, Zurab Japaridze, was badly beaten and detained during protests against the bill on foreign agents.
● “In Georgia, the people want to go towards the West, but the authorities are leading them towards the defeated Moscow” – former US Secretary of State Adam Kissinger.
● “By creating a draft law on foreign agents based on the Russian model, the Georgian authorities violated 2 of the 12 points of recommendations that the country must comply with in order to obtain EU candidate status,” said Peter Stano, spokesman for the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Joseph Borrell.
● The Georgian Media Interests Coalition filed a complaint with the Special Investigation Service about unlawful interference in journalistic activities and other violations of the rights of journalists. “During legitimate protests around the bill on foreign agents, media representatives were deliberately prevented from performing their professional duties and violated the freedom of speech guaranteed by the constitution,” the coalition said.
● The prosecutor’s office reported that a Russian citizen was extradited from Georgia to the United States, who was wanted by the FBI for computer crimes.
Photo taken at the protests in Tbilisi on March 8:
Tuesday, 14th March, Azerbaijan
● Today Azerbaijan celebrates the last of the Tuesdays before Novruz – Axır çərşənbə.
● Approximately 200 residents of the villages of Nabatkend and Orta Mugan in the Saatly region held a protest action due to frequent and prolonged water cuts (pictured). They tried to block the highway. The protest was dispersed by the police. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, residents said, and several people were seriously injured.
● Ilham Aliyev is on a visit to Berlin and is scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
● The opening ceremony of the Azerbaijani embassy in Israel is scheduled for 29 March. The event will be attended by Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov. The embassy is located in Tel Aviv.
● Armenia donated 67 bags of human remains to Azerbaijan. The transfer process took place in the zone of temporary responsibility of Russian peacekeepers from February 2021 to December 2022. The examination found that the remains belong to 117 people.
● The Azerbaijani presidential administration invited representatives of the Armenian community of Karabakh to a meeting in Baku. It is proposed to discuss issues related to reintegration, as well as infrastructure projects in Karabakh.
● Football teams Karabakh (Azerbaijan) and Galatasaray (Turkey) will play a friendly match in Baku on 26 March. Proceeds from the tickets will go to help victims of the earthquake in Turkey.
● Cigarette butts thrown on the ground in Baku will be fined 50 manats (about $30).
Monday, 13th March, Georgia
● Extraordinary statements by the Prime Minister of Georgia. He blamed all those who opposed the passage of the law on foreign agents. He calls the opposition parties “United National Movement” and “Girchi” terrorists. Says they “could have killed a few young people” to destabilize the country. Declares that 100 deputies in the European Parliament are accused of corruption and he cannot “brainwash Georgia”. Calls Ukrainian politicians “mean losers” and suggests that Zelensky is involved in the protests in Georgia. He also talks about Satanists at the protests in Tbilisi, about blasphemy and about deceived youth.
● “Where did the prime minister get information about 100 corrupt MEPs? I’m interested in the source. He obviously knows more than we do,” MEP Viola von Cramon (pictured) addressed Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who spread this information yesterday.
● A 9-year-old child died, his three-year-old brother is in serious condition. Children were playing on a trampoline late on March 13 in a park on a boulevard in Batumi when it was blown away by a strong gust of wind. An investigation has been launched under Article 240 “violation of security rules”.
Monday, 13th March,Azerbaijan
● “The Armenian policy of occupation and ethnic cleansing has made more than a million Azerbaijanis internally displaced. Armenia continues to illegally import weapons and ammunition into Azerbaijani territory and rotates military personnel,” said Sahiba Gafarova, Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament.
● “With the Prague and Sochi agreements, Armenia recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh. The rights and security of the Armenians living in Karabakh will be ensured in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Azerbaijan. Yerevan’s statements about sending a mission to Karabakh, on the Lachin road, about attracting foreign forces are nothing but a utopia, a geopolitical adventure, creating artificial tension,” said Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to the President of Azerbaijan.
● Special operations to expose Iran’s spy network in Azerbaijan continue. As a result of the relevant measures taken by law enforcement agencies, another spy network was revealed. Several people were detained, Trend reports.
● An exhibition of electric vehicles “Auto Eco 2023” has opened in Baku (pictured).
Monday, 13th March, Armenia
● Yerevan Vice Mayor Gevorg Simonyan arrested for 2 months. He is accused of causing significant damage to the legitimate interests of the state when he was Deputy Minister of Health (in 2020).
● 7 children and 5 adults remain in the hospital after the accident in Syunik. The bus with schoolchildren left the roadway and flew into a small gorge, ending up in the river. As a result of the accident, more than 15 people were taken to the hospital.
● Turnover in Armenia’s high-tech industry exceeded $1 billion for the first time, Hakob Arshakyan, Vice Speaker of the Parliament, ex-Minister of High-Tech, said.
● Armenian Ambassador to Syria Tigran Gevorgyan visited earthquake-affected Latakia and Kessab, and also donated financial assistance from the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund to teachers and the administration of Armenian schools in the country.
● A mine was found on the outskirts of Yerevan. Judging by the photographs, this is a mortar shell. How he got there is still unknown.
Key headlines from local media for 6 – 10March, 2023