Latest news in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 24-28 July, 2023
Friday, 28 July, Georgia. Protest in Batumi during the arrival of a Russian cruise ship
● Admist protests and the Georgian national anthem playing, the cruise ship Astoria Grande, with Russian tourists on board, set sail from Batumi. They had by then walked around the city and give interviews to Georgian media. “We don’t know about Russia occupying Georgian territories, everywhere is the Soviet Union. Russia is not an occupier. We are all the Soviet Union, a united, big, beautiful country,” said one of them.
● A protest with the slogan “Russian ship, go to fuck you” was also held in Tbilisi. Activists burned the Russian flag near the parliament building.
● “Unfortunately, there is still a large part of our territories occupied, which is a big challenge for us (….) We, politicians, also have a huge responsibility to take appropriate steps,” this is how Kakha Kaladze, general secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream, commented on the situation. Party Chairman Irakli Kaladze called the protests against the arrival of a ship with Russian tourists in Batumi “devilishness”.
● Trailer drivers from Georgia are on strike again in Germany. Together with trailer drivers from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, they gathered in the Gräfenhausen service area and demanded that the company that hired them, Agmaz, pay them their wage arrears.
Friday, 28 July, Azerbaijan. The Parliament appealed to foreign colleagues with a call "not to be deceived by the manipulations of the Armenian side"
● 56 Internally Displaced Persons moved from Baku to Lachin city today.
● A member of the Organising Committee of the opposition Popular Front Party, Elkhan Aliyev, has been arrested for 3 months while his case is investigated. He is accused of fraud, although human rights activists believe that Aliyev’s arrest is political in nature.
● The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Iran have had a call to discuss bilateral relations and the post-conflict situation in the region. The ministers also stated the importance of implementing bilateral and regional agreements reached in the economic and transport spheres.
● The Azerbaijani Parliament addressed the parliaments of foreign countries “in connection with Yerevan’s statements about the alleged shortage of food and medicines for the Armenian residents of Karabakh.”▪️ “Yerevan has repeatedly stated that Karabakh is recognised as Azerbaijani territory, so there is no need for ethnic Armenians to import goods from Armenia.”
▪️” The Lachin road is an integral part of the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan.”
▪️ “Yerevan should not object to the transport of goods along the Aghdam-Khankendi road and hinder the reintegration process.”
▪️ “The international community should demonstrate a responsible approach and not be deceived by the manipulations of the Armenian side”.
● “If Armenia is interested in peace and stability, it should support the use of the Aghdam-Khankendi road,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said. “Yerevan sending car convoys under the guise of so-called ‘humanitarian cargo’ to the sovereign territories of the AR without agreeing with it is another provocation against the country’s territorial integrity,” the Ministry added.
● “Borrell’s approach to the situation in the South Caucasus is regrettable,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said. “Apart from being faithful to its international obligations, Baku will resolutely suppress attempts to legalise illegal activities on its territory.” The EU diplomatic chief expressed Brussels’ concern over “the humanitarian situation in the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region”.
● In Azerbaijan, the state will pay tuition fees for war veterans in higher education institutions.
Friday, 28 July, Armenia. Diplomats go to the village of Kornidzor, where 19 trucks with humanitarian cargo for the unrecognized NKR are parked
● Diplomats and representatives of international organisations will leave today for Kornidzor, where 19 trucks with humanitarian cargo for Nagorno-Karabakh are parked.
● European observers will stay in Kornidzor until the issue of the humanitarian cargo being sent to Nagorno-Karabakh is resolved, Public TV reported, citing the head of the mission Markus Ritter.
● Yerevan is not discussing the possibility of supplying cargo to Nagorno-Karabakh by an alternative road to the Lachin corridor with Baku, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
● The French Foreign Ministry stated the necessity to restore free movement of people, goods and freight traffic along the Lachin corridor in both directions, as well as to resume the supply of gas and electricity to the population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
● The government decided to raise judges’ salaries by almost 60 per cent.
● The EU will provide the Armenian government with a €32 million grant for school laboratories for STEM subjects.
Thursday, 27 July, Azerbaijan. "Armenia sends convoys with "humanitarian cargo" to the territory of Azerbaijan without an agreement with Baku"
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has said, “Unable to digest the existence of the Lachin checkpoint, the Armenian side sends convoys with ‘humanitarian cargo’ on the territory of Azerbaijan without an agreement with Baku. “This is an encroachment on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.”
● Hikmet Hajiyev, an aide to Azerbaijani President, tweeted “Armenia should stop its territorial claims to Azerbaijan, withdraw its troops from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and stop financing the illegal puppet regime. The international community should send a clear message on the use of the Aghdam-Khankendi road and the reintegration of the Armenian residents of Karabakh into Azerbaijan.”
● The military prosecutor’s office confirmed that two servicemen in the Azerbaijani army have been shot dead within the past 24 hours. The tragedies occurred in different military units. The military prosecutor’s office confirmed both facts.
● A member of the organizing committee of the opposition Popular Front Party Elkhan Aliyev has beendetained. The police noted that the opposition politician is suspected of fraud. His friends and acquaintances claim that his arrest is political.
● Rosselkhoznadzor did not let more than 47 tons of tomatoes and 14 tons of strawberries from Azerbaijan into Russia. The reason was unverified corrections in phytosanitary certificates, as well as non-compliance regarding labelling.
● A doctor who helped conscripts evade service has been detained in Baku. The doctor of the National Center of Hematology and Transfusiology Suleyman Gubadli changed blood samples for money, and provided the relevant institutions with false results that conscripts are carriers of thalassemia. A criminal case has been opened.
● Baku Transportation Agency officials have been detained as part of an investigation into coruption. Deputy Head of Traffic Management Department Vugar Huseynov, in collusion with consultant Hikmet Velizadeh, received a total of AZN 16,500 [about $9700] from various persons in exchange for the implementation of relevant procedures to organise parking lots in Baku.
● IOC has invited Azerbaijan to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Thursday, 27 July, Armenia. "Trucks with humanitarian aid from Armenia will wait to enter Nagorno-Karabakh until Azerbaijan complies with the binding decision of the ICJ"
● Trucks with 400 tons of humanitarian aid from Armenia will wait to enter Nagorno-Karabakh until Azerbaijan complies with the binding decision of the UN International Court of Justice, Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan wrote on his blog.
● Members of the EU monitoring mission in Armenia followed the movement of the convoy with humanitarian cargo.
● The Armenian Foreign Ministry have summoned diplomats to discuss the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
● Armenia will not take part in the exercises of rescuers of CSTO countries in Belarus.
● Arrested former Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan will take part in the session of the investigative commission to investigate the circumstances of the 2020 war.
● A restored version of Sergei Parajanov’s cult film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” (1965) will be shown at the 80th anniversary of the Venice Film Festival on the 100th anniversary of the director. The film will be presented in the Venice Classics program along with films by Francis Ford-Copolla, Terence Malick, Carlos Saura, Andrei Tarkovsky, and other classics of world cinema.
Thursday, 27 July, Georgia. "Let it not be so that together the National Movement and Georgian Dream party make up 50% of the parliament" - Gaharia
● The Coordinating Council for Rare Diseases has approved a new protocol for the treatment of achondroplasia, which was highly praised by a German expert.
● “Georgian-US relations did not move forward during Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s tenure,” according to Georgian Dream MP Irakli Zarkua.
● Giorgi Gaharia, former Prime Minister, has described the “natsi” and “kotsi” (slang for the National Movement and Georgian Dream party) as “two destructive forces”. “No, it is not necessary that they disappear, let them exist. Just let it not be so that together they make up 50% of the parliament (elections in 2024).”
● President Salome Zurabishvili: “I don’t veto amendments to copyright and health laws, but they raise questions.”
● Tbilisi City Hall has asked the owners of cafes on Agmashenebeli Street to put their permit documents in order.
● Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, 5,635 Russian citizens have been granted Georgian citizenship.
📷 Photo: Open cafe on Agmashenebeli Avenue
Wednesday, 26 July, Armenia. Numerous rallies in support of Nagorno-Karabakh in Yerevan and Stepanakert (Khankendi)
● In a 5 hour press conference yesterday, Nikol Pashinyan said that a treaty with Baku would not guarantee peace, but its absence would increase the likelihood of war.
● A meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan was held in Moscow. Following the talks, Sergey Lavrov said that steps should be taken without delay in order to provide the population of Nagorno-Karabakh with food, medicines, basic necessities, and to ensure an uninterrupted electricity and gas supply.
● Numerous rallies in support of Nagorno-Karabakh were held simultaneously in Yerevan and Stepanakert (Khankendi).
● Representatives of the youth wing of the Republican Party of Armenia held a rally in support of Armen Ashotyan. They consider the former minister a political prisoner.
● Armenian Defence Minister Suren Papikyan discussed with Georgian Ambassador Giorgi Sharvashidze the prospects of expanding Armenian-Georgian defence cooperation. Military Attaché Jaba Toroshelidze was also present at the meeting.
Wednesday, 26 July, Azerbaijan. "Refusal to use the Aghdam-Khankendi road proves that statements about the 'tense humanitarian situation’ are a tool of political manipulation
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported that Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov said the following things during meetings with his counterparts from Armenia and Russia:
▪️ Claims about the humanitarian situation in the region are groundless and are just political manipulations.
▪️ Azerbaijan’s installation of the Lachin checkpoint is a necessary measure.
▪️ The Armenian side’s opposition to Baku’s proposals shows their insidious intentions, and statements about the humanitarian situation are political blackmail.
● The State Border Service of Azerbaijan urged Yerevan to refrain from actions aimed at provocation and aggravation of the situation.
“Armenia [may] be planning another provocation by organising the accumulation of vehicles at the entrance to the Lachin border checkpoint from the opposite side,” the agency said.
● “It is important to respect the ICRC’s humanitarian mandate and not to abuse it for political purposes.” This is how Baku commented on the statement of the International Committee of the Red Cross regarding the humanitarian situation in the region.
“Yerevan’s refusal to use the Aghdam-Khankendi road, as well as Baku’s support measures proves once again that statements about the ‘tense humanitarian situation’ in the region are a tool of political manipulation and pressure,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry added.
● The Main Department for Combating Corruption under the Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan are collating a report concerning the Baku Transport Agency. Its reasons and results have not been reported yet.
● Georgian singer Nani Bregvadze has unveiled her name star on the ‘Walk of Stars’ in Baku.
Wednesday, 26 July, Georgia. "Ex-President Giorgi Margvelashvili is a leader who will be supported by all Western-oriented people" - сhairman of the National Movement
● Starting July 28, a new company Georgian Wings will operate 12 flights a week between Tbilisi and Batumi. The flights will be operated by Italian-French airplanes with 70 seats each. Ticket prices for the 55 minute fligt start from 155 GEL.
● “A university of occupiers will never open in Georgia.” This was Education Minister Giorgi Amilakhvari’s response to the Director of the Primakov Foundation Dmitry Lortkipanidze’s claims that there were plans to establish a Georgian-Russian University in Tbilisi.
● Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili has claimed that “Georgia is lucky to have Georgian Dream in power at this stage of history.”
● Chairman of the opposition National Movement party Levan Khabeishvili said, “Ex-President Giorgi Margvelashvili is a leader who will be supported by all Western-oriented people.”
● Ruling party MP Beka Odisharia has commented on the US State Department’s statement that they are closely monitoring Saakashvili’s health; “Saakashvili is being cared for like a child, I don’t understand what they are monitoring.”
● Actor Levan Doborjginidze, who became famous after starring in the film “A Walk to Karabakh,” has died at the age of 41.
● In an office building near Mziuri Park in the center of Tbilisi, an employee was wounded with a firearm.
● Two Georgian citizens have been detained for extorting money by posing as employees of the prosecutor’s office.
Tuesday, 25 July, Azerbaijan. "An agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia can be reached in the near future" - Ilham Aliyev
● Gubad Ibadoglu, politican, economist and visiting fellow at the London School of Economics has been arrested and charged with counterfeiting. Read more here
● A meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia will be held in Moscow today. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov left for the Russian capital on Monday evening.
● “An agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia can be reached in the near future,” Ilham Aliyev said in an interview with China Media Group. “Why do I think so? Because Armenia has already had to make a very important statement that they not only recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, but also Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan,” he said.
● In the interview Aliyev also said, “France has become the biggest anti-Azerbaijani source in Europe. They are attacking us from all directions, and their foreign policy statements and statements by officials go beyond any political ethics.”
● Another 19 families (89 persons) of Internally Displaced Peoples left Baku for Lachin early this morning. Thus, the resettlement programme has now resettled over 1000 IDPs.
● The fourth ministerial meeting on the implementation of the strategic partnership agreement on green energy between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, and Hungary will be held today in Bucharest. Electricity generated in Azerbaijan and Georgia will be transmitted through the Black Sea transmission line to Romania and from there to Hungary. The EU is ready to allocate 2.3 billion euros for laying the cable along the bottom of the Black Sea from Georgia to Romania.
● Aztelekom is is currently installing high-speed internt in Lachin. Works will also be carried out in Zabuh and Sus villages.
● Ammunition exploded at the Araz plant of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry in Shirvan. As a result of ammunition exploding at the Araz plant of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry in Shirvan, one worker has died and another has been injured.
Tuesday, 25 July, Armenia. Preparation of a peace treaty between Baku and Yerevan to be discussed in Moscow today
● According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow today and the preparation of a peace treaty between Baku and Yerevan will be discussed.
● Tehran is ready to hold a meeting in the “3+3” format with the participation of Armenian and Azerbaijani officials, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said at a briefing with his Armenian counterpart.
● The head of the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh territory has appealed to the foreign ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan. He said it was necessary to immediately lift the 225-day blockade, including a 40-day full siege, and prevent a rapidly deepening humanitarian catastrophe. Read more about the blockade here
● UN Secretary General António Guterres met with Armenian President Vahan Khachaturyan in Rome to discuss the situation around the Lachin corridor and the situation in the South Caucasus.
● The repaired road section at the Tumanyan-Bagratashen border point on the Armenian-Georgian border has been opened.
● Humanitarian aid is continued to be collected from outside the UN office to be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Tuesday, 25 July, Georgia. Real estate prices rose by 13.1% over the year
● Parents of children diagnosed with achondroplasia are asking the authorities to inform them by the end of the week of specific dates when children can be treated with Vosoritide. If this does not happen, the parents will resume a round-the-clock protest outside the government building in Tbilisi. A story about how children with this rare genetic disease live in Georgia is here
● The Ministry of Health has started accepting applications for the treatment of children with cancer under the state program in clinics in Spain, Turkey and Israel.
● The fire in the lower part of the Narikala fortress in Tbilisi has been extinguished, according to official information, the cause was a burning bush.
● Residential property prices increased by 28.8% in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the 2020 average. Annual growth was 13.1%.
● The Embassy of Georgia will open in Croatia – said Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili at a joint briefing with his Croatian counterpart Andrei Plenkovic.
● Former Estonian President Tomas Hendrik Ilves tweets about the Georgian Prime Minister’s visit to Croatia: “What European values do you share? The rule of law? Respect for human rights? No one in Europe takes Georgia seriously anymore. It’s a shame, it’s your own fault.”
● A man wanted by Turkey has been detained in Batumi, who is accused of torture, gang rape and complicity in the rape of a minor.
● A Georgian citizen was detained in Poland on charges of injuring 2 people.
In the photo, the protest of parents of children diagnosed with achondroplasia in April, 2023
Monday, 24 July, Azerbaijan. Gubad Ibadoglu, chairman of the opposition Democracy and Welfare Party has been detained on charges of having links to Fethullah Gulen
● Gubad Ibadoglu, chairman of the recently dissolved opposition Democracy and Welfare Party has been detained in Baku. He is accused of having links to Fethullah Gulen’s terrorist organisation.
● An operation against the terrorist organisation Fethullah Gulen has been carried out in Azerbaijan. Four people have been detained. According to Turkish publication Yeni Şafak, the detainees were promoting their ideas in educational centres.
● Another 22 families (made up of 79 Internally Displaced Persons) returned to Lachin city last weekend. So far 217 families made up of 934 people have been resettled to the territory
● Azerbaijani Army serviceman Emin Aliyev was killed in a road accident in Kelbajar district. Another serviceman was injured.
● Azerbaijan has increased meat imports by 6 per cent, the State Customs Committee said. According to local farmers, the decline in meat production in the country is due to a sharp reduction in pasture area in the country.
● Azerbaijan’s U16 women’s basketball team became the European champion in C division for the first time in history.
Monday, 24 July, Armenia. Three Armenian banks announced the suspension of work with the sanctioned Russian Unistream payment system
● Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan will visit Tehran, a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian is scheduled.
● Third President Serzh Sargsyan addressed an open letter to the heads of Russia, France and the United States in connection with the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. He asked the presidents to stop the humanitarian catastrophe in NK and provide the elementary conditions for the human existence of the people.
● The Hayakwe Initiative has collected 38,500 signatures out of the required 50,000 to criminalize proposals to give up Nagorno-Karabakh.
● Armenian Armeconombank, Ardshinbank, Converse Bank and Evocabank announced the suspension of work with the Russian Unistream payment system. They offer their clients to use other transfer systems. Earlier, the US authorities imposed sanctions against the payment system.
● A beer festival was held in Yerevan. The goal of the organizers is to draw the attention of tourists to the traditions of beer production in Armenia. Among the participants of the beer days are mostly tourists and foreigners living in the country.
Monday, 24 July, Georgia. New statements about a possible coalition among the opposition
● President Salome Zurabishvili called the missile attacks on Odessa “another Russian war crime”. Another night of Russian missile attacks in Odessa on 23 July killed one person, injured 22, destroyed infrastructure, and damaged the famous Transfiguration Church of the Saviour.
● Pro-Russian former Georgian MP and director of the Georgian-Russian Primakov Foundation Dimitri Lortkipanidze has announced plans for a Georgian-Russian university and the opening of a direct Tbilisi-St Petersburg flight. “The meeting with Russian representatives in St Petersburg on 3-7 July was very fruitful in a number of ways,” he told reporters.
● “Parents of children with achondroplasia syndrome still have no information on the legal process to allow the badly-needed drug, Vozoritid, to be imported into the country,” Ketevan Begiashvili, whose child is diagnosed with the disease, told the Formula TV channel.
According to the Ministry of Health today, 24 July, is the deadline for the National Council of Methodological Recommendations to make a decision on the protocol for diagnosis and treatment of achondroplasia.
● New statements about a possible coalition among the opposition. One of the leaders of the Girchi – More Freedom party Tsotne Koberidze did not rule out consultations on a possible coalition with the Droa party, the Lelo party, and the European Georgia party.
● Leader of the opposition party, Agmashenebeli Strategy, Giorgi Vashadze said that the party could win the parliamentary elections in 2024 “due to its systematic, comprehensive work”. He also did not rule out the possibility of him standing to be Prime Minister.
● Georgian Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia Zaza Gogsadze said that Croatia is an active supporter of Georgia joining the EU. Yesterday, the Georgian Prime Minister landed in Croatia as part of a visit.
● This year the government will subsidise the production of “rkatsiteli” and “kahuri green” grapes.
● In the early hours of 23 July a foreign citizen fell from the 22nd floor of the Orbi City Hotel building in Batumi and died.
Photo: Tbilisi, JAMnews / David Pipia
The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 17-21 July, 2023