Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 11-15 September, 2023
Friday, September 15, Armenia. "Putin is very vindictive towards anyone who disobeys him. We need to increase our support for Armenia" - US Deputy Secretary of State
● Yerevan has received Baku’s next peace treaty proposals and will submit its comments within a reasonable time frame, according to Nikol Pashinyan.
● Acting US Under Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Yuri Kim said: “Putin and Russia have proven that they are very vindictive towards anyone who does not bend to their will. ” We need to keep a close eye on developments, increase the support that we provide to Armenia, both for Armenia’s development and for defence and security partnerships, in a way that is acceptable to Armenia, so that Armenia makes the turn that it wants to make,” the diplomat explained.
● India has supplied 6 ATAGS howitzers to Armenia, with plans to transfer another 84, Indian Defence Research Wing reported, citing the head of local defence company Bharat Forge L.t.d.. Babu Kalyani. The defence deal involves supply of a total of 90 ATAGS to Armenia worth over $155 million over 3 years.
● The accumulation of Azerbaijani forces on the border with Armenia and the line of contact with Nagorno-Karabakh was discussed by Nikol Pashinyan with Jean-Louis Bourlange, head of the Foreign Relations Commission of the French National Assembly.
● Arsen Davtyan, representing Armenia, became the European Chess Champion (under 18).
● In Yerevan’s TUMO Park, the open-air opera ‘Anush’ was performed for two days in a row.
Friday, September 15, Azerbaijan. "Armenia's political adventure that distorts reality" - Foreign Ministry
● Another 73 IDPs moved to Fizuli city for permanent residence.
● “Azerbaijan intends to return more than 30,000 families to Karabakh and East Zangezur within three years,” Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Sahiba Gafarova said, speaking at a demographic forum in Budapest.
● “Yerevan’s presentation of Azerbaijan’s response to the defence of its territorial integrity and sovereignty as ‘occupation’ of Armenian territories is part of Armenia’s political adventure. “Armenia itself distorts reality by still not returning 8 villages to Azerbaijan, as well as not withdrawing its troops from Azerbaijani territory within the framework of obligations under the trilateral statement,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry stated.
● The European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a resolution demanding that the Azerbaijani government released political prisoner, scientist Gubad Ibadoglu.
● Journalist Nurlan Gahramanli (Libre) said he was summoned to the State Security Service because of his social media posts. After a “preventive conversation with threats” he was released.
● In Azerbaijan, 92 people (together with family members – 138 people) have applied for asylum in 8 months, the country’s State Migration Service said. Citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka prevail among the applicants.
● A new school year started in Azerbaijan today. It will end on 14 June 2024. The first lesson in all schools of the country today is ‘Heydar Aliyev – saviour and founder of Azerbaijan’.
Friday, September 15, Georgia. "It is unfair that Moldova and Bosnia have EU candidate status and Georgia does not" - ruling party
● The US has imposed sanctions against the former Prosecutor General of Georgia Otar Partskhaladze. This is due to his business activities and co-operation with the Russian FSB,” the US news agency Associated Press writes, citing the US State Department. Read more here
● “Over the past 30 years, we have become strategic partners, and no individual sanctions can change that vision.” That’s how White House spokesman Matthew Miller responded to a question about whether US sanctions imposed on Partskhaladze would affect US-Georgian relations.
● Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili – on US sanctions against the ex-prosecutor: “For 10 years now, Partskhaladze has no connection with state structures, he is a private person.”
● “Do you see, Bidzina – Borenka? They are getting closer to you” – Chairman of the opposition United National Movement Levan Khabeishvili addressed informal leader Bidzina Ivanishvili after the US sanctions imposed on Partskhaladze became known.
● Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream Irakli Kobakhidze: “When the status was granted to Moldova and Bosnia, but not to Georgia, it was unfair.”
● Tinatin Kajvrishvili’s feature film “Citizen Saint” will compete for the 2024 Academy Awards.
● Ilias Zouros has left the post of the head coach of the Georgian national basketball team. The information was confirmed in the Basketball Federation.
Thursday, September 14, Armenia. "Rome Statute will be ratified, that it is not related to Armenia-Russia relations" - Pashinyan
● The Government has sent the Rome Statute to the Parliament and it will be ratified in accordance with my position and with the assistance of parliamentary colleagues in full. Nikol Pashinyan stated this and added that it has nothing to do with Armenia-Russia relations, but has to do with the issue of security.
● Recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in Prague last year was done to protect Armenia’s own territory – Nikol Pashinyan
● New talks between Pashinyan and Aliyev are not ruled out, but there are no concrete dates and agreements yet – Armenian Foreign Minister Armenian Foreign Minister
● Armenian authorities intend to restore the airport in Goris, Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Gnel Sanosyan said.
● An app with public transport schedules and routes has been launched in Yerevan. Within 2 months, the Municipality promises to digitise 50 more routes, while working on wi-fi coverage of public transport.
● The first floating solar photovoltaic station appeared on Yerevan Lake.
Thursday, September 14, Georgia. "If Georgia is denied EU candidate status, it will mean that someone is really leaving us in the hands of Russia" - ruling party
● “Georgia strives to overcome difficulties and become part of the European Union” – President Salome Zurabishvili at the meeting with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
● “I know how important the EU perspective is for many people in Georgia” – Ursula von der Leyen said at this meeting. At the same time, with regard to Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans, she said that “their future is in the EU.” ● “Their future is in the EU.
● “If Georgia is denied EU candidate status, it will mean that someone is really leaving us in the hands of Russia” – ruling party MP Mamuka Mdinaradze.
● “The UK is tightening its immigration policy and has introduced a transit-visa regime with more than 100 countries” – Georgian Foreign Ministry commented on the news that from October citizens of Georgia and Russia will need a transit visa to fly through British airports.
● The condition of the building of the Centre for the Development of Children and Adolescents with Autism on the territory of the University of Elijah was declared dangerous. The University has decided to move the educational process to other buildings. This rehabilitation programme is financed by the Tbilisi City Hall and 1,850 people are included in it.
● The U.S. Embassy, followed by the Georgian Ministry of Defence, denied claims by the Mtavari Arch TV channel that the U.S. intended to open a military base in Georgia. Read more here
● Georgia’s foreign trade turnover increased by 16.8 per cent in January-August this year.
Thursday, September 14, Azerbaijan. Moscow outraged by Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry statement on elections in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia
● Azerbaijan has submitted its comments on the peace treaty to Armenia, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.
● “Turkey is working closely with Azerbaijan to realise the Zangezur corridor as soon as possible,” Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu said.
● “Azerbaijan has the right to send its forces in any direction on its sovereign territory for the purpose of exercises as well as to secure its borders, and interference in these steps is unacceptable. These steps can in no way question our country’s commitment to the existing peace agenda,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.
● Moscow told Baku a diplomatic demarche. The reason was the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s statement on elections in the territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia. “Azerbaijan’s statements about elections in Russia’s new territories are unacceptable and do not meet the nature of alliance,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. Zakharova believes that “Baku should treat issues of Russia’s territorial integrity with the same respect they expect from the Russian side when it comes to Azerbaijan.”
● Azerbaijani servicemen were killed in the accident, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said. The military vehicle was involved in a road accident in a mountainous area with difficult terrain. Three servicemen died.
Where exactly the accident took place is not reported.
● An excavator exploded on a mine in Lachin. The incident occurred during repair and rehabilitation work on the bank of the Hakari River. No one was injured, however the machinery was damaged.
● Ilham Aliyev will take part as guest of honour in the meeting of heads of Central Asian states in Dushanbe. The event will be held on 14-15 September, the Tajik Foreign Ministry said. Thus, it will be the first time that a head of state from outside the region will participate in this summit.
● The Iranian Prosecutor’s Office has completed investigation on the case of armed attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy. The case has been transferred to the court. One of the defendants has been charged with the premeditated murder of an Azerbaijani citizen, as well as the illegal acquisition, carrying and storage of weapons and ammunition.
The attacker, armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, killed the head of the security service and wounded two others on 27 January after breaking through a guard post.
● Azerbaijan’s investments in Georgia’s economy have increased significantly. In the first half of the year investments made $45 million 446 thousand. This is 2.9 times or by $30 million 167 thousand more than the corresponding period of last year, data of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan show. Over the same period, Georgia’s investments in Azerbaijan’s economy decreased by 37.2% and totalled $8.9 million.
● Azerbaijani border guards detained two citizens of Sudan while trying to illegally cross into Georgia. Further the offenders planned to go to one of the European countries. Azerbaijan’s land borders have been closed since March 2020.
Wednesday, September 13, Azerbaijan. In response to the election of the president of the unrecognised NKR, the UN called on Armenia to respect the Security Council resolutions confirming the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan
● Baku called on the international community to strongly condemn the elections held in the part of Karabakh where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed. “This provocative step is directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and is a gross violation of the norms and principles of international law,” Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Sahiba Gafarova said.
● The UN called on Armenia to respect the organisation’s Security Council resolutions confirming Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This was stated by UN Secretary General’s representative Stephane Dujarric, answering a question of Azerbaijani Report agency about the elections in Karabakh.
● The ICRC has declared its readiness to use any road to deliver supplies to Karabakh. But only if the decision-making parties agree and if security is ensured, the ICRC’s Azerbaijani office said.
● Azerbaijani Defence Minister Zakir Hasanov received the new commander of the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh, Kirill Kulakov. Hasanov emphasised the recent increase in the number of provocations committed by illegal Armenian armed formations. This is the first fact for the past 3 years, when the newly appointed commander of RMK first of all visits Baku. So far, new commanders have first met with the leaders of the Karabakh Armenian community and the Armenian Defence Minister.
Wednesday, September 13, Armenia. "Russia is not Armenia's enemy, [...] Yerevan is telling untruths" - Russian Foreign Ministry
● Baku’s actions indicate the preparation of new military aggression against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, the Deputy Foreign Minister claimed at an OSCE Permanent Council meeting.
● The EU mission has opened an operational base in Ijevan.
● Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told RIA Novosti that “Russia is not Armenia’s enemy and never will be. Moscow’s harsh reaction to Yerevan’s recent harsh statements was caused by the fact that they were based on untruths, inaccuracies or an attempt to substitute facts.”
● The Russian Red Cross has delivered 15 tonnes of gum cargo to Nagorno-Karabakh. The organisation expects the Lachin corridor to be opened soon, which “will provide an opportunity to deliver humanitarian goods along both routes”.
● The chief conductor of the State Symphony Orchestra and his father Armen Smbatyan, a diplomat and former Armenian ambassador to Russia and Israel, were released on bail of 100 million drams (about $240,000). They are detained on suspicion of fraud. In particular, the matter concerns the illegal alienation of a 300 square metre plot of land belonging to the Tchaikovsky Music School.
● The Armenian parliament ratified a protocol on the complete prohibition of the death penalty under any circumstances.
Wednesday, September 13, Georgia. Parliament refused to discuss a petition demanding cancellation of direct air communication with Russia
● The European Conservative and Reformist Group (ECR Group) has nominated former public defender Nino Lomjaria and her new public platform “European Orbit of Georgia” for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought2023. During her period in office, Lomjaria (pictured) was repeatedly heavily criticised by the authorities.
● “More active engagement is needed in countering Russia’s hybrid actions in Georgia, against Russian propaganda and disinformation” – the EU’s top representative Josep Borrell wrote in his blog after his visit to Georgia. He calls strong political polarisation one of the main problems of Georgia on its European path. Borrel regrets that direct air links between Georgia and Russia have been restored, “making Tbilisi a hub for ferrying Russians to Europe”, and also writes that the EU will continue to support independent media and civil society in the country. Read more here
● “The President does not rule out that impeachment against her may indeed materialise” – Citizens Party leader Aleko Elisashvili after meeting with Salome Zurabishvili. On 11 September, 80 MPs of the parliamentary majority signed a statement on the beginning of impeachment proceedings against the President, now all documents have been sent to the Constitutional Court. Whether the Georgian authorities will be able to declare impeachment against the president and why they went for it – a breakdown here
● The parliament has removed from the agenda the discussion of a petition demanding the cancellation of direct air links with Russia and the introduction of a visa regime for Russians – despite the fact that the petition has about 6,000 signatures. One of its authors, lawyer Kakha Tsiskarashvili, said the initiative group was not even allowed to speak.
● Lawyers declare the intention of the investigation and prosecutor’s office to drop the case of attack on the founder of the independent TV company “Formula” Misha Mshvildadze” “This is one of the most problematic cases for the government,” defenders say.
● A continuation of the scandal surrounding the prime minister’s private trip to Munich, during which he used the government’s Flight 1. The head of the state security service said that about 100,000 GEL (about $40,000) was paid for the trip by the prime minister’s father. Opposition former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said he would introduce an initiative in parliament to oblige close relatives of high officials to fill in income declarations.
● “Every country aspires to have good relations and friendship with China” – Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze. “Turn to the West: China in the Black Sea” – analysis here
● 46 people arrested on charges of drug offences, 36 of them are drug traffickers – Interior Ministry.
● From 6 October, Georgian citizens will be required to obtain transit visas to make connections at UK airports. At the same time as Georgia, Russian citizens are also on the list. Britain is trying so reduce the number of people who enter under the pretext of transit and then seek asylum right in the transit area of the airport.
● The President pardoned 9 prisoners.
Tuesday, September 12, Georgia. Josep Borrel: "We regret that Tbilisi has become a hub for ferrying Russians to Europe"
● The Georgian women’s chess team won the 2023 World Chess Championship, defeating Kazakhstan in the final.
● “The doors of the European Union are open, I hope Georgian leaders will not miss this historic chance.
“We regret that Tbilisi has become a hub for ferrying Russians to Europe. Since 2008, Georgia has been a victim of Putin’s neo-imperialist worldview,” according to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
● Igor Narmania, secretary of the National Movement youth organisation, was arrested at a protest rally outside the government building.
The protesters were demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, whom the opposition accuses of abuse of office. Journalists found that the Prime Minister used the government’s plane for personal purposes.
● MEP Andrews Kubilius on the ruling Georgian Dream: “If they want to convince EU member states [of their pro-European aspirations], they should change their behaviour.”
● Repairs have been delayed and because of this, a number of schools in Georgia will start school two to three weeks late.
The Minister of Education Giorgi Amilakhvari called on parents to be understanding of the situation.
Parents of pupils studying in school 165 in Tbilisi do not want to “understand” the situation. They held a protest, demanding that the Ministry of Education give them specific terms when the refurbishment of the school will be completed.
According to them, the renovation has been going on for 4 years already, and pupils have had to be distributed to other schools.
Tuesday, September 12,Azerbaijan. "We do not recognize Karabakh as an 'independent' and 'sovereign state' and therefore do not recognize the results of the 'elections'"
● A Russian Red Cross Society truck loaded with food for the Karabakh Armenian community, which had been stalled for two days in the town of Barda, travelled on the road from Aghdam to Khankendi (Stepanakert).
Yesterday, the Azerbaijani ICRC office denied its involvement delaying the cargo’s passage. Azerbaijani State TV claimed that the delay was caused by ICRC pressure on the Russian Red Cross.
● The US does not recognise the “elections” in Karabakh. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said during a briefing. “We do not recognise Karabakh as an ‘independent’ and ‘sovereign state’ and therefore do not recognise the results of the ‘elections’ that have been announced in the last few days,” he said.
● “Illegal Armenian armed formations attempted to carry out a terrorist attack against Azerbaijani servicemen on combat duty in the Khojavand direction using a dog.
“They attached a remote-controlled improvised explosive device to the animal and sent it towards Azerbaijani positions. The Azerbaijani Armed Forces foiled the sabotage,” the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said.
● Argentine Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mariangeles Bellushi was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The diplomat was handed a note of protest in connection with anti-Azerbaijani statements of Argentine President Alberto Fernandez at the G20 summit.
● “Karabakh is part of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the rights and security of the inhabitants of this region must be defined and ensured within a specific framework,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kenani said.
● The remains of people reportedly missing during the first Karabakh war have been found in Gubadli and Zangilan.
“The remains have been exhumed and necessary expert examinations have been appointed,” Azerbaijan’s military prosecutor’s office said.
Tuesday, September 12, Armenia.Pashinyan: "Armenia's possible ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC is not directed against Russia, but is related to the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border"
● Pashinyan and Erdogan held a telephone conversation. The two leaders discussed Armenian-Turkish relations and regional issues.
Pashinyan himself called the conversation “strictly official.” The Armenian Prime Minister noted that they were “very important and substantial” talks, and there are a number of nuances on which constant contact is important.
● The Armenian-American exercises are of concern to Moscow. ”Yerevan’s decision to conduct military exercises with the United States and not with the CSTO requires serious analysis,” the Russian presidential spokesman said.
● Armenian-American exercises have begun in Armenia. During the exercises, actions to ensure stabilisation between the conflicting sides by performing peacekeeping tasks will be worked out.
The US State Department described them as “routine exercises that are in no way related to any other events”.
● Armenia’s possible ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC is not directed against Russia, but is related to the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“We want to apply to the International Criminal Court to bring Baku to responsibility, particularly in the context of the September 2022 aggression and other episodes,” the Prime Minister said on TV.
● ICRC representatives visited all Armenians held in Azerbaijan, said Zara Amatuni, head of communications programmes of the ICRC delegation in Armenia.
● Germany will allocate 2 million euros to the International Committee of the Red Cross for Nagorno-Karabakh, the German Embassy in Armenia reports.
● During the Armenia-Croatia match, a fight broke out between fans, after which a injured supporter was carried out of the stand.
The game ended with Croatia winning 1:0.
Monday, September 11, Azerbaijan. A lorry with food sent by Russia for the Armenian population of Karabakh is still standing in Barda
● A lorry with food sent by Russia for the Armenian population of Karabakh is still standing in Barda. Two lorries with flour from Baku are also parked on the Aghdam-Askeran road. Azerbaijan’s State TV explained the delay in the passage of the Russian lorry by ICRC pressure on the Russian Red Cross Society.
● Aliyev and Erdogan had a phone call. The Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey discussed the situation in the region, the normalisation of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, as well as the latest developments in Karabakh.
● Today, 24 more IDP families left Baku for permanent residence in Fizuli. Thus, 441 people have returned to their hometown since the beginning of resettlement in Fizuli.
● Azerbaijani serviceman blown up on a mine in Agdam district. Hayam Eminov was given medical assistance, no threat to life.
“Baku calls for open condemnation of Yerevan’s deliberate actions.” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Secretary Ayhan Hajizadeh wrote this on social networks, commenting on the wounding of an Azerbaijani serviceman in a mine explosion.
● Representative of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Mohammad Ahadi, who is on a visit to Baku, called rumours that Tehran is pulling troops to the border with Azerbaijan unfounded.
● Kyrgyzstan will provide Azerbaijan with 17 hectares of land on Lake Issyk-Kul. A 5-star hotel will be built on this territory.
Bishkek will build a road to the resort and exempt the hotel from taxes for 10 years, while Baku will build the complex in three years and employ 70 per cent of workers from among local residents. The lease term will be 49 years with the right to extend.
Monday, September 11, Armenia. Pashinyan spoke with over 30 Western leaders and expressed willingness to discuss matters with the Azerbaijani president
● The Turkish President will discuss with Nikol Pashinyan today the situation in Karabakh, in particular the past elections of the head of the unrecognised NKR. Erdogan himself stated this, noting that “wrong steps are being taken, which cannot be tolerated”.
● During Sunday, the Armenian prime minister spoke by phone with at least 30 Western leaders and heads of neighbouring countries, saying he was ready to hold discussions with the Azerbaijani president.
● “Statements by Armenian officials that Russia has ‘surrendered’ Karabakh to Azerbaijan do not correspond to reality,” the Russian foreign minister said. Sergey Lavrov said Armenia’s prime minister “signed a document according to which the then Nagorno-Karabakh region was part of Azerbaijan.”
● Washington has called for the simultaneous opening of the Lachin corridor and the Agdam road to deliver supplies for the Armenian community in Karabakh.
● Moscow is considering supplying 300 MW of electricity through Azerbaijan to Armenia and from there to Iran and other countries – Russian energy minister.
● European record holder Robert Emiyan Cup was held in Artashat. Among the prize winners were representatives of Uzbekistan (gold), France (silver) and Greece (bronze).
Monday, September 11, Georgia. The scandal surrounding the Prime Minister and the threat of impeachment
● The scandal around the Prime Minister continues. A journalistic investigation revealed that he uses charter flights for his private trips. The ruling party assures that these flights were not paid for by the budget, but by Irakli Garibashvili himself. In this case, journalists insist, the Prime Minister should explain where he gets such incredibly huge money from. The opposition intends to launch impeachment proceedings against the PM. Read more here
● Former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has accused oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is seen as Georgia’s shadow ruler, of “questioning the country’s European future”.
● The new political alliance that the Girchi More Freedom and Droa parties have set up ahead of parliamentary elections will receive funding from many pro-Western businessmen. “It will certainly be precisely a group of businessmen, not just one,” emphasised Droa party leader Elene Khoshtaria.
● On the 39th day after the disaster, rescuers found another body in the mountain resort of Shovi, which was hit by a huge landslide. Thirty-two people died in the disaster, they are still searching for one child.
● Work continues to eliminate the consequences of flooding in the Lanchkhut district in western Georgia. 200 people have been evacuated from villages, more than 30 families are expected to be relocated.
Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 4-8 September, 2023