Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 25-29 September, 2023
Friday, September 29, Azerbaijan. "Armenians who left Azerbaijan will be able to return back. Baku strongly condemns Pashinyan's statement on "ethnic cleansing"
● The remains of six additional servicemen who lost their lives during the counter-terrorist operation in Karabakh have been identified. As a result, the total number of Azerbaijani Armed Forces servicemen who perished on September 19-20 has risen to 186. The remains of five more servicemen have yet to be identified, bringing the total casualties from the Azerbaijani side during the operation to 204.
● A dedicated portal has been established to facilitate the reintegration of Karabakh Armenians into Azerbaijani society.
● Baku has issued an appeal to residents of Karabakh of Armenian descent, urging them to remain in their current places of residence and join the multi-ethnic Azerbaijani community. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s statement emphasized that this response was prompted by statements made by Nikol Pashinyan. It also noted that those Armenian residents who do not wish to live under Azerbaijani laws and governance cannot be compelled to do so.
● Elchin Amirbayov, the Azerbaijani President’s Representative for Special Assignments, firmly rejected Nikol Pashinyan’s claims of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Karabakh and assured that Armenians who left Azerbaijan would have the opportunity to return.
● Representatives of Karabakh’s Armenian residents have requested assistance from Baku to provide transportation for civilians from Khankendi (Stepanakert) to Armenia. In response, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Transport dispatched 30 buses along the Aghdam-Askeran-Khankendi route.
● Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the UK, Elin Suleymanov, confirmed that Baku possesses a list of “a couple of hundred” Armenians in Karabakh who are wanted for various offenses. He also emphasized Azerbaijan’s preference for successful negotiations rather than a forced land corridor through Armenia to Nakhchivan.
● Ruben Vardanyan has been sentenced to a four-month arrest by the Sabail District Court of Baku as part of the ongoing investigation into the criminal case against him. Vardanyan faces charges under three articles of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.
● Azerbaijani Member of Parliament Ganira Pashayeva, aged 48, has passed away.
● President Ilham Aliyev visited the Jabrail and Zangilan districts, where he laid the foundation stone for the Zangilan village and participated in the opening of new infrastructure facilities.
Friday, September 29, Georgia. A decision on whether Georgia will become a candidate for EU accession may be taken in the first week of October
● “Georgia to be Granted EU Candidate Status with Stringent Conditions,” Reports Radio Liberty’s European Bureau Journalist Rikard Jozwiak: Jozwiak anticipates the European Commission’s report, slated for release on October 31st, though it might surface earlier, possibly within the first two weeks of October.
● European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood, Oliver Varhey, Promises Additional Funds and Market Access for EU Aspirants: Varhey revealed plans to introduce novel approaches and packages for ten candidate countries or those with a European perspective in the coming weeks.
● Prime Minister Accuses President of Hindering Georgia’s European Ambitions: The Prime Minister criticized the President for allegedly making damaging statements regarding Georgia’s European future, leading to a ban on her meetings with European leaders. The PM reiterated the nation’s interest in obtaining EU candidate status.
● Georgian Parliament Chairman Shalva Papuashvili Criticizes International Response to 2008 Russian Aggression: Papuashvili described the international community’s reaction to Russia’s aggression in Georgia in 2008 as belated and ineffectual.
● Transparency International – Georgia reveals corruption allegations against high-ranking officials: Transparency International – Georgia identified 166 high-ranking officials implicated in 144 alleged corruption cases, including judges, members of parliament, government officials, and municipal authorities. Read more here
● “Alarming levels of drug use among minors in Georgia,” warns lawyer Guram Imnadze of the “Centre for Social Justice”: Imnadze highlighted that drug use among minors in Georgia is twice as high as in Europe, raising concerns about the nation’s youth. Read more here
Friday, September 29, Armenia. 78,354 displaced persons from Karabakh arrived in Armenia
Thursday, September 28, Georgia. "Georgia will be granted candidate status for EU accession, but not because the government deserves it"
● The court ruled on the case of four activists who were detained at a rally in front of Parliament on 2 June for displaying official documents and banners with insulting allusions to the Prime Minister (pictured). Saba Brachveli, Eduard Marikashvili, Nika Romanadze and Grigol Prangishvili were acquitted on one count, but fined GEL 500 each on another.
● “Georgia will be granted candidate status for EU accession, but not because the government deserves it – but because the geopolitical situation demands it, the EU does not want Georgia to be left out of it” – said journalist Rickard Jozwiakis of Radio Liberty’s European bureau in an interview with Formula TV.
● Acting head of the National Bank Natia Turnava met with leaders of business associations and the banking sector “to discuss the current situation and future plans”. Experts link the meeting to the scandal surrounding Turnava’s decision to change the rules regarding Georgian citizens under international sanctions. This decision provided access to the accounts of former Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze, despite the fact that he was under US sanctions for his ties with the Russian FSB. All three of Turnava’s deputies and her adviser have since resigned.
● Vladimir Zelensky awarded Nino Katamadze with the State Order.
● Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili writes on social media after her meeting with the Lithuanian president, “Your unwavering support is invaluable for Georgia at this crucial moment.”
● Former President Mikheil Saakashvili offered Abkhazia to be together with Georgia and wrote that “Sukhumi will become the most beautiful and safe city on the Black Sea coast”.
● Chairman of the European Georgia Party Giga Bokeria on the war in Abkhazia: “It was not an ethnic conflict, Russia is responsible for the genocide of Georgians”.
Thursday, September 28, Armenia. 65036 displaced Nagorno-Karabakh residents have arrived in Armenia, according to the latest data.
● 65036 displaced Nagorno-Karabakh residents have arrived in Armenia, according to the latest data.
● Another 11 bodies were discovered today as a result of search operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.
● The State Department said there would be clarity in the coming days on the formation of an international observer mission to be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh, as Baku was “happy to receive it”.
● The Council of Europe plans to hire 45 sociologists and psychologists in the military sphere for the Armenian Armed Forces. The council has allocated €600,000 for the project, of which up to €55,000 will be spent on consultancy fees, @rt_russian reports.
● There are many in Armenia who want to lose Russia and make new friends, Sergey Lavrov said. “If they rely on the United States, it is probably a good idea for them to look at the recent history of how the United States treated those it sought to take under its wing, promoting its geopolitical interests in areas of the world far from American shores,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.
● The Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Turkey had a telephone call. Ararat Mirzoyan and Hakan Fidan discussed regional developments and current agenda, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.
● Armenia applied to the ECHR with a demand to oblige Azerbaijan to provide information on the condition of detainee Ruben Vardanyan, who was detained by the Azerbaijan while trying to leave for Armenia. The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that they will take all possible measures to protect Ruben Vardanyan’s rights and ensure his return.
Thursday, September 28, Azerbaijan. "192 servicemen and one civilian killed during anti-terrorist measures in Karabakh" - defence ministry
● The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported the deaths of 192 Azerbaijani servicemen during anti-terrorist activities in Karabakh. One person unrelated to the army was also killed. The identity of 11 people will be established after forensic genetic examinations. 511 servicemen and 1 civilian were injured.
● While attempting to cross the border with Armenia in Lachin district, the Azerbaijani State Border Service detained Ruben Vardanyan, former state minister of the unrecognised NKR. He was taken to Baku. Official charges against Vardanyan have not been brought yet.
● Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received USAID head Samantha Power, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Yuri Kim and State Department’s chief advisor on Caucasus negotiations Louis Bono.
Aliyev said Baku is ready to organise a visit of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office accredited in the country to Karabakh in the near future.
● The Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Russia discussed the situation in Karabakh and ways of implementation of trilateral agreements. Ceyhun Bayramov and Sergey Lavrov also touched upon a number of issues on the bilateral and regional agenda.
● “Revanchist statements of Armenian religious leader Garegin II, his calls for war and confrontation make a meeting with him impossible,” Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Board Allahshukur Pashazade said.
● Azerbaijan will deploy a field hospital in Karabakh. 53 EMERCOM vehicles with teams and necessary equipment for the field hospital travelled to Khojaly on the Agdam-Askeran-Khankendi (Stepanakert) road.
● The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry published updated information on military equipment, weapons and ammunition confiscated from Armenian armed formations (pictured).
Wednesday, September 27, Armenia. 28,120 Karabakh Armenians have left their homes and entered Armenia
● Today is exactly three years since the beginning of the second Karabakh war. It started on 27 September 2020. On the Armenian side, according to official figures, this war has claimed the lives of more than 3,800 military and civilian personnel. More than 200 people are still missing. On the Azerbaijani side, 2,908 Azerbaijani servicemen died in the war, and six are still missing.
● France will open a consulate in the border town of Syunik, Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said at a National Assembly session.
● The US will give $11.5 million as humanitarian aid to the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh. France has pledged to provide €7 million to Armenia to help IDPs.
● 28,120 IDPs from Nagorno-Karabakh have recently entered Armenia. Read more here
● Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan and Azerbaijani Presidential Aide Hikmet Hajiyev had a meeting in Brussels.
After the meeting, Grigoryan flew to Germany.
● Russian planes have flown 58 victims of an explosion at a fuel depot in Karabakh to Armenia. A total of about 290 people were severely burned and injured during the explosion, 68 people died, their remains were transported to Armenia, where they will be identified.
● The Canadian government announced the country’s first ambassador to Armenia. His name is Andrew Turner, and he previously worked in the Middle East, according to Canadian television network CTV News.
Wednesday, September 27, Azerbaijan. "If Armenia does not participate in the creation of transport routes through Karabakh, they will go through Iran" - Erdogan
● Today, Azerbaijan marks the Day of Remembrance. Exactly three years ago, on 27 September 2020, the second Karabakh war began. A minute’s silence will be held across the country at 12:00 noon. In this war, 2,908 Azerbaijani Armed Forces servicemen died, and six are still missing. On the Armenian side, according to official data, this war claimed the lives of more than 3,800 military and civilians. More than 200 people are still missing.
● During a call with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan is ready to organise a UN Resident Coordinator’s Office visit to Nagorno-Karabakh. Blinken, in turn, expressed concern about the current situation, and also noted the importance of ensuring stability in the region and dialogue with the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
● The road from Armenia along the Kapan-Fizuli-Shusha-Khankendi (Stepanakert) route was opened for ICRC vehicles. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry claimed, “Azerbaijan as a goodwill gesture opened its airspace for Armenian helicopters and provided conditions for the delivery of special equipment by Armenia.”
● Azerbaijani Emergencies Ministry employees extinguished a fire at a petrol station in Khankendi that caused numerous casualties.
● Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev met with Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan in Brussels. The meeting was mediated by Charles Michel. Preparations for the meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan scheduled for 5 October in Granada were discussed.
● “If Armenia does not participate in the creation of transport routes through Karabakh, they will go through Iran,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
● After a meeting the commission investigating the ecological situation in the village of Soyudliu said, “Based on the analysis of samples in water bodies, a number of indicators exceeding the norm were detected. “However, it has been established that this is not a source of danger to the environment and human health.”
● The first electric passenger bus appeared on the streets of Baku.
Wednesday, September 27, Georgia. "Impeachment of the president will not help to solve the problem of depolarisation in Georgia" - Gerchinski
● The decision of the National Bank to change the rules of applying international financial sanctions to Georgian citizens was discussed at a meeting between Acting President of the National Bank Natia Turnava and EU Ambassador to Georgia Pavel Gercinski (pictured). Turnava assessed the meeting as “very good”. Herczynski emphasised the importance of independence of all state institutions, especially the National Bank.
● “Impeachment of President Zurabishvili will not help to solve the problem of depolarisation in Georgia” – Pavel Gerchinski.
● According to the decision of the Minister of Culture, the election of the rector at the Tbilisi State Conservatory has been cancelled. This is not the first decision of the Minister, which caused mass protest of cultural figures in Georgia. The Minister is accused of intending to appoint pro-government officials in all important cultural institutions and completely subordinate this sphere to the state. Read more here
● 63 per cent of young people aged 14-29 believe that young people’s interests are rarely or not at all represented in national politics. “The majority (80 per cent) of young people say they are not likely to get involved in political activities” – the results of a survey commissioned by the South Caucasus regional office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
● The Maritime Transport Agency called “lies” the statement by the leader of the Lelo party that Russian cargoes under sanctions, including oil, were travelling through Georgia.
● President Salome Zurabishvili thanked the Latvian President “for the wonderful meeting” in Riga. “Your strong support is crucial for Georgia’s European integration path,” she wrote in her X account.
● The presidential administration reminded that Salome Zurabishvili has three months to decide whether to terminate the citizenship of former Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze, who has come under US sanctions for links to Russia’s FSB. The statement was a response to opposition speakers who say the president has only one week to make the decision.
● Activist Lazare Grigoriadis has been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison for injuring his father. The activist is being investigated for offences during protests in March against the foreign agents bill. His father Beka Grigoriadis has been holding ongoing protests demanding his son’s release. “They pulled out a two-year-old case to punish my son for political activism. I never complained against him and I have no complaints, I told the judge that I was drunk during that incident and Lazare did not hurt me but saved me from more trouble,” Beka Grigoriadis told Netgazeti publication.
● The Girchi More Freedom and Droa parties issued a statement of support for Lazare Grigoriadis.
● In October, 200,000 doses of flu vaccine will be offered to the population in Georgia and at-risk groups will be vaccinated free of charge.
Tuesday, September 26, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani presidential aide and Armenian Security Council Secretary to meet in Brussels today
● Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev and Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan will meet in Brussels today.
● An ambulance has been sent to help those injured in the explosion in Khankendi, the Azerbaijani presidential administration said. Baku has sent anti-burn medical supplies, dressing materials, gloves, medicines (sprays, creams, painkillers, antibiotics, etc.) to treat the wounded.
● At a meeting of representatives of official Baku and the Karabakh Armenian community held yesterday in Khojaly, an agreement was reached on the establishment of a joint working group on the provision of public utilities, medical and other services related to civil activity in Khankendi and other surrounding areas, the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration reported. The meeting of the working group in Khankendi will be held by Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev.
● During Turkish President’s one-day visit to Nakhchivan, Ilham Aliyev and Regem Tayyip Erdogan gave a start to laying the foundation stone of Igdir-Nakhchivan gas pipeline.
● “The issue of further presence of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh has not been resolved yet. Hardly anyone can say that yet. Because they are now actually there on the territory of Azerbaijan,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
● Official Baku called Macron’s stance “a vivid example of double standards and bias”. “France, supporting Armenian separatism in Karabakh, is trying to apply its neo-colonialist practices in the South Caucasus,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.
● A military vehicle of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces exploded on a mine. Two servicemen were killed, the Defence Ministry said. Another serviceman received various bodily injuries, his condition is assessed as stable, no threat to life.
● Shusha has been declared the “cultural capital of the Islamic world” for the next year. The decision was made at the 12th Conference of Culture Ministers of the Islamic World in Doha (25-26 September).
Tuesday, September 26, Armenia. Explosion in petrol reservoir in Karabakh, there are dead, more than 200 people wounded
● There was an explosion in a petrol reservoir in Karabakh. There are dead, more than 200 people injured. Medics are asking for immediate evacuation of the injured as there is an acute shortage of medicines.
● Preparations are underway to transport the victims of the explosion by helicopter to Armenia, but so far it has not been possible to start flights due to bad weather, the Armenian Health Ministry said.
● The US said it intends to set up an international mission on Karabakh to monitor the rights of the region’s residents, State Department press chief Matthew Miller said at a briefing.
● The UN is ready to assess the humanitarian situation in the Karabakh conflict zone if it is granted access – spokesman for the organisation’s Secretary General Stephane Dujarric.
● All-Party Anti-Government Movement announced new acts of disobedience and strikes. One of the movement’s coordinators Andranik Tevanyan said it is important to change the government before 5 October, the day of Pashinyan’s meeting with Aliyev in Granada.
● Biden said in a letter to Pashinyan that Washington and Yerevan will strengthen security co-operation.
● “Nikol Pashinyan wants to absolve himself of responsibility for policy failures by shifting the blame to Moscow, and claims that the popular protests in Armenia are inspired by Russia are lies” – Russian Foreign Ministry.
● Meetings of representatives of the Armenian community of Karabakh and Baku were held.
● Working groups were set up in all regions of Armenia to organise accommodation and assess the needs of Armenian families relocating from Karabakh.
Tuesday, September 26, Georgia. The issue of impeachment of the president will be considered on 3 October, while Zurabishvili continues her European tour
● The Constitutional Court on 3 October will discuss the impeachment of the Georgian president, the procedure of which was launched by the ruling party. If the court decides that Salome Zurabishvili violated the constitution by meeting with European leaders without the government’s permission, the impeachment issue will be put to a vote in parliament. Read more here
● Against this background, Salome Zurabishvili continues her European tour. On 25 September she met with the President of Estonia in Tallinn, today she is scheduled to meet with the President of Latvia, tomorrow, 27 September – with the President of Lithuania.
● The court hearing in the case of three leaders of the opposition “National Movement” Bacho Dolidze, Zviad Kuprava and former party chairman Niki Melia has been postponed to 23 October. They are accused of attacking a policeman during protests demanding an investigation into the brutal beating of an opposition MP in Tbilisi’s Gldani neighbourhood.
● Azerbaijan has decided to keep its land border with Georgia closed – this time until 2 January 2024. Azerbaijan’s land borders have remained closed since spring 2020. Baku says it is maintaining the quarantine regime due to the coronavirus pandemic, which officially ended on 8 May.
Monday, September 25, Georgia. President urged to cancel 'pro-Russian decision' of National Bank
● The President called for the cancellation of the “pro-Russian decision” of the National Bank, which changed the regulations and no longer restricts Georgian citizens, who have fallen under sanctions, from using their bank accounts. “Turning Georgia into a possible ‘black hole’ is in the interests of only one country – Russia, and directly contradicts the interests of our state and our Euro-Atlantic path” – Salome Zurabishvili said.
● Members of the opposition United National Movement Nika Melia, Bacho Dolidze and Zviad Kuprava have been released, they were arrested when they protested against an attack on an opposition MP in Tbilisi’s Gldani neighbourhood. Their trial has been postponed until 23 October. The opposition members were accused of attacking police officers, Nika Melia (pictured) called the situation a “planned mass raid for political reasons”.
● Kutaisi International Airport received its one millionth passenger.
Monday, September 25, Azerbaijan. Today Turkish President together with Ilham Aliyev goes to Nakhchivan
● Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Azerbaijan today. In the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, together with President Ilham Aliyev, he will attend the laying of the foundation stone for the Igdir-Nakhchivan gas pipeline and the opening of the modernised Nakhchivan Military Complex. The two heads of state are also expected to discuss Ankara’s proposal for a meeting between the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
● As of this morning, about 3,000 citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh Karabakh have left for Armenia.
● Khankendi (Stepanakert) is separated from the energy system of Armenia and connected to the energy system of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani presidential administration said. The city is supplied with electricity from a Shusha substation, which was opened in 2021. For this purpose, Azerenerji started installingof additional high-voltage poles and working on connection with the Khankendi line on 19 September.
● The surrender of weapons by members of armed Armenian formations under the control of Russian peacekeepers continues in Karabakh. More than 1,200 small arms and MANPADS, about 130,000 ammunition have already been surrendered, the Russian Defence Ministry said.
● Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev and Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan will meet in Brussels on 26 September.
Monday, September 25, Armenia. Already 2,906 Karabakh Armenians have entered Armenia
● Reception of displaced Karabakh residents from NK to Armenia has started. Already Already 2,906 Karabakhi Armenians have entered Armenia as of 06:00. They are being provided with medical care, food, and some are being provided with housing.
● France is now very vigilant about Armenia’s territorial integrity and will support the Armenian people in accordance with international law – Emanuel Macron in an interview with TF1 and France 2
● Armenia is not facing a partner for peace, but a country that openly states: “Truth is on the side of force” – Armenian Foreign Minister on Russia.
● Opposition supporters have already blocked the streets in the centre of Yerevan since early morning. They intend to hold disobedience actions all day. “Pashinyan’s impeachment process should be preceded by a popular uprising,” said opposition leader Andranik Tevanyan.
● Eight people from the “Liberation Movement of Armenian Crusaders” have been detained on suspicion of organising a coup d’état and usurping power, the Armenian National Security Service said. A criminal case has been opened against them, and as a result of a search in their homes, weapons, ammunition and denunciatory records were found.
● A memorial liturgy “for the repose of the souls of those killed as a result of large-scale hostilities unleashed by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh” was held today in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
● Pashinyan and Aliyev to meet in Granada on 5 October – Press Service of the Armenian Security Council
● A fashion show dedicated to the events in Nagorno-Karabakh was held in Milan’s Palazzo Visconti. Thus, the Armenian community of Italy showed the hostilities unleashed by Azerbaijan on 19 September, as a result of which only according to official data 15 children were killed.
Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 18-22 September, 2023