Latest news in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 3-7 July, 2023
Friday, 7 July, Georgia. “If Georgia does not again receive the status of an EU candidate, the government will have to open more cards to society”: leader of the ruling party
● The Hirchi party is claiming that Georgian Dream forged ballots in a vote to override the President’s veto on making amendments to the Electoral Code.
The opposition party claims that 73 MPs – not 78 – voted in favour of the motion.
● Georgian Dream Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze said that if Georgia does not get EU candidate status “the government will have to reveal more cards to the public.”
“If this unfair decision is taken again in December, we will have to explain more details to the public than we have done before. We will explain what led to the negative decision last June and also explain in more detail what may have led to the December decision,” he said.
● Deputy Prime Minister Thea Tsulukiani has commented on Ukraine’s decision to expel Georgia’s ambassador. Ukrainian authorities told him to leave the country, so he could have “consultations” in Tbilisi regarding imprisoned former President and Ukrainian citizen Saakashvili.
“Let the Ukrainian government end the war, and then the Georgian people will give [them] an answer.”
● Members of the opposition National Movement were attacked during meetings with pensioners in Kakheti.
The party claims the perpetrators included representatives of the local town assembly. An investigation has been launched under Article 126 of the Georgian Criminal Code.
● In an attempted femicide case, a man stabbed a woman he lived with 40 times with a knife, hammer, and screwdriver. She is now in intensive care in a critical condition, and he has been detained.
Friday, 7 July,Azerbaijan.The verdict of the Armenian servicemen accused of preparing sabotage and illegal border crossing will be announced in the Sumgayit court today
● Lawyer Elchin Sadigov, known for defending politically persecuted activists and politicians, has been stripped of his lawyer’s licence.
According to him, he learned that he had lost his licence from the media, and he considers it to be a political decision.● Today in Sumgait the Armenian servicemen, detained in the Zangilan district on 26 May, will be sentenced.
They are accused of making preperations of an act of sabotage and illegally crossing the border. border crossing. The prosecutor has demanded 12 year prison sentences.● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry called Nikol Pashinyan’s comments “groundless and aimed at creating a false impression about Azerbaijan in the international community.”
“If Armenia is really interested in peace, it should, not only in words but also in deeds, respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, and immediately withdraw the Armenian Armed Forces from the territory of Azerbaijan,” the Ministry said.
● The ministerial meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement has concluded in Baku.
● The President of Albania Bayram Begay has arrived in Baku to discuss possible energy cooperation with Ilham Aliyev.● “Azerbaijan and Turkey should create a union similar to the European Union,” said MP Gudrat Hasanguliyev. He believes that other Turkic states could join this union in the future.
Friday, 7 July, Armenia.Armenian lawyers continue to protest in support of colleague beaten by police
● Lawyers have announced a three-day strike to take place in July. They also recently went on strike for one day at the end of June.
They are demanding the resignation of Armenian Interior Ministry police chief Aram Hovhannisyan, due to the police’s use of violence against them and their clients.
● Pashinyan has announced a meeting with Aliyev in Brussels.
He said the peace treaty was not yet finished, but expressed hope that the sides would make more substantive progress at the Brussels meeting, which will be brokered by European Council chief Charles Michel.
Read about the results of the last talks here:
● Nikol Pashinyan has slammed Aliyev’s description of France as “pursuing a neocolonial policy,” describing it as propaganda.
While addressing the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau on July 5 Aliyev said,
“France, which is falsely presenting herself as a defender of human rights and international law, still interferes in domestic affairs of other countries.”
“The recent withdrawal of French troops from Mali and Burkina Faso once again demonstrated that the outrageous neo-colonialism policy of France in Africa is doomed to failure. Unfortunately, France is trying to impose the same ill practice in the region of South Caucasus by supporting Armenian separatism in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and by means of geopolitical rivalry, foreign military presence and colonial policy of ‘Orientalism’”
Pashinyan claimed that Azerbaijan is aiming to prevent other countries from looking into the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.
On June 30 Macron said, “I am the only one who has a clear position and message on the Artsakh (Karabakh) issue. Don’t doubt my determination regarding Artsakh (Karabakh) and Armenia in general. I will continue my efforts even if I am practically the only one in the international family with this agenda.”
● Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his French counterpart Catherine Colonna have discussed regional security issues over the phone. They touched upon the normalisation of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the end of blocked transport and economic routes in the region.
● Armenia and Georgia will sign an agreement to return to one another those living in their countries illegally. A draft agreement has already been approved.
Thursday, 6 July,Azerbaijan. "Armenian military and paramilitary formations on the ground must be disarmed": Ilham Aliyev
● Reporter Elmaddin Shamilzadeh has claimed that the police tortured him when he was arrested.
Shamilzadeh was detained shortly after he published a video on social media, showing the faces of police officers who used violence against protesters in the village of Soyudlu.
Read more about the protests here:
● Former Azerbaijani MP, businessman and social activist Nazim Beidemirli has been arrested for 4 months while he is under investigation for extortion.Beydemirli is suspected to have helped organise the Soyudlu protests.
● Ilham Aliyev: “If Armenia is really interested in achieving long-awaited peace in the region, its armed forces should completely withdraw from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
“The Armenian military and paramilitary formations on the ground must be disarmed.”
Read more here about the Azerbaijani President’s speech at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku here:
● OPEC, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has invited Azerbaijan to become a permanent member of the organisation.
However, the Azerbaijani Economy Minister, Parviz Shahbazov, has claimed, “Baku is not considering such an option yet.”
● Iran and Azerbaijan have agreed to activate the South-Asian corridor soon.
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said, “We can say that this corridor will play a very important role in connecting the main part of Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan.”The South-Araz corridor will run along Iran’s border with Armenia through the territory of the Islamic Republic.
● The Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be held from the 13th to the 15th of September.
However, the dates have been controversial in Azerbaijan as the 15th of September is the start of the school year, and the Grand Prix often leads to standstill traffic in Baku due to road closures.
Thursday, 6 July,Georgia. "The Locum Tenens of the Patriarch could have been poisoned"
● The Patriarch Catholicos-Patriarch Vladyka Shio may have been poisoned,” opposition channel Mtavari Arkhe has reported, citing anonymous sources. The Patriarchate has not confirmed this information.
● Mikhail Podolyak, advisor to the Ukrainian President, has described the Georgian Dream party’s claims that Ukraine demanded Georgia launch military action in Abkhazia to distract Russia from Ukraine as a “direct lie”.
“I will spell it out for [Dream chairman Irakli] Kobakhidze: there is no need to lie. Officially or unofficially, Ukraine has never asked Georgia to open a second front,” Podolyak said.
● Georgian ambassador to Ukraine Giorgi Zakarashvili: “I explained to Kyiv the Georgian position on Saakashvili and stressed that their demand [to transfer the former President to Ukraine for medical treatment] has no basis – which is confirmed by the ECHR decision.”
Zakarashvili was summoned to the Foreign Ministry by the Ukrainian President, where it was suggested that he return to Tbilisi “for consultations” regarding the situation. The diplomat has already returned to Georgia.
● An investigation has been launched into the negligence of officials as part of the investigation into the case of Anya Janushaita, a 12-year-old girl who died in unclear circumstances in Tbilisi in March this year.
DNA and other biological samples taken are now unusable. When the swabs packages were opened, they were covered in mould.
Thursday, 6 July, Armenia. "Azerbaijan uses the platform of the Non-Aligned Movement to promote anti-Armenian narratives": Armenian Foreign Ministry
● The defence ministries of Armenia, Greece, and Cyprus have established a military cooperation programme.
● Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ani Badalyan claimed on her blog that Azerbaijan is using the Non-Aligned Movement to push aggressive and anti-Armenian narratives, distorting the essence of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
● Armenian flags flew all over Yerevan yesterday, as the city celebrated Constitution Day. The traditional procession took place: bands marched through the streets and gathered in Republic Square, where a concert was held.
● Activists stayed outside the government building all night; they say that they want to meet the Prime Minister and President, so they can ask them about the direction in which they are taking Armenia.
● Pashinyan and Putin have called to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani dialogue.
● Iran supports the continuation of dialogue between Yerevan and Baku, the opening of communications in the South Caucasus, but opposes changing borders in the region, according to the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian.
Wednesday, 5 July, Georgia. "Georgian government does not believe in NATO membership": Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas
● Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas: “Georgia is where Ukraine was years ago when the Orange Revolution took place. The Georgian government does not believe in NATO membership.”
● Justice Minister Rati Bregadze on Saakashvili: “If anyone is torturing him, it’s him and his political entourage.”
US Ambassador Kelly Degnan on the strained diplomatic relations between Georgia and Ukraine: “Georgia and Ukraine have a common enemy, I hope they can overcome this situation.”
● The Georgian Ambassador was summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry yesterday, where he was asked to leave Kiev, so he can consult the Georgian government on Saakashvili’s case.
The Ukrainian authorities have called the Georgian authorities’ attitude towards former President Mikheil Saakashvili inhumane and demanded he, a Ukrainian citizen, be transferred to Ukraine for treatment.
● Kutaisi City Court has set a precedent by confirming that women’s football coach Paata Dograshvili sexually harassed 9 female football players.
● Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has responded to President Zelensky’s claims that “Russia is killing Saakashvili through the hands of the Georgian authorities”.
Kaladze: “No politician will change the relationship between the Georgian and Ukrainian peoples.”
● The National Environmental Agency has again confirmed that Georgia’s seawater quality is within a ‘normal’ range.
The concentration of nutrients, heavy metals and the total content of petroleum hydrocarbons was not exceeded. Samples are taken every ten days.
● In celebration of US Independence Day, Tbilisi’s TV tower was lit up in the colours of the American flag.
Wednesday, 5 July, Armenia. "The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly accepted all the proposals of the Armenian side": head of the delegation from Armenia
● Today, Armenia is celebrating Constitution Day.
● Head of the Armenian delegation Sarkis Khandanyan announced on social media that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has accepted all of Armenia’s proposals.
The documents approved by the Assembly included an appeal to Azerbaijan to withdraw their Forces from Armenia’s sovereign territory, and a call for a positive agenda to guarantee the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh with international assistance.
● Former Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian has suggested that Pashinyan sets up a negotiating group for Nagorno-Karabakh – which he is prepared to lead. Read more here:
● Some 700 lifts in Yerevan are to be replaced in 2023 by the city authorities.
● Trains along the Yerevan-Batumi-Yerevan route are now fully functioning after the disruption caused by flooding.
● A rally demanding the release of the Deputy Chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia, Armen Ashotyan, was held outside the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office.
Wednesday, 5 July, Azerbaijan. A special operation to combat corruption in the commissariats of Azerbaijan. There are detainees
● A meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Non-Aligned Movement will be held in Baku today.
● Iranian Foreign Minister Hussain Amir Abdullahian has arrived in Azerbaijan. “This visit will be an opportunity to develop policies concerning our neighbours in the region,” he wrote on social media.
● Turkey’s new foreign minister Hakan Fidan will arrive in Azerbaijan for the first time today. Like his Iranian counterpart, he will attend a ministerial meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku.
● Former MP and businessman Nazim Beidemirli has been detained by the Interior Ministry’s Directorate for Combating Organised Crime. He is accused of blackmailing an unnamed citizen with an intimate video. Beydemirli’s name has also been accused by pro-government media of organising protests in the village of Soyudlu in Gedabek district.
● The Anti-Corruption Directorate General conducted a special operation in three military commissariats nationwide. Among those detained is the head of the department of a Baku hospital, who they accuse of taking a bribe of over 18,000 manats [about $10600] to issue an assessment stating that a man is unsuitable for military service.
● A woman who damaged a cactus on a Baku boulevard has been fined 75 manats [about $44]. A video showing the woman carving a cactus leaf was circulated on social media.
Carving names onto the leaves of rare plants on Baku Boulevard has become a trend in the city.
Tuesday, 4 July, Georgia. A new stage of confrontation with Ukraine
● The Georgian Foreign Ministry has discussed the imposition of sanctions against Georgian Airways with a representative of the Ukrainian embassy. They also say that they have “requested clarification” from the Ukrainian side on this issue.
● The Economy Minister has claimed that, “the imposition of sanctions against Georgian Airways is a political move in which the Georgian opposition is involved.”
● The next stage of Saakashvili’s trial has started. His charges concerning the dispersal of opposition rallies and the deployment of special forces at Imedi TV station in 2007, are now being heard in court. The ex-President is charged with abusing his power. Saakashvili claims he was remotely involved and that his imprisonment was “a conspiracy between Putin, Ivanishvili and his local thugs: a plot against Georgia and Ukraine.”
● Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Luke Coffey shared the Ukrainian President’s tweet about Mikheil Saakashvili and wrote that “the imprisonment and treatment of the ex-president in prison is a complete disgrace.” Zelensky wrote that “Russia is killing a citizen of Ukraine with the hands of the Georgian authorities” and demanded that Saakashvili be transferred to Kyiv for treatment. Read more here
● Former Chairman of the leading opposition National Movement party (created by Saakashvili) Nika Melia has been critical of the government, stating: “You who came with a promise not to stop fighting and get Misha out of jail—what are you doing, what are you planning?”
● Parliament has overridden a presidential veto and will amend the Electoral Code. They were initiated by the ruling party. The Parliament Speaker will now select and submit to Parliament their nominations for speaker and several deputies. Under the current law, only the President has such powers.
● The treatment protocol for achondroplasia will be approved by the state by July 15-20, after which discussions on the supply of drugs will begin. Parents of children suffering from this rare genetic disorder have been begging the authorities for almost two years to fund this expensive new drug. Read more here
● Parliament has passed the third reading of amendments to the Health Act, under which the regulatory authority will now be able to request any material without prior notice.
● After a 5-day search, a missing 14-year-old boy has been found. He was swimming in the Mtkwari River and was then swept away by the current.
Photo: the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tbilisi
Tuesday, 4 July, Armenia. The US Ambassador to Armenia believes the safety of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh is possible with the territory as part of Azerbaijan is possible
● On her blog, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ani Badalyan has claimed that Azerbaijan has continued its aggressive propaganda of ethnic cleansing instead of talking about the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
● The US Ambassador to Armenia has stated that she believes the safety of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh is possible with the territory as part of Azerbaijan is possible.
● Armenia is committed to its position of settling relations with Turkey without preconditions, President Vahagn Khachaturyan said in a meeting with a delegation from the Armenian National Assembly of America.
● Armenian Airlines has launched Yerevan-Istanbul-Yerevan flights from July 2. The flights will be operated twice a week.
● Journalists have expressed their outrage that they were not allowed to attend the sessions of the Supreme Court where the powers of three judges were suspended.
The Office of the Ombudsman and the Union of Journalists of Armenia said they would look into why the press was not allowed to attend the session.
● The Czech Republic has extradited a Georgian citizen accused of extortion to Armenia. According to the Investigative Committee, 7 years ago he threatened and took away an expensive SUV from a resident of Yerevan.
● Representatives of Armenian youth in Egypt conquered the summit of Ararat.
Tuesday, 4 July, Azerbaijan. An earthquake on Azerbaijan's border with Dagestan in the Caspian Sea
● At midnight there was an earthquake on Azerbaijan’s border with Dagestan in the Caspian Sea. The 5.5 magnitude quake was felt by residents of the Azerbaijani coastline from the Russian border to Baku. In the country’s capital, many residents spent several hours on the streets, fearing a second earthquake.
● Two people have been arrested in Azerbaijan on charges of treason. They are citizens Fidan Aliyeva and Tarlan Abbasov. The nature of the charge against them has not been disclosed.
● The trial of the Armenian servicemen detained on 26 May in the Zangilan region has been postponed to 5 July. Harutyun Hovakimyan and Karen Ghazaryan are accused of trespassing and preparing acts of sabotage.
● Azerbaijan will start exporting chicken eggs to Israel and Belgium. In the first quarter of the year, Azerbaijan supplied around 7 million eggs abroad. The country is currently supplying to Qatar, UAE, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
● Azerbaijan’s passport has become “stronger” this year. According to Arton Capital, a consulting company, Azerbaijan is now ranked 61st in the world rankings. Azerbaijani passport holders can travel without a visa to 33 countries and can get visas on arrival in another 48 states.
● The State Committee for Family, Women, and Children have compared statistics from 2015 and 2023: divorces have increased. Domestic violence is listed as the main reason. The second most common reason given is infertility.
● According to the State Examination Centre, 21 9th grade students and two 11th grade students in Azerbaijan cannot read or write.
Monday, 3 July, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani fans confused by Neftchi PFK's decision to play in Russia
● Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Reza Najafi, is expected to visit Baku today. He is due to take part in a conference with other representatives of Non-Aligned Movement member states, taking place in the capital of Azerbaijan.
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has urged its citizens to refrain from travelling to France because of the unrest in the country. Those who do visit are urged to exercise great caution.
● Azerbaijan has handed the bodies of two servicemen, killed during the ‘Fury’ operation on June 28th in Karabakh, back to Armenia.
The bodies were taken to Armenia via the Lachin border crossing. The process was mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
● The results of the study on the project to deliver green energy from Azerbaijan to the EU along the Black Sea bed will be revealed this autumn. “We are expecting to have the results of the study already in September and after that we will move on to the second phase,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said. A memorandum on this issue was signed by Azerbaijan, Romania, Hungary, and Georgia in Bucharest on 17th December 2022. Georgian authorities initiated the project.
● Baku’s Neftchi PFK are competing in the Pari Premier Cup, a football tournament which kicked off two days ago in St Petersburg. Teams from Russia, Turkey, and Serbia are also competing. Azerbaijani fans were confused by Neftchi PFK’s decision to play in Russia. Russia has been banned from international sporting competitions because of the war in Ukraine.
Monday, 3 July, Armenia. Nikol Pashinyan called the fight against corruption a priority
● Nikol Pashinyan called the fight against corruption a priority for all branches of power in Armenia. At an event to mark the 105th anniversary of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Prime Minister noted that corruption cannot be divided according to “past” or “present” – “it equally harms the future, we must continue to fight it everyday.”
● Due to a landslide in the west of Georgia, the Yerevan-Batumi train could not reach Batumi. It was stopped in Tbilisi and passengers then travelled by a replacement bus service.
● More than 12 thousand new books have been added to Yerevan libraries. The new additions include works from Armenian and foreign authors, as well as professional literature and children’s literature.
● A fashion week is being held in Yerevan for the first time. The event kicked off on July 1st and will last until July 6th.
Monday, 3 July, Georgia. There will now be 24 flights a week from Russia to Georgia
● There will now be 24 flights a week from Russia to Georgia, after airlines Azimut and Georgian Airways pledged to increase the frequency of flights between Moscow and Tbilisi.
● The owner of Georgian Airlines, Tamaz Gaiashvili, called the decision of Ukraine to impose sanctions against him and the airline for resuming flights to Russia “absurd and unfair”. At the same time, he said he was not surprised by the Ukrainian President’s decision.
Gaiashvili has accused opposition groups of being the ones “misleading Zelensky”.
● House of Writers have expressed solidarity with Sulakauri publishing house after the Georgian Dream party accused them of making ‘homosexual propaganda by publishing translations of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales. Sulakauri translated the works around 10 years ago.
● The Patriarchate has condemned the Pride Week celebrations in Tbilisi, saying that “it is time to discuss legislative regulation of the issue” in an official statement. On 30 June, the prime minister in his annual report to parliament also spoke of the need to legally regulate “LGBT propaganda”.
● The US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has commented on the street attack against Formula TV co-founder Misha Mshvildadze: “It leaves an impression of prior preparation of the attackers and the coordination of their actions.”
● A 43-year-old man in Zugdidi was given a prison sentence on charges of sexual offences against a 13-year-old. The defence demanded his release on bail of 100,000 GEL (about $40,000), but the judge did not grant the request.
● Georgian fighter Malkhaz Kvizhinadze, who died in Ukraine, has been buried with military honours in Kutaisi.
● As of 3 July, railway services between Tbilisi and Batumi and other cities in western Georgia have been halted due to a landslide in the Kharagauli area.
● Georgian kickboxer Luka Shonia won a gold medal in the under 75kg weight category at the European Games in Krakow, Poland.
● The Unified National Exams start today. The exams will start with the Georgian language and literature exam and will end with a physics exam on 26 July.
The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 26-30 June, 2023