Latest news in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 31 July-4 August, 2023
Friday, 4 August, Armenia. "Baku wants to sign a peace treaty with Yerevan and then make territorial claims against Armenia" - Nikol Pashinyan
● Armenia will make a presentation on the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh at an open discussion at the UN Security Council, David Knyazyan, head of the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s Multilateral Policy and Development Cooperation Department, told reporters. “Our goal is to increase international pressure on Azerbaijan, and this is already happening,” he said.
● France has called on the UN Security Council to lift obstacles to aid deliveries to Nagorno-Karabakh. The country’s deputy envoy to the organisation, Nathalie Broadhurst, supported the statement by Secretary-General António Guterres at an open discussion at the UN Security Council on “Ensuring Food Security in Conflict Situations and Avoiding Hunger”.
● UN representatives have visited Kornidzor, where cargoes for Nagorno-Karabakh are parked.
● Nikol Pashinyan has claimed that Azerbaijan wants to sign a peace treaty with Yerevan, as it would give them an opportunity to challenge the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and then make territorial claims against Armenia.
● According to the Office of the Representative for International Legal Affairs, the European Court of Human Rights has asked Azerbaijan to provide information about Rashid Begearyan, who Azerbaijan detained, by August 10.
● There have been no changes in Yerevan’s position regarding the deployment of CSTO observers, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Friday, 4 August, Georgia. A landslide in Shovi in Racha region killed 2 people
● A landslide in Shovi in Racha region killed 2 people. Rescuers took about 70 citizens, including children, out of the disaster zone to a safe zone. The landslide also damaged power lines.
● “Today we are one of the fastest growing economies in the world”: Prime Minister of Georgia. In Abkhazia, the murder of local resident Natia Bakhtadze has been solved. According to an official statement, resident of Ochamchiri Ainar Tsvizhba killed her in the passenger compartment of a car on 28 July. The accused was arrested, he confessed to the crime.
● One of the defendants in the case of the death of a teenage girl in Vake Park due to electrocution in a fountain has been additionally charged. The employee of Expertise, Construction, Design Experts is alleged to have produced forged official documents.
● “High-ranking law enforcers will deliver Russian spies to secret facilities,” warns jailed ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.
● The NGO Centre for Social Justice has released an extensive annual report on drug policy in Georgia, discussing trends for 2022. One of the conclusions is that systemic reform in this sphere was not among the politically significant issues and the subject of mass discussion.
Friday, 4 August, Azerbaijan. The road was repaired and a police post was installed on the Aghdam-Khankendi road
● On the 62nd day of the hunger strike action, detainee Shaig Kazymov died in Baku remand centre. He was accused of drug trafficking. According to Kazymov’s mother, her son was falsely accused.
● Azerbaijan at the UN meeting called on Armenia to pay compensation for the damage. “The Armenian side should compensate for the damage caused to Azerbaijan and participate in good faith in negotiations on a peace treaty and border delimitation,” the country’s post-president to the UN, Yashar Aliyev, said.
● “Yerevan is preventing the full resumption of the Lachin checkpoint by refusing to provide guarantees of non-repetition of incidents like the one that occurred on 15 June,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister said in a letter to the UN Security Council Secretary General.
“The border checkpoint does not hinder traffic on the Lachin road, on the contrary, since the moment it started operating, the movement of civilians between the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and Armenia in both directions has significantly increased,” Ceyhun Bayramov added.
● State TV channel AzTV reportedthe establishment of a police post on the road Aghdam – Khankendi (Stepanakert).
Azerbaijan is proposing carrying out transportations to Khankendi and adjacent settlements via this road.
● Azerbaijani Ombudsman Sabina Aliyeva visited detained Vagif Khachaturian. According to her, Khachaturian expressed satisfaction with the humane treatment and quality medical care provided to him since his detention.
● A preliminary interrogation of Vagif Khachaturian detained at the border with Armenia has been conducted. “Khachaturian was provided with a lawyer and an interpreter. He has been charged and a preliminary interrogation has been conducted. Other investigative actions are currently being carried out against him,” said Ilgar Safarov, senior assistant to the Prosecutor General for special assignments. Khachaturian is accused of mass murder during the first Karabakh war. Armenia denies this.
● Nine people involved in the 1991 genocide in Meshali have been identified. “All of them are wanted. One of them – Vagif Khachaturian has been detained and handed over to the investigation,” the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan said.
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported the repatriation of 16 of its citizens from Syria have been successful. All of them had been held in Syria’s Amerna camp. Among the repatriates are 3 women and 13 children (all lost both parents).
Thursday, 3 August, Azerbaijan. Journalists fired from Radio Liberty, editorial leadership allegedly becoming pro-government
● A scandal has erupted concerning the Azerbaijani editorial office of Radio Liberty. Several well-known journalists have resigned or have been suspended from the editorial office. They claim that there have been changes in the radio station’s management, and pro-government journalists now head the organisation.
● Activist Afiaddin Mammadov, detained yesterday by police after taking part in a courier protest, has been sentenced to 1 month of administrative arrest.
● Azerbaijani citizen Farid Safarli, arrested in Iran, had his charges changed. During the court session held on 19 July, the charge of “espionage” was replaced with the charge of “intent to commit espionage”.
● Hundreds of hectares of crops in the Barda district have been flooded after part of the dam at the Upper Karabakh Water Canal collapsed. Residents of the affected Garagoyunlu village were evacuated by boat. As of this morning, the dam has reportedly been restored.
● 95 new jobs will be created in Aghdam, as the company AS Istehsal has plans to open a new site.
Thursday, 3 August, Armenia. "Moscow supports the launch of talks between Stepanakert and Baku, but the situation is aggravated"
● Trucks with sweets for 30,000 Karabakh children joined the convoy waiting on the Armenian side of the Lachin road.
● The EU has opened its fourth headquarters in Armenia in the town of Kapan.
● Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan had a phone call with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh and security in the region.
● The US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and Senior Adviser for Caucasus Negotiations Louis Bono arrived in Armenia. They held a meeting with the Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan and talked about Armenian-Azerbaijani normalisation and the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
● Armenia filed an application to the ECHR to impose interim measures against Azerbaijan to protect the rights of Nagorno-Karabakh resident Rashid Beglaryan, who has been detained by Azerbaijan.
● Maria Zakharova claims that Moscow supports the launch of talks between Stepanakert and Baku, but the situation is aggravated by the situation regarding Vagif Khachatryan and the failed meeting of the parties.
● The daughter of Vagif Khachatryan is demanding that the International Committee of the Red Cross organises a video call with him. She suspects that her father is in a coma.
● Another member of the Armenian diaspora was not allowed to enter Armenia. This time, the entry was denied to US citizen Areni Markosyan, who came to Armenia from Lebanon. She was detained at the airport and then informed that there was a ban on entry.
Thursday, 3 August, Georgia. The re-export of cars from Georgia to Russia and Belarus is banned under EU sanctions
● According to the South Ossetian State Security Committee, residents of South Ossetia were allowed to buy and transport agricultural products from 2 August to 30 September without registering a permit across the line of separation in the zone of Georgian-Ossetian conflict, in the districts of Tskhinvali, Znauri and Akhalgori.
● The re-export of cars from Georgia to Russia and Belarus is banned under EU sanctions. This year alone, car exports from Georgia to Russia have grown by 274 per cent, with $53 million worth of cars sold in six months.
● The Interior Ministry has filed a lawsuit against lawyer Shot Tutberidze. He is accused of hooliganism, and insulting a police officer during a rally outside parliament in Tbilisi on 2 June.
● Georgian writers, translators, and publishers have been expressing their support for poet Henry Dolidze, who was violently arrested during a protest in Batumi on 31 July. He was demonstrating against the arrival of a ship carrying Russian tourists.
The statement that “Dolidze has become another victim of the brutal police system” was signed by more than 70 people.
● NGOs are demanding that the authorities respond to the police’s behaviour during the Batumi protest. In a statement, signed by multiple NGOs, they stated “the police failed to protect the freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed by the Georgian Constitution and obstructed the participants of the public protest in Batumi during the arrival of the cruise liner with Russian tourists”.
● President of the Georgian Film Academy Mindia Esadze has resigned.
● The building of the House of Justice in Tbilisi (pictured) was searched for a bomb all Wednesday, and all employees and visitors were evacuated. They did not find anything, today the House of Justice resumed its work as usual.
Wednesday, 2 August, Georgia. "How much do you get paid for selling your soul to protect Russia?" - Kinzinger addressed the leader of Georgia's ruling part
● NGOs have criticised the police’s behaviour towards those protesting against a cruise liner carrying Russian tourists in Batumi on 31 July. According to the organisations, “the police behaved aggressively and again failed to protect freedom of assembly and expression.”
● The Special Investigative Service said it has launched an investigation into possible abuse of power by police officers during these protests in Batumi.
● One of the detainees during the Batumi protests claimed, “The police officers beat me on my ribs and thighs.”
● A Ukrainian national who was also detained in Batumi during the protests said police treated her roughly and used physical force.
● The head of the Georgian Dream Party, Irakli Kobakhidze said, “Protests in Batumi against a cruise liner with Russian tourists had anti-state goals and external objectives.”
● CNN commentator Adam Kinzinger asked Irakli Kobakhidze, leader of Georgia’s ruling party, “How much are you being paid for selling your soul to defend Russia?”
● The EU’s annual report on human rights and democracy said, “Georgia needs to make efforts to strengthen judicial independence, fight corruption and develop state institutions.”
● Forbes has reported that, “Three ships, including a Turkish-Georgian ship, broke the blockade for Russia in the Black Sea.”
● The prime ministers of Georgia and Kazakhstan have had a meeting.
● Jailed ex-president Mikhail Saakashvili claims, “Now is the time to attack, we have yet to send the main Russian ship in the same direction [as in Ukraine]”.
● In the last month alone, the special investigation service has exposed 8 people for violating privacy laws. Two have been arrested and six prosecuted.
● Since yesterday, it has been forbidden to wear a swimming costume in public places in Abkhazia.
Wednesday, 2 August, Azerbaijan. "The people who live in Karabakh are in Azerbaijan. They will have to make a choice: to stay here to live as our citizens or to leave" - Ilham Aliyev
● Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev told Euronews that, “The people who live in Karabakh on the territory now temporarily controlled by Russian peacekeepers are in Azerbaijan. They will have to make a choice: to stay here to live as our citizens and ethnic minority – you know, we have many of them – or to leave.”
● The State Border Service of Azerbaijan reported the detention of Armenian citizen Rashid Begleryan, claiming he violated the border on the section passing through the Lachin village of Zabukh. An investigation is underway.
● The Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan has applied to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe regarding “Armenia’s environmental crimes”. The appeal is related to “the pollution of the transboundary river Ohchuchay and the construction of a large metallurgical plant in the village of Yeraskh”.
● Activist Afiaddin Mammadov was detained while taking part in the Couriers’ Union’s protest. The press service of the Interior Ministry confirmed Mammadov’s detention. Afiaddin Mammadov was last arrested in February 2023.
● A mobile application for parking management has been introduced in Azerbaijan. Azparking will be available for users from 7 August. The app will show users free parking spaces in the city.
Wednesday, 2 August, Armenia. Yerevan has prepared an 'audit', which lists all the agreements that were reached in Brussels but not implemented
● ”We prepared a document that we called an ‘audit’, which lists all the agreements that were reached in Brussels but subsequently not implemented. And it’s quite an impressive package.” Nikol Pashinyan said in an interview with Euronews.
● The kidnapping of Vagif Khachatryan, the blockade of the Lachin corridor and the humanitarian crisis in NK were discussed in a telephone call between Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spolaric-Egger.
● 61-year-old Rashid Beglaryan has been detained by the Azerbaijani Border Service near the village of Akhavno.
● The arrested ex-defence minister made important statements regarding the 44-day war. David Tonoyan admitted that Yerevan made a miscalculation regarding the issue of Turkey’s direct participation and that the assessment of such a possibility was “incomplete”.
And Turkey’s participation, according to him, was not from the Nakhijevan side, but directly in Nagorno-Karabakh. Read more here: https://jam-news.net/
● Armenia now has 7 citizens in the top 100 of the world chess rankings.
Tuesday, 1 August, Azerbaijan. “Turkey will normalise relations with Armenia after Yerevan signs a peace agreement with Baku" - Turkish Foreign Minister
● Former Azerbaijani Prime Minister Suret Huseynov has passed away at the age of 65. As a commander of the Azerbaijani army corps during the first Karabakh war, after the fall of Kelbajar, Huseynov demanded the resignation of the country’s then government led by President Abulfaz Elchibey. A march to Baku in 1993 by military units under Huseynov’s control culminated in Elchibey’s resignation.
● “The Zangezur corridor should be opened immediately and a comprehensive peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan should be reached soon,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov.
● “Turkey will normalise relations with Armenia after Yerevan signs a peace agreement with Baku. We are convinced that Armenia and Azerbaijan will sign the agreement soon and this will lead to the normalisation of Ankara’s relations with Yerevan,” Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said during a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart.
● Baku and Ankara expect to complete the construction of the Iğdır-Nakhchivan gas pipeline in 2024. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov said this at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara. Azerbaijani gas will be supplied to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic through the pipeline from Turkey.
● The planned Azerbaijani-Uzbek exercises “UZAZ-2023” have started. At the Chirchik training ground in Tashkent region, the military will work out episodes on the organisation and conduct of special military operations.
● From today it is forbidden to drive mopeds without a driving licence in Azerbaijan. This refers to mopeds with a maximum speed of over 50 kilometres per hour.
Tuesday, 1 August, Georgia. Demonstrations were held in Batumi, Tbilisi and Kutaisi against the arrival of the Russian cruise liner
● Demonstrations were held in Batumi, Tbilisi and Kutaisi against the arrival of the Russian cruise liner Astoria Grande in Georgia. 23 people were detained in Batumi. Read more here
● Georgia and China have issued a joint statement on establishing a strategic partnership in four areas: political, economic, people-to-people and cultural relations.
● Georgia’s economy grew by 7.7 per cent in June.
● From 1 September, the price of natural gas for commercial consumers will become cheaper in Tbilisi by 11 tetri and in the regions by 13 tetri.
Photo: Protest in Batumi / Interpressnews
Tuesday, 1 August, Armenia. The head of PACE has called for an urgent fact-finding mission in Nagorno-Karabakh
● The head of PACE has called for an urgent fact-finding mission in Nagorno-Karabakh. Tini Cox noted that it is necessary to assess the situation of NK Armenians, “affected by the lack of free and safe access through the Lachin corridor”.
● The Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia addressed an official letter on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh to the heads of international parliamentary structures, partners and speakers of parliaments. As steps to change the situation, he named, in particular, sending monitoring missions of international structures, application of sanctions against Azerbaijan for non-implementation of the judgement of the International Court of Justice, early unblocking of the Lachin corridor as steps to change the situation.
● The letter from the participants of the protest action in defence of Vagif Khachatryan in front of the UN Office in Yerevan has reached the leadership of the mission, the staff of the organisation assured the activists. The protesters ask to pass the letter on to the UN headquarters in New York.
● The daughter of the abducted Vagif Khachatryan said that no one has contacted their father, they have no information about him. Vera Khachatryan denied the ICRC’s statement that he had been given the opportunity to contact his family.
● India has donated a batch of expensive medicines to Armenia for the treatment of thalassaemia (genetic blood disease). 20,000 tablets will be given to 130 patients who take the drug daily throughout their lives.
Monday, 31 July, Armenia. "The abduction of a Nagorno-Karabakh resident in the Lachin corridor is a war crime" - the Armenian Foreign Ministry
● Azerbaijan prevented 68-year-old Vagif Khachatryan from travelling from the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh territory to Armenia for medical treatment in a Red Cross car. He was detained, according to Armenian media reports, and an International Committee of the Red Cross employee was pushed out of the car. Azerbaijani law enforcement have claimed that Vagif Khachaturyan was wanted on charges of committing massacres in the village of Meshali during the first Karabakh war. Armenia has denied that Kachaturyan is on any wanted listed, and said they consider the matter an abduction.
● Red Cross representatives visited Vagif Khachatryan and gave him the opportunity to contact his family, according to the ICRC blog.
● “The abduction of a Nagorno-Karabakh resident in the Lachin corridor is a war crime,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said, stressing that it expects united and clear steps from the international community.
● The Armenian Ombudsman has refuted the statement circulated by Azerbaijani Prosecutor’s Office; “Vagif Khachatryan was not on international wanted list.”
● A group of young people announced an indefinite sit-in outside the ICRC office in Yerevan. They are demanding that Vagif Khachatryan is returned.
● The former Armenian Ambassador to Israel Armen Smbatyan and his son, chief conductor of the State Symphony Orchestra Sergey Smbatyan, have been detained on suspicion of fraud. It is noted that the state suffered property damage worth 966 million drams ($2.5 million). The matter concerns the illegal alienation of a 300 square metre plot of land belonging to the Tchaikovsky Music School. Tchaikovsky Music School.
● 54,800 people have signed a petition supporting the Hayakve initiative – which aims to criminalise a surrender of Nagorno-Karabakh.
This is sufficient signatures for Parliament to discuss the matter.
Monday, 31 July, Azerbaijan. Vagif Khachaturyan detained at the Lachin post, he is accused of committing massacres in the first Karabakh war
● At the Lachin border post, Vagif Khachaturyan, who was wanted on charges of committing massacres in the village of Meshali during the first Karabakh war, was detained while trying to travel to Armenia for medical treatment, accompanied by Red Cross staff.
The next day, ICRC staff visited Vagif Khachaturyan in a hospital in Baku, where he is undergoing treatment.
● Azerbaijani media are replicating a 2001 video of a participant in the first Karabakh war who had been in Armenian captivity. He mentions an Armenian soldier named Vagif “who distinguished himself in torturing prisoners”.
● U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The Secretary of State expressed concern over the “deteriorating humanitarian situation in Karabakh.” Washington urged the sides to continue dialogue to reach a lasting peace agreement. “It is unacceptable that Armenia constantly engages in subversive activities and tries to prevent peace talks and the development of contacts and dialogue between Azerbaijan and local Armenian residents,” Aliyev said during the conversation.
● “The actions taken by Baku against the war criminal are based on international law and Azerbaijani legislation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ayhan Hajizadeh said.
● An Azerbaijani border guard has passed away. Despite first aid, his life could not be saved, the country’s State Border Service reported.
● Azerbaijani oil company SOCAR has become the main sponsor of Istanbul’s Galatasaray, Turkey’s football champions.
Monday, 31 July, Georgia. A large-scale protest in Batumi against the arrival of the cruise ship with tourists from Russia
● A large-scale protest against the arrival of the Astora Grand cruise liner, carrying Russian tourists, started last night in Batumi and is still ongoing. There have been clashes with the police, who have detained some people. The previous cruise voyage was also met with a protest; the ship was forced to leave the port earlier than scheduled.
● A memorandum has been signed between China’s Sichuan province and Georgia’s Achara region.
● Ketuta Alexi-Meskishvili’s Georgian Ornaments exhibition will be held today at 18:00 in the lobby of the 300 Aragvins metro station in Tbilisi. The Tbilisi Public Art Foundation organised the free exhibition.
The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 24-28 July, 2023