The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 22-26 May, 2023
What is happening today in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia – кey headlines from local media 22-26 May, 2023
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Friday, May 26, Azerbaijan. Aliyev-Pashinyan-Putin talks in Moscow were unsuccessful
● The Aliyev-Pashinian-Putin trilateral talks have ended inconclusively in Moscow. After bilateral meetings between the Russian President, the Azerbaijani President and the Armenian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin announced that it had been decided that they would meet next week at the deputy prime minister level to resolve technical issues concerning border crossings between the two countries.
● The head of Azerbaijan’s defence ministry will visit Tbilisi today. Zakir Hasanov will take part in Georgian Independence Day events.
● About 1500 people are planned to be resettled to Shusha by the end of the year. New houses are being built for the former IDPs, said Kenan Guliyev, Assistant Special Representative of the Azerbaijani President in the Shusha district.
● Last year 89 people with AIDS were registered in Azerbaijan. One of them was under 18. A total of 2,675 people are registered with medical institutions as having AIDS.
● Azerbaijan’s first balloon festival will be held in Shamakhi on 18 June.
Friday, May 26, Armenia. Armenian Defense Minister did not go to Minsk for a meeting of the CSTO Defense Ministry Council
● The trilateral talks between the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan in the Kremlin lasted only 20 minutes. The parties did not sign any documents, although the Kremlin press wrote about this even before the meeting. The only agreement is a meeting at the level of vice-premiers next week.
● “The situation in Karabakh is developing towards a settlement, despite the problems. One of the directions is work on transport communications, where there are still unresolved issues,” Vladimir Putin said at the trilateral meeting.
● Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan did not go to Minsk for a meeting of the CSTO Defense Ministry Council.
● Iran and Armenia will create a joint free economic zone “Araks-Meghri”. It will include the Araks free trade and industrial zone in the province of East Azerbaijan in northwestern Iran and the city of Meghri in Armenia, Zohre Bahrebar, representative of Iran’s Supreme Council, said.
● The scandalous video blogger Vardan Ghukasyan (Dog) was put on the international wanted list. The previous accusations of extortion have now been joined by accusations of contempt of court, public calls for violence against contract servicemen.
Friday, May 26, Georgia. The opposition insists the large EU flag be returned to the facade of the parliament building
● “Allegations that Patriarch Kirill is encouraging and blessing the war are wrong,” according to one of the most influential high priests in the Georgian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of Akhalkalaki and Kumurdo Nikoloz. The other day he was in Moscow and attended a Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which was conducted by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
● Opposition MPs have called on Speaker Shalva Papuashvili to return the EU flag to the facade of the parliament building. Papuashvili responded: “Whoever feels ill at the sight of the Georgian flag may not go out into the street on 26 May.
● The European Union’s flag will not be on the Georgian Parliament building on Georgian Independence Day. The Georgian Government’s explanation was this years slogan. Last year the slogan for May 26 was “Towards Europe,” and the EU flag was one of the main elements; this year the main slogan is “For Freedom,” therefore, they decided that it is enough to decorate the city with only the Georgian national flag.
● Kakha Kaladze, Mayor of Tbilisi: “European integration is prescribed in the constitution, but first it is necessary to restore the territorial integrity.
● The Interior Ministry has opened an investigation into a shooting in central Tbilisi under the suspicion of “attempted murder”. On Thursday evening, an unidentified man entered the veranda of a restaurant where customers were sitting and opened fire before fleeing the scene. The wounded football player Guga Pirtskhalava has been hospitalised. A series of shooting incidents have occurred recently in Tbilisi on the streets and in public places
Picture: Rev. Nikoloz in Moscow.
Thursday, May 25, Georgia. For the first time in years, there are no EU flags on the Parliament building on Independence Day
● A collage of two photos has gone viral on Georgian social media. On the right is a photo from last year, with Georgian and EU flags on the parliament building for Independence Day on 26 May. On the left is the same photo taken today; there are no EU flags. A protest was announced under the slogan “Georgia chooses Europe. At 10:30 am everyone will gather at the Rustaveli monument with EU flags and march towards Parliament.
● Member of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Maka Bochorishvili, expressed surprise at the harsh public reaction to the absence of EU flags on the parliament building. “Those who are so worried can see that the EU flag is in its place in front of the Parliament. And the fact that Tbilisi is painted in the colours of the Georgian flag on Independence Day – I just rejoice and don’t understand why anyone is unhappy.”
● NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a forum in Brussels that it was important for Georgia to defend the democratic values “in which we all believe”. “We expect non-NATO allies to support sanctions, not to make it easy for Russia to finance a war of aggression against Ukraine.”
● Following Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s speech in Qatar, where he made another anti-Western statement, POLITICO published an article writing that Russia is Georgia’s second-largest trading partner. Read more about the speech here
● Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, “The US State Department is threatening Georgia with sanctions over the restoration of air links between Georgia and Russia, which is an interference in the state’s sovereign affairs.”
Photo: Tamta Gogoladze
Thursday, May 25, Azerbaijan.
● A trilateral meeting between Aliyev-Pashinyan-Putin is due to take place in Moscow today. Conditions for a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia are expected to be discussed.
● Putin congratulated Aliyev on the occasion of Azerbaijan’s Independence Day, May 28.
● NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Javier Colomina, will arrive in Azerbaijan today. He is travelling to Baku from Yerevan.
● The US State Department’s chief adviser Louis Bono is back in Azerbaijan. He met with Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov. The two sides discussed the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
● In Zangilan and Jebrail, work will begin to search for the remains of those missing from the first Karabakh war. Laboratory analysis of the skeletons found in Fizuli district from 3 to 17 May is currently underway. Around 4,000 people have been reported missing and samples have been taken from 15,000 people. The Azerbaijani Armed Forces have cleared up to 30420 hectares of liberated territory from mines and unexploded ordnance. A total of 10206 anti-personnel, 2580 anti-tank and 10446 items of unexploded ordnance have been found and destroyed.
● In the Dashkesan district, 20-year-old Azerbaijani soldier Davud Mammadli was killed by lightning.
● Hungary is due to receive the first 100 million cubic metres of Azerbaijani gas by the end of the year. “This is the first step to conclude a long-term contract with Azerbaijan to supply several billion cubic metres of gas,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said at a press conference with the Moldovan Prime Minister.
● Elmira Aslanova has become the first Azerbaijani woman to summit the world’s highest peak: Everest (Jomolungma).
Thursday, May 25, Armenia. A trilateral meeting between Pashinyan-Putin-Aliyev in Moscow
● Nikol Pashinyan is already in Moscow, where the Armenian Prime Minister will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A trilateral meeting between Pashinyan-Putin-Aliyev is also scheduled.
● US State Department spokesman on today’s meeting in Moscow: US supports talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan regardless of the country in which it is held.
● Nikol Pashinyan responded to Maria Zakharova rather harshly. ”A Russian Foreign Ministry official cannot be my interlocutor.
“The representative of the Foreign Ministry of respected and friendly Russia cannot comment on my words, he can only take them into account – ‘take it in stride’,” the Prime Minister said.
● The Defence Minister has reacted to Baku’s statements about drones: Iranian and, especially French drones, are not in Armenian arms.
● There was a scuffle between opposition and pro-government MPs in the Armenian parliament. The incident happened after a speech by Arthur Sargsyan, an MP from the Hayastan faction. A verbal altercation broke out between him and an MP from the ruling party Hovik Aghazaryan, after which a fight broke out.
● Hayk Sarkisyan, Dean of the Faculty of Economics at Yerevan State University, has been detained and is accused of taking a bribe, the Anti-Corruption Committee said. As a result of collusion with teachers, some students were given grades. According to investigators, one of the students gave a bribe of $4,000.
Wednesday, May 24, Armenia. The Armenian church has called on the authorities "to abandon defeatist thinking and destructive steps"
● The parents of the dead military have ended a sit-in protest outside the Armenian government, but they will continue to demand the release of the dead military man’s mother Gayane Hakobyan, accused of organising the “kidnapping” of the Armenian prime minister’s son.
● In Armenia they want to criminalise the denial of Karabakh’s right to self-determination. A petition has been started.
● The AAC Supreme Spiritual Council has called on the authorities to abandon defeatist thinking and destructive steps: “Nikol Pashinyan’s statements have revealed the real content of the ‘peace agenda’ presented to the public by the authorities. The dangerous position of the authorities in the negotiation process on the fate of Nagorny Karabakh and the border territories of Armenia is becoming apparent.
● Washington has presented Yerevan and Baku with proposals to resolve the most contentious issues and there is progress in the negotiation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, said US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Derek Hogan. The president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic called on the Azerbaijani people to stop all internal conflicts which can destabilize the situation. He called talk of elections inappropriate, but assured that he himself was ready to resign if the moment was favourable.
● Javier Colomina has met with Nikol Pashinyan and Ararat Mirzoyan. The NATO Special Representative of the Secretary General for the Caucasus and Central Asia discussed Armenia-NATO cooperation, as well as security and stability issues in the South Caucasus.
● In Yerevan the foundation laying ceremony of Dalan technological centre was held. The technology centre has a total area of 158,000 sqm, will offer 3,000 jobs and will consist of 22 floors with 34,000 sqm of office space. The programme is valued at $125 million.
Wednesday, May 24, Azerbaijan. WHO has cancelled the coronavirus pandemic, but Azerbaijan continues a special quarantine regime
● Representatives of Azerbaijan’s religious communities visited Khudaveng Monastery in Kelbajar district. Representatives from the Albanian-Udin Christian Religious Community of Azerbaijan and other non-Islamic religious communities took part in the visit.
● Human remains were found in the territory of Fizuli district, liberated as a result of the second Karabakh war. They allegedly belong to two people.
● In Azerbaijan, health workers fighting COVID-19 will continue to receive salary supplements until 1 July. Even though WHO has cancelled the coronavirus pandemic, Azerbaijan continues a special quarantine regime. As of today, according to official data, 72 people are under quarantine because of the infection.
● More than 46 tonnes of peppers imported from Iran to Azerbaijan have been found to have pesticide residues. Azerbaijan’s Food Safety Agency has imposed a temporary ban on the import of agricultural products of some Iranian enterprises.
Wednesday, May 24, Georgia. "Let's agree that direct flights with Russia do not violate international sanctions" - Parliament Speaker
● A decree has been published to include achondroplasia in the state’s rare disease programme. This means that achondroplasia patients finally have a chance to start treatment. Read here about how children with this rare genetic disorder live in Georgia and the months-long protests of their parents demanding that the government bring an expensive, innovative drug into the country that could help their children.
● Wife of Georgia’s National Hero Giorgi Antsukhelidze, who was tortured to death by Russian soldiers during the August 2008 war: “For me the mention of Russians is associated with Giorgi’s torture. I do not want so many Russians here”.
● “Let’s agree that direct flights [with Russia] do not violate international sanctions” – Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili.
● Negotiations with the Georgian side to restore direct flights between Russia and Georgia have not taken place, according to the head of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs and former Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.
● The Georgian president pardoned 13 convicts by Independence Day. Among those pardoned are four women.
● 3,118 cases of chickenpox have been confirmed in Georgia since January. If this trend continues, the number could rise to ten thousand by the end of the year, according to Ivane Chkhaidze, chief doctor at Iashvili Central Children’s Hospital.
Tuesday, May 23, Armenia. Nikol Pashinyan: "86,600 square kilometres of Azerbaijan includes Nagorno-Karabakh territory"
● Nikol Pashinyan said that 86,600 square kilometres of Azerbaijan includes Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
● This statement from Nikol Pashinyan caused outrage in Karabakh. The National Assembly of the unrecognised NKR adopted a statement at an emergency meeting that ”any statement by Nikol Pashinyan ignoring Karabakh’s sovereignty is unacceptable, null and void to us”.
● Yerevan and Baku have agreed upon two articles of the draft peace treaty in Washington. Regarding the rest of the articles, they managed to “have an honest conversation,” according to the Armenian Foreign Minister.
● London and Yerevan are starting a strategic dialogue, according to the British Minister of State for Europe, Leo Doherty.
● A man with a grenade stormed a police building in Gyumri to protest against the authorities’ policies. The 27-year-old threatened to blow himself up. He has been detained.
● For the fifth day, local authorities have been trying to extinguish a fire at the largest Nubarashen landfill. Now two sites are burning, one of which has been extinguished.
● The number of measles cases in Armenia has risen to 161, 116 of whom are children, according to the latest Ministry of Health data.
Tuesday, May 23, Azerbaijan. "A peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia is inevitable" - Ilham Aliyev
● Aliyev expressed hope for a positive result of the negotiations on a peace treaty between Baku and Yerevan. “A peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia is inevitable and must comply with the norms and principles of international law,” he said, speaking at a joint press conference with the Lithuanian president.
● Three Pakistani citizens tried to cross illegally into Russia through Azerbaijan and were detained by border guards. Azerbaijan’s land borders have been closed since March 2020.
● Police have found a 13-year-old girl who went missing a few days ago. The schoolgirl from the theTovuz district was found in Khachmaz. She told the police that she had left home in order to start a family. The man with whom the girl had travelled from the west to the east of the country has been detained and appropriate forensic examinations have been ordered. The man’s identity and age have not been disclosed.
● Independent experts have found a 20-fold increase in the export of whiskey from Azerbaijan in 2022. It is noted that according to official statistics, Russia accounts for 98% of exports.
● The Baku Zoo has celebrated the birthday of one of their bears. An ice cream cake was made especially for him.
Tuesday, May 23, Georgia. "Opposition is in chaos, they are busy busy competing over who has the bigger horns"
● Mikheil Saakashvili: “I see my mission as helping the Georgian people to finally free themselves from Russia and its remnants, even at the cost of personal sacrifice.”
● “The Georgian government is playing with fire. The Georgian opposition must show by December that it is united and capable to fight. Although right now it looks like they are in chaos, busy competing over who has the bigger horns,” according to former Defence Minister Tina Khidasheli.
● The list of drugs subject to the price cap has increased significantly. The Ministry of Health said that price caps have been introduced for more than 1,600 drugs needed for chronic and oncological diseases. Around 7,000 drugs will be on the list by the end of the year.
● Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has left for Qatar with a delegation to participate in the annual economic forum.
● The Interior Ministry has arrested two people in Marneuli on charges of murdering a taxi driver. A statement issued by the agency said the accused killed the taxi driver, buried the body on the riverbank and to cover their tracks, started dismantling the vehicle for spare parts in a garage.
● Parliament will fast-track legislative amendments to allow MPs who have left the National Movement faction to form a new faction.
● “It is anti-state when the authorities say the protest against Lavrov and Putin was xenophobic. Georgia’s pro-Russian government is helping Putin to circumvent sanctions, which is a betrayal” – Levan Khabeishvili, chairman of the opposition National Movement.
Pictured: Mikheil Saakashvili and George Bush in Tbilisi, May 2005
Monday, May 22, Georgia. The movement to nominate Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili for the Nobel Peace Prize
● The movement to nominate Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili for the Nobel Peace Prize was launched by the head of the Centre for Georgian-Russian Friendship, Valery Kvaratskhelia. According to Georgian media reports, his son’s company will operate aircraft of Russian airline Azimut, which started flights to Georgia on 20 May.
● “They did not violate Georgia’s law on occupied territories. As for the Western personal sanctions – Georgia has not joined them and has not imposed its own,” the chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, explained why the authorities do not see a problem in the arrival of family members of Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in the country. They were discovered at a Russian wedding held in Kakheti. A mass protest started there and more than 20 people were detained. The whole story here
● “I don’t know whether it was Lavrov’s son-in-law or other people, it doesn’t matter in principle. What matters is whether these people violated the law of occupation. If not – they had a full right to enter Georgia” – Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze.
● On Sunday Droa party leader Elene Khoshtaria and more than 20 other activists were released. They were detained during a protest outside the Kvareli Lake tourist complex where a wedding involving Lavrov’s daughter and son-in-law was taking place. Khoshtariya said she was detained for trying to stop the local police chief from attacking the activists.
● American Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger shared a video of the detention of protesters in Kvareli on his Twitter page and wrote. “Hey Georgian police officers, you should be serving Georgia, not Russia.”
● The Ministry of Reconciliation bought a new KIA car for almost $30,000.
The photo below shows Valery Kvaratskhelia with his son David
Monday, May 22, Armenia. "Arrest of Gayane Hakobyan is even more shameful than the parliament speaker's vile act of spitting in the face of a citizen"
● Armenia has reiterated its request to the International Court of Justice to apply an interim measure against Baku in connection with the blockade of the Lachin corridor. Yerevan demands that the Hague Court’s decision of 22 February should be supplemented by stating that Azerbaijan illegally established a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor.
● The parents of the dead military personnel spent the night outside the government building in defence of the arrested Gayane Hakobyan, accused of “kidnapping” Prime Minister Pashinyan’s son (photo).
● “The insolence of the authorities has no more limits and dimensions” – Armenia’s first president commented on the arrest of Gayane Hakobyan. Levon Ter-Petrosyan wrote on social media, that “this is even more shameful than the parliament speaker’s vile act of spitting in the face of a citizen in broad daylight.”
● The EU has announced a new package of sanctions against 90 companies that have ties with Russia, including Armenian companies. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said they were involved in direct deliveries of “banned goods” from the EU to Russia. According to the Financial Times, businesses from China, Hong Kong, Iran, Armenia, UAE and Syria will also be blacklisted.
● A rally in support of Nagorno-Karabakh was held near the border village of Kornidzor in Syunik. The participants walked several kilometres to the venue. They demanded an end to the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.
● Ruben Vardanian openly spoke out against Nikol Pashinyan. ”I don’t know how long you will be leader Mr. Pashinyan, but what you are doing, you are doing a dangerous thing! You are not only trying to destroy the Armenian state and to preserve your power, but you are also trying to turn all of us into slaves…” said the former state minister of the unrecognised NKR.
Monday, May 22, Azerbaijan. "WHO should refrain from any political statements hindering efforts on the peace agenda in the region"
● US President Joe Biden has sent early congratulations to the people of Azerbaijan for Independence Day, which will take place on 28 May.
● Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has left on an official visit to Lithuania. He is expected to meet his Lithuanian counterpart today.
● Azerbaijan called on WHO regional offices to refrain from any political statements hindering efforts on the peace agenda in the region.
Azerbaijani Health Minister Teymur Musayev, during his meeting with WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Henri Kluge, noted that the organisation’s official representative in Armenia had allowed himself to make “false, biased and contrary to his mandate views on the sovereign territories of Azerbaijan”.
● In Azerbaijan, voting by Turkish citizens in the second round of presidential elections has started. Voting will end on 24 May.
● In Ganja, an unknown person threw a grenade into a cafe. No one was injured as a result of the incident. The perpetrator of the incident was found in Baku. According to the Interior Ministry, the man was disarmed.
The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 15-19 May, 2023