The main topics of the day in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, 1-5 May, 2023
What is happening in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia – кey headlines from local media 1-5 May, 2023
Our live coverage has moved here
Friday, May 5, Armenia. Pashinyan: "We need Azerbaijan to clearly recognise Armenia's 29,800 square kilometres of territory”
● Yerevan and Baku have made tangible progress towards a sustainable peace agreement, the US Secretary of State said at the end of four-days of talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Washington.
● The positions of Yerevan and Baku on some key issues remain divergent, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
● “We need Azerbaijan to clearly recognise Armenia’s 29,800 square kilometres of territory” – Nikol Pashinyan.
● Pashinyan has said that he will travel to Moscow next week.
● Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan has travelled to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the coronation of Charles III (photo).
● Drug trafficking in Armenia has increased due to the flow of tourists and economic growth, the Head of the Justice Ministry said. Grigor Minasyan said illicit drug trafficking has increased not only in Armenia but worldwide.
Friday, May 5, Azerbaijan. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has recognised the legality of Azerbaijan's decision to install a checkpoint at the Lachin road
● Ilham Aliyev visited the Lachin, Gubadly, Zangilan and Jabrail districts, which came under Azerbaijani control after the Second Karabakh War. The Azerbaijani President laid the foundations of several villages and important infrastructure facilities.
● “The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, following meetings in the US, have reached mutual agreement on some articles of the draft bilateral agreement on peace and the establishment of inter-state relations. At the same time, the sides acknowledged that positions on some key issues remain divergent. The ministers have agreed to continue negotiations,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.
● “Pashinyan’s statements in the Czech Republic at a time when a peace treaty is being negotiated do not serve the cause of peace.” This is how the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry responded to the Armenian prime minister’s accusations over the creation of a checkpoint on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.
● The General Secretariat of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has recognised the legality of Azerbaijan’s decision to install a checkpoint at the entrance to the Lachin-Khankendi road. The OIC has 56 member states, including Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. Russia is an observer in the organisation.
● Aide to the President of Azerbaijan Hikmet Hajiyev met with Delphine Pronk, Chairperson of the EU Political and Security Committee. The two sides discussed cooperation, the process of normalisation of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations and regional security.
● Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Sahiba Gafarova left for London. She will attend the coronation ceremony of the King of Great Britain Charles II. The event will take place on May 6.
● In Baku the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air is twice higher than normal. The Ministry of Ecology conducted monitoring, which showed that during the day in the capital, carbon dioxide is exceeded the norm 1.6 times, and in Sumgait and Ganja, 1.1 and 1.2 times respectively. The agency cited heavy traffic and other anthropogenic impacts as the causes.
Friday, May 5, Georgia. Simonyan praises the mayor of Tbilisi "for a wise policy"
● Former ombudsman Nino Lomjaria commented on the Prime Minister’s speech at a conservative conference in Hungary: “The Prime Minister’s rhetoric on family protection is as fake as his Facebook accounts.” Irakli Garibashvili quoted Jesus Christ at the conference, where he spoke about family values and fighting “LGBT propaganda”. Read more here
● The Party of European Socialists has condemned the Georgian Prime Minister’s participation in the anti-LGBT conference in Hungary. The party’s vice-president Cathy Pirie said Irakli Garibashvili’s statements contradict European values.
● Kremlin propagandist Margarita Simonyan has shared, in her Telegram channel, an excerpt from an interview with Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze where he speaks about his unwillingness to comply with sanctions against Russia. She praises him. “The Georgian government is behaving exceptionally wisely in this situation, I wish Armenia could do the same,” Simonyan writes. Kaladze supports continuing economic ties with Russia: “If Georgian wine and Georgian agricultural products do not enter the Russian market, will we destroy the Russian economy? This is totally absurd!”
● Two people were wounded and one killed in a shootout on Gogebashvili Street in the centre of Tbilisi. According to the Interior Ministry, the shooter’s identity has been established and investigations are ongoing.
Photo: Tbilisi, JAMnews / David Pipia
Thursday, May 4, Georgia. Facebook has blocked 80 posts, 26 pages and 9 groups associated with the Georgian government for the organised dissemination of false information
● On Press Freedom Day, 19 MEPs sent a general letter to Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili asking for a pardon for Niki Gvaramia, the imprisoned director of the independent TV channel Mtavari Arch. Read more about Gvarmia’s case here
● Ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili: “Despite medical procedures, I lost consciousness twice on April 29. On May 2, I had to do transfusions because my potassium levels dropped. On May 3rd I lost consciousness again and miraculously escaped death because my head hit the iron table. I would like to thank the nurses, I survived thanks to their timely help.”
● Facebook has blocked 80 posts, 26 pages and 9 groups associated with the Georgian government for violating their policy against the organised dissemination of false information. Two Instagram posts were blocked for the same reason.
● NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General James Appathurai has expressed concern about political polarisation in Georgia. “Reforms must continue,” was the message he conveyed to MPs during his visit to Georgia.
Photo: Tbilisi, JAMnews/David Pipia
Thursday, May 4, Armenia. Pashinyan has confirmed that there is a document on the table at talks in the US
● Erdogan’s administration has reacted to the closure of Turkish airspace for Armenia. Turkey called it a response to unveiling a monument to Operation Nemesis’s heroes in Yerevan. “Yerevan’s actions against the remembrance of Turkey’s history could not be expected to go unanswered,” Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
Nikol Pashinyan also made a statement about the installation of the monument. “When the issue of the monument was passed from desk to desk, everyone thought we would be told ‘you are traitors’ if there is no agreement,” he said.
The US State Department has also expressed disappointment with Turkey’s decision to close the skies to Armenian aircraft. The U.S. hopes that Yerevan and Ankara will be able to further restore economic ties.
● Nikol Pashinyan has confirmed that there is a document on the table at talks in the US. Speaking about the talks in Washington, he said the details of the document are not yet public, but the main points are known to everyone.
● Extradition of the two Azerbaijani soldiers who entered Armenia at the pre-trial stage is not allowed and not provided for by law, according to the Attorney General.
● Armenia’s parliament has introduced criminal penalties for those who call for the renunciation of sovereignty. Fifty-nine MPs voted in favour of the bill and 31 abstained.
Thursday, May 4, Azerbaijan. Ilham Aliyev: "We don't need any problems with any country, especially with our neighbouring country"
● “Azerbaijan is facing a huge challenge with the restoration of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur. We don’t need any problems with any country, especially with our neighbouring country,” President Ilham Aliyev said at a conference in Shusha.
● Talks between the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia continue in the US. “The exact time when the talks will end is unknown,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aikhan Hajizadeh said.
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister held a meeting in the US with Jake Sullivan, the US President’s National Security Adviser. The meeting, which focused on the normalisation of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, was also attended by the head of the Armenian Foreign Ministry. Ceyhun Bayramov stressed that the reintegration of Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan is an internal issue for the country and that interference by the Armenian side here is unacceptable.
● Aliev called plans to increase the volume of Azerbaijani gas supplies to Europe to 20 billion cubic meters by 2027 realistic. “To bring the volume of supply to 20 billion cubic meters, we have to make a big step. But this goal is absolutely realistic if there is no force majeure,” the Azerbaijani president said.
● Turkish citizens living in Azerbaijan will be able to vote in the elections. Fifteen ballot boxes will be installed for this purpose. “9 ballot boxes have been installed in Baku, 3 in Ganja, 3 in Nakhchivan,” Turkish Ambassador Jahit Baghcı said. Voting in Azerbaijan will be uninterrupted for 12 hours – from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, on May 5.
● It has snowed in the highland villages of Azerbaijan’s Guba region. Read our report on one of the most inaccessible villages in the area, Griz, here
Wednesday, May 3, Armenia. Echmiadzin on media reports that Baku demands the departure of the Armenian clergy from Dadivank
● The peace agreement between Yerevan and Baku is called the “Agreement on the Settlement of Relations”. This was announced by MP Arman Yeghoyan. Secretary of the Civic Agreement parliamentary faction Artur Hovhannisyan said the renaming of the Yerevan-Baku peace agreement was done with Azerbaijan’s agreement: in no way contradicting the content and goals of the process, that existed before.
● The parliamentary opposition has refused to travel with their government colleagues to the BSEC parliamentary assembly in Ankara.
● Property prices in Yerevan have risen again. As of December 2022, the overvaluation of the real estate market was estimated at 16-22%. In the first quarter of 2023, the figure increased further to around 25%, according to Central Bank chairman Martin Galstyan.
● The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin has reacted to Azerbaijani media reports that Baku authorities are demanding that Armenian clergy withdraw from Dadivank. “Dadivank was originally Armenian and AAC clerics continue to serve there, thanks to Russian peacekeepers.”
● A parliamentary commission to investigate the causes of the 44-day war will be extended by six months. Its head Andranik Kocharyan said the necessary documents are still being studied. More than 4,100 of them, totalling 14,000 pages, have been received.
● In Armenia a new forest has been planted in the Lori region. There on 50 hectares, it is 160 thousand oaks, beeches, maples, lindens, wild pear, apple, and nut trees are planned.
● The blogger Mikayel Badalyan has been found guilty of “spreading false information” in court. Badalyan was imprisoned as early as last year for publishing about “terrorist attacks being prepared in Yerevan and beyond”.
Wednesday, May 3, Azerbaijan. "The Kremlin believes the trilateral arrangements between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia are indispensable"
● Discussions continue in the US on a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia with the two countries’ foreign ministers, Jayhun Bayramov and Ararat Mirzoyan, both attending.
● The Kremlin believes that the trilateral arrangements between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia are indispensable for the settlement of Baku and Yerevan relations. “The resolution of existing problems between the two countries and more detail concerning some joint steps aimed at reducing tensions in the region are, first of all, possible on the basis of those trilateral documents, which were signed together with Russia,” Dmitry Peskov said.
● Azerbaijan has installed Smiths Detection scanners at the border checkpoint at the entrance to the Lachin road. They allow for an in-depth inspection of luggage as well as the detection of explosives.
● “Armenian monks should leave Khudaveng Monastery in Kelbajar.” Chairman of the AR State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations Mubariz Gurbanly has stated. According to him, “Armenians have nothing to do with it. The monastery belongs to Caucasian Albania and it will be managed by the Albanian-Udin religious community sooner or later.”
● Ilham Aliyev visited the Aghdam district where he joined groups laying foundations for various infrastructure projects, and witnessed the construction of the Barda-Agdam railway.
● “Azerbaijan is a pan-European gas supplier. European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said this at a meeting with the head of the AR Ministry of Energy Parviz Shahbazov in Brussels. “However, our cooperation is not limited to gas, there is also huge potential in the field of renewable energy,” she assured.
● Ramil Mammadov, an Azerbaijani serviceman, has been shot dead. The incident took place in the Fizuli district. This was also confirmed by the country’s military prosecutor’s office. The causes of the incident are being established.
● According to Dateportal, Instagram is the number one social networking site in Azerbaijan with 39.1% of the market. The second place is occupied by Facebook with 14.4%. LinkedIn with 8.9% is in third place, and in fourth place is Twitter with 3.7%.
● Azerbaijani football club Sabah will play a friendly against Turkish side Besiktas in Baku on 13 May. All profits from the game will go towards helping the victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey.
● In Azerbaijan, Sambo coach Mehman Khalilov, who broke the neck of a 7-year-old child, has been sentenced to 4 months in jail. The trainer used a dangerous technique against the boy in training. The child died at hospital. Khalilov was charged with “intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm that results in the death of the victim by negligence”.
Tuesday, May 2, Georgia. "If EU will grant candidate status to Georgia then it’s because the Georgian people deserve it"
● Campaigner for the Magnitsky Act, Bill Browder, on Saakashvili: “You don’t need to be an expert to see that something terrible is happening to him.”
● Investigator Sergo Shubitidze has said he does not believe that Tamar Bachaliashvili committed suicide. The mother of the deceased has demanded a murder investigation is opened. Read more about the 2020 case here
● MEP Viola von Kramon has responded to the Tbilisi mayor’s claims that “the government has meticulously implemented the 12 EU recommendations, but what decision they take is no longer up to us.” On Twitter, she posted: “Ouch. It’s exactly the opposite. “If EU will grant candidate status to Georgia then it’s NOT because the government & ruling party implemented all the priorities the EU had given to Georgia but because the Georgian people deserve it and the geopolitical logic demands it.”
● “What other sanctions can they impose on Ivanishvili [an oligarch considered the shadow ruler of Georgia], they are already keeping his two billion dollars in the bank.”: Mamuka Mdinaradze, Georgian Dream party.
Tuesday, May 2, Armenia. Yerevan voted in favour of a UN resolution, citing acts of "Russian aggression" against Ukraine and Georgia
● A trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, was held in Washington. The attendees discussed the security situation in the region and the normalisation of relations between Yerevan and Baku. “Dialogue is the key to achieving lasting peace in the South Caucasus region,” Blinken wrote.
● Yerevan voted in favour of a UN resolution on developing cooperation with the CoE, citing acts of “Russian aggression” against Ukraine and Georgia.
● Natural gas supply from Russia to Armenia is temporarily suspended. Gazprom Armenia has said that this is due to scheduled maintenance work on the main North Caucasus-South Caucasus gas pipeline.
● Armenia’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, singer Brunet, has had her first rehearsal at the contest’s venue.
Tuesday, May 2, Azerbaijan. "It's time for peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, based on territorial integrity"
● “It’s time for peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, based on territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aikhan Hajizade tweeted. A meeting between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia began yesterday in the US. The talks will last several days.
● Baku has rejected claims from Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ani Badalyan regarding the creation of a checkpoint on the Lachin road.
“Azerbaijan’s steps and its legitimate right to establish a checkpoint on the border in its sovereign territory comply with all principles and norms of international law,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said. “Interference by Armenia in this decision is unacceptable,” the ministry stressed.
● In the village of Jojug Marjanli in Jabrayil district, liberated in 2016, a shepherd on horseback was blown up by an anti-tank mine. Ogtay Alyshov died at the scene.
● The head of Azerbaijan’s Energy Ministry will travel to Brussels today. Parviz Shahbazov will take part in the next meeting of the Azerbaijan-European Union energy dialogue.
● Minister of Digital Development and Transport of Azerbaijan got acquainted with the infrastructure of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project in Georgia. “We toured Tetritskaro railway station in order to get acquainted with the construction works of infrastructure facilities within the framework of the new BTC railway project,” Rashad Nabiyev wrote on social media.
● Starting from today the roads that were closed when Formula One was held will be opened in Baku. In particular, the ban on any traffic on the roads surrounding the Baku City Ring will be lifted.
Monday, May 1, Azerbaijan. "Karabakh residents with Armenian nationality can pass freely through the checkpoint"
● The Azerbaijani Border Guard Service has reported that the checkpoint on the border with Armenia, at the entrance to the Lachin road, is functioning normally. “Karabakh residents with Armenian nationality can pass freely through the checkpoint by presenting their passport,” the report said.
● US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called Ilham Aliyev. The two sides discussed the Lachin road situation as well as more general Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.
● Jeyhun Bayramov is on a visit to Washington. The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister is expected to hold another round of peace treaty talks with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan.
● Another round of the Formula One World Championship has come to an end in Baku. An agreement was reached between the organisers of the ‘royal races’ and the Azerbaijani side to hold the ‘Grand Prix of Azerbaijan’ for another three years.
● As of today, fishing in all of the country’s water basins is prohibited. The restriction will last until 1 September and is in connection with the spawning period.
Monday, May 1, Armenia. "Murdered Citizens’ Day" protest
● Turkey has closed its airspace for Armenian airline FlyOne Armenia to Europe. The reasons for this decision are unclear to FlyOne and were not announced in advance.
● Pashinyan discussed the upcoming talks on Armenian-Azerbaijani normalisation with Anthony Blinken in Washington. In a phone conversation with the US Secretary of State, the Armenian prime minister said that Baku’s intentions in the Lachin corridor area are to carry out ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh and expel Armenians from their homeland.
● Around 180,000 people took part in the nationwide Saturday clean-up in Armenia.
● The 7 Armenian citizens who were in Sudan have been transported to Cairo and will soon arrive in Armenia.
● The parents of deceased military personnel held a “Murdered Citizens’ Day” protest, organising a picket outside parliament and a march through the centre of the capital. The protesters believe that the incumbent authorities and their failed foreign policy have caused many problems in the country, including the war in Nagorno-Karabakh and the deaths of thousands of people.
Monday, May 1, Georgia. “Georgia is lucky to have such a philanthropist” - Minister of Culture
● The Russian military has detained two Georgian citizens near the village of Dvani in the Karelian district, where the Georgian-Ossetian conflict is ongoing. The Georgian State Security Service has said that all available mechanisms are being utilised to ensure their release as soon as possible.
● Today, the Tbilisi City Court will be the venue for another rally in support of Lazare Grigoriadis, an activist arrested during the March protests.
● “The transit of some electronic goods to Russia, including from Georgia, has increased significantly,” said US sanctions coordinator Jim O’Brien in an interview with the Voice of America.
● The European Socialists Party raised a question in the European Parliament about excluding the ruling Georgian Dream party. According to Formula TV’s reporting, the reason was the intention of the Prime Minister of Georgia to speak at a conservative forum in Budapest against LGBTQ rights.
● “Georgia is lucky to have such a philanthropist” – Minister of Culture Teya Tsulukiani’s comments regarding oligarch Ivanishvili, often considered to be the shadow ruler of the country.
Photo: On the street in Tbilisi, JAMnews / David Pipia
The main topics of the day: what is happening in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 24-28 April, 2023