The main topics of the day in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, 24-28 April, 2023
What is happening in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia – кey headlines from local media 24-28 April, 2023
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Friday, April 28, Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani army has taken control of two more heights in the Shusha region of Karabakh
● According to military experts, the Azerbaijani army has taken control of two more heights in the Shusha region of Karabakh. This was reported on social media by military experts familiar with the situation. There has been no official communication from the Ministry of Defence on the matter.
● Azerbaijan has set up a passport control point at the entrance to the Lachin road, on the border with Armenia. The checkpoint on the Azerbaijani side of the border appeared here on 23 April.
● “Armenia is not fulfilling its obligations”. President Ilham Aliyev said this at a meeting with the head of the French Foreign Ministry. “Armenia does not allow the creation of a corridor with Nakhichevan, does not withdraw its troops from the territories of Azerbaijan, and has misused the Lachin corridor to transport weapons and other military products to Karabakh,” he stressed.
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry described as “absurd and unacceptable” the Armenian prime minister’s words that the establishment of the border checkpoint is aimed at “ethnic cleansing. “Instead of groundless statements, the Armenian side should responsibly and constructively approach the negotiations on the peace agreement, comply with the obligations arising from the trilateral statement and refrain from actions directed against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan,” the ministry stressed.
● As of today, it is forbidden to import cars older than 10 years into Azerbaijan. The decision applies to orders placed after 29 March.
● 26 citizens of Azerbaijan arrived in Baku from Sudan. The evacuation took place with the support of Turkey.
Friday, April 28, Armenia. There is an agreement to hold a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan on Russian territory
● French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna is in Yerevan. First, she visited the memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide. Then she met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. They touched on topical issues, including Azerbaijan’s checkpoint installation at the Lachin Corridor.
● Nikol Pashinyan met the parents of the dead soldiers in Azat village: the meeting lasted about 2 hours, and another one is planned. The parents don’t believe the official explanation that the 15 boys died because of a fire in the barracks.
● US and EU have failed in their bids to be an “honest broker” in the Armenian-Azerbaijani process, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry official
● Maria Zakharova announced that there is already an agreement to hold a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan on Russian territory; the date will be announced later. The Armenian Foreign Ministry has not confirmed that the meeting will occur on Russian territory, but has recognised the agreement.
● Pashinyan presented a formula for resolving the situation in Lachin: it should be controlled exclusively by Russian peacekeepers and the presence of international observers with a broad mandate is needed.
● Armenian pensioners will be able to choose their own banks online. Previously, paying banks were automatically identified and to make an independent choice, one had to apply in person at the social security office.
● Patrol officers will be using electric scooters on busy streets in Yerevan. Trial batches have already been procured. It is thought that the scooters will be useful on busy streets, enabling officers to reach accident sites quickly.
Friday, April 28, Georgia. "Georgia's government is increasingly moving towards autocracy"
● “Georgia’s government is increasingly moving towards autocracy,” according to US Senator Gene Shahini.
● USAID head Samantha Power says she intends to devote resources to monitoring the 2024 parliamentary elections in Georgia.
● President Salome Zurabishvili will address the European Parliament in Brussels on 31 May.
● “Georgia’s ruling party poses a risk for the country to become a puppet of Russia,” according to UK Conservative MP Adam Holloway.
● “You can’t try to manipulate research to influence real public perceptions” – ruling party MP Henri Ohanashvili on a recent IRI study that found the majority of the population believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. Read more here 👉 https://jam-news.net/opinion-poll-ingeorgia/
● Shalva Iashvili, accused of abusing his wife, model Renata Begiashvili, claims to be a victim himself. The court sentenced him to imprisonment as a precautionary measure. “I know from Renata that she was raped several times and that’s why she thinks she has to destroy all men and is planning something about it. I mean I am the victim.”
● Russian Tochka Bank starts currency exchange operations for Russian businessmen in Georgia’s national currency, GEL. It will be possible to make transfers in any bank, according to Russian media.
Photo: Tbilisi, JAMnews / David Pipia
Thursday, April 27, Georgia. "Pro-Western forces must unite and do this before the 2024 parliamentary elections"
● The President met with the Minister of Health to discuss the prospects of state aid for the treatment of children diagnosed with achondroplasia. Parents of the children have been holding a 24-hour action outside the government building for almost a week now, begging for help to buy the very expensive medicine.
● “If the government buys medicine to treat achondroplasia, doctors are ready to treat patients according to the methodology adopted in the countries where these drugs are used,” said child endocrinologist Nino Kheladze, speaking at a meeting of the coordination council for rare diseases.
● Leaders of the opposition parties National Movement and Agmashenebeli Strategy said that “pro-Western forces in the country should unite, and do so before the 2024 parliamentary elections.
● Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau visited Georgia. He was met at the airport not by the Georgian foreign minister, but by a deputy minister.
● “It is better that the case of Lazare Grigoriadis (activist arrested on charges of violence against policemen during demonstrations in early March) is heard by a jury, not by an official who will be dictated the decision ‘from above’ – Grigoriadis’ father.
● The health of jailed former president Mikheil Saakashvili was discussed during a meeting between the public defender Levan Ioseliani and Ukraine’s acting ambassador to Georgia Andrei Kasyanov.
● “The Georgian people deserve membership of the European Union, now the ball is in the hands of the government” – MEP Rasa Juknevičienė.
● The chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party Irakli Kobakhidze accused the well-known polling company IRI of falsifying a recent big poll, according to which the majority of respondents said the country was heading in the wrong direction.
Thursday, April 27, Azerbaijan. Iran reduced road tax for fuel supplies from the main part of Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan by 3 times
● The 26 Azerbaijani nationals evacuated from Sudan have arrived in Turkey. They are expected to be sent home in the coming days.
● French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna has arrived in Baku. She will then visit Yerevan and Tbilisi.
● Azerbaijani pilots set off for the Anatolian Eagle 2023 exercise. The exercise involving Azerbaijan, Turkey, Pakistan, the UAE and the UK will continue until 23 May.
● The driver of the International Eurasia Press Fund blew himself up on a mine in Sugovushan. Khazar Babayev, 33, was hospitalised and had one leg amputated.
● Human remains were found in Lachin district during mine clearance work. The skull and other bone fragments were found in Bululduz village.
● There was a fire in the city hospital in Ganja. One person died as a result of the accident. He was in the intensive care unit and was poisoned by smoke.
● Iran has reduced road tax for fuel supplies from mainland Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan to $175 (previously $520). Duty on cars without cargo has been reduced to $85 (previously $105).
● 57 veterans of World War II living in Azerbaijan will be given 1,500 manat ($ 882) by 9 May. Widows of war veterans, as well as workers of special units, those awarded for the defence of Leningrad and participants of the Siege of Leningrad will receive 750 manat ($440) each. A total of 3,729 people were affected by the payments.
● Azerbaijan will produce famous Hungarian buses Ikarus. A factory for the production of these buses will be built in Karabakh.
Thursday, April 27, Armenia. Pashinyan discussed the situation in the Lachin corridor, first with Charles Michel, then with Putin
● Armenia has filed a lawsuit against Azerbaijan before the International Court of Justice over Azerbaijan’s establishment of a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor.
● PACE co-rapporteurs for Armenia and Azerbaijan called on Baku to restore free movement through the Lachin corridor and recalled a UN International Court of Justice ruling, which requires Azerbaijan to take measures to ensure the unimpeded movement of people, vehicles and goods.
● Nikol Pashinyan spoke on the issue of Karabakh and the Lachin corridor on the same day, first with European Council President Charles Michel and then with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
● A plane landed at Syunik airport, for the first time after a break of nearly thirty years.
● French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna will visit Armenia on 27-28 April, she will meet her counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan. She arrived in Baku today and will head to Tbilisi from Yerevan.
● A monument to astrophysicist, astronomer, founder of the USSR school of theoretical astrophysics and national hero of Armenia Victor Hambardzumyan will be constructed in Vanadzor.
● Armenian doctors have nursed a baby born weighing less than 500 grams. Four months after he was born, Samvel, already 2kg, was discharged from the medical centre in Yerevan.
Wednesday, April 26, Georgia. "The European Union supports Georgia at every stage of its path to European integration"
● Following his meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia, the President of the European Council wrote on his Twitter, “The European Union supports Georgia every step of the way and remains firmly committed to the European vision of this country, which is a historic opportunity for the people.”
● “The state has a duty to protect the life and health of every child”: Disabled people and organisations supporting them have issued a general statement to the Prime Minister asking him to support children with achondroplasia and their families. Read more about the issue here
● Another representative of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Rati Ionatamishvili, criticised said a recent IRI study, which found that 62% of Georgians believe their country is going in the wrong direction, as “not based on reality”. IRI findings are in full here.
● Leader of the opposition Citizens Party Aleko Elisashvili said the same study could be a “good start for the government”.
● After a woman was sexually abused in a village in the Kakheti region, her grandson has been arrested on the charges.
● There was a gas leak at a school in Marneuli. Several children were mildly intoxicated. They have already been discharged from hospital.
Wednesday, April 26, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani border guards raised the flag of the country at the checkpoint on the bridge on the border with Armenia
● Azerbaijani border guards have hoisted the country’s flag at a checkpoint on a bridge over the Khakari River, on the border with Armenia. Here, at the entrance to the Lachin road, a sign has also been erected warning against entering Azerbaijani territory.
Azerbaijan announced the installation of the checkpoint on 23 April.
● As part of Ilham Aliyev’s one-day working visit to Bulgaria, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between operators of the improved gas transmission systems of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Azerbaijan.
● Andrei Volkov was replaced as commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh by Colonel General Alexander Lentsov, a former adviser to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
● A scandal has erupted in the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani parliament) after MP Vahid Ahmedov gave an interview to a well-known critic of the authorities, blogger Mehman Huseynov. In his conversation with the blogger, Akhmedov criticised the state’s social policy and spoke about monopoly and the shadow economy. The MPs decided to take the issue to the disciplinary commission of the parliament. All details here:
● In the centre of Baku the daily rent of flats, which have a view of where F1 races will take place, has doubled in price. Rental prices now range from 300 to 500 manats ($180 to $300), although ordinarily, they do not exceed 150 manats (about $90).
Tuesday, April 25, Georgia. "The ball is on the side of Georgia" - a series of meetings of the country's top leaders with European structures
● At 7pm today, parents of children suffering from Achondroplasia syndrome will once again hold a rally outside the government building. They are asking the government to fund an expensive medicine for their children and have been sleeping outside the office for the sixth day now.
The action was announced after the Prime Minister spoke out about children diagnosed with achondroplasia for the first time and called on parents not to get involved in political campaigns. Read more here:
● Public defender Levan Iosseliani met the campaigners and said he would mediate with the Ministry of Health to bring the medicine to Georgia if it meets all the criteria.
● The Ministry of Interior has launched an investigation into the case of physical abuse of model Renata Begiashvili by her husband Shalva Yashvili. She posted a photo of herself on Facebook with horrific injuries.
● “Let the attacks continue in the opposition United National Movement party, it will affect the results of the [parliamentary] elections,” claims ruling party chairman Irakli Kobakhidze. He also said that “the government is implementing the 12 EU recommendations and the country will be worthy of receiving candidate status for accession.”
● Former chairman of the opposition United National Movement Nika Melia accused the new party leadership of “installing their own regime and starting repression instead of fighting against the ruling regime”. This is how Melia commented on reports that his supporters have been excluded from Batumi’s list of sakrebulo (local government) members.
● Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto: “Georgia must fulfil its promise to stabilise the political situation inside the country. We expect all Georgian politicians to follow EU recommendations and support a pro-Western foreign policy.”
● Foreign Minister Ilya Darchiashvili regarding the outcome of his participation in the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg: “We got the main message from our partners that almost everybody supports Georgia’s European integration – we will continue our efforts to bring our country even closer to the European Union.”
● The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell: “We called upon Georgian Foreign Minister Darchiashvili to send a positive message to member states that the country is addressing priority issues. Georgia’s historic opportunity for European integration and at the same time the need to strengthen democracy in the country is being discussed.”
● EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Oliver Varhey: “The EU fully supports Georgia’s efforts to build resilience in a difficult regional security situation.
● Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsberg: “We continue to support Georgia in its transatlantic aspirations. But the ball is now in her court and she has to play.”
● “In the current geopolitical situation, bold steps and strategic decisions are needed. Georgia has learned lessons from the past” – Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili at the conference of presidents of parliaments of EU member and partner countries in Prague.
In the picture: Parents of children with achondroplasia syndrome protesting. Photo: Mako Jabua.
Tuesday, April 25, Armenia. "We are working with both Yerevan and Baku, everything is not easy" - Kremlin on the situation in the Lachin corridor
● Hundreds of people marched to the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Yerevan to commemorate the innocent victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
● The US and French leaders delivered messages on the Day of Remembrance.
Joe Biden recalled the arrests, deportations and killings of the Armenian community by the Ottoman authorities.
He noted that the tragedy had touched many Armenian families and called on them to unite against hatred, stand up for human rights and prevent violence.
Emmanuel Macron made a post in Armenian on his social media accounts commemorating the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. He called April 24 a symbol of the Armenian nation’s revival.
● The Russian MoD said the peacekeepers are negotiating with the Azerbaijani side over installing a checkpoint near the Khakari bridge.
● Armenia will appeal to the International Court of Justice over Baku’s installation of a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor. This action violates the court’s decision to unblock the road, which has not been implemented for 2 months now, said Armenia’s international legal affairs representative Yeghishe Kirakosyan.
● The Kremlin has commented on the escalating Lachin corridor situation: We are working with both Yerevan and Baku; the situation is indeed difficult, and it requires additional efforts.
Tuesday, April 25, Azerbaijan. The International Court of Justice suspended consideration of the main claim of Armenia against Azerbaijan
● The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has announced the suspension of the examination of Armenia’s main claim against Azerbaijan before the International Court of Justice. On 21 April, the Azerbaijani side officially submitted to the court its initial objections to the claim brought by Armenia against Azerbaijan under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. “Due to Azerbaijan’s initial objections, the court has suspended the examination of Armenia’s main claim,” the office said.
●”Alain Simonyan’s statement is not conducive to peace and well-being in the region.” This is how the Azerbaijani parliament reacted to the Armenian parliament speaker’s words on the unacceptability of the checkpoint on the Lachin-Khankendi road. “This is yet another attempt to interfere in Azerbaijan’s internal affairs,” the MPs stressed.
● The heads of the defence ministries of Azerbaijan and Georgia have signed a cooperation agreement in Baku. Prior to this, Juansher Burchuladze met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijani media described the Georgian defence minister’s visit as “unexpected”.
● All tickets for the Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix are sold out. The event will be attended by a record number of fans from more than 100 different countries around the world, according to the organisers of the “royal race” which will be held in Baku on 28-30 April.
Monday, April 24, Armenia. 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey
● Armenians around the world today commemorate the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The crime committed in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians was the first genocide of the 20th century. People will lay flowers at the eternal flame.
● Overnight, thousands of people held a traditional torchlight procession to commemorate the victims of the Genocide. They burned the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Baku has condemned this action.
● The Azerbaijani side set up a checkpoint at the Hakari bridge in the Lachin corridor. “This undermines efforts to build confidence in the peace process,” said State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel.
● Armenia’s Foreign Ministry urged Russia to make efforts to unblock the Lachin corridor, which finally closed today following Baku’s actions at the Khakari Bridge.
● Armenia’s MMO has confirmed the death of a soldier shot by an Azerbaijani sniper. The deceased is Artem Arsenovich Poghosyan.
Monday, April 24, Azerbaijan. A checkpoint was opened on the border with Armenia, at the entrance to the Lachin road
● The Azerbaijani State Border Guard Service has reported the installation of a checkpoint on the border with Armenia, at the entrance to the Lachin road. “The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and the Joint Turkish-Russian Monitoring Centre have been informed about it,” the agency said.
● Azerbaijan’s installation of the checkpoint on its sovereign territory complies with all the principles and norms of international law. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said. “There are adequate conditions for the transparent, safe and orderly passage of Armenian residents of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in both directions,” the ministry said.
● Baku has condemned the burning of Azerbaijani and Turkish flags in Yerevan. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry urged the Armenian government “to take urgent measures to prevent such hate crimes as well as xenophobic acts.”
● On the night of Monday, 24 April, Baku blocked all roads in the city centre, which are used as a Formula One track. Authorities are urging citizens to reach the city centre by public transport. The blocked roads will not open until the morning of 2 May. The “Royal Races” will be held in Baku on 28-30 April.
Monday, April 24, Georgia. "The opposition is not even aware of its responsibility to the people" - Speaker of the Parliament
● Georgian citizens in Sudan have been moved to a safe house from where they will be evacuated, according to the Georgian Foreign Ministry.
● Patriarch Ilia II’s health condition has deteriorated, local media reports. However, his personal doctor claims that “he does not need emergency treatment, his health condition is satisfactory.”
● Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili accused the opposition of “not even realising their responsibility before the Georgian people and their own country, not understanding how unpatriotic it is to base their political agenda on imported topics. The Speaker is referring to the US sanctions against four Georgian judges for corruption.
● The foreign ministers of Georgia and Italy signed a declaration to establish high-level dialogue between the two countries.
● Deputy Health Minister Tamar Gabunia commented on how the parents of children diagnosed with achondroplasia are prematurely demanding help to buy expensive medication. A group of parents have been leading a 24-hour protest outside the government house in Tbilisi for the fifth day. “The medicine vosoritide is an early-stage drug, and the World Health Organisation has no standard guidelines on this. More time is needed to determine the stages of its introduction in the country.” Only 16 children in Georgia have been diagnosed with achondroplasia, read more about it here
● “Mikhail Saakashvili is very weak, I am afraid he will fall and not get up, he also forgets words”: Julie Alasania, mother of Saakashvili.
● Several Georgian judges went to the US for a training programme. But four others refused in a show of support for the four judges against whom the US has imposed sanctions for corruption.
● At the European Weightlifting Championships in Yerevan, Lasha Talakhadze became the European champion for the seventh time. (photo by Reuters).
The main topics of the day: what is happening in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 17-21 April, 2023