The main topics of the day in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 8-12 May, 2023
What is happening today in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia – кey headlines from local media 8-12 May, 2023
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Friday, May 12, Armenia. "The dismantling of the "Nemesis" monument has been ruled out" - the deputy mayor of Yerevan
● Shelling on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border continued yesterday. The Armenian defence ministry reported that a mortar was used against Armenians. 👉Details in our article: https://jam-news.net/escalation-on-the-armenia…/
● The dismantling of the “Nemesis” monument has been ruled out, the deputy mayor of Yerevan said. “The monument is dedicated to symbols of national dignity and is not directed against any nation or country,” Tigran Avinyan said. Read about the installation of the monument and Ankara’s threats here 👉 https://jam-news.net/reaction-to-the-nemesis-monument/
● Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan will leave for Brussels on May 12 for a five-day visit.
● Armenian singer Brunette has qualified for the final of Eurovision 2023.
● FlyOne Armenia’s second flight has failed to land in Dubai. Local authorities banned the landing and the jetliners returned to Yerevan. The reason is not yet known.
● An abandoned newborn girl was found in Yerevan. The baby was brought to the hospital by ambulance staff. The baby girl is in a severe condition and doctors are fighting for her life.
● The Erebuni Museum and Hermitage Museum have signed a cooperation agreement.
Friday, May 12, Azerbaijan. Azercosmos is monitoring what is happening in the Azerbaijani territories where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed
● Azerbaijan’s Military Prosecutor’s Office has opened a criminal case over the death of Azerbaijani soldier Orkhan Novruzalizadeh, who died fighting on the border with Armenia.
● Baku has agreed to a meeting involving Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders on 14 May in Brussels. No decision has yet been made on participation in the June 1 meeting in Chisinau, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said.
● “Azercosmos is monitoring what is happening in the Azerbaijani territories where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed. “We are monitoring and informing the necessary institutions,” said Sameddin Asadov, head of the space agency.
● Israeli President Itzhak Herzog will visit Azerbaijan on May 30. He will arrive with a large delegation.
● The Azerbaijani and Turkish armies will hold more than 10 joint exercises this year, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry chief Zakir Hasanov said.
● Triple champion of the Paralympic Games, Azerbaijani swimmer Roman Salei has broken the world record. He swam the 200m freestyle in 1 minute 58.36 seconds.
● A new addition to the family of a cat who has become a star of Azerbaijani social media. Almost every time he travels to Shusha, photos and videos of President Ilham Aliyev with the cat who lives near the Yukhara Govher aga mosque appear. Fresh pictures of the kitten and its mother were posted on social media by First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva.
Friday, May 12, Georgia. PM welcomes visa-free travel with Russia and reproaches EU
● The Georgian Prime Minister welcomed the lifting of the ban on direct flights between Russia and Georgia and the possibility of visa-free entry for Georgian citizens to Russia. He called it “a merit of his government” and stressed the importance of trade and economic relations with Russia for Georgia.
● Irakli Garibashvili has also accused the EU of hypocrisy. “Our trade turnover with Russia is about one billion dollars at the most. We trade that with them in one year. The European Union can trade that with Russia in four days. Last year alone, when there was already a war in Ukraine, almost $300 billion came to the Russian budget in the form of net revenues from the EU.
“After the August war, the EU bought $2.5 trillion worth of goods from Russia; America has not stopped trade with Moscow even today. They have reduced turnover, but they continue to trade the products that their national interests and their companies need. Are we not a sovereign nation? Are we not people, do we not want existence and development, peace and prosperity?”
● Georgian Airways has expresses its desire to resume flights to Russia.
● “If direct flights between Russia and Georgia are restored, Georgian airlines could go bankrupt,” according to US State Department deputy press secretary Vedant Patel.
● Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the decision on visa-free travel and the resumption of flights to Georgia was a “humanitarian decision”. “Citizens of the two countries approached us,” he said.
● “Putin is preparing the ground to bring troops into Tbilisi” – Mikhail Saakashvili.
● The State Security Service reported the Russian military’s illegal detention of a Georgian citizen near the village of Mejvriskevi in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.
● The Parliamentary Committee on Health have unanimously supported sending a petition to the Ministry of Health to import vozoritide, a medicine for achondroplasia, claims Makuna Gochiashvili, the mother of a child with this diagnosis.
Read more about the struggle of a group of Georgian parents to save their children here
Thursday, May 11, Georgia. Reactions to Russia's decision to abolish visa regime with Georgia and resume direct flights: what the authorities, the opposition, the statement of the State Department say
● One topic dominates Georgian discourse today: Russia’s decision to abolish visa regime with Georgia and resume direct flights.
● The chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party Irakli Kobakhidze called the opposition’s opinion that the decision was a “gift” from Russia to the pro-Russian government “absurd”. The fact that the Georgian government is rewarded for its pro-Russian policy is widely written about in social networks as well.
Irakli Kobakhidze: “The reality is that, thanks to the government’s pragmatic policies, this decision has been made for the benefit of our citizens. There are about one million Georgians living in Russia today and above all they benefit from this decision, because they have to travel to Georgia bypassing it and it costs three times as much.”
“This was a unilateral decision by Russia – and now they are reversing it.”
● Kobakhidze also reiterated that the authorities do not intend to impose sanctions against Russia because “this would be a punishment for Georgia and its population”.
● Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili called Moscow’s decision “an unacceptable provocation”: “We must remember that we are talking about a country which has occupied our territories and we stand in solidarity with our Ukrainian friends.”
● Sergey Gavrilov, member of the Duma, who became famous in Georgia made a joyful statement: “In the future I hope to come to Georgia to visit the graves of my ancestors, who defended our country during the Great Patriotic War”. He was the organiser of the 2019 International Orthodox Parliamentary Forum in Tbilisi and sat in the parliament speaker’s chair during the opening ceremony. This led to large-scale protests on 20 June with up to 100,000 people and mass dispersal. Watch and read more here 👉 https://cutt.ly/N6kCLXI
Gavrilov also said he would soon be meeting his Georgian colleagues in Moscow for the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy.
● Former ombudsman Nino Lomjaria: “Don’t fly far with your Russian planes, we will enter the EU anyway”.
● United National Movement: “The government is running towards a sunken Russian ship”.
● Opposition activist Elene Khoshtariya warns Russian airlines: “You cannot work in Georgia, there will be physical resistance”.
● One of the leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream, Archil Talakvadze: “Georgia deserved to be an EU candidate a year ago. Delaying this decision and Russia’s parallel activism led to the decisions we see today.”
● Mariam Kvrivishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy: “We would like to state very clearly our position: No airline will work and no plane will come to Georgia that will be under sanctions.”
● Mamuka Hazaradze, Lelo party leader: “Russia made this decision at a very opportune time – to prevent Georgia from getting the EU candidate status. The decision on granting the status to Georgia should be made within a few months.”
● Khatia Dekanoidze, opposition MP: “Putin made it clear to the whole West that he considers the whole Georgian government a puppet.”
● US State Department: “Instead of restoring direct air links or abolishing visa regime, the Georgian people would probably prefer that Putin withdraw the Russian army from 20 percent of Russian-occupied Georgian territory.” This is from a written report given to Voice of America. Many Western countries, including the US, prohibit Russian planes from entering their airspace. If direct flights between Russia and Georgia are restored, we are concerned that Georgian airports could face the risk of sanctions for operating aircraft subject to export-import controls.
“All of Western society has distanced itself from this brutal regime; now is not the time to step up engagement with Russia.”
Thursday, May 11, Armenia. "Blinken's claims of significant progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations are at odds with the positions of Yerevan and Baku" - Maria Zakharova
● The exchange of fire started this morning with artillery and mortar fire towards Armenian positions located in the Sotsk direction. “As of 08:00, there are 3 wounded on the Armenian side. Azerbaijani Armed Forces opened fire on an ambulance with a wounded soldier in it,” the Armed Forces said.
● Blinken’s claims of significant progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations are at odds with the positions of Yerevan and Baku. Armenia and Azerbaijan note that divergences remain on key issues, Maria Zakharova told a briefing.
● The talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will be held in Moscow on 19 May at the invitation of Russia, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.
● E-mail addresses in Armenia can now be registered in Armenian as well. For example, on Gmail you can create an address in the Armenian script, like “անուն@էլփոստ.հայ”, and use it in different systems.
Thursday, May 11, Azerbaijan. Baku will increase defence spending
● Heavy artillery fire started this morning on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia towards the Kelbajar region. The Azerbaijani defence ministry has reported one seriously wounded soldier. “Armenia is exacerbating the situation. Armenian forces have been firing mortars at Azerbaijani army positions since morning. The Azerbaijani Armed Forces are taking necessary countermeasures,” the Azerbaijani defence ministry said.
● Talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will be held in Moscow on 19 May at the invitation of Russia. Before that, Aliyev and Pashinyan are also due to meet in Brussels on 14 May.
● Azerbaijan will increase defence spending. President Ilham Aliyev said additions will be made to this year’s state budget. “Why? Because we must always be prepared. Threats are increasing, danger is increasing and we must be able to overcome any threat,” he said during an address to the nation on Heydar Aliyev’s 100th birthday.
● Ilham Aliyev, along with members of his family, visited Shusha, where he opened several new streets and reviewed the progress of new residential complexes’ construction. (photographed)
● “There is no restriction for Armenians living in Karabakh to practice their religion. In the future they will be able to continue with their religious rites as citizens of Azerbaijan,” said Mubariz Gurbanli, Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations.
● The issue of opening the land borders in Azerbaijan will be considered after the quarantine expires, according to Azerbaijani Presidential Aide Shahmar Movsumov. The quarantine regime in Azerbaijan runs until 1 July.
Wednesday, May 10, Armenia. "The Yerevan mayor's office has neither the intention nor the instructions to demolish the "Nemesis" monument"
● Armenia celebrated Victory Day yesterday. People laid flowers at the Eternal Flame in Yerevan’s Victory Park.
● Nikol Pashinyan, along with Vladimir Putin and the CIS leaders, laid a common wreath and flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow. He also participated in an informal lunch in the Faceted Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin.
● The Yerevan mayor’s office has neither the intention nor the instructions to demolish the “Nemesis” monument, Yerevan City Hall told Armenian media. The memorial was erected in the capital on April 23, after which Turkey closed its airspace to Armenian airliners. Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu then publicly demanded the demolition of the monument, threatening Armenia with “additional measures”.
● Situation on Armenia’s borders is relatively stable, according to the Chief of General Staff.
● Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan: Yerevan and Baku are yet to make progress on fundamental issues.
Wednesday, May 10, Azerbaijan. The 100th anniversary of Heydar Aliyev
● Azerbaijan marks the 100th anniversary of the country’s third president, Heydar Aliyev. He had led the Communist Party of the Azerbaijan SSR since 1969, and in the 1980s served as first deputy chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers. In the 90s, he returned to politics, and in 1993 and 1998 was elected president of an independent Azerbaijan. He passed away in 2003.
● The duo from Azerbaijan, TuralTuranX, failed to qualify for the Eurovision 2023 final.
● An agreement is signed between state-owned Azercosmos and the US company SpaceX, according to which the satellites of the private space agency will be able to provide Internet services in Azerbaijan.
● There was an explosion in a house where internally displaced people live in the Sabunchu district of Baku. As a result of the incident, one person died and two others were injured. The cause of the explosion is unknown.
Wednesday, May 10, Georgia. The Church invited to celebrate the Day of the Holiness of the Family on May 17 - International Day Against Homophobia
● President of the European Council Charles Michel addresses the Georgian people: “The future of Georgia is in the European Union. You, Georgian citizens have made a clear choice for European values and freedom, which is why your future place is in our common European family. We wish you all the best and we support you.”
● “Georgia’s political leaders, please listen to what the people are asking you to do”: European Union Ambassador to Georgia Pavel Gercinski.
● “Sanctions against [the oligarch and shadow leader of Georgia] Ivanishvili are necessary to stop his pro-Russian activities,” according to Ukrainian Rada MP Oleksiy Honcharenko.
● The Georgian Orthodox Church has invited parishioners to once again solemnly celebrate Family Sanctity Day on 17 May. The Patriarchate has announced that a prayer service will be held at Kaszveti Cathedral (opposite Parliament).
● “If the words of the Georgian Prime Minister contradict the assessment of the European Socialist Alliance, we have nothing to do with them,” this is how Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze commented on the alliance leaders’ statement about the exclusion of the ruling party Georgian Dream. They cited the Georgian PM’s recent anti-LGBT statements at the Conservative conference in Budapest as reasoning. Read more here
● “I don’t see a problem with the main avenue being named after Stalin in Gori [the city where he was born]” – Gori mayor Vladimir Khinchagashvili.
● Parliamentary Secretary to the President Giorgi Mshiladze: “The ruling party’s new initiative to strip the President of the right to select candidates for the CEC chairmanship and give this prerogative to the chairman of parliament distances Georgia from meeting its 12-point plan for EU accession candidate status.” Read more here
Tuesday, May 9, Armenia. The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Brussels on 14 May
● The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Brussels on 14 May.
● Yerevan and Baku have agreed on some terms of a possible peace deal at talks in Washington, according to a US State Department spokesman.
● Turkey has warned Yerevan that it will take action if the Nemesis memorial is not dismantled, the Turkish Foreign Minister said. Ankara had earlier closed its airspace to Armenian planes, citing the opening of the memorial in Yerevan as a provocation.
● Today, ex-Soviet countries celebrate Victory Day. Nikol Pashinyan flew to Moscow on a working visit for this purpose. He will attend the Victory Day events.
● A photo exhibition about Nagorno-Karabakh called “Black Garden” in the centre of Paris has closed. The photos relate to the period of the April 2016 war and the 44-day war.
● One of the infiltrators in Armenia was sentenced to 11 and a half years in prison. Agshin Babirov was found guilty of illegally crossing the border and transporting weapons and ammunition. He has pleaded guilty. The investigation into the second soldier’s case is continuing. He is accused of murdering a security guard at the Zangezur copper and molybdenum plant, the General Prosecutor’s office said.
● There are already 142 measles cases in Armenia, according to the Ministry of Health.
Tuesday, May 9, Georgia. "The Prime Minister's speech at the Conservative Forum in Budapest served to defend the values" - minister of culture
● The trial of 21-year-old Lazare Grigoriadis, who was arrested on charges of injuring a police officer during a protest, is scheduled for 18 May.
● Lazare Grigoriadis’ father has asked the Ombudsman to visit his son personally.
● The Court of Appeal has toughened the charges against the two people convicted for the July 5, 2021 attack on Public TV channel cameraman Ilya Akiashvili. The convicts were both sentenced to three years in prison.
● Culture Minister Thea Tsulukiani:”The Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservatives Forum in Budapest protected the values on which our people stand.”
● European Socialist Party Vice President Keti Piri said that the rhetoric of the Georgian Dream is not only conservative but also often anti-democratic.
● The mother of Niko Kvaratskhelia, who was killed on September 15, 2021, appealed to the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office demanding to make public the interrogation of Giorgi Kaveladze, who was convicted of murder. Niko Kvaratskhelia, 22, was shot by 10 bullets in central Tbilisi and died the next day in hospital. Two men, Ako Chelidze and Giorgi Kaviladze, were convicted.
● One man was fined for lowering a Ukrainian flag in Vake Park in central Tbilisi.
● Safety measures for paragliding have been tightened. Only pilots who have passed the relevant theoretical and practical tests will be allowed to organise flights.
Tuesday, May 9, Azerbaijan. "The launch of the Zangezur corridor will increase cargo transit through Azerbaijan by 5-8 million tonnes per year"
● Today is Victory Day in Azerbaijan. It is an official public holiday in the country.
● The traditional music festival Kharybulbul starts today in Shusha. President Ilham Aliyev will attend the opening ceremony of the festival.
● Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders Aliyev and Pashinyan will meet in Brussels on 14 May, the EU Council has confirmed.
● “The launch of the Zangezur corridor will increase cargo transit through Azerbaijan by 5-8 million tonnes per year,” Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said, following talks with his Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis in Vilnius.
● Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry condemned Yerevan for the sentencing of Aghshin Babirov. The foreign ministry expressed dissatisfaction with the trial of the Azerbaijani military as a whole. Baku urged the international community to exert “serious influence and pressure on Armenia” for the speedy release of the Azerbaijani soldiers.
● As part of the ongoing exercises, formations and units of the Nakhichevan Independent Combined Arms Army are now in a ready for combat state.
● Azerbaijan has introduced significant incentives for trucks entering from Turkey. “Since Turkish drivers face big problems at Iranian customs, they prefer to go through Azerbaijan,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
● In Azerbaijan, pardon orders on the occasion of the 100th birthday anniversary of Heydar Aliyev have been carried out, affecting 801 convicts.
Monday, May 8, Armenia. Pashinyan: "If you think I should be shot, I unequivocally agree. I'm ready"
● Turkey has also closed the skies to flights to third countries, carrying Armenian VIPs, including serving Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. This was announced by Turkish Foreign Ministry Mevlut Cavusoglu.
● Azerbaijan’s territorial claims on Armenian villages should be resolved as part of the delimitation with Armenia, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar said.
● “I came out to the people after 2020 and said that if you think I should be shot, I unequivocally agree. I’m ready.” the Armenian Prime Minister said at a meeting with representatives of the Armenian community in Prague.
● Exhibits from the Armenian History Museum and Erebuni Historical and Archaeological Museum-Reserve are currently on display at the British Museum.
● The HAY-AT JAZZ jazz festival was held in Gyumri. This year’s slogan was “Armenian in jazz, jazz in the yard.”
● A video of a bear running through the flowering fields of Armenian Maralik in the Shirak region has gone viral on social media. “What a romantic,” people commented.
● President Vahagn Khachaturyan has personally congratulated Charles III on his coronation.
Monday, May 8, Azerbaijan. Russian female tourists detained in Baku: "They were taking pictures with the logo of the Armenian group Haitarak for a reward"
● The Azerbaijani State Security Service has detained a group of Russian female tourists in Baku. “The women were taking pictures of the capital of Azerbaijan with the logo of the Armenian group Haitarak at the request of Armenians for a reward,” the State Security Service said in a statement.
● The new commander of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh, Alexander Lentsov, will again hold talks with representatives of Azerbaijan. A visit to Baku will also take place soon.
● An 8.2-kilometre stretch of the Shukurbeyli-Jebrail-Gadrut road has been commissioned in Karabakh. The road will be built according to the first technical category and have four lanes.
● Uzbekistan is building a school in Fizuli, a town which returned to Azerbaijani control after the Second Karabakh War. The school will be commissioned at the end of the year. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will attend the opening ceremony. The school will be designed for 960 students.
● A truck overturned in Khojaly. The 64-year-old driver lost control, killing two people and injuring another.
● The traditional “Baku Marathon-2023” was held in the capital of Azerbaijan with over 11 thousand participants. The winner was Ukrainian Bogdan Simonovych.
Monday, May 8, Georgia. A school bus driver is suspected of sexual abuses against minors
● The Мinistry of Internal Affairs and Ombudsman have issued a joint public statement about a video distributed on social media that showed alleged sexual abuses against a minor in Vani. The suspect is the school bus driver, who is also the husband of the school’s Head Teacher. The minors have been questioned; their parents were present for the questioning.
● “Mikheil Saakashvili is extremely weak. When you see him it is as if footage of Auschwitz is playing in front of you.”: Julia Alasania, the mother of the ex-President.
● A senior Ministry of Internal Affairs inspector was arrested and charged with the murder that occurred on May 4 on Gogebashvili Street in downtown Tbilisi.
● Shalva Papuashvili, Parliament Speaker, will visit Malta and Italy from the 7th to the 12th of May, along with a delegation.
● 5300 people participated in an international charity run, which took place in Georgia for the 10th time this year. This marathon took place to raise money for those suffering from spinal injuries and runners took part in 6 different continents. In Georgia $70,000 was raised, all of which will be given to the Spinal Injury Research Fund.
-● At least 12 graves, estimated to date back to the 19th century have been found after repairs began on Tsereteli Avenue in the centre of Tbilisi (pictured). The Mayor said that work on the site will continue, with archaeologists’ presence.
The main topics of the day: what is happening in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 1-5 May, 2023