Friday December 1 2023

South Caucasus Weekly Review looks into major developments in Armenia, Georgia & Azerbaijan

24 September 2022 09:59 (UTC+04:00)
South Caucasus Weekly Review looks into major developments in Armenia, Georgia & Azerbaijan

By Vugar Khalilov

South Caucasus Weekly Review: 12-18 Sep 22

This project of Azernews is designed to cover major weekly developments in the South Caucasus nations.


Large-scale clashes erupt on Armenian-Azerbaijan border

CSTO monitoring task force arrives in Armenia

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Armenia

Georgian PM, US senior representative negotiations discuss regional, global security

Georgia’s ruling party to hold elections electronically from 2024

Georgian, German premiers mull regional security, co-op prospects

Baku condemns Yerevan for fresh provocations, deadly clashes on state border

Pelosi's visit to Armenia undermines regional peace - Turkish Speaker

Baku, Washington mull fresh Armenian border provocation, military co-op


Large-scale clashes erupt on Armenian-Azerbaijan border

Large-scale clashes broke out on the Armenia-Azerbaijani border around 0005 hours on September 13, Azernews reports, citing the Armenian media.

Intense artillery and large-caliber gunfire were used by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces to shell Armenian positions in the area of Goris, Sotk, and Jermuk. According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, the Azerbaijani forces also used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the assault.

Following the resumption of border confrontations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the international community urged both parties to immediately halt hostilities and return to the negotiating table.

In a phone call on September 13, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan briefed European Council President Charles Michel, one of the key mediators in the peace talks between the sides, on the situation on the border. Michel stressed that there is no alternative to peace and stability in the region and expressed readiness to make efforts to prevent further escalation.

Furthermore, the Armenian government appealed to Russia, the United Nations Security Council, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) regarding the “aggression against the territory of Armenia”, the Armenian prime minister’s office said.

The United States expressed “deep concern” about the confrontations urging the sides to put an end to any military hostilities immediately.

Pashinyan gave extensive details on the battles that began around midnight, which were followed by artillery shelling and firing from large-caliber firearms, during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The international community applauded the parties' agreement to a cease-fire on September 15. The UN welcomed the cease-fire deal on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and voiced optimism about its long-term viability.

“This underscores that the normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues to face serious obstruction. This escalation also underscores the urgent need to move forward in the delimitation and demarcation process within the framework of the mutual recognition of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the parties. We call on the parties to make use of this important mechanism as a necessary step to de-escalate tension on the border. The developments of this week are also a reminder that the tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan has the potential to destabilize the region. They underscore the need for all actors in and outside the region to act constructively and exert pressure on the parties to work for a peaceful resolution,” Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas in the United Nations Department of Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca said at the UN Security Council meeting convened after the Azerbaijani attack on Armenia.

Toivo Klaar, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, commented on the situation emphasizing the necessity of resuming of talks. He added that the EU remains actively involved in helping Armenia and Azerbaijan to achieve a comprehensive deal that will guarantee a stable, secure, and prosperous South Caucasus.

CSTO monitoring task force arrives in Armenia

The tactical team of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Joint Staff led by the Chief of the CSTO Joint Staff Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov arrived in Armenia in on September 15 to conduct a monitoring mission, Armenian Minister of Defense Suren Papikyan said in a statement.

“I held a meeting with Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov the same day. I briefed him on the situation resulting from the large-scale aggression of Azerbaijan on September 13 and assigned the objectives of the upcoming monitoring. I expressed hope that the group will conduct effective work and will present to the CSTO Collective Security Council a detailed and accurate report on the situation,” Papikyan said, adding that the CSTO team will work with the general staff of the Armenian armed forces and in combat action regions.

Sidorov met with Lt-Gen Roman Golubitsky, the Head of the Russian FSS Border Guards in Armenia. A comprehensive discussion of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the measures aimed at resolving it took place.

“The situation in the responsibility zone of the Russian Border Guard Department in Armenia is stable but tense. As of today, of course, the calmest sections are the Armenian-Turkish and the Armenian-Iranian borders”, he said, adding that they are seeking to ensure border security in all directions in cooperation with the Armenian Armed Forces and local authorities.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Armenia

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi arrived in Armenia on an official visit on September 17, Azernews reports, citing the Armenian media.

Speaker of Armenian Parliament Alen Simonyan welcomed and had a private conversation with Nancy Pelosi in Yerevan's Zvartnots Airport, the parliament’s press service said.

During her September 17-19 visit, Speaker Pelosi met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Speaker of the National Assembly Alen Simonyan, and other senior Armenian officials to discuss U.S.-Armenian relations and the current security situation. Pelosi paid tribute to the memory of the “Armenian genocide” victims at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan.

“The US Congress strongly condemns the illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan against Armenia,” Pelosi said during a joint press conference with Simonyan in Yerevan.

In her remarks, Pelosi first thanked the Armenian speaker for hosting the US Congressional delegation and for the commitment to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries and the two parliaments.

The US House Speaker said that their meetings always have a particular focus on security.

“Our meeting again had particular importance to us because the focus was on security following the illegal and deadly attacks by Azerbaijan on the Armenian territory. The United States as an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair has clearly and has long stated that there can be no military solution to the conflict. We continue to watch the situation closely and we continue supporting a negotiated, comprehensive and sustainable solution to all issues relating to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict”, Pelosi said.

When asked what kind of support Armenia may anticipate from the US, particularly in the military field, Pelosi responded: “The value of our visit and the value of our discussions is to hear from Armenia’s perspective how we can be helpful. That has been a good part of our discussions thus far,” Pelosi said.

“On the defense side, we are listening to. Rather than coming here and saying this is what we are prepared to do we are listening to what the needs are”, she added.

Asked whether the United States expects that Armenia should leave the CSTO, and what the American government proposes Armenia, whether it is ready to guarantee the security of Armenia’s sovereign territory and borders, Pelosi gave the floor to US Congressman Frank Pallone to answer the question first.

“We understand that Armenia is part of this security arrangement with Russia. We are not suggesting anything about that. What we are saying is that the United States is very concerned about Armenia’s security. We want to do whatever we can to be more supportive of Armenia’s security”, Frank Pallone said.

On September 18, Pashinyan received the delegation led by Pelosi, the PM’s Office said.

The sides discussed a broad range of issues relating to the Armenian-American partnership and the further development of cooperation in different directions.


Georgian PM, US senior representative negotiations discuss regional, global security

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Philip Reeker, Senior Adviser of the US Department of State for Caucasus Negotiations discussed regional and global security issues in Tbilisi on September 12.

Garibashvili congratulated Reeker on his appointment to a new position and wished him success in his future endeavors. As the Prime Minister noted, Georgia is a reliable partner and loyal ally of the US in the region and beyond.

Garibashvili and Reeker discussed the war in Ukraine and the difficult regional and global security situation. The conversation also touched on the dire state of affairs in Georgia’s occupied territories. Garibashvili highlighted the critical importance of peaceful conflict resolution. In this context, the significance of the Geneva International Discussions was underlined.

Reeker reassured the Prime Minister of the strong support of the United States for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

They also touched upon the Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement, achieved through Garibashvili’s mediation and Reeker’s engagement, as a result of which Azerbaijan released Armenian POWs, while Armenia handed over important maps to Azerbaijan.

Then the two men exchanged views on Georgia’s European integration. As Garibashvili noted, the European Council, by granting the European perspective to Georgia, confirmed that the country’s future is in the EU, and Georgia remains committed to its European path.

US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan and Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili also attended the meeting.

Georgia’s ruling party to hold elections electronically from 2024

Chairman of Georgian Dream Irakli Kobakhidze stated that the ruling party made a decision on the large-scale introduction of voter registration and voting with electronic equipment from 2024.

“Last year, the voting procedure was carried out using fully electronic equipment in the Krtsanisi district of Tbilisi. This year, with the use of electronic equipment, the interim elections of the assembly were held in eight polling stations of Batumi Municipality. The successful experience of voter registration and voting with modern technologies will enable us to implement this initiative on a large scale from 2024,” said Kobakhidze.

He said that electronic voting will ultimately boost public trust in the voting process, address the problem of electoral imbalance, and put an end to speculation forever.

Georgian, German premiers mull regional security, co-op prospects

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and his German counterpart Olaf Scholz discussed regional security issues, as well as future cooperation in Berlin on September 14.

The discussion took place as part of Garibashvili’s official visit to the Federal Republic of Germany.

The Georgia-Germany partnership, the regional security, Georgia’s integration into Europe, and the trade and economic relations between the two countries were the key topics of the meeting.

The parties underlined the close partnership between Georgia and Germany, expressing readiness to channel efforts toward further developing strategic cooperation.

The two men overviewed regional and global challenges. The conversation touched on Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, also reiterating the importance of the international community’s efforts toward de-escalating the situation and ensuring peace.

Garibashvili underlined the Russian invasion and occupation of Georgia in 2008, which pose threat to regional security and stability.

The importance of German support to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as to the peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict, was emphasized. Germany’s exceptional contribution to the Monitoring Mission in Georgia was highlighted.

The sides also discussed the European Council’s decision to grant the European perspective to Georgia and its importance. Garibashvili thanked his German colleague for supporting this historic decision and for Germany’s political and practical assistance to Georgia in the process of European integration. In light of regional and global challenges, special attention was paid to the support of Western partners for Georgia.


Baku condemns Yerevan for fresh provocations, deadly clashes on state border

Baku condemned Yerevan for the provocations and deadly clashes that erupted on September 12 on the Azerbaijan-Armenia state border, Azernews reports, citing the Foreign Ministry.

“Responsibility for the provocation, clashes, and losses lies with the military-political leadership of Armenia. Any actions against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan will be resolutely prevented,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that on September 12, 2022, starting late at night, the units of the Armenian armed forces launched large-scale provocations in the directions of Dashkasan, Kalbajar, and Lachin on the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border.

In conformity with the information provided by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, sabotage groups of the Armenian armed forces planted landmines between the positions of Azerbaijan's army units and the supply roads in different directions, taking advantage of the mountainous terrain area and existing valley gaps.

Furthermore, Armenian military forces used a variety of weaponry, including mortars, to attack Azerbaijani army positions in Dashkasan, Kalbajar, and Lachin directions, causing casualties among the Azerbaijani military personnel, as well as inflicting damage on the military infrastructure, the ministry detailed.

The Armenian attack against Azerbaijan is a flagrant breach of international law, as well as the requirements of the trilateral declarations made by the Azerbaijani, Armenian, and Russian leaders and the agreements established between Azerbaijan and Armenia, it added.

In the same vein, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry condemned the Armenian military-political leadership over the deadly clashes that erupted on the state border over the night of September 12-13, Azernews reports, citing the ministry.

“We declare once again that the military-political leadership of Armenia bears the entire responsibility for the provocations, confrontation, and losses,” the ministry said in a statement.

The clashes between the sides ensued as a result of the urgent efforts made by the Azerbaijani armed forces to quell these activities. As a result, 79 armed forces personnel were killed, the ministry detailed.

So far, the Armenian government reported 207 losses among its own military personnel.

Pelosi's visit to Armenia undermines regional peace - Turkish Speaker

Turkiye’s Grand National Assembly Speaker Mustafa Sentop has said that the US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Armenia undermines the regional peace, Azernews reports, citing the Turkish media.

Sentop made the remarks at the opening of the Cerkezkoy Industrial Fair, jointly organized by the Cerkezkoy Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Cerkezkoy Municipality on September 18.

Commenting on Pelosi’s visit to Armenia, Sentop said that the same person made a controversial visit to Taiwan last month, too.

Sentop emphasized that it is common for a country's speaker of parliament to visit another country, but this visit "has the potential to be provocative and aggravate the situation," in contrast to recent progress toward normalization achieved by Armenia and Azerbaijan. He went on to say that Turkiye has always shown its support for Azerbaijan in this process.

Sentop recalled that Armenia invaded Azerbaijani territory 28 years ago, and the Minsk Group, which was created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to resolve the conflict between the two countries, was not effective.

Baku, Washington mull fresh Armenian border provocation, military co-op

Azerbaijani Defense Minister Col-Gen Zakir Hasanov and US Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl have discussed the latest flare-up on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, as well as bilateral military cooperation, Azernews reports, citing the ministry.

In a telephone conversation on September 15 at the initiative of the opposite side, the officials exchanged views on issues of bilateral military cooperation, as well as the confrontation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border, and the current situation in the region, the ministry said.

In the same vein, the US has hailed the truce between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Azernews reports, citing US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"We welcome the cessation of hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia and will continue to work with the parties to seek to cement it. The United States remains committed to promoting a peaceful and prosperous future for the South Caucasus region" Blinken tweeted.


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