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Tuesday February 7 2023

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

11 October 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: 3-9 Oct 22

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

HIGHLIGHTS

Armenia accepts peace agenda with Azerbaijan – premier

Armenian, Azerbaijani leaders hold peace talks in Prague

Armenian, Turkish leaders underline need of direct interaction in Prague

Pashinyan attends informal meeting of CIS leaders in Russia

EU Council President expresses concerns over imprisonment of Georgian oppositionist

Georgia, EU discuss nation’s European perspective

Georgian parliament approves technical cooperation agreement with Germany

Baku, Yerevan discuss blueprint for peace in US-organized trilateral call format

Baku hands 17 Armenian servicemen over to Yerevan

Azerbaijani, Turkish special forces holding joint drills

Baku condemns French foreign minister for biased, anti-Azerbaijani remarks

ARMENIA

Armenia accepts peace agenda with Azerbaijan – premier

On October 5, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated in Parliament that Armenia will continue to pursue the established peace agenda with Azerbaijan.

“I confirm that we have adopted a peace agenda. I confirm that I assume responsibility to implement the peace agenda with the formula announced during my last interview. I am expecting the support of the parliamentary majority and the people for implementing this agenda. I am moving on that path and will move on that path. As a result of latest negotiations and content, I see a path to move on. This is the most important”, Pashinyan said during the Q&A session in the Parliament.

The prime minister believes that the recent conversations and diplomatic efforts have opened some room for progress in peace talks.

“I spoke about the concept of recognition of territorial integrity by Armenia and Azerbaijan based on the 8 December, 1991 agreement, and there are early indications that this basis, this approach could be mutually acceptable for the parties,” Pashinyan added.

Armenian, Azerbaijani leaders hold peace talks in Prague

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev came together to discuss future peace deal under the auspices of French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as European Council President Charles Michel in Prague on October 6.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the first European Political Community Summit, which was initiated by French President.

Following the meeting, the leaders reaffirmed their adherence to the UN Charter and the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991, in which both parties accept each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“They confirmed that this will serve as basis for the work of the commissions on delimitation and that the next meeting of these commissions will take place in Brussels by the end of October.

Armenia expressed its agreement to encourage the EU civilian mission along the border with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan agreed to cooperate with the mentioned mission to the extent it will be concerned. The mission will start its work in October, for a maximum period of two months. The purpose of the mission will be to build confidence and, through its reports, support the border commissions.”

Armenian, Turkish leaders underline need of direct interaction in Prague

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan underlined the importance of direct interaction, as well as high-level meetings between the two nations, Azernews reports, citing the Armenian media.

The leaders came together on the sidelines of the first the first European Political Community Summit in Prague on October 7.

Both sides emphasized the importance of direct engagements and high-level meetings in the framework of Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, highlighting progress toward restoring the mutual ties and potential future steps.

The importance of speedy implementation of the agreements reached by the special representatives of the two countries, specially the opening of the land border for citizens of third countries, the implementation of direct air cargo transportation between Armenia and Turkiye was emphasized.

Pashinyan attends informal meeting of CIS leaders in Russia

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attended the informal CIS summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on October 7.

The summit was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakh President Kassym Zhomart-Tokayev, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the Armenian Prime Minister’s Office said.

President Putin thanked the leaders of the CIS member-states for traveling to Saint Petersburg adding that the meeting will provide opportunity to discuss the details of the upcoming CIS summit due in Astana next week.

GEORGIA

EU Council President expresses concerns over imprisonment of Georgian oppositionist

The President of the European Council's Cabinet emphasizes that they are monitoring Nika Gvaramia's trial and the Georgian Public Defender's statements. Similarly, the President's Cabinet insists that the Georgian government adhere to the political agreement reached on April 19, 2021.

Nika Gvaramia, the founder of opposition-minded TV channel Mtavari Arkhi, has been incarcerated for more than five months and has been given a three-and-a-half-year sentence.

Frédéric Bernard, Head of the Cabinet, thanked representatives of the Georgian media for their letter of concern from May 24 on Nika Gvaramia’s incarceration.

Conforming to the letter, the European Council pays careful attention to Gvaramia’s court case. “We have noted the statement of the Georgian Public Defender, which raises doubts about the Court’s reasoning in Mr Gvaramia’s case, both in terms of conviction and sentencing,” Bernard said.

The President's Cabinet emphasizes the importance of fundamental rights and due legal process in conformity with the rule of law and international obligations, notably the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The EU repeatedly called on the Georgian authorities to engage in an inclusive and comprehensive reform of the judiciary,” underlined the Head of the Cabinet.

“This is also one of the cornerstones of the 19 April 2021 political agreement and the recently adopted EU-Georgia Association Agenda,” he added.

Bernard said that the EU will “continue to follow Mr Gvaramia’s court case” and through the EU Delegation in Tbilisi will follow the “wider justice reform closely.”

Georgia, EU discuss nation’s European perspective

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili met with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, on the margins of the first summit of the European Political Community, in Prague.

At the meeting, the prime minister spoke about the historic decision on granting the European perspective to Georgia, also pointing out that Georgia is doing everything to take the next step toward EU membership and receive the EU candidate status.

To that end, Georgia has set out to implement without delay the 12 priorities identified by the European Commission. Garibashvili emphasized that this inclusive process enables every branch of government, alongside the opposition parties and civil society, to become fully engaged in the implementation of the priorities, with working groups put together to accomplish this task.

The meeting also touched on the Russian aggression in Ukraine and its impact on Georgia, the region, and the world in general. The prime minister drew special attention to the EU’s attempts to ensure peace in the South Caucasus and Georgia’s commitment to contributing to this cause.

The parties discussed Georgia’s further alignment and infrastructural communication with the EU in the transport, energy, and digital spheres. It was noted that the Black Sea’s transport infrastructure enjoys a prominent place in the EU’s transport and energy policy, and the EU and Georgia are poised to further cooperation in this direction.

Georgian parliament approves technical cooperation agreement with Germany

The Parliament approved the Technical Cooperation agreement between Georgia and Germany with 92 votes, concluded through the exchange of notes.

As the Deputy Regional Minister, Mzia Giorgobiani noted, the Agreement allocates 2 100 000 EURO as a grant to Georgia, “to be directed to the project “Sustainable Urban Development in Georgia,” assigned to the GIZ in cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure,” she stated

AZERBAIJAN

Baku, Yerevan discuss blueprint for peace in US-organized trilateral call format

A trilateral format telephone call was initiated by US State Secretary Antony Blinken with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in presence to mull the normalization of ties, Azernews reports, citing the ministry.

The October 4 phone call was a follow-up to the meeting in Geneva on October 2 that was held as the foreign ministers were tasked by their leaders to draft the wording of a peace treaty as agreed by the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders in Brussels on August 31 under the auspices of European Union Council President Charles Michel, the ministry elaborated.

The telephone conversation also underlined the importance of the September 19 meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers, organized by the US Secretary of State in New York on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly session, as well as the September 27 meeting held between Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev, and Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan, mediated by Jake Sullivan, US President’s National Security Adviser, in Washington, DC.

During the phone call, Bayramov underlined the details of the Geneva meeting, as well as his expectations for the continuation of discussions on the document comprising the provisions of the peace treaty submitted by Azerbaijan during the Geneva meeting.

The minister appreciated the scheduling of the next meeting of border delimitation commissions in October, as well as the discussion of pertinent topics for the resolution of current border tensions.

Bayramov emphasized Azerbaijan's commitment to regional peace and stability, as well as its willingness to sign a peace deal. At the same time, the minister stressed that efforts would continue in the post-conflict period to reintegrate the population of Armenian origin residing in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region.

Blinken has underlined the need for avoiding military conflicts, hastening discussions on the aspects of the proposed peace treaty, and continuing work within the delimitation commission's framework.

Blinken expressed his gratitude for the significant efforts Armenia and Azerbaijan are taking toward a long-term peace accord.

“In a week that has been marked by too much violence, including the deaths of Armenian soldiers and Azerbaijani civilians in landmine explosions, he welcomed the meeting between the ministers on October 2 as an important step forward in the peace process. The Secretary commended the release of POWs and reiterated our commitment to helping Armenia and Azerbaijan resolve issues peacefully and underscored that diplomacy is the only way forward,” US Department of State reported.

During the trilateral phone call, the parties discussed various areas of the normalization process, and it was agreed to maintain communication in order to achieve significant progress on the issues.

Baku hands 17 Armenian servicemen over to Yerevan

Azerbaijan has returned 17 Armenian servicemen to Yerevan, proceeding from the principles of humanism, Azernews reports.

The servicemen were apprehended during recent large-scale provocations carried out by the Armenian armed forces near the Azerbaijani border on September 13-14.

The handover was agreed upon with the Armenian government through international mediation. Four of the 17 Armenian servicemen were injured and were later treated in Azerbaijan.

US President’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has welcomed the return of the Armenian servicemen.

“We welcome Azerbaijan’s return of the 17 Armenian POWs from the recent violence. The United States continues to support ongoing efforts to reach a lasting peace agreement,” he tweeted.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly repatriated detained Armenian military personnel. The most recent transfer occurred on September 8, 2022, when Azerbaijan transferred five Armenian personnel to the opposing side.

Azerbaijani, Turkish special forces holding joint drills

The underwater offense (SAT) and underwater defense (SAS) units of the Azerbaijan Navy and the special forces of the Turkish Navy are conducting joint drills in Marmaris, Turkiye, Azernews reports, per the ministry.

The drills are being conducted at the Aksaz naval base under the approved training plan for 2022.

The military personnel of the two nations is carrying out tasks on the development of land and sea tactics, the search for unexploded ammunition and sea mines, as well as their destruction.

Individual and group tactical shoots in the day and night mode, combined marches, ambushes, and raids in mixed groups, and long-distance underwater swimming exercises at sea using special underwater breathing equipment are planned for training participants.

The training will last until October 14, the ministry said.

Baku condemns French foreign minister for biased, anti-Azerbaijani remarks

Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva has condemned French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna for her biased and anti-Azerbaijani remarks, Azernews reports.

On October 5, while answering a question from a pro-Armenian member of the French National Assembly pertaining to the accusations against Azerbaijan and providing more support to Armenia, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna voiced her solidarity with the Armenian people and made completely groundless charges against Azerbaijan.

Abdullayeva stressed that it is not the first time that French officials have demonstrated a one-sided and pro-Armenian stance.

She recalled that it is not a secret that Colonna has never called for the investigation into numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Armenia so far.

“Unfortunately, no calls have been made by French officials in the previous 30 years denouncing Armenia's war crimes. The reason is obvious to us, but it would be preferable if an official from a country that is Europe's leading force, acts as a defender of international legal principles, and wishes to serve as a mediator in the process of normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia would take a neutral, impartial, and fair stance,” Abdullayeva stressed.

Furthermore, against the backdrop of French President Emmanuel Macron's efforts in achieving peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, minister Colonna's biased and irresponsible remark causes confusion, the spokesperson underlined.

“We would also like to remind her that in a few days it will be the second anniversary of the missile attack on Ganja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city, by Armenian armed forces, which killed dozens of civilians. No one has been brought to justice by Armenia for this war crime. We ask the French foreign minister to call on Armenia regarding this issue,” Abdullayeva emphasized.

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