10/22/2022: Two Georgian fighters died in Ukraine.
The Civil.ge media informed that it had been confirmed by the Georgian Foreign Ministry on October 22 the death of two Georgian fighters on the Ukrainian front on October 21, Misha Kaflanishvili who allegedly fell near Lugansk and Aleksandre Martiashvili who reportedly fell near Kherson, according to Netgazeti.ge. The death toll is currently 18 Georgian soldiers dead in Ukraine since the outbreak of armed hostilities last February.
10/24/2022: Visit of the President of Azerbaijan to Tbilisi, TITR project and transport of gas and electricity.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev travelled to Tbilisi on October 24 to meet Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili at Château Mukhrani, where they visited the “Legacy of the Karabakh Khanate” exhibition. On the occasion of the joint press conference between the two South Caucasian leaders following their meeting, of which President Salome Zurabishvili would not have been informed according to a press release from the presidential administration, Irakli Garibashvili declared about Ilham Aliyev’s initiative in Prague to create a format for cooperation in the South Caucasus: “I also welcome the initiative you expressed in Prague on the creation of a joint and tripartite discussion structure in the South Caucasus”. And he informed that the parties had reviewed “historic projects – the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipelines and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and the middle corridor”.
For his part, Ilham Aliev said he was ready for “Georgia – Azerbaijan – Armenia consultations”, declaring: “If the Armenian side is ready for them, we are ready too”. He also highlighted the figure of 1 billion dollars in bilateral trade between the two countries in 2022 before presenting several ongoing projects aimed in particular at increasing the export of 22 billion cubic meters of gas towards the world markets achieved in 2022. One of the objectives is first of all to reach a volume of 20 billion cubic meters of gas towards Europe in 2027 via two pipelines: the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and that of Baku-Soupsa which is not yet in service and which is the subject of discussions between the two countries. Then it would be the export of Azerbaijani electricity via Georgia: 10 Gigawatts of renewable energy from Karabakh, 157 Gigawatts from the Caspian Sea.
He also highlighted the increase in freight transport between the two countries by 75% in 2022 and the joint intention to increase the carrying capacity of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway to 5 million tons while stating: “the increase in the volume of goods transferred from Central Asia and Asia as a whole to the West and back using Georgian ports is creating a new reality“. In the same way, he announced his intention to “increase the capacity of the international sea port of Baku from 15 million to 25 million tons”.
According to the Azerbaijani media Azerfocus, the middle corridor or Transcapian International Transport Route (China – Kazakhstan – Caspian Sea – Azerbaijan – Georgia linking either Europe via the Black Sea or Turkey) would have recently been the subject of discussions with the Kazakhstan as part of the CICA in early October. This project represented a time saving of 20 to 25 days for transport from China to Europe compared to maritime transport. This would have already transported 1.084 million tonnes of freight between January and September 2022, i.e. 2.7 times more than in the last 9 months of 2021.
10/24/2022: A hundred people arrested during an opposition demonstration in Azerbaijan.
A demonstration organized on 24 October by members of the People’s Front of Azerbaijan (FPA) party in front of the executive power building was repressed by the police after an hour and resulted in the arrest of around 100 people, according to OC-média, and more than 200 people according to Ali Karimli, the president of the party on Facebook. Among the protesters’ demands were the right to freedom of assembly, the release of political prisoners, the reopening of land borders, free elections and an end to “family rule”.
10/24/2022: Note from the Azerbaijani Ambassador to the Russian MFA regarding Pervy Kanal.
The Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia issued a statement on October 24, regarding a note sent to the Russian Foreign Ministry, about the program “Great Game” broadcast on October 20 and 21 on Pervy Kanal having invited Armenian political scientists and experts of Armenian origin, and in which one can read: “The note specifically pointed out that the guests of the show had provoked the revanchist forces of Armenian society to rekindle the conflict left in the past and, by openly supporting separatism, had sown the seeds of enmity between the two nations. […] It is mentioned in the document that representatives of the media have a special responsibility to prevent provocations which may cause tensions in the fragile peace situation in the region and may further aggravate the situation. […] It was also unfortunately pointed out that the host of the said talk show and one of the direct participants in this “performance” is Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the “United Russia” faction, the first deputy chairman of the Committee on international affairs of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Such behaviour of representatives of the ruling party in Russia is contrary to the spirit of the strategic partnership and interaction of the alliance between Azerbaijan and Russia, and significantly harms bilateral relations”. According to MeydanTV, the Azerbaijani TV program Hafta called Russia an “invader” on October 23 regarding the war in Ukraine.
It should be recalled that on June 4, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Digital Development and Transport had already blocked access to the site of the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti, following two recent interviews with Armenian officials of the self-proclaimed “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh”, judging them, too, to be contrary to the Declaration on “Allied Interaction”, and on June 10, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik Azerbaijan, Margarita Simonian, was refused the extension of her residence permit in the country.
10/25-26/2022: Official visit of the Armenian Foreign Minister to the Vatican.
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan visited the Vatican on October 25-26, during which a Holy Mass for Peace in Armenia dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and the Holy See, was held in the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore presided over by Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See. During his speech, he said: “My country has never lost its faith in the ideals of humanity and solidarity, even though it faces many challenges and calamities triggered by conflicts and in particular the recent deplorable use of force by the neighbouring country. […] The divine liturgy celebrated by Pope Francis and seen by the whole world in April 2015, marking the centenary of the Armenian Genocide and the impressions of the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Armenia in June 2016, will forever remain in our minds. memories and our hearts. We are very proud that Saint Gregory of Narek, son of the Armenian people and genius of medieval thought, joined the 36 greatest thinkers who were awarded the title of “Doctor of the Universal Church” […] And the celebration today, presided over by the Secretary of State, is another glowing display of the Holy See’s strong friendship with Armenia – the first nation to embrace Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD. […] We welcome the continuation of the inter-Church dialogue, and I am happy to welcome among us today the presence of His Beatitude Raphael Petros XXI, Catholicos-Patriarch of Cilicia of the Catholic Armenians, the representatives of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic Churches , the Mkhitarist Fathers and the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception”.
During his meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, and according to the statement from the MFA, he underlined that “the main obstacle to the establishment of peace in the region is the maximalist aspirations of Azerbaijan and attempts to solve the problems through the use of force or the threat of the use of force” while claiming that “Azerbaijan [obstructed] the visit of the assessment mission of the Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent regions”. He also met the substitute of the Holy See, Edgar Peña Parra, to whom he presented “the Order of Friendship for his significant contribution to the development and strengthening of interstate relations between Armenia and the Holy See” according to the statement of the Armenian MFA, and to which he stressed “the need for the immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war and civilians illegally detained in Azerbaijan, and the preservation of the Armenian historical and cultural heritage in the territories that fell under Azerbaijani control” The following day, he met with Pope Francis on October 26, during which, according to the MFA statement, he underlined “secular historical links and similar spiritual values” by thanking the pontiff for his “numerous messages and appeals to peace delivered during the 44-day war and the period that followed”. On the same day, he also met, according to the Armenian media Hetq, the Armenian patriarch of the House of Cilicia, Raphael Petros Minasian, during his visit to the Armenian Priestly College of Levonia.
This visit follows that of October 23 and 24 of French President Emmanuel Macron, who attended the international conference “The cry of peace” organized by the Sant’Egidio community and who also met the sovereign pontiff. Lagazetteaz media thus recounted the content of his exchanges by relaying his interview with Le Point magazine during which the French president allegedly claimed to have encouraged Pope Francis to call Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill .
It should be remembered that on January 13, it was Allahshükür Pashazade, president of the Office of Caucasian Muslims, who went to Rome at the head of an Azerbaijani delegation to present his point of view and ask for the Pope’s mediation in the conflict between the two countries.
25/10/2022: A Russian parliamentarian prevented from returning to Armenia for his positions against the government.
According to several local media (Eurasianet, OC-media, Jam-news, Hetq), relaying messages from his Telegram channel in particular, Russian parliamentarian Konstantin Zatulin, vice-chairman of the Duma committee on post-Soviet affairs and Eurasian integration, would have been banned from entering Armenia on October 25. He reportedly received the following email from a member of the Armenian Parliament whom he deemed insulting: “By order of the National Assembly of Armenia, we inform you that, unfortunately, your recent public statements concerning the Republic of Armenia are detrimental to the development of friendly and allied relations between our two States. […] Accordingly, in the future, your arrival in the Republic of Armenia will be considered undesirable”. Despite his well-known pro-Armenian positions since he is behind the Duma resolution officially recognizing the Armenian genocide and he sent his congratulations on the occasion of the “national holiday” of the “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh”, he also issued strong criticism of the current government, in particular by declaring for example last February: “But Armenia is a country which suffered a clear military and diplomatic defeat during the recent outbreak of the conflict with Azerbaijan. In large part, because of the show and incompetence of the group of Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power thanks to the street“and he has repeatedly shown his support for the opponent and former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan. Margarita Simonian, editor-in-chief of RussiaToday then announced via Twitter that she had also been banned from Armenia.
Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, during her weekly briefing on October 27, said on this matter: “Through diplomatic channels, they [Konstantin Zatulin and Margarita Simonian] immediately turned to the Armenian side for official confirmation and clarification. We start from the fact that if this information is confirmed, it is difficult to qualify this as a friendly approach corresponding to the allied nature of our relations. Upon receipt of an official response, we will determine the next steps”.
10/25/2022: New Georgian ambassador to France.
According to the Georgian media Agenda.ge, the Georgian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the appointment of Gocha Javakishvili as Georgian Ambassador to France. Recall that the former ambassador to France, Tea Katukia, had submitted her letter of resignation last May.
10/27-28/2022: First patrol of the EU mission, meeting of a French delegation from the Ministry of Defence, meeting of the OSCE mission with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and session of CSTO emergency in Armenia.
The first patrol of the EU observation mission, on the Armenian border, mutually agreed between the Azerbaijani and Armenian parties, during the quadripartite meeting in Prague on October 6 in the presence of Charles Michel and Emmanuel Macron, took place on October 27 as informed by the Twitter account of the European External Action Service (EEAS). On the same day, the Armenian Defence Minister, Suren Papikian, received a delegation led by Guillaume Olangier, Head of the Europe-America Multilateral Operations Department of the General Directorate of International Relations and Strategy of the French Ministry of Defence and accompanied by French Ambassador Anne Louyot. And, according to a press release from the ministry “the implementation of the agreements reached during the working visit of the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Armenia to France and the opportunities for the development of Armenian-French cooperation in the field of defence were discussed“. This delegation also met with Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigorian to discuss “prospects for the development of cooperation in the defence sector” as reported in the Security Council press release.
Moreover, according to Armenpress, on the eve of October 26, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovanissian received the OSCE needs assessment mission, whose involvement is criticized by the Azerbaijani side, led by Polish Colonel Robert Arkadiusz Tkaczyk. According to Armenpress, this mission went to Goris, Verishen, Akner and Jermuk beforehand on October 24 to meet the local authorities there and keep informed of the consequences of the clashes of September 12 and 13.
On October 28, an emergency session of the CSTO met by videoconference and in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as all the Presidents of the Member States (Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) as well as his Secretary General Stanislav Zas, who, according to the CSTO statement, provided information regarding “the work of the Mission of the Organization sent to the Republic of Armenia on September 15, 2022 following the decision of the CSTO CSC on the deterioration of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border”. The same document informs that “a firm conviction was expressed that the existing contradictions and contentious issues should be resolved by political and diplomatic means”. According to the Armenian Prime Minister’s press release: “The RA Prime Minister noted that the report of the Secretary-General well expresses the existing realities, in particular the fact of the invasion of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia by Azerbaijani units and the danger of its repetition, as well as the need for Azerbaijani forces to return to their starting positions. […] he again stressed the need for a clear political assessment by the CSTO of the Azerbaijani aggression unleashed on the sovereign territory of Armenia on May 12, 2021 and after that, including September 13-14, 2022 “.
The Belarusian President, meanwhile, made, according to his press service, the following statements: “The war ended with the mediation of Russia, and therefore why do we need other and new formats today? […] The troika of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, which plans to hold a meeting in a few days, should reach an agreement”. Then speaking directly in response to Nikol Pashinian: “You asked us to express our position. You don’t know our position? We want the conflict between neighbouring states to be resolved peacefully. […] The second point you raised is “give me a roadmap to restore the territorial integrity of Armenia”. What type of roadmap? I will answer you directly: sit down with Ilham Aliyev, ask the help of the President of Russia if you need it and make a decision. If you don’t take it today it will be even worse, you know that very well yourself. We don’t need this conflict. […] It’s not as if there was, on one side, the CSTO with us as members, and Azerbaijan on the other. It is with the two countries that we are friends. Yes, indeed, they were in the same state before. But in addition, we are members of the CIS with Azerbaijan and Armenia. We have very close ties with Orthodox Armenia, which is close to us. And Azerbaijan, a Muslim state, is also very close to us. This is particularly sensitive for the other members of the CSTO, including the Russian Federation, which has 30 million Muslims. All the nuances, all the factors must be taken into account. […] And by the way, is Azerbaijan a kind of enemy or adversary of the heads of state and countries present here? No. I can confirm what President Putin said, that Armenia and Azerbaijan are states that are dear to us. This is the specificity of this situation. We cannot ignore it. […] We cannot put the question like this: on the one hand, the CSTO, which asks “are you with us or not?” and Azerbaijan on the other. It’s wrong. I already told you as a comrade: guys, what are you fighting for? Why are you fighting in these two thousand meter high mountains? Three hundred people were killed [in September 2022]. Three hundred people died in an area where people don’t live! Where even goats don’t walk! Why do you fight, sit together and agree! And let Russia enshrine this agreement. But you don’t want to. Some kind of game is going on there. Such a game cannot exist. Because we are talking about the issue of war and peace being decided!”.
Toivo Klaar, the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, also arrived in Yerevan on October 28 to meet with the Secretary of the Security Council and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia.
On October 24, Mark Cameron, Director of the Caucasus and Regional Conflict Bureau of the US State Department, travelled near Gegharkunik in Armenia, according to Hetq media, where he visited the settlements of Vardenis and Sotk, and he reportedly “stressed the continued support of the United States in the issues of Armenia’s sovereignty and lasting peace in the South Caucasus,” according to the embassy’s press release. While on the same day the Azerbaijani and Armenian Deputy Prime Ministers, Shahin Moustafayev and Mher Grigorian, met in Brussels as part of the Commission’s discussions on border delimitation and security. Shahin Mustafayev reportedly said on October 27, according to the Azerbaijani media Turan that Armenia’s proposals to establish three checkpoints on the border with Azerbaijan were “an imitation of the implementation of the provisions of the Tripartite Declaration of the November 10, 2020” given that the routes departing from the points proposed by Yerevan would not be suitable in terms of relief and climatic conditions for transport communications with Nakhchivan and for international transit traffic for most of the year and that the choice of these control points were not made in agreement with the two parties.
In Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Djeyhoun Bayramov, according to the Azerbaijani media Azvision, received on October 26 the heads of the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States in Azerbaijan in the presence of the head of the EU delegation in Azerbaijan, Piotr Mikhalko and he underlined the “role of Azerbaijan in the economic sphere, in particular ensuring Europe’s energy security and the diversification of energy supply” and the “potential for cooperation in the field of investment and trade” while noting “Azerbaijan’s efforts to develop the East-West transport corridor” coming up against, according to him, “an unconstructive position of Armenia“.
Then it was the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Alexei Overtchuk, who was received by the Azerbaijani President on October 27 with whom he discussed the unblocking of communications in the South Caucasus and the activities of the working group of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, as well as the North-South corridor project, according to the press release of the Azerbaijani presidency. According to the media Hetq, his presence would also be linked to the Eurasian Economic Forum, as well as that of several Russian officials and businessmen such as the Minister of Economy Maxim Reshetnikov, the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin and the president of VTB Andrei Kostin. On the same day, Ilham Aliyev received UN Deputy Secretary-General Tatiana Valovaya, with the parties expressing their confidence, according to the statement from the Azerbaijani Presidency, that Azerbaijan will achieve “the set goals by 2030 as part of the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”. Similarly, “Azerbaijan’s voluntary financial contributions to United Nations specialized agencies, as well as its support for donation initiatives” would have been highlighted, as well as “the humanitarian and financial assistance provided by Azerbaijan to more than 80 member countries of the [Non-Aligned] Movement through the World Health Organization as part of the measures to combat COVID-19” would have been described as “exemplary”.
On October 21, according to Azerfocus, a team of foreign mediators “coming from European, Asian and African countries” went to Aghdam in Karabakh during a trip organized by the Office of the Azerbaijani Commissioner for Human Rights and “in presence of the Azerbaijani mediator Sabina Aliyeva” who stressed that it was the first time that “these territories [were] visited by representatives of countries such as Japan, Hong Kong and Indonesia”. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry complained like the latter, on October 25, in a statement, calling on the international community to put pressure on Armenia, “illegal military activities on the territory of Azerbaijan” and in particular the continued mining of its territories and recalling the number of victims of these practices, i.e. 3,345 people killed over the past 30 years, including 38 women and 357 children. Azerbaijan would have handed over a dozen bodies of dead soldiers to the Armenian side on October 27, according to the Hetq media, which would have been confirmed by the press secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Aram Torosyan. Several accusations of breaking the ceasefire have been issued by both parties: the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence denounced on October 22 the firing in the direction of Zaylik in the district of Kelbajar having taken place on October 21, which was denied by the Armenian Ministry of Defence which denounced, on October 24 and 25, firing “at Armenian positions located in the eastern direction of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border“, which was denied by the Azerbaijani side .
According to the Azvision media, the Azerbaijani defence budget for 2023 mentioned in the draft law “On the State Budget of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2023”, which was submitted to the Milli Medjlis on October 24, is expected to reach $5.3 billion, an increase of 17.1% over 2021.
On October 24, Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, at a press briefing said: “We can only be concerned about the alarming trends that are gaining momentum in Transcaucasia, where the West is clearly trying to transfer the patterns of confrontation worked out in Ukraine. We see what unprecedented external pressure fraternal Armenia is under. In order to undermine the age-old ties between our countries and peoples, steps are being taken to discredit Russia’s policy in the region. Many foundations, NGOs and media, acting at the behest of Washington and Brussels, are working hard to plant anti-Russian sentiments in society. […] The West’s unceremonious and brazen approach can also be traced to the normalization of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Neither the regional specificity nor the particular sensitivity of the problem are taken into account. The real objectives of Washington and Brussels are by no means the development of compromises and balanced solutions, but self-promotion and the ousting of Russia from Transcaucasia. […] At the same time, unfounded accusations are circulating that Moscow is not fulfilling its security obligations to Armenia. In this regard, we would like to recall that it was our country that ended the war in November 2020”. During a press briefing on October 25, Ned Price, the spokesperson for the United States Department of State said in response: “We have encouraged the two leaders to meet in the format that is most useful to them. […] It is ultimately up to Armenia and Azerbaijan to decide whether President Putin’s invitation would be helpful or useful to them in the pursuit of this lasting peace. Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia and its ongoing brutal invasion of Ukraine suggest that Moscow has little respect for its neighbour’s sovereignty and is hardly a reliable long-term partner. But in the end, it will be a decision that Armenia and Azerbaijan will have to make”.
As part of the Valdai club, Vladimir Putin said in response to a journalist, according to Ria Novosti, “We have been in dialogue with the Armenian side for many years and have offered to resolve the Karabakh issue as follows. After all, Armenia actually controlled seven regions of Azerbaijan. We said: let’s go towards the normalization of relations, there are two regions, large areas. At some point we will agree with the Azerbaijani side – give five districts, well, they are not needed, they are just empty, people remained there, they were actually expelled from these territories . Why keep them? This is useless. […] And for ties with Karabakh, two regions, huge, by the way, are quite enough. We think it would be right to send the refugees back, etc. This would be a good step towards normalizing the situation in the whole region. But the Armenian leadership went their own way. As you know, this led to the situation that has developed today”.
A meeting proposed by Vladimir Putin with Nikol Pashinian and Ilham Aliyev is scheduled for October 31 in Sochi. The presence of Nikol Pashinian was confirmed in the National Assembly during his responses to the government on October 26, as stated in the communiqué of the National Assembly. According to the Armenian media Hetq, the Prime Minister would have affirmed on this occasion that “the absence of reaction of the Blue Helmets [last March during the capture of Farrukh and Khramort] [was] not so understandable“, as well as the Russian and Azerbaijani declarations relating to a “Zangezur corridor”. He is also said to have said: “To be honest, I want the peace treaty to be signed before the end of the year […] We hope, and this is an important point, that the demarcation of the border will be carried out before the signature. […] Moreover, as we noted earlier, negotiations between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh that would be visible at the international level are necessary” according to several local media including Armenpress. This meeting was also confirmed by the Kremlin in a press release on October 28.
10/26-27/2022: Meeting of the Prime Ministers of Hungary and Georgia in Budapest.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili travelled to Budapest on October 26-27 to meet Parliament Speaker Lazlo Kover and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban. Their talks led to a joint press conference during which the Hungarian leader said: “Another topic we discussed concerns Georgia’s aspiration to the EU and its quest for membership. We all know that a very bad decision was taken in Brussels. I would say it was discriminatory, when candidate status was granted to Moldova and Ukraine, but not to Georgia. This may not be justified even morally. It is a prejudicial decision. Our guest and his country deserve candidate status, as it has worked very hard in recent years. This decision towards Georgia was disrespectful. It was disrespectful to the Georgian nation and state. What will we do ? We will continue to support Georgia to achieve candidate status and accession to the EU. […] We want to have new major electric power transmission lines to carry electric power from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Romania. Thanks to this initiative, we will save a lot of natural gas, which we currently use to generate electrical energy”.
On his part, the Georgian leader said: “Today we also signed a declaration of strategic partnership. […] We appreciate your assessment of the decision taken by the European Council. I also want to stress that it was, of course, very important for us to have the European perspective. Georgia and the Georgian people have always been faithful to this civilizational choice. […] For example, you know very well, Prime Minister, that we have made a great sacrifice in the NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are represented in the EU missions in the Central African Republic. […] We have copied many good practices and successful reforms from your government. We wish to approach you in various directions. We see great potential not only in trade and tourism, but also in the energy sector, as we have already noted. […] Let me repeat on behalf of our government and our people that it is our ultimate goal to become a member state of the EU and NATO”.