South Caucasus Geopolitical Watch – from 26 November to 2 December 2022

25/11/2022: Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the international conference “Along the Middle Corridor: Geopolitics, Security and Economy” in Baku.

On the occasion of the international conference “Along the Middle Corridor: Geopolitics, Security and Economy” held at the ADA University in Baku, the Azerbaijani President delivered a speech addressing several points related by the statement of press of the Azerbaijani presidency, and in particular the “Zangezour corridor” project which he mentioned in these terms: “Armenia has no capacity or geographical advantage in the region. It is actually a landlocked country. No transport route crosses Armenia. Their transport network is outdated and does not belong to them. Their railways are owned by the Russian Railways Company. Our discussions on the Zangezour corridor are actually taking place with Russia, not with Armenia, because Armenia is a satellite country, it is a dependent country. Its independence is very symbolic and we are not going to waste time negotiating with them, we are negotiating with Russia. By the way, during my recent communication with Russian officials, we discussed the Zangezur Corridor, and I don’t think Armenia will be able to block this project. As far as Iran is concerned, I don’t think that will be the case either, because Iran itself should be interested in regional connectivity projects”.

Regarding the Eastern Partnership, he said he was “frankly not very optimistic” for the reasons he mentioned as follows: “If you look at these six countries of the Eastern Partnership, you will see even more differences between them than ever before.[ …] as a platform, I think it was successful. Regarding its future, my impression from the meeting in Prague is that even the initiators of this platform do not know what the future will be.[…] The good thing is that the decision has been made to hold these summits every six months.[…] The next meeting is to be held in Moldova, which I also consider to be a very wise decision to hold this meeting outside of an EU member state.[…] As for the mediation of the European Union and personally of Mr Charles Michel, we have supported it from the start. Because we thought that after the funeral of the Minsk group, there should be a platform.[…] to come back to the EU format, it was important, because we also succeeded, thanks to the exchanges at Brussels, to agree to separate two tracks. One is the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations on the peace treaty and the other is our communications with the representatives of the Karabakh Armenian minority regarding only two issues: rights and security. And it was agreed.”

Regarding the next meeting in Brussels, he explained its cancellation due to the French position in these terms: “I can tell you one more thing which has not yet been disclosed but which probably will be. The next meeting in Brussels was to be held on December 7. Because at the last meeting we agreed to meet in November, but then we had a meeting in Sochi organized by President Putin at the end of October. It was therefore supposed to take place on December 7, but yesterday I had information from Hikmet Hajiyev who was contacted by Charles Michel’s office and informed that Prime Minister Pashinyan accepts the meeting on one condition – that President Macron participates also. Of course, this means that this meeting will not take place because of what happened after Prague. The Prague meeting took place on October 6, and then less than a week later President Macron, in his interview, attacked Azerbaijan and accused us of what we had not done. After that, there was this famous resolution of the French Senate, absolutely unacceptable and insulting. Now there will be another resolution of the National Assembly of France of the same anti-Azerbaijani origin. And then there was an attempt by France to attack us through the summit of Francophonie, which is absolutely unacceptable because Francophonie is a humanitarian organization. He never dealt with issues like this. We have the initial text, a draft text from the France-Armenia tandem, full of insinuations, accusations and insults. But we don’t just have friends in the Non-Aligned Movement. Some of them, by the way, are members of Francophonie and also of Europe. So this anti-Azerbaijani resolution was cancelled or they adopted something very formal. So, given all this, it is clear that in these circumstances and with this attitude, France cannot be part of the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia”.

He also denounced the Armenian strategy in these terms: “I also consider this decision of the Armenian Prime Minister – because they could have imagined that we will be against – as an attempt to undermine the peace process. Because the peace process will lead to the signing of the peace agreement in which they will have to admit that there is nothing about Karabakh. And in all the press releases – whether adopted in Sochi or in Brussels – there is no reference to Karabakh. That’s why the Armenian side probably decided to use the old tactic they used during the occupation to make this process endless without any result-oriented scenarios”.

And clarifying regarding the current relations with the Iranian regime: “Everything that happens between Iran and Azerbaijan now has not been generated by us. We only respond and we will respond to any kind of anti-Azerbaijani move, whether in words or actions. […] We will do everything to protect our way of life, the secular development of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis, including Azerbaijanis in Iran. They are part of our nation. I can give you another example. We have 340 schools in Azerbaijan where classes are conducted in Russian language. We have 10 Georgian schools in Azerbaijan. In Georgia, there are 116 Azerbaijani schools although there are approximately 200,000–300,000 Azerbaijanis in Georgia. There are Armenian schools in Iran. But there are no Azerbaijani schools in Iran. How can this happen? And if someone says it’s interference in internal affairs, we absolutely reject that. […] I’ve worked with three former Iranian presidents – with President Hatami, with President Ahmadinejad and with President Rouhani. And never in all these years have we had anything like what we have now. There has never been a military training, two trainings in a few months, on our border with words full of hatred and threats towards Azerbaijan. Never! This therefore means that it is not us who are at the origin of this situation”.

26/11/2022: Joint statement by Civil Society Organizations in Georgia regarding the state of health of Mikheil Saakashvili.

On November 26, 13 Georgian civil society organizations issued a joint statement calling for an “immediate response” to the deteriorating state of health of Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who is still imprisoned. They therefore called on “the authorities and all decision-makers” to “be guided by the information and recommendations indicated in the experts’ conclusions, and not by taking into account the political situation, in order to completely exclude the risks of aggravation of health and death”. According to several local media (, JamNews), President Salome Zourabishvili declared on November 24 to “closely monitor” the health of the former president, declaring that it was “a very important matter for the reputation of the country”. According to, Georgian Justice Minister Rati Bregadze reportedly said on November 29 that the government had offered Mikheil Saakashvili to “bring in any doctor from any foreign clinic” for his treatment in Georgia.

28/11/2022: The Georgian government announces that it has decided to send the draft law on desoligarchization to the Venice Commission.

During a briefing on November 28, the chairman of the parliamentary faction and executive secretary of the “Georgian Dream” party said that the party had decided to follow the recommendations of the EU and forward the draft law on desoligarchisation to the Venice Commission for an opinion. He also announced that as a result the Parliament would suspend the vote on the bill in the 3rd hearing pending the opinion of this Commission, a decision welcomed by the EU delegation in Georgia via facebook.

28-29/11/2022: Exchange of Armenian-Azerbaijani statements regarding the cancellation of the December 7 meeting in Brussels against the backdrop of reciprocal and daily accusations of breaking a ceasefire.

In an interview with Armenpress on November 28, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan commented on Azerbaijan’s decision to cancel the meeting scheduled in Brussels on December 7 as follows: “We continue to adhere to this agreement [found in Prague] and express once again our desire to organize a meeting of the Prime Minister of Armenia, the President of Azerbaijan, the President of France and the President of the European Council within an acceptable period of time. We believe that the meeting held in Prague in this format was quite effective” and he replied to the request of the Azerbaijani side to “conduct the process of delimitation of the borders on the basis of historical maps” in these words: “Such declarations violate the commitment made in Prague and Sochi to carry out the delimitation between the two countries on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations. and the Declaration of Alma-Ata. Under this commitment, the delimitation must be carried out on the basis of the legal acts which existed at the time of the collapse of the USSR in 1991”. He also added: “Repeatedly mentioning in his speeches that Armenia has recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the President of Azerbaijan never states that Azerbaijan has also recognized the territorial integrity of Armenia. […] The President of Azerbaijan […] declares that if Armenia does not sign the peace treaty, there will be no peace. This means that at this stage the responsibility for any possible escalation lies with the President of Azerbaijan”.

Regarding humanitarian issues such as Armenian minefields in Azerbaijani territory, he said: “The Republic of Armenia has unilaterally handed over to Azerbaijan all available minefield maps, despite the absence of such commitment both within the framework of trilateral agreements and international law. In addition, we have declared our readiness to support the decryption of transferred cards in cooperation with international partners. At the same time, it should be pointed out that mines were laid in Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring regions during the First Karabakh War, and this was mainly carried out by Azerbaijan, which controlled these areas during the First War. […] We do not deny that the Armenian Armed Forces carry out mine-laying work on the sovereign territory of Armenia and this is due to the constantly high risk of further military aggression by Azerbaijan. […] As for the accusations coming from Azerbaijan that units of the Armenian Armed Forces continue to be deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh, they in no way correspond to reality”.

In response, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a comment through its press service and through its new spokesperson Aykhan Hajizada the next day calling the remarks made above “a completely unfounded and unacceptable attempt [ …] to mislead and distort the essence of the negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia” by recalling “the next trilateral meeting in the same format between the leaders was agreed not in Prague, but in Brussels on August 31. Notwithstanding Brussels’ agreement on the next meeting, Azerbaijan’s bona fide consent to the Prague meeting and the French President’s participation alongside European Council President Charles Michel was unfortunately subsequently hijacked. In fact, it demonstrated that the French side is not an impartial and fair mediator. Unlike Armenia, Azerbaijan did not give up negotiations between the leaders and pledged to continue negotiations in accordance with the Brussels agreement”.

He also shared the Azerbaijani position on border delimitation: “In general, the reference to the United Nations Charter and the Alma-Ata Declaration was made in the context of the mentioned principles, and it is well known to the Armenian side that there are no provisions in these meetings regarding maps that could serve as a basis for the delimitation process. The delimitation process should be carried out on the basis of the analysis of all legally significant documents”. According to him, “The assertion that Azerbaijan occupied the territories of Armenia, following clashes that took place in September this year after Armenian provocations against the military positions of Azerbaijan and the placement of landmines on the undemarcated border, is groundless [and] It is no secret that despite the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan for 30 years and all the opportunities it has had Azerbaijan during military operations, Azerbaijan did not attack the territory of Armenia”.

He also wanted to make the following clarifications regarding the mine maps: “It should be noted that it is well known that the accuracy of the landmine maps, the existence of which has been completely denied by Armenia in the 8 months after the signing of the trilateral declaration of November 10, 2020, but which was then submitted following international pressure, is only 25%. At the same time, it is also well known that more than 55% of recent landmine explosions took place in areas outside the maps provided by Armenia, and 268 people were victims of landmines after the war. The attitude of Armenia, which occupied the territories of Azerbaijan for 30 years and laid landmines along the entire past line of contact, distorting the facts and claiming that Azerbaijan is the cause of the mine threat earthly, is at the ultimate level of hypocrisy“.

Reciprocal accusations of breaking the ceasefire have multiplied again this week. The Armenian Ministry of Defence denounced on November 25 and 26, 27, 29, 30 Azerbaijani fire “in the direction of the Armenian positions located in the eastern part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border”. On November 26, denunciations also concerned Azerbaijani fire “in the direction of Armenian positions located in the south-eastern part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border”. The same ministry has consistently denied all accusations by the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry of firing on November 26 “in the direction of the Astaf settlement in the Dashkasan region” as well as by “members of an illegal Armenian armed detachment […] in the directions of Aghdam and Khojavend”; on November 27 “in the direction of the settlement of Yellija in the Kelbajar region, the settlement of Astaf in the Dashkasan region and the settlement of Aghdam in the Tovuz region” as well as “in the direction of the colony of Yellija in the region of Kelbajar” as well as by “members of an illegal Armenian detachment […] in the directions of the regions of Choucha, Khojavend, Khojaly and Aghdam” as well as “in the directions of the regions of Aghdam, Khojavend and Terter” then “in the direction of the regions of Khojavend, Fizouli, Terter and Aghdam“; on November 28 by an “illegal Armenian detachment […] towards the regions of Fizuli, Terter, Khojavend, Shusha and Khojaly”; on November 29 “in the direction of the settlement of Yellija in the Kelbajar region, the settlement of Hajilar in the Lachin region and Garagol” as well as the shooting of an “illegal Armenian armed detachment […] in the direction of the region of Agdam”;
and on November 30 “in the direction of the settlement of Bezirkhana in the region of Kelbajar” and “in the directions of the regions of Choucha and Aghdam“.

The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry also expressed regret on November 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and December 1 regarding the “dismissive attitude of the Russian Federation peacekeeping contingent to [its] appeals” reiterating that “the mention of the names of settlements on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan by fictitious Armenian toponyms, including the use of the expression “territory of Nagorno-Karabakh” [was] INADMISSIBLE”.

29/11/2022: Meeting between the “President of South Ossetia” and the “Head of the Republic of Crimea” and visit to volunteer fighters.

The “President of South Ossetia”, Alan Gagloev, met the “Head of the Republic of Crimea”, Sergei Aksenov, on November 29 in Simferopol with whom he discussed “topical issues of bilateral cooperation” and to whom he awarded the Order of Friendship. The latter, according to the press release of the site of the “South Ossetian Presidency”, regretted that “within the framework of the previously signed agreement between the republics, it was not possible to implement the plans described in the context of the pandemic” while declaring himself “happy” to see his “counterpart”. The South Ossetian leader meanwhile said: “South Ossetia is always ready to stand by your side. South and North Ossetian soldiers take part in a special military operation. They protect our common values, our history, our common homeland – the Russian Federation”. According to the South Ossetian “state” news agency RES [which celebrated its 27th birthday on December 2], the South Ossetian leader also visited the town of Melitopol where he met “soldiers from the 4th base military and volunteers from South Ossetia” to whom he handed over equipment: “quadrocopters, […] thermal imagers, […] walkie-talkies […] winter military equipment, […] emergency médications […] generators, as well as […] food“. The same meda informed that the leader of Crimea said he was ready to “receive representatives of the government and companies of South Ossetia on the peninsula and discuss areas of cooperation”.

29/11/2022: Letter from the Commissioner for Human Rights of Abkhazia to the “Chairman of the People’s Assembly”.

Abkhazia’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Asida Shakryl, has sent a letter to Abkhaz “People’s Assembly Speaker” Lasha Ashuba, in which she insists on “the need for her to report during ‘a session of Parliament on violations of the norms of the Constitution of Abkhazia guaranteeing human rights and freedoms, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Abkhazia’ in a context where a discussion should take place on “the issue of ratification of the agreement between the Government of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Government of the Russian Federation on the transfer to the Russian Federation of ownership of a facility located on the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia and the procedure for its use“, namely the Pitsunda dacha.

30/11/2022: The French National Assembly adopts resolution n°37 inviting the government to increase France’s support for Armenia with regard to its defence capabilities and to consider “personal economic sanctions“.

On November 30, the French National Assembly unanimously adopted (by 256 votes for and 0 against) resolution n°37 “aiming to demand an end to Azerbaijan’s aggression against
of Armenia and to establish a lasting peace in the South Caucasus”
. It condemns “in the strongest terms, the military aggression of Azerbaijan on September 13 and 14 against the southern and south-eastern regions of the territory of the Republic of Armenia, in violation of its sovereignty” and calls for “an end to the military occupation by Azerbaijan of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia” by demanding “strict compliance with the terms of the trilateral declarations of November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021”.

Above all, it invites “the Government to work within the United Nations Organization with a view to deploying an international interposition force capable of ensuring the end of hostilities in the South Caucasus and the safety of civilian populations” and emphasizes “the importance of the role of the Security Council to endorse an agreement of the parties concerned on the deployment of such a force“. In addition, it calls “on the Government to mobilize so that an international and independent investigation can be conducted into the abuses allegedly committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces against Armenian soldiers and civilians” and invites “to this end , the Republic of Armenia to join the International Criminal Court in order to fight against impunity”.

Beyond that, it invites the government to “consider the imposition of personal economic sanctions, if the attacks and the occupation of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia were to continue” as well as “the stakeholders, the Minsk group, the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to make every effort to preserve, in a sustainable manner, the cultural and religious heritage of Armenia in the areas under Azerbaijani control of the Armenian territory and of Nagorno-Karabakh” Moreover, it invites the government to “mobilize diplomatically so that a lasting solution can be implemented concerning the security of the Armenian populations of Nagorno-Karabakh”.

Finally, it “invites the Government to increase France’s support for the Republic of Armenia, particularly with regard to humanitarian aid, and to study the strengthening of its defence capabilities“.

The following day, December 1, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry published comments in response to this resolution calling it “another provocation by France” aimed at “undermining” the process of normalizing relations between the two countries, and demonstrating “ once again clearly the biased political position of France”. He said: “For almost 25 years, France, using its mediating role as an excuse, provided no assessment of Armenia’s policy of aggression and occupation, and therefore did not attempted to resolve the conflict. Conducting an open campaign of defamation and accusations against Azerbaijan, after our country ended the occupation and resolved the conflict on its own, is a manifestation of France’s biased intention”.

Armenian National Assembly Speaker Alen Simonian hailed the resolution via Twitter saying, “We salute France’s leadership in supporting Armenia against the policies and aggressive behaviour of the Azerbaijan, and thank the National Assembly of the French Republic for unanimously adopting the appropriate resolution. Long live France !“.

1-2/12/2022: Visit of the Chairman of the Russian Duma to Abkhazia.

State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin arrived in Abkhazia on December 1, welcomed by “Chairman of the People’s Assembly of Abkhazia” Lasha Ashuba, in Sokhumi, where he also met with “President” Aslan Bzhania and Abkhaz “deputies”, after laying flowers at the “memorial of the Abkhazian people who died during the Patriotic War”. According to the Duma statement, he said: “Relations between our countries are developing, and it is really something easy for us, because we have a common history, common religions, culture, common traditions, and we understand each other“. The discussions focused, according to him, on “common security, the harmonization of legislation in the fields of social affairs, customs, [and] tax policy“. An agreement on cooperation between the Russian State Duma and the People’s Assembly of the “Republic of Abkhazia” was signed on the same day, Vyacheslav Volodin explaining that “a high-level commission [had] been created so that issues related to inter parliamentary cooperation, issues related to the harmonization of the laws of our countries [can] be discussed together”. The Abkhazian leader thanked, according to the communiqué of the “Abkhaz Presidency”, the Russian leaders thanks to whom the “problems of the power supply” of the past few weeks would have been solved.

1/12/2022: 29th OSCE Ministerial Council in Lodz: Armenia and Hungary announce the restoration of full diplomatic relations.

On the sidelines of the 29th OSCE Ministerial Council in Lodz, Poland, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan met with his Hungarian counterpart, Péter Szijjártó, before issuing a joint statement which reads: “The two parties agreed that there are deep historical and cultural ties, as well as a shared Christian heritage between the Armenian and Hungarian nations and stressed the importance of improving relations. between the Republic of Armenia and Hungary. They also underlined the role of the Armenian community in Hungary, as an officially recognized national minority, which is one of the bridges between the two nations. The ministers exchanged views on the current state of relations between Armenia and Hungary. They agreed to restore full diplomatic relations, expressing their intention to open a new chapter in their relations based on mutual trust and respect for international law. As a follow-up to the meeting, the two governments will appoint non-resident ambassadors to explore opportunities for developing their relationship – particularly in the areas of trade, culture, education and tourism. The necessary diplomatic and administrative steps will begin in the coming days”. The Hungarian MFA said via FacebookThis is correct in the case of two Christian countries”.

As a reminder, these relations had been broken in 2012 following the extradition by Hungary of an Azerbaijani lieutenant, Ramil Safarov, convicted of the murder with an ax of an Armenian army officer in 2004, at the occasion of a joint NATO training program in Budapest. This extradition had allowed the murderer to be pardoned by the Azerbaijani president.

Previous Article

Rakija, between tradition and nationalist sentiment.

Next Article

European Union Geopolitical Watch – From 26 November to 02 December 2022