South Caucasus Geopolitical Watch – from September 24 to September 30, 2022

09/25/2022: Armenia accused of handing over two Kurdish prisoners to Turkey

Following the announcement by Turkish media of the arrest of two fighters of the PKK (Workers’ Party of Kurdistan), Attila Cicek and Hussein Yildirim, and the accusation of “treason” addressed by the Kurdish media to the Armenian government, or of “illegal kidnapping” by the opposition MP belonging to the ARF, Gegham Manoukian, the Armenian security services denied their involvement in the alleged transfer of these two people, explaining that it “was not within the competence of [their] service” as well as the Department of Justice. The KCK (Union of Kurdistan Communities) harshly criticized the Pashinyan government stating: “The attitude of the Pashinyan government does great harm to the cause of the Armenian people and their struggle for existence…As a Kurdish Movement for Freedom, we call on the Pashinyan government to immediately renounce its collaborative relationship with the genocidal colonialist Turkish state and apologize to the Armenian and Kurdish people for this incident”.

09/26/2022: Meeting of the Armenian Prime Minister with the French President.

Following the meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Paris on September 26, the video from the Elysée Palace shares the joint statement of the two officials. Emmnuel Macron said: “Armenia was once again bereaved by armed clashes on September 13 and 14 and the situation remains very critical on the ground. […] The territory of Armenia was targeted, civilian infrastructure was destroyed. Faced with this unacceptable situation, France has assumed its responsibilities. While she was chairing it, she seized the Security Council where the situation at the border was raised twice, on September 14 and 15. Council members called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and respect for the ceasefire. Since positions were conquered, France demanded that the Azerbaijani forces return to their initial positions. I said this to President Aliyev on September 14: the fact that the border is not delimited cannot justify advances on the territory of the other country. […]. These negotiations, by the way, taking place in different formats, including under the auspices of the European Union, must resume. I do not forget that just two years ago, on September 27, 2020, a terrible war began, which bloodied the region. It resulted in a new state of affairs, with an increased presence of the Russian army in the region. I want here, while very strongly condemning what has happened in recent days, and therefore calling for a return to calm, to the pre-situation, to the resumption of negotiations, I want to salute here the courage of Prime Minister Pashinyan, who proposed a new approach for the future of the region. President Aliyev, to whom I will speak again in the next few hours, says he too wants to put an end to regional instability and bring about solutions. However, you cannot build peace while threatening the use of force. […] We will discuss […] ways to consolidate the ceasefire to prevent any further escalation, ways to return to the status quo ante, and to resume negotiations. We will take stock of the various subjects under discussion in order to see how France, alongside the European Union, alongside the other powers involved, can contribute to progress in the interest of lasting peace. I am thinking in particular, and we discussed this together a few months ago in Brussels, of the delimitation of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We will also discuss the action of the UN and the OSCE”.

Nikol Pashinian said: “I want to emphasize that our position is unequivocal: the Azerbaijani armed forces must withdraw from the sovereign territory of Armenia, and I want to thank France, personally President Macron, for having recorded this position. […] the speculations that there is no precise border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, because the border is not demarcated, have nothing to do with reality. The administrative borders between Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan became state borders in the first months of the independence of the two countries, since Armenia and Azerbaijan signed and ratified the December 8 Agreement 1991 on the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Moreover, both countries are members of the CIS so far. I would like to emphasize that it is an integral part of this agreement that administrative borders, existing borders, essentially become state borders and that the countries that have joined the agreement recognize these borders. This means that Azerbaijan’s actions cannot be assessed other than as deliberate aggression. Due to the Azerbaijani occupation, the situation in our region remains tense. I think that sending an international observation mission to the regions affected by the Azerbaijani occupation and the border area will help the international community to receive direct information”.

Following the phone call between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and French President Emmanuel Macron on September 27, during which, according to the Elysée, the French president called forrespect of the ceasefire and to maintain the forces on their initial positions” and recalled “its demand for respect for the territorial integrity of Armenia”, a delegation led by Isabelle Dumont, Continental Europe – Turkey Advisor to the French President’s cabinet, was received in Azerbaijan. The parties, according to the Azerbaijani Presidency, “exchanged views on issues relating to the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the negotiation process on the peace treaty, border delimitation and the opening of communications”.

09/26/2022: South Ossetian support for the referendums in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson.

On September 26, “South Ossetian President” Alan Gagloev delivered a speech in support of the referendums held in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson stating: “The leadership and people of the Republic of South Ossetia fully support the holding referendums from September 23 to September 27, 2022 on the issue of joining the Russian Federation in the regions of the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, Zaporizhia and Kherson. We also strongly support the special military operation in the region. […] These are the only correct measures in the current international political situation aimed at ending the massive bloodshed, long-term discrimination and human rights violations in the region, and preventing the deployment of NATO military infrastructure near the immediate borders of the Russian Federation. Achieving peace in the region is a most difficult task, but I am sure it will be achieved”.

09/27/2022: Georgian citizen freed from South Ossetia

On September 27, Georgia’s security services announced the release of Georgian citizen Noukri Kalashnikov, detained in South Ossetia since June. The same services nevertheless reported an ongoing illegal process of “border demarcation” on the territory adjacent to the village of Knolevi marked by the installation of poles and barbed wire by the Russian armed forces.

09/27/2022: Visit of the NATO Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia to Georgia.

The day after the return of the Georgian delegation led by Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili from the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Javier Colomina met the Prime Minister and President Salome Zurabishvili on September 27 to discuss “support measures adapted to Georgia, which aim to further increase the country’s defence capabilities”. A meeting with Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili also took place as well as another with Defence Minister Juansher Burchuladze. These meetings highlighted NATO’s 2022 strategic concept, the European perspective given to Georgia, the implementation of the 12 recommendations of the European Commission such as that of the decisions taken at the Madrid summit, or the role of the substantial package NATO-Georgia.

09/27/2022: Statement by Georgian Minister of Interior regarding refugee flows from Russia

Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri announced the figure of 10,000 Russian refugees crossing the Georgian border daily at a press conference on September 27, while specifying that 60% of them were going to third countries. The Deputy Prime Minister of North Ossetia, Irbek Tomaev, reported the passage of 37,000 vehicles and more than 115,000 people in one week.

09/28/2022: Visit of the Belarusian President to Abkhazia and dual nationality agreement with Russia.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visited Abkhazia on September 28 to meet his “president” Aslan Bzhania, in the seaside resort of Bishvinta, after passing through Sochi to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. He said, according to the “state” news agency Apsnypress: “I am an experienced person, I have been in politics for many years. Let’s talk, let’s think about how to live. The main thing is that people live here with dignity, because it is a paradise on earth and people here are saints. I remember it from Soviet times, when I was here. Therefore, we want to establish not only a bridge of friendship, but very serious relations”. Aslan Bzhania, according to the same media, expressed his confidence that this visit “would give new impetus to relations between the two peoples“.

This meeting took place at a time when concern is mounting among the Abkhazian population following the ongoing mobilization in Russia and when Russia and Abkhazia signed a dual nationality agreement on September 27, which according to the “Minister of Abkhaz Foreign Affairs” would in the near future launch a mechanism that would allow Abkhazians to obtain Russian citizenship without giving up their Abkhaz passports. Indeed, on September 21, the territory’s military commissioner in charge of recruitment, Beslan Tarba, said: “Probably about 90% of us are Russian citizens” explaining that this mobilization also concerned “the inhabitants of [their] republic” adding “We will do [a partial mobilization] of course, when we receive a separate formal directive from our direct superiors“. Statements that have been qualified as a “private point of viewby the Ministry of Defense. RIA Novosti published an interview with Abkhaz “Foreign Minister” Inal Ardzinba who said: “We are not carrying out any mobilization. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Abkhaz volunteers since 2014 have taken up arms and defend the freedom of Donbass, their number is increasing. Unfortunately, there are victims. It is important for us that our guys have been supporting the region not only since the start of the special military operation, but since 2014, since the start of the clashes in the Donbass. The freedom of Donbass is really important to them. The history of Abkhazia is linked to the fact that we defended our independence at the cost of great suffering and bloodshed. And our guys understand that the people of Donbass feel exactly the same. In my opinion, this is a serious and important support for the people of Donbass”.

Georgia, which celebrated the 29th anniversary of the fall of Sokhoumi on September 27, strongly condemned this Belarusian visit through the voice of its President Salome Zurabishvili who declared: It is a very cynical thing when the President of Belarus goes to Abkhazia, in violation of the Occupied Territories Law, in violation of all rules and principles of international law, in violation of our so-called friendly ties”. While the Belarusian ambassador, Anatoly Lis, has, according to JamNews, been summoned to the Georgian Foreign Ministry asking for clarification. The European Union also condemned the move through its Chief Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Peter Stano, who said: “Apart from the fact that Lukashenko has no legitimacy to act as as Head of State, this visit was undertaken without the consent of the Georgian government, which is the sole legitimate authority over the Abkhazia region“.

The next day, September 29, Aslan Bzhania met with volunteers from the North Caucasus, “Veterans of the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia 1992 – 1993” congratulating them on Victory Day and saying, according to Apsnypress: “Your contribution to our great common struggle is invaluable. We appreciate that very much and are proud of you. I am absolutely sure that in the future the history of our relations will get better and better. Thank you very much for being you”.

09/28/2022: Border tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan – 3 dead and one injured – and US mediation

On September 28, the Armenian Foreign Ministry reported ceasefire violations by the Azerbaijani side that resulted in the deaths of three Armenian soldiers, stating: “the recent provocation carried out by Azerbaijan, in the wake of its large-scale aggression against the territorial integrity of Armenia, launched on September 13, is a clear disrespect to the calls of the international community and the member states of the UN Security Council to maintain the ceasefire“, accusations denied by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, which referred to Armenian attacks in the Kelbajar region that injured an Azerbaijani soldier, stating: “There is no doubt that the provocations of the Armenian side, which have already acquired the character of “tradition”, were deliberated on the eve of the next high-level meeting. We recall that Armenia violated the ceasefire reached at 9 a.m. on September 13 this year on the eve of the Collective Security Treaty Organization summit and continued its provocations for 36 hours by deliberately increasing the tension. Even today, as contacts between the two States resume, the next meetings are being prepared, and on the eve of the visit of international mediators to the region, Armenia is playing the same game, making people the victims of its clumsy policy. It is clear that this is another pretext for Armenia to disrupt the negotiation process”.

Toivo Klaar, the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus said via Twitter: “These and many other senseless victims are fueling hatred and instability. Security is only truly possible if borders are respected and troops do not face each other at close range. Peace cannot be forced”. While Nikol Pashinian, the Armenian Prime, called via the same media for the withdrawal of the Azerbaijani armed forces and the deployment of an observation mission “on the Armenian territories affected by the Azerbaijani occupation”.

The day before, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a statement for “Remembrance Day” which reads: “Today marks two years since the retaliatory measures taken by the armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2020 to counter another military provocation by the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia […] These measures, which marked the beginning of the 44-day patriotic war, were carried out within the framework of the right to self-defence and in full respect of international humanitarian law […] The Patriotic War ended Armenia’s nearly 30-year military aggression against the sovereign lands of Azerbaijan, ensured the territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan and restored the basic rights of nearly one million Azerbaijanis. Azerbaijan fought alone to ensure the implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions of 1993 […] Ending the occupation of Azerbaijani territories revealed the extent of the massive illegal activities of the Armenia on these lands over the past three decades. Clear evidence of widespread mining of Azerbaijani lands, deliberate destruction and misappropriation of historical, cultural and religious heritage of Azerbaijan, plunder of natural resources, destruction of infrastructure and other violations of international law have been duly documented and shared with the international community. In order to hold Armenia accountable for its violations of its international obligations, as well as international humanitarian and human rights law, Azerbaijan has filed interstate applications against Armenia before the European Court of Human Rights. man and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On December 7, 2021, […] On the contrary, Armenia is not fulfilling the obligations it has assumed by showing a position of revenge, by creating a serious threat to security by withholding the remnants of its armed formations of the region and by laying new landmines in the region. Moreover, Armenia takes almost no practical steps to open communications in the region and continues its military provocations, thereby seriously undermining post-conflict normalization efforts. Azerbaijan is the initiator of the normalization of relations with Armenia on the basis of strict observance of the principles of international law, in particular sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of international borders. We call on Armenia to respect these fundamental principles to ensure peace, security and prosperity in the region and to comply with its international obligations”.

At the same time, the Armenian Foreign Ministry declared on the occasion of this anniversary date: “Two years ago, on September 27, Azerbaijan, flagrantly neglecting the United Nations Charter and the Final Act of Helsinki, unleashed a full-scale war against Artsakh and its people. […] The war launched by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh is a criminal manifestation of the Azerbaijani state policy of ethnic cleansing of the Armenians of Artsakh […] This is demonstrated by the continuous warmongering, maximalist and Armenophobic declarations of the senior leadership of Azerbaijan […] Inspired by the inadequate response of the international community to the unbridled aggression and crimes committed against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, on May 24 and November 16, 2021 and September 13, 2022, the forces Azerbaijani armies have resorted to large-scale military aggression against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. […] Even today, with the use of force and the threat of the use of force, Azerbaijan tries to implement its maximalist aspirations, even rejecting the fact of the existence of the High -Karabakh”.

Also on September 28, Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan and Head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, Hikmet Hajiyev met with Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan, and National Security Advisor to the President of United States Jake Sullivan who tweeted: “Today I welcomed Hikmat Hajiyev and Armen Grigoryan for direct and constructive talks We discussed the importance of avoiding further violence and pursuing focused negotiations and limited in time. We have also identified concrete steps towards a stable and lasting peace”. While State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said the same day “We are engaging on multiple levels, across multiple channels, to enhance de-escalation and disengagement.” On September 26, he also said at a press conference, “Our message has been consistent for some time. We call on Azerbaijan to return the troops to their original positions. We call for the disengagement of military forces and work to resolve all outstanding issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan through peaceful negotiations. The use of force is not an acceptable way. We made that clear in private. We have also said so publicly, and we are pleased that our continued engagement, including at high levels, including last week in New York, with both countries has helped end hostilities, and we will continue to engage and encourage the work necessary to achieve a lasting peace because there can and is not a military solution to this conflict”.

On September 29, Nikol Pashinian met with CSTO General Secretary Stanislav Zas who, according to the Armenian Prime Minister’s press release, “provided information on the work of the operational group of the CSTO monitoring mission in Armenia“. He also said at a government meeting on the same day: “You also know that in all areas where there is an opportunity – unfortunately they [Azerbaijan] have also achieved certain successes, including in terms of relations with our allies – they are trying to prevent the supply of arms and ammunition to Armenia. We have cases where hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid, but the delivery obligations to Armenia are not fulfilled, including by the allied countries”, thinly veiled criticism addressed to Russia. According to the Indian media The Economist Times dated September 29, relayed by Jam News, major contracts have been signed between the two countries, particularly in terms of the delivery of drones, missiles and rockets.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels on October 2.

09/28/2022: Update of the list of political prisoners in Azerbaijan by the Institute of Human Rights for Peace and Democracy.

On 28 September, the Human Rights Institute for Peace and Democracy updated its list of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, which can be consulted on its website, comprising 99 people, one person less than in the list published on 5 last June. This list includes journalists and bloggers (4 people), members of opposition parties and movements (4 people), political emigrants expelled from Germany (five people), believers (nineteen people), those convicted in “The Terter Affair”. (27 people), convicts in the “Ganja case” (27 people), and several lifers (thirteen people).

On September 29, the European Court of Human Rights announced 5 decisions on the 26 pending complaints sent from Azerbaijan. Two complaints were deemed inadmissible. The other three cases gave rise to out-of-court settlements: 15 applicants complaining of a violation of their right to assembly were awarded a total of 39,000 euros in compensation for non-pecuniary damage and 6,000 euros for costs justice; 8 applicants complaining on the same grounds were awarded a total of 20,800 euros in compensation for non-pecuniary damage and a total of 1,000 euros in reimbursement of costs; and finally Eltchin Rashidov, complaining of non-execution of a court decision, was awarded the sum of 3,250 euros.

09/29/2022: Azerbaijani demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy

According to, on September 29, a demonstration of several dozen people against violations of citizens’ rights and repressions against women in Iran allegedly took place in front of the Iranian embassy in Baku without police intervention. This gathering of people chanting the slogans of “Freedom in southern Azerbaijan!”, “Down with the mullahs’ regime! or “Death to Iran!” followed early demonstrations in the south of the country demanding the security of national and cultural rights.

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