Region

South Caucasus

Stories under this heading cover the South Caucasus – a region encompassing Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as the unrecognised entities of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

For those interested specifically in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and events and developments in and around Nagorno-Karabakh following the 2020 44-day war, check out our sister page, KarabakhSpace.eu.

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Opinion
Opinion: Armenia's Constitutional Conundrum

Opinion: Armenia's Constitutional Conundrum

Despite progress between Armenia and Azerbaijan over border delimitation and demarcation, another issue threatens to hinder the signing of a long-awaited agreement to normalise relations. Baku now demands that Yerevan first removes from its constitution a controversial preamble referencing the 1990 Declaration of Independence. Based on the 1989 decision on the Reunification of the Armenian SSR and the Mountainous Region of Karabakh, the Armenian government has signalled that the preamble might be removed, but that it does not appreciate being publicly lectured from abroad to do so.
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Opinion
Opinion: Are France and Azerbaijan drifting back to normal?

Opinion: Are France and Azerbaijan drifting back to normal?

Relations between France and Azerbaijan have been on a downward slope since the 44-day war in 2020, when Paris emerged as Armenia’s major international supporter, and the French parliament even voted, almost unanimously, for a resolution calling for the recognition of independence of the so-called “Republic of Artsakh”. Already during the war, Azerbaijani MFA claimed that Paris “ceased to be an honest broker”, and this position only hardened over time. Since then, the bilateral ties have been progressively deteriorating, especially after Azerbaijan’s military operation in Karabakh in September 2023: France became the country where calls to sanction Baku for its “ethnic cleansing” were the most vocal, while Azerbaijan started to attack Paris over its “neo-colonial” policies, targeting continued French sovereignty over several overseas territories, primarily New Caledonia whose independence movement has been active for decades.

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EU and US make a generous financial pledge to Armenia as they affirm their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience

EU and US make a generous financial pledge to Armenia as they affirm their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience

The European Union and the United States have made a generous financial pledge to Armenia and reaffirmed their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, EU High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony Blinken, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, met today, April 5, 2024 in Brussels to reaffirm support for Armenia's sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience. The statement concluded by saying that "A prosperous, sovereign, and democratic Armenia that develops its own partnerships and freely sets its own course will contribute to regional stability and prosperity."
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Blinken and Von der Leyen speak to Aliyev ahead of their meeting with Pashinyan

Blinken and Von der Leyen speak to Aliyev ahead of their meeting with Pashinyan

Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, is in Brussels, where he is expected to meet on Friday afternoon (5 April) with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. The unusual format of the tripartite meeting is being billed as "the joint EU-US-Armenia high-level meeting in support of Armenia’s resilience". There has been intense speculation about the purpose of the meeting, and the likely outcomes. Azerbaijan has seen it as an attempt to encourage Armenia to take a more hardline position in its dealings with it, including in the current negotiations of an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty. Russia has been vocal in criticising the meeting, seeing it as yet another western attempt at snatching Armenia away from the Russian orbit. Other countries, such as Turkey and Iran have also been critical of the three way meeting. Behind the scenes there have been a lot of work going on in order to calm down neves, especially in Baku, and ahead of the meeting, both Secretary of State Blinken and President von der Leyen, spoke to Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev.
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News
4 April is International Landmine Awareness Day

4 April is International Landmine Awareness Day

On 8 December 2005, the UN General Assembly declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This initiative continues to be supported by countries, organisations, and communities around the world. This year, the theme is “Protecting Lives. Building Peace.” — reminds us of the need to safeguard those at particular risk, including people living with disabilities, women, children and other vulnerable groups. This is a particularly poignant theme in the South Caucasus where the problem of landmines is acute, and the region is now identified as among the ones with the highest contamination of landmines in the world. In his message on the occasion of this year’s International Landmine Awareness Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Even after the fighting ends, these deadly devices can contaminate communities for decades to come, posing a daily and deadly danger to women, men and children alike, and blocking vital humanitarian and development assistance.” In his message, the UN Secretary-General urged Member States to ratify and fully implement the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. LINKS Europe Statement on International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 2024 In a statement from its offices in The Hague, LINKS Europe Foundation, said that on a daily basis, people are becoming victims of landmines in different parts of the South Caucasus. International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action provides us with an opportunity to focus on this problem and ensure that it does not simply become just another daily inconvenience. We regret that as yet the international community has failed to recognise the enormity of the problem, and to respond accordingly.
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Commentary
Remain focused on peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan!

Remain focused on peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan!

On Friday, 5 April Prime Minister Pashinyan will meet in Brussels with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen. Excitement about this meeting in Yerevan is at a fever pitch. Azerbaijan has declared that this meeting is aimed against it, and asked that it be postponed. That will not happen but amongst more sober elements in Brussels and Washington, there is a realisation that misperception may lead to a more complicated situation. Blinken spoke to Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday (3 April) to try to reassure him – unsuccessfully it seems – but that was the right thing to do. From Friday’s meeting, Armenia will get comfort from some reassuring statements, and a handsome package of assistance. It will be a boost for Pashinyan, but that will not stop his critics in saying that what was received was not enough. Russia may become even more aggressive. Which is why the most important issue remains that of a peace agreement. This will enable a whole set of other developments, including the opening of borders, to come into play. Aliyev and Pashinyan must remain focused on finishing the job. And the first and most important task of the international community is to support them in this. Anything done or said that harms the prospects for peace, even if it is well-intentioned, should be avoided.
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Dunya Mijatovic: "Entrenched harmful stereotypes and prejudice against LGBTI people still prevail in segments of Georgian society, including some politicians"

Dunya Mijatovic: "Entrenched harmful stereotypes and prejudice against LGBTI people still prevail in segments of Georgian society, including some politicians"

On March 27, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, issued a statement calling on the Georgian government to “fully respect” its human rights obligations as a Council of Europe member state, “including with regard to the protection of the human rights of LGBTI people,” in response to the ruling party’s initiation of two draft constitutional laws on “family values and the protection of minors.” “I am concerned about the present political discourse in Georgia, as illustrated by the announcement made by the Georgian Dream Party of their initiative to amend the Constitution and to adopt a new constitutional law on ‘Protection of Family Values and Underaged Persons’. It is reflective of entrenched harmful stereotypes and prejudice against LGBTI people which still prevail in segments of Georgian society, including some politicians, and is capable of having a strong, negative impact on the human rights, safety and well-being of LGBTI people and defenders of their rights. It also represents the political manipulation of LGBTI-phobia in the run-up to elections, which I have previously condemned, and which should have no place in a democratic society, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights of everyone.
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In Yerevan, Stoltenberg says that stability in the South Caucasus matters for NATO

In Yerevan, Stoltenberg says that stability in the South Caucasus matters for NATO

The Secretary General urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach an agreement to pave the way for the normalisation of relations and a durable peace. “This matters for Euro-Atlantic security as we face a more dangerous world,” he emphasised, reiterating that “NATO supports Armenian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and your peaceful aspirations.”  Mr Stoltenberg praised Armenia for its long-standing partnership and contributions to NATO operations, including increased troop numbers in KFOR’s peacekeeping mission. “For nearly 20 years, Armenia has been a key partner in NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission, helping to ensure a safe and secure environment for all communities in Kosovo,” he said. During his visit, the Secretary General discussed the progress in Armenia’s domestic reforms. He highlighted Armenia’s commitment to ensuring democratic control of its armed forces, including by participating in NATO’s building integrity programme. “You have also shown a real commitment to tackling corruption, strengthening your democratic institutions, and upholding the rule of law,” he stated. The Secretary General warned that “Russia’s war in Ukraine is a sobering reminder that we cannot take peace for granted… If Putin succeeds in Ukraine, there is a real risk that his aggression will not stop there and other authoritarian actors will be emboldened,” he said. Mr Stoltenberg called on all NATO partners to “do what they can to ensure Putin does not win his war of aggression.” “The situation on the battlefield remains difficult, but this is a reason to step up, not to scale back our support,” he said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited the three South Caucasus countries from 17-19 March for meetings with the leadership of the three countries and as an expression of support for their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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In Tbilisi, Stoltenberg reaffirms NATO support for Georgia's territorial integrity

In Tbilisi, Stoltenberg reaffirms NATO support for Georgia's territorial integrity

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg continued his tour of the South Caucasus on Monday (18 March 2024), meeting with President Salome Zourabichvili and Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze of Georgia in Tbilisi. “Georgia is one of NATO’s closest partners. We highly appreciate your substantial contributions to NATO missions and operations and we fully support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of Georgia,” Mr Stoltenberg said. He called on Russia to reverse the recognition of Georgian territories South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and added that Russia’s organisation of elections in occupied parts of Georgia and Ukraine is completely illegal. “Russia’s presidential election was clearly neither free nor fair,” Mr Stoltenberg said. The Secretary General welcomed Georgia’s substantial contributions to NATO operations and support to Ukraine. Georgia is hosting thousands of Ukrainian refugees and providing crucial humanitarian and financial aid. “Russia persists in its pursuit of imperial ambitions. And in Ukraine, the situation on the battlefield remains difficult,” he said. “But, with our support, Ukraine has pushed back - destroying or damaging a significant part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet,” allowing Ukraine to re-open grain shipping that is vital for their economy and for global food security. The Secretary General will conclude his three day visit to the South Caucasus in Yerevan on Tuesday, meeting with President Vahagn Khachaturyan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia. On Sunday and Monday, he met Azerbaijan’s leadership in Baku.