Baku, November 8, AZERTAC
Thirty years and 44 days. What is behind these numbers? First of all, the greatness and invincibility of the Azerbaijani people, the presence of Ilham Aliyev, a wise, iron-willed and determined leader of Azerbaijan. From the first day of the Patriotic War, the Victorious Commander-in-Chief said “no-one can stop us”. He fought not only on the battle field, but also on the information front and on the level of diplomacy, and got the upper hand in all three.
What did the Karabakh Victory change? We didn’t only achieve this Victory by liberating our lands. Azerbaijan and its leader rose to a much higher prominence in the eyes of the world, the attitude towards our country changed by 180 degrees. The whole world saw that you can't talk to Azerbaijan and its President in the language of force. Azerbaijan is no longer what it used to be 30 years ago. Its reputation and the weight of its words have increased a multiple times, especially after the Karabakh Victory. World powers are now reckoning with us. President Ilham Aliyev is dictating the agenda of the post-war period in our region. The Brussels negotiations, the Prague and Sochi meetings are clear evidence of that. The fact that major powers and leading international organizations have unequivocally accepted the geopolitical realities of the region created by the Patriotic War is a clear indication of this.
The Karabakh Victory is, at the same time, a victory of justice, a celebration of the right cause. Azerbaijan, which has itself implemented the four resolutions of the UN Security Council that had remained on paper for 30 years, has resolutely rejected the mediation mission of the OSCE. Why? What did the Minsk Group, which represents the world's three superpowers and three of the five members of the Security Council – the United States, Russia and France – do over these decades? What was it able to change? On the contrary, it turns out that their goal was not to resolve the conflict, but to perpetuate the fact of occupation. Attempts to revive the Minsk Group and re-enter it into the circulation are still being observed. What does our president say? No way, we already have enough power to protect our rights and put the revanchists back where they belong. Recently, our Army has been duly responding to every provocation of the Armenian side, showing that there is no point in any revanchist sentiments.
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The road leading to the Patriotic War and the Karabakh Victory took only 44 days. But what is behind this glorious Victory? It is based on the strategy of victory laid out by great leader Heydar Aliyev, the years of patient, tireless and wise struggle of President Ilham Aliyev, the thoughtful steps taken according to the requirements of the time, and timely diplomatic moves. If things had been left to Armenia, the issue would have been resolved much earlier and easier. It had neither economic nor military power to stand in front of us. It only relied and depended on its patrons. Who they are is clear as day. Some, such as France and Iran, support it openly. But there are also those who do it covertly.
When the war started, there was hardly anyone left Nikol Pashinyan didn't call, asking for help and begging them to stop Azerbaijan. Our president bravely resisted all the pressures, showed a position of principle and determination, and said his words directly: No-one, no force can stop us. We will go to the end.
And so it happened. It has been two years since the longing for Karabakh ended and the stigma of a defeated nation was removed from Azerbaijan. For two years now, we have been able to hold our head high and and our forehead open.
Even in the first years of election as head of state, our President foresaw that Armenia would collapse from a political and economic point of view. By saying this, he called on the neighbors to take the right path: you will be the losing side and we will only go forward.
Quote: Azerbaijan's position is fair, time is on our side, and so is international law. The sooner the opposite side understands this, the better for them (meeting at the French Institute of International Relations, 23 January 2004).
The head of state saw that the negotiations conducted with the mediation of the Minsk Group were nothing but an imitation of talks. This situation – the status quo – could not last forever. One day, Pashinyan even said: “Karabakh is Armenia, period.” This actually meant an end to the negotiations. What did our president say? “Karabakh is Azerbaijan, an exclamation mark!”
President Ilham Aliyev first spoke these words, which now seem to have been memorized by everyone, 18 years ago – on 29 April 2004 – during a press conference in the European Palace in Strasbourg, sending a message to Armenia and its defenders.
Quote: Azerbaijan's position is clear and has been stated many times. If you haven't had the opportunity to get acquainted with these statements, let me remind you: Nagorno-Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan will never agree to the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh or it becoming a part of Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijan!
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If we look at world history, we will see that even famous generals were wrong in their calculations and lost wars. It is not only about military strength and the number of troops at your disposal. While these are certainly important factors, the timing and moment must be right. We remember the words of great leader Heydar Aliyev many years ago: “We will return to Karabakh, we will definitely return it, it will just take time.”
At the time, some viewed it a consolation. In reality, however, far-sighted Heydar Aliyev seemed to have foreseen this day years ahead and sincerely believed that Karabakh would be liberated. He did not accidentally say that Ilham Aliyev would complete the work he had started. The Patriotic War was vivid proof of this.
When Victorious Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev gave the order to start the victory march, he chose the right time, took into account Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s strength, the new geopolitical situation in the world and the region, and made no mistake in his calculations. Do you remember what he said 24 days before the liberation of Shusha: “Without Shusha, our work will be incomplete.” At the time, it may have seemed like a dream to many because the road to Shusha lay through steep cliffs and deep ravines. The enemy was in an incomparably more advantageous position and had gathered tanks and cannons there. Our army, meanwhile, could only rely on light weapons. Would our soldiers be able to do it? They did! Having covered a long distance in off-road conditions, we crushed the enemy with light weapons and hoisted our flag on the gate of the castle.
The Patriotic War of the Azerbaijani people and the conquest of Shusha are a rare occasion in modern military history, a unique phenomenon in many ways. I can recall some others off the top of my head:
- The Azerbaijani Army broke through the fortified defenses built by the enemy in 30 years in a matter of three to four days.
- While there were 10,000 deserters in the Armenian army, not a single of our soldiers escaped from the battlefield.
- Children who left Karabakh in their mother's arms and barefooted returned to their homeland on tanks.
- The Shusha operation, the culminating point of the Karabakh Victory, was inscribed in the military history of the world.
- Maximum results were achieved with minimum losses in the conditions of difficult natural terrain.
- The unity of the People, President and the Army turned into an Iron Fist and broke the enemy’s back...
Has there been a similar war in the military history of 21 centuries? If anyone has seen or heard of any, let them come forward.
There are written and unwritten laws of war. An army against an army, a soldier against a soldier, face to face, man to man. Whoever is strong gets the upper hand. This is exactly how Azerbaijan fought the war. What did Armenia do? It targeted civilians, fired ballistic missiles at Ganja, Barda and Tartar, killing hundreds of civilians, children, and women. Azerbaijan had even more powerful weapons at its disposal to hit Yerevan, if it wanted. Our Victorious Commander-in-Chief didn't think it right. Instead, our Army took the revenge for the martyrs and innocent civilian victims on the battlefield. He showed the world again who is who.
The immeasurable services of First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva in the Karabakh Victory are also remembered with a feeling of gratitude. Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, the closest and most loyal comrade-in-arms of President Ilham Aliyev, gave strong political and moral support to the struggle for the liberation of our lands. All of her appeals to the people and calls for national solidarity echoed in people’s hearts and impressed everyone. Her prayers during the war were accepted and Allah granted us the happiness of embracing the Karabakh land.
Immediately after the Patriotic War, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation began the restoration of historical and religious monuments in Shusha and other liberated lands on the initiative of Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva. This noble initiative gave a strong impetus to construction work in Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur and amassed many followers.
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Looking at all the parameters, we can say with confidence that there has not been a similar Victory in the last 200 years of Azerbaijan's history. But are we talking only about the history of Azerbaijan? In the modern era, no state, no post-Soviet nation, no country even on a global scale has been able to liberate its occupied lands by military means and in such a short time. In this sense, the state and the people of Azerbaijan have literally written history. They were able to regain the territories occupied for 30 years with a lightning speed – in just 44 days.
What made this possible? I shared my thoughts about this in earlier articles on the Karabakh Victory. Those interested can have a look:
To avoid repetition, this time I would like to approach the topic from a different angle – from the perspective of international law and justice, the double standards we have been repeatedly exposed to.
After World War II, in October 1945, the 50 most powerful countries got together to establish an organization called the United Nations (UN) (currently, the mandate of this organization covers more than 190 countries, or 80 percent of the Earth's territory). The borders of each state were defined and the UN declared their inviolability. The goal was that no state should lay eyes on another's territory or occupy another country's lands. In diplomatic terms, the main mission of the UN is the peaceful settlement of conflicts, the preservation of international peace and security through the adoption of collective decisions.
But how is the UN fulfilling this mission? Four resolutions of the UN Security Council demanding an unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan (Resolutions No. 822, 853, 874 and 884) remained on paper for almost 30 years. However, a number of other similar resolutions were implemented even before the ink could dry up on them. For example, the international community reacted very harshly to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait 32 years ago. The Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an immediate withdrawal of Iraqi troops from the territory of Kuwait. Saddam Hussein ignored it. What happened next? Less than half a year after the adoption of the resolution, the United States, one of the main speakers at the UN, launched Operation Desert Storm and drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait in a matter of 40 days.
Why? Because Washington had made major investment and was pursuing strategic goals in Kuwait. But how did the international community, the United States, approach Armenia's occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory? Resolutions, decisions and statements no-one cared about but us...
We wanted justice for Karabakh and Khojaly for many years. With the exception of a handful of American states, the international community remained tight-lipped.
The US has not made as much investment in Azerbaijan as it has in Kuwait. But what about justice and international law? America and France, which recognize the fictional Armenian genocide that allegedly took place a hundred years ago but there is still no evidence of it, do not want to recognize the Khojaly massacre committed before the eyes of the whole world.
Or let's take the OSCE, its Minsk Group. We can still see what Armenia has done to the lands it occupied by wiping hundreds of our towns and villages off the face of the earth. Aghdam is described as the Hiroshima of the Caucasus. Only Aghdam? Jabrayil, Gubadli, Zangilan, Kalbajar, Lachin, Fuzuli are in the same state. They didn’t leave a single building there.
Just two years ago, we were unaware of the devastation. But the Minsk Group of the OSCE, its co-chairs from the USA, Russia and France had been shuttling back and forth for 30 years, fully aware of what was happening. They saw it all but stayed silent.
Did anyone stand up and say that the occupation and vandalism should be stopped? The UN, the OSCE did not put any pressure on the occupier, on Armenia, which supports terrorism at state level, treating the brutal crime of genocide coldly and as someone else's problem. As a result, the invader and the occupied country were treated in the same manner.
It appears that this is what American, French and Russian justice looks like.
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There is no concept of big or small, strong or weak states in international law. Every sovereign country has equal rights. In reality, we are seeing the opposite. The events surrounding Ukraine are the latest example. Notice that all Western and NATO countries, including the United States, have stood up. Sanctions unprecedented in world history are being applied against Russia. But not a single sanction was applied against Armenia, which had kept Azerbaijani lands under occupation for nearly 30 years. Not a single effective step was taken to stop the aggressor. If it hadn’t been for such step-parenting, the conflict would not have lasted for 30 years and the situation would not have reached this point.
Despite the obvious double standards and discrimination, President Ilham Aliyev was able to resolutely overcome all the obstacles with his wise policy and forward-looking decisions.
In the present-day world, it is not international law and justice, but the power factor that is at the forefront – if you are strong, you are reckoned with, but if you are weak, you are ignored. Considering this bitter reality, the President set the goal of turning Azerbaijan into a strong and powerful state. He strengthened the army in every possible way and organized consistent, tireless and thoughtful work at the level of diplomacy. As years passed, Azerbaijan became stronger and more powerful, a factor to reckon with in the world. What the Great Leader said with amazing foresight many years ago was ripe in the fall of 2020. The President of Azerbaijan and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev pulled out of pointless negotiations and ordered the army to launch an attack. This was done on the heels of the aggressor Armenia making public statements about “a new war for new territories”, orchestrating incessant provocations on the border and near the occupied territories. The President gave a clear and explicit answer to those who believed that “war wasn’t an option”: we will liberate our lands at any cost.
And so it happened. The concept of a “strong Azerbaijan – strong Army” produced a tangible result. Our people, who started the Patriotic War under the leadership of the Victorious Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev, our brave Army put an end to the occupation and restored justice. We restored it on our own, without any help from the outside. Our lands were liberated by military and political means. In 44 days, the head of state gave up to 30 interviews to foreign media and influential TV channels, conveying to the world the truth about the causes of the conflict, as well as the fair and just position of Azerbaijan.
This in itself is a unique phenomenon in the history of modern conflicts and wars.
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Both the 44-day Patriotic War itself and the 730 days that have passed since our glorious Victory are a clear indicator and proof of Azerbaijan's strength. Azerbaijan, which waged the war of the 21st century, is doing amazing reconstruction work in Shusha and other liberated areas – again, on his own and without any help from the outside.
The concept of the post-conflict period being implemented under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev is leading Azerbaijan from Victory to Victory. It is in the spotlight of the international community as an exemplary model. Mines are being cleared, roads, tunnels and bridges are being built, other vital infrastructure facilities are being put into operation one after the other, and first steps are being taken towards the Great Return. Dozens of families have already settled in the “smart village” of Aghali and master plans of a few cities have already been approved. On the eve of Victory Day, an international airport has been opened in Zangilan. Rephrasing the figurative words of President of the Republic of Turkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Azerbaijan has started everything from scratch and is standing up again. After the heroic saga led by Ilham Aliyev, it is the saga of Karabakh’s development that is being written now. To open two state-of-the-art airports in liberated territories within a year is not something that every country can do.
For 44 days in 2020, ten million hearts in Azerbaijan were beating as one heart for our heroic soldiers fighting for the liberation of Karabakh. They were beating in anticipation of Victory. For two years now, these ten million hearts have been beating with the same harmony for Karabakh, for the revival of our ancient land that was ravaged by the enemy. Our President, who keeps every promise he makes, says that he will turn Karabakh into a paradise. That day is fast approaching.
Victory Day is one of the dearest and most honorable days for our people. May Allah rest the souls of our heroic martyrs, who presented us with this joy, honor and pride, in peace, and grant healing to our wounded veterans. We owe this great Victory to them.
Chairman of the Board of AZERTAC,
OANA Vice President,
member of the News Agencies World Council and the Executive Council of the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA)
On 31 August, European Council President Charles Michel met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The fourth discussion in this format focused on recent developments in the South Caucasus and relations between the EU and the two countries. All sides agreed to step up substantive work to advance on the peace treaty governing inter-state relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and tasked the Foreign Ministers to meet within one month to work on draft texts.
“Our exchanges were open and productive – and I would like to thank both leaders for that,” said Michel. “It is positive to see that quite a few steps have been taken to take forward the agreements reached during our last meeting.”
Michel, Aliyev and Pashinyan also had a detailed discussion on humanitarian issues, including demining, detainees and the fate of missing persons.
They also reviewed progress on all questions related to the delimitation of the border and how best to ensure a stable situation.
The next meeting of the Border Commissions will take place in Brussels in November. By the end of this month, the next, fifth meeting in a similar format will take place.
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Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia and Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Inaugurate a New Motorway Bridge on the Debeda River at the Sovereign Border of Georgia and Armenia
Friendship between our countries is measured by centuries-long history. Our relations are not only a role model of brotherhood and friendship, but a significant pre-condition of the welfare, stability, safety and development of the entire region. This jointly-built Friendship Bridge is a symbol of our successful cooperation and friendship. It was announced by Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia when delivering his key-note speech at the inauguration of a new motorway bridge today.
A new bridge, which is already branded as a Friendship Bridge, was built on the Debeda river by the Sadakhlo-Bagratashen Customs Check-Point at the sovereign border of Georgia and Armenia. It was financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with 7.4 million Euros in total and jointly built by the two countries. It is a unique cross-border project for the region, as one part of it is located on the territory of Georgia, while the other part – on the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia met Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia today.
Face-to-face meeting between the Georgian and Armenian colleagues was focused on the discussion of the main topics of the current cooperation agenda between the two nations. Cooperation in the sectors of trade and economy, transport and logistics, arts and culture was reviewed. Significance of close partnership and friendly relations was highlighted along with a need to deepen them further.
Irakli Garibashvili shared his condolences with Nikol Pashinyan for the tragedy that occurred in Yerevan.
It was also noted at the meeting that Georgia bears a vital role in promoting peace and stability within the region. Efforts of the country were noted inter alia for organizing a meeting of ministers of foreign affairs of the Republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Tbilisi.
Irakli Garibashvili and Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the situation witnessed in the region.
In 2022 Georgia and Armenia have marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. These relations saw several ups and downs for this turbulent for both countries period. The past three months have been marked with intensive exchange of high-profile visits between the countries.
The relatively decayed under the previous government Georgian-Armenian relations have been enlivened thanks to the efforts of Nikol Pashinyan and his government. Georgian-Armenian summits in the last December and this October held in Tbilisi and Yerevan entailed significant mutual steps for developing further bilateral trade and economic relations in the best possible way. These summits largely predetermined consecutive proactive bilateral dialogue at the level of the various agencies, which seems particularly important in the backdrop of the complicated geopolitical situation in the region. Currently bilateral trade economic relations are institutionalized through the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia.
Cross-border cooperation was also on the table of the recent talks between the parties given the sensitivity of the issue, especially after the second war in Karabakh. Some problems with regard to Georgian-Armenian border remain, despite attempts of the officials not to speak about loudly and publicly. One of the examples is village Khojorni situated on the territory of Georgia, but almost completely surrounded by Armenian territory. However, demarcation and delimitation of Georgian-Armenian border appears to be less problematic for Georgia as compared to the more difficult border dispute with Azerbaijan, largely associated with the David Gareja monastery complex.
Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative in the South Caucasus initiated by Georgian Prime-minister Irakli Garibashvili, which designs a format for a dialogue between the three nations and aims at the mutually-beneficial cooperation, was one of the subject of the high-profile discussions. Georgian party underlined its readiness to facilitate or mediate peace dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, it appears that neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan show any significant interest in this initiative in the backdrop of mediation by far influential players such as Russia and European Union.
Nevertheless, both parties underlined aspiration of Yerevan and Tbilisi to give new impetus to the bilateral relations. Armenian officials have repeatedly highlighted that further promoting “special, good-neighborly” relations with Tbilisi is one of the priorities of the Armenian Government’s 2021-2026 action plan. Apart of the issues of regional security, the parties expressed readiness to step up bilateral cooperation in the areas of justice, human rights and public services. Both parties gave due attention to the worsening situation in Karabakh as an integral and important part of the regional security. PM Pashinyan stressed that the existing “high level of political dialogue between Armenia and Georgia” can be a foundation to further expand cooperation.
Meanwhile, Georgia tries to keep sober balance in its relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Before the trip to Yerevan the new foreign minister Ilia Darchiashvili paid a visit to Baku having thereby emphasizing primacy of relations. Attitudes of Georgian citizens to Armenia and Azerbaijan differ respectively. The nationwide poll conducted by International Republican Institute this March, revealed that when answering the question: Which of these countries do you consider the most important political partners for Georgia? Turkey and Azerbaijan were named by 20% of respondents respectively, while only 7% named Armenia.
Despite optimistic public statements by Georgian and Armenian officials about deepening economic cooperation, Armenia tries to secure alternative routes of supply in evasion of the main land route through Georgia. Beginning June 15, the Armenian government plans to launch regular ferry transportation of goods across the Black Sea as an alternative to the only land road through the Upper Lars checkpoint connecting the country with Russia. The road through Upper Lars checkpoint, which connects Armenia with Russia is crucial for the Armenian economy. Armenian cargoes often end up stuck in queues for a long time due to weather conditions and limited capacity of Upper Lars. According to PM Pashinyan, Russian-Ukrainian war exacerbated these problems.
The agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia about unblocking transport communications in the region after the end of the second war in Karabakh, bred fear in Georgia that the country might be supplanted from the new transport and transit facilities in the region, and downgrade Georgia’s role as a transit country. For obvious reasons Georgia is suspiciously observing the attempts of Armenia and Turkey for comprehensive improvement of bilateral relations. The opening of their long-closed border as well as the restoration of diplomatic ties would have tremendous effects on the geopolitical picture of the region. The opening of the otherwise geographically closed region, which has been mostly dependent on Russia for infrastructure in recent decades, would open up and give Turkey a bigger stake in the region’s fate. The role of Iran cannot be downplayed as well.
Certainly, these perspectives heavily depend on the upcoming changes of the security architecture in the region which is directly linked with the consequences of the war in Ukraine.
Georgian-Armenian relations, war in Ukraine and geopolitics
Along with issues of bilateral cooperation, Georgian and Armenian officials gave due consideration to the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on the security architecture in the South Caucasus. This topic has acquired particular significance for the three South Caucasian states amid the continued accusations from the Ukrainian intelligence bodies that Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are negotiating with Moscow over the reexport of Russian products to international markets in the form of Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani goods.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia have tried in different ways to balance the need for good relations with Moscow with a desire to support Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine directly affects Armenia and Georgia’s behavior toward Russia and the West making them to maintain a careful balance between these two important partners. A clear indication of this effort was that in difference of Georgia, Armenia voted against revoking Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe and abstained in votes suspending Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council and condemning Russia in U.N. At the same time, Armenia wants to maintain ties with the European Union (EU) and the West, but is not eager to support Ukraine because of Kyiv’s past support for Azerbaijan. As a result, Armenia has sought to signal its support for Russia without alienating the West.
Georgia's highly measured stance to the conflict in Ukraine, including refusal to impose sanctions on Russia and open the “second front,” what official Kyiv requests, are slightly different from the challenges, which Armenia and Azerbaijan are facing.
It must also be noted that imposing sanctions against Russia, which is highly likely to include significant restrictions of transportation through the Upper Larsi checkpoint – the sole land route connecting Armenia with Russia, will seriously harm both Georgian and Armenia’s economics, to say nothing about associated political complications. Outcome of the war in Ukraine is still uncertain. Had South Caucasian states entangled somehow in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which increasingly transforms in the standoff between Russia and the West, they can easily find themselves as part of a fast-evolving wider confrontation with all afferent consequences. The Ukraine conflict gives Moscow less incentive to greenlight the normalization processes between Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan since they are pushing back against Russian influence in the area. Despite the key role it played in the 2020 war, Turkey found itself sidelined by Russia in the South Caucasus after the end of the fighting. Improving ties with Armenia represents “a chance to regain a seat at the table in regional trade and transport.
Fate of “3+3” format amid the war in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine has sidelined somehow the much-talked of “3+3 Format” declared as an instrument for establishing a lasting peace in the South Caucasus after the 44-day war in Karabakh. But letting alone the conflict in Ukraine, the format is torn apart by significant contradictions between the declared participants. This is particularly true with regard to Georgia and Armenia who have been reluctant or skeptical towards this format for their own reasons. After the first meeting in the "3+3" format on December 10, 2021 in Moscow attended by representatives of 5 countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, Turkey and Iran except of Georgia, the next meeting has not been scheduled so far. Existing and future contradictions between the participants, including refusal of Georgia to join the "3+3" format, reduces its geostrategic and geopolitical value, making the format heavily dependent on the outcome of the war in Ukraine. Consequences of the war in Ukraine will significantly influence on the attitudes of the key players such as Turkey and Russia. In the light of Georgia’s demonstrated aspiration to integrate into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, its participation in the “3 + 3” format, aimed at supplanting the West as a player from the region, appears impossible. To this effect, cooperation between Armenia and Georgia will be important in order to be ready for all possible scenarios. In this regard, the initiative of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev about interaction between Tbilisi, Baku and Yerevan in a trilateral format highlighted at the meeting with the Georgian foreign minister Ilia Darchiachvili during his visit in Baku this April, deserves attention. So far, the initiative has not been developed further, most likely because of the new cycle of Armenia-Azerbaijani tensions. When speaking about the future of “3+3” format, some Georgian experts suggested that Armenia and Georgia should come up with the “3+3+2” initiative, where “2” should be the European Union and the United States. Only time will tell whether “3+3” survive as a geopolitical project and how and whether Georgia and Armenia will benefit from it.
All in all, both Georgia and Armenia, which belong to the different blocs, most likely are not under the illusions of overcoming natural barriers caused by this factor. Meanwhile, due to the circumstances caused by the second war in Karabakh, one the one hand, and the ongoing war in Ukraine, on the other, political leadership of both countries are aware of the looming challenges. Therefore, the changed geopolitical realities in the South Caucasus and around, bolster Tbilisi and Yerevan to build the type of relations that would help each party retrieve maximum economic and political benefits. Rapprochement of the attitudes on the divisive issues, creating stable and trusting relationships with a higher degree of predictability, appears to be the result, which both parties could expect in the short and mid-term perspective. Achievement of this result might create a groundwork for propelling the bilateral relations at a new level.
By Zaal Anjaparidze
Zaal Anjaparidze works for International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (www.iccn.ge) as program coordinator for peace dialogue in S. Caucasus. Zeal coordinated engagement of civil society organizations, youth groups and peace journalists of the South Caucasian states in the conflict prevention and confidence building.
In 2017, he was manager of the EU-funded project in the Czech non-governmental organization People in Need (www.pin.ge). During 2005-2016, Zaal worked as senior program manager for civil society development program at Europe Foundation (www.epfound.ge). For 1994-2004, worked for the USAID international projects in Georgia (Сhemonics International, the Urban Institute, Barents Group), the Caucasian Institute for Peace Democracy and Development (www.cippd.org) and editor-in-chief of "GEORGIA TODAY" weekly (www.georgiatoday.ge).
Since 1997 to date, Zaal Anjaparidze has been a Georgian contributor and analyst for Jamestown Foundation (www.jamestown.org). Mr. Anjaparidze writes extensively about major events and trends in Georgia and Caucasus for the various national, regional and international editions and think tanks.
On 22 May, European Council President Charles Michel hosted Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, and Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia.
The third discussion in this format was focused on the situation in the South Caucasus and the development of EU relations with both countries, as well as the broader region.
According to Charles Michel, the discussion was “frank and productive”.
The sides reached the following outcomes:
The first joint meeting of the Border Commissions will take place on the inter-state border in the coming days. It will address all questions related to the delimitation of the border and how best to ensure a stable situation.
The leaders agreed on the need to start unblocking transport links and on principles governing transit between western Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, between different parts of Armenia via Azerbaijan, as well as international transport via the communication infrastructures of both countries. In particular, they agreed on principles for border management, security, land charges as well as customs control in the context of international transport.
The leaders agreed to advance discussions on the future peace treaty governing inter-state relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Teams led by the Foreign Ministers will take forward this process in the coming weeks.
The EU will take forward with both parties the work of the Economic Advisory Group, which seeks to advance economic development for the benefit of both countries.
The next meeting in the same format is planned for July/August.
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At the meeting, the sides highlighted the historically friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Ilia Darchiashvili has met with the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan
The sides highlighted that the Georgia-Armenia high-level political dialogue and the friendly relations between the Heads of Government of the two countries will contribute to the further development of cooperation.
Discussions focused on the current issues on the agenda of relations between Georgia and the Republic of Armenia. The sides exchanged views on the possibilities of strengthening trade-economic relations and steps to be taken in this direction.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Prime Minister of Armenia welcomed the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
MFA of Georgia
European Council President Charles Michel yesterday hosted the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, for a continuation of their discussions on the situation in the South Caucasus region and the development of EU relations with both countries.
President Michel reiterated the EU’s commitment to deepen its cooperation with Armenia and Azerbaijan to work closely in overcoming tensions and promote a South Caucasus that is secure, stable, peaceful and prosperous for the benefit of all people living in the region.
The leaders took stock of developments since their last meeting in Brussels in December 2021 and their videoconference, together with President Macron, in February 2022. They reviewed progress on the implementation of undertaken commitments and discussed recent tensions.
President Michel emphasised the importance of humanitarian gestures by both sides to promote confidence and peaceful coexistence. He stressed the need for the full and speedy resolution of all outstanding humanitarian issues, including the release of remaining detainees and comprehensively addressing the issue of missing persons, and stated that the EU is ready to support this endeavour. The EU will likewise continue to support confidence building measures between Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as humanitarian de-mining efforts, including by continuing to provide expert advice and stepping up financial assistance, and assistance to conflict-affected populations, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
President Michel noted both President Aliyev’s and Prime Minister Pashinyan’s stated desire to move rapidly towards a peace agreement between their countries. To this end, it was agreed to instruct Ministers of Foreign Affairs to work on the preparation of a future peace treaty, which would address all necessary issues.
The delimitation and demarcation of their bilateral border will be essential; to this end, it was also agreed to convene a Joint Border Commission by the end of April, with a mandate to:
- delimit the bilateral border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and
- ensure a stable security situation along, and in the vicinity of, the borderline.
The leaders also discussed the restoration of communications/connectivity infrastructure between Armenia and Azerbaijan in particular and in the South Caucasus more broadly. President Michel welcomed the steps towards the restoration of railway lines, while encouraging Armenia and Azerbaijan to also find effective solutions for the restoration of road links. The EU is ready to support the development of connectivity links, including in line with its Economic and Investment Plan and by utilising the proposed economic advisory forum to identify common projects.
The leaders agreed to follow-up on outcomes of their meeting and to stay engaged.
The Speaker, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili met with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, H.E. Nikol Pashinyan.
The sides emphasized the friendship and cooperation between Georgia and the Republic of Armenia.
As was noted, given the security risks and challenges in the region, it is important that the relationship between the state institutions of the two countries be close.
The meeting was held within the framework of the official visit of the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia to Armenia.
The Georgian delegation is composed of Giorgi Volski, Sozar Subari, Samvel Manukyan, Sumbat Kiureghian, Elguja Gotsiridze, and Khatuna Samnidze.
The Speaker, H.E.Shalva Papuashvili will pay an official visit to the Republic of Armenia on April 5-6.
According to the administration of the Parliament of Georgia еhe Speaker will hold meetings with the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia Alain Simonyan, President Vahagn Khachaturian, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ararat Mirzoyan.
Shalva Papuashvili is supposed to meet with Armenian Catholicos-Patriarch, H. H. Karekin II.