The Region in Brief


Opposition parties are disappointed in the outcome of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s fresh talks to normalize relations with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Brussels over the weekend. The two leaders met with European Council president Charles Michel, who stated that he expects to see continued momentum and decisive steps toward a peace agreement between the two countries, which recognized each other’s territorial integrity according to the 1991 Almaty Declaration. Michel also noted the potential release of more prisoners of war and encouraged Azerbaijan to protect the rights and security of the people of Artsakh. In a statement, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation said that Pashinyan supports the Aliyev regime’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Artsakh. Artsakh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, noted the absence of any mention of the ongoing blockade and the establishment of an illegal Azerbaijani checkpoint. Artsakh officials also accused Michel of indulging Azerbaijan and using the suffering of Artsakh’s people as a political tool.

An Armenian soldier was killed during two days of military attacks by Azerbaijan. Armenia’s Ministry of Defense said 20-year-old Narek Baghdasaryan died on May 12 after a drone strike on villages in Gegharkunik, including Kut, Sotk and Verin Shorzha. Armenian officials say Azerbaijan also targeted an ambulance transporting a wounded serviceman.

An Armenian journalist and newspaper accused of slander by Yerevan Deputy Mayor Tigran Avinyan are trying to lift a Yerevan court’s punishing freeze on their assets until a verdict is reached in the case. Davit Sargisyan, who reports for 168 Zham, published a video report this month about Avinyan’s business interests and wealthy lifestyle. Avinyan is the ruling Civil Contract Party’s candidate in the upcoming mayoral elections.


Protesters in Georgia are angry over a decision to restore commercial flights with Russia. Last week, Russia lifted a three-year air travel ban and decades-long visa restrictions on Georgians. The decision has disappointed the European Union amid Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine; the bloc has sanctioned Russian aviation and blocked flights to, from and over Russia. Protesters fear the decision could jeopardize their country’s bid to join the EU. “Georgia’s alignment rate with EU Common Foreign and Security Policy decisions and declarations has gone from a low 44 percent last year to only 31 percent so far this year,” read an EU statement. Russia and Georgia have not enjoyed diplomatic relations since the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could not claim a decisive victory in Sunday’s national elections, forcing a runoff election. Election officials say that Erdogan received 49.5 percent of the vote; his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu received 44.9 percent. The second round of elections will be held on May 28.

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