The Region in Brief

Satellite imagery of the destruction of Surb Hambardzum Church (Photo: Artsakh Ombudsman, Twitter)

Armenia

Negotiations between Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov concluded in Almaty on May 11. The ministers “welcomed the progress on delimitation and agreements reached in this regard,” according to the official readout. Discussions focused on the draft bilateral agreement “On Establishing Peace and Interstate Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” “The parties agreed to continue negotiations on the open issues where differences still exist,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.

Artsakh

The Surb Hambardzum Church in Berdzor has been destroyed by Azerbaijani forces. The church, built from hewn basalt and featuring a domed structure, had its foundation laid in 1996 and was completed and consecrated in 1998. This incident is part of a broader pattern, as Azerbaijan has previously demolished other Armenian churches in an attempt to erase Armenian history and culture from Artsakh. 

In related news, Azerbaijan’s courts have extended the detention of former Artsakh President Arkadi Ghukasyan by five months. Ghukasyan, along with other former and current Artsakh leaders, was detained during the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh in September 2023. Their detention has been widely condemned as illegal.

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has called for the dissolution of the OSCE Minsk Group. “The Azerbaijani side has raised this issue, and there is no reason for the Armenian side not to agree,” Aliyev stated on May 14. During the joint press conference, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov also criticized the Minsk Group’s activities, describing the group as unnecessary and ineffective after 28 years of efforts to mediate the Artsakh conflict. The OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by Russia, the United States and France, has been the primary international body tasked with mediating the Artsakh conflict.  

Georgia

The adoption of the contentious “foreign agents” law by the Georgian parliament has led to significant unrest in the country. During the final reading on May 14, rival lawmakers engaged in a fistfight within the parliamentary chamber. Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered for massive rallies that have been met with arrests and a police crackdown, including the use of tear gas. Key EU figures have warned that the law will serve as a significant obstacle to Georgia’s accession to the EU, while the United States has threatened sanctions. 

Russia

Russian border guards are set to withdraw from their positions in Armenia between Goris and Chakaten, a strategic deployment established in December 2020 at the request of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. This move is part of a broader agreement reached between Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian military posts in the Tavush, Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik and Ararat regions will be dismantled, and operations of Russian border guards at Zvartnots Airport will cease. However, Russian border guards will continue to operate along Armenia’s borders with Iran and Turkey.

Hoory Minoyan

Hoory Minoyan

Hoory Minoyan was an active member of the Armenian community in Los Angeles until she moved to Armenia prior to the 44-day war. She graduated with a master's in International Affairs from Boston University, where she was also the recipient of the William R. Keylor Travel Grant. The research and interviews she conducted while in Armenia later became the foundation of her Master’s thesis, “Shaping Identity Through Conflict: The Armenian Experience.” Hoory continues to follow her passion for research and writing by contributing to the Armenian Weekly.

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