The Region in Brief


The family of Ruben Vardanyan, an Armenian philanthropist and former Artsakh state minister, is urging the international community to demand his unconditional release along with 22 other Armenian political prisoners held in Azerbaijan. Vardanyan has been detained in Baku since September 27, 2023, and his pre-trial detention was recently extended by an Azerbaijani court. This call for Vardanyan’s release coincides with increasing international pressure on Azerbaijan, including a resolution passed by the European Parliament and calls for sanctions from the U.S. Congress and French Senate. The Vardanyan family says that Azerbaijan’s actions are inconsistent with its role as host of the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP29), which Azerbaijan has called the “COP of Peace.”


Georgian parliamentary Speaker Shalva Papuashvili announced that lawmakers are poised to override President Salome Zurabishvili’s veto of the contentious “foreign agent” bill, which targets media and NGOs funded by foreign sources. Papuashvili expects the ruling Georgian Dream party, which holds a parliamentary majority, to overturn the veto in a session scheduled for next week. President Zurabishvili vetoed the bill on May 18 following weeks of mass protests opposing the bill. Critics argue that the legislation is designed to suppress civil society, drawing parallels to a similar law in Russia used to silence dissent, and warn that it jeopardizes Georgia’s aspirations for EU integration. Zurabishvili has described the bill as “unacceptable” and inconsistent with Georgia’s EU ambitions.


Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan arrived in Iran today to participate in an official ceremony paying homage to President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. The top officials were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, near the mountainous border with Azerbaijan. The crash site, discovered on May 20 after a search operation through foggy and rugged terrain, also revealed the loss of other officials and bodyguards on board. The helicopter, part of a trio returning from a dam inauguration with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, went down under unclear circumstances. During a meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Pashinyan “noted that he has warm memories of contacts” with the Iranian president and foreign minister and that Armenia and its people “are standing by their good friend and neighbor state and people.” 


On May 21, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov met with a delegation led by Commander of the Ground Forces of the Turkish Armed Forces, Selcuk Bayraktaroglu, who is on an official visit to Azerbaijan. According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, they discussed the development of military cooperation, military-technical fields and regional security issues. The Turkish delegation also met with the First Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff of the Azerbaijani Army and the Advisor to the Defense Minister. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the current state of Azerbaijani-Turkish military cooperation.

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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