English Jamnews https://jam-news.net/ Caucasus News, Politics and Society Sat, 19 Nov 2022 19:05:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.0.1 Abkhazia asks Moscow to treat Abkhaz deputies with respect https://jam-news.net/abkhazia-asks-moscow-to-treat-abkhaz-deputies-with-respect/ Sat, 19 Nov 2022 18:34:44 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133647

The delegation of the People's Assembly was thoroughly searched by Russian border guards. ]]>

Russian border guards detain Abkhazian deputies

A parliamentary delegation of Abkhazia, returning home from Moscow, was detained and carefully searched by Russian border guards.

In the Russian Duma, representatives of the People’s Assembly held consultations with their Russian colleagues on problems with ratification of the agreement to transfer the Pitsunda estate to Russia.

The Abkhaz deputies had gone to report that the document, in the form in which it was signed, could not be ratified as it contained an error having to do with the precise amount of land extending into the sea to be transferred. Another sticking-point, according to the head of the Committee on Legislation of the People’s Assembly Alkhas Bartsits, and which “confuses our entire population,” is the notion of transferring the estate to a third party.



In the Duma, the Abkhazian side was invited to “consider the possibility of ratifying the agreement in its current form with the simultaneous adoption of a resolution of the RA People’s Assembly, which will fix the need to finalize the agreement, in terms of adjusting the coordinates of the territory to be transferred and adding a clause on the impossibility of transferring it to third parties.” Simply put, to ratify the agreement with the errors therein, but also an addendum recognizing these errors.

The Abkhazian delegation evaded this offer from their Russian counterparts, saying that they needed additional consultations with lawyers at home.

When they reached the Russian-Abkhazian border, the deputies were detained by Russian border guards, who arranged for them to be searched.

The next day, the deputies made a statement and appealed to the Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, Inal Ardzinba, who then held a meeting with Russian Ambassador Mikhail Shurgalin.

Ardzinba told the Russian ambassador that the detention of deputies is not an isolated incident. There are numerous complaints from Abkhazians about being detained without explanation by Russian border guards when crossing.

“We ask our people’s deputies and fellow citizens to be treated with respect,” Inal Ardzinba said.

Ardzinba also said that in the near future a note would be sent to the Russian Foreign Ministry with a request to respond to these incidents.

Russian border guards detain Abkhazian deputies


Toponyms, terminology, views and opinions expressed by the author are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of JAMnews or any employees thereof. JAMnews reserves the right to delete comments it considers to be offensive, inflammatory, threatening or otherwise unacceptable

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“You are bitter and full of envy” – Georgia PM spoke in Parliament against the opposition https://jam-news.net/the-prime-minister-of-georgia-addresses-parliament/ Fri, 18 Nov 2022 20:59:48 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133604

"We are working hard to fulfill the recommendations, but what are you [the opposition] doing?"]]>

Garibashvili’s speech in parliament

On November 18, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili was invited to the parliament by official request.

Several opposition MPs summoned Garibashvili in order to obtain information on the fulfillment of the twelve recommendations the European Union put forward to Georgia to become a member candidate.

The Prime Minister said that talking only about EU status all day is hypocrisy and the main problem now is unification of the country. Garibashvili also called the representatives of the Power of the People movement who broke away from Georgian Dream and launched strident criticism of Kelly Degnan. Garibashavili also discussed the previous government, attempts to draw Georgia into the war in Ukraine, and called for the depolarization of the opposition, which in the same speech he called “envious people and clowns.”

The Prime Minister left parliament without answering the questions of opposition deputies. Instead, he accused them of anti-state activities and said he was not going to answer their questions.

Here are some quotes from Garibashvili’s speech.

"You are bitter and full of envy" - Garibashvili's speech in parliament against the opposition

About depolarization:

“The first of the twelve recommendations of the European Union is depolarization. That is, European leaders are telling you [the opposition] to stop this shameful rhetoric and manifestation of hostility towards your own country. What are you doing to at least de-escalate an already polarized environment?”

On the opposition:

● You are angry, bitter, full of envy — it’s terrible!

● I want to ask you a question: whom do you serve? I have not seen such a weakened, corrupt, degraded opposition in a decade.

● The only salvation, respected representatives of the opposition, is to elect the clown Khabeishvili as chairman [Levan Khabeishvili, a member of the main opposition National Movement party, is running for its chairman in internal party elections — JAMnews]. It’s a big challenge, but it is your salvation.

● We saw how the destructive opposition attacked the European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi in a radical manner, how the opposition insulted a person who bore a positive message. What more evidence does society need? These people do not desire the success of the country.

● How dare you, Adeishvili’s former deputy [Zurab Adeishvili is the former prosecutor general in the team of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili], one of the main creators of that ugly, despotic dictatorial regime and system that killed, raped, tortured people, how do you allow yourself to come here and attack? This is just sabotage.

On sanctions against Russia:

● After the August war, Saakashvili personally met Russian tourists at the border and begged them to come in, and Merabishvili [Ivane Merabishvili – former Prime Minister of Georgia] said: “What’s the problem, Russian money doesn’t stink.” After that, who has any right to talk about sanctions?

On the recommendations and the status of the candidate country:

● We are working hard to fulfill the recommendations, but what are you [the opposition] doing?

● How do you imagine the future of the country without unification? All day you talk about status. Of course we understand. It will take years for our country to become a member of the European Union. This requires preparation. There is no need to be hypocritical and lie to people, as if something terrible will happen and the country will collapse if we do not get it. I agree that it is important. But I want to tell our fellow citizens that many countries have received candidate status and have been waiting for membership for years, nothing special happened in their case.

About the Power of the People movement:

● “These people, respected deputies, decided to create a separate independent movement and, probably, a party. It is their choice… How can one restrict the right of deputies to freedom of expression. I want to wish everyone success; we don’t interfere in anyone’s affairs.”

Regarding statements made about US Ambassador Kelly Degnan:

For me personally, this form of expression is unacceptable and I would prefer more moderate statements about the US Ambassador. If you have questions, then yes, let’s ask questions, but we cannot abandon moderation.

On “drawing” Georgia into the war:

● Ukrainian high-ranking officials directly said: “The current government of Georgia is not ready for war, but if Saakashvili were in power, there would be war.” What more proof do you need?

● They [the opposition] asked me to prepare charter planes and send volunteers from here to fight [in Ukraine]. The state had to issue permission for this. It was an attempt to draw us into the war directly, and it was designed to ensure that Russia responded adequately.

● If these people [“National Movement”] were in power today… they would turn our country into a testing ground.

Garibashvili’s speech in parliament

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“We are ready to talk to the Armenians living in Karabakh” – Ilham Aliyev https://jam-news.net/we-are-ready-to-talk-to-the-armenians-living-in-karabakh-ilham-aliyev/ Fri, 18 Nov 2022 19:02:00 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133636

The President of Azerbaijan for the first time allowed the possibility of contacts with the Armenian population of Karabakh, but under certain conditions]]>

Aliyev on contacts with Karabakh Armenians

For the first time, the President of Azerbaijan admitted the possibility of contact with the Armenian population of Karabakh, but under certain conditions. “We are ready to talk about this with the Armenians living in Karabakh, but not with people like Vardanyan, sent by Moscow, who lined his pockets with billions stolen from the Russian people. He was sent there from Moscow with a very clear agenda,” he said.



At a meeting with the European Union’s Special Envoy for the Eastern Partnership, Dirk Schuebel, and senior officials of the European Union and a number of Eastern Partnership member states, Ilham Aliyev informed guests about the progress of negotiations with Armenia.

“We also wanted peace, but also the return of our lands”

Hinting that representatives of European bodies had received a message about peace from the Armenian leadership, Aliyev said:

“We heard these messages throughout the years of the occupation, but they weren’t sincere. We also wanted peace, but also the return of our lands, and they wanted peace without returning those lands. This was the difference.

Thus we had to resolve the conflict by force, and then by political means. If they really wanted peace, they would have responded to our proposal.

It was we who proposed to begin negotiations on a peace agreement immediately after the end of the war. This is a rare case in world history when a country whose territories have been under occupation for many years, which has restored by force, defeated the enemy and expelled them from its lands, then offers peace. We offered peace, despite the destruction and devastation of our territory by Armenia and the suffering of Azerbaijanis.”

Ilham Aliyev at a meeting with European Union Special Envoy for the Eastern Partnership Dirk Schuebel. Photo: AzərTAc

“We do not understand what peace means in their understanding”

Aliyev noted that peace was offered to Armenia and “a kind of framework consisting of the well-known five principles.”

It was also noted that delimitation commissions had been established.

“It was we who tried to determine the basis for the normalization of relations. Armenia hesitated at the initial stage. And now they are talking about peace, but we do not understand what peace means in their understanding.

Our position is very clear. This has been repeatedly said before the public, including during my contacts with the leadership of the European Commission and the leaders of the countries that have participated and are currently participating in the normalization process, that is, the United States of America and Russia.

We should have two ways: the process of normalizing Azerbaijani-Armenian relations, and issues of rights and security pertaining to the Armenian minority in Karabakh,” Aliyev added.

“If they don’t want peace, that’s their choice”

Aliyev revealed the details of his conversation with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken:

“Just yesterday I had a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Blinken. We talked about it again. We fully understand that there should be two ways and they should not be confused. However, the statements made in Armenia are very contradictory.

They say they recognize our territory and sovereignty. Not only do they say it, but they signed up for it in Prague and Sochi. This means the sovereignty of our entire territory. We all understand what sovereignty is.

At the same time, they want to include issues related to the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan in the peace agreement. It will not happen. It’s impossible. We will not agree to this. Therefore we need an absolutely clear position of the Armenian government regarding its agenda.

Recently I said that if they want peace, then we want peace. If they don’t want peace, that’s their choice. We have not had peace in thirty years, and Armenia should not forget how it ended.”

“Mr. Pashinyan should know that we are hearing this”

During the conversation, Aliyev commented on some points from the recent speech of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan:

“If this country wants peace, then it must give up very dangerous rhetoric. Armenian officials have recently compared Azerbaijan to ISIS and al-Qaeda. I think this is a very dangerous rhetoric.

First, they themselves acted like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Ambassadors of the European Union visited the liberated territories. Armenians treated historical and religious heritage in the same way as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Not we. They are. They committed terrorist acts. They committed genocide. They destroyed our mosques. Not we.

However, by saying these words, Mr. Pashinyan should know that we are hearing this. He must think about what our reaction will be. In a word, this is not an easy question. I think it is important that Armenia, in essence, openly declares what it wants. If they want to talk about the rights and security of Armenians in Karabakh, then this will not work.”

“We are ready to talk to the Armenians living in Karabakh”

At the end of his speech, Aliyev mentioned contacts with Armenians of Karabakh:

“We are ready to talk to people who live in Karabakh and want to live there. We are ready for it. By the way, this process has begun. If there is no interference from some of the countries that I just mentioned, and no attempts are made to stop this process, then I think it could go well. However, this has nothing to do with Pashinyan and his government.

As I said, there should be a consensus between Azerbaijan, the European Union, the United States and Russia, between those countries and structures that Azerbaijan considers capable of assisting in this matter.”

Aliyev on contacts with Karabakh Armenians

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Is Baku ready for negotiations with NK? Aliyev’s “dialogue” with new state minister https://jam-news.net/is-baku-ready-for-negotiations-with-nk-aliyevs-dialogue-with-new-state-minister/ Fri, 18 Nov 2022 17:35:21 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133584 Aliyev-Vardanyan indirect dialogue

According to political scientist Tigran Grigoryan, Aliyev is trying to solve two problems: to show that he is ready for a dialogue with representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh, but to exclude the creation of a new international format]]>
Aliyev-Vardanyan indirect dialogue

Aliyev-Vardanyan indirect dialogue

“I have repeatedly stressed that I renounced Russian citizenship in order to avoid accusations that I was pursuing someone else’s interests in Artsakh, except for the interests of the people of Artsakh. I believe that I fully meet the criterion of a negotiator put forward by Mr. Aliyev: he lives in Karabakh and wants to live there,” Ruben Vardanyan, recently appointed state minister of the unrecognized NKR, answered the Azerbaijani president’s statement.

Speaking of the rights and security of Armenians living in Karabakh, Ilham Aliyev said that Baku is “ready to talk about this with Armenians living in Karabakh”, “with people who live in Karabakh and want to live there”, but not with people like Vardanyan, sent by Moscow “with a very clear agenda.”

According to political scientist Tigran Grigoryan, Aliyev is trying to solve two problems at once: to show that he is ready for a dialogue with representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh, but to exclude the creation of a new international format that would deal with the Karabakh problem.

What Ilham Aliyev said, how Ruben Vardanyan reacted to his statement, how the situation is assessed in NK, and expert commentary.



Aliyev “not ready to talk with Vardanyan, sent by Moscow”

The day prior, the President of Azerbaijan received a delegation led by the European Union’s Special Envoy for the Eastern Partnership, Dirk Schuebel, during which Ilham Aliyev stated that Baku is ready to “talk with people who live in Karabakh”, “however, this has nothing to do with Pashinyan and his government”:

“If they [Armenia] want to talk about the rights and security of Armenians in Karabakh, this will not work. We are ready to talk about this with the Armenians living in Karabakh, but not with people like Vardanyan, sent by Moscow, who stuffed his pockets with billions stolen from the Russian people. He was sent there from Moscow with a very clear agenda.”

According to Aliyev, this process will develop more dynamically “if there is no interference from outside some countries” and no attempts are made to stop it.

The President of Azerbaijan also said that Armenia is trying to include in the peace agreement with Azerbaijan the issue of the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is unacceptable to him:

“They say they recognize our territory and sovereignty. Not only do they say it, but they signed up for it in Prague and Sochi. This means the sovereignty of our entire territory. We all understand what sovereignty is. At the same time, they want to include issues related to the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan in the peace agreement. It will not happen. It’s impossible. We will not agree to this.”

Vardanyan would like clarification on a “clear agenda”

On his Facebook page, Ruben Vardanyan published a post in which he welcomed Aliyev’s desire to start a direct dialogue with NK, but stressed that “Artsakh should be subject in this process.” He suggested that the President of Azerbaijan “move to a more constructive tone” and clarify what he means by the “clear agenda” with which, in his opinion, he moved to NK.

The State Minister welcomed the creation of a new format of direct negotiations with international mediation. Recalling the resolution adopted recently by the French Senate, which refers to the “recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh”, he stressed that France should also be among the mediators with Russia and the United States.

“War always begets war. Sometimes this happens even after a change of several generations. Aggression today is a time-bomb laid under the future generations of our peoples. This means that the leaders of the two sides must take full responsibility and, no matter how difficult it may be, sit down at the negotiating table and stop the bloodshed,” Ruben Vardanyan writes.

After his appointment to the post of state minister, in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper, businessman Ruben Vardanyan said that he had never worked in the state system, but the main function of an investment banker is to negotiate.

“My experience in business shows that I can deal with very different people,” he said.

As for the future of Nagorno-Karabakh, Vardanyan stressed that this issue should be resolved with his participation, since the Armenian leadership “does not have a mandate for Artsakh to decide how they will live.”

“Stepanakert does not agree”

Ruben Vardanyan actually expressed his readiness to negotiate on behalf of Stepanakert. Meanwhile, the foreign minister of the unrecognized republic stated:

“Stepanakert does not agree with Baku’s proposal to conduct direct negotiations with the Armenians living in Karabakh. What Aliyev says is nothing more than a final capitulation,” David Babayan told Radio Azatutyun (Liberty).

He stated that Nagorno-Karabakh is ready to negotiate with Azerbaijan, but only in the internationally recognized OSCE Minsk Group.

According to David Babayan, they did not even discuss who the negotiator would be, because there is no format for negotiations. He says that Aliyev perhaps mentioned the name of the state minister instead of the president in order to “create internal tension” in NK.

Aliyev-Vardanyan indirect dialogue

Comment

Political scientist Tigran Grigoryan believes that Ilham Aliyev had Russia in mind when he talked about outside interference and attempts to hinder dialogue with the Karabakh Armenians. In his opinion, the President of Azerbaijan was reacting to the speech of the US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Philip Ricoeur. During a hearing in the US Senate, he stated that “an international mechanism should be created to support negotiations on the security and rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

According to Grigoryan, the President of Azerbaijan is trying to solve two important problems:

“One, Aliyev is trying to show that he is constructive and ready to enter into a dialogue with representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh. Two, he is trying to rule out the creation of a new international format on the Karabakh problem.”

Grigoryan says that Baku will be ready to start negotiations with NK representatives only within the framework of its own agenda. He considers it no coincidence that the Azerbaijani authorities present contacts with NK to the international community within the framework of the so-called “reintegration process”.

Grigoryan beliueves that Armenia should not sign a peace treaty until there is a written agreement with Azerbaijan guaranteeing direct Baku-Stepanakert negotiations in an international format.

He also thinks that Yerevan and Stepanakert should come forward with their proposals regarding this strategy.

“Stepanakert should not refuse direct negotiations with Baku, if they are held in the presence of an international mechanism or format,” Grigoryan believes.

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Aliyev-Vardanyan indirect dialogue

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“Catastrophe” and “We’re not interested” – reaction in Georgia to US Senate meeting https://jam-news.net/catastrophe-and-were-not-interested-reaction-in-georgia-to-us-senate-meeting/ Fri, 18 Nov 2022 17:27:00 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133560

"The authorities have separated us from America, Europe and lapsed into the arms of Yevtushenkov, Putin and Russia"]]>


Reaction in Georgia US Senate meeting

The opposition and ruling parties in Georgia reacted to a meeting of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on foreign policy in the Caucasus, where it was announced that the system of financial assistance to Georgia from the US may be changed and be based on “merits”.

Also speaking at the meeting was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried, who expressed disappointment that “we have been seeing a rollback of democracy in Georgia lately.” Senator Jeanne Shaheen also said that it might be worth reconsidering the American strategy of helping Georgia, since the government of the country seems to have deviated from its goal of EU membership and integration.

Recent criticism of Kelly Degnan were also mentioned at the meeting as an example of “democratic rollback”.

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Opposition parties “Girchi – More Freedom”, “Strategy Agmashenebeli” and “It’s time”:

“Georgian Dream’s attempts to mislead the West and present itself as a pro-Western force are convincing fewer and fewer people in Western political circles. The US Senate and the State Department were confident that Dream was not going to fulfill the 12 recommendations presented by the European Commission, which, according to the US, is the only opportunity for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of our country.


Mamuka Mdinaradze, MP, member of the ruling Georgian Dream party:

“For several months, Mrs. Shaheen did not think about Georgia. This only happened when the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy made very positive statements about Georgia. This is just an attempt to switch everything to a negative agenda. I’m sorry to say this. And what she said about funding, most of which goes to the NGO sector, it doesn’t matter.”


Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party Irakli Kobakhidze:

“Most of the funding goes to NGOs, so from a practical point of view, it’s not very interesting for us. For us unfair criticism has no value, only criticism that has legitimate grounds. NGOs should worry about whether they will be given money or not.”


Leader of the opposition European Georgia Party Giga Bokeria:

“Instead of our government’s efforts — in the US Senate, the US Congress, Washington, Brussels — to integrate Georgia into the security belt, join NATO, free economic trade with the US, protect our freedom, that is, our return to the free world instead, thanks to the Ivanishvili regime Georgia is moving in the opposite direction.”

Levan Khabeishvili, member of the opposition United National Movement party:

“This is a complete disaster. The Georgian people, society sees that the Russian oligarch [Georgia’s alleged shadow ruler Bidzina Ivanishvili] and his criminal regime are separating us from the civilized world. The current authorities have separated us from America, Europe and lapsed into the arms of Yevtushenkov, Putin and Russia. This is a fact, and everyone knows very well how the Georgian Dream government behaves in this country and how the Georgian dream turned into a Russian dream.”



On November 8, MEPs discussed the annual report on the implementation of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels. According to the compromise documentBidzina Ivanishvili is no longer considered an oligarch; however, in the chapter on deoligarchization his name and surname are indicated and it is deemed necessary to take legislative action regarding Ivanishvili’s excessive influence.

The document refers to persecution of the media in Georgia, political persecution of the opposition, and an insufficiently transparent procedure for electing a public defender. The European Parliament also calls on the Georgian authorities to send former president Mikheil Saakashvili for treatment abroad “for humanitarian purposes and to reduce polarization in society.”

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Financing of NGOs in Georgia must be controlled – Power of the People https://jam-news.net/financing-of-ngos-in-georgia-must-be-controlled-power-of-the-people/ Fri, 18 Nov 2022 12:42:16 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133534

"... not only should we not thank anyone for funding NGOs, but on the contrary, this funding should be introduced into a strict legal framework. We will prepare our proposals in the near future," representatives of the Power of the People movement stated.]]>


NGOs in Georgia

At a meeting of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on foreign policy in the Caucasus, members of the US Senate and State Department reproached the Georgian authorities for “rolling back from democracy”, and recalled that Washington has provided six billion dollars in “financial assistance” to Georgia over thirty years.

According to Power of the People, a party formed by dissident MPs from Georgian Dream, most of the US funding goes exclusively to NGOs, which means the money is used “not for our country, but for their own agents, and no one should say ‘thank you’ for this. That is why it is necessary in the near future to prepare proposals for transferring NGO funding to a ‘hard legal field’,” the Power of the People movement said in a statement.

Three deputies of the Georgian Dream – Sozar Subari, Mikhail Kavelashvili and Dmitry Khundadze – left the party and parliamentary posts on June 28 and founded the Power of the People movement.

One of the MPs, Mikheil Kavelashvili, addressed an open letter to US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan, urging to publicly separate herself from the provocations of the opposition National Movement party.

On July 22 three deputies appealed to US State Department spokesman Ned Price. According to them, they do not want “countries” to rudely interfere in Georgia’s “internal affairs”. This statement followed the support expressed by Ned Price for US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan.

In a Power of the People statement of August 26, the movement accused the US Embassy of doing everything to overthrow the Georgian government.

“We consider it a matter of honor not to thank anyone for financing our own agents. Moreover, we believe that the current practice of funding NGOs from abroad poses a threat to Georgia’s sovereignty. Thus, not only should we not thank anyone for funding NGOs, but on the contrary, this funding should be introduced into a strict legal framework. We will prepare our proposals in the near future,” representatives of the Power of the People movement stated.

The deputies also argue that according to the “pseudo-liberal vocabulary”, democracy means agentocracy. In their opinion, with their “unfair resolutions” about the backwardness of Georgia, deputies of the European Parliament are trying to weaken the “democratic government” of Georgia, so the authors of the resolutions should be called “representatives of the European bureaucracy.”



On November 17 at a meeting of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, it was announced that the system of US assistance to Georgia could be changed and based on “merits”.

Also speaking at the committee meeting was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried, who said that “[w]hat we’ve been seeing lately is very worrying because we’re seeing a rollback of democracy in Georgia.” Donfried also talked about the lack of democratic progress in Georgia and mentioned criticism of US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan.

On November 8, MEPs discussed the annual report on the implementation of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels. According to the compromise document, Bidzina Ivanishvili is no longer considered an oligarch; however, in the chapter on deoligarchization his name and surname are indicated and it is deemed necessary to take legislative action regarding Ivanishvili’s excessive influence.

The document refers to persecution of the media in Georgia, political persecution of the opposition, and an insufficiently transparent procedure for electing a public defender. The European Parliament also calls on the Georgian authorities to send former president Mikheil Saakashvili for treatment abroad “for humanitarian purposes and to reduce polarization in society.”

NGOs in Georgia

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Russia ranks first in money transfers to Georgia https://jam-news.net/russia-ranks-first-in-money-transfers-to-georgia/ Fri, 18 Nov 2022 11:15:58 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133521

A total of $502 million was transferred to Georgia last month]]>


Money transfers from Russia to Georgia

The volume of remittances to Georgia is at an historic high. In January-October 2022, Georgia received $3,316,000,000 – 41% more than all remittances received last year, as reported by the National Bank.

The reason for the record growth –money transfers to Georgia from the Russian Federation, which for ten months totaled one and a half billion dollars. This is three and a half times higher than all remittances that came from Russia in 2021.

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According to October data alone, Georgia received a total of $502,000,000. Most of this amount, more than $299,000,000, was transferred from Russia. Compared to October of last year, the volume of transfers from Russia increased by 726%.

Countries whence the most money was transferred in October:

  • Russian Federation – $299.28 million;
  • Italy – $35.72 million;
  • United States – $29.98 million;
  • Greece – $19.13 million;
  • Israel – $16.43 million;
  • Kyrgyzstan – $16.21 million;
  • Germany – $15.44 million;
  • Turkey – $8.90 million;
  • Kazakhstan – $8.32 million;
  • Armenia – $4.97 million.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted that remittances to Georgia would decrease due to the war and anti-Russian sanctions. However, the trend developed in the opposite direction in parallel with the increase of migrants from Russia to Georgia.

According to the PMC research center, a significant number of Russian citizens send rubles to Georgia, convert them into dollars and return them in foreign currency to Russia, selling it on the black market for profit.

According to the organization, this may also be the reason for the sharp increase in remittances coming from Russia. The National Bank calls the increase in money transfers from Russia one of the reasons for the strengthening of the national currency.



According to the World Bank, Georgia ranks 21st in countries dependent on remittances. Tonga ranks first, with 37.2% of its GDP coming from remittances. In second place is Somalia with 35.3% and Kyrgyzstan third at 31.3%.

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“The US is flirting with Azerbaijan”: US Senate hearing statement https://jam-news.net/the-us-is-flirting-with-azerbaijan-us-senate-hearing-statement/ Thu, 17 Nov 2022 20:21:04 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133473 Menendez's statements to the US Senate

Armenian experts believe that recent statements in support of Armenia in the US Senate were intended for Armenian constituencies]]>
Menendez's statements to the US Senate

Menendez’s statements to the US Senate

“How can the United States justify any support for the ruling regime in Baku, be it in the area of ​​security or otherwise? It’s unforgivable. Personally, I think this is morally unacceptable,” Robert Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a hearing on foreign policy in the Caucasus.

He was referring to the threat of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh and the crimes of the Azerbaijani armed forces during the invasion of Armenia in September this year, and openly declared Azerbaijan an aggressor.

The senator expressed all his criticisms of the US authorities regarding their policy in the Caucasus to the US Deputy Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Karen Donfried, and the senior advisor on negotiations in the Caucasus and co-chair of the OSCE Minsk group, Philip Reeker.

Both avoided direct answers to the senator’s questions during the discussions. Menendez, at the end of his speech, said that he had never before been involved in a discussion that disappointed him more than this.

The Armenian authorities did not react to the American senator’s statements. According to political observer Hakob Badalyan, the US Senate only made political statements aimed at an internal audience, namely Armenians living in America.

What Senator Bob Menendez said, how representatives of the State Department answered him, and comment from Yerevan.



Assistance to Baku is ‘disrespectful to the Freedom Support Act’

Menendez finds it unbelievable that the United States “continues to provide security support to Azerbaijan.” In his opinion, this is not only “unforgivable and unacceptable”, but also “contempt for the Freedom Support Act”.

“Article 907 of this act is aimed at prohibiting assistance to Azerbaijan in the field of security until Baku takes clear steps towards removing all types of blockades and the threat of the use of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” he stated.

According to Menendez, the State Department has requested $600,000 for 2022 to provide Azerbaijan with international military education and training.

“I am categorically against providing any assistance to forces known for war crimes and aggression against a neighboring state,” the senator declared.

In support of his point of view, Menendez listed the crimes committed by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces during the September invasion of Armenia, including videos confirming the killing of unarmed Armenian prisoners, violence against female soldiers, and desecration of the bodies of the dead.

“There is still hope for a lasting peace”

The senator believes that the peoples of the South Caucasus should not live under the threat of violence, that tey “deserve to live in peace, freedom and security.” For this, he believes it is necessary

  • “to ensure that the peace agreement with Azerbaijan does not lead to ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh;
  • meet the needs there as a result of the humanitarian crisis;
  • to bring to justice those who order and carry out the violence that we have seen in the region.”

Menendez maintains that US aid has upset the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“So I want you to give us all the details that Congress has requested. This is necessary so that we can evaluate any assistance that the United States provides to Baku. I still have hope for a stable peace in the region,” he said.

“We provide means of defense”

According to Karen Donfried, the United States provides Baku “only defensive means that cannot be used against Armenia”:

“We provide border security equipment, which has yielded significant results given the transnational threats from Iran and smuggling routes to the South Caucasus, Russia and Europe.”

In response, Menendez said: “And allows Azerbaijan to violate the actual borders of Armenia.”

He believes that Washington is spending millions to give Baku the opportunity to save money and direct it to other purposes, including the purchase of offensive weapons against Armenia.

The American Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Philip Reeker admitted that due to the efforts of Azerbaijan, access to Nagorno-Karabakh is limited even for representatives of the US government and humanitarian missions.

“Even I have not been able to visit Stepanakert recently,” he said.

State Department officials said that, despite all the difficulties and recent clashes [September hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border], Armenia and Azerbaijan now have an historic opportunity to normalize relations.

“We continue to encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to keep the momentum of the negotiations going, and we do so in close coordination with the EU and other partners,” Donfried said.

“When someone is the aggressor, you must speak up”

With no concrete answers from State Department officials to a number of his questions, Senator Menendez concluded:

“Obviously, the US is flirting with Azerbaijan. It disappoints me when the State Department continues to urge both sides to refrain from violence. When someone is the aggressor, you must speak up. I don’t think deep knowledge is needed to understand who is the aggressor here, who has the appropriate capabilities to be the aggressor in this conflict. This is Azerbaijan.”

According to Menendez, two years after the 44-day war in Karabakh the perpetrators have not been brought to justice. He believes that this is due to the inaction of the US government:

“We have done nothing to verify and confirm reports of prohibited weapons being used there, including white phosphorus.”

Comment

According to political observer Hakob Badalyan, the hearings in the US Senate are of “domestic significance”, Menendez speaking mainly to voters.

“It is no secret that there is a large number of Armenians among the voters. It is not news that many American politicians often act with a bias to please Armenian voters,” he told JAMnews.

Badalyan believes that Menendez’s criticism of Azerbaijan, voiced in the Senate, should be taken as political posturing:

It all sounds good, but one should not take it for anything else.”

According to Badalyan, the Karabakh conflict and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in general is a complex issue from the point of view of the interests of both its direct participants and geopolitical actors. He says that one should not pin hopes on any initiative, no matter what it is called — American, French or Russian:

“We should not be hopeful about this or that mediation mission. We must take into account their motives, be able to work with them to maximize their subordination to the interests of Armenia. At the same time, it is necessary to neutralize elements of competition between various initiatives as much as possible.”

According to Badalyan, the United States is no different from other mediators in the negotiation process:

“The US will not build relations with Armenia to the detriment of relations with Azerbaijan, and vice versa. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan will be important. In a broad sense, for the United States, the region, including the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, is a means of solving a wider range of problems. Among them is the Iranian problem.”

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Menendez’s statements to the US Senate

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‘The decline of democracy in Georgia is alarming’ – US Senate Committee https://jam-news.net/the-decline-of-democracy-in-georgia-is-alarming-us-senate-committee/ Thu, 17 Nov 2022 20:09:20 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133496

According to Donfried, the United States and the European Union are still ready to help Georgia carry out the necessary reforms to obtain the status of an EU candidate country. ]]>

US concerned about democracy in Georgia

A recent meeting of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs was devoted to the political situation in Georgia. The country is showing “a recent democratic pullback after significant progress in recent decades,” Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried said in a speech.

According to Donfried, the United States and the European Union are still ready to help Georgia carry out the necessary reforms to obtain the status of an EU candidate country.

“The United States has provided more than six billion dollars in aid to Georgia, sent thousands of Georgians to the United States to participate in cultural and educational exchange programs, and trained tens of thousands of Georgian soldiers to defend Georgian territory and promote peace and stability beyond… We continue to call on the government Georgia to carry out the necessary reforms to obtain the status of an EU candidate,” Donfried said.

She also appealed to MPs who left the ruling Georgian Dream party and founded the Power of the People movement. Donfried recalled their repeated criticism of US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan and supported the American diplomat:

“Although these groups are not part of the government, some of them, those who sharply and erroneously criticize the ambassador, have close ties to the authorities. We have made it clear that such actions undermine our partnership.”

She also stated, “I want to tell the members of the committee that Degnan is a fantastic US representative and I will support her at any time.”

Donfried was supported by Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who said that it might be worth reconsidering the American strategy of helping Georgia since the government of the country, as the government’s stated goal of EU candidacy is at odds with its direction.

Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party Irakli Kobakhidze reacted to Senator Shaheen’s statement, saying Georgia is “not very interested” in possible changes in the system of assistance to Georgia from the US Senate, since most of this funding goes to NGOs:

“Unfair criticism has no weight with us, only criticism based on specific reasons has weight. NGOs should worry about whether they will be funded or not,” Kobakhidze said.



Attacks on US Ambassador Kelly Degnan intensified after three MPs left the ruling party and later founded the Power of the People movement. The deputies believe that “they need a free parliamentary mandate” to voice all the existing problems in the country and within the ruling party.

MP Mikheil Kavelashvili published an open letter to the US ambassador urging Degnan to publicly disassociate himself from provocations by the main opposition National Movement party in order to protect America’s image.

On July 22, the deputies addressed the press secretary of the US State Department, Ned Price, saying that they do not wish to “rudely interfere in the “internal affairs of Georgia”. This statement followed support expressed by Ned Price for Degnan.

Matters got to the point that even the judges criticized the American ambassador — allegedly for the fact that Degnan was interested in the verdict in the case Nika Gvaramia, who was eventually convicted.

Former members of the High Council of Justice supported the judges’ statement. Three of them said that the US Embassy was interfering with the independent decision of a particular judge, an example of “indirect” pressure on other representatives of justice.

Meeting of the US Senate Committee on Georgia

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Scandal over possible theft in public procurement in Abkhazia https://jam-news.net/scandal-over-possible-theft-in-public-procurement-in-abkhazia/ Thu, 17 Nov 2022 17:34:07 +0000 https://jam-news.net/?p=133451

The opposition says that tens of millions of rubles have been stolen from the procurement of equipment and materials for the energy sector.]]>

Theft in public procurement in Abkhazia

During the purchase of equipment and materials for the needs of the state energy company Chernomorenergo tens of millions of rubles were stolen, Abkhaz opposition leader Adgur Ardzinba claims. President Aslan Bzhaniya subsequently instructed law enforcement to determine the veracity of theft in public procurement in Abkhazia.

Ardzinba also had documents backing up his claims at a specially-convened conference. The documents showed a government-approved cost estimate that was subsequently used to purchase consumables and equipment for the energy industry.

Initially these documents were not published in the public domain and were in fact classified. According to Ardzinba, he obtained them through “honest people working in government agencies.”



According to the opposition leader, Chernomorenergo was forced to sign a contract for the purchase of all the equipment at the prices indicated in the estimates.

“For example, the estimate indicates the so-called “corner”, which in Abkhazia costs about 260 rubles [about $4.30] per meter, and in this estimate the price is 514 rubles [about $8.5],” Ardzinba said.

In total, there are seventy figures in the estimate he presented. For each of them, according to Ardzinba, is up to three times as high:

“Due to an accident on the Achguara line, because of which the whole country is sitting without electricity, they managed to inflate prices by at least 30%. This is 30-40 million rubles [about $500-700,000] excluding VAT. And if we take into account that everything that is supplied from Russia must be minus a VAT of 20%, then we will generally get to 50 million [about $800,000].”

The accident on the high-voltage line “Achguara” occurred at the end of October, after the Minister of Economy Kristina Ozgan officially announced the completion of repairs to replace the wires. A little more than 100 million rubles [about $1.5 million] were allocated from the country’s budget for the entire project to repair Achguara.

President Aslan Bzhaniya summoned the heads of law enforcement agencies and gave them fifteen days to verify the information provided by the opposition.

The curator of the energy industry, Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Christina Ozgan, who is the first to come under suspicion of embezzlement, is now at talks in Moscow. But he says that as soon as he returns, he will comment on all the accusations made to the state news agency Apsnypress.

In the meantime, law enforcement agencies are just starting to investigate whether the theft was committed or not, and a “people’s investigation” is already in full swing on social networks.

For example, the popular blogger Leuan Lagulaa says that he tried to independently determine the market value of the “grounding clamp ZPS-100-3V” indicated in the estimate.

“450 of these clamps cost the country 284,000 rubles [about $4,700]. Each of them cost 632.52 rubles [about $10.4]. So, I found the clip in a price range of 123 rubles to 200 rubles apiece [about $3] . In total, for 450 pieces they would have spent a maximum of 90,000 rubles [about $2,500], and not 284,000,” he writes.

Lawyer Said Gezerdava focused not on a single case of theft, but on the procurement system itself, which makes such theft possible:

“We have a monstrously outdated legislation on public procurement. The main document, the law “On the supply of products and goods for state needs”, was adopted in 1994 and since then it has never been amended. There is no need to even explain how outdated this document is. About seven years ago there was a discussion of a draft resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers on public procurement, and when it turned out to be more difficult to get through than they anticipated, they gave up.”

The Criminal Code of Abkhazia does not contain special articles for crimes in the field of public procurement, such as in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation under “Abuse in the field of procurement of goods, works, services to meet state or municipal needs”, “Bribing a contract service worker, contract manager, member of the procurement commission” or “Knowingly false expert opinion in the field of procurement of goods, works, services to meet state and municipal needs.”

Theft in public procurement in Abkhazia



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