25 May 2015, 09:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of May 18-24

EaP summit in Riga; participation of singers from Southern Caucasus in "Eurovision-2015"; mourning events on Memory Day of Caucasian War Victims, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of May 11-17, 2015, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Countries of Southern Caucasus took part in "Eastern Partnership" summit in Riga

On May 21-22, the city of Riga, the capital of Latvia, hosted a summit of the "Eastern Partnership" (EaP), which was attended by delegates of the countries of Southern Caucasus. The meetings were attended by the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, while the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev failed to come to the summit, which adopted a resolution defining the role of the European Union (EU) in resolving conflicts in the territory of the former USSR. The point of the resolution on the situation in the Crimea caused disagreements of the parties. The resolution draft treated the accession of the peninsula to Russia as "annexation". Armenia and Belarus refused to sign the draft. The final version of the resolution preserved the words of annexation; however, they are presented as the position of the EU members. Negotiations lasted longer than it had been pre-planned because of the position of the Azerbaijan's position on Nagorno-Karabakh. The paragraph about the Karabakh conflict stating that the summit participants fully supported the efforts made by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group to settle the conflict was signed only after a personal telephone conversation of the EU Council President Donald Tusk with the Head of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev.

The draft declaration did not contain any provisions about a possible accession of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the EU. However, the Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has treated the summit as important and successful for his country and noted the reasons being in place for citizens of Georgia to make visa-free travels to European countries starting from 2016.

Singers from countries of Southern Caucasus were successful at "Eurovision"

Last week, Vienna hosted the annual song contest "Eurovision-2015". At the contest, Armenia with the song "Don't Deny" was represented by the group of "Genealogy", consisting of musicians-descendants of the Armenians who survived the 1915 Armenia Genocide. Azerbaijan sent to the contest its singer Elnur Guseinov with his song "Wolf's Hour"; and Georgia was represented at the contest by Nina Sublatti with her song "She-Warrior". All these performers reached the final; however, they failed to get into the first ten: Georgia was ranked the 11th with 51 points; Azerbaijan – the 12th with 49 points; and Armenia – the 16th with 34 points. The first place went to the singer from Sweden Mons Zelmerlev, and Polina Gagarina from Russia was the runner-up.

Fire in Baku claimed 15 lives

On May 19, a fire broke out in the 16-storey building located in the Binagadi District of the capital of Azerbaijan, which claimed 15 human lives; other 65 residents of the house were hospitalized. The fire extinguishing in the high-rise building lasted for several hours with participation of helicopters of the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE). According to preliminary information, the fire was caused by poor quality of the house facing. On the same day, they detained Miryusif Makhmudov, whose company named the "Global Construction", which had performed the facing works in the burned down house. A criminal case was opened on the fact of fire. Later, nine persons were detained, arrested and accused under Article 225.2 (violation of fire safety rules) and Article 308.2 (abuse of power) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. The citizens, who lost their apartments as a result of fire, were provided with temporary housing and received one-time compensations.

Pollution of River Terek registered in Vladikavkaz

On May 20, residents of Vladikavkaz reported pollution of the River Terek, where water acquired some reddish colour. According to locals, the reason of the lilac tint was the pipe that discharged waste water into Terek near the Krasnogvardeisky Bridge. The "Caucasian Knot" correspondent has documented this fact and addressed the "Rosprirodnadzor" of North Ossetia. This branch of the Russian agency sent its experts to the venue, who confirmed the fact of pollution and began searching for its source. This is at least the third case of river pollution this May.

Memory Day of Caucasian War Victims marked by Circassian activists

On May 21, residents of Northern Caucasus took part in the mourning events dedicated to the Memory Day of the Caucasian War (1763-1864) Victims. That war put the Adyg (Circassian) nations to the brink of extinction. The participants of the rally held in the city of Cherkessk urged Russian authorities to recognize the genocide of the Circassian people. Circassian activists had planned to make an equestrian march in Cherkessk, but the city Mayoralty refused to sanction the action. In Nalchik, the day was marked by laying flowers at the monument "Tree of Life" and a mourning procession through city streets. A mourning action in honour of the 151st anniversary of the end of the Caucasian War was also held in Moscow. Its participants expressed the need to preserve the Adyg language and the unique culture of the Circassian people.

Ashot Gulyan elected as speaker of NKR's parliament

The first session of the National Assembly of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) of the sixth convocation was held on May 21, where the MPs elected at the vote on May 3 elected, by a majority vote, Ashot Gulyan, the chairman of the "Democratic Party of Artsakh", to be the Speaker of the Parliament. Vagram Balayan from the ARF "Dashnaktsutyun" Party was elected to the post of Vice-Speaker. On the same day, the MPs assigned their positions in the parliamentary commissions.

Sochi elected as capital of 2017 World Winter Military Games

In February 2017, Sochi will host the 3rd World Winter Military Games. It was decided on May 22 at the 70th General Assembly of the International Military Sports Council at its seating in Kuwait. The games with the expected participation of 60 countries will be held in eight sports: biathlon, cross country ski racing, downhill skiing, ski orienteering, short track, ski mountaineering, race of patrols and indoor sport climbing. The organization of the games is under the Russian Central Army Sports Club, whose boss Mikhail Baryshev said that the choice of Sochi as the venue was not accidental and was associated with the success of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games and the availability of the necessary sports facilities in the city.

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