Last week, Armenia offered peace treaty project to Azerbaijan. Baku started studying Yerevan's draft peace proposals. Armenian Foreign Minister visited Turkey, committed to opening Armenia-Turkey border. As for Turkey, the quake-hit country said it has completed search and rescue work in most earthquake zones.
On February 16, Armenia has presented Azerbaijan with a project for a full peace treaty to end the decades-long dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said.
Copies were sent to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) members Russia, the United States and France. These countries are co-chairs of the Minsk Group set up by the OSCE in 1992 to seek a peaceful solution to the ethnic conflict.
Pashinyan’s remarks came amid the latest standoff between the two South Caucasus rivals over a two-month blockade -- led by protesting Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental activists -- of the Lachin Corridor, the only land route linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenians and others have accused Baku of staging the Lachin protest to put pressure on Yerevan and Karabakh Armenians, noting that spontaneous protests are routinely dispersed quickly by police in Azerbaijan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been sparring over Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. The mainly ethnic Armenian enclave is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994 with some 30,000 dead.
During a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan regained control of much of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories held by Armenian forces. More than 6,500 people died in the fighting, which was ended by a Russia-brokered peace agreement.
Later on February 18, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met on Saturday in Munich Security Conference. Pashinyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev's first face-to-face encounter since October began with talks hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, following which both sides said progress on a peace deal had been made.
But at a subsequent panel discussion on "building security in the South Caucasus", the two men demonstrated how far apart the two sides remain on Nagorno-Karabakh, the Lachin corridor blockade and the direction of future negotiations.
Baku is studying Yerevan's draft peace proposals, Aliyev said. Russian news agencies reported that Aliyev also said Baku had proposed creating checkpoints on the border with Armenia.
After the trilateral talks with Blinken, Pashinyan's office said he had reaffirmed Armenia's determination to reach an agreement that will "truly guarantee long-term peace and stability in the region".
Aliyev said: "I think (the peace agreement) could be a good example of how countries which had serious, historical disagreements can get together and turn the page of hostility."
On February 15, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan made a historic visit to Turkey following the brief opening of the Armenia-Turkey border for the first time in three decades.
“I consider it symbolic that on Saturday the Armenian-Turkish border, which has been closed for 30 years, was opened for Armenian trucks loaded with humanitarian aid heading to Adiyaman,” Mirzoyan said during a joint press conference with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The Armenia-Turkey border reopened briefly for the delivery of humanitarian aid following last week’s devastating earthquake. At least 40,000 people have been killed after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria.
On February 11, Armenia sent five trucks carrying 100 tons of food, medicine, water and other emergency supplies to Turkey. The trucks crossed the Margara bridge, which connects the Armenian village Margara with the Turkish village Alican. A second convoy of trucks transported supplies to Turkey Tuesday night.
Armenia also sent 27 rescue workers to Turkey and 29 to Syria.
Cavusoglu said that the humanitarian assistance would bolster negotiations on restoring diplomatic ties between Armenia and Turkey and opening their shared border.
“The normalization process continues in the South Caucasus,” Cavusoglu said on Wednesday during his joint press conference with Mirzoyan. “We believe that the understanding of cooperation we have put forward in the humanitarian field will support this process.”
Mirzoyan said that the foreign ministers had reached an agreement to jointly repair the Ani bridge and restore other infrastructure along the Armenia-Turkey border.
Talks between Turkey and Armenia to establish bilateral relations have been ongoing since December 2021. On July 1, 2022, special envoys appointed for the normalization process announced the first major breakthrough in negotiations. The envoys agreed to “enable the crossing of the land border between Armenia and Turkey by third-country citizens.” They also agreed to commence direct air cargo trade between the two countries.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had their first ever phone call that month, and three months later held their first meeting in Prague on October 6 on the sidelines of a pan-European summit.
On January 6, the Armenian Foreign Ministry announced with little fanfare that Turkey had lifted its ban on direct cargo transportation from Armenia.
However, negotiations between the two countries have since stalled following Azerbaijan’s attack on Armenia in September and its blockade of Artsakh, which entered its third month this week.
On February 12, FitchRatings has revised the Outlook on Armenia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to Positive from Stable and affirmed the IDR at ‘B+’.
On February 17, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) stated that it expects Armenia's economy to grow by 4% in 2023 and by 4.8% in 2024.
Armenia's government growth projection for 2023 is set at 7%, and inflation is set at 4% (±1.5%).
The World Bank predicts that Armenia's economic growth in 2023 will be 4.1%. Fitch in February projected the Armenian economy to grow to 6.1% in 2023 and to 4.7% in 2024.
The first France-Armenia economic summit will be held in Paris at the end of February, the Armenian government said on February 17.
Central Bank of Azerbaijan has published the data on remittances flow to Azerbaijan during 2022, according to which the country received $3.4 billion in remittances in last year. This is three times as high as in 2021.
Azerbaijan’s electricity export rose by 2 times in January 2023, the Energy Ministry says.
Pursuant to the ministry's report on electricity production for January, which increased by 199.8m kWh, i.e. 7.8 percent as against the same period of 2022, totaling 2,759.8 m kWh. The main increase in electricity production was registered at the thermal power plants (TPPs). Thus, during the reporting period, electricity generation at TPPs grew by 210.1m kWh, or by 8.5 percent, amounting to 2,665 m kWh. Renewable electricity production decreased by 10.5 percent, amounting to 95.16 m kWh in January 2023. The main renewable energy sources in Azerbaijan are considered Hydroelectricity Power Plants (HPP), Wind Power Plants (WPP), Solar Power Plants (SPP), and Solid Household Waste Plants (SHWP). The main drop was observed at HPPs. The electricity production at Hydroelectricity Power Plants (HPP) decreased by 13.5 m kWh, i.e. 16.7 percent, amounting to 67.2 m kWh. Besides, electricity production at WPP decreased by 2.02 amounting to 4.68 m kWh.
In January, the export of electricity increased by 2 times, amounting to 512.6m kWh with the import of electricity increasing by 0.1m kWh, totaling 10.8 m kWh.
In January 2023, Heydar Aliyev International Airport served 360,000 passengers, which is a record indicator in comparison with previous years.
According to the airport’s information, the passenger flow of all international airports of Azerbaijan has amounted to more than 420,000 passengers.
Over the period in question, national air carriers AZAL and Buta Airways carried 132,000 and 47,000 passengers respectively. The share of national airlines in international flights has been 37%.
SOCAR Energy Switzerland says it is building the first hydrogen filling station on a Swiss motorway at the Grauholz Süd filling station near Bern.
The Swiss energy company SOCAR is thus making an important contribution to a nationwide network of hydrogen filling stations for sustainable mobility.
Construction has already started. The hydrogen filling station is expected to be ready for operation by the end of May.
February 12-18 was the week of counting deaths in Turkey which together with neighboring Syria on February 6 suffered the region's worst natural disaster and fifth deadliest earthquakes of the 21st century.
The death toll from two devastating earthquakes that ravaged southeastern Turkey on Feb. 6 has risen to 40,689, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) reported Sunday.
Turkey has completed search and rescue work in earthquake zones, except in southern Kahramanmaraş, Hatay provinces.
Minister of Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change Murat Kurum had announced on Friday that a total of 84,726 buildings were damaged in the Feb. 6 earthquakes, which wreaked havoc in 10 provinces in Turkey's south. Crews from his ministry examined 684,000 buildings in the earthquake-hit provinces so far and said 84,726 buildings were found to be either collapsed, heavily damaged or in immediate need of demolition.
According to the United Nations, more than seven million children have been affected by the massive earthquake and a major aftershock that devastated Turkey and Syria.
Turkish and Syrian reconstruction efforts in the wake of devastating twin earthquakes will cost “in the billions of dollars,” according to Ferid Belhaj, World Bank vice president for Middle East and North Africa.
The devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey last week could result in a loss of up to 1% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) this year, said the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
In its latest report, the ERBD said this is a "reasonable estimate" due to the expected boost from reconstruction efforts later this year, which will offset the negative impact to infrastructure and supply chains.
The United Nations on Thursday launched an appeal for $1 billion (€0.94 billion) from member states to help relief efforts in Turkey following devastating earthquakes.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the funds would provide humanitarian aid for three months to 5.2 million people.
The money would "allow aid organizations to rapidly scale up vital support," including in the areas of food security, protection, education, water and shelter, Guterres said.
"The needs are enormous, people are suffering and there's no time to lose," he added.
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