UN’s Ban to Visit South Caucasus in April

TBILISI - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to visit the South Caucasus region in late April 2016, a UN official confirmed Wednesday.

Ban’s second visit Tbilisi is planned for April 23-24 and will include meetings with members of the Georgian government.

He will then move on to Armenia on April 25 and later stop in Azerbaijan, the UN’s official statement said.

Regional analysts believe the Ban’s visit to the South Caucasus is meant to coincide with the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations that will be held in Baku on April 25-27.

Ban’s previous and unannounced visit to Georgia in the summer 2007 included meetings with then-President Mikhail Saakashvili, former Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili and ex-Parliament Chair Nino Burjanadze.

The Secretary General’s visit to neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan comes only weeks after four days of intense fighting that left up to 70 people dead, a tenuous ceasefire appears to be holding between Armenian and Azeri forces.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a deadly conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for 25 years. The region, an ethnic Armenian exclave inside Azerbaijan’s borders, has existed as an unrecognized breakaway state with Armenian and Russian backing since 1994.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller

20 April 2016 15:04