Weekly political review

Politics Materials 25 October 2007 12:03

Official news

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received a delegation of the Germany-South Caucasus Parliamentary Group at the Bundestag. The President characterized political and economic co-operation between Azerbaijan and Germany as very successful. "I hope your visit will assist in strengthening the co-operation between Azerbaijan and Germany in various fields and enhancing Azerbaijan-European Union partnership", the Azerbaijani leader noted. He stressed that next year Germany will host the Year of Azerbaijan which he said will help spread much more information about Azerbaijan in Germany. Head of the Germany-South Caucasus Parliamentary Group Steffen Reiche said members of his delegation have already been several visits to Baku. Reiche expressed satisfaction with the level of Germany-Azerbaijan co-operation. He emphasized the Year of Azerbaijan in Germany will give a huge boost to the development of the two countries' relationships.

The new Shahtakhti-Plodyasht bridge was opened on 17 October in Nakchivan Autonomous Republic near the Azerbaijani-Iran border over the Araz River. The bridge has been constructed in compliance to a 2003 Azerbaijani-Iranian memorandum envisaging the opening checkpoint Shahtakhti ( Azerbaijan) and Plodyasht ( Iran).

The opening ceremony was attended by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and the Vice President of Iran, Parviz Davudi. The Azerbaijani Leader stated that this bridge will not only be a new transport link, but will connect the Azerbaijani and Iranian people. The Vice President of Iran said that the bridge will serve as the development of trade relations between the two countries.

The Government of Azerbaijan intends to take steps for the social-economic development of the Nakchivan Autonomous Republic, said the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, on 17 October in the opening ceremony of a new building of the central hospital in Nakchivan's district of Sharur.

According to the State Head of Azerbaijan, the 2008 budget of Nakchivan will increase up to AZN 280mln. Touching upon the development of the health system in Nakchivan, the President said that special attention will be paid to this sphere in the future.

In addition, in the second half of the day, the President visited a secondary school in the Shahtakhti village of Sharur district.

The growth in the economy within nine months made up 30% in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, said on 17 October.

The President delivered a speech before the student-magistrals of the Nakhchivan State University. The President said AZN 3bln would be allocated for development of economy by state investments in 2008. A surprising AZN 1bln will be allocated for the development of the education system in Azerbaijan from the state budget in 2008. Some 610,000 new jobs have been created since the last presidential elections, Mr. Aliyev said.

Azerbaijan will feel a shortage of jobs taking into consideration the migration process from the country.

The Azerbaijani population should live in peace, prosperity and stability and there are all conditions for this in Azerbaijan. "At present, most depend on regional cooperation in Azerbaijan," the President said.

Mr. Aliyev presented diplomas to a group of educational employees of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR).

The President attended the opening ceremony of a school in the region of Sharur in NAR after participation in a concert at the University.

On 18 October the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received the delegation headed by Peter Semneby, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus.

The current state of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union and its prospects were discussed during the meeting.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, welcomed OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut to the Presidential Palace on 18 October. They discussed how to boost Azerbaijan-OSCE cooperation.

On 19 October the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received German delegation led by Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Michael Glos.

Ilham Aliyev said that the visit will further strengthen the economic relations between Azerbaijan and Germany.

"We are pleased that Germany's interest in Azerbaijan's economy is growing. We praise this and, for our part, we are ready to try our best to contribute to development of bilateral economic relations. I welcome you once again, and I believe your visit will be a success and we will achieve important results," the President said.

Michael Glos said that he sees prospects for economic cooperation between Germany and Azerbaijan as very positive, and vowed to make every possible contribution towards this. "Your visit gave a huge boost to this. I believe we will continue these wonderful traditions of cooperating, and not only our countries will be closer economically, but also our people will be closer to each other," the Minister said.

The people who applied for state service have low knowledge level, the Chairman of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration's Commission on State Service, Bahram Khalilov, said to journalists.

Therefore, a plenty of positions remain vacant, he said. According to Khalilov, the state service requires people with high knowledge level. The cases when candidates were admitted to the state service out of competition were revealed and preventive measures are taken, he said.

Khalilov did not reveal the number of the cases and the state bodies where they were revealed. According to him, state employees in Azerbaijan make up 2,500.

In order to achieve transparency in the 2nd round of the competition (interview) media and NGOs will be involved.

"There are various gossips in this connection. Therefore we decided to make the competition open. In case a candidate agrees, interview will be attended by media and NGOs," he said.

Foreign policy

The member of Knesset (Israel), Ran Koen, supports the idea of conducting joint discussions of the Azerbaijani, Turkish, Armenian and Israeli specialists with regards to the so-called 'Armenian genocide' in 1915-1917 during the Ottoman Empire. "Holding a round table attended by the Azerbaijani, Turkish and Armenian sides and members of the Israeli parliament is interesting," Ran Koen stated in his interview with Trend.

The Israeli parliamentarian from Merets Party, Ran Koen, stated that following the US House of Representatives, the Knesset should recognize the 'genocide' of Armenian people and appeal with such an initiative to the Commission for Foreign Affairs and Defense. On 15 October in a conversation, the President of the Congress of Azerbaijanis in Middle East, Alex Shapiro-Suliman, expressed dissatisfaction with Koen's position and initiated to hold a quadrilateral round table.

Koen stressed that he did not think that his proposal may cause dissatisfaction and indignation of the Azerbaijani community.

Koen said that Azerbaijan is a very interesting and important country for Israel. "It is very comfortable to co-operate with Azerbaijan because official Baku carries out its policy basing on the national interests of Azerbaijan and mutual respect for all countries. From this point of view, I highly assess the level of the co-operation between Azerbaijan and Israel," he added.

Koen reported to Trend that he remembers his days in Azerbaijan with great love and respect. "Personally I discovered that the Azerbaijanis are very hospitable and modern people, who preserve and respect their culture and folklore and respectfully approach other peoples residing in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a very interesting and important country for Israel," Israeli parliamentarian said.

The Israeli parliamentarian said that the main problem of Azerbaijan is the territorial conflict with Armenia, which resulted in occupation of 20% Azerbaijani territories and appearance of more than one million refugees and internally displaced persons. "Firstly I want to mention that the international community, including Israel, have less knowledge of this tragedy of Azeri people. In this meaning, Azerbaijan and its diplomacy should do much to increase world community's information on it," Koen said.

In March the Knesset decided to delete from the agenda the proposal of parliamentarian Haim Oron (Merets Party) to discuss the so-called 'Armenian genocide' at the meeting of the Commission for Education and culture. The decision to cancel the discussions on the so-called 'Armenian genocide' was made according to the decision of Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livini.

A declaration of 25 articles have been signed as a result of the summit of the Caspian littoral countries held in Tehran on 16 October.

A summit of five Caspian littoral countries, including Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, began in Tehran on 16 October. The gathering focused on the Caspian legal status, which remains unsettled after the collapse of the former USSR.

The declaration was undersigned by the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Russia. The declaration is the first official document undersigned by the Caspian littoral countries regarding the Caspian legal status.

The first summit of the Caspian littoral countries was held in Ashgabat un April 2002. The gathering adopted the decision to conduct the second summit in Tehran in 2003. However, the event has been repeatedly postponed every year.

Implementation of European Union's new neighbourhood policy program will enable Azerbaijan to join the organization in 10 years, the chairman of Germany's South Caucasus-Bundestag parliamentary group, Steffen Reiche, said in Baku at the meeting with the members of Azerbaijani permanent parliamentary commission on international relations and inter-parliamentary ties on 16 October

"A great attention is attached on implementation of the EU's new neighbourhood program. We believe in implementation of this ambitious project. Its implementation will make Azerbaijan South Caucasus's free economic zone in 5 to 10 years," Reiche said.

Azerbaijan joined the new neighbourhood program in 2005. Azerbaijan's political forces achieved an agreement on Azerbaijan's integration to Euro-Atlantic organizations, Asim Mollazadeh, a member of the Azerbaijani permanent parliamentary commission on international relations and inter-parliamentary ties and the chairman of the Democratic Reforms Party, said. "Both the authorities and the opposition support Azerbaijan's integration to Euro-Atlantic organizations. That requires reforms and introduction of European values to Azerbaijan, a former authoritarian area," Mollazadeh said.

Azerbaijan plays a large role in providing Europe's energy security through the projects being implemented, he said.

"Two South Caucasus counties - Azerbaijan and Georgia - strive for peace in the region. Armenia impedes that. Armenia's policy impedes development in Azerbaijan and Georgia, and it is intended for Iran and Russia. The country is now a large military base," Mollazadeh said.

According to him, German Bundestag's assistance is important for solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijan is a one of key allies of the USA in fighting against terrorism, said the Head of the US military delegation, Carl Stiner, who arrived in Azerbaijan on 14 October.

The General said that the graduators of the US National Security University wish to co-operate with their Azerbaijani counterparts.

The delegation comprising 19 officers and two civil people arrived in Baku on 14 October. The visit is aimed at getting familiarized with Azerbaijan, establishing further co-operation in the region. They held meeting at the Foreign and Defense Ministries and with five parliamentarians. The meetings focused on the possibility to hold trainings for the military people of Azerbaijan and send them for training in the Marine Academy, Air Forces and Border Academy of the USA.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said any use of military force in the Caspian region was unacceptable and Russia backed dialogue in resolving differences on the Caspian Sea.

"We should not even think of making use of force in this region," Putin told a summit of five Caspian Sea countries.

The summit in Tehran is focused on resolving differences over sharing out the resources of the Caspian Sea but Russian officials say Putin's bilateral talks with Iran will focus on Iran's nuclear standoff with the West. Russia says force should not be an option in the atomic row.

A new organization of the Caspian littoral countries will be established soon, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedijat stated in his opening remarks at the 2nd Caspian summit, РБК reports. "Soon there will be a need for the establishment of a new Caspian organization," the Iranian leader said.

The key objective of the summit is the development of a new final document on the Caspian Sea status and use of its resources by five littoral countries, which have access to the sea - Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. "Particularly, legal regulation should be founded for existence of vessels of other countries in the Caspian waters," he added. "The sea resources belong to all Caspian littoral countries," the Iranian president said. The countries should not increase and use military presence in the region. So, the Caspian littoral countries should struggle for preservation of peace and stability in the region. Moreover, Ahmedijat promised that Iran will shortly regulate the problem related to the Iranian nuclear program.

The heads of all five Caspian littoral countries are attending the summit in Tehran. They are Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

During the visit the Russian President Vladimir Putin will have a private meeting with the Iranian President, give an interview to the Iranian media and meet with the Iranian religious leader Ali Khomnei. The sides plan to discuss international cooperation.

The ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) assesses the resolution adopted by the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs on the recognition of the so-called 'Armenian genocide' as disrespect to friendship and cooperation, MP Ali Ahmadov, the deputy chairman of the NAP, said in talks with journalists in Baku on 18 October.

"It should be made a tragedy. The resolution adopted by the Committee on Foreign Affairs cannot hinder Turkey's position and its future development," Ahmadov said.

On 10 October the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted a resolution on recognition of the so-called 'Armenian genocide' with 27 pros and 21 cons. The document says that in 1915-1917 the Ottoman Empire committed genocide act against Armenians.

According to Ahmadov, the congressmen who voted for resolution on recognition of the so-called 'Armenian genocide' took an unfair step. This injustice is directed against Turkey. "We believe that to prevent this injustice the United States will take more serious steps. It will promote removal of resistance worldwide. The decision by the Lower House of the Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs indicates for an attempt of reigning the world," Ahmadov stressed.

NAP was established in Nakhchivan in 1992. Former President Heydar Aliyev was the chairman of the party, which is in power for 14 years. At present the party is led by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US Congress's House of Representatives, voiced her uncertainty in connection with the adoption of the resolution on recognition of the so-called 'Armenian genocide'. She made this statement in 17 October following the refusal of several member of Congress to support the resolution with threats of deterioration of the US-Turkish relations, ITAR-TASS reports.

"It is not important if the resolution will be adopted or not and what measures will be taken, - the future will show how all these will come to the end," Pelosi said. Earlier, despite George Bush's objection, Pelosi highlighted Congress's support to the resolution and personally supported its approval. According to Pelosi, passing the resolution should not bring harms to the relations between the USA and Turkey because it assesses the actions of Ottoman Empire, but not the current Turkish Government. Last week the resolution was approved by the Committee for Foreign Affairs of the US Congress's House of Representatives.

In the opposite, the White House considers that this legislative initiative might essentially damage bilateral relations and harm US interests in Europe and in the Near East. Earlier Bush Administration highlighted its intentions to take steps to prevent the anti-Turkish resolution.

The development of relations between the European Union and the South Caucasus region depends on the fulfillment of liabilities assumed by countries before the organization. 'We will try to develop relations with the South Caucasus. The further development of relations depends on liabilities undertaken by countries envisaged in the Plan of Activities," Peter Semneby, the EU special representative to the South Caucasus, said in Baku on 19 October.

The Plan of Activities was signed by the EU, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy program in 2006. The EU and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on mutual understanding which promotes an energy partnership between the EU and Azerbaijan. The agreement is directed at strengthening energy security in Europe.

Semneby said he had discussed the issues with the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Ramil Usubov, the Azerbaijani Interior Minister, and other officials. These and many other issues would be discussed during the OSCE regional conference in Baku. Semneby intends to hold discussions with Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, OSCE General Secretary.

The EU supports the OSCE Minsk Group's efforts in settling the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Semneby said.


The governing New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) is developing a project envisaging supplements and changes to the Law on Conscription Essentials. The project will be submitted to the Parliament by the end of the autumn session, Siyavush Novruzov, NAP Deputy Executive Secretary and a member of the Permanent Parliamentary Commission on Security and Defense Affairs, told journalists in Baku on 17 October.

"We receive plenty of letters from the voters regarding changing the Law on Conscription Essentials. On the basis of these letters we are developing a project envisaging the alteration of the Law," Novruzov said.

At the beginning of 2007, the Azerbaijani Parliament made changes in the Law on Conscription Essentials and annulled the draft deferment for the men who care for disabled persons of the second category, those who graduated from University with a bachelor's degree and want to begin studying for their master's degree, as well as for post-graduate students. The altered Law annulled conscription of young men having two children. Previously, only those who had three or more underage children were released from conscription.

In 2007, the Azerbaijani Army completely turned to NATO standards. Therefore, the conscription essentials should also correspond with NATO standards, Novruzov stressed.

The Azerbaijani Parliament should officially recognize the Kurd Labour Party (KLP) as a terrorist organization, the Parliament's MPs stated during the 19 October session.

MP Igbal Agazadeh, the Chairman of the Umid Party, said that the threat of the KLP for Turkey is increasing. "The terrorist KLP organization is moving to far forward in Turkey. Azerbaijan should support Turkey in its struggle against the KLP," Agazadeh said.

Azerbaijani Armed Forces together with Turkey should participate in military operations against the terrorist organization of the KLP. Both countries should commence negotiations in this direction, MP Agazadeh said.

Panah Herseyn, a member of Musavat opposition party, backed the proposal. According to Huseyn, Azerbaijani and Turkish Armed Forces shall hold a joint struggle against threats in both countries.

"The US and EU officially recognized the KLP as a terrorist organization. However, Azerbaijan has not yet made this recognition. Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) should make the decision to recognize the KLP as a terrorist organization," Huseyn said.

s a result of preventive and operative measures in Azerbaijan in 2004-2006, some 689 human trafficking incidents have been discovered and 695 people have been held criminally responsible, the National Coordinator to Combat Human Trafficking, Deputy Interior Minister, Vilayat Eyvazov, stated on 19 October at the Parliament while presenting his annual report.

During this period, 273 trafficking victims have been registered, eighty-three criminal gangs, including fifteen organized bands, have been revealed. Some 1,242 people have been held criminally responsible for immoral activity.

According to Eyvazov, as a result of the investigations, the victims are taken from Azerbaijan to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan, Iran, India, and Turkey.

"The reports of the international organizations describe Azerbaijan as a source and transit country for human trafficking. Cooperation with Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran is being carried out on the base of contracts and agreements on mutual legal assistance in fighting against organized crime," he said.

A similar document is being planned for signing by state bodies of the UAE, the Deputy Minister said. According to the Deputy Minister, suspicious people, as well as the process concerning adoption in Azerbaijan's orphanages will be taken under control.

According to Eyvazov, the unemployed, the poor, those living on the streets, juveniles, and drug addicts are most vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking. The general information base consisting of information about Azerbaijan's orphanages and children' homes were developed. The base also contains information about juridical or natural persons and firms and agencies operating as mediators in placing people in jobs in Azerbaijan and abroad. " Azerbaijan was included into the list of countries of the second category of the report. Azerbaijan can remain in this list for 2007 which is a positive result of a joint struggle against human trafficking."

Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) gave permission to increase its contingent of peacemaking forces in Afghanistan. The decision was made in the 19 October Parliamentary session.

MP Ziyafat Askarov, the Chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Commission on Security and Defence Issues, said that the Azerbaijani Parliament gave permission which also includes providing Azerbaijani peacemaking forces for the Turkish Military Forces.

NATO leadership appealed to Baku requesting that it increase the number of Azerbaijani peacemaking forces in Afghanistan.

Taking into consideration the aforesaid, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev submitted the bill to increase the number of Azerbaijani peacemaking forces in Afghanistan two times. Twenty-two Azerbaijani soldiers participate in peacemaking operations in Afghanistan. After passing the bill the number of Azerbaijani soldiers will reach forty-four or forty-five. The parliament approved the bill.

Political Movements

The ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) did not confirm the information on the establishment of a new pro-governmental political party in Azerbaijan. The NAP Deputy Executive Secretary, MP Siyavush Novruzov, briefed the media on 17 October that he got this information from the press. "I do not have any other information," he said.

Over the last few days, information appeared in the press with regards to the establishment of a new pro-governmental political party in Azerbaijan, which will support the political way of the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev and will bring together well-known people who are not members to NAP. According to the information, the new party will be headed by the First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva.

Novruzov said that Ilham Aliyev chairs NAP and the President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, MP Mehriban Aliyeva, is a member of the NAP Political Council. "Heydar Aliyev was the founder of NAP," he said.

he financing of NGOs in Azerbaijan by the State is not intended to make them dependent on the State or to restrict their activities, Fuad Alaskarov, the head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration's Department on Work with Law Enforcement Bodies, said at a meeting dedicated to the Conception on State Aid to NGOs, on 17 October.

Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, signed a Conception on State Aid to NGOs. The document envisages financing NGOs by the State and the establishment of a State body to work with NGOs. According to Fuad Alaskarov, the purpose of the State's aid to NGOs is to enable an increase in civil initiatives, to encourage NGOs to take part in settling social problems, and to finance NGO projects that are important for the State. According to him, in 2003, the Azerbaijan Justice Ministry registered only fifty NGOs, in 2004 - 107, in 2005 -155, in 2006 - 213, and within the first six months of 2007 - 107 were granted agreements.

Azerbaijan has enough problems and the Government intends to involve NGOs in their resolution, the head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration's Social & Political Department, Ali Hasanov, said. According to him, local and international NGOs' suggestions regarding the Conception will be summarized and submitted to the President on 29 November. Then the fulfilment of the Conception will commence.

Azerbaijani opposition parties represented in the Consultative Assembly and Azadlig bloc meet on 19 October. It has been the first meeting of Azerbaijani opposition parties for recent months. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the changes in the Election Code of Azerbaijan, the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) reported.

The Azerbaijani Government and EU Venice Commission will hold meeting with participation of political parties to discuss the planned changes in the Election Code in Baku on 9 November.

The Consultative Assembly of opposition parties does not cooperate with Azadlig, however, it will discuss a range of issues concerning changes in Election Code with the bloc.

DPA, Azerbaijani National Independent Party (ANIP) and Musavat parties, united in the Consultative Assembly, took part in the meeting held in Baku on 19 October. The Civil and Development party (CDP) represented in Azadlig participated in the meeting. The sides agreed to develop a set of proposals regarding the issue by the end of October. The next meeting was scheduled for 23 October.

The Consultative Assembly unites the Public Forum for Azerbaijan, ANIP, Social Democratic Party (SDPA), DPA, Musavat and Taraggi.

Azadlig bloc unites three opposition parties, which has developed a set of proposals regarding the changes and supplements on 20 issues and submitted it to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. One of the issues envisaged to form election commissions from parties collected over 1% from the total number of votes at the latest parliamentary elections. It means election commission must unite representatives of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party and opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA), Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), National Unity Party of Azerbaijan (NUPA), Liberal-Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (LDPA), Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (SDPA) and Musavat.

Relations among most Azerbaijani opposition parties worsen due to different attitude towards the results of the latest elections 2005. There have been observed rival relations between Azadlig and Musavat, SDPAS and Azadlig, ANIP and CDP, ANIP and Musavat.

The rest opposition does not included into cooperation.

Azerbaijan's Musavat Party did not receive any material support from the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party which admitted Musavat to its membership, the Deputy Chairman of Musavat Party, Mehman Javadoghlu, said on 18 October.

The Chairman of Musavat Party, Isa Gambar, attended the congress of the organization which took place in Germany on 18 October. Gambar wishes his party to become a full-member of the European Party.

According to the Deputy Chairman, Musavat and the European Party will cooperate in developing liberal democracy. Musavat will develop and strengthen liberal democracy in Azerbaijan, he said.

"The European Party neither puts any conditions or restrictions to its members, nor assists them materially. The international organization does not interfere with the internal affairs of its member parties' countries," Javadoghlu said. According to him, the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party can render to its member parties only international political support.

Musavat which decided to take part in the presidential elections of 2008 cannot use the opportunities of the international organization for propaganda.

The European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party rests upon liberal and democratic values.

It was high time to stop discussions on nomination one candidature from opposition parties, Sardar Jalaloglu, Azerbaijani Democratic Party's chairman said to the Trend Agency on 20 October.

The presidential elections in Azerbaijan will be held in 15 October 2008.

The proposal regarding nomination of one candidature from Azerbaijani opposition parties was offered by the left camp. Despite several candidates were nominated during 1998 and 2003 presidential elections.

Jalaloglu considers opposition parties should nominate several candidatures for presidential post in the upcoming presidential elections. DPA would nominate several candidatures for presidential post.

Musavat Party reported it would participate in the upcoming elections with its candidate. Azerbaijani National Independent Party (ANIP) and Social Democratic Party (SDPA) will also nominate their candidatures.

DPA opposition party was founded by Sardar Jalaloglu in 1991.


The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (Yuri Merzylakov - Russian Federation and Bernard Fassier - France) in Paris and discussed the mediators' visit to the region to take place at the end of the month, said the Press Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, Khazar Ibrahim.

Mammadyarov arrived in France to attend the General Conference of UNESCO. The US Co-Chair of the Minsk Group did not attend the talks. The reasons have not yet been explained.

On 16 October Armenian Armed Forces fired from their positions located near Berkaber and Aygepar villages of Ijevan and Berd districts of Armenia (from 5.50pm to 7.50pm) on the positions of the Azerbaijani National Army in Gizil Hajili, Mezemli of Gazakh District, as well as Ailbeyli village of Tovuz District in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry reported on 17 October.

The Azerbaijani army retaliated, resulting in ceasefire. There were no casualties.

A meeting of the heads of the Azerbaijani and Armenian Communities of Nagorno-Karabakh may be held within the framework of OSCE's Minsk Group format, Nizami Bahmanov, the head of the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Kabakh, said on 17 October. The present format of the Minsk Group satisfies Azerbaijan in settling the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

"The format affects the interests of all countries which have conflicts," Bahmanov said.

The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus began in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since 1992, Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20% of Azerbaijan including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time active hostilities ended. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France and the US) are currently holding peaceful negotiations.

According to Bahmanov, technical issues concerning the meeting are being discussed.

"Formation of a new format may cause damage to Azerbaijan's interests," Bahmanov said. We should carefully approach the issue.

Azerbaijan is urging UNESCO to follow the situation closely on the ground regarding the protection of the Azerbaijani people's ancient cultural heritage manifested by monuments in the occupied territories. Monuments and other objects of cultural significance have already suffered ongoing destruction, as well as those objects in Armenia where Azerbaijani people had previously settled but are now gone due to ethnic cleansed during the conflict, Elmar Mammadyarov, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, said during UNESCO's general conference on 18 October.

" Azerbaijan hopes that UNESCO will interfere in the conflict," Mammadyarov said.

On 17 October Armenian Armed Forces fired on the opposite positions of the Azerbaijani National Army from their positions located near Abdulrahmanli and Garakhanbayli villages of District of Azerbaijan from 16.45pm to 01.30pm, near Jojug Marjanli village of Jabrayil District of Azerbaijan from 23:50 to 00:12, near Kuropatkino village of Khojavand District of Azerbaijan from 00:10 to 00:25, using machine and sub-machine guns, the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry reported on 17 October.

The Azerbaijani army retaliated, resulting in ceasefire. There were no casual

Armenia is keeping the peace and soon the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh will be achieved through compromise, Serj Sarkisian, the Armenian Prime Minister said during a meeting with Dick Cheney, the US Vice President, and Robert Gates, US Defence Minister, the Armenian Department on Public and Press Relations Department at the Armenian Government Administration reported to the ARKA on 19 October.

Sarkisian said discussions and negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group would cause positive results.

Cheney said the US was interested in regulating the conflict. The US would support OSCE Minsk Group attempts to peacefully settle the Karabakh conflict.

Armenian Armed Forces' subdivisions commenced their military exercises in the occupied Azerbaijani territories at 10:45a.m. on 20 October.

The exercises are being carried out in Aghdam region' Uzundara village, the residents of the villages located near to the border said to Trend. Heavy artillery is mainly used.

According to Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, the occupied Azerbaijani territories are not controlled and that enabled Armenia to have intensive military exercises there.

Compared to 2006, the cease-fire was broken more frequently within the 9 months of 2007.