Political review of the last week

Official chronicle

On 25 February, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, decreed to award Chingiz Aytmatov with the "Friendship" Order for Merit Award for his part in the strengthening of bilateral relations between the republics of Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received a delegation from the State Department of the United States headed by Steven Mann, Coordinator on Eurasian Energy Diplomacy of the Department. During the meeting an exchange of views was held on the current situation and prospects of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and the United States and cooperation in energy as well.

Azerbaijan and Poland signed two documents on bilateral cooperation in Warsaw on Tuesday. Director General of Azerbaijan Airlines Jahangir Asgarov and President of Poland`s Civil Aviation Office Grzegorz Kruszynski signed a Protocol of amendments to the "Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Government of the Republic of Poland on Civil air transportations" signed August 26, 1997 in Warsaw. Chairman of Azerbaijan Television and Radio Broadcasting Closed Joint-Stock Company Arif Alishanov and President of Polish Television Andrzej Urbanski signed the "Agreement on cooperation between the Azerbaijan Television and Radio Broadcasting Closed Joint-Stock Company and the Polish Television".

Azerbaijan`s President Ilham Aliyev was honored Tuesday with the Grand Cross of Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his services in developing relations between the two countries. The Azerbaijani leader was handed the award by his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski in a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met Tuesday with Marshal of the Polish Senate Bogdan Borusewicz in Warsaw. They stressed inter-parliamentary relations between Azerbaijan and Poland are successfully developing making contribution to bilateral cooperation. Both Ilham Aliyev and Bogdan Borusewicz noted cooperation between the two countries` parliaments serves to enhance relations with European parliamentary structures and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. They said their countries share common stance on international issues. Economic and energy cooperation was also discussed during the conversation.

On 26 February, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Lech Kaczynski of Poland gave a joint press conference in Warsaw within the framework of the Azerbaijani President's official visit to Poland. "We have been cooperating for over 2 years. But the current visit is of special importance for our countries, for the relationships between our countries have become stronger and have acquired a strategic character. Azerbaijan is a strategic ally for Poland, which considers it important as a part of its foreign policy to render assistance to Azerbaijan in integration to Euro-Atlantic organizations," President Kaczynski said. The Polish President said the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan must be solved peacefully and through international legal norms. "According to the international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan and we support this position." Admitting Poland's relations with Armenia, Kaczynski stressed that in this conflict his country follows the principle of inviolability of territorial integrity. Touching upon energy field, Kaczynski mentioned that besides its oil Azerbaijan is also reach in natural gas, which is very important for Poland. President Aliyev stressed there are great prospects for bilateral energy cooperation and the joint declaration signed by the Presidents will promote it. The Azerbaijani President thanked Kaczynski for Poland's constant support to settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in compliance with the international legal norms. "The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is inviolable and it will not be a subject for discussions. The problem should be resolved within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and the international support, as well as the leading countries' position on the issue, certainly creates favourable conditions for the settling. "Over million of Azerbaijanis were evicted from their lands and underwent ethnic cleansing during the conflict. One of the proofs for that is the Khojali massacre, since which time 16 years have passed. On that day, the Azerbaijani Khojali town underwent aggression from Armenia. Genocide was committed against Azerbaijanis. Over 600 civilians, including 63 children and 106 women, were murdered that night. That is a monstrous crime," Aliyev said. As for the economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Poland, Ilham Aliyev noted that a large-scale energy dialogue is being held by the two countries. "Presently, we are determining the frames of the Caspian Sea-Black Sea-Baltic Sea cooperation, in which energy cooperation will play an important role. Azerbaijan produces and exports both oil and gas to the world markets, including the European Union. And we are to increase the production. "The relationships between our countries are multilateral. We have good economic prospects in the economic, energy, political and humanitarian fields. Azerbaijan and Poland are friendly countries and we build our relationships within the framework of strategic partnership. We will strive for maintaining the high level of the relations," President Aliyev said.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw on 26 February. They stressed bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Poland are successfully developing in economic, energy and non-energy fields. The Azerbaijani leader spoke of ongoing development processes in his country. Attraction of investments was described as one of the highest priorities for both countries. Both Ilham Aliyev and Donald Tusk said the Azerbaijani leader`s current visit is very important in terms of boosting bilateral economic ties and implementing joint projects.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev visited the monument which commemorated the deceased employees of the shipyard in the centre of Gdansk on 27 February. Ilham Aliyev and the President of Poland Lek Kachinski laid flowers on the monument which was erected in honour of the shipyard employees who were shot dead during protest demonstrations that swept Poland in the early 1980s. Due to the fact that Gdansk is a port city, the demonstrations during that time were mainly initiated by the employees of the shipyard.

The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received the delegation headed by the OSCE acting chairman, Ilkk Kanerv, and the Finland Foreign Minister, on 28 February. During the meeting the participants held an exchange of opinions in different spheres of cooperation between Azerbaijan and OSCE.

Parliament

There have been contradictions between the parliament heads and the parliament commission on cultural issues in Azerbaijan. The vice-speaker of the parliament said that the bill on Creative People and Cultural Unions, developed by the Commission on Cultural Issues contradicts the current laws. "Therefore this bill cannot be passed," the vice-speaker Valeh Alasgarov said in the meeting of the Parliamentary Commission on Cultural Issues held on 25 February. The bill on Creative People and Cultural Unions was discussed in order to submit it for the second reading at parliament. The bill envisages the financing of creative people and cultural unions by the government. Alasgarov said that several articles of the law contradict each other. "Furthermore, the bill contradicts the Azerbaijani law, namely 2.2 article on Non-government Organizations, on Budget System and article 2.4 of the Tax Code and the Convention on Government Support for NGO. Changes must be made to the above-mentioned Laws in order to pass a bill on Creative People and Cultural Unions," the vice president said. The financing of creative people by government could cause serious problems in the future. "At present there is only one Union of Writers. The number of organizations where writers are represented could reach five in the future. Which of them then would be financed by the government? If government allocates funds to only one of them, the others could appeal to the court which in turn could proceed to the European Court on Human Rights resulting in the Azerbaijani government being fined" he said. Rafael Huseynov, member of the commission on culture and the author of the bill did not agree with the vice speaker. "I have no idea why people have a negative approach towards creative people and cultural organizations. This law is of great political significance" the MP said. The chairman of the Commission Nizami Jafarov asked for the support of the vice speaker to adopt the bill in parliament. Jafarov said that his commission is not able to make changes to the Law on Budget and Tax Code. The department head of the Ministry of Finance Kagani Rzayev said that the Ministry is against the bill. The commission decided to bring up the bill for discussion at the Azerbaijani parliament.

The MP group of oppositional Musavat party of Azerbaijan has worked out a bill on Azerbaijan's recognition of 23 Armenian organizations as terrorist organizations and has submitted it to the parliament. "These terrorist organizations include ASALA- the Organization of Avenger for Armenian Genocide, Armenian Liberation Organization, Dashnaksutun party and the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh government and its structures as well. Most of these organizations have been set up to commit terror acts against Azerbaijan," Panah Huseyin, the member of the Musavat MP group said to Trend on 27 February. The bill consists of four articles. Huseyin said that the bill on Armenian Terrorist Organizations aims at establishing additional legal guarantee in a fight of Azerbaijan against terrorism. " Azerbaijan possesses a large legislation for the fight against terrorism. Azerbaijan has also joined a number of international conventions on the fight against terrorism and has signed the bilateral agreements with different countries. Azerbaijan is required to recognize these organizations as terrorist organizations, in order to apply all the signed documents against them. The legal recognition as a terrorist organization will further simplify the fight of human right activists against them," MP said. According to Huseyin, the executive bodies and law enforcement agencies should work out the list of the organizations that Azerbaijan considers to be terrorist organizations in line with the bill. The list should be updated annually. According to the bill, the persons who are the members of the Armenian terrorist organizations, finance them and maintain any relation with these organizations should be made answerable according to the relevant article of Azerbaijani Penal Code. As a punishment, the terrorism article (article 214 of PC) envisages 8 to 15 years of imprisonment with the confiscation of the property, and 8 to 12 years of imprisonment with confiscation of the property as a punishment for financing terrorism. The MP group of Musavat party had developed a bill on changes to the Penal Code. According to the bill, the Article 214 of PC should include the words financing of terrorism.

The Chair of the Azerbaijani Standing Parliamentary Committee for Regional Affairs, Arif Rahimzade, says that there is no need of establishing the Baku Municipality and electing a Baku Mayor. " Baku is a very large city. Therefore, it is too late to establish a common municipality in the city," he said to the journalists. The congress of local and regional administrations of the Council of Europe advised last year to establish the Baku Municipality and to hold Mayor elections in the city. According to Rahimzade, first of all, the regional municipalities in Azerbaijan should be improved. "There is no necessity in the artificial precipitation of establishing municipalities in large cities, including Baku." He noted that determination of the Baku status and the Mayor elections is not the current agenda, and is not expected to be in the near future. " Baku has, rather, a high status. First of all, the city has to gain a foothold in this aspect," he said.

Foreign policy

On 25 February, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov received the US Coordinator for Eurasian Energy Diplomacy Steven Mann, the Foreign Ministry reported. The sides discussed enhancement of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United States in the field of energy and the role of Azerbaijan as a transit country for transportation of energy resources from the Caspian Sea basin to Europe. The sides said at the meeting that despite expansion of energy market, oil still takes the dominant position, but the importance of the liquefied natural gas is expected to increase in future. They exchanged views on a range of other issues of mutual interest.

Iran is ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan in use of atom energy on peaceful purposes, Nasir Hamidi Zare, the Iranian Ambassador in Azerbaijan, stated to journalists. Earlier, the Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad confirmed the position of Teheran on this issue. The President said that Iran was ready to such cooperation with all brotherhood and neighbouring countries including Azerbaijan. " Iran will make all necessary to Azerbaijan can use the atom energy in peaceful purposes," he said.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev applied to the Parliament, initiating a law on withdrawal of the Azerbaijani peacekeepers from Kosovo. "The President's appeal says that the situation in the former Serbia changed and therefore Azerbaijan should re-consider presence of its peacekeepers in Kosovo," Aydin Mirzazade, a member of the Permanent Parliamentary Commission for Security and Defence told Trend on 26 February. According to Mirzazade, the Parliament will give a positive response to the President's appeal. In 1997, a peacekeeping detachment was formed at the National Army of Azerbaijan. And a peacekeeping battalion was established later. The Armed Forces of Azerbaijan in Iraq number 150 soldiers, in Kosovo - 34. The Azerbaijani soldiers control 18 villages in Kosovo. There are 45 Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Afghanistan. They patrol Kabul. According to the Azerbaijani legislation, the Parliament should approve of the decision on sending Azerbaijani peacekeepers abroad and withdrawing them. In two days the Commission will consider the issue. The final decision will be made at the parliamentary meeting to take place on 4 March, Mirzazade said.

The official Baku is taking measures to prevent the heads of the separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh from participating in the hearings on frozen conflicts zones in CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) which will be held in March in the lower chamber of the Russian parliament. "The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan and the ambassador of Azerbaijan to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu are dealing with this issue and taking relevant measures," Novruz Mammadov, the head of the International Relations Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan said to Trend on 26 February. The delegation of Karabakh separatists have been invited to the hearing on the conflict zones in the CIS to be held in the Russian parliament in March, Konstantin Zatulin, the deputy chairman of the Committee of State Duma (Russian Parliament) on Commonwealth and Work with Compatriots said to journalists. There are four frozen conflicts zones in the CIS, Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, Abkhaz and South Osetia in Georgia and the Trans-Dniester Region in Moldova. The official representative of the presidential administration said that the invitation of the Karabakh separatists to the hearings in the Russian parliament does not reflect the position of Russia. It is not even the position of the State Duma. Some groups in State Duma want such hearings to be held. However, it is not certain yet whether these hearings will be held," Mammadov said. According to Mammadov, Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during the summit of the CIS heads held on 22 February. Vladimir Putin once again stated that Russia is interested in the solution of the conflict in line with international law and within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," Mammadov said.

Azerbaijan will act through its national interests in the recall of peacekeepers from Kosovo, Araz Azimov, the Azerbaijani deputy foreign minister, said in talks with journalists on 28 February. The Azerbaijani President recently appealed to Parliament for a decision to be made on recalling the Azerbaijani peacekeepers from Kosovo. Earlier, Baku reported on the illegality of Kosovo's unilateral separation from Serbia. This will be discussed by Parliament on 28 February. On 17 February Kosovo declared its independence. "NATO does not ensure the security of partner countries as it does the other members of the alliance," Azimov. He noted that the Kosovo situation has changed drastically and Azerbaijan should reconsider its position in this connection. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan's relations with NATO will remain unchanged, he said.

Political movements

About 40 activists of the Muasir Musavat party attempted to stage unsanctioned protest action in front of the UN Baku office on 25 February due to the Khojali tragedy. On the night of 25 to 26 February 1992 the Azerbaijani settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh, Khojali, was occupied by Armenian separatists, with active participation of military personnel and army tanks of the 366th regiment of the Russian army. In a matter of several hours, more than 600 unarmed Azerbaijani citizens, including 106 women and 83 children, were brutally killed. The annihilation of the peaceful people continued for several days during which time the Armenians executed and killed prisoners, committed violence against women and children, cut off the heads of Azerbaijani military prisoners and had them hung up. During this crime, 487 people, including 76 juveniles were physically disabled and 1,275 people were taken prisoner. Despite the release of most of the prisoners, the fate of 150 people is still unknown. Police did not permit the participants of the rally to make public slogans. Activists demanded recognition of the Khojali tragedy at an international level. A protest statement was read out by Farhad Aliyev, the party deputy chairman. The document was submitted to the UN Baku office. Activists informed that they were planning to stage similar rallies in front of other international organizations in Baku.

We, coalition of youth organizations of opposition parties, established in connection with the presidential elections to held in Azerbaijan in October 2008 aims at promoting the role of the youth in democratization of Azerbaijan. Tural Abbasli, the chairman of the Musavat youth organization, one of the co-founders of the coalition said to Trend . According to Abbasli, agreement was reached between youth organizations and the chairmen of Liberal Party of Azerbaijan, Popular Front Party, and Citizens and Development Party who are represented in the coalition. "The chairmen of youth organizations will be the co-founders of the coalition and decisions will be adopted by the majority of the votes. The coalition aims at employing democratic means as much as possible, and holding demonstrations and events at universities," Abbasli said. According to Abbasli, the coalition We will function the same year as presidential elections and it is expected to be transformed to the all-republic in the future. The talks are being held with the youth organizations of the big opposition parties as well. The coalition will be officially represented after it is recognized by the public. The coalition also includes independent youth organizations of Azerbaijan, namely Student Organization of the democratic Youth of Azerbaijan and Yeni Nasil (New Generation). According to Araz Gasimov, the deputy chairman of Dalga (Wave) youth organization the participation of his organization in the coalition is not real. "Our organization will enlighten the people about prior to elections," Gasimov said.

On 29 Feb, the 'MPs supporting independence', who voted for the independence of Azerbaijan, came together and discussed the current situation in Azerbaijan, a source at Azerbaijan National Independence Party reported to Trend . The meeting held at office of ANIP leader, Etibar Mammadov, was attended by the then MPs known as '43' - Isa Gambar, Sulhaddin Akber, Arif Hajili, Ibrahim Ibrahimli, Mirmahmud Miralioglu, Iskender Hemidov, Hajibaba Azimov, Matlab Mutallimli and others. The former MPs prepared the project of declaration on the public-political situation in Azerbaijan. The declaration says that there is a need to put an end to despotic willfulness of the officials, as well as the human rights violations. The former MPs require the state to take certain measures against the officials breaking the rights and law. In addition, the state should declare a State holiday on 18 October - Day of National Independence.

The opposition movement 16 October, founded in Azerbaijan 3 years ago, is not operating, Sardar Jallaoglu, one of the founders of the movement and chairman of Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA), stated to Trend . 16 October movement was founded by MPs Panah Husein, Igbal Agazadeh, Arif Hajili, Ibrahim Ibrahimli, Rauf Arifoglu, Sardar Jalaloglu and Etimad Asadov who were all arrested in connection with causing unrest in Baku during the presidential elections in 2003. Jalaloglu said that the movement had stopped operating due to aimless tasks being put forward within the movement and there were no plans to participate in the forthcoming presidential elections.

Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan calls on the UN to allow an effective democratic system of self-governance to be built up in the Nagorno-Karabakh region within the Republic of Azerbaijan. "It is necessary to provide normal, secure and equal conditions of life for Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan," says a draft resolution which Azerbaijan recently presented to the UN General Assembly to be included in the preliminary agenda of the 63rd UN General Assembly, a source at the UN told Trend . The 63rd UN General Assembly will begin in September. Since 1993 the UN have taken several resolutions on the occupied territory of Azerbaijan. In the new resolution Azerbaijan calls on the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-third session a comprehensive report on the implementation of the present resolution and to include on the provisional agenda of its sixty-third session an item entitled "The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan". The document demands the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Azerbaijan calls on UN member-countries to reaffirm the inalienable right of the population expelled from the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan to return to their homes, and stresses the need to create appropriate conditions for this return, including the comprehensive rehabilitation of the conflict-affected territories; Azerbaijan expresses its support to the international mediation efforts, in particular those of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group CoChairmen, aimed at the peaceful settlement of the conflict in accordance with the norms and principles of international law, and recognizes the need to intensify these efforts with a view to achieving lasting and durable peace in compliance with the provisions stipulated above.

The Foreign Ministry of Armenia is hopeful that there will be progress in the regulation of the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict before the presidenatial elections in Azerbaijan. Vardan Oskanyan, the foreign minister of Armenia said in a press conference on 25 February, ARKA reported. "I hope that the negotiating parties will be able to achieve some progress in settling the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict before the presidential elections in Azerbaijan," the minister said. According to the minister, the presidential elections in Armenia and the problems originated from the elections will not hinder the continuation of negotiations. According to Oskanyan, the newly-elected Armenian President Serj Sarkisyan will be actively involved in the negotiations after his inauguration on 9 April. Peter Semneby, the special reprsentative of the European Union in South Caucasus has already called the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to hold bilateral meetings, but the exact date of the meeting is yet to be determined, the minister said. "The newly-elected president of Armenia has a full view of the talks on the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and is very familiar with the content of the document on the table of negotiations and the general princples as well which we approve," Oskanyan said.

"The book written by a Californian Armenian describing his brother's actions in Khojali pained me, well-known American journalist Thomas Goltz, who is also a specialist on the Caucasus, said at the event dedicated to 16th anniversary of the Khojali tragedy in London. "I ordered the book on the Armenian internet site. For a month I could not touch it, but anyway, I finally read it. " My Brother's road, a book written by an American Armenian, filled me with pain. Its author, Markar Melkonyan, described the 'heroism' of his brother Monte, who coordinated the Khojali massacre. The man, who murdered so many innocent people and like an ASALA (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia) member, participated in acts of terrorism against the Turkish diplomats, was described in the book as a hero. And his brother was proud of him," Goltz said. Thomas Goltz, a Professor at the Montana University (USA) is the author of the book called "The Azerbaijan Diary' which describes the first years of independence of the Azerbaijan Republic. He later wrote 'The Chechnya Diary' and 'The Georgia Diary'. "I have never doubted that Khojali faced a terrible massacre. The cruelty of those events is terrible. The only thing I can say is that I hope and pray the Karabakh conflict will soon be solved," Baroness O-Cathain, a member of the UK Chamber of Lords, said. According to the Baroness, Azerbaijan should plan more effective and stimulating presentations internationally to popularize the truth about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. A 12-minute documentary film about the Khojali tragedy in the English language was viewed at the event for the first time. It was developed with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The Foundation also organized an exhibition of pictures drawn by children dedicated to the Khojali. The event organized by the Azerbaijani Embassy at the Imperial War Museum was attended by the Azerbaijani Minister for Culture and Tourism Abulfaz Garayev, representatives of the UK Chamber of Lords, including Baroness O-Cathain, a specialist on Caucasus, as well as Thomas Goltz, the Chairman of the World Congress of Azerbaijanis Professor Tabrizi, representatives of the Turkish Diaspora as well as Azerbaijani students studying in the UK, etc.

Ilkka Kanerva, the OSCE chairmanship-in-office and also the Finish Minister, is prepared to contribute in the talks on the peaceable resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "It is very important to move forward the negotiations on the peaceable resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As the OSCE chairman in-office I am prepared to contribute in the peaceable talks," Kanerva said in a news conference in Yerevan on 26 February, Novosti Armenia reports. The OSCE chairman-in-office the said that the negotiation process needs in assistance of all parties, necessary conditions for the conflict resolution. Kanerva said that the negotiations held within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is an only organization involved in the solution of this conflict, assume special importance.

The progress in the negotiation process on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement and prompt achievement of results, are one of the important targets of the OSCE, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva said in Baku on 28 February. "There is comprehensive support to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement," he said. Kanerva said that the international community trusts the Minsk Group and supports the settlement of the conflict within this framework. "I do not oppose the UNO, but I do not consider it necessary to replace the Minsk Group with the UNO," he said. According to him, the OSCE will continue supporting the process of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement within the OSCE Minsk Group. It is a priority for the OSCE. "This conflict should be settled within the international laws and in a peaceful manner," Kanerva said. With regards to the participation of the Nagorno-Karabakh communities in the negotiations process, he said this topic remains open. According to him, they may participate in the talks, but this is not the high time for it.

Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh considers that the OSCE Minsk Group should increase its efforts in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. "Extending the conflict brings undesirable results for the region," said the Head of the Community, Nizami Bahmanov, on 28 February in Baku at the meeting with the delegation headed by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva. The conflict between the two countries of South Caucasus began in 1988 due to territorial claims by Armenia against Azerbaijan. Armenia has occupied 20% of the Azerbaijani land including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding Districts. Since 1992, these territories have been under the occupation of the Armenian Forces. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France and USA) are currently holding peaceful negotiations. Bahmanov said that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be settled only within Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. According to him, currently the occupied Azerbaijani territories have transformed into uncontrolled territories where illegal activities are carried out.

Armenian Armed Forces violated the cease fire regime from the posts dislocated near Gorgan village of Fizuli region at 2:50p.m to 3:00p.m on 28 February and at 4:10a.m to 4:25a.m on 29 February, as well as from posts dislocated near Geyrah, Chayli and Chilabart villages of Tartar region of Azerbaijan at 6:45p.m to 1:30a.m on 29 February fired at the Azerbaijani National Armed Forces, a spokesman for the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, reported. The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated and no casualties were reported

Baku believes that all international organizations should condemn the massacre of Khojaly - the genocide of the innocent population of Khojaly city of Azerbaijan in 1992. It is time that the United Nations, the European Union as well as other principal powers and all international organizations condemn the massacre of Khojaly, which will be forever remembered by future generations of Azerbaijanis," said PhD Elkhan Nuriyev, the Director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Baku. On the night of Feb. 25, 1992, the Armenian armed forces with the help of Russian troops carried out the seizure of Khojaly and razed the town to the ground. Following the occupation of Khojaly, a total of 613 innocent Azerbaijanis, including 106 women and 83 children, were massacred by Armenian and Russian forces, which also annihilated whole families, captured 1,275 people, left 1,000 civilians maimed or crippled, with another 150 reported missing. The 366th Russian motorized infantry regiment was accused of being involved in the Khojaly massacre. According to Nuruyev, an unprecedented massacre of hundreds of defenseless inhabitants of the small town of Khojaly in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan became one of the most heinous crimes against the Azerbaijani people. Unsurprisingly, the tragedy in Khojaly strongly affected regional geopolitics, Nuriyev writes in his article published in the Turkish daily Todays Zaman. Regional powers such as Turkey, Iran and Russia expressed grave concern about further destabilization of the region. Moreover, in all three countries, Azerbaijani diasporas organized massive protests in which demonstrators demanded that their relevant governments intervene to stop bloodshed in the conflict-torn area. Each of the regional powers took steps in a different way. Turkey closed its borders and only imposed an economic blockade on Armenia after the wider public in the country severely criticized the government's policy. Iran undertook diplomatic measures in order to act as a mediator between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. In turn, Russia hurriedly dissolved the 366th regiment and withdrew some Russian military hardware from Nagorno-Karabakh. Most of the regiment's weaponry and equipment, however, were left to the local separatists in the conflict-ridden area, Nuriyev writes. Quite obviously, the Khojaly tragedy is the biggest modern slaughter of innocent civilians in the Caucasus. And therefore, for the Azerbaijanis and other peoples inhabiting the region, the word "Khojaly" has become identical with pain, sorrow and brutality. Khojaly is the most tragic page in history of independent Azerbaijan and a vivid reminder of the painful consequences of Armenian aggression. As the Azerbaijanis worldwide commemorate the tragedy of Khojaly, they appeal today with hope to the international community to bring the Armenian government to the international penal tribunal to answer for the crime against humanity. On several occasions different state structures and nongovernmental organizations have urged international organizations to condemn the ongoing aggression against Azerbaijan and facilitate liberation of the territories occupied by Armenian troops. Great powers should know and remember that there will be no true, long-term, sustainable peace without justice and without respect of human dignity and freedoms. It is high time that the United Nations, the European Union as well as other principal powers and all the international organizations condemn the massacre of Khojaly -- the genocide of the innocent population of Khojaly which will be forever remembered by future generations of Azerbaijanis, Nuriyev concluded.

Returning Nagorno-Karabakh to the status quo and high autonomy as part of Azerbaijan, like 1988, is impossible, said the President of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, while making a speech before the students of Yerevan State University on 29 February. "In 1988, the situation was quite different because the Soviet Union was in existence. Today returning to that variant is impossible," said the President, Novosti-Armenia reports. According to him, currently it is not worthy to protract or hurry the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh at any cost. Kocharyan said that both of the above-mentioned variants are unacceptable and the Armenian side needs to specify its position, devise exact presentation about further steps. "We should now what we want to achieve and if possible, to try to achieve it next year, in two years or 20 years. However, in the basic issues, it is impossible to support any compromise or defeatist position," the State Head said. Kocharyan said that such statements may adversely affect the position of the mediators for settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, who may have the impression that part of the Armenian people are prepared to make compromise.

Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Weekly tenders in the region (April 16-20)
Weekly tenders in the region (April 16-20)
Last week’s laws, orders and decrees in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Last week’s laws, orders and decrees in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
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Expert explains Iran's current limits with its oil, oil product exports, revenues
Iran-Afghanistan, Khaf-Herat railway to open soon
Kazakhstan decreases exports to Netherlands amid COVID-19
Georgian Tskali Margebeli company may increase prices of products
Uzbek commodity exchange trading floor opened in Ukraine
Innovative Technology Park in Uzbekistan starts developing robots production
Azerbaijani mortgage fund issues regular bond interests
Prices of old apartments decline in Georgia
Azerbaijan confirms 634 more COVID-19 recoveries
Turkmenistan's Turkmentehnogurlusyk opens tender for audit
Turkey announces commissioning date for logistics center in Kars province
Iranian tourists reduce visits to Turkey amid COVID-19 pandemic
Azerbaijani organizations to benefit from Visa's updated Fast Track program
Azerbaijan discloses revenues from passenger, cargo transportations via TRACECA
Toyota leads re-exported vehicle brand from Georgia
Iran to launch Bostanabad-Tabriz railway line
Kazakhstan increases imports from France despite COVID-19
Transportation of Caspian oil via Baku-Supsa pipeline increases
Tbilisi’s residential property sales marginally down in October
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan holding negotiations on possible gas supplies
Kazakhstan to build desalination plants in Mangystau region
Iran to allocate funds for the rehabilitation of Anzali Wetland
Iran to distribute domestic COVID-19 vaccine by summer of 2021
Netanyahu met Saudi crown prince, Pompeo in Saudi Arabia on Sunday
Citizens of Russia and Ukraine will be able to return from Azerbaijan to their homeland
Lithuanian - Turkmen cooperation not affected by COVID-19
Rompetrol opens its flagship station in Georgian Borjomi
Lithuania interested in developing co-op with Turkmenistan in transport sector
Azerbaijan’s AzerGold to pay investor fee on placement of second tranche of bonds
Iran discloses number of licenses issued in Mazandaran Province
Fitch Ratings forecasts growing share of problem loans in Azerbaijan
Deputy minister talks tree-planting campaigns in liberated lands of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan boosts import of cars in 10M2020
Azerbaijan strengthens preventive measures related to coronavirus in justice system – Justice Ministry
Death toll from coronavirus pandemic in Iran surpasses 45,000
Gold, copper ores output decreases in volume in Kazakhstan
Iran eyes to link Persian Gulf with Caspian Sea via railway
Kazakhstan's revenue from maritime cargo transport increases
Azerbaijan aims to put Armenian ex-defense minister on int'l wanted list
Azerbaijan establishes Nagorno-Karabakh Regional Department of Justice Ministry
Uzbek-Korean JV announces tender for transport services
Russian shipbuilding corporation plans to start construction of ships in Turkmenistan
Iran reveals forecast on employment for Lorestan province
Ambassador Manig: Germany will strengthen Council of Europe by focusing on initiatives enabling better protection of citizens (INTERVIEW)
Batch of new Hyundai buses delivered to Turkmenistan
Uzbek commodity exchange to buy tires via tender
Azerbaijan ramps up exports to CIS countries
Ceyhan terminal transships 188 million barrels of ACG oil
Iran discloses balance of bank loans
Azerbaijani State Fire Control Service begins work in liberated districts
Uzbekistan boosts grape exports to Russia in September
Uzbek chemical enterprise starts commissioning of new fertilizer plant
Uzbekistan’s Jizzax Organic to import cattle from Europe
Uzbek Jizzax Organic predicts increase of purebred sheep herds in Uzbekistan
Famous UK-based poetess of Azerbaijani origin appeals on Armenian ecological terror (VIDEO)
Volume of gold exports stops growing in Uzbekistan
Iran doing research on several types of COVID-19 vaccines
Inflation rate in Iran increasing
Turkey sees decline in inflow of Azerbaijani tourists over 10M2020
Central Bank of Azerbaijan reveals funds attracted through auctions
Georgia reports 3,958 new cases of coronavirus
Expert assesses pros and cons of vehicles sale on Iran's Mercantile Exchange
Fitch Ratings reveals outlook of Azerbaijan's current account deficit for next year
Banks' supply exceeds demand at deposit auction of Central Bank of Azerbaijan by five times
Industrialization projects underway in Kazakh Kyzylorda region
Details of products sold at Iran Mercantile Exchange revealed
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