Weekly political review

Official chronicle

Azerbaijani Present Ilham Aliyev stated that in the future workers from abroad will travel to Azerbaijan. "They will come to Azerbaijan from abroad because the problem of unemployment has been fully solved in the country," the President stated while addressing the public in Samukh District on 3 March. In mid-January the head of State signed a decree for additional measures in the implementation of Decree №560 on the Establishment of State Migration Service issued by the Azerbaijani President on 19 March 2007. In accordance with the decree, the registration of foreigners and persons who are not citizens of Azerbaijan at the Registration on State Migration Service is carried out in line with data provided by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Ministry will also be authorized to extend the visa term for employees of diplomatic representations and consultations, employees of international organizations and members of their families as well as foreigners who arrive in Azerbaijan on a special mission. The Foreign Ministry will be authorised to extend the visa term for foreigners and persons who are not citizens and who arrived in Azerbaijan on the basis of a visa. President Aliyev said that it is possible for any foreigner to find a job in Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated on 3 March that the situation in Armenian is very tense. "This is the result of unwise belligerent policy and activities of politicians who have isolated themselves," the Azerbaijani President stated during his visit to Ganja as part of his tour of the western region of Azerbaijan. According to Aliyev, stability in the country is linked to development. "Where there is satiability there is development and vise versa," the president said.

No-one will benefit from presenting Azerbaijan with ultimatums, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said when meeting with the local population on 4 March in the Azerbaijani Khanlar region Speaking on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the President noted that the country's military potential is increasing and that would have an impact on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "The invading country now realizes that Azerbaijan is not a country that one can occupy," President Aliyev said. The President said that the on-going conflict is a result of Azerbaijan's principled stand based on international standards. "The separatist forces will not achieve any compromise. We will not let Nagorno-Karabakh be separated from Azerbaijan," he said. "The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be settled by Azerbaijan observing its territorial integrity. Azerbaijan will continue negotiations in order to settle the conflict in a peaceful manner, but simultaneously strengthening its army," the President said. "Several international organizations have criticized us for strengthening our army. That is our personal issue. When we were weak, no-one extended a helping hand to us," Ilham Aliyev said.

Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan, received at the Presidential Palace the deputy prime minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov and his delegation. "The President of Turkmenistan highly values relationships established between the two leaders and regards them as a good basis to enhance the cooperation between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan in the various fields," Rashid Meredov said. He pointed out that the Presidents' meeting in St. Petersburg gave a powerful impetus to further development of relations between the two countries. President Ilham Aliyev expressed his satisfaction with the relations developing with Turkmenistan. He stressed that various level meetings between the two countries` representatives, as well as the activities of Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan Intergovernmental Economic Cooperation Commission, contribute toward the further development of bilateral relations between the two countries.

On 5 March, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev received U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, Matthew Bryza. They discussed various issues, including the relationship between Azerbaijan and the United States, bilateral energy cooperation, as well as the current state of the talks over Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

On 6 March, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed a decree on additional measures for strengthening the socio-economic development of Ganja City, as well as Khanlar and Samukh districts. According to the order, the Reserve Fund of the President has allocated AZN 4mln for Ganja Executive Power, AZN 2mln for Khanlar and AZN 2mln for Samukh.

On 5 March, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received Jose Lello, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly at the Presidential Palace. The President described Azerbaijan-NATO PA relations as successful and mutually beneficial. Lello described the activity by the Azerbaijan representative delegation to the NATO PA as very effective in terms of strengthening relations between the country and the organization. Confidence in the further expansion of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO PA was also expressed during discussions.

On 7 March, Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan, received the delegation led by NATO Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Robert Simmons. Mr. Robert Simmons conveyed greetings of the NATO Secretary General Yaap de Hoop Scheffer to the head of the Azerbaijan State and noted good level of the relations between NATO and Azerbaijan. He said that Secretary General Yaap de Hoop Scheffer looks forward to the meeting with the President of Azerbaijan at the summit of the heads of state and governments of the NATO member countries, forthcoming in Bucharest. President Aliyev thanked for cordial greetings from Mr. Scheffer and asked to convey his greetings to him too. The President noted successful cooperation of the relevant country structures with the NATO, stressing importance of the Bucharest summit for the development of NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation.

Parliament

An Azerbaijani Parliamentary meeting on 4 March made the decision to withdraw Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Kosovo because of the province's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. The statement by the Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev, sent to the Azerbaijani Parliament says that the situation in Serbia is new and therefore, the issue of maintaining Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Kosovo should be re-considered. A peacekeeping troop was established as part of the National Army of Azerbaijan in 1997. Some 150 Azerbaijani peacekeepers serve in Iraq as part of the Multinational Forces, and 34 serve in Kosovo. Azerbaijani peacekeepers make control 18 villages of Kosovo. Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Kosovo serve as part of the Armed Forces of Turkey. In addition, 45 Azerbaijani peacekeepers serve as part of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan.

The Azerbaijani Speaker believes there is no need to pass a separate bill on the activity of the opposition party. "There is no separate bill concerning the function of the opposition in other countries. If a separate bill on the activity of the opposition is passed then the bill on the Authorities and Neutrals Activity will also be passed," Oktai Asadov, Speaker said. The opposition MP Group of Musavat has developed a Bill on Opposition Activity and submitted the document to Parliament. The project envisages State guarantee to opposition parties. Asadov said the Bill would be considered.

Foreign policy

Possible opening of the Czech Embassy in Azerbaijan was discussed at the meeting between the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Czech Parliament, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry told Trend on 3 March. "The meeting touched upon simplification of the visa system between the two countries, establishment of the relationships between the two countries' businessmen," the Ministry reported. Voicing his confidence that the mutual visits and meetings will expand the cooperation, Mammadyarov positively evaluated the mutual understanding at multi-side level. He noted that exchange of views during the dialogue between the Czech Republic and GUAM is fruitful. The Minister spoke of the regional energy projects and of the contribution which they will make into the Europe's energy security. He stated that studying the experience of the Czech Republic will be useful for Azerbaijan to integrate Europe. Yan Hamachek, the Chair of the Committee for Foreign Affairs at the Czech Parliament said that his visit to Azerbaijan is a next important step for development of the bilateral relationships. He noted the importance of enhancing the cooperation potential.

The relationships between Azerbaijan and Russia will be successful, the Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Vasiliy Istratov said at the reception dedicated to the victory of Dmitriy Medvedev at Russia's presidential elections on 3 March. According to Istratov, the congratulations to Medvedev from the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev demonstrate that the relationship between the two countries is at good level. Restoring broadcasting of Russian TV channels in Azerbaijan is theoretically possible, but there as yet there is no information in this connection, the Ambassador said. The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, received the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Bryza, on 4 March, the Ministry reported. The meeting focused on talks regarding energy and democracy between Azerbaijan and the USA. In addition, the sides touched upon the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Mammadyarov brought the attention of the guest that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may find its solution only within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Experts of .neighboring countries of Armenia do not rule out e destabilization of the situation in the country even after the curfew and are skeptical of the possible revolution. If there were plans to make an orange revolution in Armenia, then the police and government would have faced with a fitting rebuff while dispersing the demonstration, Sergey Merkedonov, the renowned Russian expert said. The President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan decreed on 2 March to impose a state of emergency for 20 days after the demonstration of the opposition against the false outcome of the election that lasted for many days flared into a confrontation with the police. According to the Health Ministry of Armenia of 3 March, the general number of those injured during the clashes in Yerevan on 1 and 2 March totaled 131 and 8 people were shot dead. "There is no doubt that the majority is dissatisfied with the Armenian government, but it is not the critical mass that could make an orange revolution," Markedonov, the head of Department for the International Relation Problems of the Institute of the Political and Military Analysis of Russia said. According to the expert, the Armenian government should learn a lesson from the latest developments and if the government will go on using force, it will not be to its favor; however, if some of the demands by the opposition can be taken into account, then the danger of orange revolution could be averted. "The complicated situation in Armenia is attributed to the fact that the government and opposition are not prepared to cooperate with discussions at the moment," the political scientist said. "We do not know who stands behind the latest developments in Armenia as we do not have access to certain documents at the moment. Both the government and the opposition are to be blamed," he said. Markedonov said that disorder took place in Armenia in 1996 as well when Ter-Petrosyan won the presidential elections and the opposition candidate Vazgen Manukyan organized mass demonstrations. According to Markedonov, similar developments took place in Azerbaijan in 2003 and in Tbilisi in January 2008. "As for the human victims, this aggravates the general situation which is typical of the post-soviet space as in the case of Kyrgyzstan," Mammadov said. The Turkish expert Arif Keskin said that Armenia is the ground where the interests of Europe and Russia clash and it is impossible to make a revolution in the country. "It is impossible to presume a revolution as the Armenian people are more pro-Russian rather than pro-western. In general, the population of Armenia is not ready for the orange revolution that took place in Ukraine and Georgia," Kaskin, the expert of the Eurasian Center of the Strategic Studies said to Trend on a telephone from Ankara on 3 March. The Iranian expert Hasan Shariatmadari said that the government in Armenia cannot be overthrown which related with Russia and it is impossible to hold independent elections in the country. According to the expert, the re-run of independent elections in Armenia is inevitable. "If United States supports the opposition which is under Russian influence indirectly and pressure from the opposition to the government will be consistent, the re-run of the elections with the participation of international experts may be the final way out of the tension," Shariatmadari said to Trend on 3 March on a telephone from Berlin. Azerbaijani expert Rasim Musabayov said that the latest developments in Armenia simply are the wish of the government to draw out its existence by false means. "There is no secret context here," Musabayov said to Trend on 3 March. Concerning the possibility of the orange revolution in Armenia, Musabayov said that there are already 8 dead in Armenia, but the orange revolution is the peaceful replacement of the current regime. Ramaz Sakvarelidzeh, the Georgian political scientist said that the confrontations that took place in Armenian society were at its peak within the last few days. "The people are dissatisfied with the political elite. On top of it all the Armenian Diaspora, who have a strong influence on the Armenian society also expressed their dissatisfaction," Sakarelidzeh said to Trend in Tbilisi on 3 March. In this case if the government will not take serious measures, the confrontations will cause further aggravation, he said. "However I do not think that the conflict will erupt into armed confrontation and civil conflict the expert said. "The developments in Armenia are less likely to have an impact on regional security," Sakarelidzeh said.

Relations between the European Union (EU) and Azerbaijan and the integration of Azerbaijan into Europe under the EU New Neighborhood Policy were discussed at a meeting by the Azerbaijani delegation at the Foreign Ministry of Germany in Berlin. The meeting which included representatives from the Azerbaijani President's Executive Power, ministries and administrations with Yohannes Regenbrecht, the head of the Department for South Caucasus and Central Asia of the German Foreign Ministry, focused on the position of lingering conflicts in the territory of South Caucasus, ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the occupation of the Azerbaijani territory by Armenia. The two sides noted high dynamics of development of the Azerbaijani-German relations in the political, economic and cultural fields. The organization of the Azerbaijani Year in Germany in 2008 and the German Year in Azerbaijan in 2009 was recognized as an important stage in the relations between the countries. The delegation's visit was at the invitation of the Ministry of Economy and Technology of Germany.

Representative of Armenia will not participate in the 68th Rose-Roth workshop of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO due in Baku. "MP Rafin Hovanesian, who represents Armenia, cannot participate in the PA NATO workshop to be held in Baku due to the resistance and clashes and the emergency situation announced in the country after the recent presidential elections," PA NATO told Trend on 4 March. The Islamic countries will anew protest against the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, and demand an unconditional and full withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan. Heads of state of OIC member-countries plans to adopt a resolution, at the summit due in Senegal on 12-14 March, to call upon the international community to recognize the Armenian aggression and take measures on rehabilitation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani embassy in Saudi Arabia accredited in OIC told Trend on 5 March.

Russia is perplexed by the ceasefire breach between Azerbaijan and Armenia. "We are always perplexed by any ceasefire breach on the frontline of the Azerbaijani and Armenian Armed Forces and yesterday's breach differs from previous ones with its intensity," Vasiliy Istratov, the Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan said to journalists on 5 March. There has been an exchange of fire between the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan starting on the morning of 4 March. Some 12 Armenian solders were killed and 15 seriously injured. Four soldiers from Azerbaijan died and one was wounded during the exchange of fire, the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan said. "It would be too early to make a statement about the cause of the ceasefire," the Ambassador said. According to Istratov, it is important to wait for the results of the monitoring to be held on the frontline by OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

American expert Jeff Mankoff said the real divide in Armenia seems to be between different factions of the elite rather than between different ideas of how the state should develop. "In the long run, the Armenian government faces a lot of same pressures that led to coloured revolutions elsewhere (poverty, poor governance, corruption), but for now the real divide seems to be between different factions of the elite rather than between different ideas of how the state should develop," Jeff Mankoff, a fellow at the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University and a writer for the History News Service told Trend via e-mail on 6 March. After violent suppression of the demonstration, many oppositionists were arrested, and their fate is still unknown. According to Mankoff, the opposition's refusal to recognize the results of an election, which was largely endorsed by international observers, was an irresponsible step. "Democratic government only works if the losers accept their loss, but are also guaranteed the opportunity to try again in the next election. In Armenia, the government made the situation worse by using force against largely peaceful protesters and arresting members of the opposition," he said. "The chances are less since Baghdasarian agreed to join the government," he said. Bagdasarian is the leader of the Orinats Erkir party. On 29 February, he agreed to the authorities' call to establish a coalition government and was appointed the National Defence Secretary. "For that reason, a revolution in Armenia could look more like what happened in Kyrgyzstan than what happened in Ukraine or Georgia". Since 20 February, Yerevan has been facing demonstrations, rally-marches, as well as sitting student protests organized by the opposition. The organizers and participants protest against the results of the elections. According to the Armenian Health Ministry, the number of the victims of riots, which took place in Yerevan on 1 March, has totalled 131, and 8 of them died from gunshot wounds.

Correction: Dov Lynch, the senior adviser to the OSCE's Secretary General, said today he had been misquoted by Azerbaijani media after making a speech in a personal capacity at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Baku. In his speech yesterday (6 March) on developments in the South Caucasus, Lynch had said that "wider developments may impact on regional security". He referred to "interpretations of the so-called Kosovo 'precedent' as a case in point, despite declarations that the Kosovo case is sui generis". Lynch said in the speech that "certainly, developments in the Western Balkans may mean that there is simply less time and attention given to the South Caucasus by external actors". Statements reported by several Azerbaijani news agencies and newspapers misrepresented the comments by Lynch, mistakenly saying he had drawn a parallel between Kosovo and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts. "It is disappointing my remarks were misrepresented," Lynch said.

Political movements

During their meeting Eldar Namazov, leader of the Public Forum 'For Azerbaijan' and Rasul Guliyev, ex-speaker and chairman of Open Society party, may reach an agreement on participation in the upcoming presidential elections, Yagub Abbasov, Deputy Chairman of Open Society party, stated. There is a plan to nominate the candidature of Namazov, former head of the Secretariat of Presidential Administration. Open Society party will nominate Guliyev's candidature for the presidential post. Namazov will go to the United States and will meet with Guliyev to hold discussions in connection with the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan. Abbasov said that the parties may come to an agreement and support each other during the elections. "We consider Guliyev as the candidate with most chance in the presidential elections 2008,"Abbasov said.

The Azerbaijani Taraggi Alliance (ATA) bloc made a decision to nominate candidature Chingiz Damiroglu, bloc's chairman, to the presidential post, Damiroglu reported to Trend . "I will inform the Council of ATA, the decision concerning the nomination of my candidature or the candidature of others during the presidential elections," Damiroglu said. Damiroglu may even support the candidature of most successful candidate from the opposition. Leaders from the Public Forum For Azerbaijan, Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani National Independent Party, Taraggi and Musavat held discussions periodically. The agreement was signed between Taraggi and Musavat in 2003, which is in force today. Five opposition parties will come to an agreement concerning the participation in the upcoming presidential elections in the near future. There are plans to establish the Election Bloc with the participation of five parties.

The Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) considers that the Authorities will win the upcoming presidential elections if the opposition does not unite and participate in the elections. "If the opposition is not united the candidate from the government will win," Gurban Mammadov, a member of the DPA Council stated to Trend . The presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan on 15 October 2008. The ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP) nominated the candidature of the current President Ilham Aliyev. Musavat, DPA, Great Establishment, Open Society and Umid parties from the opposition will participate in the approaching elections with their own candidates. The official believes that if the opposition has one candidate he could collect an equal number of votes as Aliyev. "The opportunities of the Authorities and the opposition during the presidential elections are equal. As there are objective reasons for victory and trust of the population. If the opposition will take part in the elections with different candidates then 50% of the votes will be divided among them," Mammadov said. Mammadov added that work implemented by Aliyev over the last few years, like creating new jobs, increase of salaries, successful policy within the country and worldwide, as well as the implementation of successful projects would provide Aliyev with success during the forthcoming presidential elections. The opposition should unite around one candidate to the presidential post from the DPA Sardar Jalaloglu.

The Azerbaijani Islamic Party will not support the current presidential post candidates. "If there is a new political force which is able to protect the national and state interest, we will support the organization," Akif Heydarli, the Islamic Party activist reported to Trend . The presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan on 15 October 2008. Leaders of some Azerbaijani opposition parties confirmed their presidential post candidates. They are Isa Gambar, Musavat party Chairman, Sardar Jalaloglu, Democratic party Chairman, Igbal Agazadeh, Umid party Chairman, Fazail Agamali, Great Establishment party Chairman, Gudrat Hasanguliye, Classic Popular Front party Chairman and others. "The Islamic party will vote for the force which will able to maintain the national values of the Azerbaijani population and improve living standards in Azerbaijan," Heydarli stated.

The opposition Open Society and Musavat parties reached an agreement to participate in the upcoming presidential elections with their own candidates and not hold pre-election campaigns against each other, Zamina Dunyamaliyeva, advisor to Rsul Guliyev, the OSP leader, stated to Trend . Dunyamaliyev held a meeting with Isa Gambar, the Musavat leader. The meeting participants discussed the issues concerning participation in the presidential elections in Azerbaijan. The parties came to an agreement to participate in the elections with their own candidates and not hold pre-election campaign against each other. Guliyev and Gambar believe that the opposition parties should participate in the elections with their own candidates. "We agreed with Gambar that each party will participate in the elections with their own candidates," Dunyamaliyeva said. Dunyamaliyeva noted that the parties may support each other during the run up to the elections. The parties agreed to support the candidate who will have the most chance during the elections. During the 2003 presidential elections Guliyev's candidature was registered, but he supported Gambar's candidature before the elections. Guliyev will nominate his own candidature and will not support candidates from other parties.

Rustam Shahsuvarov, who was dismissed as chairman of the Communistic Party of Azerbaijan (CPA), is establishing a new party. "I am thinking of establishing a new party due to the many appeals made to CPA by my supporters," Shahsuvarov said to Trend . CPA split into two parts after the death of Ramiz Ahmadov, CPA chairman; supporters of Rauf Gurbanov and supporters of Shahsuvarov. Shahsuvarov was dismissed from his post as chairmanship as a result of contradictions which occurred within CPA in January 2008. Alaskar Khalilova was appointed to that position. In February, Shahsuvarov informed Trend of his wish to establish a new Communistic Party of Azerbaijan of New Generation. "I made the decision to cooperate with the Communistic Party of Azerbaijan of New Generation. I have supporters in CPA and I made the decision to establish a new party," Shahsuvarov said. The new party would be left wing and pro-Marxist and may be established at the end of April or early May, Shahsuvarov added.

Differences have occurred in the Congress of World Azerbaijanis (CWA) again. The Azerbaijani representative of the organization reported to Trend that the CWA meeting was held on 4 March. Sabir Rustamkhanli was elected chairman during the meeting with the participation of eleven members. The CWA has 17 members. According to information only eleven members took part in the meeting. They were Sabir Rustamkhanli, Adil Minbashi, Samad Fertash, Mirashraf Fatiyev, Abuzar Bagirov, Faramaz Guluzade, Eldar Garadagli, Javad Darahti, Mammad Azar, Khaida Bornak and Rahmat Najafpur. Rustamkhanli was unanimously elected the CWA chairman. Gulamrza Sabri Tabrizi, the CWA chairman, did not participate in the meeting. Eliza Ismaylova, the CWA Secretary, stated to Trend that the aforesaid meeting did not take place. And, the eleven aforesaid people have differences within the Congress. Tabrizi considers the meeting illegal. Ismaylova said that Tabrizi talked with Rustamkhanli. Rustamkhanli said that he did not want to chair the CWA.

The head of opposition parties of Azerbaijan informed Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, of the situation on the threshold of the presidential elections in the country, Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) chairman stated to Trend . Within his visit to Azerbaijan, Bryza met with leaders of the Azerbaijani political parties, Sardar Jalaloglu, DPA chairman, Igbal Agazadeh, Umid party chairman, Sabir Rustamkhanli, Civil Solidarity chairman, Asim Mollazadeh, Democratic Reforms chairman, Avaz Tamirhanov, Liberal party deputy chairman and Ali Karimli, Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan chairman. During the meeting the participation in the presidential elections and pre-election situation, as well as the Karabakh problem and the continuation of the occupation policy of Armenia were discussed. "By violating the ceasefire agreement on the contact line with Azerbaijan, the Armenians have attempted to draw the attention of the international community away from the current situation in Armenia which emerged after the presidential elections, MP Asim Mollazadeh, Democratic Reform party chairman, stated.

Staff change in the Yeni Azerbaijan newspaper were made in order to increase elucidation about the governing New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), the NAP Deputy Executive Secretary Bahar Muradova told Trend . Last week, by the decision of the party's administration, the editor-in-chief of the NAP's Yeni Azerbaijan newspaper Algish Hasanoglu was dismissed from the position. According to Muradova, there are reports about the causes for the dismissal. "We want to inform the public and media that there are no serious problems as regard to the Yeni Azerbaijan. The change in the staff was made in order to cover the activities of NAP administration more transparently and adequately. There is no shade issue in this connection," she said. Muradova said no differences or staff change is expected to take place in the NAP on the threshold of the presidential elections.

The ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP) believes that serious internal tension in Armenia was the reason for the intensive violation of the ceasefire agreement on the contact line between Azerbaijan and Armenia. "The Armenian Government wishes to draw the attention of the world community away from the curent situation in the country which resulted after the presidentisal elections," Ali Ahmadov, Deputy Chairman and Executive secretary of YAP, stated. The Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire regime in various directions on 4 March. Ahmadov believes that this move by the Armenian Government cannot draw away the attention of the world community from Armenia's internal problems. The latest events on the contact line cannot remove the tension that exists in Armenia. "Lives lost and gunfire retaliation which Armenia faced after the violation of the ceasefire agreement will become factors which will increase the internal tension in Armenia", Ahmadov said.

A statement by Ilgar Gasimov, the chairman of political movement Way of Azerbaijan (WA), was spread by press. The chairman stated that he would stop his actities as a pressure is imposed on him. "In spite of the pressure against me, I and WA were ready to continue our activities. However, the latest information about non-recognition of me as Azerbaijani citizen and the activities of my friends in Russia changed my decision," is stated in the statement. "The statements that I am not an Azerbaijani citizen were a provocation against me. The spread of such information demonstrates that there are forces among the Authorities and opposition who are concerned about me. Neither me, nor the movement stopped its activities. In contrary, the movement reinforced its functioning in the threshold of presidential elections," Gasimov said. Shamsaddijn Rahimli, Deputy chairman of the movement, said to Trend that the press-service and Gasimov did not spread such information. Somebody opened an email account on the name of Gasimov and spread such information, Rahimli said. Rahimli stated that he do not know who may have spread such an information about Gasimov. However, Rahimli believes that this unknown people are concerned about Gasimov's political activity and this provocation was specifically made against Gasimov on the threshold of presidential elections.

The governing New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) is expected to re-organise its governing positions. "Some changes may be made," MP Mubariz Gurbanli, the NAP Deputy Executive Secretary, told Trend on 7 March. At the next NAP meeting, the Chair of the Party, President Ilham Aliyev will be nominated for the presidential elections scheduled for October. According to Gurbanli, preparations for the meeting which is expected to take place between April and June are being currently held. He did not specify the arrangements to be held.

'Independent MPs' of Azerbaijan demand to hold 20th anniversary of National-Liberation Movement and restore the status of State Independence Day Holiday on 18 October, as well as a special status for 'Independent MPs'. On 7 March 1991, 43 MPs voted for the separation of Azerbaijan from the Soviet Union and to announce its independence. But, 254 MPs stood against the separation and announcement of independence, and six remained neutral. Former MP Hajibala Azimov stated that he is indifferent to 'independent MPs'. MP Sabir Rustamkhanli noted that the position which 43 MPs took in 1991 was heroic, and today we cannot allow shuttling their reputation and removing them from public processes. Former MP Arif Hajili said that Azerbaijan gained independence not only as a result of the collapse of Soviet Union, but the National-Liberation Movement that took place in the country at that time played a key role in attaining the independence. Former MP Etibar Mammadov said that today the persons, who arrested the people who stood for the independence of the country, have occupied the high positions. The statement passed by 43 independent MPs stipulates to put an end to abuse of power by certain officials, as well as stopping of the negative popularization against National-Liberation Movement, moreover they also demand that the officials and judges who committed repression against 'independent MPs' must be punished and Day of State Independence must be marked annually.

Nagorno-Karabakh

If the clashes, contradictions and public and political actions which occurred in Armenia after the presidential elections continue in this way Azerbaijan will re-consider the peaceful settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. " Armenia is not interested in the peaceful settlement of the conflict. If the public and political actions in Armenia continue in this way the issue to peacefully resolve the conflict may be re-considered. Under the international right principles, Azerbaijan has the right to restore its territorial integrity through any other way," Ziyafat Askarov, first Vice Speaker of Azerbaijan, stated during the meeting with the delegation on International Relations Committee of MP Chamber of Czechia headed by Yan Khamachek, Committee chairman. Azerbaijan's foreign policy is directed at expanding cooperation with all countries including international organizations. Touching upon reforms, the first Vice Speaker commented on the steps taken in security and other spheres. Askarov informed guests about some Bills passed in Parliament and significant steps taken within the foreign policy of the country.

Armenian Armed Forces from a position located near the Berd region in Armenia violated the ceasefire regime by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army located in the village of Kokha Nabi in the region of Tovuz of Azerbaijan from 5.55pm to 12.00am on 2 March; from the village of Gorgan in the region of Fizuli of Azerbaijan from 11.12pm to 11.12pm, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported.

A violation in the ceasefire by Armenian armed forces in morning of 4 March resulted in the death of three soldiers from the National Army of Azerbaijan. According to the Trend regional correspondent, Guliyev Movlud Habib Oglu, a resident from the Zagatala region of Azerbaijan, died as a result of a gun shot wound. Guliyev was called up for active service in January 2007 by the Zagatala region Military Commissariat. Two more soldiers from the Azerbaijani army died as result of being shot by Armenian Armed Forces dislocated in the village of Talish of the occupied region of Terter directed to the positions of the National Army of Azerbaijan near the village of Tapgaragoyunlu in the region of Goranboy. One of the soldiers was Yusif Gasimov. The identity of other soldier is being established. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan press service said that the gun fire that began in the morning still continues, however, it did not comment on any losses.

The break in ceasefire by the Armenian armed forces on the morning of 4 March has resulted in the death of one of the soldiers of the National Army of Azerbaijan. According to the regional correspondent of Trend , Guliyev Movlud Habib oglu, resident of Zagatala region of Azerbaijan, died from wounds he received as a result of the fire. Guliyev was called up for active service in January 2007 by the Military Commissariat of Zagatala region of Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Defense refused to comment in this regard.

Talks on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will continue after the of situation in Armenia has stabilized, Matthew Bryza, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, said in talks with journalists in Baku on 4 March. "It is too difficult to make any conclusion when there is tension. So, it is necessary to take a break in the talks," Bryza said. According to Bryza Armenia's key task is to continue the development of democracy. Regarding talks between the Presidents and foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Bryza said that the scheduled meetings should be postponed until the situation Armenia has stabilized. He also announced that he would visit Yerevan on 6 March.

Bahar Muradova, Vice Speaker, believes that the intensification of situation, related to the current violation of the ceasefire regime by Armenian Armed Forces on 4 and 5 March, is an obvious attempt of Armenians to draw the world attention away from the critical situation prevailing in the country, Muradova said to Trend . "Armenian ruling officials undertook anti human measures against their own population. Therefore, Armenian Armed Forces attempted to draw world attention away from these measures and violated the ceasefire regime with Azerbaijan," Muradova stated. The Vice-Speaker noted that the Foreign Policy department of Azerbaijan informed international organizations and Minsk Group co-chairs about the latest violations. Azerbaijani parliament will express its relation towards the measures of Armenians to intensify the situation.

There is no any similarities between Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Kosovo, and both of them are totally different conflicts, therefore, introduction of same principles in this regard is quite impossible. "Kosovo can not be precedent for the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," Jose Lelo, the President of the NATO Parliament Assembly, said on 5 March in his meeting with Ogtay Asadov, the chairman of Azerbaijani parliament. On 17 Feb, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. The official Belgrade is not going to recognize Kosovo's independence. Several countries including US, Great Britain, Germany, France and Turkey have already recognized its independence. But Russia, Spain, China, Greece and Georgia support Belgrade's position. Azerbaijan does not support Kosovo's independence as well. Lelo said that NATO supports the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the international law. Asadov said that Azerbaijan will take relevant measures to solve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by peaceful means. " Armenia does not attach importance to the decisions and resolutions of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe and UN on the unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from Karabakh," Asadov said. He said that Azerbaijan wishes to solve the conflict honorably within the international law. Asadov said that Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the strengthening of relations with the authoritative international organizations including NATO. "One of the directions of our foreign policy is the integration with NATO," he said. Azerbaijan is strengthening its position in the system of Energy Security of Europe, he said.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry issued an official press statement on the long-term violation of the ceasefire on the frontline of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan and Armenia in several directions starting in the early hours of 4 March. The Defense Ministry said that as a result of the gun fire the situation has complicated. According to representatives of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, Armenia resorted to these methods in order to distract the world community's attention of from the bloody events and civil strife in the country. Some 12 Armenian solders were killed and 15 seriously injured as a result of retaliatory fire from the Azerbaijani Armed Forces towards the village of Goyarkh in the Terter region of Azerbaijan. The Armenian Armed Forces ceased gunfire at 1am on 5 March. The situation on the frontline is relatively calm at the moment. A total of four soldiers from the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan died as a result of the gunfire. They include Tusayev Nemat Habibulla (born in 1988 and was called up for active service in January 2007 by the Zagatala Regional Military Commissariat), Gasimov Yusif (born in 1988, who was called up to military service by the Sheki Regional Military Commissariat in October 2006), Bahruz Ismaylov (born in 1988, who was called up to military service by the Sheki Regionalal Military Commissariat in October 2006), Safarov Jeyhun Bahaddin (born in 1978, who was called up for active military service in 1996 by the Khatai district of Baku).. Aslanov Rovshan Khazar, born in 1988 and was called up for active service in October 2006 by the Gobustan Regional Military Commissariat of Azerbaijan was wounded as a result of the gunfire.

The Azerbaijani Defense Minister stated that the intensive armistice breaches in the frontline of the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces, is linked with the political tension in Armenia and targets distracting the international community from the tension in this country. "The Armed Forces of Armenia attempted to replace the heavy equipments at the frontline, whilst the Azerbaijani National Army prevented this plan," Safar Abiyev, the Azerbaijani Defense Minister stated in talks with the journalists in Terter region on 6 March. On 6 March, Colonel General Safar Abiyev, the Azerbaijani Defense Minister, visited the border district of Terter region- western Azerbaijan. The minister was participating in a final meeting with the Defense Ministry on 2007 results. The Minister is expected to visit the territory where the ceasefire agreement was violated during the past few days. From the early hours of 4 March, the Armenian armed forces violated, in several directions, the peace agreement on the frontline of Azerbaijan and Armenia- in the occupied territory of Azerbaijan The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that during the gunfire with Armenia, 12 Armenian soldiers were killed and 15 injured, while four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and one sustained injuries. The situation on the frontline is relatively calm at the moment. The ceasefire agreement was breached mainly in the direction of Goyarkh and Gizil Oba villages of Terter District.

The representative of the OSCE sees precedent between Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh problems. "Irrespective of the difference between Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts, the Kosovo model of settling the conflict may be a precedent for the Nagorno-Karabakh problem," the chief consultant of the OSCE, Dov Lints, said in Baku on 6 March, while giving a speech at the international seminar of NATO Parliamentary Assembly which took place in Azerbaijan's capital. "The problems should be resolved. Otherwise new victims would appear and actions with the separatist mood would be carried out," the OSCE envoy said. According to him, the conflicting sides need to sit behind the table of talks and fully isolate the separatist-mood forces.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be resolved peacefully, the Cardinal Tarchizio Bertoni, who is on a visit to Azerbaijan, briefed the media. "Applying force in settlement of such conflicts is unacceptable," Bertoni said. According to him, the international community should influence the settlement of conflicts- both in Azerbaijan and in the whole world. In addition, he said that the most important issue for the world is the issue of refugees, and therefore, it needs to settle this problem.

The Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire by shooting at the Azerbaijani National Army from the positions located at the unnamed hills nearby the Goran, Ashagi Veysalli, Garvand and Goradiz villages in the occupied Fizuli region of Azerbaijan from 11.20am to 4.25am on 6-7 March; from nearby of Tapgaragoyunlu village in the Goranboy region from 12.00pm to 12.40pm and from 11.25pm to 11.40pm on; from the unnamed hills in the Khojavand region of Azerbaijan and from nearby Kuropatkino village from 10.45pm to 2.15am on 7 March; from nearby of Mehdili village in the Jabrayil region of Azerbaijan from 11.15pm to 11.45pm. The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated, no casualty was reported.

NATO is concerned with restoring the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh after the violation of the ceasefire agreement on the contact line, Robert Simons, NATO Special Representative in South Caucasus, stated to journalists on 7 March. "We are concerned with the violation of the ceasefire agreement and it is one of the most serious incidents recently,' Simons said. The long-term violation of the ceasefire agreement on the Armenian-Azerbaijani contact line began on 4 March. Both parties suffered loss of life and injuries. Simon noted that NATO hopes that the current events will not affect the negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group. NATO is concerned with the events taking place in Yerevan and is observing the situation.

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