Weekly political review
On 17 March, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received Executive Secretary of Commonwealth of Independent State, Sergey Lebedev. The meeting focused on the current state of cooperation within the framework of CIS and the prospects.
Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan received the Greek delegation of the Ministry of Economic Development, led by Christos Folias, the economic development minister, on 17 March. The President expressed his confidence that the visit would give powerful impetus to the cooperation between the two countries. Christos Folias said that he has arrived in Azerbaijan with a large delegation and added that the bilateral cooperation is beneficial to both countries.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev examined restoration and reconstruction work at the Sabir park and the Nizami square in Baku on 18 March. He first visited the Sabir Park where he praised the work done saying the park had never been so beautiful as it looks now. Afterwards, President Ilham Aliyev proceeded to the Nizami square where he viewed a fountain complex. The President then came to the front of the Azerbaijan cinema to examine reconstruction work there.
On 19 March, Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan, received the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Interfax Information Services Group Mikhail Komissar. Komissar congratulated President Ilham Aliyev on Novruz Holiday. He noted that Azerbaijan, one of the region's leading countries, is rapidly developing. He said Azerbaijan`s accomplishments are the important source of information for Interfax. President Ilham Aliyev stressed the agency's fruitful work to promptly distribute Azerbaijan-related news around the world.
The adoption of the Resolution on situation in the occupied territory of Azerbaijan at the UN General Assembly is a great diplomatic and political victory of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated on 20 March addressing the public during the Novruz festivities in Baku. The UN resolution, adopted on 14 March, expresses serious concerns that armed conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and around it continues posing threat to international peace and security and negatively impacts on the humanitarian situation in the South Caucasus countries. The General Assembly calls on the member-countries to respect and support the sovereignty and territorial integrity within the framework of internationally recognized borders. The resolution confirms the inseparable right of population, driven out from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan, for repatriation and underlines the necessity of establishing conditions for their repatriation, including comprehensive rehabilitation of areas suffered as a result of the conflict. President Aliyev stated that in accordance with the resolution the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be solved within the framework of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The adoption of this document by UN will consolidate Azerbaijan's position on this issue. Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan will never recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. The President said that Azerbaijan remains in war conditions and war is still continuing. The ceasefire regime is in force. Major part of state expenses is directed at military sector. Addressing the public President Aliyev said that foreign and interior policy pursued by Azerbaijan corresponds to national interests and voiced his confidence that Azerbaijan will become a strong modern state. He said that Azerbaijan was attentively observing over the developments in the neighboring countries, which testify that disorders and disagreements among citizens result from absence of political and economic stability. He said that work done in the center of Azerbaijani capital on condition of reserving historical values will make Baku one of the beautiful cities of the world. Furthermore, new museums and theaters will open in the capital city.
President Ilham Aliyev has addressed the Azerbaijani nation on occasion of March 31, the day of genocide of Azerbaijanis. Dear fellow countrymen! Dear compatriots! Today, as in previous years, I address you on the occasion of March 31, the day when all Azerbaijanis throughout the world, with great sorrow and grief, are remembering the victims of the genocide. For nearly two hundred years, aggressive Armenian nationalists have been pursuing the policy of genocide against our nation. For decades, Azerbaijani and Turkish nations have regularly been subject to ideological, military and cultural aggression by Armenians whose objectives were ousting Azerbaijanis from their native lands and creating the mythical state of "great Armenia". The history of our nation was grossly misrepresented by Armenians, with our culture and toponyms being appropriated. The genocide policy differed in various periods of time, being accompanied by mass killings and military operations. The forcible change of the demographic situation in Karabakh and Zangazur thanks to resettling there in the first half of the 19th century of great number of Armenians from Ottoman Empire and Iran; mass killings of Azerbaijani population in 1905 and 1918; creation of an Armenian state in Azerbaijan`s historic lands and granting Iravan, one of Azerbaijan`s important centers of culture, to Armenia as a capital; the Soviet government`s giving Zangazur to Armenians in 1920; deportation of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from the lands of their ancestries in modern Armenia between 1948 and 1953 and other facts are tragic and bloody pages of the policy of genocide. In 1988, the Armenian nationalists incited by the USSR leadership and foreign supporters started an open aggression against Azerbaijan in order to forcibly incorporate Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia; and in a short period of time, this turned into large-scale military operations. The Khojaly tragedy, which was committed by the Armenian military units in February of 1992, will go down in history of humankind as a black spot and an unprecedented act of genocide in terms of cruelty and inhumanity. Today, the Armenian nationals, who have rich experience in committing acts of political-ideological sabotage and misinformation, are continuing to conduct a propaganda war against our country and our nation trying to mislead the world community and make it forget the fact of occupation of Azerbaijani territories. In the light of civil co-existence and cooperation principles, as well as integration processes gaining more success in the world, the Armenian nationalists' falsified genocide propaganda and territorial claims against neighboring states play a destructive role in undermining the regional stability and world order, lead to confrontation of nations and create national and religious hostility. However, the aggressive policy of Armenia and Armenian lobby is destined to failure. The experience of recent years shows that possibilities of Armenian occupants and their masterminds are not unlimited, and these possibilities are narrowing down. This policy is opposed by the economically powerful Azerbaijan, its political influence, increasingly strengthening solidarity of world Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan`s friends, and eventually, the strong Azerbaijan army. We regularly and fruitfully work with great powers that have serious influence in the world politics, try to shatter stereotypes and false approaches formed over decades, succeeding to achieve it in many cases. In spite of double standards and pressure of pro-Armenian forces, the international community must acknowledge the truth, facing the established facts. The events to commemorate genocide victims become more mass, more organized, and cause great response. Today, Azerbaijan is regarded as a rapidly developing country in the region and the world as well as the place of cooperation and tolerance. There is a social and national-religious solidarity in the country. Irrespective of how hard it is, we are not going to use genocide facts for creating hostility and hatred against other nations. We want just the historical justice and truth be restored, and ensure that such tragic events will never be repeated in any place of the world. On the contrary, the economic and moral-political regress deepens in the aggressive Armenia, and social problems and demographic situation are worsening. With its aggressive policy, Armenia left itself out of all regional economic-energy and transport-communication projects. The political crisis and anti-democratic processes taking place in the country are the result of the short-sighted policy of Armenian leadership, and indicator of the distrust of the Armenian people to its government. The sooner Armenian leadership gives up its aggressive policy, and establishes a policy based on cooperation and mutual respect, the better it will for them. Dear fellow countrymen! Dear compatriots! I assure you that thanks to the patriotism, unity and solidarity of our nations, and political will of the leadership of Azerbaijan we will achieve all our outstanding goals, including restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as exposure of those who committed the genocide, and who are arousing hostility and hatred among peoples and nations. Once again, I pay tribute to the blessed memory of the victims of the genocide and pray for Allah to rest their souls in peace, and wish our people prosperity and happiness.
On 30 March, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, inspected reconstruction work in the park where the State Philarmonic is located and seaside National Park. The Head of State and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva first arrived at the park near the Philarmonic. This park was established in 1830 and enlarged in 1859. President Ilham Aliyev was informed that archeological excavations are underway here along with reconstruction work. The Inner Town's second fortress wall and gates have been discovered here. The Head of State was also told that ancient wells had been found here as well. After reconstruction, they will be made available for the population. President Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva saw the photographs depicting the past of the Inner Town, and artworks. The President ordered to do a high-level reconstruction work and properly restore the cultural monuments. Then, the Head of State and his wife proceeded to the National Park. In accordance with President Ilham Aliyev's order, large-scale reconstruction work was started here. The park also called the seaside boulevard was established in 1909 and later enlarged in both directions. Under President Heydar Aliyev's order of December 29, 1998, the boulevard gained the National Park status. The President was informed that the there will be up-to-date amusement grounds in the park. Under the Head of State's leadership, ongoing large-scale reconstruction work in the capital is to make rapidly changing Baku one of the most beautiful cities not only in the region but also the world.
The Azerbaijani parliament will make certain changes in the Labour code. "There are some flaws in the Labour Code and over 100 changes are expected to be made into it," Hadi Rajabli, the chairman of Standing Parliament Committee on Social Policy said to Trend on 19 March. The chairman of the Committee said that a working group consisting of representatives of Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani parliament), Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Social Security Fund of Azerbaijan, has been set up to conduct a study into the Labour Code. "The working group is conducting a study into the Code at the moment. The study will reveal which changes are necessary and the draft of changes will be developed accordingly," Rajabli said. According to the chairman, the draft will be submitted to the Parliament in April.
The relations between Russia and Azerbaijan in 2007 developed in a stable manner, not sustaining cardinal changes, mentioned by the Russian Foreign Ministry's new review 'foreign-policy and diplomatic activities of Russian Federation in 2007'. The review says that despite that Azerbaijan stopped Russian gas import, significant decreases did not take place in the trade turnover due to the export of the Russian machines and equipment. The report says that Azerbaijani-Russian military and military-technical co-operation was carried out, taking into consideration the necessity of supporting balance of the forces in the Caucasus region and the visit of the Russian Defence Minister to Baku in November confirmed accuracy of this line. "Humanitarian co-operation remained as important part of the bilateral relations Measures were taken to maintain the position of the Russian language, Russian information space and to ensure rights of the Russians in Azerbaijan", the document says. Inter-regional relations are integral part of the bilateral relations. Moscow, St-Petersburg, Tatarstan, Dagestan, Astrakhan regions actively participated in them.
Ayaz Mutallibov, the former president and the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (SDP) said while commenting on his meeting with Eldar Namazov to Trend that his meeting with Eldar Namazov, the former assistant to the Azerbaijani President (1993-99), did not pursue any political purposes. "I see my meeting with Namazov as his respect to his compatriot who has been deprived of the right to live in its own country," Ayaz Mutallibov said. Ayaz Mutallibov was elected as the first president in 1991 after Azerbaijani declared its independence. He left the country in 1992 when the Popular Front Movement came to power and he has been in emigration in Russia since then. Eldar Namazov, the head of the For Azerbaijan national forum said to Trend earlier that he met with Ayaz Mutallibov, the former president of Azerbaijan during his visit to Russia and discussed the cooperation in the forth-coming presidential elections. Namazov wishes to gain the support of the former president in the presidential elections. In autumn 2006, regular presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan. Namazov plans to run for presidencyas well. Ilham Aliyev, the current president has been nominated from the ruling party. Isa Gambar, the chairman of Musavat (Equality) party and Sardar Jalaloglu, the chairman of Democratic Party of Azerbaijan as well are running for the presidency. Ayaz Mutallibov can not run for presidency as he is being searched on international level on the basis of the charges of Office of Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan. Mutallibov is charged with attempting to overthrow the government, establishment of illegal armed groups and other grave crimes. Mutallibov said that the support for any candidate in the presidential elections depends on the democratic and transparent conduct of the elections. "There is a big difference between the principle of cooperative expediency of the elections to be held and the elections that can be a driving force for the development of the government and society," the former president said. According to Mutallibov, the issue of nominating a candidate of Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan has not been solved yet. "This issue will be discussed in meeting of the party to be held in summer," Mutallibov said.
The Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire agreement by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions from the unnamed hills in the Fizuli region from 1.00pm to 1.30pm on16 March; from somewhere near the Kuropatkino village in the Khojavand region of Azerbaijan from 2.40pm to 2.50pm; from the nearby of Gulustan village in Goranboy village from 9.40pm to 10.00pm; from the nearby of Javahirli village in Agdam region from 2.30am to 2.40am on 17 March, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported. The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated, but no casualties have been reported.
The Armenian Armed Forces have violated the ceasefire agreement by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions from the positions in the Berd region from 9.30pm to 9.35pm on 17 March; from somewhere near the Kokha Nabi village in the Tovuz region of Azerbaijan, from the nearby of Khojavand region from 8.40pm to 9.40pm; from the nearby of Fizuli region from 10.10am to 10.50am, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported. The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated and no casualties were reported.
OSCE Minsk Group considers that the resolution 'State on the Azerbaijani occupied territories' passed by the UN Generally Assembly on 62nd session, exercise danger on the peaceful settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. The three Minsk Group Co-Chair countries will vote against this unilateral draft resolution, which threatens to undermine the peace process, and they still reaffirm their support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and thus do not recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. UN General Assembly supported the 'Resolution on the Situation in the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan' proposed by Azerbaijan. The resolution demands immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian Armed Forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Co-Chairs stated that the peaceful settlement is a long-term issue and would cause inevitable compromises in the settlement process of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "When serious clashes have occurred along the Line of Contact with loss of lives, both the sides must refrain from unilateral and extremist actions either at the negotiating table or in the field." There has been observed violation of ceasefire agreement on the contact line between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Armed Forces from 4 March. There was loss of lives of innocent people and several got wounded. Official Baku considers Minsk Group Co-hairs led themselves to difficulties by voting against the Resolution, Araz Azimov, Deputy Foreign Minister, stated. "Co-chairs gave promises but could not implement them for many years," he said. According to Azimov, Minsk Group has lost its efficiency. "Minsk Group unites such countries as Turkey and Germany, which have more understandable position towards the conflict," he said. Azimov also expressed his concern over the contradictory statements of Co-chairs -concerning the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
The political parties of Azerbaijan call on the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen to put an end to double standards, serve peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and not to any take reckless steps. "Political parties of Azerbaijan sharply condemn the OSCE Minsk Group's position on the Resolution on 'Situation in Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan'- which was adopted by the UN General Assembly," stated by the declaration adopted by the political parties during the conference organized by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) on 19 March. On 14 March, the UN General Assembly supported the Resolution on 'Situation in Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan', which was presented by the Azerbaijani side. The representatives of each three co-chairman-countries ( USA, Russia and France) of the OSCE Minsk Grou- which was established for the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, voted against the Resolution, i.e. against territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The declaration by the ruling party says that Azeri people were hoping that the negotiations within the Minsk Group will yield positive results and the Armenian side will release occupied Azerbaijani territories. "Despite that certain documents regarding fair settlement of the conflict were adopted at higher meetings of the OSCE, no agreement has been reached as a result of unconstructive policy of Armenia," the declaration says. The declaration says that according to the mandate of OSCE Minsk Group, the key obligations of the mediators include achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict on the basis of norms and principles of the international law. "Unfortunately, in several cases, the Minsk Group Co-Chairmen do not demonstrate succession in this regard. The statement of Co-Chairmen distorting the essence of conflict adversely affected the process of peaceful negotiations, nonetheless encouraged occupant country," the declaration says. The declaration says that the Co-Chairman countries' vote against the document, submitted by the Azerbaijani side to the UN General Assembly, brought to serious dissatisfaction in Azerbaijan. Thus, the Co-chairman subjected their objective activities to serious doubts and demonstrated solidarity with occupant Armenia, who openly breaks the rights of peaceful neighborhood existence and principles of territorial integrity.
The Co-Chairs in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution consider that a first meeting between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan could lead to the resumption of peace talks. The Co-Chairs express their sincere hope that this meeting, accepted in principle by the two sides, will take place and lead to the resumption of negotiations for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the Document on the Basic principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, presented to the sides on November 29, 2007 in Madrid before the opening of the OSCE Ministerial Council, according the official statement issued by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. The Co-Chairs remain convinced that any peaceful and equitable settlement of the conflict will require unavoidable compromises among the parties. They underline the urgent need to resume the negotiations after the pause due to the presidential election in Armenia. In that respect, they note with satisfaction the affirmation of both Foreign Ministers of the need to continue the discussions between the sides. After these meetings the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs recall that, as reiterated before the vote on the "Resolution on the Situation in the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan" at the UN General Assembly, France, the Russian Federation and the United States support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and therefore do not recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, while holding that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh is a matter of negotiations between the parties. Finally, at a time when serious clashes resulting in the loss of life have occurred along the Line of Contact, the Co-Chairs urge both sides to refrain from unilateral and maximalist actions on the ground, at the negotiating table, as well as in their public rhetoric, and to fully and strictly comply with their obligations relating to the cease-fire." The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Yuri Merzlyakov for the Russian Federation, and Bernard Fassier for France, as well as Mike Carpenter, Advisor to U.S. Co-Chair Matt Bryza) met with the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanian in Vienna on the 14th of March and with the Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov in Paris on the 15th of March.
The format of the OSCE Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement will be upheld as long as it corresponds to the interests of Azerbaijan and Armenia and international community, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Grigori Karasin, briefed the media in Yerevan on 20 March, Novosti Armenia reported. According to him, the sides have a habit of discussing the issue in a constructive and peaceful manner, and any changes to the format may bring to uncertainty.
The issue of the date and place of the next meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia remains unclear, said the U.S. Co-Chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza. According to unofficial information, the meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia regarding peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may take place at the beginning of April in Bucharest within the NATO summit. Yerevan and Baku highlighted their preparedness to re-establish the negotiations process which was suspended as a result of presidential elections in Armenia in February. The U.S. Co-Chairman said that the President of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, who completes his presidential term will not participate in the NATO Bucharest summit, and the newly elected President of Armenia, Serj Sarkisyan, will come to the presidential oath no earlier than 9 April, Bryza said, adding that it remains unclear when the next meeting of the leaders of the two countries will take place. The U.S. politician considers that the fair and sustainable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains as one of the key issues of the US-Azerbaijan partnership. "The United States and Azerbaijan are satisfied with the deep friendship and strong strategic partnership. The high-ranking officials of Azerbaijan clearly made aware Washington that they intend to, in every possible way, strengthen and intensify our close relations in a wide diapason of issues of mutual interest," said the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Matthew Bryza.
Josef Pennington, temporary US Charge dAffaires in Armenia, stated that Washington stands for continuous of peace process on regulation of Karabakh conflict within the framework of OSCE Minsk Group, Mediamax reported. "We consider that OSCE Minsk Group has the composition which will lead to peace settlement of the issue," he stated.
The issue on recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by Armenia was not included into the agenda in Yerevan, Vardan Oskanian, the Armenian Foreign Minister, stated in Moscow on 28 March. "It may depend on the concrete steps of Azerbaijan during the next weeks or months and concrete steps to provide rights of population of Nagorno Karabakh for self-determine and security," Oskanian said to Azerbaijani journalists. "If Azerbaijan will continue to hold negotiations on the ground of existing OSCE document, then there will not be need for Armenia to reconsider its policy on this issue. However, if Azerbaijan will refuse or dismiss this document and undertake any actions, then Armenia will reconsider its policy and approach to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," Oskanian said.
Armenia is satisfied with the work of OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and does not agree with the possible initiative of Azerbaijan on change of the composition. "I believe co-chairs work excellent. I do not think that Azerbaijan has right to appeal to dismiss Minsk Group composition," Vardan Oskanian, the Armenian Foreign Minister, stated to Trend in Moscow on 28 March.
Azerbaijan appealed to OSCE Secretariat in Vienna to dismiss the Minsk Group composition. According to the media, the reason for appeal became dissatisfaction of the Azerbaijani Government connected with OSCE member-countries including Russia, France and the United States voted against the Resolution on Situation in Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan adopted during the session of UN General Assembly on 14 March. There are other mechanisms in appointment of OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, according to Oskanian. "These country-co-chairs must themselves decide to change their representatives or not," the Armenian Minister said. The conflicting sides have been cooperated with Minsk Group co-chairs for long time.
Official Yerevan hopes that the next meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents will be held within the framework of NATO summit in Bucharest from 2 to 4 April. "We hope and will possible the meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents," Vardan Oskanian, the Armenian Foreign Minister, stated in Moscow on 28 March. Armenia express readiness to continue the negotiations on the ground of existing document, Oskanian said. Novruz Mammadov, the Head of International Relations Department of Azerbaijani President's Office, stated to Trend that if OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to propose to meet with Armenian President and Azerbaijani President to take part in NATO summit, then the Azerbaijani President may consider this issue. Matthew Bryza, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair on Regulation Armenia-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, stated in his interview to Trend and expressed doubt on possible meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents in Bucharest. Bryza stated that the Armenian President Robert Kocharian will not participate in the summit in Bucharest, and the new elected President Serzh Sargsyan will come to force after 9 April.
Replacement of the OSCE Minsk Group's co-chairs, who are engaged in settling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, by other intermediaries will not give results, ITV quoted MP Mubariz Gurbanli, the deputy executive secretary of Azerbaijan's governing New Azerbaijan Party (NAP). "Three countries - France, Russia and the United States - are represented in the OSCE Minsk Group and they are the permanent members of the UN Security Council and of the G8. The three countries have great authority in the world. Which other countries can replace them? Intermediary should be strong. If strong intermediaries fail to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, so how will weak intermediaries do that? Through strong countries we have more chances to achieve the goal. Formal participation of weak countries at the Minsk Group will give no result. The problem can be solved within the framework of the OSCEK Minks Group through sticking to the principle 'the strong one is the right one'," Gurbanli said. Several days ago Azerbaijan sent a letter to the OSCE Secretariat urging to recall or replace the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Recognition of Armenia's aggressive policy towards Azerbaijan requires the political will of the UN, the former US Ambassador to UN (2001-2006) Sichan Siv said to journalists in Baku on 30 March. "Each UN member should show political will to recognize Armenia as aggressor," Siv said. According to the American diplomat, Armenia had not the rights to occupy the territory of Azerbaijan and the international community should openly condemn the country for its deeds instead of silently observing the on-going events. Siv is visiting Baku in order to participate in the international conference 'The History as It Is' dedicated to the Day of the Azerbaijani Genocide - 31 March.