Weekly political review

Politics Materials 17 April 2008 12:03 (UTC +04:00)

Official news

On 7 April, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev received the Turkmen delegation headed by Agageldi Mamedgeldiyev, the defense minister of the country, at President Palace. Head of the Azerbaijan State noted good opportunities for all-round cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. The two people had, in all the periods, friendly and cooperative ties, and during the independent years the two countries should further expand these relations, President Aliyev stressed. The Head of State underlined that the cooperation between the Defense Ministries of the two countries would promote the development of bilateral relations. Defense minister of Turkmenistan Agageldi Mamedgeldiyev said that the expansion of cooperation between the two defense ministries and mutual exchange of the experience will enhance traditional friendly relationships.

On the same day, President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev received the foreign participants of the international conference 'Protection of political rights in Azerbaijan - new criteria'. The meeting focused on the work done for more democratization of the Azerbaijani society.

On 7 April, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on marking the Red Crescent Day. From now onwards, 10 March will be marked in Azerbaijan as the Red Crescent Day. The decree says that this step was taken due to Azerbaijan's fruitful activities at the Red Crescent Society in providing humanitarian aid and social services to the victims of military conflicts and to the people who sustained emergency situations..

On 7 April, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev awarded Nizami Bahmanov for his fruitful activities at the State service and Salman Musayev for his good activities in the public life of the country, with the Glory order.

The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received credentials of the European Union's newly appointed ambassador to Azerbaijan Alan Waddams, Annamammad Mammadov, newly appointed Ambassador of Turkmenistan in Azerbaijan and Zakir Vazirov, Ambassador of Tajikistan in Azerbaijan..

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed an order ratifying the Agreement on regulation of debt obligations and financial requirements between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, which was signed on 5 March 2008 in Baku.

Additionally, the President issued an order ratifying the Agreement on co-operation between Azerbaijan TV and Radio Broadcasting JSC and Television of Poland, which was signed on 26 February 2008 in Warsaw and Agreement on co-operation between the Ministry of Industry and Energy of Azerbaijan and Ministry of Economy and Finance of Romania, which was signed on 12 March in Bucharest.

On 9 April, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed a decree conferring Glory Medal upon Ali Hasanov. Hasanov was conferred for his productive activity in the State service.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received Jamil Chichak, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister, at the Presidential Palace on 11 April.

Discussions of successful development of friendship and brotherhood relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey in all spheres took place during the meeting. The role of mutual visits to expand further bilateral relations was also discussed and it was agreed that the visit would have an impact on developing the ties between two countries.

On 11 April, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev at President Office received Mr. Andrew Inglis, BP Executive Vice-President. Mr. Andrew Inglis informed about the successful development operations in Azerbaijan, especially, he said that despite the hard frosts last winter, the production in Shahdeniz deposit continued without any break and thus the gas supply for population was completely fulfilled. President Aliyev recalled the heavy winter days, noting the absence of problems in gas supply of consumers, which is highly appreciable. The meeting also focused on the issues of further development of cooperation, as well as exchanged views on successful continuation of this cooperation.


The Speaker of Azerbaijani Parliament has invited his colleagues from Turkmenistan. "Expansion of the relationships between our Parliaments is of great importance in terms of exchange of the information and experience," the Speaker of Azerbaijani Parliament Ogtay Asadov said at a meeting with the delegation headed by Turkmenistan Defence Minister Agageldi Mammadgeldiyev on 7 April. The Turkmen Defence Minister is on a visit to Baku. Asadov said that Azerbaijan attaches great importance towards the development of relations with Turkmenistan, with which it has common historical and cultural roots. "Rapidly developing Azerbaijan is ready for cooperation with Turkmenistan in all the fields. There are good opportunities for deepening the economic relations," he said. Mammadgeldiyev voiced his interest in cooperation with the developing Azerbaijan in different fields.

The Topographic Committee under the Azerbaijani parliament has decided to rename Ali Bayramli, one of the four big cities of Azerbaijan. The Commission discussed this issue on 9 April. The commission recommended renaming Ali Bayramli to Shirvan. This issue is expected to be brought for discussion in Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani parliament). The residents of Ali Bayramli and City Administration appealed the Commission to rename the city to Shirvan, said Budag Budagov, the chairman of Topographic Committee.

The Azerbaijani MPs consider it necessary to discuss the situation emerging in the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia with regards the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. "Currently certain changes are recorded in the negotiations. Therefore, holding hearings in Azerbaijan Parliament regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has became utmost urgent, and even there is a great necessity for it," Panah Huseyn, member of Musavat Group of MPs which represent opposition in the Parliament, reported to Trend on 11 April. Hearings were held in the Parliament of Armenia with regards to Nagorno-Karabakh. The declaration, passed as a result of hearings, highlights impossibility of returning Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. Huseyn considers that adoption of the 'Resolution in Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan at UN General Assembly', election of the terrorist Serj Sarkisyan, who committed crimes against Azerbaijan, as the President of Armenia, as well as the hearings held in the Parliament of Armenia with regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh and declaration adopted by them, make it utmost necessary to present Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for discussions in Azerbaijani Parliament. "Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was discussed in Parliament once. It is fully possible to organize next discussions," said the member of the Political Council of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party and member of Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, Aydin Mirzazade. He considers that conducting hearings, the Parliament of Armenia wants to draw attention of the society away from tense situation prevailing in the Country. The MP added that the government of Armenia again using Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a trump card. " Armenia organizes hearings in the Parliament, but the President of Azerbaijan pursues the policy to settle Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, strengthens the Army and increase the budget," Mirzazade said. The Chairman of opposition Democratic Reforms Party of Azerbaijan, Asim Mollazadeh, considers that if there will be advancements in talks on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, it will be possible to hold hearings in the Parliament. "It is normal case to hold hearings on important problems of the country. Even it is very much necessary," he said. "Discussions on the situation related to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement are possible. Parliament serves interests of people. Therefore, if necessary, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be discussed in the Parliament," said MP Gultakin Hajiyeva, Deputy Chair of Azerbaijani delegation to PACE. The Chairman of opposition Adalat Party of Azerbaijan, Ilyas Ismaylov, along with the discussions on Nagorno-Karabakh in the Parliament, all political parties and public organizations should maintain this issue as the center point of attention. "The Parliament of Armenia held hearings .But; I consider that we do not need to repeat the moves of Armenia. We should ourselves take steps to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," he said. According to the opposition Great Establishment Party, Fazil Gazanfaroglu, the source of indifference in the Azerbaijani society towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the Parliament. "The MPs have repeatedly raised the issue of holding at least closed hearing on Nagorno-Karabakh. However, it yielded no results and the hearings were not organized. The Parliament of Azerbaijan should express its attitude towards the processes around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," he said.

Foreign policy

Azerbaijan has no intention of applying to NATO for membership. "The current level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO satisfies both parties," Ziyafat Asgarov, the Azerbaijani first vice speaker and the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO, said in talks with journalists on 7 April.

Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are beginning cooperation in the military field. "The visit of Turkmen defense minister to Azerbaijan can be assessed as a beginning of the bilateral military relations. Apart from other spheres, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan should focus on cooperation in the military and military-technical sphere as well," the colonel-general Safar Abiyev, the defense minister of Azerbaijan said during his meeting with Agageldi Mammadgeldiyev, the defense minister of Turkmenistan. The defense minister of Turkmenistan is paying a two-day visit to Baku at an invitation of Abiyev. The official visit of the defense minister of Turkmenistan began with laying wreath on the memorial of Heydar Aliyev, former president of Azerbaijan, in the Honorary Alley. At first, the minister held a tete-a-tete meeting and later with the other members of delegation of both the countries. According to Abiyev, the cooperation that began between the countries recently serves the interests of both the nations. " Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are fraternal countries and we have common historical roots. Precisely this factor will lead us towards the friendship," said Abiyev. As to military and political situation in the region, the defense minister of Azerbaijan said that Armenia is still hindering the peaceful settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "Either peace will be achieved or Azerbaijan will free its lands by other means," he said. The minister of defense of Turkmenistan said that the development of bilateral relations serves the interests of both countries. " Turkmenistan recognizes territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and considers the occupied lands as integral part of Azerbaijan," said Mammadgeldiyev.

After a 7-year break the embassy of Turkmenistan in Azerbaijan restored its activities on 9 April. The newly-appointed Ambassador arrived in Baku and will present his credentials to the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.

At the decree by Turkmen President Gurbangulu Berdimuhammadov, in March Mammaov was appointed Ambassador of Turkmenistan in Azerbaijan.

Prior to his appointment to Azerbaijan Mammadov worked as the General Consulate of Turkmenistan in Istanbul.

Seven years ago the Turkmen Ambassador to Azerbaijan was recalled due to disagreements over the disputable Kapaz field in the Caspian.

During this time, after the replacement of the President, Turkmenistan succeeded in regulating the issue with Azerbaijan concerning Baku's debts for Turkmen gas and to intensify talks regarding the border delimitation in the Caspian.

Ashgabad is also prepared to discuss the West lobbied project on the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which is planned to deliver Turkmen gas to Europe via Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Turkey, Azerbaijan and Israel should develop and expand relations and cooperation on trilateral basis, said Murat Mercan, the chairman of the commission on international relations of the Turkish Parliament.

Relations with Azerbaijan are of strategic importance for Turkey, like the relations with Israel. "I think we have goods prospects for the development of trilateral cooperation and we should use this potential of cooperation," the Turkish MP said in an interview with Trend on 9 April.

Mercan said that during the visit to Jerusalem he met with the leaders of the Diaspora organization 'Congress of Israeli Azerbaijanis'. " Turkey is always with Azerbaijan," Mercan said, saying that Azerbaijanis are our brothers worldwide, including Israel.

Azerbaijan has signed, with a proviso, the Declaration on Energy Cooperation between the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the European Union.

The document was signed on 10 April in Kiev as a result of a meeting between the ministers of energy of BSEC member-states and the meeting of BSEC Working Group on energy.

Azerbaijan, as a BSEC member, has warned of the bad influence of long-drawn conflicts on the regional cooperation and stated the importance to solve these conflicts soon in line with sovereignty principles and territorial integrity. "The Republic of Azerbaijan states that none of the provisions of the Declaration will be accepted by Azerbaijan regarding the Republic of Armenia," the Declaration states. Azerbaijan is taking into consideration the fact that at present, the territories of Azerbaijan are under Armenian occupation and Azerbaijan will not cooperate with Armenia in any manner unless its territories are liberated.

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

The Declaration proposes the coordination of harmonization process of legislation and regulatory basis in energy among BSEC member states and EU, Sergey Pavlusha, the Deputy Energy Minister of Ukraine said to journalists. The sides have decided to propose EU join BSEC goals to ensure energy security in the region.

The Document also envisages the development of purposeful cooperation with European Commission to increase synergetic effect in realization of regional initiatives of BSEC and EU in energy. The document stresses the importance of developing the unified regional energy BSEC strategy.

BSEC includes Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

"The Israeli Parliament does not recognize the Armenian genocide," Israel's former Ambassador to Azerbaijan Eitan Nae said to journalists. Nae said that a small MP Israeli group using the democratic principles of the country is attempting to include the issue regarding the so-called Armenian genocide on the agenda. "I believe that the issue will not be passed, because the position of the Israeli Government towards the fictional genocide remains unchanged. ... Israel recognizes and supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," he said.

A protocol was adopted as a result of the meeting of the Azerbaijani-Turkish Inter-Governmental Commission for Economic Co-operation in Istanbul on 11 April.

The sides have reached to an agreement on several aspects of the bilateral co-operation and discussed various issues, said State Minister of Turkey, Mustafa Sait Yazichioglu, during the signing ceremony. One of the agreements is the gradual transition to the regime of checkpoints on the respective borders of the two countries in Nakhchivan, said the Co-chairman of the Commission from the Turkish side, Yazichioglu. In addition, the sides have also reached to an agreement to begin the discussions on cancellation of visa payments for the citizens of Turkey who visit Azerbaijan. Importance was highlighted for further expansion of the co-operation with regards to energy, transit cargo transportations, co-operation within Turkish Agency for Co-operation and Development (TIKA), continuation of Turkey's assistance to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, he said. Azerbaijani Co-chairman of the Commission, Vice Prime Minister, Abid Sharifov, expressed his hope that the sides will successfully realize the agreement on this protocol. The members of the Commission have also reached to an agreement to send a mission of Turkish investors to Azerbaijan to search for new spheres of co-operation between the two countries.

Political movements

Isgandar Hamidov, the chairman of oppositional National-Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (NDPA) and former interior minister, has announced that he is leaving policy. "I have resigned from the post of Party Chairman and decided to leave the policy as well," Hamidov said to Trend on 7 April.

The meeting of Political Council of NDPA was held on 5 April where he announced his resignation from the post of party chairman. The Political Council has accepted his resignation.

"Recently, I have shrunk into my shell and have turned to religion. The parties claiming themselves to be leading parties are cheating citizens and immorality dominates in the policy, all these forced me to make up my mind for leaving the policy. I have been constantly thinking about it lately," said Hamidov.

The former minister said that he wants to leave the policy, and write a book about the processes taking place in Azerbaijani policy in recent times and about the period during which he was in the prison. "I will live in a village where I will communicate only with a small number of people. I will write a book with the help of a journalist after all the material is ready," said Hamidov.

"There are forces in NDPA strong enough to run the party. Party is still operating. At present, Oktay Khalil is running the party. A meeting will be held to elect a new chairman," he said.

NDPA plans to hold its meeting and an Organizational Committee has been set up for this purpose. The Committee is ruled by Oktay Khalilov, the Deputy Head of party.

According to Hamidov, yet no one has expressed his wish to become the chairman.

The Boz Gurd (Grey Wolf) party was established in 1993. In 1994, it was registered at the Justice Ministry. In 1995, the Supreme Court annulled the registration because of the name of the party. In order to solve the problem, the party was renamed to the National and Democratic Party of Azerbaijan at its second meeting held in 1999. The chairman of party Isgandar Hamidov, the former interior minister, has been in prison from 1995 to 2004 and was released in 2004 by the pardon decree of the President.

The Azerbaijani Opposition believes that it will be able to introduce a successful platform that can be an alternative to that of the government in the presidential elections.

Sardar Jalaloglu, the chairman of right central Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) and presidential candidate said that social and economic problems will be the main concern of election platform.

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

The ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP) does not believe that opposition can introduce an election platform alternative to that of the government. Aydin Mirzazade, the member of Political Council of YAP and MP, said to Trend that the opposition is not professional enough to develop such platform.

According to Jalaloglu, the platform includes the rise in pay and introduction of new principles for the formation of state budget.

All issues included in the election platform will be announced after the official start of elections in line with Election Code.

The oppositional Musavat believes that its platform will be comprehensive and will reflect the social problems. According to Arif Hajili, the Head of Central Administration of Musavat Party, the solution of economic, internal and political problems will be included in the platform. The Azerbaijani Opposition believes that it will be able to introduce a successful platform that can be an alternative to that of the government in the presidential elections. Sardar Jalaloglu, the chairman of right central Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) and presidential candidate said that social and economic problems will be the main concern of election platform. The presidential elections in Azerbaijan will be held in October 2008. The ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP) does not believe that opposition can introduce an election platform alternative to that of the government. Aydin Mirzazade, the member of Political Council of YAP and MP, said to Trend that the opposition is not professional enough to develop such platform. According to Jalaloglu, the platform includes the rise in pay and introduction of new principles for the formation of state budget. All issues included in the election platform will be announced after the official start of elections in line with Election Code. The oppositional Musavat believes that its platform will be comprehensive and will reflect the social problems. According to Arif Hajili, the Head of Central Administration of Musavat Party, the solution of economic, internal and political problems will be included in the platform.

Differences regarding the nomination of the candidate for the chairmanship position took place amongst the Ana Vatan pro-governmental party of Azerbaijan. "The information that no other candidate except Fazail Agamali was nominated to the position is false," MP Zahid Oruj, the deputy chairman of the party, stated to Trend . Agamali stated to Trend earlier that there was no other candidate for the chairman position in the party except himself. According to Oruj, the force of any party should coincide with the potential of the population and those surrounding the party. "The chairmen of the parties believe that they were elected for an unlimited period," he said. The Party, according to Oruj, holds excellent political experience. The public is not familiar with the 14 members of the party Central Council. "This was the fault of the party's leader which could not be prevented, Oruj said. Oruj will not nominate his candidate and will vote for the current leader of the party. Conditions will be created to nominate a successor for the leadership position. Ana Vatan was founded by Agamali and the Party supports the Government.

The Executive Power of Baku did not respond to the appeal of Azerbaijani National Independent Party (ANIP) to allocate an area for staging a rally, ANIP reported on 9 April. On 20 April, ANIP out of turn meeting will be held. Party had appealed to Executive Power to sanction the rally in the Cultural Centre Shahriyar or Theatre of Song named Rashid Behbutov. Executive Power said the Centre of Culture named Shahriyar is under control of National Security Ministry and Theatre of Song named Rashid Behbudov is under the control of the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Therefore, Executive Power recommended ANIP to appeal to the respective Ministries.

The Opposition National Independence Party of Azerbaijan (NIPA) has appealed the Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Culture and Tourism to allocate a venue for their meeting, the party said to Trend . The special meeting of NIPA will be held on 20 April. The Party appealed to the City Administration to hold the meeting in the Culture Center named after Shahriyar or in Theatre of Songs named after Rashid Behbudov. The City Administration proposed that the Party appeal to the Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the owners of these centers. However, NIPA has already made a written appeal to these Ministries. "If the Ministries refuse us from having either of these centers, we will have to look for a private center," said Ali Orujov, the NIPA secretary for press and propaganda.

Though there are still 7 months left for the presidential elections, currently more than 10 organizations will support Ilham Aliyev, the current President of Azerbaijan and the candidate from ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (New Azerbaijan).

"Eight parties represented in Advisory Council of pro-Government Parties have stated their support for Ilham Aliyev in the presidential elections. There is no dissent within the organization in this regard," said to Trend Mubariz Gurbanli on 11 April, the Deputy Executive Secretary of YAP.

The presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan on 15 October 2008. The bloc Azadlig ( Liberty) has stated that it will boycott elections if the election committee is not formed on an equal basis.

The Advisory Council includes YAP, Ana Vatan Party (Homeland Party), Social Welfare Party, Democratic Enlightenment Party, Republicans, Democratic World of Azerbaijan, National Statehood and Alliance for Azerbaijan.

The parties unanimously decided to support Ilham Aliyev, Mammad Alizade, the member of Advisory Council and the chairman of Democratic World of Azerbaijan reported to Trend .

Fazail Agamali, the chairman of Ana Vatan Party is of the same opinion. "Parties represented in the Advisory Council have always had a unified position as in the case of the upcoming elections," he said.

Tahir Karimli, the chairman of opposition Vahdat (Unity) Party said to Trend that the Party has already stated its support for Ilham Aliyev and the Party will officially announce this within the next few days. "We will not change our decision," he said.

The Civil Solidarity Party and Social Democratic Party stated that it is possible that they will support Ilham Ailyev.

Apart from political parties, the Confederation of Trade Unions of Azerbaijan and Red Crescent Society will also support Ilham Aliyev in the presidential elections.

The opposition parties, who have nominated their candidates for the presidential elections, have not gained the support of any organization up to now. Sulhaddin Akbar, the chairman of Assembly of Musavat (Equality) Party said that the Party will focus on the unsatisfied electorate this year.

According to Gurban Mammadov, the member of Supreme Council of Democratic Party of Azerbaijan who nominated Sardar Jalaloglu, the Party is committed to the principle of taking part in the elections with a unified team. "The members represented of the various parties supported this initiative. Their names will become known during the election campaign," he said.


Armenian Armed Forces located in the Berd region in Armenia violated the ceasefire regime by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions located in the Kokha Nabi village in the Tovuz region from 7.50pm to 7.55pm on 7 April; from unnamed hills in Fuzuli region from 11.30am to 11.45am; from nearby of Gizil Oba village in Terter region from 12.40pm to 12.50pm; and from Javahirli village in the Agdam region from 12.15am to 12.30am on 8 April, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported. The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated and no casualties were reported.

On 9 April, nearly 25 supporters of Muasir Musavat party held a rally in front of U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan. The demonstrators protested against the fact that U.S. voted against the Resolution on Occupied Territory of Azerbaijan which was discussed in UN General Assembly on 14 March. The rally demanded the OSCE Minsk Group to cease its activity. The police dispersed the unauthorized rally. The demonstrators handed over an appeal to the representatives of U.S. Embassy. The 'Resolution on Occupied Territory of Azerbaijan' demands full and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian Armed Forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Some 39 countries voted for the Resolution and 7 countries including Angola, Armenia, France, Russia, U.S., India and Vanuatu voted against it, and 100 UN member states including EU countries abstained from voting. The official Baku sent an inquiry to OSCE to obtain information on procedure of replacement of co-chairmen countries or Minsk Group co-chairmen themselves. Azerbaijan has also expressed its protest to India who voted against.

Azerbaijan will submit an issue on situation around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to agenda of the spring session of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Europe (PACE).

"The Azerbaijani delegation will demand clarification from the countries which came out against or abstained during the voting for the 'Resolution on situation in the occupied territory of Azerbaijan' at the UN General Assembly," MP Gultakin Hajiyeva, the deputy chairman of Azerbaijani delegation to the PACE, said in talks with journalists on 9 April. On 14 March the UN General Assembly supported the 'Resolution on Situation in Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan', which was presented by the Azerbaijani side. Most CE member-countries abstained from voting. Furthermore, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, the United States, Russia and France voted against the Resolution. Some 39 countries voted for and seven countries against the resolution and 100 members abstained from voting. The resolution requires an immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian Armed Forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, Baku sent an inquiry to OSCE to receive information about replacement of co-chairing countries, or the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs themselves. Azerbaijan also protested to India, which voted against the resolution. Hajiyeva said that Azerbaijani delegation will inform the PACE about the essence of the Resolution at the UN. PACE spring session will be held in Strasbourg from 14 to 18 April.

Matthew Bryza, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, said today that it is necessary to give 'some space' to the new President for participation in the negotiations on settling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. According to Mediamax, Bryza made the statement when commenting on possibility of participation of unrecognized ' Nagorno-Karabakh Republic' (NKR) in the negotiations. He did not rule out that the unrecognized NKR may take part in the negotiations, but said that there is an acting format of negotiations and it should be stuck to. "I feel that Azerbaijan has a will to continue the negotiations, but they have right to seek changes in the document. Me as a mediator should cooperate with both sides to help them to find 'common language'," Bryza said. As for the OSCE Minsk Group's work, Bryza said that the mediators are operating very efficiently and the format is the most acceptable for the time being.

Finland's new foreign minister said Thursday finding solutions to the frozen conflicts in the region of the former Soviet Union remained core to his country's chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE). "I came here to convey a message of continuity," Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said, stressing the importance Finland placed on its OSCE chairmanship by making the Vienna-based organization destination of his first trip since taking office on April 4. "My aim is to re-energize efforts towards peaceful settlement of these conflicts. I sincerely hope that the efforts ... are met with constructive engagement by all parties," Stubb added. He expressed concern over recent events in Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan and the Georgian breakaway region South Ossetia and appealed to all parties to refrain from violence. "The OSCE needs to focus on the issues where it can make a real difference," Stubb told delegates from the OSCE's 57 member states, urging them to cooperate on the question of Kosovo, despite "diverging views" by member states, which include Russia, Serbia, as well as the United States and all members of the European Union. Finland holds the rotating one-year chairmanship of the OSCE, the world's largest regional security body, in 2008. Stubb's predecessor Ilkka Kanerva was forced to resign over a scandal following him sending suggestive text messages to a stripper. The minister was expected to discuss bilateral issues in a meeting with his Austrian counterpart Ursula Plassnik later on Thursday.