Political review of the last week

Official news

On 26 May, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev congratulated Mishel Suleyman on his election to the post of President of the Republic of Lebanon.

In his letter of congratulation, the President expressed his hope that the relations between Azerbaijan and Lebanon would develop further in both nations' interests- within friendship and cooperation.

On 26 May, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received credentials from newly-appointed Ambassador of Finland, Petri Salo.

During the talks, they stressed that the Azerbaijani-Finnish cooperation was successfully developing, and the two countries were conducting intensive political dialogue.

Salo said that during his tenure in Baku, he would make every possible effort to contribute to developing bilateral relations between Finland and Azerbaijan.

On 26 May the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the First Lady of Azerbaijan, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, MP Mehriban Aliyeva attended ceremony of re-opening of the State Russian Drama Theater named after Samad Vurgun in Baku after reconstruction.

The Head of State was informed that the restoration and reconstruction works, started since October 2006, were completed within the schedule. Along with reconstruction works, the Theater was equipped with modern and high-standard furniture, colored projectors, and new lightening system and control desks. In the Theater, as stated, also have been assembled modern ventilation, heating, safety and fire systems.

After familiarization, the President met with the producer of the Theater, People's Artist of Azerbaijan Alexander Sharovski and presented him the "Shohret" ("Glory") Order of the Republic. Then, the Head of State talked to the staff of Theater. President Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and the staff of Theater were taken their photos in memory.

On 26 May the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed an order allocating AZN 2mln from Reserve Fund of the President for major repair of building of the Union of Composers of Azerbaijan.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev congratulated his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili and his Party - United National Movement on victory in the Parliamentary elections.

In the message, the Azerbaijani leader said that this momentous event has once again demonstrated the will and support of Georgian nation towards strengthening of the sovereignty, political stability, ensuring rule of law, realizing democratic reforms and solidifying the stance of the country in the international arena.

The President of Azerbaijan expressed his confidence that the relations between the New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) and the United National Movement Party would be developed, and strengthen in the years ahead.

President Ilham Aliyev wished members of the United National Movement Party success, and the friendly people of Georgia - peace and prosperity.

On 27 May Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited a monument built in Istiglaliyyet St to the honor of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

A wreath was put at the monument on behalf of the Azerbaijani President.

On 27 May the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, got familiarized with the reconstructed garden which is located in front of Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan. The President was informed of the works being done. The President talked to the specialists carrying out reconstruction works, became familiarized with the special rest facility, fountain. 

On the occasion of the Republic Day, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received congratulatory messages from a number of world leaders.

George Bush, President of the United States of America congratulated the Azerbaijani population with the Republic Day. їThe American Administration was prepared to cooperate with Azerbaijan in all the spheres including peace settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as to develop the democratic institutions. We highly appreciate the effort that Azerbaijan undertakes to support us in Afghanistan,ї Bush said.

The greetings were made also from Hu Jintao, Paramount Leader of the Peopleїs Republic of China; Horst Kohler, President of Germany; General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan; Heinz Fischer, Federal President of Austria; Pope Benedict XVI; Major General Michael Jeffery, Governor-General of Australia; Mary McAleese, President of Ireland; Pascal Couchepin, President of the Swiss Confederation; Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic; Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan; Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov, President of Turkmenistan; Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus; Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan; Qaboos bin Said, Sultan of Oman; Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq.

They praised Azerbaijanїs increasing international prestige, and wished the country and its people prosperity, peace and stability on its path of democratic development.

The Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev has congratulated the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev with the national holiday of Azerbaijan - Republic Day, RB reported referring to the Russian State Service.

" Russia and Azerbaijan are historically connected with friendship and trusty ties, common interests to strengthen stability and security. These principles of bilateral relations lead to continue of business cooperation and define approaches of our countries to solve most key regional and world problems. It is significant that we try to develop the strategic partnership together," is stated in President's address. Medvedev expressed confidence that the Russian-Azerbaijani neighbourhood relations have good perspectives".

President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus sent congratulations on behalf of himself and the people of Lithuania to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and all people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of their national holiday, the National Republic Day. President Adamkus wished his Azerbaijani counterpart health and every success, and peace and well-being to the people of the country.

"Ninety years ago, the people of Azerbaijan proclaimed to the world their determination to live in a free and prosperous country. Today you are persistently implementing your ultimate goal", President Adamkus wrote is his letter of congratulations.

Lithuania's President noted that the anniversary of Azerbaijan's Independence was also dear to Lithuania as a friend and partner, and that he greatly appreciated the close relations that existed between the two nations, expressing hope for their increasing strength.

"Today we are working together to strengthen the GUAM organization, build up our cooperation in energy matters, and expand contacts between the countries of the Baltic-Black-Caspian sea region. I hope that our two countries will continue this cooperation, contributing to security and stability not only in the region, but also in the whole of Europe", the letter said.

President Adamkus assured Azerbaijan's President of Lithuania's strong support to Azerbaijan's aspiration to develop new quality and more dynamic links with the European Union, considering this as the most effective path to attain sustainable development and to build prosperity.

Ilham Aliyev has been on a visit to Finland for first time since 28 May. On 29 May, he negotiated with his Finnish counterpart Tarja Halonen, Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Sauli Niinisto and members of the Paasikivi Society.

Finland, as a Country chairing OSCE, hopes that the next meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in St-Petersburg will yield positive results in the process of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "We hope that the upcoming meeting of the Presidents will obtain certain results on important moments," the Presidents of Finland, Tarja Halonen, said to the joint press-conference with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who is on an official visit to Finland, in Helsinki on 29 May.

"We support mediation mission of the OSCE, and I consider that the sides should provide support in this regard," Halonen said, answering the question on Finland's contribution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.

Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan supports peaceful settlement of the conflict within territorial integrity of the Country and norms of international law.

The first meeting of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and newly elected President of Armenia, Serj Sarkisyan, is supposed to take place on 7 June in St-Petersburg.

Within the framework of the Azerbaijani President's visit to Finland the delegations of the both countries met and discussed the perspectives of relations between Azerbaijan and Finland in the sphere of policy, economy and others. President Ilham Aliyev spoke about the current development processes in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani President focused attention on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh resulted 1 million of Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs.

The President of Finland Tarja Halonen said there is a huge potential to enhance the Finland-Azerbaijan relations. The Finnish leader recalled her visit to Baku, describing it as a success. Tarja Halonen expressed confidence the Azerbaijani leader's current trip will give the impetus to enhance the bilateral relations.

Later Ilham Aliyev held meeting in the Finnish Parliament. The meeting was focused on the issues of development of inter parliamentary relations, perspectives of bilateral cooperation, as well as interaction within the framework of regional and international organizations. Ilham Aliyev met with the members of the Parliament.

The official part of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's visit to Finland completed on 30 May. Today, President Aliyev negotiated with the Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen the issues on development of Azerbaijan-Finland cooperation, Finland Presidential press service reported to Trend .

President Aliyev placed wreathes on the Hietaniemi cemetery in Helsinki.

On 30 May the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received David Merkel, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and Richard A. Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs at the Presidential Palace in Baku.

Both the President and the visitors expressed satisfaction at today's relationship between Azerbaijan and the United States. They exchanged views on the prospects of bilateral cooperation in political, economic and other areas, and expressed confidence in its further enhancement.

Elections

The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Azerbaijan confirmed new list of voters during its meeting on 27 May. "The new list reflects 4,834,584 voters," the CEC Chairman, Mazahir Panahov, said.

The list of voters which was devised last year registered more than 4.6mln people.

According to Panahov, the final list of the voters is more perfect as compared to lists of the last years. Some 52% of the voters are women and 48% - men.

Giving a speech at the meeting, the representative of Umid Party, Akif Gurbanov, said that he received lists being devised by the district election commissions. "To my calculations, the CEC over-states the number of voters. The figure confirmed by the CEC is 159,654 more than the figures provided by the district election commissions," Gurbanov said.

In his turn, the CEC Chairman said that he made fault during calculation.

The Azerbaijani Central Elections Commission (CEC) is not interested in the exit-poll held by non-influential organizations during the presidential elections. "In general, we will pay more attention on popularity of the organization and ability to implement the exit-poll rather its holding of state registration, Natig Mammadov, CEC Secretary, told Trend on 28 May.

The presidential elections in Azerbaijan will be held in October 2008. Isa Gambar, the leader of Musavat party, Sardar Jalaloglu, the chairman of Democratic party and Mais Gulmammadov, the Chairman of Green party of Azerbaijan, have already nominated their candidature to the presidential position. On 5 May, Eldar Namazov, Head of the Public forum "For Azerbaijan", stated that he would also nominate his candidature to the presidential post. The candidature of Ilham Aliyev will be nominated from the ruling New Azerbaijan party.

The Azadlig bloc, which unites three opposition parties - Popular Front, Citizen and Development and Liberal, has stated the bloc would boycott the upcoming presidential elections.

The Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan has announced that the assessment of the pre-election situation in Azerbaijan by the

US State Department report is biased. "I think that very good conditions have been created for the elections in Azerbaijan," Mazahir Panahov, the chairman of the CEC said to media on 30 May.

On 29 May, the US State Department published a report on the human rights in Azerbaijan. The document said that the situation in this sphere has deteriorated since 2007. The report also said that reforms should be carried out to hold democratic elections in Azerbaijan.

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

"The citizens know that the pre-election situation in Azerbaijan is democratic," Panahov said.

Broadcasting of the News program on the State-run channel (AzTV) during the election campaign will not be banned. "The main demand is not to make any statement that may lead to increase of rating of any candidate to the presidential post. Central Election Commission (CEC) will keep a control on the process,' Mazahir Panakhov, Chairman of CEC, told Trend .

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

One of the items of the draft on amendments and supplements into the Election Code of Azerbaijan envisages a prohibition on the agitation campaign of candidates through state media. Free-of-charge political advertisement will be possible on Public television, but this issue on private televisions will be regulated in accordance with the Law on TV and Radio Broadcasting. Opposition considers that much time in AzTv was allocated to the materials dedicated to the incumbent President, which will be fruitful for the election campaign of the president.

According to Panakhov, the main reason why the prohibition is imposed on the candidate's election advertisements on the State channel is due the fact that it will be financed from the State Budget.

Parliament

The department of Azerbaijani language will be opened in one of the prestigious state-owned universities of Czechia. "Czechia is interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan in education sphere," Pyotr Pleva, the head of the delegation of the Chamber of Representatives of the parliament of Czechai said on 26 May.

Czech MPs met with members of the Standing Parliament Commission of Azerbaijan on education and science, and standing commission for culture on 26 May.

"There is a mutually beneficial cooperation between Azerbaijan and Czechia. We think that there are good opportunities to expand relations in education and science," Pleva added.

Azerbaijan's standing parliamentary commission on military service and security has made changes in the Law on Basics of Military Conscription. "Commissions of medical social experts operating at military registration and enlistment offices must account within seven days about all 18-year aged conscripts who have health problems or suffer invalidism to the military registration and enlistment offices of the regions where they are registered," First Vice-Speaker Ziyafat Askarov said at the meeting of the standing parliamentary commission on military service and security on 29 May.

The acting law has no article on the issue. On the basis of response of the commissions of medical social experts operating at military registration and enlistment offices, now young men with health problems or suffering invalidism have been freed from military service.

Commission recommended submitting the draft law to the Parliament for discussion.

The Azerbaijani Parliament has approved changes and supplements into the Law on Freedom of Assembly. On 30 May, the Parliament met to discuss the changes and supplements made into the Law on Freedom of Assembly.

Currently operated Law on Freedom of Assembly was passed in 1998. In 2005, development of a draft law to make changes and supplements into the Law commenced. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (CE) positively assessed the project designed by the Azerbaijani Government.

The Chairman of standing parliamentary commission on human rights Rabiyyat Aslanova said that according to the changes in the Law, people who are residing in Azerbaijan but are not the citizens of the country, as well as foreign citizens, can hold mass actions. Moreover, wedding, other ceremonies and funerals must not be turned into mass actions. The distance to be kept from the state bodies during the mass actions has been reduced from 300m to 200m. Organizers of mass actions must apply to the city or regional administrations five days before the action. The administrations should respond organizers three days before the fixed data. The courts should examine the complaints on staging demonstrations in the course of two days.

According to Aslanova, the organizer of the mass demonstrations should certainly take part in them. "If one of the organizers of the demonstration will not take part, this demonstration can not be staged," she said.

According to the other change, at the decision of the executive powers, the mass demonstrations can be banned because of the security measures prior to the events of the international significance on days of their holding. Apart from, it is banned to hold more than one demonstration at the same time and at the same place.

According to the changes, ban to hold mass demonstrations in places of religious worship and cemeteries is eliminated. The demonstrations in the above-mentioned places can be restricted only by the executive powers. It is banned to conduct war propaganda in peaceful demonstrations. Moreover, the mass demonstrations can be held only in places determined by the regional and city executive powers.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, gave his consent to shorten the election campaign from four months to 75 days, Shahin Aliyev, the Head of Department of Legislation and Juridical Examination of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, said during Azerbaijan Parliament's discussions on the project of annexes and amendments to the Electoral Code on 30 May.

According to him, after the law draft on shortening the election campaign from four months to two months, which was devised by the Parliamentary Commission on Legal Policy and State Establishment, was received by the Presidential Administration, it was discussed and reported to the President. 

According to Aliyev, it was decided during discussions to shorten the election campaign that it will limit the campaign in certain extent.

"Therefore, a decision was made to shorten the period of the election campaign from four months to not two months, but 75 days. Of them, four weeks are period of election propaganda and the remaining part is envisaged for nomination. This period will allow an opportunity to the candidates to hold their platforms. The period of the election campaign does not make up four months in any developed democratic countries," Aliyev said.

Today the Parliament of Azerbaijan commenced discussions on changes to the Election Code and Law on Freedom of Assembly, a source at Press Service of the Parliament reported to Trend . 

The projects of annexes and amendments to the Electoral Code and Law on Freedom of Assembly have been devised by the Government of Azerbaijan, and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe gave references regarding the law drafts.   

The Parliament of Azerbaijan will begin discussions on amendments to the Electoral Code and Law on Freedom of Assembly, a source at Press Service of the Parliament reported to Trend on 29 May.

The projects of annexes and amendments to the Electoral Code and Law on Freedom of Assembly have been devised by the Government of Azerbaijan, and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe gave references regarding the law drafts.

The project on amendments to the Electoral Code imposes a ban for the candidates for presidency to hold unpaid agitation on State-financed televisions, radios and newspapers.

According to the project on amendments to the Electoral Code, establishing polling stations in the military units will be liquidated. If the military unit is located near the polling station, the military people will vote there. Polling stations will be established in the military units being located far.

The previous Electoral Code says that the military people should vote only in the military units. Due to the military secret, the number of the military people was not disclosed. International organizations and opposition of Azerbaijan requires changing procedures for voting of the military people.

The names of the military voters will be included in the voting list of the civil people. For instance, polling stations will not be established in the military units being located in Baku. Polling stations will be provided in the military units on the front line.

According to other change, the observers being registered will have an opportunity to observe elections in the military units.

The annexes and changes to the Law on Freedom of Assembly impose a ban to hold demonstrations in front of city executive powers.

Foreign policy

A new chairman will be elected to the Permanent Council of Turksoy, which is a cooperation organization of Turkic speaking people in the sphere of culture, in the 24th meeting in Ankara.

The 24th meeting of the Permanent Council of Turksoy, established in 1993 with an aim to develop cultural relations amongst the Turkic speaking people, was started in Ankara on 27 may. The meeting attending by the Minister of Culture of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Middle Asia Turkic speaking people, as well as the Turkic Autonomous Republics in Russia and Moldova.

The agenda of the meeting includes to define the annual plan of actions, as well as to discuss plans, which will be implemented in the sphere of culture and art in future. A new Director General of Turksoy is also expected to be elected in the meeting. Till now, Polad Bul-buloglu, ex-Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan, had been taken this position.

Gulmurad Muradov, Minister of Culture of Turkmenistan, proposed the candidature of Beybit Isabaev, Minister of Culture and Education of Kazakhstan, to Director General position of Turksoy. The discussions on this issue have been continued.

Abulfaz Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, stated that he support development of Turksoy anyone to be elected to Director General position of the organization.

Garayev proposed to hold the next meeting of the Permanent Council of Turksoy in Baku.

The trade turnover among GUAM member states will be increased up to $10bln in upcoming three years, Valeriy Chechelashvili, the secretary general of the Organization stated in Baku in a conference on Development Strategy of GUAM on 29 May.

According to Chechelashvili, the trade turnover among Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova will go up to $4bln by the end of the year. "Under the conditions of globalization of the good and service markets, the economic cooperation will be more important, and GUAM member states have decided to create a competition free economic zone," GUAM secretary general said.

"The political will and authority of the organization enables to implement big projects in the Caspian and Black Sea regions," Chechelashvili said.

The Coordinating Council for Bank Affairs of GUAM member states is expected to be set up in the near future. At present, work is carried out to build Poti-Kerch railway ferry crossing.

Four post-Soviet republics; Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, established the GUAM format in 1997, in a summit of presidents of European Union countries in Strasburg. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the organization but left four years later. In 2006, at the first summit of the organization in Kiev a decision was made to announce GUAM as an international organization with a new name; Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM.

The Unites States has allocated $700,000 for structural development of GUAM organization. These funds will be directed to strengthen the technical basis of the organization, as well as to develop information and communication technologies, Anne E. Derse, United States Ambassador in Azerbaijan, stated in an international conference " GUAM development Strategy" in Baku on 29 May.

The digital video system of GUAM, which will connect representatives of the organization in all GUAM member-countries, has been planned to be created. Furthermore, the internet-resource of GUAM will be created.

Azerbaijan has a chance to join the new railway transport corridor- from the Blck Sea to South Korea, Boris Klimchuk, the Ukrainian Ambassador in Azerbaijan stated in the news-conference in Baku.

Lithuania, Ukraine and Belorussia have signed a trilateral deal on cargo transportation in the Black Sea and Baltic direction on 12 May. The key aim of the deal is to increase the cargo turnover between the Black and Baltic Seas. The sides reached an agreement on the transport policy.

"This agreement will allow to cut the term for cargo transit and to avoid discrimination that used to occur in transport via these territories. The sides have also agreed to extend the geography of transit route Lithuania-Belorussia-Ukraine and to consider the possibility to attract Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia to this project," Klimchuk stated.

This route may join the Great Silk Way in the future and reach South Korea. " Azerbaijan is interested in this project," the Ambassador said.

The Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations of Azerbaijan, Hidayat Orujov, described groundless the US Department of State's accusations of restrictions in freedom of religion in the Republic.

"The rights of religion of the citizens are fully ensured in Azerbaijan, and the religious organizations may easily receive State registration," Orujov briefed the media in Baku on 30 May.

On 28 May the U.S. Department of State published a report on human rights practices in Azerbaijan. The document highlights deterioration of the situation in the Country in 2007. According to the report, violence is continuing against religious minorities in the Republic.

According to the Head of the State Committee, even the organizations not receiving State registration can freely function in Azerbaijan.

Political movements

The Azerbaijani opposition Great Establishment party (GEP) will make a court appeal against the State Committee on State Property Management. "State Committee ignores our appeals regarding the headquarters, and we will protect our rights via court," MP Fazail Gazanfaroglu, Chairman of GEP, stated.

GEP has appealed to State Committee to provide party with the headquarters. However, the party refused to shift to the apartment proposed by the Committee as it is not comfortable for it.

At present, the opposition parties -Popular Front Party, Citizen and Development and National Independent party have no headquarters. These parties have appealed to the State Committee repeatedly, but got no fruitful results.

Gazanfaroglu stated that the party would make a court appeal in June. "At present, we are developing documents about the functioning of the Committee and have already disclosed many serious facts about the Committee," Gazanfaroglu said.

Gazanfaroglu said that he will make an appeal to the OSCE, Council of Europe and other international organizations.

"We do not plan to stage any rally regarding the headquarters," Gazanfaroglu stated.

GEP was founded in 2004 and party received the state registration in 2005. Gazanfaroglu is an MP of the Azerbaijani Parliament.

According to State Committee, the Committee was not commissioned to provide parties with headquarters. Instead, the Committee proposes places to parties to rent. However, the places proposed by the Committee do not satisfy parties, the Committee said.

If the Azerbaijani Opposition will attempt to disturb stability after the presidential elections and to change the results of the voting, the Government will prevent such moves. "If the opposition parties will not accept the objective results of the elections and if they will attempt to change political situation in favor of their interests, they will not achieve anything. We will take appropriate measures against those who will try to do something illegal," Bahar Muradova, the vice speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament and member of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party said to Trend on 26 May.

A day after the presidential elections held on 15 October 2003, there was a confrontation between police and Opposition supporters. The supporters of Isa Gambar, the candidate from the Opposition and head of the Musavat (Equality) party, who was second in the elections with 14% votes, staged an illegal demonstration in Azadlig ( Liberty) square and had to be dispersed by the police. One opposition supporter died, tens of cars were burned and hundreds of opposition supporters were arrested by security forces as a result of confrontation between police and opposition.

The Opposition, who did not accept the results of parliament elections in November 2005, began their protest actions. On 26 November, the attempt of opposition to begin demonstrations was prevented by the police. Tens of opposition supporters and police were injured as a result of the confrontation.

"The opposition parties know that they will not achieve success in the parliament elections. Probably, the leaders of the opposition have some plans to change the results of the election once they lose elections. Only they can tell what plans they have," said vice speaker.

Muradova called on the opposition leaders to draw conclusion from the developments following 2003 presidential and 2005 parliament elections.

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

The Open Society party (OSP) headed by Rasul Guliyev, Ex-Speaker, charges the Azerbaijani opposition of lack of common view point. "Boycott of upcoming presidential elections is not right basing it only on the draft on amendments and supplements into the Election Code. Democratic elections can be held in any election legislation," Akif Shahbazov, Chairman of OSP, stated to Trend .

Shahbazov stated that OSP does not consider the draft on amendments and supplements into the Election Code significant. "For me, the political will is the key issue to hold the elections. The Azerbaijani opposition is weak that is why it is boycotting the elections. The decision to participate in the elections or not will be made next months," Shahbazov said.

Ali Aliyev, a member of the Azadlig bloc and Chairman of Citizen and Development party, believes it right to boycott the elections in the current situation in the country. The bloc will carry out the necessary work in this direction and call upon population to support it.

The right wing Open Society Party was founded in April 2007. Rasul Guliyev, ex-Speaker of Azerbaijan living in emigration in the United States, is the leader of the party.

Unlikely the protests of opposition will be taken into consideration during parliamentary discussions on amendments and additions to the Election Code. "Most probably the Parliament will adopt amendments and additions if any emergency situation does not take place," the member of Musavat Group of MPs, Panah Huseyn, told Trend on 26 May. 

The additions and changes to the Election Code will be discussed in the Azerbaijani parliament at the late May. The draft on the changes includes ban on the canvassing in the state-owned media sources, and rise in the deposit account of the candidates from AZN33,000 to AZN300,000. The terms for the signature collection has been shortened from 35 days up to 10 days, cancellation of candidate's registration was eased as a result of the changes to the Code of Administrative Violations. These changes have caused discontent in the opposition.

Huseyn said that the changes will further deteriorate the situation. "Adopting changes will increase dissatisfaction of the opposition due to pre-election situation in Azerbaijan," the MP said, adding that during the discussions, opposition will seriously protest against rise in the deposit account of the candidates from AZN 33,000 to AZN 300,000, cancellation of candidate's registration was eased as a result of the changes to the Code of Administrative Violations. "We have devised a project. Despite that this project was discussed at the meeting of the Parliamentary Commission on Legal Policy and State Establishment, it was not adopted for being discussed by the Parliament. However, it does not mean that the project was not discussed. We will make all efforts for its discussions," he said.

Mubariz Gurbanli, the deputy executive secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party said to Trend that the opposition's claims are groundless. The changes serve democratization of election atmosphere and are based on international experience. "We regards to reduction in the period of pre-election campaign, we will insist on this process. No country allocates 120 days for the pre-election campaign," Gurbanli said.

Заместитель исполнительного секретаря правящей партии Ени Азербайджан, депутат Мубариз Гурбанлы заявил Trend , что претензии оппозиции безосновательны. Изменения служат демократизации атмосферы выборов и основаны на международном опыте. "Что же касается уменьшения срока предвыборных кампаний, мы будем настаивать на этом вопросе. Ни в одной стране мира на предвыборную кампанию не уделяется 120 дней", - добавил Гурбанлы. ПЕА представлена в Милли Меджлисе 64 депутатами, а в депутатскую группу "Мусават" входят пять депутатов.

The Azerbaijani opposition Musavat party has developed a new project regarding the draft of amendments and supplements into the Election Code. "This issue was discussed again in the assembly of the party. MPs from the party were trusted to submit the document to the Parliament," Arif Hajili, Head of the Central Executive Administration of Musavat, stated to Trend .

The draft of amendments and supplements into the Election Code is expected to be passed by the Parliament on 30 May. The draft on the changes includes ban on the canvassing in the state-owned media sources, and rise in the deposit account of the candidates from AZN33,000 to AZN300,000. The terms for the signature collection has been shortened from 35 days up to 10 days, cancellation of candidate's registration was eased as a result of the changes to the Code of Administrative Violations. These changes have caused discontent in the opposition.

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

Hajili stated that previously Musavat had developed similar document and submitted it to the Parliament. "The current project has been upgraded," Hajili said. He noted that this project does not have any similarity with the document that the organization, which unites five parties -Democratic, Musavat, Taraggi, Public forum For Azerbaijan and National Independent, has developed.

Some five opposition parties of Azerbaijan (Democratic Party, Musavat, Tereggi, For Azerbaijan Forum and National Independence Party of Azerbaijan) have announced that the opposition bloc Azadlig is interested in split in the opposition. "It was proved once again that this bloc is trying so that the Opposition will split," Ali Orujov, the deputy chairman of the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan said to Trend .

"The Five has proposed to hold joint discussions on the Election Code. All-republic meeting will be held in several days for this purpose. Last week the Five once again invited Azadlig bloc (units three opposition parties including Popular Front Party, Citizens and Development and Liberal Party) to take part in the discussions. But the bloc did not accept their invitation.

The governing New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) has completed development of its election campaign conception. "Required resources have been assessed and groups have been formed to implement the election campaign," NAP Deputy Chairman, Executive Secretary Ali Ahmadov said on 27 May.

Azerbaijan will hold presidential elections on 15 October. NAP intends to nominate the Current President Ilham Aliyev for the presidential position.

Azadlig Bloc uniting three opposition parties (Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, Citizen and Development Party, Liberal Party) intends to boycott the elections. However, other opposition parties do not support the tactics. Musavat party has nominated its Chairman Isa Gambar, Azerbaijan Democratic Party- Sardar Jalaloglu and Greens Party- Mais Gulaliyev. The head of the public forum Eldar Namazov stands for presidency as an independent candidate.

According to Ahmadov, the groups established to implement election campaign will be trained. He voiced his confidence that Ilham Aliyev would win the elections.

The opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) consider the work by the OSCE and Council of Europe Venice Commission negligible. This was said by Taliyat Aliyev, Deputy Chairman of DPA, said in a round table organized by the Umid party regarding the draft on amendments and supplements into the Election Code.

The presidential elections in Azerbaijan will be held on 15 October 2008. The draft on amendments and supplements has been introduced into the Election Code after the joint discussions between the Azerbaijani government and Council of Europe Venice Commission.

According to Aliyev, the democratic forces of the country should appeal to international organization with which the Azerbaijani government holds negotiations. "These organizations and the government must develop a report about their negotiations regarding the amendments and supplements into the Code. So far the Venice Commission has not stated it positions towards this issue," Aliyev said.

Democratic elections are not possible in the country if the new Election Code is adopted by the Parliament, Aliyev said. "Both Azerbaijani Government and international organizations stand responsible for hindrance in the democratic elections," minister said.

At present, the draft on amendments and supplements into the Election Code were passed by the Parliamentary Commission on Legal Policy and State Building, and the project will be discussed by the Parliaments on 30 May.

The opposition Azadlig bloc considers significant the establishment of an Azerbaijani Democratic Institute. This was said by Ali Karimli, Co-founder of Azadlig and Chairman of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), in a meeting dedicated to the 90th anniversary of establishment of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic (ADR).

On 28 May, the 90th anniversary of establishment of ADR will be marked.

According to Karimli, the Institute will function to popularize ADR.

"There is no other best way to popularize Azerbaijan than the auspicious 28 May. Popularization of ADR and its founders must be the top priority of the Azerbaijani government," Karimli said.

Karimli believes that the national-democratic forces of the country have not enough possibilities to popularize ADR in the country and international community.

Ali Aliyev, co-Chairman of Azadlig and Chairman of the Citizen and Development party, stated that the Azerbaijani population has set of responsibilities towards the founders of ADR. "We must save and popularize the work done by ADR founders," Aliyev said.

Azadlig bloc unites three opposition parties - Popular Front, Citizen and Development and Liberal.

On 28 May members of the oppositional party Musavat held demonstration near the monument to one of the founders of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR), Mammademin Rasulzade, in Novkhani, outskirts Baku. Nearly 1,000 members of the party participated in the demonstration. Addressing the rally, they talked about the history of Republic and achievements of Rasulzade in the establishment of the first democratic republic in the East.

The first Democratic Republic of the East was established in Azerbaijan in 1918. Within 23 months of its existence, the ADR established its the, national currency, flag, coat of arms and government were created. Under the pressure of foreign countries, Azerbaijan lost its independence. This year Azerbaijan Democratic Republic sees its 90th anniversary is celebrated on the national level.

No incident happened during the demonstration.

The police have released the detained activists of the youth movements of Azerbaijan Dalga, OL, AN and an informal coalition of the youth movements of Azerbaijan Biz. The activists were detained on 28 May in the park in front of the Puppet Show building and were taken to the police department #9 of the Sabail district of Baku.

It was the 90th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (DRA) on 28 May, which is marked as the Republic Day.

Some 12 members of the Dalga youth movement were detained in the police department for four hours. According to acting Chairman of Dalga Araz Gasimov, they were arrested while putting flowers near the fountains in the park. "The police detained Dalga activist saying that it was illegal to put flowers near the fountains," Gasimov said.

According to Gasimov, their finger prints were taken and were photographed in the police department.

Jamil Hajiyev and Vusal Aliyev, the members of youth organization of the oppositional Democratic Party of Azerbaijan- which are included in Biz coalition, were released after two-hour detention. They were detained while disseminating CDs about DRA to the passers-by.

The Azerbaijani intellectuals consider it necessary to unite the democratic camp in order to achieve the desired democratic changes in the country. This was said by Eldaniz Guliyev, Chairman of the Union of Azerbaijani Intellectuals, in a round table dedicated to the Election Code and organized by Eldar Namazov, Leader of the Public Forum For Azerbaijan.

Isa Gambar- leader of Musavat party, Sardar Jalaloglu-chairman of Democratic party and Mais Gulmammadov- Chairman of Green party of Azerbaijan, have already nominated their candidature to the presidential post. On 5 May, Eldar Namazov, Head of the Public forum 'For Azerbaijan, stated that he would also nominated his candidature to the presidential post. The candidature of Ilham Aliyev will be nominated from the ruling New Azerbaijan party.

The Azadlig bloc, that unites three opposition parties - Popular Front, Citizen and Development and Liberal, has stated that the bloc would boycott the upcoming presidential elections. Differences happened within the party regarding the presidential elections.

According to Guliyev, no union has been achieved so far despite of all the efforts made. Guliyev believes that the democratic camp will become a democratic force in the country.

The opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) has started the negotiations with other parties to create a new bloc.

"This organization will unite parties, which are close to us from the ideological point of view," Taliyat Aliyev, Deputy Chairman of DPA, told to Trend .

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

The Azadlig bloc, which unites three opposition parties - Popular Front, Citizen and Development and Liberal, have stated tht the bloc would boycott the upcoming presidential elections. Isa Gambar- leader of Musavat party, Sardar Jalaloglu-chairman of Democratic party and Mais Gulmammadov- Chairman of Green party of Azerbaijan, have already nominated their candidature to the presidential post. On 5 May, Eldar Namazov, Head of the Public forum 'For Azerbaijan, stated that he would also nominated his candidature to the presidential post. The candidature of Ilham Aliyev will be nominated from the ruling New Azerbaijan party.

Aliyev stated that DPA came to conclusion that the Consultative Council, which unites five parties -Musavat, Taraggi, National Independent and Public Forum For Azerbaijan, had no force to participate in the elections as one camp.

he discussions amongst the Azerbaijani opposition regarding the draft on amendments and supplements into the Election Code yielded no results. "We wanted to hold the discussions amongst the real forces, who can take a united decision. However, we failed," Sardar Jalaloglu, Chairman of the Democratic party of Azerbaijan (DPA), told to Trend on 30 May.

Five opposition parties -Musavat, DPA, National Independent Party, Taraggi and Public Forum For Azerbaijan, had proposed to develop one document regarding the amendments and supplements into the Code. This proposal was not accepted by three parties -Popular Front, Citizen and Development and Liberal parties, which united in the Azadlig bloc. Twenties political parties, as well as NGOs, political scientists and democratic forces of Azerbaijan released one document regarding the amendments and supplements into the Code on 29 May. However, the Musavat and DPA did not sign the document.

According to Jalaloglu, the key reason of refusal by DPA was the composition of participants. According to Jalaloglu, the negotiations were expected to be held amongst the real forces.

Arif Hajili, Head of the Central Executive Administration of Musavat party, told to Trend that the party was even not informed about the meeting. "We will develop a separate document regarding the draft on amendments and supplements into the Code with the agreement of five parties," Hajili said.

The Opposition bloc Our Azerbaijan will support Eldar Namazov, head of the public forum For Azerbaijan, during the presidential elections to take place on 15 October. The bloc reported to Trend on 30 May that Our Azerbaijan's Council of Chairmen has passed a declaration in this connection.

"The platform of the presidential candidate Eldar Namazov coincides with the intensions and interests of the Our Azerbaijan bloc," declaration says.

The bloc called on the national forces and public organizations, operating in Azerbaijan, to make a right choice and to support Namazov as the unified opposition candidate.

Our Azerbaijan was established during the presidential elections period of 2003 to support Musavat party's chairman Isa Gambar. Later Musavat left the organization. At present Our Azerbaijan unities 8 parties.

Nagorno Karabakh

The Armenian Armed Forces from the positions located in the Mosesgeh village in the Berd region of Armenia, from unnamed hills in the Noemberan region and from Voskepar village in Armenia, violated the ceasefire regime by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions- located in Alibayli village in the Tovuz region, Gushchu Ayrim and Ashagi Askipara villages in the Gazakh region from 8.05am to 11.25pm on 25 May; from nearby of Kuropatkino village in Khojavand region from 11.25pm to 11.50pm; from nearby of Gizil Oba and Goyarkh villages in Terter region from 7.20pm to 12.30am on 26 May fired at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions; the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported.

The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated and no casualties were reported.

The conditions have been created to continue the peace talks on settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, Khazar Ibrahim, the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, said to media while commenting on the upcoming meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in St Petersburg on 6 June.

" Azerbaijan expects a constructive position from the new Armenian government on the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict," Ibrahim said.

According to Ibrahim, Armenia should demonstrate a will, understand realities, and should take steps for the solution of the conflict. "The new conditions to continue the peace talks can contribute to the solution of the conflict," said Ibrahim.

The Resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh passed by the UN General Assembly has created favorable conditions to continue talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Ibrahim stated.

The UN General Assembly supported Resolution on Situation in the Occupied Territory of Azerbaijan introduced by Azerbaijan. The Resolution demanded the immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of all the Armenian armed forces from all the occupied territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Resolution confirms 'the indefeasible right of the population driven out the occupied territory of Azerbaijan, to return to their homeland and demands to create appropriate conditions for their return including comprehensive rehabilitation of the territory damaged by the conflict'.

Former Russian mediator Vladmir Kazimirov stated today in Yerevan that the negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are considering possible stage-by-stage withdrawal of Armenian troops from occupied territory.

According to Mediamax, while speaking today at a press conference in Yerevan, the retired Russian diplomat said that there had been no real progress in the negotiations since striking armistice in 1994.

According to Kazimirov, the top-priority task for today is not to determine the Nagorno-Karabakh status or to return the occupied territory, but first to conclude a firm armistice at the troops contact line. He stressed that the key to settlement of the conflict is to prevent restoration of military operations.

Kazimirov said that referendum or plebiscite to define the status of Nagorno-Karabakh must not be delayed to 10-15 years. "I think 5 years are enough," he said.

On 28 May, the Armenian Armed Forces violated ceasefire by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions- located in Tovuz region from the positions located in the Mosesgeh village in the Berd region of Armenia the 13:25 p.m. to 22:02 p.m., at the locations in Gornaboy region and Tapkaraqoyunlu and Borsunlu villages from 10:05 a.m. to 22:30 p.m., on 29 May from 10:20 a.m. to 00:45 p.m. from the locations in the nameless heights to the territory of Fuzuli region nearby the positions in Ashagi Veysalli and Ashagi Abdurrahmanli, and from 21:50 p.m. to 22:05 p.m. from the positions nearby Gizil Oba village of Terter region of Azerbaijan, the press service of the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan reported on 29 May.

The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated and no casualties were reported.

Azerbaijan's Minister of Defence said that Azerbaijan will not make any compromises in ensuring its territorial integrity. "If Armenia will be continuing to deny peaceful settlement of the problem, categorically Azerbaijan will not agree with it and will release its lands. Armenia should understand it forever," Azerbaijan's Minister of Defence, General-Colonel Safar Abiyev, said during his meeting with the Commander of Defense Forces of Estonia, General-Lieutenant Ants Laaneots, who is on visit to Baku.

Abiyev said that Armenia, who presents obstacles to the peaceful settlement of the conflict, does not fulfill requirements of the Resolutions being adopted by the UN Security Council. The Minister said that the experience gained by Estonia as a member of NATO is of great interest for Azerbaijan.  

In his turn, Commander of Defense Forces of Estonia said that development of the relations corresponds to the interests of both countries. Touching upon the conflict, the guest said that re-establishing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is the principal position for Estonia, and said that the occupied lands are integral part of Azerbaijan.

Commander of Defense Forces of Estonia, General-Lieutenant Ants Laaneots, arrived in Baku on 29 May with an official visit at invitation of his Azerbaijani colleague. 

On 29 may, the Armenian Armed Forces violated ceasefire agreement from the positions located in the Mosesgah village of Berd region of Armenia at the Azerbaijani positions located in the Tovuz regions. On 30 May, the ceasefire agreement was violated by Armenians near the Gizil Oba village of Tartar region at the Azerbaijani Armed Forces from 4.50a.m to 5.10a.m, a spokesman for the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, reported.

The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated and no casualties were reported

The GUAM countries intend to obtain the support of 'serious players' in the UN General Assembly's adoption of a Resolution on 'frozen conflicts' in GUAM countries, the Secretary General of 'Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM', Valery Chechelashvili, briefed the media in Baku on 30 May.

The project of Resolution on 'frozen conflicts' in 'Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM' member-countries will be discussed during the next session of the UN General Assembly, which will take place in September in New York.

"This time we intend to obtain support of majority of the UN member-countries, 'serious players', to regulate conflicts in GUAM countries," Chechelashvili said. GUAM Secretary General expressed his hope that this time Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova will be able to gain majority of votes during the UN General Assembly's discussions over the Resolution.

According to him, currently the GUAM member-countries are continuing to explain the essence of the Resolution project to the UN member-countries. "Over the past two years, the UN General Assembly's adoption of two resolutions on situation in occupied territories of Azerbaijan and Abkhazia testifies that our position in works gets stronger and more consolidated," Chechelashvili said.

Armenia should refrain from its extreme position to separate Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan, Araz Azimov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, stated to journalists on 29 may.

The next negotiations between the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents, which will be held in St.Petersburg in early June, is aimed to get a clear picture of official Yerevan's position regarding settlement of the conflict.

"The further steps on regulation of the conflict depend on the principles of the sides. If there will be differences in the positions, then there is no sense to continue these negotiations," the Deputy Foreign Minister said.

Azimov has confirmed the adherence of official Baku to settle the conflict through peaceful means and within the framework of international norms. " Baku is prepared to continue negotiations within the framework of Prague process," Azimov said.

The occupation of Azerbaijani territory by Armenia negatively affects the relations between Turkey and Armenia," Hurriyyet newspaper quoted the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on 29 May, who made this statement in Brussels while delivering a report on the foreign policy pursued by Ankara.

Babacan said that Ankara has not received any response from Armenia to its offer to open its archives and to jointly investigate the 'Armenian genocide of 1915- 1918'. " Ankara is waiting for opening of Armenian archives in Armenia and in American Boston city," Babacan said.

Speaking to the members of the EU Commission on International Affairs, Babacan said that the tendency to search ways to solve the problem within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and the meeting between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, scheduled in beginning of June, is encoura

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