Weekly political digest

Official news

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev issued a decree on 7 July to award a group of teachers a title of 'Honorary Teacher of Azerbaijan'.

In accordance with the decree, Kanevskaya Lyudmila, Mahbuba Mammadova, Shafagat Rasulov, Sara Zeyniyeva were awarded higher title for their services in the development of Azerbaijani education.

On 7 July the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received the Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany who is on visit to Azerbaijan.

Head of the Azerbaijan State recalled his meeting with Mr. Ferenc Gyurcsany, noting the current visit will give opportunity to focus on the bilateral relations and prospects for the years ahead. The Azeri-Hungarian cooperation is successful, President Aliyev emphasized. The President expressed hope for success of the visit of Hungarian Premier, in particular, for intensification and expansion of economic ties. Noting successful development of cooperation links between the two countries, the Hungarian Premier, in turn, highlighted on the meetings he held in the country, estimating them as fruitful. He expressed confidence for further expansion of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Hungary.

On 8 July, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev received a Pakistani delegation led by Mushahid Huseyn Said, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Pakistani Senate.

The senator conveyed the greetings of Pakistani President Parviz Musharraf and Premier Yusuf Raza Gillani to President Aliyev. He noted that the friendly relations between the two countries are developing in all spheres and fraternal links between Azerbaijani and Pakistani people are strengthening. Said stated that the speech of the Azerbaijani President which he made during his visit to Pakistan was met with great interest. The guest said that the enhancing inter-parliamentary cooperation between the two countries contributes to the further development of bilateral relations. 

President Aliyev stressed that he was pleased with the development of relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan in all spheres and added that the two countries successfully cooperate within the international organizations. The visit of the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Pakistani Senate to Azerbaijan is significant to enhance inter-parliamentary cooperation and bilateral relations, the Head of State said

On 9 July the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed an order on money provision for the employees of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan. The order is aimed at strengthening social protection and the payment of expenditures in connection with the performance of the responsibilities of the workers of the diplomatic rank of the Foreign Ministry, who act in Azerbaijan.

According to the order, which will take effect from 1 August, monthly money provision totaling 25 percent of their wages was determined for the employees of the Ministry.

On 11 July the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed an order on creation of the Museum of Ethnography of Azerbaijan. The order says that Azerbaijan is an ancient country, which is characterized by a variety from the point of view of ethnography.

"On this territory with advantageous natural conditions and diverse geographical environment, which is considered one of the first centers of human civilization, after creating conditions for comprehensive development of components of traditional culture, our country became the treasure-house of ethnographical pearls. Differing with unique colorfulness, the historical-geographical regions of Azerbaijan had an effect on forming unique national culture in the mutual unity for a period of centuries. All these emphasizes the need of creating Museum of Ethnography of Azerbaijan, which is capable to reflect meaningful picture, which determines national face, a characteristic way of life, special feature of way of life and ceremonies as well as the forms of people creativity, immortalizing the past and present of the local population," the order says .

According to order, the Museum of Ethnography of Azerbaijan will be created near Baku city under the open sky. The National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Tourism must within four months present their proposals on the activity of the Museum of Ethnography of Azerbaijan in accordance with the contemporary requirements of ethnography and museology to the President of Azerbaijan.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, together with the Ministry of Economic Development and other responsible organs of executive power, must provide the Museum of Ethnography of Azerbaijan with collections and other necessary for the exposition materials, taking into consideration the ethnographical features of regions, which formed during the history.

According to the order, the State Committee on Management of State Property and State Committee on Land and Cartography are in charge of presenting their proposals on allocating relevant land plot for Museum of Ethnography of Azerbaijan.    

On 12 July, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev took part in the inauguration of the reconstructed Bibi-Heybat mosque.

The ancient Bibi-Heybat mosque located in Baku bay dates back to 13th century. It was constructed at the order of Shirvanshah Farruhzad and was knocked down during the Soviet Union. It was reconstructed later.

The mosque was reconstructed and enlarged by the Presidential decree in 2005. New halls have been constructed to insure convenience of pilgrims.

Elections

The Azerbaijani authorities are interested in preventing the local executive bodies from interfering in the upcoming presidential elections.

"If local executive bodies interfere in the presidential elections, they will be severely punished," said Ali Hasanov, head of the Department for Public and Political Affairs of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan.

The presidential elections in Azerbaijan will be held on 15 October 2008. The chairman of the Musavat party Isa Gambar, chairman of Azerbaijan Democratic Party Sardar Jalaloglu, chairman of the Green Party Mais Gulaliyev and chairman of the public forum For Azerbaijan Eldar Namazov have decided to participate in the presidential elections. Several days ago, political scientist Eldar Namazov stated that he would run for presidency independently. Governing New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) will nominate country's current President Ilham Aliyev. The Azadlig bloc, which unites three opposition parties -Popular Front party, Citizen and Development party and Liberal party, will boycott the presidential elections. The pro-government Ana Vatan and Social Welfare Party will support Ilham Aliyev in the presidential elections.

According to Hasanov, the role of the executive bodies in the elections is clearly indicated in the Election Code and legislation. "The local executive bodies should help election institutes in conduct of elections and provide conditions for the voters to take part in elections without obstacles and also render technical assistance to the election institutes," he said.

Hasanov said that several heads of the executive bodies were severely punished during last elections for interfering in the voting. "I think this will be a serious signal for the upcoming elections," he said.

The Azerbaijani authorities consider that at least seven or eight candidates will participate in the presidential elections.

"I consider that boycott statements sounded by some parties do not have serious political force. I am sure that seven or eight candidates will participate in the elections," Ali Hasanov, the head of the Public Department of the Azerbaijan President's Administration, told Trend on 9 July.

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

According to Hasanov, most of major political parties confirmed their participation in the presidential elections. "At present, boycott statements are not serious and cannot influence on political palette," Hasanov said.

OSCE believes that the interference of the executive bodies in the upcoming presidential election in Azerbaijan is inadmissible.

"The role of the executive bodies in the voting should be interpreted in a right way. The executive bodies should not interfere in voting and counting of votes," Jose Luis Herrero, head of the OSCE Baku Office said in a seminar on interference in election process held for chairmen of the constituencies and heads of the executive bodies.

The seminar on interference in voting was held in Baku for heads of the executive bodies and heads of the constituencies by OSCE Baku Office, Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan and Central Election Commission. The seminar will be held on 9 to 10 July in Baku, 11 July - Ganja city and 14 - July - in Shirvan city of Azerbaijan.

According to Herrero, the chief aim of OSCE is to indicate the main principles of fair and transparent elections and stress the importance of non-interference in the election process. Diplomat said that there were considerable interferences in the work of the election commission in previous elections in Azerbaijan.

"The demands of the Election Code should be explained to the executive bodies. The executive bodies should treat equally candidates from different parties and not violate their freedom of assembly," Herrero said.

OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) has not stated that the presidential elections in Azerbaijan would not be democratic if the imprisoned journalists are not released. "I do not know anything about such statement," Hose Luis Herrero, head of OSCE Baku Office said to media on 9 July.

There are 3 imprisoned journalists in Azerbaijan. Eynulla Fatullayev, editor-in-chief of the Gundalik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan newspapers was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison by the decision of the Heinous Crimes Court on 30 October. Fatullayev is charged with violating Articles 214.1 (terrorism), 283.2.2 (hostility) and 213.2.2 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. Fatullayev allegedly did not pay tax in the amount of AZN 242,522.

The editor-in-chief of Azadlig daily Ganimat Zahid has been sentenced to 4 years of jail and he is charged with inflicting harm to health and hooliganism. The writer for Azadlig daily Mirza Sakit has also been imprisoned.

Herrero said that OSCE is willing to contribute to the presidential election to be held in Azerbaijan in October. "We focus on 3 issues about elections. The first is the equal distribution of the administrative resources. The second is providing equal opportunities for all candidates. The third is the consideration of democratic principles during both voting and counting votes," he said. OSCE believes in the ways of resolution of problems in this sphere, he added.

The OSCE observation mission will be invited to observe the Presidential elections in Azerbaijan this year, Mazahir Panahov, Chairman of the Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan, said on 9 July, Trend reports.

The Presidential elections in Azerbaijan will take place in October. The Central Election Commission (CEC) will officially announce beginning of the election campaign in the end of this month and exact date of the elections.

Panahov said that besides OSCE, the Council of Europe as well as delegations of Central Election Commissions of other countries will be invited to observe the elections.

Head of the OSCE Office in Baku, Ambassador Jose Luis Herrero Ansola, briefed the media on 8 July that the organization being represented by him intends to observe the elections. "The OSCE assessment mission was on visit to Baku several weeks ago. They held certain studies regarding observation. A report has been devised as a result. The report will be presented soon and contain exact information regarding observation mission that will be sent to Azerbaijan," he said.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (ОБСЕ) appraises the preparations for the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan due in October 2008, Fuad Ismayilov, Azerbaijani representative at the OSCE, told Trend , on 9 July. The OSCE closely cooperates with Azerbaijan in connection with the presidential elections and is satisfied with this cooperation, he said.

The presidential elections in Azerbaijan will be held on 15 October 2008. The chairman of the Musavat party Isa Gambar, chairman of Azerbaijan Democratic Party Sardar Jalaloglu, chairman of the Green Party Mais Gulaliyev and chairman of the public forum For Azerbaijan Eldar Namazov have decided to participate in the presidential elections. Several days ago, political scientist Eldar Namazov stated that he would run for presidency independently. Governing New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) will nominate country's current President Ilham Aliyev. The Azadlig bloc, which unites three opposition parties -Popular Front party, Citizen and Development party and Liberal party, will boycott the presidential elections. The pro-government Ana Vatan and Social Welfare Party will support Ilham Aliyev in the presidential elections.

Ismayilov said that the OSCE constructively regards the preparations for the upcoming presidential elections.

"Should any problem emerge, the OSCE jointly with the Azerbaijani side will solve them. At this stage there is not any problem," he said.

An OSCE mission visited Azerbaijan to get familiarization with the situation. The OSCE will send an international observation mission, if the Azerbaijani government appeals.

" Baku intends to invite observers from the OSCE, which stated its readiness to observe over the presidential elections in Azerbaijan," Ismayilov said.

The Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan (CEC) intends to directly broadcast the elections in order to ensure transparency of the activity of district and divisional election commissions during Presidential elections, a source at CEC told Trend .

Presidential elections in Azerbaijan will take place in October. At the end of month, the CEC will announce official beginning of the election campaign and exact date of the elections.

Central Election Commission considers the issue of installing cameras in the division and district election commissions which will give an opportunity to control the process of elections via Internet. Currently talks are held with the Ministry of Communications & Information Technologies in this regard.

The CEC Secretary Natig Mammadov did not confirm or refute this information during his interview with Trend on 10 July. According to him, transparent conducting of elections is a priority issue. "The delays in the electoral system in the present development period of Azerbaijan are impossible. It can not be that some areas in the state develop, but electoral system remains as previous. Azerbaijan society will be the witness of the development of this system. All the best will be done for the transparency of elections," said Mamedov.

The Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan (CEC) approved regulations of presenting information regarding incomes, their sources and property of presidential candidates, a source at CEC told Trend on 11 July.

Presidential elections in Azerbaijan will take place in October. The CEC will announce exact date of elections.

Based on instructions, authorized representative of the Presidential candidate, political party, bloc should present information to CEC regarding incomes, their sources and property of presidential candidate, as well as information regarding annual incomes of the organizations and physical entities who pay these funds.

Candidates should present information regarding wages, as well as premiums and material assistance.

The list of information regarding incomes of candidates, being received based on civil-legal contracts has expanded as compared to the instructions adopted in 2003.

Furthermore, the candidates must present reports on incomes, obtained as a result of entrepreneurship activity. New instruction requires information on percentages, obtained in the banks and the credit administrations; dividends; copyrights; royalty; the incomes obtained as a result of operations with securities; incomes from life insurance; gifts and material aid obtained from those who are not members; the obtained inheritance; lottery gains; joint incomes; other incomes not prohibited by law.

According to the previous instruction, joint incomes were not disclosed.

The information on property should be confirmed by references from the organs, which implemented juridical registration of the property

Parliament

The military doctrine has not been passed by the Azerbaijani parliament because of the current situation all over the world. "The military doctrine of Azerbaijan should take into consideration geo-political, political, military, military and political and economic changes all over the world. It must be developed as a final document," Ziyafat Asgarov, first vice-speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament said in a press conference on the summary of the spring session of the parliament.

The passing of the military doctrine of Azerbaijan was included to the agenda of the spring session of the parliament, however the draft bill was not brought up for discussions.

According to Asgarov, the military doctrine must first of all reflect the current situation and current developments in the region. The first vice-speaker noted that the document would be passed during the autumn session of the parliament.

A total of 145 laws were adopted during the spring session of the Azerbaijani Parliament.

"The majority of laws considered in the legislative agenda of spring session, were adopted and the spring session can be estimated as fruitful," Ziyafet Asgarov, the deputy speaker of the Azerbaijan Parliament, said to a news conference on results of the Parliament's spring session on 10 July.

The term of the spring session was prolonged on 2 June for a month, and the irregular session lasted by 5 July. Spring session of the parliament commenced on 1 February and ends on 31 May. The autumn session begins on 1 October and finishes on 31 December.

The first deputy speaker said that 13 meetings were held during spring session and 5 meeting during the irregular session. Thus, 85 laws were adopted during the spring session and 60 laws and resolutions during the irregular session.

The permanent parliamentary commissions also worked very fruitfully during the spring session. The permanent commissions held 93 meetings and discussed 256 issues including 227 laws and 10 resolutions.

According to the deputy speaker, during this session the Parliament did not the Code of Competition, draft laws on Administrative responsibility of the military and Rights of person kept at imprisonment places. "These documents were adopted because of devising of their improved variants. At present work over these draft laws and they will be adopted during the autumn session," Asgarov said.

In autumn Azerbaijan will fulfill one more commitment set by the Council of Europe (CE). The draft law on Alternative military service of Azerbaijan has been prepared and will be put for the autumn session of the Parliament," Ziyafat Asgarov, the deputy speaker of the Azerbaijan Parliament, told a news conference dedicated o results of the spring session of the Parliament.

Azerbaijan has become a full member of the CE in January 2001. Azerbaijan took several commitments so that to meet the CE standards. The draft law on alternative military service is among them. Though the adoption of the law was on agenda of the spring session, it was not put for consideration.

Asgarov said that the bill on Alternative military service was sent to the Council of Europe and the experts of the organization estimated it. At present their conclusion is under study.

" Azerbaijan is in war condition and draft law on Alternative Military Service should meet the requirements of war. At present the Parliament is holding consultations on this law with other state and government organizations," he said.

Foreign policy

The third meeting of the heads of diplomatic missions and conslulates of Azerbaijan in foreign countries was held in Baku.

The meeting was held with participation of President Ilham Aliyev. The head of state is expected to address on aspects of Azerbaijan's foreign policy and its further strategy.

Attending the meeting were heads of 55 diplomatic missions and consulates of Azerbaijan accredited in foreign countries.

Azerbaijan's foreign policy towards Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict must be of offensive character," Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said at the third meeting of the heads of Azerbaijan's diplomatic missions abroad on 7 July.

"The key task of Azerbaijani diplomats is to inform the international community about the truth of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Armenia's occupation policy must be condemned at all levels," stressed President.

According to President Aliyev, diplomats bear great responsibility for fulfilment of foreign policy priorities and informing the international community of the truth about Azerbaijan. Diplomats must closely cooperate with state bodies of those countries in which they are accredited and must improve their efforts to protect political and economic interests of Azerbaijan," said President.

Azerbaijan has established diplomatic relations with 160 countries. Presently, embassies and consulates of 57 countries, as well as a range of representation offices of international organizations, operate in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan sent its diplomatic corps to 56 countries and international organizations; 30 of Azerbaijan's 47 embassies launched operation in 2004-2008.

Azerbaijani diplomats accredited in foreign countries, visited the frontal district of Azerbaijan Fizuli on 11 July. The diplomats were in the military divisions, met with resident of frontal villages of the district and got familiarization with the living conditions here.

The diplomats gifted computers, TV-sets and other appliances to rural secondary school Zobudjuk village of Azerbaijan.

Russia is prepared to military cooperation with Azerbaijan. " Russia is open for military cooperation with Azerbaijan. However, presenting of any military 'toy' exclusively to Azerbaijan is out of question," Vasiliy Istratov, the Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan, told journalists on 8 July.

The Defense Ministries of Azerbaijan and Russia have an agreement on bilateral cooperation. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry cooperates with 50 countries.

The ambassador said that Russia is prepared to render maximal assistance to find a solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. However, the military cooperation does not mean military assistance to Azerbaijan in the settlement of the conflict, the diplomat said.

The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan has stated that Azerbaijan is interested in studying agression toward its cultural heritage and revealing truth.

"There is aggression against the cultural heritage in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan," Tofig Musayev, head of the Foreign Policy Planning and Strategic Research Department of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan said during his meeting with Robert Palmer, Council of Europe Director for Culture, Cultural and Natural Heritage.

The delegation led by Robert Palmer, Council of Europe Director for Culture, Cultural and Natural Heritage visited Azerbaijan on 8 July.

Azerbaijan appealed international organizations and Council of Europe to study the destruction of its cultural and historical monuments in the lands occupied by Armenia.

Palmer said during the meeting that Azerbaijan and Armenia have taken commitments not to commit aggression toward cultural heritage. According to Palmer, the list of destroyed cultural monuments introduced by the parties will be checked up. The facts will be studied by the independent mission of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The mission of the Cabinet of Ministers will visit region in September if there is no any problem, he said.

After the meeting Samad Seyidov, head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE said that the visit of CE officials is aimed at preparing for the conference of the cultural ministers to be held in Baku in December.

"The issue of destruction of cultural heritage is assuming more and more importance every day and the Council of Europe is regularly informed of the destruction of cultural heritage by Armenians in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan," Seyidov said.

A film about the facts of destruction of the cultural monuments of Azerbaijan was demonstrated to the guests.

Political movements

The final decision of the Open Society Party (OSP) regarding participation in presidential elections of its leader Rasul Guliyev, ex-Speaker of Azerbaijani Parliament, who is currently residing in the United States, will be taken in next 20-25 days. "In my opinion, if Guliyev is not to return to Azerbaijan, it is senseless to nominate him," advisor of the leader of OSP Zamina Dunyamaliyeva said to Trend on 7 July.

According to Dunyamaliyeva, as comapred to other opposition parties, OSP has problems. One of them and the most important is absence of party's leader in Azerbaijan. Another problem is lack of state registration. "Should Guliyev not return to Azerbaijan, there is not sense to cheat ourselves nomnating him. In 2005, Guliyev nominated himself for parliamentary elections and did gain votes, but what was the result?" she said.

Dunyamaliyeva thinks now Guliyev is most likely then ever to return to the country. "Rasul Guliyev is considering the issue by himself at the moment. Our position on the elections depends on his decision," she said.

Chairman of OSP Akif Shahbazov refused to comment on this and other issues until party's final decsion is taken.

Right-wing Open Society Party was founded in April 2007 in result of the split of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party. Party's leaders former MP Rasul Guliyev, is an emigrant to the United States. Protesting against ADP, Guliyev and his supporters separated from the party and established their own Open Society Party.

Issue on participation in the upcoming presidential elections caused disagreements in the oppositional Azerbaijani National Independence Party (ANIP).

"I do not share the opinion of Fuad Mukhtarov, Secretary General of the party, and I am for participation in the elections," Ali Orujov, the deputy chairman of the ANIP, told Trend on 7 July.

The presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan on 15 October. The Musavat Party nominated Isa Gambar, the Azerbaijani Democratic Party (ADP) - Sardar Jaliloglu and the Green Party - Mais Gulaliyev, the Azerbaijani Unified Popular Front Party - Gudrat Hasanguliyev, and Muasir Musavat - Hafiz Hajiyev. Eldar Namazov, the head of Social Forum of 'For Azerbaijan' will participate independently in the elections.

The ruling New Azerbaijan Party intends to nominate Ilham Aliyev, its chairman and the current Azerbaijani President. The pro-governmental Ana Veten and the Social Prosperity Parties decided to support Aliyev's candidature in the elections.

Azadlig bloc, uniting three oppositional parties (the Popular Front, the Civil Development and the Liberal party), stated that they would boycott the elections. A final decision will be taken after discussions at the Majlis [Assembly] of the bloc.

Mukhtarov, Secretary General of the ANIP, is for boycotting the elections. "I think Etibar Mammadov, the lieder of the ANIP, will not participate in the elections. We will more probably decide not to join the elections," he said.

Orujov considers that they can make people more active through their participation in the elections. He said that currently this issue was under discussions at local organizations of the ANIP.

Members of the opposition Azerbaijani National Independence Party (ANIP) did not find their names in Voter's lists. "As results of investigation we revealed that names of 35 members of the party were not included in the voters' list," Ali Orujyev, the chairman of the party, told Trend on 7 July.

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

Voters' list is being precisely defined currently, Ramil Huseynov, the head of the Elections Information Centre, told Trend on 7 July. This work will finish within 25 days of the elections date and the list will be re-announced.

"There are about five million voters in Azerbaijan. Perhaps, names of some people have not been included in this list. We do not take into consideration the party membership when we compile this list. There is no need to politicize it. You only should appeal to hot line in this respect," Huseynov said.

"He confirmed that Orujev really appealed to hot line. As a result of investigation, we found out that his name had been included in this list. "Members of other parties, who cannot find their names in the list, should appeal us," he said.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) confirmed new voters' list at its meeting held in May. A total of 4,834,584 voters (52% - women and 48% - men) have been included in this list. More than 4,600,000 voters were registered in voters' list compiled in 2007.

Orujyev said that he appealed to hot line of the Elections Information Centre organized at the CEC in connection with the absence of the names of the ANIP's members in voters' list.

World Azerbaijanis Congress (WAC) will not support ay candidate during the presidential elections to take place in Azerbaijan this autumn. "Only if I nominate myself for the elections, WAC, the chairman of which I am, will support me, but the support will not be open," MP Sabir Rustamkhanli, Chairman of the Civil Solidarity Party (CSP), said to Trend on 7 July.

WAC was divided into two parts as a result of the disagreements inside the organization and 11 members out of 16 members of Administration decided to remove chairman Gholamreza Sabri Tabrizi from his post and elected Sabir Rustamkhanli as chairman. The remaining part of the members supported Gholamreza Sabri Tabrizi and held a meeting on 21-23 June in Brussels in the European Parliament. Some 300 representatives and guests from 25 countries took part in the WAC meeting presided over by Rustamkhanli in Koln on 6-8 June. Changes were made to the Charter and Program of the organization. A co-chairmanship institute was established at WAC with Sabir Rustamkhanli and Furudin Parvizniya being elected co-chairmen. Gholamreza Sabri Tabrizi considers Koln meeting to be illegitimate.

Rustamkhanli said WAC is considering problems regarding South Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as the work of diaspora. "Therefore, organization's open participation in the elections is impossible. However, WAC will obviously support me from aside not getting involved in the process openly. Should I not become a candidate, WAC will not support any candidate," Rustamkhanli said adding that he had not yet decided where to nominate for presidency. "By 15 July Civil Solidarity Party will hold a meeting to take a final decision on upcoming presidential elections. Party's members want me to become a presidential contender. But other factors must be taken into consideration. It is difficult to reach changes through elections. We will take a final decision taking into account all these and other issues," said Rustamkhanli.

Azerbaijan's opposition party Musavat has decided to complete discussions over upcoming presidential elections. "At today's meeting of party's administration we decided to put an end to discussions," head of Musavat's central executive administration Arif Hajili said to Trend on 7 July.

Azerbaijan will host the presidential elections on 15 October. In December, 2007, Musavat nominated party's chairman Isa Gambar. After Parliament approved of supplements and changes in the Election Code, Musavat commenced discussions for its participation in the elections.

According to Hajili, party's meeting decided to fully complete the discussions within next 1-2 weeks and then to divulge a final decision. "When making a decision, views of regional branches will be taken into account," he said.

The Azerbaijani ruling party does not intend to call the oppositional parties, which boycotted the presidential elections, to participate in the elections. "Boycott of the presidential elections by some oppositional parties will not influence on assessment of the elections by international organizations, as well as the international image of Azerbaijan," Siyavush Novruzov, deputy executive secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), told Trend on 8 July.

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

Novruzov said that all conditions were created to hold free and democratic elections in Azerbaijan. "Every person can participate in the elections. The heads of the oppositional parties know very well that the people of Azerbaijan do not support them. They want to avoid shameful loss through boycotting elections."

President Ilham Aliyev, the chairman of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), and MP Mehriban Aliyeva, the first lady of Azerbaijan, were elected delegates to the fourth congress of the NAP at the eighth conference of the NAP Sabail district organization, held on 8 July. The forum elected 55 delegates from the District to the next congress.

The fourth congress of the NAP will be held at the beginning of August. The candidature of Aliyev, the current head of state and the chairman of the party, will be nominated for the presidency at the congress.

Zahid Garalov, the chairman of the regional organization and a member of the party, told the conference about the work, done over the period past from the previous conference. Garalov said that currently, the organization unites 20,443 members and 60% of them are young people.

According to Sahib Alekberov, the head of the Sabail District Administration, a total of 39 polling stations are fully prepared for the elections in Sabail District. "However, we should closely work with voters until the beginning of the elections. We should work to fulfill the task set by President Aliyev," he said.

Yusif Mammadov, the rector of the Azerbaijani State Pedagogic University, informed that there were 8,091 members of the NAP at his university.

Bahar Muradova, the vice-speaker of Milli Majlis (the Azerbaijani Parliament), a member of the NAP, stated to the conference that at present, the NAP is a non-alternative political force. As to the presidential elections, the vice-speaker said that the ruling party had a formidable candidate and this was an important fact. She said that successes achieved under President Aliyev's leadership and popular support condition the results of the elections.

Some organizational issues, connected with the establishment new political party of Azerbaijan, have been completed. "Currently, work is being done to select a name for a political organization. We chose three names and the name of the party will be selected among them," Aydin Guliyev, a member of Organizational Committee including 11 people, which was formed to establish a new party, told Trend on 10 July.

Guliyev said that the Organizational Committee would assemble and determine a name of a political party soon. "A political course of the party is still to be defined. I can only state it will not be radical," Guliyev said. The party will be publicized until the elections. Guliyev noted that new members did not join the Organizational Committee.

Oppositional Musavat party did not postpone a demonstration scheduled for 11 July. "As a result of discussions held on 10 July at the party, we decided to rally in front of the Baku City Administration at 12:00AM," Arif Hajili , the head of the Central Executive Body of Musavat, told Trend on 10 July.

Musavat filed a suit on Baku City Administration at the beginning of June. The Sabail District Court made a decision on the suit of Musavat and rejected it on 25 June. Then the party lodged appeal on this decision. In its suit Musavat demanded to consider illegal the Baku City Administration's decision, which does not allocate a suitable place to rally on 4 May and cancel it.

Musavat party postponed its demonstrations, originally scheduled for 4 and 18 May, because the Baku City Administration offered the protestors a stadium in Bibi Heybat settlement. Musavat wanted to hold demonstration in Ukraine square, Fizuli square or territory in front of the Tebriz cinema (former 'Sevinj'). The party held an action in front of the building of Baku City Administration in June.

The oppositional Musavat Party of Azerbaijan attempted to stage an unauthorized demonstration in front of Baku City Administration on 11 July. Though some 15 to 20 activist of the Party tried to march ahead to the building of Baku City Administration, the police blocked their way.

Arif Hajili, head of the Central Administration of Musavat Party, lawyer Tofig Yagublu and other 10 party activists have been taken to the Police Department of Sabail district of Baku.

The Musavat part activists demanded to insure the right of the citizens to the freedom of assembly in a demonstration observed by OSCE observers. Representative of OSCE Baku Office Andras Hugik said to media that they would asses the activities of police during the demonstration. "We do not know the conditions of those detained by police. The preliminary assessment will be made public after the process is thoroughly studies," Hugik said.

Kamal Abishov, deputy head of the Police Department of Sabail district of Baku said to media that the demonstration was dispersed as it was illegal.

Though there was an attempt to stage the demonstration once again, 4-5 men were detained by police

Vugar Bayturan, the chairman of the Azerbaijani Turkic Nationalist Party, resigned from his position and left the party, which he represented, Bayturan told Trend on 11 July.

Bayturan supported the candidature of Isa Gambar, the chairman of Musavat party, in the presidential elections held in 2003. Then he was elected the chairman of 'Our Azerbaijan' bloc, which unites eight parties.

Bayturan will join the National Liberation Party (NLP). He said that the meeting of the Political Council of the NLP was held on 11 July. Hatami Tantekin, the chairman of the NLP, said that the NLP would enlarge its activity after a long pause. It was decided to call a conference with the authority of the conference. "Afterwards, admission of new members to the party was considered. I am among the accepted members of the NLP. At the same time, I was elected the chairman of the Organizational committee of the conference with the authority of congress," Bayturan said. He refused to speak about his leaving the Turkic Nationalist Party (TNP). "Currently, Xagani Emil, my deputy, is the chairman of the TNP and our relations with this party remain unchanged," he said.

The NLP was established 20 years ago. The party has not engaged in active actions.

Nagorno-Karabakh

On 6 July, the Armenian Armed Forces fired at the Azerbaijani armed forces from the positions nearby nameless heights of Khojavand region and not far from Kuropatkino village from 20:08 p.m. to 20:18 p.m. and on 7 July from 02:15 a.m. to 02:30 a.m., from the nameless heights in Fuzuli region of Azerbaijan from 21:00 p.m. to 21:20 p.m., from the positions not far from Javahirli village of Agdam region from 02:10 a.m. to 02:25 a.m., from Gizil Oba village of Terter region from 04:30 a.m. to 05:00 a.m., a spokesman for the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated and no casualties were reported

Pakistan demands the implementation of the Resolution on Withdrawal of Armenian Troops from Occupied Lands of Azerbaijan passed by the UN Security Council and General Assembly.

" Azerbaijan is a victim of aggression," Mushahid Huseyn Said, chairman of the External Relations Committee of the Pakistani Senate said to media in Baku on 7 July.

The UN Security Council passed Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 on the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian Armed Forces from the Azerbaijan lands occupied in 1993.

In spite of the Resolutions, Armenia has not yet withdrawn its armed forces from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan.

According to Said, Pakistan had lobbied the passing of these resolutions and supports their implementation.

The delegation of the Pakistani parliament led by Said arrived in Azerbaijan on 7 July. The delegation includes representatives of five political parties represented in the Senate of Pakistan.

The visit of the Pakistani MPS to Azerbaijan aims at further consolidating the relations between parliaments, governments and peoples of the two countries.

Karabakh Liberation Organization (KLO) has approved the last draft of document entitled Unified Position to Eliminate Consequences of Armenian Aggression toward Azerbaijan. "We think there is a need in Azerbaijan for this document. That is, peace talks should end and military operations should be launched," Akif Nagi, chairman of KLO said to Trend on 7 July.

The last draft of document entitled Unified Position to Eliminate Consequences of Armenian Aggression toward Azerbaijan was approved in the meeting of the Supreme Majlis of KLA on 7 July and the meeting resolved to begin collecting signatures for the document within the next few days.

According to Nagi, the document will be introduced to the Azerbaijani intelligentsia, political and public figures and political parties. "The public will be informed of the content of the document after collection of signatures end. The document will be presented to the international organizations as well so that they can get familiar with it," Nagi said. According to Nagi, Supreme Majlis has also passed a document indicating the atrocities of the Armenians towards the Azerbaijani women in captivity. This document is expected to be disseminated in Baku, Azerbaijani regions, posted on websites and to be sent to the electronic mails. "The document is provided for the Azerbaijani public. The chief aim is not to let Azerbaijani people forget Armenian atrocities," he added.

Baku is satisfied with OSCE's position on the resolution of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. "We are waiting for a decision position from the OSCE, a major organization in Europe involved in security and cooperation issues, which should act for rehabilitating the violated rights of Azerbaijan and in accordance with the UN mandate," Ali Hasanov, head of the Public and Political Department of the Azerbaijani President's Administration, told Trend on 8 July.

The Minsk Group was established under OSCE in 1992 with 10 countries to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a peaceable way. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group are Russia, France, and the US since 1997.

Hasanov said that OSCE should hold a decisive position. "We demand the OSCE to clarify their position and demonstrate a decisive position," he added.

According to Hasanov, Azerbaijan has become a serious factor in the economic, political and energy of the world. "We should take an advantage of it, in particular, in the resolution of the great problem - Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," he said. All state institutes, public-political organizations, and scientific community of Azerbaijan involved in the international relations should raise the issue of territorial integrity of the country. "This is the demand of the state policy," Hasanov said. He called the international organization to demonstrate activity in rehabilitation of violated rights of Azerbaijan.

The Armenian Armed Forces from the positions located in the Mosesgeh and Chinari villages in the Berd region of Armenia violated the ceasefire regime by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions located in unnamed hills in the Tovuz region from 8.10pm to 9.30pm on 8 July; from unnamed hills in the Fuzuli region and from nearby of Ashagi Veysalli village from 11.10pm to 11.20pm; from nearby of Tagibayli village in the Agdam region from 10.45pm to 11.20pm, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported.

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

Vice-speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament believes that OSCE and other international organizations are not interested in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"While I was not taking part in the events organized by OSCE, I was hopeful that the visits of the co-chairmen to the region would yield results. As I became involved in this process I saw the attitude to this issue and I think that these visits are not of special importance and certain international circles want the conflict to continue further," Bahar Muradova, head of the Azerbaijani delegation to OSCE Parliament Assembly and vice-speaker of the parliament said while commenting on the results of OSCE Minsk Group chairmen's visit to the region in early July.

According to Muradova, she witnessed double standards in the summer session of OSCE PA held in Astana last week. "During the session I appealed OSCE Secretary General about the violations during the last presidential elections in Armenia. I asked whether discussions over post election situation in Armenia, death cases, mass arrests and other issues will be resumed. In a reply to my answer secretary general said that there were permanent representation of OSCE in Armenia and long-term observation mission was expected to be held there. He said that this mission was observing the situation and studying these issues," vice-speaker said and added that the last visit of the co-chairmen was not a turning point.

The co-chairmen visited the region at the end of June.

The Armenian Armed Forces from the positions located in the Mosesgeh village of the Berd region and Noyemberan region of Armenia violated the ceasefire regime by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions located in unnamed hills in the Tovuz and Kazakh regions from 10:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 8:20 p.m. to 8:25 on 9 July; from Tapqaraqoyunlu village of Goranboy region from 10:55 p.m. to 11:10 p.m., Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan reported.

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

The Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire regime by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions from unnamed hills in the Khojavand region and from Kuropatkino village from 4.30pm to 4.40pm and from 10.30pm to 10.40pm on 10 July; from nearby of Yusifjanli village in the Agdam region from 10.20pm to 10.35pm, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported.

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

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