Weekly political digest (15.09- 20.09.2008)

Official chronicle

On 15 September, the first day of a new academic year, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev participated in the opening ceremony of a new building of the Baku State University (BSU).

President got acquainted with the building, which includes 300 rooms and will host 5,000 students. BSU out-patients' clinic will be located on the ground floor. Three faculties will study in the building - mechanical mathematics, applied mathematics and history.

AZN 7mln was allocated for construction of the new building.

BSU, with 1,400 teaching staff, 1,500 administrative workers and 18,000 students, was founded in 1919.

President of Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev took part in the opening ceremony of new building of school 60 in Yasamal district of Baku on 15 September.

All conditions have been provided for education of pupils in the school the construction of which began in June of 2007 at the instruction of President, Minister of Education of Azerbaijan Misir Mardanov said in the opening ceremony. At present, the school which includes over 500 cabinets is capable of housing 600 people. The school has a teacher staff of 60 people.

Head of the state visited different class-rooms, cabinets, teacher's common room, canteen, small and large sport hall and got familiar with school supplies.

President said the work conditions of teachers have been improved and all conditions have been provided for the education of pupils. President congratulated staff of the school on occasion of opening new building in a new school year and wished them success.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev decreed to approve State Program on Alleviation of Poverty and Sustainable Development in the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2008-2015. 

The head of state decreed to develop success achieved in the sphere of improvement of well-being of population, to further alleviate poverty and secure fulfillment of obligations arousing from the UN program of Goals of Development of Millennium.

According to the decree, the Ministry of Economic Development of Azerbaijan is charged with the coordination of fulfillment of measures arousing from the decree. The decree will take effect on the day it is signed.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, sent a message of congratulations to President of the United Mexican States, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, on country's Independence Day, whereby the Head of the Azerbaijan State extended his Independence Day greetings and wished health and success, and the friendly people of Mexico - peace and prosperity.

Azerbaijani President signed an order on Flag of Azerbaijani President. According to the order, the flag is the official symbol of the President of Azerbaijani Republic, the model of flag will be kept in private office in Presidential palace, the duplicate of the flag will be raised in Presidential palace and residences of the Head of the State, in the rooms and studies of above-mentioned places, in other residences in which the President is present, in the rooms or buildings where official events with the participation of the president is held, on the transport means of Azerbaijani president.

The flag constitutes a double-sided cloth in the shape of rectangular panel, consisting of three horizontal equal bands. In accordance with colors of state flag of Azerbaijan, the upper band is blue, the middle is red, and the lower is green. Coat of Arms of Azerbaijan is reflected in the middle of red stripe on both sides of the cloth

The cloth is bordered with golden fringe.

A silver cramp will be fixed on the flagstaff of the Presidentїs Flag. The name, middle name, second name of Azerbaijani president and his presidential term will be reflected on it.

A metallic crescent and an eight-pointed star will crown top of the flagstaff.

The flag of Azerbaijani President can be in different sizes.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrived in Moscow at the invitation of Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russian Federation, on 15 September evening. The President was welcomed by Russian top officials in Vnukovo-3 airport in Moscow.

The President met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev within the framework of the visit on 16 September.

The relations between Russia and Azerbaijan are exemplary and serve as a model to other countries, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart on 16 September.

"We are very satisfied. That promotes gradual development of the relations," President said.

According to Aliyev, the situation in the region arouses concern and Azerbaijan is ready to contribute to decrease the tension. "The disputed issues must be solved peacefully," he said.

On 17 September, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received a delegation led by Andreas Herkel, head of Pre-election Mission of the Special Committee on observation of upcoming presidential elections of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

The sides exchanged views on preparations for the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan.

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan received ambassadors of the Moslem countries in Baku on the occasion of the Holiday of Ramadan (Eid ul-Fitr) on 17 September.

President Aliyev extended his congratulations to the diplomats requesting to convey his best wishes also to the heads of state and governments of their counties on this holiday.

"The people of Azerbaijan have always celebrated this sacred holiday, and after regaining independence Ramadan has been marked officially", the Head of State emphasized.

Noting that Azerbaijan has established close diplomatic relations with all Moslem countries, President of Azerbaijan highly assessed their cooperation on the international organizations and produced example of successful cooperation in the frame of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The President stressed necessity of strengthening of Islamic solidarity in the years ahead.

Pesident Ilham Aliyev has today inspected reconstruction work in the Huseyn Javid park in Baku.

The area was reconstructed under a Presidential decree to overhaul all parks and alleys across the capital.

A "golden" and musical fountains were introduced in the park whose total square is more than two hectares. The area around the fountains is covered in marble and granite. The park got new benches, ornamental shrubs and a lot of trees.

President Aliyev toured the park and chatted with its visitors.

Afterwards, he came to an alley in front of the National Academy of Sciences where he gave instructions to overhaul it in order to make it more attractive for visitors.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, American co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Matthew J. Bryza on 18 September.

They expressed satisfaction with enhancing U.S.-Azerbaijan relationships.

In meeting, exchanged were views on the current state and prospects of relations between the two countries, regional situation and other issues of mutual interest.

On 19 September, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev took part in the inauguration ceremony of water pipeline laid to the center of Balakan region (420km north-west of Baku). Head of state put the water pipeline into operation by pressing the button.

The length of pipeline, the construction of which began in 2006, makes up 13.6km. Water purification unit and 12 water storages with 1000 cu. m. capacity each have been built above the pipeline laid from Siltik river by steels pipes of 319 millimeters. New water pipeline build through the funds of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) wills supply hospital and new dwelling facility with water. The construction of the pipeline cost AZN 4mln.

Before the inauguration ceremony, President visited a monument to Heydar Aliyev in a park named after national leader. The authors of pedestal and bronze monument of 14 meters of length are Akif Asgarov and Jalil Huseynov.

Mr. Aliyev and Mrs. Aliyeva laid flowers at the monument.

Resort park named after Heydar Aliyev is located in the beautiful part of the city - on the bank of Balakan river. Over 4,000 trees, about 5,000 decorative flowers and bushes have been planted in the park with an area of 24 ha. The monument of Heydar Aliyev has been built at the highest point of the park. Heydar Aliyev museum, House of Veterans, Civilian Registry Office and fountain have been built in the park.

A rope-way of 1,200m without precedent in Azerbaijan has been constructed in the park. Rope-way can carry 216 people at the same time. The technical equipment for the road has been imported from Australia and service has been fully computerized. The construction of five storied hotel is being completed.

The flag of Azerbaijan with height of 72 meters flutters in front of the park.

High awards of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Border Troops Commanders Council (BTCC) were conferred on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, head of the CIS BBTC coordinating service colonel-general Aleksandr Manilov said at a news conference in Baku on 19 September.

According to Manilov, high award For Protection of CIS Borders and breastplate For Improvement of Border Cooperation were conferred on Ilham Aliyev.

On 19 September, Baku hosted the 60th meeting of the CIS Border Troops Commanders Council. Representatives of eleven border services of CIS countries (except Georgia), as well as representatives of interacting bodies, participated in the meeting.

Members of the Border Troops Commanders Council considered 24 issues. They dwelled on practical tasks to provide border security within the Plan of Arrangements on Fulfilment of CIS Countries Coordinated Border Policy Conception for 2007-2010.

On 19 September, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, arrived Zakatala district after completing visit to Balakan district.

The State Head, Supreme Commander in Chief, got familiarized with the construction works in N military unit of the Internal Troops of the Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan in Zakatala district.

Interior Minister, General Colonel Ramil Usubov informed the Supreme Commander in Chief of construction works.

On 19 September the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed an order awarding Murtuz Aleskerov the Honored Diploma of the President of Republic for his services in development of legal science and education.

Elections

The presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan on 15 October. So far, the CEC has confirmed candidatures of the chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party Ilham Aliyev, the chairman of the Umid Party Igbal Agazade, the chairman of the Great Establishment Party Fazil Gazanfaroglu, the chairman of the Unified Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan Gudrat Hasanguliyev, the chairman of the Muasir Musavat Party Hafiz Hajiyev, the chairman of the Liberal Democrat Party Fuad Aliyev and an independent candidature Gulamhuseyn Alibeyli.

The Public Broadcasting Council of Azerbaijan (PBC) agrees to grant free six-hour air time to all presidential candidates registered by the Central Elections Commission's (CEC) in a week, Ismayil Omarov, the head of the company, told

Trend on 15 September.

During the primary negotiations the PBC and the CEC discussed allocation of free three-hour air time to every presidential candidature in a week.

According to Omarov, three-hour air time will be allocated to all presidential candidates at the PBC and three-hour at its radio a week. Preparation of studios was completed and they are supplied with advanced equipments to ensure presidential candidatures' live speeches and debates. Paid air time would be granted at the PBC at the presidential candidatures' desire. "If the CEC makes an offer on the base of the legislation, we should agree with it," Omarov said.

ITV will grant the paid air times from Monday to Thursday, at different time at the price ranging from AZN 10 to AZN 40 per second. The Public Radio will allocate air time from Monday to Thursday, at different time at the price ranging from AZN 5 to AZN 13 per second.

The Initiative Group of the Azerbaijani youth studying in Moscow will support the current President Ilham Aliyev, the presidential candidature of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP). The Initiative Group intends closely to participate in Ilham Aliyev's propaganda campaign to be held in Russia.

"Everybody knows that Ilham Aliyev is a great and true friend of the Azerbaijani youth. We are sure that young generation of the country will vote for the candidature of the authorities," the statement reads.

The Initiative Group intends to hold broad propaganda campaign and explanation work to support Ilham Aliyev's candidature.

The military men serving in a special regime will vote in the polling stations to be set up in the military units they serve.

"The military men in special regime are those who serve in the front line. They will vote in polling stations to be set up in the military units located on the front line," Eldar Sabiroglu, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan said to Trend .

The military men serving in the military units of general regime will vote in the polling stations located near military units, he said.

According to Election Code, the Central Election Commission (CEC) will issue an order to set up polling stations in military units of special regime 5 days before the elections.

The polling stations will be set up in the military units of special regime in the period indicated by the legislation, Azar Sariyev, spokesman for CEC said to Trend .

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held a preliminary monitoring in pre-election process in Azerbaijan.

"PACE preliminary monitoring revealed problems in the pre-election process," Andreas Herkel, Head of PACE monitoring mission, said to journalists in Baku.

Herkel met with the OSCE, EU in Azerbaijan and IFES Baku office representatives on 16 September. Herkel is expected to meet with the Central Election Commission chairman, as well.

Monitoring still is being held. The final report will be released on 18 September.

The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe will send an expert to Azerbaijan to work with the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Expert's candidature is still being considered, Sergey Kuznetsov, a representative of the Venice Commission, told Trend via a telephone from Strasburg.

One expert will be sent to Azerbaijan and his work composition is being worked out.

Gianni Buquicchio, Secretary General of the Venice Commission Venice Commission, appealed to the CEC chairman with a request to assist the expert group activity. The expert from the Venice Commission will arrive in Baku on the threshold of presidential elections.

Additional ballot-boxes will be brought to Azerbaijan due to the presidential elections.

"New gauzy ballot-boxes are expected to be brought to Azerbaijan from Denmark," Rovzat Gasimov, Chief of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Department on International Relations, told Trend .

For the first time Azerbaijan used gauzy ballot-boxes during the presidential elections in 2003.

Gasimov said that the number of ballot-boxes was being specified. "Several ballot-boxes became useless. The exact number of ballot-boxes will be announced soon. Azerbaijan will place order in Denmark," said Gasimov.

There are over 5,000 election constituencies in Azerbaijan. One stationary and one gauzy ballot-box is set up in each constituency.

Chairman of Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan believes that presidential candidates will be provided with all opportunities for election campaign.

"All conditions will be provided for presidential candidates to conduct mass events," Mazahir Panahov, CEC chairman said in his meeting with Andreas Herkel, head of observation mission of Parliament Assembly of Council of Europe.

Noting that election campaign will start on 17 September, CEC chairman said presidential candidates will use air time in Public TV and pages of state-owned periodicals free of charge and will be provided opportunities to meet with voters.

Necessary work for holding absolutely free and democratic presidential elections in Azerbaijan are carried out. Azerbaijan fulfilled all obligations, undertaken before the Council of Europe, Samad Seyidov, Chairman of Azerbaijan Parliamentїs Standing Committee for Foreign and Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Head of Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, said at the meeting with the Head of the PACE observation mission, Andreas Herkel.

Seyidov noted that long time is necessary for fulfillment of some obligations, and these questions are resolved in their time. їHolding democratic elections is one of such questions. Azerbaijan is completely ready to hold democratic elections. I can say with the complete confidence that the elections will take place freely, transparently and democratically,ї said the Chairman of the delegation.

The Head of the PACE observation mission, Andreas Herkel said that existence of competition in the elections, where part of opposition does not participate, causes doubts. He stated in response to Seyidov that for the competition, equal conditions should be created for all candidates, but those, who were not confident in their forces, fear to participate in the elections.

The cameras of observation will be established during the day of presidential elections for the observation of the election process in the electoral districts, the Chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Mazahir Panahov, briefed the media on 16 September. The CEC Chairman said that the cameras will cover 10 percent of the electoral districts of the Republic. According to him, with the help of the cameras there will be observed all processes from the preparation of electoral districts for voting to sending protocols to the districts. The cameras will be connected to the Internet, and in any country of world it will be possible to control the process of presidential elections in Azerbaijan.

Panahov said that this step which will be an example for the democratic countries will assume great importance from the point of view of transparency and openness. 

The ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) started the agitation campaign of its Presidential candidate with a mass action. 

The New Azerbaijan Party will complete its successfully commenced work with a victory,ї NAP Executive Secretary, Ali Ahmadov, said during his speech in Bibiheybat stadium. 

The agitation campaign of the presidential contenders will commence on 17 September to last 28 days.

Ahmadov said in his speech that as a result of election campaign, Ilham Aliyev will gain victory in the elections.

"People believe him and Ilham Aliyev believes people. People have already made his choice: this is Ilham Aliyev," Ahmadov stated. During his speech at the meeting held under slogan їtoward with Ilhamї, Ahmadov said that the opposition looking for square finally remained without square. їBecause NAP took this square. With this, the opposition lived its insolvency,ї he added.

The Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan has cast a lot among presidential elections to distribute free air time among them.

As a result of casting of votes, chairman of Popular Front Party of Unified Azerbaijan Gudrat Hasanguliyev gained an opportunity to perform first before the public, Hafiz Hajiyev, chairman of Muasir Musavat Party - second, Fuad Aliyev, chairman of Liberal Democratic Party of Azerbaijan - third, Ilham Aliyev, current president and candidate from ruling New Azerbaijan Party - fourth, Fazil Gazanfaroglu, chairman of Great Establishment Party - fifth, Igbal Agazade, chairman of opposition Umid Party - sixth and independent candidate Gulamhuseyn Alibayli - last.

Each candidate will have free air time of three hours a week in television and radio of Public TV.

The candidates will deliver a speech in the form of 'round tables' in odd days of week at 09:00p.m. on radio and on even days at 06:50p.m. on TV.

The presidential elections in Azerbaijan will be held on 15 October. Election campaign will start on 17 September and last 28 days.

Head of observation mission of Parliament Assembly of Council of Europe Andreas Herkel meet with the leaders of opposition parties boycotting upcoming presidential elections on 17 September.

"We informed European experts of the reasons behind the boycott of elections," Ali Aliyev, co-chairman of opposition Azadlig bloc said to Trend .

At the early September, parties included in Azadlig bloc the (the Popular Front Party, the Liberal Party and the Citizen and Development), the Musavat Party and the Public Forum 'For Azerbaijan'  signed a joint statement on recognition of the presidential elections to be held on 15 October as illegitimate. Government to be formed after the presidential elections, are announced as illegitimate in the statement.

PACE delegation of five people led by Herkel has been holding meetings in Azerbaijan since 16 September.

The European experts were informed of the lack of democratic environment in a period prior to elections, inaccurate Election Code, violation of freedom of assembly and arrest of journalists, he said.

Herkel said he will bring opposition's claims to the notice of Azerbaijani government.

Favorable conditions will be created for prisoners to watch radio and TV programs to get familiarization with the pre-election programs of the presidential candidatures in Azerbaijan, the Justice Ministry Penitentiary Service (PS) told Trend on 17 September.

The PS has developed and adopted an action plan in connection with the presidential elections, the Ministry said.

About 19,000 prisoners, including underage people and foreign citizens, serve their punishment in Azerbaijan.

Particularly, training will be held for prisoners, personal staff and servicemen to explain them elections rights at the penitentiary institutions, where polling stations will be organized.

Candidatures' documents and propaganda means, which the elections headquarters submitted, will be placed at the institutions.

A list of prisoners, employees of the penitentiary service and servicemen with a right of vote, will be developed at the time, which the CEC fixed. After the development of the voters list, transfer of prisoners within the punishment places, as well as their transfer from investigation cells to prisons and discharge of prisoners released before the completion of punishment term will be temporarily suspended.

The Justice Ministry will hand special cards, coordinated with the CEC, to prisoners not having ID cards.

Prisoners, who serve their punishment at special and station type of prisons, will vote at polling stations, organized in a district, where the institutions are located.

In accordance with requirements of the Elections Code, the CEC will announce on establishment of stations at least five days before the elections day at the institutions with special regime, Azar Sariyev, the press secretary of the CEC said.

The Parliamentary Assembly (PA) of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will send observers to for presidential elections in Azerbaijan. Svetlana Orlova, deputy chairman of Federal Council of CIS Parliament Assembly has been appointed coordinator of CIS PA monitoring mission by the chairman of Council of Federation of Federal Assembly Sergey Mironov, a source in Milli Majlis (parliament) of Azerbaijan said. The CIS PA mission will observe elections all over the country. The composition of the monitoring group will be defined by the end of September.

The Azerbaijani Greens Party's (AGP) appeal was rejected.

The Baku Court of Appeal examined the AGP's complaint to cancel decision of the Central Elections Commission (CEC) at a meeting on 17 September.

The AGP Supreme Assembly made a decision to join the presidential elections with own candidate. Under the Supreme Assembly's decision, the Party nominated Mais Gulaliyev.

The party collected more than 44,000 signatures and submitted them to the CEC for its candidature's registration. The CEC considered signatures as illegal and did not register Gulaliyev's candidature.

The Court kept in power the CEC's decision, the AGP told Trend . The Party said that they would appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Azerbaijani Central Elections Commission (CEC) Media Group examined the ruling New Azerbaijan Party's (NAP) complaint on activity of Igbal Agazade, the opposition presidential candidature. "Although the Media Group has examined the complaint, a decision on this matter has not been made," Anvar Agazade, a representative of the Umid (Hope) Party told Trend on 18 September. The ruling NAP applied to the CEC Media Group that Agazade, a presidential candidature of the opposition Umid Party violated law, beginning the propaganda campaign earlier than the scheduled date.

The ruling party could not submit additional facts concerning the complaint, Agazade said.

"The NAP's complaint reports that the Umid Party began the propaganda campaign earlier than planned, violating a law and spread propaganda CDs in all regions of Azerbaijan. However, the party spread the CDs from December in 2007 to May in 2008. There are data on the activity of the party and the chairman of the party. The NAP could not submit evidences on that the CDs have been spread recently," Agazade said.

The meeting did not decide to examine this case at a meeting of the CEC and to warn the Umid Party. It was decided the group's head to make a report on the complaint at a meeting of the CEC.

An expert of the Council of Europe (CE) said Azerbaijani media had been passive in recent years.

Azerbaijani media, in former times taking the first position in the region for its activity, now very passively cover pre-election processes on the threshold of the presidential elections, CE expert David Ward said at a news conference in Baku on 19 September.

Ward said a proof for his statement was a media monitoring held by CE experts from July to September before the presidential elections scheduled for 15 October. The monitoring revealed that ATV, ANS and LIDER channels cover the elections most comprehensively, while the remaining TV channels either provide less or one-sided information. According to Ward, governmental newspapers only cover the campaign of the governing party's candidate; opposition newspapers mainly criticize the government instead of covering the elections. The monitoring revealed that independent newspapers cover the elections best.

CE experts did not monitor news agencies, for they think the people mainly read newspapers and watch TV, said Ward.

The Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan (CEC) registered the lawyers of Chairman of opposition Great Establishment Party, Presidential Candidate Fazil Gazanfaroglu. "The party has submitted to the CEC the list of 50 lawyers of Fazil Gazanfaroglu," the CEC Secretary, Natig Mammadov, said at CEC session on 19 September.

The session made a decision delegating Ibrahim Mammadov the right of consultation vote in CEC on behalf of the Great Establishment Party.    

The Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan (CEC) confirmed the attestation regulations of the organizations which will hold exit-poll during the Presidential elections.

"The organizations which want to hold exit-poll should have experience and technical possibilities in this regard," the CEC Chairman, Mazahir Panahov, said at the CEC session on 19 September.  

According to the regulations confirmed by the CEC, the organizations which want to hold exit-poll should appeal to the CEC for registration 20 days prior to the elections. The organizations should inform the CEC of their resources, technical possibilities, place and number of exit poll to be held. Furthermore, the organizations should submit to the CEC the proofs on their exit-poll experience.

According to the regulations, the organizations which want to hold exit-poll must be legal entity.

Five political parties, which boycott the presidential elections in Azerbaijan, will apply to the Public Television to get air time.

"The elections legislation envisages holding both propaganda and anti-propaganda during the elections. Political parties, which inked a joint statement to boycott the upcoming presidential elections, have enough opportunity to seriously influence the political processes and public opinion in Azerbaijan. Political parties have a right to publicize their opinion to people and they will try to exercise the right," Arif Hajili, the head of the Musavat Party Executive Body, said on 20 September.

Institutions, including political organizations, which boycott the elections and their officials do not have a right to use both paid and free air time, Azar Sariyev, the Spokesperson for the Azerbaijani CEC, told Trend .

"Only the registered candidates, their officials and lawyers should use the air time. The political parties boycotting the elections cannot hold paid and free anti-propaganda, even if they are registered as observers. Only contenders can hold anti-propaganda against each other without violating requirements of the Elections Code," Sariyev said.

Parliament

The Bill on Psychological security must be adopted in order to prevent foreign impacts on the population, Rabiyat Aslanova, Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, said.

"This bill has already been developed. It will enable to prevent dangerous tendencies in Azerbaijan," Aslanova said to journalists. 

France has already adopted this bill. Under the bill, any information that has a negative influence on history, culture, spirit and moral values of the French nation must be immediately prevented and people accused in such actions must be involved into criminal responsibility. These persons will be sentenced to from three to five years of imprisonment.

Aslanova said that if there is disrespect to other religious in religious books, which exported in Azerbaijan, their export to the country must be prevented.

Azerbaijani President submitted draft law on expansion of number of Azerbaijani servicemen in the peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan to the Parliament, Azerbaijani Parliament's Vice-Speaker Ziyafat Askarov said to journalists on 16 September.

According to the draft law, one platoon will be added to the Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Afghanistan.

President's suggestion will be discussed at a meeting of the parliamentary commission on security and defence, said Askarov.

In 1997, a peacekeeping detachment was formed at the National Army of Azerbaijan. A peacekeeping battalion was later established. The number of Armed Forces of Azerbaijan in Iraq totalled 150 soldiers and 34 in Kosovo. The Azerbaijani soldiers controlled 18 villages in Kosovo. Over 400 Azerbaijani soldiers served in Kosovo. The Azerbaijani peacekeeping detachment in Kosovo operated within the Turkey's Armed Forces. There were 45 Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Afghanistan patrolling Kabul.

Foreign policy

Azerbaijan was listed amongst Georgia's ten most reliable partners. According to the survey of Georgian Kviris Palitra (Week's Palette) weekly newspaper, which involved 503 respondents, Azerbaijan is amongst the 10 partners of Georgia which the population considers to be reliable.

The United States took the first position in the list (91.3%), followed by France, Turkey, Ukraine, Germany, Baltic countries, Poland and Azerbaijan.

The 90th anniversary of liberation of capital Baku city of Azerbaijan from Armenian dashnaks and Russian Bolsheviks was marked on 14 September.

"Today is a historical day. If Turkish soldiers had not fought here, quite different people would live in Baku today," Hulusi Kilich, Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan said.

Turkey's Embassy and Turkish businessmen in Azerbaijan, members of Azerbaijani public and opposition have visited the monument to the Turkish victims and Martyr's Lane.

The appeal of Azerbaijani intellectuals addressed to the Turkish Army in 1918, were red out in the event.

"The Turkish Army believed Azerbaijan to be their homeland and became victims for the homeland. Turkey has already been together with Azerbaijan and will do so in the future. Turkish people have no friends rather than Turkish," Ambassador said.

Prospects of development of relations between the ruling Azerbaijani and Chinese party was discussed in Baku on 15 September.

"Mutual relations between our countries has an ancient history," Van Chzyazhuy, the Foreign Relations Minister of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee said at a meeting with Ali Ahmadov, the executive secretary and the deputy chairman of the ruling New Azerbaijan party (NAP), on 15 September.

The Chinese Communist Party is in Azerbaijan with large delegation.

According to Chzyazhuy, friendship, mutual and equal cooperation relations are developing rapidly between Azerbaijan and China since the establishment of diplomatic relations.

The Chinese Communist Party attaches special importance to relations with the NAP, Chzyazhuy said while speaking about mutual relations of this organization with more than 50 political parties of the world.

Ahmadov, the NAP deputy chairman made a comprehensive report on measures taken regarding preparations of the presidential elections, the party's role and position in society and political sphere.

The NAP supports proposals calling for development of relations between both parties, Ahmadov said, expressing his assurance about realization of the initiatives in this direction.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and is interested to develop relations with the strategically important country. The statement was made in Brussels at the 26+1 meeting on Azerbaijan-NATO cooperation within Individual Partnership Plan on 17 September.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and the officials of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Interior Affairs represented the country at the meeting.

Mammadyarov touched upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict at the meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the ambassadors of NATO countries. He said the conflict must be settled only on the basis of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.

Great Britain attaches great significance to cooperation with Azerbaijan, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov.

An exchange of view was held on prospects of expanding current ties and bilateral relations between the two countries during Azerbaijani Foreign Minister's visit to Great Britain. The sides stated that they are pleased with the development of relation on the high level in the sphere of policy, economy, culture and others. The problems in the region were discussed as well.

Miliband raised the issue of energy problems and activities of the European Union in this sphere. UK Foreign Secretary highly appreciated Azerbaijan's role in the region and thanked for all conditions provided for British companies in Azerbaijan.

The ways to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were discussed at a meeting between Azerbaijani Defence Minister Safar Abiyev and the OSCE Minsk Group's French co-chair Bernard Fassier on 19 September. Military and political situation in the region was discussed, Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said to Trend on 19 September.

Fassier has been visiting Azerbaijan since 18 September. He commenced his visit from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Organized by Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), Azerbaijanїs Embassy in Sweden as well as Swedish Riksbank, a business forum took place in Stockholm with the participation of the business people of the two countries. The forum discussed the possibilities of development of the economic co-operation between Azerbaijan and Sweden, a source at the Embassy told Trend on 20 September.

The prospects for the development of co-operation of the two countries in the commercial and economic, bank, financial, information and communications spheres were discussed, from Azerbaijan the business- forum was attended by the representatives of nearly 15 leading companies. Sweden was presented at the forum by 25 companies. According to the data provided by the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan, in the first half-year the amount of trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Sweden totaled more than $72mln.

After business-forum, with the assistance of the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Sweden and Norway and the Youth Organization of the Azerbaijanis of Norway, a seminar was organized at the University of Oslo with the participation of the pedagogical collective of the University, students of the department of political sciences.

The seminar was also attended by the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Sweden and Norway, Rafael Ibrahimov, the AZPROMO delegation members, members of the Youth Organization of the Azerbaijanis of Norway.

Rafael Ibrahimov informed the participants of the political and economic situation in Caucasus and Azerbaijan and the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The President of AZPROMO Emil Mejidov spoke about the economic processes and investment opportunities in Azerbaijan.

Youth Organization of the Azerbaijanis of Norway provided books on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the participants.

Political movements

Two political organizations -the pro-governmental Democratic World Party of Azerbaijan (DWPA) and opposition Great Nation Party (GNP), reached an agreement to unite. "The leadership of the both parties supported the union. Our political, democratic and ideological views correspond," Samir Adigozalov, Chairman of GNP, told Trend .

Adigozalov said that he agreed with Alizade's candidature to the chairman position in the new established union.

Alizade approved this statement. "GNP leadership appealed to our party to join. We have discussed the issue at the Political Assembly. Assembly agreed to join," said Alizade.

However, DWPA's Charter does not include such a collective union. Therefore, GNP members were accepted to DWPA individually. "One cannot consider this union as a step taken to extend party's social base. We have enough social base. However, public considers relevant this union.

Adigozalov will be the deputy chairman in the united party. The new union will be called as the Democratic World Party of Azerbaijan, Alizade said. The document is expected to be signed the next week.

Mazahir Qayibov, member of Supreme Majlis of opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA) and Bahaddin Haziyev, former deputy chairman of the party has resigned.

Gayibov resigned as a sign of protest against party's not joining presidential elections. "I quit Supreme Majls of PFPA and join election campaign of an independent presidential candidate Gulamhuseyn Alibayli together with my supporters," a statement released by Gayibov said.

Gulamhuseyn Alibayli, chairman of Supreme Majlis of PFPA refused party membership as a protest against party's not taking part in presidential elections and ran for presidency as an independent candidate.

Gayibov said he will continue his activities in the election headquarters of Alibayli together with his supporters and political organization he is going to set up.

"We are taking this step as a protest against unsuccessful policy PFPA pursued for the last years," he added.

Boycott of the presidential election by PFPA has brought all bodies and its regional organizations to a standstill, he said. Gayibov called on other PFPA members to withdraw from party's membership.

On its part, Haziyev said he has resigned because of the policy pursued by opposition. "Every election is an opportunity to achieve political changes in the country. Unfortunately, opposition could not take advantage of these opportunities so far. We have such opportunity in 2008 as well. Opposition could have changed the current government by uniting together. Unsuccessful policy by the opposition has led the public to difficult situation," a statement by Haziyev said. Haziyev puts an end to his political career in PFPA in order to deal with independent journalism. He is the editor-in-chief of Bizim Yol (Our Way) newspaper.

The party has no information about resignation of Gayibov and Haziyev. The resignation of both of them is unexpected for the party, Hasan Karimov, deputy PFPA chairman for organizational affairs said.

The Azerbaijani opposition Taraggi party created an election headquarters to support the candidate from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), Ilham Aliyev.

"We created an election headquarters in Ganja City and commenced wide election campaign," Chingiz Damiroglu, Chairman of the Taraggi party, told Trend on 19 September.

Over 10 years Taraggi had campaigned radical opposition activity. Since summer 2008, the party took constructive position.

Damiroglu explained non-participation in the meeting of the ruling party in Bibi Eybat stadium on 17 September that he had not been invited by NAP.

"If I would have been invited, me and members of our party would participated in the meeting with great pleasure," said Damiroglu.

The new opened election headquarters in Ganja plans will carry out wide election campaign in support of Ilham Aliyev.

Opposition Azerbaijan Democratic Party (ADP) set a new term to join the coalition of the parties boycotting presidential elections.

"Should Musavat party call back its MPs from the Parliament, we will reconsider our position regarding joining the opposition coalition," ADP Chairman Sardar Jalaloglu said to Trend on 19 September.

ADP refused to join the document. According to the head of the Musavat's Central executive administration Arif Hajili, should ADP join the coalition, it will be possible to create a new opposition bloc.

Jalaloglu said the term of the Musavat, which it had posed before, must be taken as refusal to cooperate.

"Such unions are important both to us and the opposite side," said Jalaloglu.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions from unnamed hills in the Goranboy region and from nearby of Tapgaragoyunlu village from 7.45pm to 8.35pm on 15 September.

Armenian Armed Forces fired at the Azerbaijani Army's positions from unnamed hills in the Fuzuli and from nearby of Garvand, Ashagi Veysalli and Garakhanbayli villages from 9.00pm to 9.20pm, from 11.00pm to 11.20pm on 15 September and from 5.30am to 5.55am on 16 September, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported.

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

The Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions in Ashagi Askipara and Gushchu Ayrim villages in the Gazakh region from unnamed hills in the Noyemberan region and from Voskepar village from 9.15pm to 9.25pm and from 5.45pm to 6.00pm on 16 September.

Armenian Armed Forces fired at the Azerbaijani Army's positions from Goranboy region from 7.10pm to 7.25pm, from nearby of Kuropatkino village in the Khojavand region from 5.30am to 5.38am on 17 September, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported.

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

The Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire from the unnamed heights in Berd region and Berkaber village of Ijevan region on 17 September from 08:30am to 08:45am, 12:05pm to 12:15pm and 09:25pm to 09:35pm by firing at the Azerbaijani National Army's positions in Alibayli, Kokha Nabi villages of Tovuz region and from Gizilhajili village of Kazakh region.

Armenian Armed Forces fired at the Azerbaijani Army's positions from Goygol region from 6:35pm to 6:50pm, from Tapgaragoyunlu village of Goranboy region from 7:30pm to 7:40pm, from nearby of Kuropatkino village and unnamed heights in Khojavand region from 10:45pm to 11:15pm and from Yusifjanli village of Agdam region from 11:12pm to 11:22pm, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported.

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

The Armenian Armed Forces fired at the positions of the armed forces of Azerbaijan located in Kokha Nabi village of Tovuz region from position located in Chinari village of Berd region of Armenia from 09:00p.m. to 09:15p.m.

Armenian Armed Forces fired at the Azerbaijani Army's positions from 06:40p.m. to 07:25p.m. from nameless heights in Tovuz region, from 10:40p.m. to 10:50p.m., and on 19 September from 04:10a.m. to 04:35p.m. from nameless heights in Fuzuli region and from 01:50a.m. to 02:10a.m. from Tapqaraqoyunlu village of Goranboy region, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reported.

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

On 19 September, the Armenian Armed Forces from the positions located near the Ashagi Veysalli and Garakhanbayli villages of Fuzuli region from 11:25pm to 11:55pm, from nearby of the Jojug Marjanli village of Jabrail region from 11:10pm to 11:50pm and on 20 September, from the unnamed heights near the Khojavand region fired at the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, a spokesman for the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, reported.

The National Army of Azerbaijan retaliated and no casualties were reported

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