WEEKLY POLITICAL REVIEW

WEEKLY POLITICAL REVIEW

The last week was marked with prominent events for Azerbaijan both inside the country and beyond its limits.

Foreign policy

The outstanding foreign policy event of the state was US visit of the Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov 2 -5 August.

Commenting to Trend results of the meeting of 2 August of the head of foreign political institution of Azerbaijan with US state secretary Condoliza Rise, representatives of Azerbaijan embassy to Washington mentioned three topics were touched upon during negotiations: The role of USA during settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, realization of energy projects in Caspian region and preparation for forthcoming parliament elections in Republic.

В"USA wish to see significant advancements in the area of democracy in AzerbaijanВ", - the Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov stated to journalists by results of the meeting with US state secretary Condoliza Rise.

"It was mentioned that good Azerbaijan-USA relations were established.

Certainly, USA would like to see more advancement in Azerbaijan in the area of democracy.This point is of big importance in the light of forthcoming elections, Elmar Mammadyarov stated.

C.Rise indicated, В"US government attentively observes situation in the area of development of democratic institutes of Azerbaijan and will continue supporting Baku position for settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflictВ".

The state secretary underlined, both USA on its behalf and co-chairman of Minsk group of OSCE, continues activity in direction of achievement of peace and is ready for quickest settlement of Karabakh problem.

It is noticeable, after meeting with E. Mammadyarov the state secretary didn’t make any statement for press.

Elmar Mammadyarov also met with co-chairman of Minsk group of OSCE Steven Mann 2 August. During the meeting process of peaceful negotiations, conducted for settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict was in focus. Within frames of his Washington visit Elmar Mammadyarov also met with US president George Bush’s deputy assistant on national security Jack Crauch.

Crauch expressed his gratitude for support, rendered to USA in its global fight against terrorism. He positively estimated present level of relations between USA and Azerbaijan and indicated availability of bog potential for further development of mutual relations.

It was observed, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov especially accentuated necessity of realization of regional project of railway link Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku. In essence, this is presently, the last big regional communication project, connecting the states of Southern Caucasus and Central Asia with Europe.

We would like to remind, due to existence of Karabakh conflict Armenia is left beyond realized big projects, such as, pipeline Baku-Tbilis-Ceyhan and gas pipeline Baku-Tbilisi -Erzurum.

Thus, Armenia speaks against construction of railway link Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku, as in this case integration of Armenia into common European economic space is extremely complicated. Armenia is practically beyond communication lines, connecting Southern Caucasus with Europe and rest world.

This means, Armenia is in full economic blockade for long period even after complete settlement of Karabakh conflict.

It is not accidental that Foreign Minister of Armenia Vardan Oskanian visiting Washington before Elmar Mammadyarov, called USA hindering realization of this project during negotiations with Condoliza Rise. Absurdity of the situation is Georgia in Akhalkalaki region majority of population are ethnic Armenians. Local Armenians were speaking against liquidation of Russian military base in the Akhalkalaki region, as if due to economic considerations, as some of them would lose their work.

It is evident, construction of railway link Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku is to further roaring development of this region and therefore settlement of many social-economic problems, including creation of new working places.

However, in spite of local Armenians with prompt of official Yerevan speak against realization of this project. At that, they attempt justifying similar position by absurd argument. And allegedly state realization of the project Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku strengthens positions of Turkey in region and may further changing of demographic situation in region of Akhalkalaki.

Naturally, instead, Armenia proposes constructing railway link via territory of Armenia. Moreover, the part of this link is already actually available.

However, one must take into account, significant part of this railway link passes through occupied Azerbaijan territories, which is completely destroyed by Armenians.

Establishment of railway link Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku will lead to separation of Armenia from programs of TRACECA-international; transport corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia and also North-South, connecting central Europe and Scandinavia with Asia and Near East. E. Mammadyarov met also in Washington with US deputy defense secretary Gordon England. During conversation issues of Azerbaijan-US cooperation in military area and area of security, partnership within frames of anti-terrorist coalition, program of US military assistance to Azerbaijan were considered

Later he met unofficially with former assistant of the president on national security Brent Skowroft and the former deputy of state secretary Richard Armitage.

These meetings, as the chief researcher of Centre of technologies and policy of national security of the University of US national defence Michael Barannik said, show Azerbaijan becomes important state for realization of successful US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Barannik said, "we need territories for bases. If we are to leave during 180 days Uzbekistan, then someone is to give impulse for negotiations about dislocation of bases in Azerbaijan. If one takes into account our relations with this state and the point that it is our alliance in this region, then Azerbaijan is favourable option for our bases".

The visit of the head of foreign political department of Azerbaijan to USA initiated different speculations in Azerbaijan and Russian press, who linked this with dislocation of US military bases in the state. Thus Russian paper В"Nezavisimaya gazetaВ" (в"- 160 (3556) 3 August 2005) in article В"American bases are to strengthen positions of Ilham AliyevВ" informed in detail about this.

According to information the US visit of Azerbaijan MFA Elmar Mammadyarov is directly connected with issue of dislocation of American bases in Azerbaijan. The authors of article think, the president of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, demanding removing in 180 days period US air base “Karshi-Khanabad” from the territory of Uzbekistan, which USA actively deploys for support of anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan since autumn 2001, stated Pentagon hastily seeks another base and new more reliable and predictable ally.

В"Nezavisimaya gazetaВ" supposes in replacement of relaxation of American pressure on Ilham Aliyev referring painful issues on envisaging of democratic norms at forthcoming parliament elections in November, the Azerbaijan president sanctioned dislocation of American troops in the state.

The majority of local analysts pay attention that program of meetings, concerning negotiations of Elmar Mammadyarov with leadership of Pentagon is carefully shaded in official information. Meantime, analysts consider, the main topic of these negotiations was not only general prospects of military cooperation of both states, but purely specific issue about possibility of re-dislocation of US air base to Azerbaijan from Uzbekistan. The next working Baku visit of US defense secretary Donald Ramsfeld, who is to discuss issue of dislocation of US servicemen in Azerbaijan, speaks in favor of this version.

Independent military expert Uzeir Jafarov considers, dislocation of American mobile forces in Azerbaijan is one of priority issues discussed at negotiations of Washington and Baku and on return from USA the MFA head Elmar Mammadyarov corresponding statements are to be made. "Next visit of Pentagon chief to Azerbaijan will mark important circle of events", military expert Uzeir Jafarov is sure. He said, this was not the first arrival of Ramsfeld and other high American authorities to Azerbaijan.

Military expert presumes, all previous visits completed preparation work for transition to adoption of political decision about dislocation of American mobile groups in our state

He thinks, military presence of USA is to be favorably reflected on security of Azerbaijan and its process to NATO integration.

Independent political specialist Vafa Guluzade also has no doubt concerning arrival of American military forces. "This issue is to be solved unambiguously. Everything depends on specific details", V.Guluzade said. He thinks, another point is when these forces are to appear in Azerbaijan before parliament elections, after elections or even later.

Another political specialist Rasim Musabekov considers, Azerbaijan is to be very careful concerning issue of dislocation of US mobile troops in its territory.

The press-service of Ministry of defence of Azerbaijan stated, they do not possess information about the visit of the head of US secretary of defense to the state.

Previously first the former US state secretary Madlen Olbright (the head of the institute of USA) and then deputy of US state secretary on global issues Pola Dobrianski visited the state (the latter one visited Ukraine before president elections).

Their visit to Azerbaijan was sufficient for presentation of conditions of American government on point of forthcoming parliament elections. That is why E. Mammadyarov’s visit and his discussion with C.R of issues of democratization of Azerbaijan are to be auxiliary. One may conclude from this, his visit was of more specific character, which does not exclude topics of dislocation of military base in Azerbaijan. Opinions of majority of Azerbaijan experts on this point coincide.

US ambassador to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish, touching upon topic of MFA head Elmar Mammadyarov’s Washington visit mentioned, В"the head of Azerbaijan MFA had several meetings in Pentagon, state department and also has negotiations with representatives of US non-governmental organizations. During these meetings two main topics were touched upon: joint fight against terrorism and development of democracy in AzerbaijanВ".

In conclusion US diplomat indicated, USA does not plan dislocating its military bases in Azerbaijan - В"presently, the White house has no plans on dislocation of military bases in AzerbaijanВ".

It is more rational, that E. Mammadyarov’s visit to USAвЂ" is preparation of soil for forthcoming Moscow meeting of ministers of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia and presidents Ilham Aliyev and Robert Kocharian at non-formal summit meeting of the heads of CIS in Kazan, where Nagorno-Karabakh settlement is to be discussed.

Political life

The arrest of the leader of youth movement “Yeni Fikir”Ruslan Bashirli, charged with preparation of usurpation of power, was the scandalous event of the week. He was arrested on base of report of another member of this organization Osman Alimuradov to General prosecutor office.

According to information of General prosecutor office, 28-29 July Bashirli and Alimuradov by assignment of the leader of Popular Front of Azerbaijan Party Ali Kerimli visited Tbilisi. They met there with representatives of democratic forces of Georgia Merab Jibuti, Georgiy Isprian and some Vardan. However, in reality they turned out to be representatives of Armenian special services, the statement reads.

The meeting of Bashirli with Isprian was held in private flat 29 July in Tbilisi, he informed about fight for democracy in Azerbaijan. At that, Bashirli said, forces participated by him act on order of the Institute of National democracy of USA and get specific instructions from representatives of this organization on preparation of revolution in Azerbaijan.

Bashirli also mentioned, deputy chairman of PFAP Fuad Mustafayev and member of “Yeni fakir” Said Nuriyev are sent by the Institute of national democracy to Poland for training.

In his turn, Isprian promised Bashirli comprehensive assistance in realization of revolution in Azerbaijan and even promised assisting opposition with discrediting materials against government of Azerbaijan.

Inclining Bashirli for cooperation Isprian handed over to him $2 thousand US on receipt. Besides, after several days he promised to give additionally $20 thousand.

Alimuradov refused from proposal on cooperation. He said, some person Vardan openly stated, they were representatives of Armenian special services and, if they refuse from cooperation, then video cassette with records of money delivery would be shown by television channels.

Criminal action was brought on this fact on item 278 (usurpation of power by force and violent overthrow of constitution regime).

This event caused wide resonance in society. The leader of reformer wing of the Popular front of Azerbaijan Party (PFAP) (r ) Ali Kerimli mentioned at press-conference 5 August, that arrest of R. Bashirli was next provocation of power structures against youth movement. The government wants distracting youth from struggle for democratic liberties.

Kerimli also said, В"Yeni fikirВ" is not within structure of reformer wing of PFAP (r ) and its activity is directed for provision in Azerbaijan of free and just elections. В"I do not believe that this man may commit acts, which are reported in information of prosecutor office. This is an attempt of special services to discredit activist of youth movementВ", Kerimli said.

He also informed that after returning from Georgia and R. Bashirli reported to him about his voyage and told him that he acquainted with some person, who previously had business interests in Azerbaijan and displayed interest to processes, taking place in the state. “This man proposed money to Bashirli.

But Bashirli was convincing me that though in the beginning he agreed to take money, however, he returned this money back. It is necessary to investigate now, whether Bashirli cheated me, or the fact of returning money was left beyond the film”, Kerimli explained.

He also underlined that he considers, that government of this state is concerned with intention of opposition to fight only with peaceful methods and that is why they want to represent the opposition as the traitors of the Motherland and cconspirators, with aim to cause dissatisfaction of population and to direct it against democratic forces. Kerimli also called his party members and associates to abstain from drinking alcohol and other drinks with unknown people.

A. Kerimli also stated that PFAP would apply to official government of Georgia with request of independent investigation of the accidental, which took place 28 29 July in the Tbilisi with Ruslan Bashirli.

Majority of the heads of political parties estimated this fact, as the event directed against national interests of Azerbaijan.

The chairman of the party of National solidarity Sabir Rustamkhanly noted, the act of Bashirli was non desirable, both for opposition of Azerbaijan and for the whole community.

He thinks, inclination or younger citizens of Azerbaijan, who joined to different political movements, to cooperation with Armenian special services was dangerous factor and requires vigilance and responsibility from the heads of parties.

In his turn, the chairman of the party of National independence of Azerbaijan Ali Aliyev indicated that nobody has a right to sacrifice state interests in favour of personal aims. At the same time he indicated that Popular from of Azerbaijan Party (reformers) do not carry responsibility for actions of Bashirli from legal view point

В"PFAP is responsible only morally for this act. A. Aliyev mentioned and underlined that it was absolutely wrong to blame opposition for these action.

The chairman of the party "Adalet" (Justice) Ilyas Ismaylov also stressed that cooperation of Azerbaijani with Armenians is not admissible in any form.

He thinks formation of public opinion about action of R. Bashirli is illegal and wrong from ethical viewpointВ".

The leader of the party "Yurddash" (Compatriot) Mais Safarli noted, that fact of establishment by Azerbaijan citizens of any contacts with Armenians, financing on behalf of Armenian special services causes a feeling of deep regret. M. Safarli considers, in avoidance of similar facts intervention of the state is necessary.

At the same day, 5 August, the edition of the newspaper В"AzadligВ" (edition body of PFAP (r) was subjected to В"tomato attackВ". The group of persons threw tomatoes on the employees of the paper.

The next day, 6 August at 10 in the morning about 600 refugees started to gather in front of headquarters of the PFAP (reformers). Refugees threw eggs on building and, thus, they expressed their protest against cooperation of R. Bashirli with special services of Armenia. Action, which lasted about 20 minutes, was stopped after intervention of the representatives of the party. The head of press-service of PFAP (reformers) Isak Avezoglu estimated this action, as continuation of the campaign of black forces against PFAP. However, protesting persons again started to gather in front of the building of PFAP. The second attempt, lasting 10 minutes, was stopped at 13.20.

This scandal will significantly influence on activity of the block "Azadlig". After gaining of international support the block could be the main opponent of government at elections and actual political force. But now these prospects are practically came to nothing. It is likely, at future development of events the block Azadlig will split. A. Kerimli will be removed from political fight you will have to ward off from attacks. The government already used this scandal for discredit of the chairman of PFAP (r ) and tighten its rhetoric against radical opposition. This scandal was very lucky possibility to neutralise them.

It's quite possible that block "Azadlig" will refuse from tactics of conducting of meetings in regions, which started from 2nd July for regional electoral domination.

Decrease of level of trust of electors to the block “Azadlig” will lead to strengthening of other blocks.

Party system

Last week was marked with establishment of another opposition political party. The chairman

of Organizing committee of the Party of People's Republic Huri Aliev (the nephew of A.Elchibey) noted in the International press centre August, 3 that constituent congress will take place August, 6 . He said, he established public association "Sabah"in the beginning of the year.

However, in connection with increase of number of persons, wishing to become members of this Association and also taking into account common ideology of the people, who gathered there, it was decided to establish the party. H.Aliev informed, that "all members of PPR share political views of Mammadamin Rasulzade and Abulfaz Elchibey".

H.Aliev said, nominees of 2-3 members of the party will be put forward for elections to Milli Mejlis. He himself will be a candidate from Kurdamir electoral district.

Besides Party People's Republic Student's Movement appeared in Azerbaijan, its presentation took place August, 3.

The purpose of the organization is to carry out among students educational and propaganda work for their active participation at elections. New Youth Movement acts also for nomination of young candidates to the Parliament.

Democratic Youth movement "Fiyuzat" was founded August, 2. The head of the movement Anar Mammadli declared at ceremony, that his attitude is negative concerning forces, which see change of government by means of revolution.

"We want to tell to the forces, dreaming about revolution and change of power, that revolution should proceed from brains, and not from street", - he told.

The process of strengthening of the international positions of the party of Democratic reforms is going on. The Chairman of PDR Asim Mollazade received the US ambassador to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish August, 3 . At the meeting A.Mollazade presented to the American diplomat the information about PDR, its pre-election platform and preparation of the organization to the parliamentary elections. The parties also discussed questions of public-political situation in the country, parliamentary elections, Azerbaijan -American relations, settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. The main themes of discussions were position in region of Southern Caucasus and prospects of integration of the region into the Euro-Atlantic space.

Besides, the session of politic council of the party PDR was held, during which there was exchange of opinions concerning social- political situation in the country, cooperation with National institute of democracy (NDI), issues of preparation of the party to forthcoming parliamentary elections were also discussed.

Particularly, issues connected with drawing of lists of nominees for deputy were discussed and the program of cooperation between PDR and NDI was adopted. The program head of NDI Sasha Bruce presented at session.

Earlier, agreement on cooperation between chairman of PDR Asim Mollazade and the head Baku office NDI Christie Kuirk was achieved.

Cooperation of PDR with NDI is a logic result of activity of the Chairman PDR Asim Mollazade, who earlier visited USA. Such agreement will considerably strengthen international authority of the party and its position inside the country.

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