WEEKLY POLITICAL REVIEW

Official news

On 16 September Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with the head of the OSCE observation mission, Girt Arens and his deputy Herald Yepsen. The meeting on the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.

Earlier on 14 September President Aliyev received Heikki Talvitie, the European Union’s special representative on South Caucasus.

The talks centered on the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijan-EU cooperation .

President Ilham Aliyev received the authorized representative of Vatican, cardinal Crescenzo Sepe on 12 September.

Aliyev said that Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the development of relations with Vatican. В"We are happy with our relations, being at the high level. We are confident, the cooperation will develop further”, the President said.

Speaking on his visit, the cardinal noted, the head of Vatican Benedictus XVI finds this trip important. He voiced gratitude for the support of intentions and actions to be implemented in Azerbaijan. Allotment of a plot of land for the construction of the Catholic Church, according to cardinal, is appreciated highly by Vatican and is the vivid example of the desire to develop the cooperation.

Sepe thanked also for assigning the area for the homeless’ asylum. According to him, Vatican and the catholic congregation of Baku are always ready to support the development of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani President Aliyev met with All-Russian and Moscow Patriarch Alexi II and his delegtaion on 14 September. During the meeting of Alexi II with the President Ilham Aliev, the sides confirmed the progress in mutual relations of Azerbaijan and Russia to new degree of mutual trust and cooperation. The President appreciated the second visit of the Russian patriarch to Azerbaijan for last 4 years as very important and contributory for stabilization of relations between two countries

The President of Azerbaijan awarded Alexi II by the order "Shohret" (Fame) "for large contribution in development of the Azerbaijan-Russian relations".

The Russian Patriarch awarded I. Aliev by the order of Russian Orthodox Church of Reverend Sergiy Radonezh of the 1st degree

"Russian people do not feel themselves men of second kind and are enjoying full rights citizens of the country. Solid spiritual and cultural relations, formed between Russia and Azerbaijan over the period of last centuries have withstood test of time", - Alexiy emphasized.

Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijani President, received the delegation led by Poll Spelts, the Executive Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Aliyev expressed satisfaction with the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the ADB, Trend reports referring to the Azertaj news agency.

Touching upon economic development in Azerbaijan, the President noted that the strategy of social and economic development of regions was successfully carried out. “Establishment of new jobs, new infrastructure, development of private sector, GDP growth is sign of the economic development of the country. New large energy projects are expected to be implemented soon,” he added.

Spelts thanked the Aliyev for support and opportunities established for the function of the ADB, and said that he was well aware of the work carried out by the Azerbaijani President in this regard. “The work to be done during the visit will be carried out in effective and intensive form,” he underlined.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-In-Chief Ilham Aliyev presided over the meeting at Defense Ministry on 16 September on Army building in the Republic.

He disclosed the plans on increase of assignments for military purposes. “Our budget is rapidly growing and expected to exceed $3 bln 500 mln next year. This entails increase in military spending: $175 mln in 2004, $300 mln in 2005 and $600 mln in 2006, and this is not the limit,” he underlined.

"I have set the task: our military budget should reach the whole budget of Armenia, or even exceed it. We will achieve it," he said.

Aliyev noted with regret the inefficiency of the multi-year talks on the peaceable resoition of the conflict on the base of international rule of law.

"Recently, the issue has been included once again in the UN GA agenda. This is our great diplomatic success. Upon our request, the Organization of Cooperation and Security in Europe immediately engaged in the issue sent a fact-finding mission to the region,” he underscored. The mission’s final report confirms illegal settling of thousands of ethnic Armenians in the occupied territories. This indicates Armenian utterly ignores the demands of the international community, and the international law norms”, he added.

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict

1378 Azerbaijanis were released from the Armenian captivity till 1 September, Trend reports referring to the report of the 3rd meeting of the State Committee on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing People. The total number of the missing people comprised 4740.

The UN General Assembly unanimously included the issue on the situation in the occupied terry of Azerbaijan in the agenda of the 60th session at the initiative of Azerbaijan.

The decision was taken unanimously on 12 September 2005 in New-York during the last days of the UNO General Assembly’s 59-th session under the chairmanship at the sitting of the Gabon Foreign Minister Jan Penguin, Trend reports.

The permanent representative of Azerbaijan at UNO Yashar Aliyev stated, the UNO General Assembly demonstrated again its principal position in regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Having backed the just position of Azerbaijan the General Assembly took a decision to continue discussion of this important issue. It is in its turn a significant political and diplomatic nuance in the matter of liberation of the occupied territories”, Aliyev said.

The decision to include the issue in the agenda was made despite the protest of the Armenian side.

In reply Hamlet Gasparian, a spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry, stated that "our [Armenian’s] position remained unchanged вЂ" if Azerbaijan raises any issue at the UN, Armenia will leave the negotiation process in the solution to Karabakh conflict and Baku will be obliged to continue the talks directly with” Khankandi. He was commenting on the inclusion of the issue on situation in the occupied territory of Azerbaijan in the agenda of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly.

“The last statement by Hamlet Gasparian, a spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry, concerning the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is nothing else than diplomatic tricks and maneuvers,” Novruz Mammadov, the head of the Foreign Relations Division of the President’s Apparat, said.

В"The messages are based on Armenia’s concerns. The point is that Azerbaijan’s position on the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict has been consolidated and gained more and ore support from the international organizations and different countries. The inclusion of the issue on situation in the occupied territory of Azerbaijan in the agenda of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly is a logical end of such position. This is our right,В" Mammadov underlined.

The International Group on Prevention of Crisis (ICG) publicized on 14 September the report on the Nagorno-Karabkh conflict.

Report reflects the living conditions of the Azerbaijani and the Armenian communities of Karabakh, as well as the organization’s position on settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. As a result of the bloody battles at the beginning of the 90-s , 18,500 persons died and over one million people had to leave their homes.

The experts urge that there is need to counter the hate propaganda and demonising engaged in by both sides and unlock the potential for confidence building and dialogue between average Azeris and Armenians before the memories of cohabitation fade and the divide becomes virtually unbridgeable.

Parallel processes are needed for a stable settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, as whatever is being done at the internationally mediated negotiations, at ground level resumed war appears a real possibility, says a report �Nagorno-Karabakh: Viewing the Conflict from the Ground’. The International Crisis Group notes that the majority of Armenian population, in particular, the representatives from the younger generation, urges the cohabitation is out question. Azerbaijan states that the international law is on its side and in case any failure in talks it will use force to restore the territorial integrity of the country. Yerevan, whereas, states the majority of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“There is progress in the pre-election situation in Azerbaijan and this is very pleasant,” Heikki Talvitie, the EU Special Representative for South Caucasus, said to a news conference on Thursday, Trend reports.

On 15 September Talvitie gave a news conference on the result of his visit to Azerbaijan. He said the results of the meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijan President in Kazan enables to state on appearance of a historic milestone for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabkah conflict and its should used.

"Discussion of preparations and holding the November parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan are planned to discuss during the visit of the special envoy of the European Union on the South Caucasus Heikke Talvitie in Baku, the deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mamedkuliyev told Trend on 13 September.

В"Apart from this, the issue of Nagorny Karabakh may be also discussed. It is not ruled out, some other problems will be also discussed, in particular, the further cooperation, however it may be touched on generally”, Mamedkuliyev noted.

Foreign Policy

The development of around 10 bilateral documents is underway on the eve of the coming official visit of Azerbaijani President to Bulgaria.

At present some interstate and interdepartmental agreements on cooperation between the state televisions, veterinary services, in the sphere of tourism, sports, on evasion dual taxation, in the sphere of phitosanitary are being coordinated. The head of states are expected to sign a memorandum on cooperation between the two countries in joining to the European Union. The unification of documents is probable to complete next week.

Under the visit scheduled for the second half of September it is planned to hold a business forum and Azerbaijani businessmen will go Sofia in this connection. The forum will work in two directions вЂ" tourism, as well as investments and construction. The heads of state are going to participate in the final part of the forum.

Azerbaijan backs more concrete outlining of the cooperation with the European Union, Mahmud Mammadguliyev, the Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister, told Trend on Tuesday.

"There are elements of cooperation developed by the European Commission and we also have our proposals. In this respect we should set up relevant consultations. We mainly agree with the priorities they specified, while we have our own. For instance, our action plan is more concrete rather declarative. There are also other proposals which we will elaborate during the meetings and talks to be held in his respect," Mammadguliyev. He also underlined that Azerbaijan was waiting for the EC experts for the commencement of consultations.

The visit of the representatives of the European Commission targeting the discussion of an initial variant of an action plan under New Neighborhood Policy has been adjourned to an indefinite date.

Political life

The OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission are of the opinion that, since the
remaining recommendations of 2003, 2004 and 2005 have not been duly taken into
consideration, the examined law does not fully meet OSCE commitments and Council of Europe
standards for democratic elections, according to the draft final opinion on amendments to the Elections Code of Azerbaijan by the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR.

The Venice Commission noted that the amendments were insufficient to develop the necessary public confidence in the electoral legislation and practice in Azerbaijan.

Along with mostly technical changes, only a limited number of substantial amendments have been adopted in response to the 2003 and 2004 joint recommendations and 2005 Interim opinion of OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission.

В"Unfortunately, the most important suggestions have not been implemented by the
authorities of Azerbaijan in spite of the repeated recommendations from the Parliamentary

Assembly and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe,” the draft document underlined.

The adopted amendments to the Election Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan must be
considered in the context of previous assessments of this Election Code by the Venice

Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR. The four most recent and most important documents include the Final Report of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission for the2003 Presidential election.

Although some of the amendments are in line with international standards and a numberof them even follow previous recommendations by the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR, this cannot lead to the conclusion that the Election Code of Azerbaijan is satisfactory after the amendments of 26 June 2005.

According to some sources the authorities changed the rules and lowered registration fees, but neither the OSCE/ODIHR nor the Venice Commission have any official confirmation of such changes, the draft opinion states.

The amendments to the Election Code adopted by the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan on 26 June 2005 should be considered as a result of consideration of the VC recommendations.

The draft opinion was developed by By the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR on the basis of comments by Rumen Maleev, OSCE/ODIHR, Expert, Bulgaria, Georg Nolte, Venice Commission, Substitute Member, Germany, and Peter Paczolay, Venice Commission, Substitute Member, Hungary.

The draft of the final joint assessment of the Venice Commission (VC) on the Election Code of Azerbaijan is the example of the elementary prejudiced attitude and extreme non-professionalism, the Milli Mejlis deputy Anar Mamedhanov gave such an appraisal of the document to Trend exclusively.

According to him, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (VC CE) provokes the situation in Azerbaijan and creates conditions for the opposition to state even now on the non-democratic situation in the country. В"All this is directed to establishing of confrontation in the Azerbaijan’s society”, the parliamentarian stressed, noting “for the representatives of the Venice Commission Azerbaijan is a safari, a means for political entertainment and many of them want to make a diplomatic carrier this way.

В"4 months ago the Parliament of Azerbaijan took a decision to lower the deposits for the candidates, however, the Venice Commission states, citing some sources, that there is such data”, the MP noted, saying, for studying the issue it is sufficient to conduct a small research in the Internet.

The parliamentarian appreciated highly the positions of the CE Secretary General Terry Davis and the PACE ex-president lord Russel Johnson which during the visit in Baku stated that holding democratic and transparent elections based on the valid legislation of Azerbaijan is possible.

В"The European institutions is the place where politicians either start their carrier or finish it. There are no people on take-off there”, Mamedhanov concluded.

Evtushenko was released and deported to Ukraine on 17 September 2005. The Ukrainian Embassy was not informed both of his detentions and deportation to his homeland.

The “Pora” activist was invited to Baku by the oppositional election block Azadlig for participation in the work of the international conference on situation in Azerbaijan and Belarus.

The representatives of the authorities and opposition discussed the issue of freedom of assembly and �black PR’ in media in a seminar organized by the OSCE Baku office on 12 September. “The right for freedom of assemblies is guaranteed by both the Constitution of Azerbaijan and the law “On freedom of assemblies,” Ali Ahmdaov, the executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (New Azerbaijan, NAP).

The NAP executive secretary noted, his attitude to the dialogue authorities-opposition is respectful, reminding, it was NAP, which initiated its implementation. В"On my way to the seminar I thought the issue of foreign funding would be discussed at the event. However, in fact, we did not touch upon this subject”, Ahmedov noted. According to him, he personally raised the issue to the OSCE Baku office, the Ambassador Mauricio Pavesi and received the response: “The seminar on this matter will be staged by OSCE in the shortest possible time”.

73% of inquired supports the policy of Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijani President, in accordance with the inquiry held by the �Ray’ monitoring center in 33 settlements from 2 to 5 September, Rizvan Abbasov, the head of the center, told Trend.

39.1% of the inquired voiced their hope to NAP, 9.8% o independent candidates, 6.9% - Azadlyg bloc. Then follows National Independence Party (0.7%), Liberal Party (0.4%), New Policy (0.2%), no party (10.7%).

Parliamentary elections

NAP planned rallies would be staged not only in the Galaba square. “We’ll propose different addresses to local executive powers and have the rally, where they will regard as acceptable,” MP Bahar Muradova, the deputy executive secretary of the party, told Trend.

Muradova also noted that the NAP joined the election campaign used in the modern world. The plans on meetings of the NAP candidates with electors in the regions are carried out stage-by-stage. “We use all rules envisaged in the Elections Code. Candidates are currently using free air time allotted by the AzTV,” she underlined.

Over 300 members of the party ballot in the parliamentary elections as candidates. Muradova stressed that all means for election campaign are ready. “The election campaign of the NAP will come as example for all political forces. We’ll win. One of the major factors of our future victory is service to the nation,” she states.

Preparations by New Policy bloc

Members of the Coordination Board of the “New Policy” election block met on 12 September with the program manager of the Institute of the National Democracy on Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kirgiziya Tom Barry, the block’s press service told Trend.

The report says, the issues of preparations for the parliamentary elections and the country’s socio-political situation were discussed at the meeting. Members of the Coordination Board forwarded also the information on the results of the first stage of the election campaign.

The problems arising during the campaigning process, the facts of non-indication of addresses in the election certificates, non-allocation of spots for the posters dissemination and other issues were also discussed at the meeting, the report on the pre-election plans of the “New Policy” block was presented too.

Preparations by elections blocs and political parties for parliamentary elections

16 candidates of the Democratic Reforms Party (DRP) will ballot in the parliamentary elections, it was announced at the presentation of the DRP candidates and web-site, Trend reports.

In his remarks, Asim Mollazada, the chairman of the DRP, noted that everybody had an opportunity to follow the activities of the party and get any thorough information on www.demreforms.org.

Elnur Baimov, the deputy chairman of the DRP, spoke about the web-site. He stressed that no party had similar web-site nowadays in the country. The 3-languages web-site developed on modern technology will serve as helper of mass media.

The home page includes main news, information about Political Council, memorandum, regulations, leaders, and candidates balloting in the parliamentary elections. There are a section �About us in media’ reflecting all media reports about the DRP and forum consisted of several sections. The participants of the forum will discuss topics on Milli Majlis (Parliament), economy, business, policy, power and culture. All information on the web-site will be also presented in French.

Mollazada spoke about the participation of the party in the elections. According to Mollazada, the goal set in the elections is to determine human rights, economic freedom principles, European values in Azerbaijan, as well as forming of democratic parliament. The candidates of the DRP are mainly entrepreneurs, economists, managers, lawyers.

Touching upon the pre-election situation, Mollazada mentioned his negative attitude to use of black PR and said that if anybody applies the method against DRP, they would not take such steps.

Mollazada also noted that some officials and representatives of Ministries were engaged in the election campaign and executive bodies interfered in the elections. According to Mollazada, a statistic data on violations by representatives of Ministries will be develop

The National Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (NDPA) attempted to hold the last picket, Trend reports. The activists of the party gathered at front of the Justice Ministry on Friday at 12.00am to express protest in relation to the delay of the state registration of the NDPA. They voiced the slogans �Registration of NDPA’, �End to bureaucratic arbitrariness’ and �Observe laws’. The police broke up the action when the participants of the picket read out a resolution. The resolution was submitted to the Registration Division of the Ministry.

None of the participants was arrested and despite interference of the police, the members of the party regard the picket as completed one. It came as the last planned picket of the NDPA. The party said that they would continue the actions at front of the Justice Ministry after the parliamentary elections, but the NDPA was currently holding preparations for the rally in the Galaba square on 24 September.

The Elections bloc В"Builders of the Civil SocietyВ" sent a letter to the Baku Executive Power with request to sanction the rally to be held on 24 September in Galaba square, Yashar Jafarli, the head of the headquarters of the Civil Society Builders told Trend.

Along with the Civil Society Builders, �New Policy’ bloc is also going to stage a rally in Galaba square on 24 September. “We first scheduled the action,” he underlined.

Co-founder of the bloc вЂ�New Policy’, Eldaniz Guliyev told the meeting the date of the actions was still to be defined. В"We scheduled to rally late this September,В" he underlined.

In this connection the bloc established an organization committee headed by the chairman of the Azerbaijan National Independence Party (ANIP) Ali Aliyev. Guliyev said that they carry out enormous preparations for the гally. Meanwhile, Elza Alishova, the spokeswoman for the �New Policy’ did not rule out possible changes in the date of the action.

State building

The 40th session of the UN Sub-commission on drug trafficking in Baer and Middle East was held in Baku from 12 to 16 September under the chairmanship of the Ramil Usubov, the Azerbaijani Interior Minister.

In his remarks the Azerbaijani Interior Minister appreciated the cooperation of the sub-commission in the sphere of drug enforcing. The Minister noted the importance of adopting mutual obligations on the mutual legal assistance between the countries, exchange of information and cooperation among the transit countries

The Minister of the National Security (MNS), General-Lieutenant Eldar Mahmudov met on 13 September 2005 with the deputy executive director of the United Nations Organization (UNO) on the drugs and crimes fighting Mrs. Sumra Noyan.

Eldar Mahmudov told at the meeting on the targeted measures, fulfilled by the Ministry on ensuring security, stability in the country, combating the criminality, its dangerous forms, as well as carrying out relevant structural reforms at the Ministry and the positive results achieved for the short period of time.

According to the Minister of the National Security there are irrefutable facts and evidences that on the territory of Nagorny Karabakh, occupied by the Armenian forces narcotic substances are cultivated and there is a large network on their marketing. He also reported, the occupied territories are used as the principal route for the narcotics transit and this data is submitted to international organizations. The Minister noted, in this situation, the UNO involvement is necessary.

Mahmudov noted, the country’s rapid economic growth, implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the South вЂ"Caucasus gas pipeline projects, as well as the TRACECA project turned Azerbaijan into the focus of attention of the transnational criminals, created conditions for increase of the illegal migration. The Minister noted the necessity for strengthening the cooperation of international institutions and the regional states to fight it.

According to Noyan, UNO attaches great significance to the fight against the transnational criminality, carried out throughout the world. She appreciated positively the struggle against drug-addiction and illegal trafficking of narcotics. Noyan voiced the confidence the cooperation between Azerbaijan and UNO will strengthen more.

On 12 September, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) opened the second five-day course on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for officers of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, the ICRC office in Baku told Trend.

Sixteen high-rank officers representing combat training, operational and legal departments of the Ministry of Defence are taking part in the course, conducted by the ICRC Armed and Security forces expert for the Southern Caucasus and retired Major-General, Gia Toradze.

Organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan, covers the history and main principles of IHL, protection of victims of armed conflict, the restrictions on the means and methods of warfare, as well as ICRC activities in Azerbaijan and worldwide.

The representatives of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces participate at the events in Baku and abroad from Monday, the press-service of the Defense Ministry told Trend.

From 12 to 15 September the conference on economy of defense is held within the program partnership for peace, signed between the NATO and Azerbaijan, in Garmisch-Partenkirkekh, Germany.

From 12 to 16 September the courses вЂ�Law of armed conflicts’ are organized in Baku, the courses вЂ�Operations on support of peace’ вЂ" Oberammergau, Germany.

From 13 to 23 September the trainings вЂ�Cooperative Engagement-05’ will be staged in Vlore, Albania, courses вЂ�English language on air operations’ вЂ" Budapest, Hungary.

From 13 to 15 September conference on the final planning of the trainings �Associate-05’ will be held in Skopje, Macedonia.

From 13 to 16 September international trainings on emergencies �Tomis-05’ will staged in Konstantsa, Romania.

From 12 to 16 September trainings �Control over armaments’ is organized under plan on bilateral military cooperation, signed between Azerbaijan and the UK, in London, the UK.

Till 25 September the courses �Instructors on operation for support of peace’ will take place in Vishkov, the Czech Republic.

From 12 to 16 September the event on operations and planning of the Marine Emergency Operations Center under the plan on bilateral cooperation, signed between Azerbaijan and the United States, in Washington, the United States.

From 12 to 23 September courses �Guard from weapons of mass destruction’ will held under the plan on bilateral military cooperation, signed between Azerbaijan and Turkey, in Khojaeli, Turkey.

From 13 to 15 September experts’ working meeting on system of control and management of military and special production under the plan on bilateral cooperation, signed between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, in Sofia, Bulgaria, but the military-political negotiations вЂ" under the plan on bilateral military cooperation, signed between Azerbaijan and Lithuania, in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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