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WEEKLY POLITICAL REVIEW

Politics Materials 18 October 2005 15:03

Official news

The Georgian sector of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline has been commissioned. Presidents of Georgia Michail Saakashvili, of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, of Turkey Ahmet Nejdet Sezer took part on 12 October ceremony in Gardabani province near to Tbilisi.

President Аliyev noted that “political will of leaders of Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, as well as an active role of the companies, the project’s participants and investors enabled to implement a historical and strategic project.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited Ganja city on Tuesday. He was at the Heydar Aliyev Park and put fresh flowers at the monument to ex-President Heydar Aliyev. He also visited the Heydar Aliyev Museum.

The head of state attended a stone-laying ceremony at the Ganja Regional Medical-Diagnosis Center, to be built in the area covering 7000 sq m with financial support of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). Speaking on the development of Ganja Aliyev noted the construction of a new airport complex, to be opened in some months. He also stressed the importance of the development of the infrastructure of Ganja, in particular, the construction of schools hospitals, adding the construction of the new modern hotel complex.

The President noted that on Wednesday he was going to participate in the opening ceremony of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline in Georgia. The project will enable to increase the public budget revenues and increase the salaries and pensions. “It is based on oil strategy. The BTC has become a reality even today,” Aliyev stated.

According to Aliyev, strong economy, opening of new jobs, the development of non-oil sector and entrepreneurship are the major tasks of the government. “We resolutely fulfill the tasks and the development of regions testifies for it,” the head of state stressed.

The same President Aliyev visited Gazakh District in the way to Tbilisi. She met with public and participated in the stone laying ceremony of the Treatment-Diagnosis Center. Speaking on the forthcoming parliamentary elections, the head of state underlined for the first time such are number of candidates were registered. "I am sure that people of Azerbaijan will make its choice on 6 November,” he stressed.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received on 13 October 2005 members of the House of Representatives of the US Congress Darrel Issa and Loretta Sanchez, Trend reports.

Darrel Issa assessed highly the completion ceremony of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Georgian section construction. According to him, the ceremony is very significant from geopolitical and strategic standpoints and it took place in the period important for the region’s countries. He found important the support of the USA in fighting the international terrorism by Azerbaijan and voiced complete satisfaction by the current state of cooperation.

Ilham Aliyev voiced content by the present state of mutual relations in various fields, including the energy one. The head of the state called the ceremony in Georgia a good example of the regional cooperation and said Azerbaijan attaches a large significance to the project.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received on 13 October 2005 the mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Trend reports.

The sides exchanged views on the process of democratization in Azerbaijan, the forthcoming parliamentary elections and the cooperation of the country with PACE.

On 13 October Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus held a meeting in Baku. The talks with the Azerbaijani President focused on opportunities of implementation of energy projects, cooperation in the sphere of Euro-Atlantic cooperation and prospects for development of economic relationships.

On 11 October Valdas Adamkus left for Afghanistan to visit the Lithuanian militaries, meet with the Afghanistan authorities, and possibly, with the US State Secretary Condoleezza Reis in Kabul.

The 4th forum of the Azerbaijani forum was held at Heydar Aliyev palace at organization of the Youth, Tourism and Sport Ministry on Friday. Attending the event were the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Ministers, heads of departments and representatives of the youth, Trend reports.

In his remarks President Ilham Aliyev underlined that the Azerbaijani youth was active part of the society. The head of the country also touched upon the reforms carried out in the country. “Azerbaijan is one of the countries of the world, which is on the way of sweep development and this fact was mentioned by all international organizations,” Aliyev said. He underlined importance of development of infrastructure of oil sector and revival of the non-oil sector at the expense of oil incomes. He also spoke about restoration of territorial integrity. Touching upon the negotiations, the President said that patience of the Azerbaijani nation was perennial and they liberate the occupied territories.

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict

The International Crisis Group publicized on a report on Nagorno-Karabakh titled �Executive summary and recommendations’ on Tuesday, Trend reports Settlement of the long running Nagorno-Karabakh conflict -- the most significant obstacle to stability in the South Caucasus -- remains elusive, despite more optimistic noises recently from Azerbaijan and Armenia, the document reads.

В"Eleven years after the 1994 ceasefire, burgeoning defence budgets, increasing ceasefire violations, and continuing demonisation by each side of the other side are ominous signs that time for a peace agreement is running out. But a compromise can now be constructed around an approach that, while addressing all the matters in dispute, leaves the core issue of Nagorno-Karabakh's ultimate status open for later resolution, after other measures have been put in place.В", ICG notes.

Key elements of that proposed settlement package include the withdrawal of the Armenia-backed Nagorno-Karabakh forces from the occupied districts of Azerbaijan surrounding the entity; the renunciation by Azerbaijan of the use of force to reintegrate the entity; the deployment of international peacekeepers; the return of displaced persons; and the re-opening of trade and communication links.

Nagorno-Karabakh's status should ultimately be determined by an internationally sanctioned referendum with the exclusive participation of Karabakh Armenians and Azeris, but only after the above measures have been implemented, the report underlined.

To avoid a resumption of fighting the ICG recommends all parties to the conflict to respect the 1994 ceasefire, refrain from using force, not promote the use of force, and end the arms race in the region by halting the rise of defence budgets.

To create an appropriate environment for conflict settlement Azerbaijan should resume direct contact with the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh authorities and facilitate the development of closer contact between Karabakh Azeris and Karabakh Armenians, the ICG emphasis.

The same time the ICG urges the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh authorities to end support for settlement of formerly Azeri majority areas with Armenians, including by stopping privatisation of land, homes and businesses in those areas, ceasing to establish local administrations and infrastructure in the occupied areas adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh; and protecting the remaining Azeri homes.

Peaceful negotiations on the Armenian вЂ" Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must go on till all resources are exhausted, deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Araz Azimov told journalists on 12 October 2005, Trend reports.

В"There are still opportunities for the conflict settlement”, Arazov noted saying, for today the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen plan to hold a number of meetings among themselves followed by visiting the South-Caucasus countries. After visiting the region the meeting of the co-chairs with the heads of Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia will be held in Ljubljana, where the meeting of the Foreign Ministries heads of OSCE member states will take place.

As for the date of the subsequent meeting of Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, deputy FM head noted “the time of the new meeting is unknown”, adding “meetings of such level are held only in case of need”.

Commenting on the position of the official Baku on reports and proposals of the International Crisis Group (ICG) Araz Azimov noted, such institutions are unofficial structures. В"The ICG recommendations and proposals are merely the result of personal argumentations of this organization’s representatives. And I can only voice the opinion as an expert”, the diplomat said, noting, their proposals will not be viewed by Azerbaijan at the official level.

At the same time, Azimov noted, there are a lot of mistakes and shortcomings in the document, publicized by ICG, related to the “insufficient informational support and the lack of the experts’ professionalism.

No one may point out to Azerbaijan what budget allocations for military needs must be. By increasing the defense expenditures the official Baku is based on only own resources, deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Araz Azimov told journalists on 12 October, commenting on the statements of the Armenian officials on the threat of the military imbalance in regard to the growing defense expenditures of Azerbaijan.

В"The Azerbaijan’s government put efforts for development of the state’s all spheres of activities, including the strengthening of the country’s military power”, Azimov stressed, noting the increase of the budgetary expenses is to be accepted in the context of the general development of the republic.

В"Improvements in the Army are an integral part of the state’s development. The military officers are like all other citizens of Azerbaijan and their salaries must also be increased”, Azimov concluded.

Foreign Policy

A two-day conference “On issues of mass destruction weapons proliferation preventing on the Black and Caspian Seas” will take place in Baku on 12-13 October 2005

Representatives of coastal guard administrations, the coastal police and the Naval Forces of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakstan, Moldova, Rumania, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Ukraine were in attendance.

“Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Kazakhstan and the European Union should be attracted to the Virtual Center of GUAM, a regional organization among Georgia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova,” Araz Azimov, the Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister, stated to the conference.

“It is necessary to agree upon full exchange of information between the law-enforcement and border administrations of our countries to set up active struggle with the proliferation of the mass destructive arms, Azimov noted. The iron curtains cannot be efficient obstacle in the way of transportation of the mass destruction arms.

“I hope that in the end the conference will define the steps which could promote the establishment of efficiency information exchange and continuation of the Baku process,” Asimov stressed, adding the necessity of attracting the representatives from the Mediterranean sea region to the work of the forum.

Political life

The US government will shortly invite the authorities and the opposition to table of talks and make all possible to restrain from the use of force, member of the US Congress mission, Darrel Issa, Republican, of California, and representative Loretta Sanchez, Democrat of California, stated to a news conference on Thursday.

They noted that the key objective of the visit to Azerbaijan and Georgia is to get familiar with the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline, global fighting with terror and development of democracy. During the two-day visit the Congressmen held a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. “We hope that Azerbaijan will hold free and fair elections. The media activities will be fully independent with respect to provide the citizens with free access to such information,” Issa stressed. He noted that during 4-minute air time allocated to candidates for elections campaign is a step forward, noting that the activities of the large-member international observation mission will have a positive impact on the elections process. “There is not notion �free time’ in the United States. So, we welcome the allocation of free-air time for candidates to MP. We know that even one of the local televisions announced on the decrease of tariffs for air time, which is a positive factor,” Sanchez underlined, adding that the US authorities were in optimistic mood in the issue concerning the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.

They stressed the necessity of offering to the opposition an opportunity to have a representative in every elections precinct. Touching upon the use of ink the Congressmen said that such step was a good idea. “During he meeting with the chairman of the CEC, Mazahir Panahov, also touched upon the theme. Inking the figure is a good and new method and it was also discussed with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev,” he informed.

In reply to question on the return of the leader of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party, ex-Speaker Rasul Guliyev, Issa noted that the issue was a legal one, requiring detail study. The Congressmen noted the necessity of continuing the dialogue to find the golden mean. “We never get satisfied with the results of elections. Azerbaijan is state with young democracy and the forthcoming parliamentary elections should be one more step forward,” the Congressmen stressed. The opposition of any country, which failed in the elections, state on the unfair and false elections, they stressed.

Touching upon the organization of exit-polls in the end the congressmen stressed that it was an unjustified method. “During the last presidential elections n the United States we got assured how striking the results of exit-poll well as compared to official result of the elections. People are not frank always,” they pointed out.

The mission arrived in Baku on Wednesday to meet with high-level government officials, political leaders and energy representatives and to gain a better understanding of the pre-election situation.

The pre-election mission of the Special Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on observation the elections in Azerbaijan met on 12 October 2005 with the leaders of the New Policy alliance Eldar Namazov and Etibar Mammadov, Eldar Namazov told Trend. Seven PACE parliamentarians, including the PACE co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan, members of the Special Committee Andreas Gross and Andres Herkel took part in the meeting.

Namzov said the existing problems related to the parliamentary elections were discussed during the meeting. Specific facts on shortcomings in electoral lists, illegal interferences of administrative bodies to the election process were given.

В"This meeting enabled us to raise problems during discussions we find important. As for the position of international observers on these issues, they usually do not voice their attitude, they call on to observe the democratic principles, as well as ensure the rule of law. Some reports concerning the interference of administrative bodies in constituencies caused surprise by them and they said it is a rough violation of law.

Azerbaijani youth held a sanctioned rally on 14 October in support to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s policy.

"The youth should say no to provocations by opposition, which are directed against the statehood,” Jeyhun Osmanly, the leader of the Youth Organization �Ireli’ stated to the action.

Approximately 7,000 people marched along the street of the capital city shouting �Ahead with Ilham’, �Youth loyal to Heydar Aliyev’s ideas.’

Parliamentary elections

During the pre-election campaign, which started on 7 September, 57 candidates to MP recalled their candidacies, while 3 were deprived of their status due to reveal of some breaks.

Thus, at present 2003 people continue electioneering.

The Council of Europe will dispatch the biggest mission to Azerbaijan in its history to follow the parliamentary elections,” Dutch MP Leo Platvoet, the head of the PACE Pre-election Monitoring Mission, said to a news conference on Thursday, Trend reports.

According to Platvoet, from 60 to 80 observers of the PACE will arrive in Baku on voting day i.e. 6 November and this is related to importance of the elections held in Azerbaijan.

The mission, which was on visit to Baku from 11 to 13 October under the leadership of Platvoed, included Andreas Gross, Switzerland, Andres Herkel, Estonia, Hanne Severinsen, Denmark, and Movlut Chavushoglu, Turkey.

The Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dmitrij Rupel, has appointed President Alcee L. Hastings as his Special Co-ordinator for the Azerbaijani parliamentary elections to be held on November 6, the OSCE told Trend.

As Special Co-ordinator, President Hastings will deliver the preliminary conclusions of the International Election Observation Mission at a press conference on November 7 in conjunction with other officials.

The OSCE PA is expected to deploy a large delegation on election day to observe the sealing of ballot boxes in the morning, conduct during the day, and the counting of ballots in the evening. The Assembly will work in close co-operation with the OSCE-ODIHR, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Europe, and with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

The OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission have prepared a final opinion on amendments to the Elections Code of Azerbaijan, the VC Secretariat told Trend.

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 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, the document noted.

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.

Although some of the amendments are in line with international standards and a number of 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

Parliamentary elections will be a serious examination for Azerbaijan. These elections are also a serious examination for the Council of Europe, a former PACE rapporteur on political prisoners in Azerbaijan, a British parliamentarian Malcolm Bruce stated in his interview with the Liberty radio station, Trend reports.

According to Bruce, the common opinion of the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe favours the transparent and just parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan. В"In case the results of the November elections reveal the fact that the elections are undemocratic, the issue will automatically raise on the seriousness of the Azerbaijan’s intentions to fulfill its commitments to the Council of Europe”, Bruce noted, voicing the hope that В"on 6 November there will be observed progress in the republic and the opposition will be given the opportunity for unimpeded activities.

В"At the same time, it is also important, that the opposition of Azerbaijan behaves properly and does not give chances for the authorities for oppression”, Bruce said, stressing the importance of the “tolerant approach to the oppositionists supporters”.

Thomas Adams, a coordinator on Assistance to Europe and Eurasia of the US Department of State, met with Mazahir Panahov, the chairman of the Central Elections Commission of Azerbaijan in Baku on an official visit to Azerbaijan, the US embassy in Baku on 12 October В"We reached considerable achievements in the direction of democratic elections, but we are keen to go ahead and improve the elections practice. He also noted the satisfaction with the issue of voter cards. As to state interference into the elections processes, the CEC chairman said that they didn’t have enough facts in this connection,” Panahov underlined.

State building

On 13 October the Azerbaijani Interior Minister, Colonel General Ramil Usubov, received a PACE delegation of Platveod. The Minister informed the eminent guest on the public and political situation in the country, work done in the sphere of defense of public order and the liabilities of the police on the eve of the elections, as well as equal term offered to all candidates.

Аzerbaijan will liberate its lands by all means, the Defense Minister of Azerbaijan Safar Abiyev stated on 11 October 2005 while receiving the deputy head of the United Forces General Command Headquarters, dislocated in Naples Dimitrios Panagiot. He arrived in Baku as the head of the delegation for participating in the experts’ working meeting on military cooperation, the Defense Ministry told Trend.

Abiyev touched upon the issue of the military and political situation in the South Caucasus region and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Armenia does not want to return the occupied Azerbaijani areas. But Azerbaijan will liberate its lands by all means”.

Panagiot thanked the Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister for the reception and noted the goal of his visit is to strengthen the Azerbaijan’s integration into NATO.

The sides exchanged views in regard to the cooperation perspectives between Azerbaijan and NATO.

Meanwhile There is not any complain of the exam for judges, Ramiz Rzayev, the chairman of the Azerbaijani Supreme Court, told Trend.

“The last examine differed with special transparence and high preparation level,” Rzayev noted. He stressed that the judges successfully passed the exam would execute their charge during 10 years.

The same time the chairman of the court underlined that if the Court Legal Council revealed abuse of service duties, authorities of the judges would be stopped.

“The people successfully passed the exam will attend the courses, pass the exam anew and receive the status of judge,” Rzayev said.

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