WEEKLY POLITICAL REVIEW

Official news

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrived in the scene of jet crash on Saturday, Trend reports.

AN-100-140 airliner, belonging to AZAL state company, took off Heydar Aliyev international airport at 22:19pm [local hours] to carry out Baku-Aktau flight. Within several minutes the communication with the aircraft interrupted and it disappeared from the display of the radars. Within 8 minutes of the flight the operator at the airports received a signal on the crash of AN-100-140. To diminish the scale of the crash the pilots were directed the airliner to the sea nearby.

Azerbaijani President Iham Aliyev issued on Saturday a decree on the establishment of the State Commission to reveal the results of the crash AN-140, which carried out Baku-Aktau flight. Prime Minister Artur Rasizade was appointed the chairman of the commission. The commission includes Abid Sharifov, the Deputy Premier, the Director of AZAL state company, Jahangir Asgarov, Ziya Mammadov, the Transport Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, the Foreign Minister, Zakir Garakov, the Prosecutor General, Ramil Usubov, the Interior Minister, Eldar Mahmudov, the Minister for National Security, Oktai Shikhaliyev, the Health Minister, Ali Nagiyev, the Minister for Labor and Social Security, and Huseyngulu Bagirov, the Minister for Ecology and Natural Resources.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed his condolences in connection with the jet crash near Baku. The head of state voiced his condolences to the people of Azerbaijan, members of the perished citizens of Azerbaijan and different foreign countries.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev left for Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) on Monday with a two-day visit, the President’s Apparat told Trend.

During his stay the head of state participates in an opening of several enterprises and economic, social, education facilities, as well as hold a public meeting. He participated in the ceremony of the Diagnostic Centre construction launching, attended the Nakhchevan Military Lyceum named after Heydar Aliyev.

In his address to the nation President Aliyev sated his loyalty to the peaceable resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but hinted on the establishment of a powerful army capable of liberating the occupied territory of Azerbaijan under the Armenian territory. Unless the peaceable negotiations yield any result, Azerbaijan will to use other ways to liberate its territory, he stressed.

The Azerbaijani and Iranian Presidents вЂ" Ilham Aliyev and Mahmud Ahmadinejdet held one-to-one in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic on Tuesday.

Two Memorandums have been signed on 20 December 2005 upon accomplishment of negotiations.

Ilham Aliyev noted, the official Baku is satisfied with the position of Iran on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorny Karabakh.

The Iranian president noted, in his turn, Tehran will always be close to Azerbaijan, вЂ�in good or in bad times’. В"We hope, the hard times are behind for the people of Azerbaijan”, Mahmud Ahmadinejat said in conclusion.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev issued a decree on the appointment of representatives of the State Customs Committee (SCC) of the country (customs attachГ©s) in foreign countries and ensuring their activities, Trend reports.

Under the decree the chairman of the SCC is empowered to appoint through the agreement with the President customs attaches in the countries of great importance. The customs attachГ©s are dispatched to the embassies of Azerbaijan in these countries on condition that they are not included in the staff of the embassies. The positions will be financed at the expense of the public budget allocated for the SCC.

On Wednesday the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on naming of the Academy of the National Safety Ministry after national leader Heydar Aliyev, Trend reports.

The decree says that establishment of the Academy, formation and development of special service bodies and border service is directly related to the name of Heydar Aliyev. The Academy graduates professional personnel and improve professional training of personnel.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received on 20 December 2005 the chairman of the Russia’s Council of Muftis Ravil Gaynuddin.

The head of the state voiced his satisfaction by the participation of the guest in the ceremony of the 25-th anniversary of the Allahshukyur Pashazade’s activities as Sheikh-ul-Islam.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received on 21 December 2005 the president of �BP Azerbaijan’ David Woodward. The head of the state noted at the meeting, that cooperation between Azerbaijan and BP has been developing steadily, Trend reports. Ilham Aliyev stressed that implementation of such global projects as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and Shah-Deniz is going on successfully.

В"Azerbaijan has made a big progress’, the head of the state said, noting that a part of funds, allocated by the State Oil Fund are spent on social programs and projects, in particular, on building of hospitals and schools.

Aliyev said, all this is the successful result of the joint work, voicing confidence, that cooperation between Azerbaijan and BP will expand in future.

Woodward, in his turn, told on the work done in 2005 and the plans for the upcoming year, underlying that 2005 was very successful. He reminded, in May 2005 the first oil will be pumped in the BTC oil pipeline.

By the Decree of the Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev of 21 December 2005 Mebali Hasan ogli Aliyev is appointed the head of the Baku city Nizami district executive power. By other decrees of the president Suleyman Surhay ogli Mikailov is dismissed from the post of the head of the Yardimli province executive power and appointed the head of the Lyankaran executive power.

By other decrees of the head of the state Ilgar Namaz ogli Abbasov is dismissed from the post of the head of the executive power of Baku Narimnaov district and appointed the head of the executive power of Surahani district. By other two decrees of the president Abdin Alesker ogli Farzaliyev is dismissed from the position of the head of the executive power of Nizami district of Baku and appointed the head of the executive power of Baku Narimanov district.

The Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev held a meeting on issues of energy supply of the country on Friday. The head of the country noted that progress was observed in the energy system of Azerbaijan in 2005, Trend reports referring to ATV.

The President stressed that there was no serious problems in the gas and energy supply of the population. Besides, Aliyev touched upon the current problems in this sphere. He also reported on the additional measures to be taken in 2006. 50 mobile power stations will be constructed in 2006.

Foreign policy

Links between Azerbaijan and Iran in political, economic and other spheres are at the high level and will develop further, the head of the foreign relations department of the Azerbaijan’s president executive office Novruz Mammadov told Trend exclusively, commenting on the results of the talks between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Iran held in Nakhchevan.

According to Mammadov, a broad exchange of opinions in regard to the bilateral relations and the issues of their development took place. В"It has been noted, our countries have very close historical bonds, we are fraternal people and our historical, religious, cultural and other ties have deep roots. Along with this, one of the major factors is our neighborhood, which requires even larger development of collaboration. From this point of view the cooperation between the two countries in various fields is at the high level and it has been noted again, their results are available. The projects, implemented between the two countries really serve the mutual interests of the both countries”, he said.

Poland is interested in the comprehensive development of cooperation with Azerbaijan, Kshishtof Krayevskiy, the Polish Ambassador to Azerbaijan, told a news conference on Thursday.

Summarizing the results of activities done in 2005, the diplomat said that it was rich with mutual visits during which the two countries mulled perspectives of bilateral cooperation and signed several agreements. The Ambassador said that Azerbaijan and Poland have 8 agreements covering cooperation in the economic, customs, military-technical spheres.

“We held good, intensive talks, which touched upon several issues of bilateral cooperation,” Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov stated to a briefing on the result of the talks with the Georgian FM Gela Bezhuashvili on Thursday.

According to Mammadyarov, the ministers discussed the conflicts in the region, held exchange of opinions the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and South Osetine conflict, as well as a range of issues of issue concerning the energy security.

The talks focused on interaction under the international relationships in the context of GUAM, outlined the ways for intensifying the activities of the organization under OSCE, UN and other bodies. The ministers also held exchange of opinion on the New Neighborhood Policy.

“We spoke about an idea on establishment of a Transatlantic energy concept, Bezhuashvili said. He underlined that he regional conflicts should be resolved on common international principles, including inviolability of borders and territorial integrity of the countries.

“The next meeting of the Intergovernmental commission on delimitation of the Azerbaijani-Georgian borders will be held in Tbilisi in early 2006,” the Georgian Foreign Minister said.

Elmar Mammadyarov, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, received copies of credentials of the newly appointed Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan, Chian Khaichzhou, the Foreign Ministry told Trend.

The minister voiced his satisfaction with the level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and China. Mammadyarov stressed the biggest potential for the development of the bilateral cooperation.

Expressing his satisfaction with the first visit to Azerbaijan, the Chinese Ambassador stated on his readiness to put every effort for the development of cooperation with Azerbaijan. The diplomat voiced his confidence that 13 bilateral documents undersigned during Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to China will open new opportunities for the development of cooperation. Chian Khaiczhou stated that China supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the conflict.

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict

OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs will resume the contacts in midвЂ"January, Russian Ambassador Yuriy Merzlyakov, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair on the resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict told Trend exclusively.

Speaking on the activities of the Minsk Group after the recent tour of the region, the diplomat voiced his hope in more intensive and uninterrupted development of the process. However, the processes will be more probably intensified only in January after the Christmas and New Year holidays, though the mediators hold contact through telephone. Merzlyakov also asserted a probability for a meeting with the Foreign Ministers or the special envoys of Armenian and Azerbaijan prior to direct talks between the Presidents of the conflicting countries scheduled for late January. So, it can date to mid-January, then we will define how to act, he added.

Meanwhile, the Azeri FM refuted the announcement on the document on major principles of resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “We only process a proposal on the organization of a next meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The talks on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian вЂ"Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorny Karabakh are held in a very complicated atmosphere, the head of the foreign relations department of the Azerbaijan’s president’s executive office Novruz Mammadov told Trend exclusively.

Continuation of talks within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, according to him, in general, is a positive thing. В"Despite the availability of new positive elements on rapprochment of the sides, there is no unanimity on many issues. Therefore, the main question is that the presidents would meet and hold exchange of views on these issues”, he said, adding, that there is no decision on the place and date of the meeting.

В"Relevnat structures and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs will carry out work for organization of this meeting”, Mammadov said.

Commenting on the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group Russian co-chairman Yuri Merzlyakov on developing the document on the basic principles for the Nagorny Karabakh settlement, Mammadov said, the envoy, probably, provides such information on his personal initiative. В"But I cannot say, to what extent his words are true. Some issues remain only statements”, he noted.

A meeting of the PACE Ad Hoc Committee will meet in Paris on 9 January 2006, CE Secretariat told Trend.

The gathering with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs will focus on the application of the 5th paragraph of CE Resolution 1416 on Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to 5th paragraph of the resolution, the Assembly recalls that the Council of Ministers of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) agreed in Helsinki in March 1992 to hold a conference in Minsk in order to provide a forum for negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The Assembly calls on these states to step up their efforts to achieve the peaceful resolution of the conflict and invites their national delegations to the Assembly to report annually to the Assembly on the action of their government in this respect. For this purpose, the Assembly asks its Bureau to create an ad hoc committee comprising, inter alia, the heads of these national delegations.

The OSCE leadership is interested that the organizational issues related to the Armenian вЂ"Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorny Karabakh were not behind the negotiation process. In this regard, the OSCE high planning group comprising 9 servicemen has been sent to Azerbaijan, deputy Foreign Minister (FM) of Azerbaijan Araz Azimov said in a statement at the briefing on 19 December 2005 in Baku, Trend reports.

He reminded, the OSCE high planning group has been established on the results of the OSCE summit in Budapest and its major goal is resolving of technical and organizational issues, possible stationing of peace-keeping forces in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone. В"It is the first for the latest 8 years visit of the group’s representatives to Azerbaijan and I guess, arrival of the servicemen is connected with the certain activation of the negotiation process, the deputy FM of Azerbaijan noted, saying, that during the previous days the group members, which composition may grow by the necessity, got familiar with the situation in the cease-fire zone.

Аraz Azimov voiced his consent to the position of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairman from Russia Yuri Merzlyakov, who had earlier stated the visit of the high planning group gives ground for “certain optimistic conclusions”.

The sides are not far away from a peace deal. Yet they need to take a few last difficult steps to secure a compromise, Sabina Freizer, the Project Director of the International Crisis Group (ICG) on Caucasus, told Trend in an exclusive interview. She was commenting on the results of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs visit to the South Caucasus region.

“It remains to be seen whether they can do this in 2006,” noted Freizer stressing that otherwise the last historic chance to resolve the conflict peacefully may be lost.

Regarding the role of the European Union (EU) in the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the EU does not play a direct role in facilitating the resolution of the conflict. The EU Special Representative (EUSR) Ambassador Talvitie is kept regularly informed of developments in the negotiations but he does not take part in the Minsk Group co-chairs' talks with the sides. The EU can however include a part on conflict resolution in the Action Plans it is currently negotiating with Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs' last visit to the South Caucasus seem to have succeeded in maintaining momentum in the negotiations process and in laying the ground work for meetings between the Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in January 2006. The hope is that a meeting between the President of Azerbaijan and the President of Armenia will be organized soon thereafter. As the Presidents have not met since August 2005 it is essential that they do so if we are to expect real progress in the negotiations, the ICG Project Director underlined.

The Karabakh Liberation Organization (KLO) addressed to Petr Burdikin, the Russian charge d’affair. The organization expressed protest against the visit of Vladimir Zakharov, the coordinator of the Caucasus Research Center of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, also co-chairman of Lermontov society, to Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to KLO, these acts contradict to the norms of international law and humanistic values. Rewarding of Arkadiy Gukasian, the leader of the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh, with medal for assistance to peace on the Caucasus by Zakharov casts shadow on the Azerbaijani-Russian relations and the activities of Russia as OSCE Minsk Group co-chairman country.

Political life

The January session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will mull the adoption of the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation, while the issue can be postponed till the conduct of the by-elections in the constituencies, the results of which were annulled, Andreas Gross, the co-rapporteur of the PACE Monitoring Committee on Azerbaijan in an interview with Radio Liberty.

“We will adopt a resolution on mandate of the delegation. We will decide whether to consider the issue in January or adjourn it to post-by-elections period,” Gross noted.

He informed that the issue on updating of the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation will be considered in the morning meeting on 23 January, if the conclusion is negative, or the mandate is made doubtful, within a week of the session a report will be developed.

Gross also noted that PACE President, Rene Van der Linden will not arrive in Baku early January 2006, as it was planned earlier. According to Gross, the mission to arrive in Baku in mid-January in 2006 for monitoring, comprises co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan, Dutch MP Leo Platvoed and several European parliamentarians.

A meeting of the PACE Monitoring Committee was normal and predictable. We expected Gross and Herkel will try to achieve a support of the Monitoring Commission in the issue on non-adoption of the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation, Agshin Mehdiyev, the permanent representative of Azerbaijan at the CE said. “And it occurred. Gross was absent from the gathering, while Herkel was in charge of it. Members of the Committee unilaterally came out against such actions,” he said. Moreover, there were sounded ideas that the Monitoring Committee should come out against such practice. Because of procure reasons no resolution on the issue has been taken and it excites only regret, for it could cool some hot-tempered brains, which nurture anti-Azerbaijani plans.

The agenda of the PACE winter session does not include any issue on Azerbaijan. But I guess the situation might change. We can expect that a report by the PACE observation mission for parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan might be presented in the Progress Report section вЂ" an interim report on PACE activities. The PACE Bureau can outline the issue, though it would be illegal amid the by-elections scheduled for 13 May in 10 constituencies. Perhaps, it is worth to wait for by-elections, and afterwards, if necessary, to put forward the issue for discussion. There is also probability for attempts of making the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation doubtful.

“As soon as the electoral rights of the Armenian citizens by Azerbaijani origin are fully ensured, it will be possible to consider the issues related to the participation of the Armenians left Azerbaijan,” Natig Mammadov, the secretary of the Azerbaijani Central Election Committee (CEC), told Trend. He was commenting the information spread by Armenian media on “decision of 5 Armenian refugees to nominate their candidacy in the by-elections to the Milli Majlis [Parliament] on 13 May 2006”.

“As soon as the electoral rights of the Armenian citizens by Azerbaijani origin are ensured, Azerbaijan will take appropriate steps,” the secretary stressed.

Mammadov stressed that the CEC did not receive any letter in this regard, but the participation of the Armenian �refugees’ was directly related to the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict.

An international scientific-practical conference dedicated 25th year of the activities of Sheik-ul-Islam of Caucasus, Haji Allahshukur Pashazade was held in Baku on 20 Dec.

Attending the conference are the outstanding religious leaders of different religious confessions active in Azerbaijan, Caucasus and out of its borers, as well as delegations from Germany, Turkey, Iran, Russia and Vatican, during one-day event the prominent scientists will deliver papers on Sheik-ul-Islam’s 25-year activities, his role in the establishment of peace and stability among the religious confessions of Caucasus.

“With his loyal service to the nation for many years Sheik-ul-Islam of Caucasus, Haji Allahshukur Pashazade, is a great model for future generations, Trend quoted Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II as saying.

“We have passed a difficult way of political changes. Today the nations of Caucasus live in the period of boom political events, while the issue of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Georgia is still to be resolved. Nevertheless, we are optimistic in the future and sure in victory of justice,” he said.

Party life

Structural changes have been made within �Our Azerbaijan’ bloc, one of the alliance’s co-founders, the chairman of the Turkic Nationalist party (TNP) Vugar Bayturan told Trend.

At the alliance’s sitting on 18 December the decision has been made to establish the Mejlis, the press, PR and organizational departments. The “Green” party has been commissioned to develop the bloc’s principles, and the party of Democratic Personalities - preparation of the events on the occasion of the Day of Solidarity of Azerbaijanis on 31 December.

The chairman of the Azadlig party Ahmad Orudj took part in the block’s sitting as an observer.

The Azadlig election bloc plans to hold next march-rally in January, the alliance’s co-founder, the first deputy chairman of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) Serdar Djalaloglu told journalists on the results of the 22 December sitting, Trend reports.

He noted, the results of the action on 18 December 2005, the block’s rally tactics and the results of the visit of the Musavat party chairman Isa Gambar to Ukraine have been discussed at the sitting. В"The decision has been taken to postpone the rally for January due to overlapping of the next action’s date on 31 December вЂ" the Day of the World Solidarity of the Azerbaijanis”, Djalaloglu said.

The chairman of the Party of Democratic Reforms Asim Mollazade met on 21 December 2005 with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Israel to Azerbaijan Artur Lenk at the party’s headquarters.

The socio-political situation in Azerbaijan after the parliamentary elections, the Azerbaijani-Israeli relations, the ways for resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the perspectives of peace in the Middle East have been discussed at the meeting, the party told Trend.

“SocIntern’ upheld the resolution on Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan,” Araz Alizade, the chairman of the Azerbaijan Social Democratic Party, also a member of �SocIntern’, told Trend on the results of the meeting held in Kiev from 16 to 17 December.

Alizade said that the meeting held in Kiev was organized by the Committee of the CIS and Caucasus countries. One of the resolutions adopted at the meeting concerned the parliamentary elections held in Azerbaijan. “The resolution by PACE recommended to cease the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation, but managed to exclude the item from the resolution,” he added.

Alizade also stressed that the Armenians participated in the meeting proposed to change the resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem to Luis Ayalan, the Secretary General of the organization, but he answered that the resolution would be valid till liberation of the Azerbaijan’s territories.

State building

A working group of the Air Forces Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces led by Lieutenant-General Igor Romanenko, the deputy commander of the Air Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on military training and high schools, also the head of the battle training. The visit targets unification of the position of sides on the training of Azerbaijani military pilots through the assistance of Ukrainian specialist and in the airliners of the Air Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as establishment of the International Center on training of aviation personnel and specialists in the territory of Azerbaijan.

Meeting of the Iran’s Interior Minister Mostafa Pur-Mohammadi and the Minister of National Security of Azerbaijan Eldar Mahmudov took place in Tehran. During the talks the sides discussed the issues of cooperation in the security field. Eldar Mahmudov stated, in his turn, that Ministry of National Security of Azerbaijan is interested in intensification of cooperation with Interior Ministry and National Security Ministry of Iran. According to him, close collaboration of security and law-enforcement bodies may facilitate the success in fighting drug-trafficking and international terrorism, threatening the entire world community.

The former chairman of the Court of Appeal of Azerbaijan Gyulzar Rzayeva has been appointed the chairman of the Sabayil district court of Baku city, the former acting chairman of the Sabayil district court Alim Namazov said.

After Rzayeva was dismissed from the position of the chairman of the Court of Appeal, the former chairman of the Sabayil district court Ingilab Nasirov was appointed for this p

Parliament

The work of the Azerbaijani-Bulgarian intergovernmental commission should be intensified with respect to carry out an interstate agreements and memorandums on different spheres shortly. The statement was made on Tuesday by Azerbaijani Speaker Oktai Asadov in a meeting with the Bulgarian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Ivan Palchev.

The ofice term of judge of the Economic Court Djafar Veliyev and the jugde of the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan Republic Sudaba Hasanova are suspended, the decision on it has been taken at the sitting of the Parliament of Azerbaijan, held on 23 December 2005.

The parliament injected changes to the Election Code. Thus, the Azerbaijani president’s salary will comprise 15,000 denominated manat from 1 January 2006.

At the Milli Mejlis next meeting on 23 December 2005, 19 draft laws have been put on discussion and passed. The widest discussions among the documents caused introducing of supplements and amendments to the laws of Azerbaijan “On Statistics” and “On State Secret”.

A letter вЂ"agreement between the government of Azerbaijan and the US government, Joint Declaration of presidents of Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, introducing of supplements and amendments to some legislative acts of Azerbaijan Republic, introducing changes to the law “On provision of pensions for state servants”, agreement in the cartography, education, technical and scientific cooperation fields have been approved.

The next sitting of the Milli Mejlis permanent commission on international relations and inter-parliamentary ties took place on 23 December 2005. Two draft laws have been debated at the sitting, Trend reports.

One of the draft laws has been related to introducing amendments to some legislative acts of Azerbaijan, “On fighting human trafficking”, the other one вЂ" to approval of Convention “On removal of double taxation on profit and property between the governments of Azerbaijan and Canada and averting tax evasion “ and its protocols.

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