WEEKLY POLITICAL REVIEW

Official news

The official reception ceremony of the Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in Paris took place today at the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French President.

President of France Jaques Chirac welcomed Ilham Aliyev cordially in front of the palace. Heads of states made memorable pictures, followed by their meeting behind the closed doors.

"There exist real chances to lay foundations for the Nagorny Karabakh problem settlement, the French president noted. The international community supports efforts applied for achieving peace in Nagorny Karabakh and development of agreement between the sides, the French president Jaques Chirac said in his statement.

He underlined, he receives leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the hope that the forthcoming negotiations will open the way for the new peace prospects, the Elysee Palace spokesman said. Jaques Chirac noted especially the importance of the peace achievement not only for Armenia and Azerbaijan but for the entire region and the world stability, the Elysee Palace spokesman said. The head of France wished success in the upcoming talks to the both presidents.

After the talks with the president of France at the Elysee Palace leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia will meet today in the evening at the Ramboier castle south of Paris. As the Elysee Palace spokesman said, the talks will be held tete-a-tete behind closed doors.

Aliyev and Kocharian continues peace talks on the resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on 11 February with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.

The head of state received he President of the French company Total in Paris, de Mare. During the talks the two sides voiced their satisfaction with the level of cooperation in the energy sphere, underlined his confidence in further development of interaction, in particular, participation of Total in Shahdeniz project.

The US State Secretary Condoleeza Rice phoned today to the Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev, the press service of the Azerbaijan president reports, according to Trend .

During the telephone talk various aspects of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the USA have been discussed. The US State Secretary appreciated highly the Azerbaijan peace-keeping forces involvement in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq and emphasized especially the support of Baku to Tbilisi during the energy crisis in Georgia.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the US State Secretary exchanged views in regard to the current state and perspectives of the talks on the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorny Karabakh, as well as the scheduled meeting of presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in France. The head of the Azerbaijan state voiced his gratitude for the US active involvement in the process of the conflict settlement and evaluated highly the role of the American government in the process.

Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijani President, signed a decree on establishment of Heraldic Council under the President of the Azerbaijan Republic to prepare and implement single state policy in the heraldry, Trend reports.

The regulations on Heraldic Council and State Register of Heraldry will be approved under the decree. The Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers is charged in preparation and submission of proposals on bringing of existing legal acts to conformity with the decree within a month.

Ramiz Mehdiyev, the head of the Presidents Apparat, was appointed the head of the Heraldic Council. His deputy is Mahmud Karimov, the President of the National Academy of Sciences. The council includes the Culture and Tourism Minister, representatives of the Presidents Apparat, Protocol Service, Art Academy, as well as some public and culture figures of the country.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on 7 February on discharging Ali Nagiyev from his position as Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the population. Fizuli Hasan oglu Alekperov is appointed to this post.

By another presidential decree Azad Arif oglu Ragimov is appointed Minister of Youth and Sports.

President of Ukraine Victor Yushenko telephoned today the Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijan president press service reports, according to Trend.

During the talk both presidents discussed the issues related to the current state and perspectives of the bilateral relations, as well as cooperation in energy field.

Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijani President, signed a decree on dismissal of Kamaladdin Heydarov from the post of the chairman of the State Customs Committee (SCC) and appointment Emergency Minister, Trend reports.

Aydin Ali oglu Aliyev was appointed the chairman of SCC at other decree by the head of the country. Earlier he was the first deputy chairman of SCC.

By the decree of the Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev a State Committee on problems of family, women and children has been established. Under the decree, the State Committee on problems of women (SCPW) has been liquidated, Trend reports.

The State Committee on problems of family, women and children is based on the former SCPW. The Azerbaijan Cabinet of Ministers is committed to develop during one month and submit to the head of the state the draft Regulations of the newly established body.

By another presidential decree, the chairman of the above-mentioned State Committee is appointed Hidjran Kamran gizi Huseynova.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Alivev signed a decree on organization of the 2nd congress of the world Azerbaijanis. Under the decree, the congress will be convened in Baku on 16 March 2006.

In accordance with the decree, the Presidents Executive Power and the State Committee on affairs of Azerbaijanis residing abroad is committed to design and confirm a business schedule on organization of the congress.

President Ilham Aliyev issued a decree to cancel the debts of newspapers, including leading opposition publications, to the State publishing house Azerbaijan, accumulated as of 31 December 2005

Foreign policy

The provision of regional security and stability is the major purpose of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey and the implementation of energy projects play considerable role in this context , Bulent Arinj, the Turkish Speaker, stated. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline to be realized shortly assumes special importance. After we will unite our efforts for the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline.

Indonesia proposes to Azerbaijan to strengthen the bilateral contract-legal base and establish bilateral intergovernmental economic commission. The initiative was expressed by Amin Rian, the Indonesian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, whose diplomatic tenure comletes, at the meeting with Elmar Mammadyarov, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, the press center of the Ministry told Trend.

The Ambassador underlined importance of the development of the bilateral economic relations and existence of great potential for it. He stressed importance of the cooperation not only in oil sector, but other spheres, particularly, chemistry, scientific research.

Touching upon the further expansion of the relations between Azerbaijan and Indonesia, Mammadyarov said that the Azerbaijani embassy functions in Jakarta and voice hope in opening of the Indonesian embassy in Baku.

The Azerbaijani Minister expressed satisfaction in regard to the mutual understanding between the countries in political sphere, particularly, in the framework of international organizations, as well as mentioned existence of wide opportunities in the economy, energy, business, tourism, agriculture. The Minister stated that the forthcoming conference of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Foreign Ministers in Baku would be significant event for Azerbaijan and expressed interest in the closer cooperation with OIC member-countries.

On Tuesday Polad Bul-Bul oglu, the newly-appointed Azerbaijani Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Russia, handed over copies of the credentials on his appointment to the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry (FAM), Bakhish Zeynalov, the adviser to the Azerbaijani embassy in Russia, told Trend.

The copies of the credentials were received by the Grigoriy Karasin, the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the meeting the sides discussed the perspectives of the bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia.

The US President George Bush required in 2007 funds in the amount of $35,1 billion from the US Congress aimed at implementation of his foreign policy. Under the State Department project, the key political issues requiring financial expenditures in the following year are victory in combatting terrorism, fulfillment of missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, impelmentation of international programs in fighting AIDS and the national security.

The USA assistance in respect to the South Caucasus states retained its traditional ratio. Thus, president Bush claimed $58 million for Georgia, $50 million for Armenia and $28 million for Azerbaijan. In each of these three states these funds will be mostly directed to the support of political and economic reforms, development of institutes, strengthening of security efforts. The budget report says, Azerbaijan, as a secular Moslem state backs essentially the global fight against terrorism and military operations in Iraq and is of strategic significance for the USA.

I hope the Action Plans will be operative with all three South Caucasus Countries in the course of this year, the European Union Special envoy for South Caucasus Heikki Talvitie, completing his diplomatic mission in the region told Trend exclusively.

В"The European Union (EU) New Neighborhood Policy will raise the level of cooperation between EU and South Caucasus Countries. It will also reactivate the full implementation of the earlier signed Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA), Talvitie noted.

A delegation of US Jewish communities headed by Harold Tanner, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations visited Baku from 9 to 13 February 2006.

On 11 and 12 February the delegation took part in the conference where such issues as dynamics of changes in Russia, Ukraine and in Caucasus and their significance for the Jewish community, changes taking place in the post-Soviet space and living conditions of Jews.

The delegations official meetings are scheduled for 13 February. The delegation plans to meet with Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, the chairman of the Caucasus Clerical Board, Haji Allahshukur Pashazade, and visit the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, They will also have a meeting with the Azerbaijani President.

In Azerbaijan with its large Jewish community, there has been never anti-semitism. It may be a model for other countries to build good relations between Jews and Moslems and between the people on the whole, the vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations told Trend in an exclusive interview.

The meeting of the national coordinators of the GUAM countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) is planned to be held in Tbilisi from 21 to 22 February, the Azerbaijani Foreign Affairs Ministry told Trend.

The agenda includes some issues related to the expansion of the interaction between the GUAM member-countries, particularly, preparation of documents in order GUAM to receive the status of international organization, regional energy safety, development of transport corridors, organization of the next summit of GUAM planned in Ukraine.

On Thursday the representatives of the GUAM countries hold consultations within preparations for the meeting of the coordinators.

New members of the Azerbaijan delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (PA OSCE) have been approved. A new head of the delegation will be the vice-Speaker of the Parliament Bahar Muradova. The delegation comprises also Rabiyat Aslanova, Fattah Heydarov, Azay Guliyev, Eldar Ibragimov and Fazil Mustafayev from the Party of Great Establishment.

As Eldar Ibragimov said, the on the agenda of the PA OSCE winter session to take place on 23-24 February no issues related to Azerbaijan are included. However, the delegation will try the Nagorno-Karabakh issue to be debated at the spring session, Ibragimov said.

Рђzerbaijan as an integral part of the world community recognizes the right of Iran to use the nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It is the axiom, recognized by all independent states, deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Khalaf Khalafov stated on 8 February. He was stating the stance of the official Baku in regard to the Irans nuclear programs.

В"However, undoubtedly, in case Iran implements its nuclear program it must happen based on the internationally recognized formula. Particularly, IAEA is functioning in this field, Khalafov said.

Along with this, deputy head of the Azerbaijan foreign relations department ruled out the possible use of the Azerbaijan territory against Iran for military purposes. Khalafov reminded that during the visit of the Azerbaijan former president Heydar Aliyev to Tehran agreement on principles of relations between the two states was signed. В"Under the agreement, the sides undertook mutual commitments not to use their territories for the purposes aimed against each other, Khalafov reminded.

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict

The cease-fire was breached on the front-line yesterday, on 8 February, the press service of the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry told Trend.

From 14.55 p.m. untill 15.05 p.m. from positions located 1 km north-west of the Goradiz village from the occupied Fizuli district positions of the Azerbaijan armed units, dislocated opposite were subject to machine-gun fire.

The letter of inquiry sent by the member of the Azerbaijan delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Rafael Huseynov entitled Inadmissibility of Armenias (occupier) membership of the Council of Europe for violating fundamental principles and the main criteria of this Organization will be debated at the sitting of the Committee of Ministers of the council of Europe (CE) on 15 February.

The text of the inquiry is open for the public. It reads as follows: В"Upon accession to the family of the Council of Europe in January 2001, the Republic of Armenia was the only country that had occupied the territories of another member state of the Organization. Contrary to the commitments assumed before this Organisation, Armenia did not refrain from pursuing the policy of occupation against Azerbaijan that had occurred in 20% of its territories.

As it is repeatedly mentioned and underlined in the Council of Europe documents from 2001 to 2005, Armenia plotted new plans for extending the scopes of military aggression and occupation conducted against Azerbaijan in the last 5 years.

The Armenians seriously damaged the environment of Azerbaijan, they are engaged in cultivating narcotics in the uncontrolled territories under occupation and its transiting, conducting nuclear research and creating nuclear cemeteries, setting up terrorist groups and associations, backing and abetting the activities of terrorist training camps.

It is not a coincidence that Armenia, pursuing an ethnic cleansing policy against the people of Azerbaijan, was unequivocally mentioned in the Resolution N. 1416 (2005) of the Council of Europe based on its five-year observations.

Considering all the above mentioned issues, Mr. R Huseynov asks the Committee of Ministers: Is it not yet the right time to exclude the Republic of Armenia from the Council of Europe on the grounds that, during the 5 years of its membership in this Organization, Armenia went against the fundamental principles and main criteria of this Institution, demonstrated openly that due to its activities it does not deserve to be in the Council of Europe family, and that it is recognised officially as an aggressor by the PACE for its policy of occupation pursued against Azerbaijan and for having caused serious obstacles to the development of democratic values in Armenia?

A roundtable on International aspects of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and Karabakh in post-resolution period was held at the Grand Hotel Europe of Baku on Wednesday with organization support from the Democratic Reforms Party (DRP). Attending the gathering were political specialists, public-political figures, members of the political parties and public organizations, Trend reports.

In his remarks MP Asim Mollazade, the chairman of the DRP, noted the important role of the international organizations in the peaceable resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but also stressed the difference in the positions of the international organizations.

In his turn Eldar Jahangirov, an adviser of the DRP chairman on international issues, spoke about international aspects of the conflict, and touched upon Aland islands model of conflict resolution.

Mardan Efendiyev, a member of the Political Board of the DRP delivered a report titled Karabakh in post-resolution period. He drew attention to removal of the heavy outcomes of the conflict, restoration of Karabakh and development, rehabilitation problems of the would-be repatriated people.

В"Position of Azerbaijan on Nagorny Karabakh is strengthening gradually and it may result positively in the peaceful settlement process, the head of the Azerbaijan delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a Milli Mejlis deputy Samed Seyidov told the conference organized by the Party of Democratic Reforms of Azerbaijan (PDR) in Baku today, Trend reports.

At the event on the subject International aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem and Karabakh after the conflict settlement, he reported on the necessity for the international institutions to use just the experience applied throughout the world in the conflict settlement.

According to Seyidov, position and activities of the Council of Europe on Karabakh may be considered satisfactory. 46 states, which signed under the resolution adopted in this institution confirmed that the lands of Azerbaijan are under occupation.

Political life

Deputy chairman, executive secretary of the New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) Ali Ahmedov met with the Chinese Ambassador Djan Naydjo, the YAP press service told Trend.

After Ahmedov informed of the YAP role in the socio-political life and development of democracy in Azerbaijan, the sides exchanged views on the current level and prospects of the Azerbaijani-Chinese relations. It was said that official Beijing supports territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and will not slacken efforts in defense of the Azerbaijans sovereign rights. The YAP spokesman said, China was always friendly to Azerbaijan, stressing the importance of expanding links between Azerbaijan and developed states for the accelerated and comprehensive development.

The statement by Musavat party on leaving Azadlig (Freedom) block reagarded as advance decision by other parties. Sardar Jalaloglu, the 1st deputy chairman of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party, told Trend that Musavat Party made a decision beforehand not waiting for expelling from the block. We used to state about unwillingness to be presented together with Musavat in one party. In any case, nobody cooperate with this party, Jalaloglu underlined.

Voicing his attitude to the Musavat partys decision to take part in the work of the Parliament, chairman of the Party of Democratic Reforms (PDR), Milli Mejlis deputy Asim Mollazade said, this move is correct. As for the issue, whether deputies from Musavat will affect positively the role of the opposition in the Parliament or not, Mollazade said, it will be known after they submit their platform, ideas, concept, as well as after certain work.

I find it correct the decision of the Musavat party to take part in 13 May 2006 by-elections and their deputies involvement in the parliamentary activies, a member of the political council of the New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) Sayad Aran told Trend.

He noted, the Musavat party members elected as deputies must be represented in the Parliament necessarily. В"If they are not involved in the work of the Parliament, why did they particiapte in the votes? In my view, the party, although late, has taken a right decision. It is necessary to display respect to the voters and try ones forces in by-elections, he said.

Another YAP political council member Aydin Mirzazade noted, decision by Musavat was quite unexpected for him, as Musavat came always from radical positions. One can come to the conclusion the forces which reconciled with the reality make up the majority inside the party. It is needed to go to by-elections and take part in the work of the Parliament, he noted.

Adalayt party finds the decision of the Musavat party on taking part in Milli Mejlis sessions and the forthcoming parliamentary by-elections correct, chairman of the Adalyat party Ilyas Ismaylov told Trend.

В"A person elected to Milli Mejlis of Azerbaijan ought to take part in the parliamentary sittings. Therefore, the Musavat party has made a right decision from the standpoint of its interests, he said. According to Ismaylov, one should take advantage of the opportunity to use Milli Mejlis and its tribune, Ismaylov underlined.

The MPs from Musavat Party held a news conference on Monday. Attending the event were Nasib Nasibli, Ikram Israfilov, Iltizam Asbarli and MP from Azadlig (Freedom) block Panah Husseyn, Trend reports.

Nasibli stressed that he was supported participation in the work of Milli Majlis [Parliament] from the utset and did not sign an address by MPs from Azadlig on boycotting of the work of Milli Majlis at the all-republican forum. He also said that the goal of Azadlig blocks participation in the parliamentary elections was to gain victory and the candidates from Musavat gained seats at Milli Majlis. According to Nasibli, everybody must be gratefull to these candidates. Participation in the work of Milli Majlis is right and legitime way, while some leaders of the opposition even dont know where to go, he added.

Husseyn underlined that he waited for a single decision by Azadlig, but in case of failure in achievement of consensus by parties he would take part in the work of Milli Majlis. According to Husseyn, long experience shows that participation of opposition forces in the work of the Parliament strengthens their position and increases their authority. Im solidary with the decision by Musavat Party in this point of view and think that the tension, evolved at the block in this regard, is of temporally character. It will be eased soon and the parties will be consolidated, nominating single candidates in the elections. They have no other way, Husseyn noted.

The OSCE Office in Baku today welcomed President Ilham Aliyev's decision to cancel the debts of newspapers, including leading opposition publications, to the State publishing house Azerbaijan, accumulated as of 31 December 2005, the statement by Ambassador Maurizio Pavesi, the Head of the Baku Office, read. The debts, totalling 350,000 euros, will now be paid from the State budget.

"I commend this initiative, aimed at strengthening the independent press in Azerbaijan," said Ambassador Pavesi. "Economic independence is essential for the media to act as a genuine watchdog and catalyst for democracy."

Ambassador Pavesi also emphasized the need for further steps to be taken in order to achieve a healthy media environment in Azerbaijan, saying: "Our Office invites all interested sides to work together to tackle the remaining constraints on media freedom in Azerbaijan."

State building

Oktai Asadov, the speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament, started an official visit to Turkey on Wednesday.

During the visit to last by Saturday the Azerbaijani speaker, met with President Ahmet Nejdet Sezer, Speaker Bulent Arinj, Prime Minister Rejep Tayyub Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

The Turkish president Ahmed Nedjet Sezer received today in his residence Chankaya a delegation headed by the Milli Mejlis (the Parliament) chairman of Azerbaijan Ogtay Asadov, Trend reports citing the press service of the Turkish president administration.

During the talk issues of cooperation development between Turkey and Azerbaijan have been discussed.

The Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation led by Ziyafat Abbasov, the 1st vice-speaker visited Georgia to participate in the conference on reforms and strategy of cooperation, jointly organized by the George Marshall Center and the Georgian Parliament.

The Azerbaijani Parliamentary Assembly headed by the deputy chiaramn the ili Majlis [parliament], Valeh Alasgarov, participated in a meeting of the CIS Council of the Interpariemtnray Assembly due in Kiev on Friday.

The delegation included the chairman of the parliamentary commission on regional issues, Arif Rahimzade, and an Azerbaijani parliamentary representative at Milli Majlis, Aydin Jafarov. The gathering will focus on ways of prevention of cataclysms of technogen character, legislative provision for social security of citizens suffered as a result of incident at Chernobyl nuclear power station, participation of CIS PA in observation over the presidential elections in Kazakhstan, International Institute for Monitoring of Democratic Development, protection of citizens election rights and consolidation of parliamentarism, as well as preparations for the 100th anniversary of the State Duma of Russia.

During the visit which lasted till 11 February he met with the chairman of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, Vladimir Litvin, the chairman of the Federal Council of the Russian Federal Assembly, Sergey Mironov and other senior officials.

After liberation of the Azerbaijan lands from invaders the issue of organizing the border guard there will raise, the head of the State Border Service (SBS) of Azerbaijan, Elchin Guliyev said in a statement to journalists, Trend reports.

According to him, the relevant presidential decree signed in December 2005 is aimed at developing of the Azerbaijan frontier guard exactly from the technical standpoint. В"The key objective is reinstatement of the Azerbaijan border guard after withdrawal of the occupational forces. As it is known, both from the north and the north-west Azerbaijan has new borders and their protection must be organized at the high level. The decree signed by the president is a serious help for achieving essential results, Guliyev stated.

The chairman of the Council of Europe Congress of local and regional authorities will pay an official visit to Azerbaijan on 13 February, Trend reports quoting the Secretariat of the Congress, Johanni di Stazi, in particular, will meet with the Foreign Minister, the Deputy Justice Minister and the chairman of the Central Elections Commission.

The chairman of the Congress will discuss the preparations for the by-elections in 135 municipal institutions, where the results of December polls in 2004 were recognized as invalid.

As a constituent part of dialogue of the leadership of the CE congress of the local and regional authorities with the South Caucasus countries Stazi intends to invite the heads of the executive powers of the three capital cities (Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan) to participate in a roundtable in Strasbourg.

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