Weekly political review

Official news

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev accepted Rasheed Nurgaliyev, Russian Interior Minister in the Presidential Palace today, on December 22, 2006.

The Head of the Azerbaijani State said that very good and close ties have been established between the Interior Ministries of the two countries. He marked the importance of these ties from the point of view of the development of bilateral relations between the two countries. According to the Azerbaijani President, Azerbaijani-Russian relations are successfully developing, and the closure of the Year of Russia in Azerbaijan once more furthered the issue of mutual understanding.

Mr. Nurgaliyev emphasized the efficiency of cooperation between the both countries, and said that he had discussed issues on combating the transnational crime, international terrorism, and illegal migration.

According to him, the transnational crime is boundless. That is threat #1 for all the countries in the 21st century.

Expressing his satisfaction with the cooperation with Azerbaijan, Mr. Nurgaliyev said that a Protocol on Joint Activity in 2007-2008 had been signed between the Interior Ministries and Interior Troops of the two countries.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, gave an interview to radio Echo of Moscow, Trend reports.
The State Head of Azerbaijan answered the questions regarding the Azerbaijani-Russian relations, energy co-operation, international and regional co-operation.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev accepted Svetlana Mironyuk, Director General of RIA Novosti in the Presidential Palace today.

As Trend reports, Ms. Mironyuk presented a photo album designed especially about the life and the activity of Azerbaijan Ex-President Heydar Aliyev to the Head of the Azerbaijan State. According to her, the main objective of her visit to Baku is to study and distribute in Russia the development processes occurring in different spheres in Azerbaijan. She said that RIA Novosti had a great plans and concrete projects connected with the cooperation with Azerbaijan, and the News Agency would take all corresponding measures to take them. Ms. Mironyuk also said that RIA Novosti paid much attention to expanding the cooperation with Azerbaijan, and it would enable to up-level the information exchange between the two countries.

The Azerbaijani President emphasized the importance of the information exchange with Russia. According to him, cooperation between RIA Novosti and Azerbaijan will be an additional impetus to inform the publicity of the two countries about processes happening in Azerbaijan.

On December 22, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Christian Strohal, said at the meeting with the Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev that over the past 3 years, Azerbaijan has achieved big results in the modernization and development process, Trend reports.
Strohal said that he was very glad that the OSCE makes its contribution in this sphere and highly assessed the strong support of Azerbaijan to the activities of the OSCE in the region.
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, expressed the readiness of the country to develop the relations with the OSCE and provide all kinds of assistance to the organization. According to Aliyev, the social-economical and political development of the country is continuing successfully and Azerbaijan actively participates in the regional co-operation.

An opening of the two new underground passages and bridges, built under the presidential decree Improvement of Transport System in Baku in 2006-2007, was held in Baku on 22 December 2006 with the participation of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Trend reports.

The Azerbaijan President said at the opening ceremony that over 200mln manats has been allocated for the first stage of the improvement of transportation infrastructure of Baku.

The opening of new bridges will enable to improve the city transport system. According to the Transport Ministry, the work will not be restricted with the construction of 9 bridges and roads. There are new plans and projects and we will implement them, said the President.
The head of state said that Azerbaijan economic opportunities are increasing. The public funds increase rapidly and all work is carried out from the budget funds. The road to the Heydar Aliyev Airport will be fully renewed and will be twice larger. It will meet all the international standards, said the President.

The Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, sent a letter of condolences to Acting President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguli Berdimuhamedov.

The Azerbaijan President, voiced his deep concerns on the death of the President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, offered his condolences to people of Turkmenistan, as well as all relatives of the late head of state.

On December 21, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, congratulated the President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, on his birthday. The State Head of Azerbaijan wished his Georgian colleague successes in his activities and firm health. In his turn, Saakashvili expressed his gratitude to Aliyev for attention and congratulation.

The Presidents of the two countries expressed their satisfaction with the successful development of the bilateral relations and their confidence for the future development of the ties.

During the telephone conversation, discussions were held on various questions of mutual interest.

On December 21, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev held a meeting in the building of the Supreme Assembly of Nakchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR).

The meeting is attended by the members of the NAR Government and Parliament, as well as the Minister of Finance, Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Health, Minister of Emergency Situations, Minister of Education, Heads of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, Azerigaz JSC, Azernergy JSC and others, who accompany the President in his visit to NAR. The meeting is going on in a close regime.

Before the meeting, the President participated in laying the foundation of the new Sanatoria Duzdag in Nakchivan.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said during his speech in the Superior Majlis of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan that 200 mln. AZN are expected to be allotted from the State Budget to ensure the advance of the minimal wage in the country from 30 AZN to 40 AZN and that it will cover 630,000 people.

The Head of the Azerbaijani State said that Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is of a strategic importance to Azerbaijan and that the region is rapidly developing.

We have provided Nakhchivan with gas. Presently, the second state is underway. Several new electric power stations have been constructed. In the future, the Autonomous Republic will not only provide itself with electric power, but it can even export it, said the President of Azerbaijan.

According to him, in 2007, the Budget of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic will reach 161,818 mln. AZN ($180 mln.).

We are reinforcing the military potential of the region and will keep on doing it in the future, said the President.

We are sure that Armenia will give contest to the recent proposal of the OSCE Minsk Group, said the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, on December 21 in Nakchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) while making a speech at the meeting in the NAR Supreme Assembly.

Taking into consideration the current situation in Armenia, the recent statement of the Armenian Head is very interesting and laughable, the President said, adding that sometimes they take a provocation and false character. According to Aliyev, Karabakh will not receive independence.

According to the President, there is a very big difference between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the development, and the development level of the Azerbaijani economy exceeds Armenian economy by 6 times, and in the future will exceed by 10 times. In addition, the State Head of Azerbaijan said that the size of the Azerbaijan state budget exceeds the Armenian budget by 7 times, and only military budget of Azerbaijan equals the whole state budget of Armenia.

According to the President, yet it is not late to take into consideration the Armenian interests in our proposals. Aliyev said that Nagorno-Karabakh may receive autonomy, but maybe even that does not take place in the future.

Ilham Aliyev said that the illegal constitutional referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh got Armenia into a hard situation because the whole world condemned the conduct of referendum.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev visited Ordubad District of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan. Trend Special Correspondent reports that at first the President of the Country laid flowers to the Bust of Ex-President Heydar Aliyev and got acquainted with the House-Museum of Academician Yusuf Mammadaliyev.
Then the President took part in the opening ceremony of a new infantry school in Ordubad Town.
Delivering a speech during the ceremony, President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan was rapidly carrying out economic reforms. If there are no such reforms in the country, then there will be no possibility to carry out creative and accomplishment works, he said.
The President said that according to the level of the current development of the economy, Azerbaijan holds the first place in the World. This level reached 34% this year. At the same time he marked the importance of reflecting the economic indicators in the daily life. President Aliyev said that economic projects of Azerbaijan contributed new changes to the whole region, particularly BTC Project, which is not only a large-transnational economic project, but also a political one that provides the energy security of both Azerbaijan and the whole region.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said at an opening ceremony of the Medical-Diagnosis Center in Nakhchivan on December 20, 2006 that Azerbaijan economy is developing rapidly, Trend Special Correspondent reports
The President reiterated that the country's economic opportunities and wise policy enables to state on the soonest resolution of all existing problems. Over the past 3 years 500,000 new jobs have opened in Azerbaijan, while over 4 years the public budget of the country increased by 4 times. President Aliyev informed that at present big projects are being implemented at the expense of the public budget and Azerbaijan does not appeal to anyone for credits.
Speaking about new medical-diagnosis center, the head of the state said that the Center was provided with advanced equipment and voiced his hope that services will be delivered on the high level too. The President stressed rapid socio-economic development of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, improvement of the city, construction of new power grids and different facilities.
Present Aliyev also participated in the opening of the newly reconstructed museum and monument to ex-Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev accepted Ali Coshkun, Turkey Industry and Trade Minister in the Presidential palace today, Trend reports
The Head of the Azerbaijani State pointed out that Azerbaijani-Turkish relations were at a high level and successfully developed. He mentioned that the mutual visits of the high-level delegations further expand cooperation between the countries. President Ilham Aliyev said that the economies of the two countries were rapidly developing. Mr. Aliyev also said that the joint projects are of an international importance. The President also added that the implementation of oil and gas and railway projects served to the issue of prosperity, stability, and the security in the whole region.

The Head of the Azerbaijani State positively assessed the expanding activity of Turkish business circles in Azerbaijan. He also remembered the participation in the Azerbaijani-Turkish business forum and expressed his satisfaction with the strengthening of the well-known large-scale Turkish producers to the country

The President marked that the visit of Mr. Coshkun would serve expanding economic relations between the two countries.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received the Advisor of the U.S. State Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Barry Lowenkron, Trend reports. Mentioning his satisfaction with the level of the bilateral relations, the Azerbaijani president highlighted their successful development. The State Head voiced his confidence for the future development of these relations.

According to Lowenkron, important steps are taken to develop the bilateral co-operation between Azerbaijan and Russia in the sphere of policy, economy, energy, security, democracy. The diplomat added that progresses have been noted in the bilateral relations of the two countries after the official visit of the Azerbaijan President to the USA.

During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on the future co-operation of the two countries.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, adopted a law on injecting changes to the Labor Code, Trend reports.

In accordance with the updated Law, submitted by the Parliament of Azerbaijan, hence holidays in Azerbaijan are New Year (1 and 2 January), Women's Day (8 March), Victory over Fascism (9 May), Day of Republic (28 May), Day of National Salivation (15 June), Day of Armed Forces (26 June), Day of State Independence (18 October), Day of Constitution (12 November), Day of National Survival (17 November), Day of Solidarity of World Azerbaijanis (31 December), Novruz Holiday 5 days, Gurban Bayram 2 days, Ramadan Holiday two days.

These are day-offs in the territory of Azerbaijan. The date of holidays Novruz, Gurban and Ramadan are determined for the next year and announced by relevant executive bodies by the end of every December.
In case the holidays fell on the day-offs, they are shifted to the next day after the holiday. In case Gurban and Ramadan fell in with other holidays, the next day will be considered as day-off. In case when holidays and day-offs are considered the next day or a day before the holiday, with respect to provide the subsequent of the workdays and day-offs, the holidays or day-offs can be shifted at the resolution of the relevant executive bodies.

The new decree of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev On Increasing the Minimal Wage says that starting from January 1, 2007, the minimal wage will reach the level of 40 AZN, Trend reports. The above-mentioned Presidential Decree has been signed today.

The Decree points out that it was intended for the improvement of the prosperity of Azerbaijan citizens, increasing their incomes, as well as more strengthen the social protection of the population

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree On Call-Up to Military Service Staring from January 1, 2007 today (on December 19).

The document signed by the President envisages the call-up of those Azerbaijan males who were born in 1989 and reached the age of 18, as well as those who were born in 1972-1988, the persons to the age of 35, who have no right to be deferred from military service in Azerbaijan Army or any other alternative service. The period of the forthcoming call-up is January 1-20, 2007.

At the same time, in the period from January 1-20, 2007, those soldiers, seamen, and sergeants who passed their military service in Azerbaijan Army in accordance with Bill of Azerbaijan republic On Call-Up, will be discharged to reserve.

On December 19, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has signed an order on construction of new workshops foe members of the Union of Painters of Azerbaijan, Trend reports. The document signed by the President says that in order to improve conditions for the creativity of members of the above-mentioned Union, construction of several complexes of modern workshops are envisaged to be constructed in Baku, Ganja, and Nakhchivan Autonomous republic of Azerbaijan.

The head of the Azerbaijani State also signed an order on foundation of the Museum of Modern Art with the aim to demonstrate and in a worthy manner present vivid and bright samples of modern painting, pictures, sculpture, and applied art of Azerbaijan as permanent expositions.

On December 19, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has signed an order on increasing the monthly allowance on nourishment granted to IDPs, Trend reports.

The document signed by the President says that starting from January 1, 2007, the allowance on nourishment granted to IDPs will increase by 50 percent.

On December 19, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has signed an order on conferring Muzaffar Mirzali oghli Sadigov with the Honourary Rank Honoured Teacher for his great services in the development of education in the country.

By another order, the Azerbaijani President awarded Nailya Famil gizi Babayev with order Taraggi (Progress) for her great services in the development of the Azerbaijani education.
Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev issued an order on foundation of the Commission for Export Control and Interdepartmental Group of Experts.
The President issued this order in accordance with Bill of Azerbaijan Republic On Export Control. Yagub Eyyubov, First Vice-Premier of Azerbaijan, was appointed as the Chairman of the founded Commission. The Commission includes the Deputy Ministers of Defense Industry, Energy, Foreign Affairs, Emergency Situations, Health, National Security, Justice, and others.

The head of the Azerbaijani State gave an order to the Commission to build up the interdepartmental group of experts in the corresponding agencies and regulate its activity.

Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict

The representative of the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, Ilgar Verdiyev, informed Trend that in the morning of December 23, the Azerbaijan soldier, Vusal Garajayev, who was in the Armenian captivity, was released.

The soldier taken as prisoner on December 7 was released as a result of the negotiations held by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Answering the question of Trend Special Correspondent regarding the forecasts for the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said at the press-conference on December 20 in Moscow that in 2006, significant progresses were achieved in the process of the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.
Establishing forecasts is ungrateful. We are the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group together with the USA and France, and the role of the co-chairs is to assist the conflict sides to reach an agreement, he said. According to him, the direct contacts between the Azerbaijan and Armenian Presidents, as well as Foreign Ministers, assume key importance. He said that the co-chairs assist in organizing these contacts and listen to what the leaders say, and prepare for the next negotiations, by devising proposals, which help the Leaders to move ahead.

Highlighting the progress in the negotiations process this year, Lavrov said that there is an understanding that the co-chairs play their role in the contacts between the Leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia. In addition, he refused to establish forecasts regarding the date of the agreement, noting that the Heads of Azerbaijan and Armenia have a wish to find a way out from this complicated crisis. He said that OSCE Minsk Group supports all principles of the international law, but the main fact is to create maximal available conditions for the Heads of Azerbaijan and Armenia with regards to the stages and dates of the future negotiations.

Ali Hassanov, Chief of the Social and Political department of the Azerbaijan Presidential Administration said that Azerbaijan will solve all its key issues in 2007, Trend reports.

According to Mr. Hassanov, a breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue might happen next year.

He did not rule out that other organizations would be involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh peaceful negotiations if the negotiations within the OSCE Minsk Group turn to be fruitless.

Azerbaijan will combine efforts taken in UN with those taken within OSCE, to raise the issue in the Council of Europe, EU, NATO, and OIC. Azerbaijan will focus efforts of the countries with frozen conflicts on their territories.

The economy and military potential of Azerbaijan are rapidly developing. Azerbaijan trusted the power of the international community in the issue of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Today the army and economy of Azerbaijan can resolve the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the country if the corresponding international legal norms are not observed said Ali Hassanov, Chief of the Social and Political department of the Azerbaijan Presidential Administration.

Mr. Hassanov said that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is number 1 for Azerbaijan in 2007.

During his speech at the Azerbaijan State University of Languages, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Barry Lowenkron, said that the USA fully recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The USA supports finding a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which meets the interests of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Protecting the rights of all citizens, including those affected by this conflict, is one of the key questions facing the U.S. Government, he said.

The EU Special Representative for South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, exclusively informed Trend that the European Union does not intend to establish any direct relations with Nagorno-Karabakh, commenting the misinterpretation of his statement during the visit to Yerevan that the EU wished to strengthen the direct contacts with Nagorno-Karabakh.
He said that as the EU Special Envoy in the region, he intends to hold negotiations with Nagorno-Karabakh because his mandate envisages this.

It means that we will consider the possibilities of confidence. It does not interest only Nagorno-Karabakh, but also Azerbaijan, he said. Semneby said that he is not sure that he has made such statement in Armenia, and the EU will not establish any direct relations with Nagorno-Karabakh, except those that exist and touch with measures of confidence.

He said that he plans to visit Nagorno-Karabakh at the end of January or beginning of February 2007.

The Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Christian Strohal, on December 21 said that progresses are observed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement and the OSCE is ready to do all the best within its disposal, Trend reports.

He said that the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is part of the international relations, on which OSCE works outside the country. Strohal underlined that various international processes are going on with regards to this issue, and the people may see the process.

The Advisor of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Romania, Tural Rzayev, exclusively informed Trend that the Romanian senior official stated at the meeting with the Chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament, Oktay Asadov, that Romania is interested in settling the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of Azerbaijan. Official Bucharest has repeatedly stated that these principles are sacred principles for Romania, the diplomat said. This statement was also made in the negotiation with the Chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament, who is on the visit to Romania on the invitation of the Romanian Parliament Chairman, Nikolai Vekero.

During the meetings the Head of the Ukrainian Parliament once again confirmed the position of his country, which supports the peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, economical co-operation in the region and development of the bilateral relations in all spheres. Official Bucharest once again demonstrated that Romania is faithful partner of Azerbaijan in the European continent, the diplomat said. According to Rzayev, within the visit, the Chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament met with the Chairman of the House of Deputies Bogdan Olbdan, Deputy Chairman of the Senate, Alexander Peresh, First Vice Primer of Romania Marco Bela and the deputies of the Romania-Azerbaijani Parliamentary Friendly Group.

MP Rafael Huseynov, the Azerbaijan parliamentary representative to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) rules out all hopes that the issue of so-called Armenian genocide' will be included in the agenda of the Council of Europe. The CE does not back the conclusion of such vulnerable issue in the agenda, he said in talks with Trend.

MP Huseynov is currently participating in a meeting of the CE Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg.

The Armenian delegation made a written appeal to the CE Committee of Ministers with request to include the so-called Armenian genocide' to the agenda of the next session of the Committee scheduled for January 17, 2007.

The Azerbaijan delegate noted that even in April 2001 the Armenian lobby developed a definite document on the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide'. The document was developed by the Armenian lobby and Armenian representation in France. We, the Azerbaijan delegation then led by current President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, immediately replied them and developed a document. It reflected the real genocide acts committed against Azerbaijan and the document was undersigned by the CE Secretary General, Terry Davis. This document blocked the document developed by Armenians, he said.

MP Huseynov said that the Azerbaijan Delegation has a document confirming the Armenian genocide act committed against Azerbaijanis. It means that at least the document by submitted Armenians will not pass for the sake balance and the issue will not be raised in this session of the Committee of Ministers. Over the past few years the Armenian attempts all fail and it will fail this time too, he said.

The EU Special Representative for South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, exclusively informed Trend that the European Union protests against the referendum held in Nagorno-Karabakh because the majority of population, Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh, did not participate in the referendum.
Commenting his statement in Armenia regarding not considering the position of the international community towards referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh as a negative reaction in relation with the democratic processes in occupied territories, Semneby said that he referred to them as democratic processes in narrow mean. I stated in Yerevan that this democratic process has serious shortfalls, especially discussions on the referendum. There are broad shortfalls here because the Azerbaijan population did not participate in this process. It is also one of the bases of our objection against referendum, Semneby said.

Foreign Policy

Ali Hassanov, Chief of the Social and Political Department of the Azerbaijan Presidential Administration said that Azerbaijan fulfilled most of obligations before the Council of Europe (CE), Trend reports.

According to him, Azerbaijan took certain obligations before CE on forming civil society, freedom of press, resolving the political prisoners issue, improving the political and election systems, etc.

However, that does not mean that we are suspending our cooperation with CE. We shall keep cooperating with these institutions, and I think that in 2007 we shall study issues where we can receive claims, said Mr. Hassanov.

He added that it would enable to reinforce Azerbaijan position as a democratic and sovereign state and the leader of the region.

Answering a question concerning the results of the Russian Year in Azerbaijan in 2006, which was given by Trend Correspondent to Moscow, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister said at a press-conference, that arrangements within the Year of Russia in Azerbaijan, became the cultural holiday, holiday of art, where concerts, exhibitions, meetings with art intellectuals, are held.
This form of partnership, cooperation, and friendly relations with Azerbaijan should be developed in all way possible, said the Russian Minister, and added that the new way of holding years of one country in another one was extremely useful, both with Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as with other countries.
We shall keep this ongoing. And those are not formal arrangements with boring faces, artificial smiles, and long speeches at all, said Mr. Lavrov.

The Head of the Russian Foreign Office considers that an agreement on humanitarian cooperation approved within CIS, including Azerbaijan, is a very important and useful decision.

Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry met Barry Lowenkron, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor issues in Baku on 20 December, the Press-Centre of the Azerbaijan Foreign Office told Trend

Mr. Lowenkron said that the expanding ties between USA and Azerbaijan in the field of policy, security, economy, and education were important to both of the countries. According to him, US backs Azerbaijan political course and advocates for the continuation of experience exchange in order to achieve higher results in the future.

Mr. Mammadyarov said that the development of political and economic cooperation between two countries meets Azerbaijan interests as well as integration into Euroatlantic organizations. Touching upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Azerbaijan Minister said that Armenia stands on occupational policy towards Azerbaijan and it is slowing down the development of democracy and the establishment of peace in the whole region.

The Advisor of the Azerbaijan Embassy in Romania, Tural Rzayev, informed Trend that the Chairman of the Azerbaijan Parliament, Oktay Asadov and the President of Romania, Trajan Basesku discussed the prospects of the future co-operation between Azerbaijan and Romania.
The meeting that took place within the official visit of the Chairman of the Azerbaijan Parliament to Romania (December 18-20) focused on the prospects of the inter-parliamentary relations, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, regional co-operation, situation in the south Caucasus and co-operation within the regional and international projects.
The sides highlighted the interest of both countries in the future development and strengthening of the bilateral co-operation and interaction within the international organizations.
President of Romania, Trojan Basesku said that Azerbaijan is its strategic partner. It was emphisized by Romanian President during his meeting with Ogtay Asadov, Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament (Milli Majlis). Tural Rzayev, Councellor of the Azerbaijan Embassy to Romania, told Trend about this commenting the visit of the Azerbaijan Speaker to Bucharest.
During the meeting, Romanian President rememberered his speech during the sitting of EU, where he callled upon EU to pay more attention towards the energy cooperation with Azerbaijan, as well as thorough development of relations with South Caucasian country, said the Azerbaijani diplomat.
The Azerbaijani diplomat said that Romania was the only European country that unambiguously backed Azerbaijan fair position in the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, when many European countries expressed their positions toward the issue very carefully and reflecting the EU neutral position. As to Romania, this country openly express its position based upon the resolution of the conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and international principles, and the President of this country proved this Romanian position once more, said Mr. Rzayev.

Within the visit, the delegation of Azerbaijan MPs met representatives of Azerbaijan Diaspora who live in Romania. Heads and representatives of the Romanian-Azerbaijani Friendship Society, Youth and Culture Association, Azerbaijani-Romanian Chamber of Trade, and intellectuals of Romania, took part in the meeting.

In his exclusive interview with Trend on the results of the ending year Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov said that In general 2006 was very rich and successful. It found its reflection both in our multilateral and in bilateral diplomatic activities. The negotiations regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement went intensively, which is the prerogative of our foreign-policy activities.

In 2007, we intend to further intensify the activities of the Ministry, and the significant role in this respect will be played by the newly opened embassies.

Garib Mamadov, Chairman of the State Committee on Land and Cartography, exclusively told Trend that totally three sections on the Azerbaijani-Russian state border remains un-agreed.
The first section is located in Balakan District of Azerbaijan a place called Meeting Point, the section where the state borders of the three Caucasian States meet one another. A place called Su Govshaghi (Water Junction).is the second un-agreed section of the border. And the third one is a section of the forest in Khachmaz District. Mr. Mammadov said that 85% of the state border between Azerbaijan and Russia had already been agreed upon. Azerbaijan delegation on delimitation and demarcation has recently visited Russia. Certain issues were considered and agreed between the two parties during the visit. The parties examined the territories as well. The next meeting on this issue is expected to be held in Baku.

MP Azay Guliyev, a Member of the Amnesty Committee, told journalists that no amnesty decree is expected to be signed soon.

He said that the Pardon Decree had been signed by the President of the Country recently. However, if the number of appeals for pardon will increase, the Committee, as usual, will view this issue and take a corresponding decision, he said.

Touching upon the issue on holding the meeting of the Pardon Committee, Mr. Guliyev said that he had no exact information about that.

Human rights activists have recently claimed that the pardon decree is expected to be signed till the end of the year.

The Azerbaijan Ambassador to Ukraine, Talat Aliyev, informed Trend that the Chairman of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, Alexander Moroz, will visit Azerbaijan next year.

Moroz will arrive in Azerbaijan on the invitation of the Chairman of the Azerbaijan Parliament, Oktay Asadov. According to Aliyev, the visit will take place at a time available for Moroz. The diplomat said that it will be Moroz first visit to Azerbaijan.

The sides are sure that the visit will provide impulses to the relations of the two countries. According to diplomat, one of the proprieties of the foreign policy of Azerbaijan is to develop the co-operation with Ukraine, and a proper attention is paid to the inter-parliamentary relations.

The Ukrainian Prime Minister, Victor Yanukovich, will pay a visit to Azerbaijan on December 26, 2006.

Deniz Ivanesko, the Spokesman for the Prime Minister, exclusively informed Trend that the agenda of the one-day visit is being coordinated.

In his speech before the students at the Azerbaijan State University of Languages, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Barry Lowenkron, said that Azerbaijan is faithful friend to the U.S.A. He said that the demand for the personal and political freedom is increasing worldwide.

Azerbaijan is the integral part of this process. The development of the state and stability are necessary for the existence of the democratic governments all over the world.

Lowenkron said that the co-operation between Azerbaijan and U.S.A. is developing in an organized form. Three key principles are necessary for further development of these relations: ensuring the regional and global assistance; global-energy security; and ensuring development of the democracy and freedom in Azerbaijan.

He said that the democracy in the U.S.A. has been developing for two centuries, but it is impossible to say that it has fully improved. The shortfalls are being liquidated day by day.

The 6th meeting of the bilateral Inter-Parliamentary Commission of the Azerbaijan Parliament and Federal Council of the Russian Federation took place in Baku on December 18.

In her turn, Orlova said that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin gave an order to reach the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Russia up to $2 bln. We are working on this. For this purpose, we want to develop the trade relations with Azerbaijan, she said.

Orlova said that 90% of the delimitation of the borders of the two countries has been completed. 2006 was Russian Year in Azerbaijan and therefore, Russian President was in Baku. Russia is ready for the open dialogue with Azerbaijan, she said. According to her, it is planned to create 4 free trade zones in 4 various cities of Russia, which will give an opportunity to expand the trade relations with Azerbaijan

During the meeting, Aleskerov said that the inter-parliamentary relations between the two countries are developing., Azerbaijan co-operates with Russia mainly in the sphere of economy and transport. Aleskerov said that Azerbaijan is interested in increase of trade turnover with Russia.
In her turn, Orlova said that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin gave an order to reach the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Russia up to $2 bln. We are working on this. For this purpose, we want to develop the trade relations with Azerbaijan, she said.

Orlova said that 90% of the delimitation of the borders of the two countries has been completed. 2006 was Russian Year in Azerbaijan and therefore, Russian President was in Baku. Russia is ready for the open dialogue with Azerbaijan, she said. According to her, it is planned to create 4 free trade zones in 4 various cities of Russia, which will give an opportunity to expand the trade relations with Azerbaijan.

Sergey Mironov , Chairman of the Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament the Council of the Federation (Senate), is expected to pay a visit to Baku in March, 2007, Svetlana Orlova, Co-Chairperson of the Commission for Azerbaijani-Russian Interparliamentary Relations, told journalists, Trend reports.

According to her, during the visit of Mr. Mironov to Azerbaijan, negotiations concerning relations between the two countries in different spheres will be held.

The visit of the Speaker of the Russian Senate to Azerbaijan was previously expected to be paid in November-December, 2006, however, due to some reasons, it has been postponed to another date.
A draft-agreement on readmission between Azerbaijan and Germany is being elaborated, Nasimi Aghayev, Second Secretary of the Azerbaijani Embassy to Germany, told Trend.

The document will regulate problems the two countries have in this sphere. The Azerbaijan diplomat said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Soviet citizens (including those who were of Azerbaijani origin) came to Germany for permanent residence.

The German Government has often appealed to the Azerbaijan Embassy with a request to render assistance in determining the citizenship of these or those illegal migrants who are introducing themselves as Azerbaijani citizens. However, they are not Azerbaijani citizens. We conduct checks, thereby determining the citizenship of those persons, said the diplomat.

6,500 illegal migrants from Azerbaijan live in Germany. According to Mr. Aghayev, the issue on their return to the motherland, i.e. readmission is being considered between the Governments of the two countries. The first stage of the negotiations on this issue has been held in this year. The second one is expected to be held in the first half of 2007, said the Azerbaijan diplomat.

The parties are working on a draft-agreement on cooperation between the two countries in the sphere of readmission, he said.

Chairman of Jordan Trade Chamber Senator Hider Murad discussed on Sunday with Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elman Arasli means of following up the outcomes of Premier's visit to Azerbaijan last month.
Azeri Ambassador, for his part hopes that the Jordanian private sector will develop economic ties with Azerbaijan and exchange visits and information as well as expertise, noting preparation is underway to open a Jordanian Embassy in Azerbaijan, Trend reports quoting Petra.
The two sides agreed on Jordan chambers of Trade and Industry will cooperate with Azeri Embassy to organize meeting to study ways of developing economic ties and increase trade volume between the two countries.

Jordan will open its embassy in Azerbaijan in the near future, Elman Arasli, Azerbaijan Ambassador to Jordan, exclusively told Trend.

The Jordanian leadership has initiated this intention, and the Azerbaijan party supports it. The Jordanian Government has already launched work on opening the new diplomatic representative office in Azerbaijan. The Jordanian Government considers that the opening of the embassy will further developing bilateral cooperation between the countries, said the Ambassador.

Azerbaijan has opened it diplomatic representative office in Jordan this year, and Mr. Arasli is the first Azerbaijan Ambassador to Jordan.

In his exclusive interview with Trend Dr. Lori Bristow, the British Ambassador to Azerbaijan, stated Great Britain is interested in development of oil and gas sector in Azerbaijan and we are delighted that BP is leading the international consortia developing Azerbaijan's major offshore oil and gas fields.

В"The Ambassador of Iran to Azerbaijan, Afshar Suleymani, briefed the media that Iran awaits proposals from the Azerbaijan Government to hold the next meeting of the Inter-Governmental Economic Co-operation Commission.

According to him, the previous, 6th meeting of the Commission took place in Tehran, and this time it should take place in Baku. Azerbaijani side should fix the date of the meeting.

The meeting is planned to be held in the first half of the next year. The Commission faces to consider all spectrums of the questions regarding commercial and economical co-operation between Azerbaijan and Iran.

Mr. Khalafov exclusively informed Trend that Arthur Rasizadeh, Azerbaijan Prime-Minister and Khalaf Khalafov, Deputy Azerbaijan Interior Minister are expected to depart for Turkmenistan tomorrow. The funeral of Turkmenistan President, Saparmurat Niyazov has been fixed to take place on December 24. The Turkmenbashi passed away from a heart stoppage in the early morning on December 21.

Political Life

Conference titled The Successor of the Great Path has been held by the initiative of the ruling New Azerbaijan (YAP) Party in the Gulustan Palace today, Trend reports. Representatives of the Government, MPs took part at the Conference.

Ali Ahmadiv, the Executive Secretary of YAP, a Member of the Azerbaijani Parliament (Parliament), gave a welcome speech to participant of the event. He said that the Conference was held on the eve of the birthday of President Ilham Aliyev. He also wished him long life, health, and successes in his work.

He said that choosing such a name to the Conference reflected two issues. The great path is one of them; another one is the succession of this path. The great path determined by All-National Leader Heydar Aliyev, is successfully being implemented by Ilham Aliyev, said Mr. Ahmadov. Then, MP Nizami Jaffarov, the Chairman of the Permanent Commission for Culture Issues, made a report on New Time and New Leader. He said that President Aliyev was the successor of the great time. Mr. Jaffarov also said that Ilham Aliyev took an active part in the struggle for the independence of Azerbaijan. President Ilham Aliyev is building and reinforcing Azerbaijan. There is no place for little ideas in this new building. It is impossible in this situation to win through gossips, to become a hero, plus people do not want this. Ideas determined by Ilham Aliyev are working internationally. This is the character, the ability of the new leader and Azerbaijan being reinforced by him, said Mr. Jaffarov. He considers that Azerbaijan can be called Azerbaijan of Ilham Aliyev. The MP marked that Ilham Aliyev contributed many things for the Turkic World, and had become the indisputable leader of the Turkic World. That is a very important event, said Mr. Jaffarov,

The Conference continued with the speech of Vasif Aliyev, a Member of the Board of YAP, the head of the Sumgayit Executive Power, etc.

The whole world, as well as Azerbaijan community know that the radicalism can not achieve anything. Opposition needs to shift to constructivism to keep its supporters, the Head of the Social-Political Department of the Executive Apparat of the Azerbaijani President, Ali Hasanov, informed Trend, commenting on the periodical interference of the international organizations in creating dialogue between the political forces within Azerbaijan. Hasanov expressed his regret and said that certain part of the Azerbaijan opposition does not demonstrate inclination to the dialogue, and that they are inclined to radicalism.

In addition, he said that the dialogue between the government and opposition is real and the critics of the Azerbaijan President are not excluded from this dialogue. Hasanov said that the government and opposition should understand their shortfalls. He said that the Azerbaijan opposition has not developed since 1992. We consider that the opposition parties should transfer to new structure, bring management system of activities into conformity with democratic models and replace the authoritarian propensity with democratic respect, said Hasanov.

The Head of the Social-Political Department of the Executive Apparat of the Azerbaijan President, Ali Hasanov, informed Trend that the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Christian Strohal, who is on the visit to Azerbaijan, held a meeting in the Apparat.
He said that Strohal raised a number of questions regarding the co-operation between the Office that he heads and Azerbaijan. We agreed with majority of the discussed questions. The topic of discussions was work on human rights protection, violence and measures to prevent it, modernization of the penal system of Azerbaijan, propaganda of the international Conventions and legal norms for integration of Azerbaijan to Europe, Hasanov said.

He added that debates were also organized on other questions, and generally the meeting went in the manner of mutual understanding. We consider that our co-operation with this institute will continue on a par with other European organizations, and we will continue our consultations with the OSCE Baku Office, Hasanov said. Touching up on the proposal of Strohal to create a monitoring mechanism of the human rights in Azerbaijan, Hasanov emphasized that the creation of the working group together with OSCE Baku Office, NGOs and senior officials of Azerbaijan was discussed.
He said that the Government supports applying in Azerbaijan all practices that have found its confirmation in Europe. This group should hold the monitoring of the amendments to the law On freedom of assembly, prepare proposals and prevent the violence. Hasanov said that the representatives of the Institute will return to Azerbaijan again at the end of February and beginning of March 2007 to continue the negotiations regarding this issue.

The Chairman of the Azerbaijan Democratic Reforms Party, MP Asim Mollazade, is in Los Angles. He met the Chairman of the City Council of Los Angles, Erik Garsetti, and other members of the City Council.

The meeting focused on the prospects of developing the co-operation between Azerbaijan and California, Trend reports with reference to the Press-Service of the Party. In addition, Mollazade, met with the Consular General of Turkey to Los Angles, Engin Ansaem. The meeting covered the co-operation between Turkey and Los Angles, and the activities of the Turkish Community of Los Angles, cultural measures and other questions.

Mollazade met with the representatives of the Azerbaijani community of Los Angles. The meting was attended by the representatives of the California U.S.-Azerbaijan Council.

Mollazade visit to California is continuing. On December 18, he is expected to meet with head members of the Senate of California, including Chairman of Senate, Careen Bass.

Lala Shovkat, the Co-Chairperson of opposition bloc Azadlig, the leader of political movement Milli Birlik (National Unity) told journalists today that the dialogue between the Government and the opposition should be built on the basis of mutual understanding and must not occur only for the sake of holding negotiations, Trend reports.

She said that she had not seriously apprehended the issue on the political dialogues which have recently been discussed. Dialogue does not mean that we should lambaste each other, offend each other, and then meet with each other. That is not a dialogue. The real dialogues must be built on mutual understanding. The parties should speak about constructive moments during it. I do not apprehend all today's talks about the dialogues, said Ms. Shovkat.

Speaking about the meeting of Barry Lowenkron, Assistant US State Secretary with the Azerbaijan MP, she said that Ali Ahmadov, the Executive Secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan (YAP) Party had taken part in the meeting along with representative of the opposition.

Ms. Shovkat was the State Secretary of Azerbaijan from July, 1993 to spring 1994. In 1995, she founded the Liberal Party of the Country.

On December 19, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Barry Lowenkron, met with the leaders of the political parties and movements functioning in Azerbaijan. The meeting was attended by the Executive Secretary of New Azerbaijan Party, MP Ali Ahmadov, Leader of Musavat Party, Isa Gambar, Chairman of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Ali Kerimli, Leader of the National Unity Movement, Lale Shovkat Hajiyeva, first Deputy Chairman of Azerbaijani Democratic Party, Sardar Jalaloglu and co-founder of Yeni Siyaset Block, Eldar Namazov. Sardar Jalaloglu informed Trend that the meeting focused on social-political situation in Azerbaijan, relations between government and opposition.

In addition, we discussed the interests of the USA in Azerbaijan. Lowenkron said that the USA attaches a great importance to the development of the democracy in Azerbaijan. He said that it is impossible to separate the economical and geopolitical interests of the USA in the regions from the democracy, Jalaloglu said.

The Chairman of Azerbaijan National Independence Party (ANIP), Ayaz Rustamov, informed Trend that there are no actions to provide ANIP with headquarter.

He said that in relation with this, he has appealed to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. The Presidential Administration forwarded the appeal to the consideration of the State Committee on Management of the State Property.

Azerbaijan National Independence Party was created in 1992 and is the member of the Political Co-ordination Center of Opposition.

On December 21, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Christian Strohal, who is on the visit to Azerbaijan, met with the heads of the opposition political parties. The meeting, held in the OSCE Baku Office, was attended by the co-chairmen of Azadlig Political Block, Ali Karimli, Sardar Jalaloglu, Ali Aliyev, Ayvaz Temirkhan, chairman of Musavat Party, Isa Gambar and co-chairman of Social-Democratic Party, Araz Alizade.
Isa Gambar informed Trend that the meeting focused on the implementation of the obligation undertaken by Azerbaijan before the OSCE. According to Gambar, the heads of the parties expressed their attitude towards the obligations, as well as the situation with democracy and human rights in Azerbaijan.

Araz Alizade said that during the meeting, he presented to the attention of the OSCE Envoy that the rights of the co-chairman of the Social-Democratic Party, Ayaz Mutalimmov, who currently lives in exile are violated, and he is not issued with the Azerbaijan passport. In addition, debates were organized on the democratization processes in Azerbaijan. Strohal voiced his confidence that 2007 will be a year of dialogue in Azerbaijan.

State Building

Speaker of Azerbaijan Parliament Ogtay Asadov on 22 December met with Christian Strohal, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Chairman of the Milli Majlis said that after gaining its independence, one of the priorities of country's policy has been integration to all international organizations, including the OSCE and its Parliamentary Assembly, the Euro-Atlantic structures. President Ilham Aliyev successfully pursues this policy, he emphasized. Appropriate structures of the OSCE has played great role in preparation of the Election Code of the Azerbaijan Republic and improvement of many other legislative acts'.

Touching upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Ogtay Asadov highlighted on the problem, noting that the conflict can only be solved in the frame of Minsk Group and on international legal principles, in the frame of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.

Mr. Christian Strohal expressed readiness for further cooperation with the Republic, noting this would be mutually beneficial.

Azerbaijani Parliament sent a congratulatory letter to Azerbaijani President in connection with his 45th birthday.

The first Vice Speaker of the Azerbaijan Parliament, Ziyafet Askerov, said that Azerbaijan is a country of South Caucasus which has high-level relations with NATO and its Parliamentary Assembly.

Askerov said that Azerbaijan is gradually fulfilling its obligations and there are big prospects for the co-operation with NATO. He said that Azerbaijan intends to bring its Army into conformity with NATO standards. Touching on the issue of attracting civil people in the work of various bodies of Army, Askerov said that in the future, several positions in the system of the Defense Ministry will be held by civil people, and work is carried out in this respect.

On December 22, 2007 the Azerbaijan Interior Ministry hosted a ceremony of signing a protocol on cooperation between the Interior Ministries and Interior Troops of Azerbaijan and Russia, Trend reports.

The Azerbaijani Interior Minister, Lieutenant General Ramil Usubov, and the Russian Interior Minister, Rashid Nurgaliyev signed a protocol on mutual relationships and joint statement in 2007-2008 between the countries.

A protocol on cooperation between the Interior Troops of the Ministry of Interior Affairs were signed by the of commander of the Interior Troops of Azerbaijan, Zakir Hasanov, and Head Interior Troops of Russia, Sergey Bunin.

The documents signed define the priority directions of the activities of these bodies.

On December 22, the Chief of the Headquarter of the Internal Troops of the Russian Interior Ministry, Sergey Bunin, who is on the visit to Azerbaijan, met with the Commander of the Internal Troops of the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry, Trend reports,
The sides discussed the co-operation between the Internal Troops of the two countries, as well as future directions of the Co-operation Protocol, signed on December 22 at Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan.

Ilke Bashbugun, the Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish Land Forces will visit Azerbaijan in the beginning of 2007, the Press-Service of the Turkish Embassy to Baku told Trend.

Within the forthcoming visit of Mr. Bashbugun to the country, issues on cooperation between the two countries in the military sphere are expected to be discussed.

At the beginning of December, 2006, Azerbaijani media source spread a piece of information that the Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish land Forces would visit Azerbaijan at the end of the month (December, 2006).

Christian Strohal, the Chief of the Bureau for Democratic Institutes and Human Rights of OSCE, who is currently visiting Azerbaijan, met Fikrat Mammadov, Azerbaijan Justice Minister today.

During the meeting, the Azerbaijani minister said that Azerbaijan was paying a lot of attention to the human rights observance, and marked the importance of the cooperation with international cooperation in this sphere. He also added that Azerbaijan was closely cooperating with OSCE in this field.

Telling the foreign guest about the complex measures being taken to improve the activity of the justice in the country, the Minister provided him with the wide information about the foundations of new democratic institutions in the country. He said that Azerbaijan took essential steps to strengthen the judicial power and form the justice system in the country.

Mr. Mamadov provided the guest with the information about foundations of the courts and other offices, as well as conduct of significant conferences and seminars in the country.

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