Political review of the last week (26.02-3.03.2007)

Official news

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received the Director of the Center for Eurasian Policy of Hudson University, Zeyno Baran. During the meeting, both parties exchanged views on international issues.

Thousands of Baku residents gathered today at the monument "The Cry of Motherland" to commemorate the victims of the genocide committed by Armenian aggressors in the Azerbaijan city of Khojaly on February 26, 1992.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the commemoration ceremony. He laid a wreath at the monument.

Also participating in the ceremony were Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, Speaker of the Milli Majlis Ogtay Asadov, Head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, members of parliament, ministers, heads of committees and companies, representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organizations, as well as survivors of the Khojaly massacre

The Literary-Artistic Charitable Foundation named after Ilyas Efendiyev, announced the award winners in 3 categories.

According to the foundation, the panel headed by Bekir Nabiyev, academician of the Azerbaijan Academy of National Sciences awarded MP Mehriban Aliyeva, goodwill ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.

The Lithuanian President, Valdas Adamkus and "Duna TV" president, Laslo Chelini, were awarded in the category of "Foreign citizen's services in right appraisal and spread of Azerbaijani realities' and "Publicizing of Azerbaijani culture, art and history abroad".

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, presented his condolences to the President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, in connection with the fire which took place at the disabled persons' residence.

Aliyev said that he shares their sorrow and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and the all the Latvian people on behalf of Azeri people.

While receiving the Second Chief of Armed Forces of Turkey, Ergun Saygun, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, expressed his satisfaction with the successful development of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey in all spheres, including the military.

The State Head of Azerbaijan voiced his confidence that the present visit of the Turkish General to Azerbaijan will serve future development of relations between the two countries in this area.

During the meeting, Saygun said that during his visit he aims to exchange views on future cooperation.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received the UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan, Bruno Puezati. The guest said that Azerbaijan has big potential and over the period of his activities in the new post, he will do his best for the development of the country.

Ilham Aliyev congratulated Puezati on his new appointment and informed him of Azerbaijan's achievements in various spheres

According to the order of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, the Head of the Executive Power of Tovuz District has been replaced. The State Head of Azerbaijan signed an order dismissing Hamid Bagirov from the position of the Head of the Executive Power of Tovuz District. According to other order, Tofig Zeynalov was appointed to this position.

on February 28, Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, has received a Polish delegation headed by Anna Fotiga, Poland's Foreign Minister, Trend reports.

The Head of the Azerbaijani State said that relations between Azerbaijan and Poland successfully developed. He also noted that he ws satisfied with the level of mutual relations between the two countries. Mr. Aliyev expressed his confidence that the existing visit of the Polish top-ranking official would reinforce relations between the two states.

Mrs. Fotiga marked the importance of the Polish relations with Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan will increase its investment within the social sector. Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, made this statement during a ceremony to lay the foundation of a new medical diagnosis center in Shemakha. The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) has allocated AZN 5 mln for the purchase of equipment for this centre, which will be the 10th of its kind in the country. The hospital will open within a year.

President Aliyev stated that the construction of such social facilities within the framework of socio-economic development in Azerbaijan arose from the poor level of health experienced in the regions. Thanks to the co-operation with Azerbaijan in the oil sector, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export oil pipeline, the country has gained greater financial opportunities.

"We have organized programs and action plans in all directions," he noted. Azerbaijan has recently marked its 3rd year of the Program on Socio-economic development of the regions in Azerbaijan. Over the past 3 years a great deal of work has been done in the country covering almost all regions in the country. If every region becomes strong from an economic aspect, it will probably affect the general development of the country and we have every opportunity for this to materialise," Present Aliyev stressed. . Over the past 3 years a great deal of work has been done in the country covering almost all regions in the country. If every region becomes strong from an economic aspect, it will probably affect the general development of the country and we have every opportunity for this to materialise," Present Aliyev stressed.

He also noted that wages at the public budget organizations are increased at a minimum twice a year. The President also noted that Azerbaijan uses the oil resources very expediently and presently the country is an initiator of large regional projects, which eases the resolution of many problems.

President Aliyev also became familiar with the progress of the construction of a plant of home appliances in Shemakha, which is to begin in May. The Plant is designed to manufacture 300,000 air conditioners, 200,000 refrigerators and 150,000 washing machines. The enterprise will employ 1,500 people. The equipment for the new plant will be supplied from Japan, Thailand, Italy and the United States.

The President of Azerbaijan signed an order to create a State Commission for the Control on State Property Privatization.

The Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Artur Rasizade, has been appointed as Head of the Commission. In addition, the Commission includes the Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice, Minister of Taxes, Minister of Labor

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, participated in the launching ceremony of the water pipeline Oguz-Gabala-Baku ordered by Azersu OSC. The cost of the project is nearly $142 mln.

Azersu has signed a contract with the Alliance Turan Hazinedaroglu/Tekser Inshaat Sanayi/Gence Korpu Tikinti 2 with regards to the projection and construction of the water pipeline Oguz-Gabala-Baku. The gross cost of the project was estimated at AZN 480 mln in 2006. In 2007 the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan will allocate AZN 183.62 mln for the project. The cost of the construction work is estimated at $142.1 mln and the period of implementation of the project is 14 months.

In 2006 AZN 82.7 mln had been spent on the realization of the project, including AZN 2.4 mln on the preparation of a feasibility study and initial project documents of CES Consulting Engineers Company and AZN 82.3 mln of Azkompozit in December 2006.

The underground water reserves of this zone equal to more than 15 cu.m per second. The quality of water is high and corresponds to international standards. The water pipeline will go from the water reservoir in Oguz-Gabala via the territory of Charkhana-Goychay-Agsu-Udullu and will be 260 km long.

On 2 March the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and Minister of Science and Education of Russia, Andrei Fursenko, discussed the prospects of the co-operation between Azerbaijan and Russia with regards to education. The State Head of Azerbaijan highlighted the big potential for the development of the educational co-operation of the two countries.

The Russian Minister expressed the interest of Russia in implementing joint national projects with regards to the science and education.

The meeting took place in Gabala district of Azerbaijan, to which Ilham Aliyev is on visit presently. The Education Minister of Russian also visited this district to get familiarized with the activities of the Russian communities and the situation with education.

As part of his visit to Gabala District visited some social facilities. He also got familiar with the process of construction of a Diagnosis Center and Resort in Gabala.

The head of state visited Tinning Factory, Shipping Center Gabala, the brick factory, as well as rural secondary school for 576 children. The President also participated in a ceremony of opening of a park in the honor of outstanding ophthalmologist, Zarifa Aliyeva and met with public.

He also visited the Gabala hotel with 96 apartments. The hotel a fitness hall, sauna, massage hall and it offer difference services, including the organization of tours in Gabala and the neighboring regions. Prices in this hotel vary from 40 to 80 manats.

Parliament

The Milli Majlis (Parliament) of Azerbaijan at its 27 February session has issued a statement in connection with the 15th anniversary of the genocide committed by Armenian armed forces against residents of the city of Khojaly in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on February 26, 1992.

The statement addressed to the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Council of Europe, European Union, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Commonwealth of the Independent States, and other international organizations, as well as parliaments and governments of the world countries urges them to recognize and condemn the Khojaly genocide, take effective measures to prevent such crimes in the future, and assist in a peaceful resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the generally recognized norms and principles of the international law, in particular, the principle of territorial integrity of states, which is the most basic of them.

Demanding unconditional liberation of the occupied territories provided for in the United Nations Security Council resolutions No 822, 853, 874 and 884 adopted in 1993, the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan calls for taking the resolutions of the OSCE summits in Budapest, Lisbon and Istanbul, as well as the resolution No 1,416 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as basis for resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.

The Azerbaijan's Parliament also calls on the Armenian side to take a constructive position in the peace process, withdraw its armed forces from the occupied territories and recognize territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

"Expressing the sovereign will of the people of Azerbaijan, the Milli Majlis of the Azerbaijan Republic states once again that the Republic of Azerbaijan will never agree with violation of sovereignty in its territory, and predatory occupation of its lands, and will use all possible means to restore its territorial integrity, and achieve international political and legal assessment of the Khojaly tragedy, and punishment of its ideologists, organizers and performers," the statement says.

Milli Majlis chairman Ogtay Asadov met February 28 with Iran's ambassador in Azerbaijan Afshar Suleymani.

O. Asadov wished every success to A. Suleymani in his further activities as the latter is completing his tenure in Azerbaijan. He expressed gratitude to the Iranian ambassador for his efforts to develop Iran-Azerbaijan relations.

MM speaker noted that Azerbaijan places a great emphasis on the development of bilateral relations with Iran in all spheres. According to him, mutual visits of the Heads of States and delegations contributed to development of the ties.

MM chairman said that interparliamentary working groups function in the parliaments of both countries, and Iranian and Azerbaijan parliamentarians cooperate successfully within international organizations.

Ambassador said that he would never forget the years spent in Azerbaijan and assured O. Asadov that he makes every effort to deepen Azerbaijan-Iran relations.

The meeting also focused on a number of other issues of mutual interest

Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan does not see the need to change the format of negotiations regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. According to the Head of Foreign Relations Department of the Executive Apparat of the Azerbaijani President, Novruz Mammadov, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group still have the opportunity to demonstrate a more decisive position. "They may do it and it is high time to do it. Positions on other conflicts are expressed, but in case of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the responsibility is put on the conflict sides. Why was there no such position in connection to Kosovo , Israel and Palestine?" Mammadov questioned

The Armenia armed forces continued armistice breach in the frontline. The Armenian Armed Forces located in the occupied Azerbaijani village of Yusifjanly of the Agdam District, fired at the Azerbaijani National Army on 26 February, the Azerbaijani National Defense Ministry informed Trend.

Official Baku considers that contradictions in the opinions of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group may lead to a delay in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. According to the Head of Foreign Relations Department of the Executive Apparat of the Azerbaijani President, Novruz Mammadov, this is not the correct approach.

He thinks that there are instances for other kinds of conflicts in the world, for instance, the idea which had been made in connection with the situation in Kosovo. In addition, the "road map" of the USA had been worked out in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Several years ago, the U.N. Secretary General, Cofi Annan offered a plan for Cyprus .

Mammadov said that the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, as members of the OSCE and as experts, may make their suggestions with regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan . However, instead of making such proposals, they make various statements and in most cases, results in prolonging the negotiation process.

"I consider that the co-chairs cannot demonstrate a necessary and concrete position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. After visiting Armenia , the co-chairs get behind Armenia 's position, and therefore, it is impossible to achieve the necessary results in the negotiation process," Mammadov stated. Touching on the efforts of the co-chairs to put the responsibility for conflict settlement on Azerbaijan and Armenia, Mammadov said that this is the root cause of the incorrect approach.

The position of Azerbaijan is to strengthen the region and international processes and therefore, it is high time to resolve this conflict.

The Azerbaijan Parliament is ought to adopt law on Khojaly genocide, a statement issued by the Karabakh Liberation Organization (KLO) on the 15th year KHojaly tragedy says.

The United States deeply regrets the tragic events that transpired in Khojaly 15 years ago and condemns all such attacks on civilians. Sean McCormack, spokesman for the US Department of State made this statement at a briefing. He was commenting on the US Administration's response to a letter by the Azerbaijani community of the United States to the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"We send our condolences to the families and friends of the victims of that tragedy. In order to prevent any further loss of life, it is vital that a peaceful and just solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict be found as soon as possible," he stressed.

"The United States recognizes Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and remains committed to helping facilitate a negotiated settlement as one of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group," McCormack stated.

OSCE field assistants conducted monitoring at the Armenia-Azerbaijan front line in the Fizuli district today. They visited the first executive power of the Fizuli district. According to Nabi Mukhtarov, head of Fizuli district executive power, the field assistants visited the executive power at 11:20 today. During the course of negotiations the assistants asked Mr Mukhtarov about ceasefire violations by Armenian forces. In turn Mr Mukhtarov said the military forces of Armenia are violating the ceasefire regime often by shooting at Azerbaijani military forces and civilians as well.

At 12:20 the field assistants left to conduct monitoring. The monitoring is currently on going. The monitoring did not detect violations.

The Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan stated that no incidents have been reported during the monitoring on the line of contact near the Fizuli-Horadiz road on February 27th in accordance with the mandate of the special representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office.

The monitoring was held by the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Andzey Kasprzyk, and his field assistants Miroslav Vimetal, Imre Palatinus and Santiago Rodriguez Santafe.

The opposition monitoring was attended by the field assistants of the special representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Pieter Ki, Jaslan Nurtazin and Gunter Falk.

Yuriy Merzlyakov, the OSCE Minsk Group Chairman says the U N General Assembly cannot resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Trend reports.

Touching on the position of Azerbaijan concerning the importance of introducing the issue on the frozen conflict on the territories of GUAM member-states to the session of the UN Assembly, Mr. Merzlyakov said that despite the fact that the Minsk Group had been occupied with the resolution of the conflict for quite a long time, any decisions taken or to be taken by the UN General Assembly would be recommended. He says that if UN decisions are of an obligatory nature, then many conflicts, including the one in the Middle East would be settled.

The Russian Co-Chairman assured that discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the UN would derail peaceful negations on the issue.

Officially Baku does not consider the plan of Kosovo as an example for Nagorno-Karabakh. Commenting on the statement of the Russian Co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Yuri Merzlyakov, said that the position of Russia and his personal position is that the possible adoption of the plan by the UN Security Council is an example for Nagorno-Karabakh, the Press Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, Khazar Ibrahim, said that it is impossible to compare Kosovo with the conflicts in the territory of GUAM countries. He said that Kosovo and Karabakh do not have not any conformity and hold a different history.

Ibrahim stated that any autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh should be provided within the framework of the Constitution of Azerbaijan. According to Constitution of Azerbaijan, autonomy may be given to Nagorno-Karabakh. However, this autonomy may be provided only within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Further, he stressed that Nagorno-Karabakh, as autonomy, cannot join the international organizations, which is envisaged in the case of Kosovo. "The international law also stipulates it. Only independent states may be members to the international organizations. Autonomy is the integral part of State, in this case an integral part of Azerbaijan," he said.

The representative of the Foreign Ministry also said that presently the key goal is to prevent occupation, to return internally displaced persons of Azerbaijan to their native land, restore the demographic balance and form normal relations amongst the local inhabitants. Only after this is done is it possible to speak about the form of the autonomy status for Nagorno-Karabakh, he said.

The Permanent Representation of Azerbaijan to the UNO is continuing intensive consultations to once again include the issue of frozen conflicts in the territories of the GUAM countries in the 61st session of UN General Assembly.

The Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the UNO, Akshin Mehdiyev, said that the exact date of the discussions has not yet been confirmed.

The Permanent Representative of Moldova to the UNO, Aleksey Tulbure, had said earlier that the issue of frozen conflicts in the former Soviet territory, which has been raised by Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, will be considered at the UN General Assembly session this spring. He stressed that the core of the project already exists and active consultations are continuing, as well as with Russia. "There are no original or shock tactics in our project, we refuse confrontation," he said.

As a result of negotiations at the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, the Foreign Minister of Poland, Anna Fotyga stated on 1 March in Baku that Poland supports the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

According to her, Poland supports the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group. "We would like the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be resolved peacefully within international laws," she said.

On the eve of her visit to the region of South Caucasus, Anna Fotyga stated in her exclusive interview with Trend that all "frozen conflicts" in South Caucasus, including Nagorno-Karabakh, should be resolved peacefully and with respect for the territorial integrity of the existing countries.

Previously, the Armenian agency "PanARMENIAN" disseminated information that during her visit to Armenia, the Foreign Minister of Poland denied the statement supporting regulations of the conflict within the territorial integrity.

The European Union's Special Representative for South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, said at the meeting with the Prime Minister of Armenia, Andranik Markaryan, in Yerevan that the EU supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group in regulating Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, News Armenia reports.

"During the meeting, Peter Semneby stated that the EU supports the efforts of the Minsk Group and voiced his hope that the negotiations directed towards regulating the conflict will be crowned with success due to the efforts of all sides," News Armenia was told at the Public Relations and Press Department of Government of Armenia.

The European Union's Special Representative for South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, said in his interview with News Armenia that the International Commission, Caspian-Caucasus, may play an important role in settling Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"This Commission brings together experienced people, including State figures from various countries, and I consider that the Commission may make new ideas and resources," Semneby said, adding that he has met with the representatives of this Commission and welcomes its creation. According to him, the Commission intends to organize a mission to collect facts in Nagorno-Karabakh, but the issue is discussed and the concrete date of the visit is not known yet.

The Deputy Chairman of Caspian-Caucasus and also ex-speaker of National Assembly of Armenia, Artur Bagdasaryan, had said earlier that initiated by the Caspian-Caucasus, a mission will be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh in 2007 to collect the facts.

As a result, a report will be prepared and discussions will be held in Ankara, Tehran, Yerevan, Baku Tbilisi, Moscow, Brussels, Washington and London.

The Commission Caspian-Caucasus was created in February 2007. The Commission comprises of representatives of 14 countries and works in four directions - democratic reforms of states of Caspian-Caucasus region, frozen conflicts, energy issues and relations with Europe.

The Commission is chaired the Foreign Minister of Slovenia, Dimitry Rupel. The Deputy Chairmen of the Commission are Artur Bagdasaryan and representative of Turkey Mustafa Aydin.

Political movements

The Chairman of "Ana Veten" Party, Fazail Agamali, briefed the media that the opposition of Azerbaijan has disintegrated and therefore, this camp has no force left.

According to him, a group of radical parties have monopolized the opposition in Azerbaijan. Therefore, the Azerbaijani opposition can not implement its mission. "It is possible to say that they have no influence in the social-political process of the country," Agamali said.

The pro-governmental "Ana Veten" Party was created in 1991 and is presently represented in the Parliament of Azerbaijan by two deputies.

The Democratic Reforms Party (DRP) of Azerbaijan has expressed its concerns about the situation with the press.

The Party considers a new wave of attacks on press is increasing in Azerbaijan.

Newspapers Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realni Azerbaijan are systematically attacked by various circles.

At the same time the resolving of the problem about the frequency of the ANS Television and Radio Company is being willfully postponed.

Journalists constantly bear endless court trials. Aggressive attacks against media very often ends with violence.

The forces that chose establishment of civil society and democratic values in Azerbaijan, as well as integration of Azerbaijan into Euro-Atlantic organizations, should be patient with dissidence in press, which is one of the peculiarities of liberal society. They have to reply within the frames of law and without applying any kind of violence.

At the same time the DRP calls upon journalists not to use obscene words about people in their articles, which might hurt them, and to keep to journalistic ethics.

Ahmad Oruj, Chairman of the AZADLIG party, reported that the party members of the AZADLIG coalition and MUSAVAT party are not to be represented in the new alliance of the opposition parties.

Oruj stated, "The address of Mirmahmoud Miralioghlu, the Chairman of the Classic Party of the National Front of Azerbaijan, reporting the new opposition alliance has been sent to all the parties. We also participated in presenting this proposal. Several parties, due to their financial and personal interests, do not support the integration of the opposition. Party members of the AZADLIG coalition as well as MUSAVAT party clearly expressed their discontent. They do not want to share the grants received from the international organizations."

He added that the new alliance will not include large parties, as they are not interested. The National Independent Party of Azerbaijan, Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, AZADLIG Party and Classic Party of the National Front of Azerbaijan have expressed their agreement concerning the foundation of the new Alliance.

Azay Guliyev, the President of the Azerbaijan National Forum of the NGO, informed that the Forum applied to the World Association of Non-Governmental Orginizations for membership.

Guliyev noted that they got a positive reply from the WANGO. The issue is to be resolved soon.

The WANGO with its headquarters based in the United States unites 94 world countries.

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