Weekly political review

Politics Materials 24 April 2007 12:03 (UTC +04:00)

Official news

Whilst receiving the Foreign Minister of Latvia, Artis Pabriks, on 16 April, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev stated "Relations between Azerbaijan and Latvia are developing successfully and the official visit of the President of Azerbaijan to Latvia plays a significant role in this process".

The President voiced his confidence that the present visit of the Latvian Foreign Minister to Azerbaijan will make its contribution in developing bilateral relations. Pabriks said that Azerbaijan takes a leading role in the region and Latvia attaches great importance to its development of the economical co-operation with Azerbaijan.

on April, 16, Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, has signed an order on approval "State Programme for Azerbaijani Youth's Studying Abroad for 2007-2015, Trend reports.

The mentioned Presidential Order indicates that the financing of the State Programme should be carried out at the expense of SOFAZ (State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan), and other sources, which are not prohibited by the existing legislation of the Country. The Committee for Education under the Azerbaijan Presidential Administration has been commissioned to control and supervise over the implementation of the mentioned State Programme.

All issues coming from the mentioned Presidential Order will be solved by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Country.

on April, 16, Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, has signed an order on organizing the one hundredth jubilee since the birth of the prominent Azerbaijani poet, Mikayil Mushvig (Mikayil Mirza Abdulgadir oghlu Ismayilzadeh), one hundredth jubilee since the birth of one of the most known representatives of modern Azerbaijani Literature, poet of freedom, Almas Ildirim (Ildirim Abdulmohammad oghlu Almazzadeh), and one hundred and tenth jubilee since the birth of the founder of professional national vocal creativity, prominent singer and teacher, Bulbul (Murtuz Mashadi Rza oghlu Mammadov).

According to the mentioned Presidential Orders, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Country and other corresponding organizations have been commissioned to organize arrangements for solemn holding all the jubilees of the prominent personalities of Azerbaijani origin.

On 17 April, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, offered his condolences to the US President, George Bush, on the tragedy that occurred in the student camp of Virginia Technology University.

In his message, Aliyev offered his condolences to the President, the people of America and the parents and relatives of the victims.

On 17 April the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, received the Head of Mangistau region of Kazakhstan, Krimbek Kusherbayev. Kusherbayev said that Azerbaijan has achieved great success and takes the leading position in the region for economy due to a strategy launched by the national leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, and is successfully developed by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. He stressed that during the visit discussions will be held over concrete projects on joint cooperation.

Ilham Aliyev informed of the dynamic development of Kazakhstan and said that realizing joint projects assumes great importance for both countries. Highlighting the development of cooperation in various spheres including energy and transport, the President mentioned that cooperation with separate regions serves expansion of these relations.

Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan's President has signed an order on arrangements dedicated to the 125th birthday of prominent Azerbaijani writer-dramatist Husseyn Javid today, on 18 April.

The Presidential Order says that in October, 2007 will be the 125th birthday of prominent writer-dramatist of Azerbaijani origin, Husseyn Javid (Husseyn Abdullah oghlu Rasizadeh). The President noted that his masterpieces, Javad created unrepeated masterpieces of philosophic lyrics, tragedies, and historical dramas of Azerbaijan poetry.

In his Presidential Order, taking into consideration proposals put forward by the Azerbaijan Writers' Union, the Head of the Azerbaijani State has commissioned the Azerbaijan Culture and Tourism Ministry, Education Ministry, National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, Supreme Majlis (Assembly) of Nakhchivan Republic of Azerbaijan to implement an action plan dedicated to the 125th birthday of Husseyn Javid, who made the greatest and unrepeated contribution to the development of Azerbaijani Literature.

The President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Good-Will Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, MP Mehriban Aliyeva, visited Children's Polyclinics No. 1 in Nasimi district of Baku city and participated in vaccination of children against poliomyelitis. The campaign is carried out within European immunity week.

The head of the Ganja City Executive Power, Eldar Azizov, said that the amount of complaints about the activities of the local police have reduced considerably.

It testifies to the reduction of negative cases by police bodies.

Azizov denied reports on the false collection of charges for public utilities by people employed in the education and health sectors. He noted that the Executive Power does not interfere with this process and has not received any complaints regarding this. Nevertheless, Azizov stated that if Azerbaijan has chosen the market economy, then everyone has to pay the charges for gas and electricity.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed an order conferring honorable titles to the employees of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Azerbaijan. According to the order, title 'Honored Doctor of Azerbaijan' has been conferred to Agasiyev Abil, Ahmadov Mukhtar, Alyarzade Elkhan, Mammadov Akif and Valiyev Vahid, and title 'Honored Physical Training and Sport Worker of Azerbaijan Republic' to Aliyev Nadir, Aliyev Vagif, Hadibayov Fazil and Iskandarov Agakishy.

On April 18, 2007, Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, has received Wolfgang Rutenstorfer, the Chairman of the Executive Council of Austrian Company "OMV".

Mr. Ruttenstofer told the Azerbaijani President about the activity of the Austrian company by particularly marking that "OMV" works in the Central Europe, Middle Asia, and other regions worldwide. Having noted Azerbaijan's great suscesses in the field of power engineering, the Austrian guest expressed the interest of the company he represents in its cooperation with Azerbaijan.

During the meeting, the parties viewed perspectives of cooperation between Azerbaijan and this foreign company in the area of transportation of Azerbaijani gas to European markets, as well as the imnplementation of the NABUCCO Project.

On 20 April the President of Azerbaijan issued a decree improving the activities of the libraries in Azerbaijan.

The decree says that the libraries are national richness of Azeri people. "Our libraries play a significant role in keeping and protecting historical and cultural, creative and scientific-philosophic heritages of Azeri people," stated by the decree.

The decree says that as a result of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, the libraries and their branches containing more that 4 mln book have fully destroyed.

The State Head of Azerbaijan gave relevant tasks to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, executive powers and other related bodies to enrich the activities of the libraries, create online library of the Azerbaijani literature and prepare State Program on Development of Libraries in 2008-2013.

Supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Book entitled 'War and Historical-Cultural Moments' prepared by the Human Rights Institute of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences was published. The book contains information on the monuments of Azerbaijan that have been destroyed in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The book which begins with foreword by the President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mehriban Aliyeva, contains information regarding 263 historical monuments and 165 places for pilgrimage in 11 districts of Azerbaijan that lie under occupation of Armenia. The Executive Director of the Foundation, Anar Alekperov, said that such measures will also continue in then future.


MP Mubariz Gurbanly stated the necessity to adopt a law banning smoking in public places.

Addressing the parliamentary sitting on 17 April, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), noted that within the adoption of the law on Tobacco products, the document does not contain an article banning smoking in public places. Injecting changes to the law in this respect therefore needs to be addressed.

Gurbanly highlighted the fact that many European countries have adopted this law. The number of smokers in public places has increased dramatically in Azerbaijan.

MP Zahid Oruj, member of the Parliamentary Permanent Commission on Security stated that Azerbaijani Defense Minister should make a repot to the closed meeting of the Parliament taking in to consideration the country in war MP said that the report will have a positive effect to ensure the national interest and security of the country, it will involve serious reforms and increase the level of international military co-operation of Azerbaijan.

With the Armed Forces being modernized, Oruj indicated the improvements that are currently under implementation. "The parliament is in charge of this. Monitoring exercises would be efficient in this connection," MP added.

Despite the fact that the Ministry of Defence made no comment on the occasion, a military expert, retired colonel-lieutenant Uzeyir Jafarov, noted that the army administration in most countries submits an account to parliament. This fact is not unusual so we should not oppose it.

" Azerbaijan lacks such a practice. However, soon enough we will have to introduce it, as it will be of great importance for transparency which is required by international organizations," Jafarov urged.

The budget expenditure for the army comprised AZN 1.7bln in 2007. Jafarov suggested that the government should control the expenses as well as ensure that the military administration deliver a report.

Hadi Radjabli, a Member of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijan's Parliament, Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Social Policy of the Azerbaijani Parliament, has said today that it is very important to finance non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Chairman of the Parliament Committee said that due to the country's holding arrangements on development, the implementation of some of these projects might be commissioned to local NGOs.

"The State has financial resources on it," admitted Mr. Radjabli. According to him, the involvement of NGOs to solve social issues and govern the society may bring about positive results. "We can find available funds in the State Budget to realize this project. I think that in the future, the Government should personally finance the activity of local NGOs," stated Mr. Radjabli.

The Head of the Parliament Commission believes that the implementation of the State's financing NGOs will significantly reduce their dependence on different foreign organizations. "However, it would be wrong to fully repudiate grants presented by foreign organizations. It is necessary to co-operate with these organizations as well. If we can build an open democratic society, then NGOs should develop as well. How are NGOs able to develop if the State does not assist them," he added.

According to him, the State's financing of local NGOs should be implemented in a certain way.

Hadi Rajabli, the chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Commission on Public Policy, stated on 20 April that there was a necessity to adopt the Law on Ceremonies.

Mr. Rajabli indicated the problems concerning wedding and funeral ceremonies should be settled. "The draft of the law was developed six years ago. However, due to several reasons, the parliament cannot pass the law. It cannot be adjusted to law frames," he concluded.

Rajabli noted several norms but they are out of operation. "All these norms should be united in one law to be observed by the corresponding bodies. For instance, the volume of sound at wedding ceremonies in Azerbaijan is 100 times over the norm. It can lead to people having brain contusion.

MP Hadi Rajabli, the chairman of the Parliamentary Permanent Commission on Public Policy, stressed on 20 April the necessity to adopt the Law on Migration.

The chairman reported that the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani Parliament) had passed the Law on Labour Migration. "Besides this law there is no other juridical document regarding migration," Rajabli noted.

Rajabli stated that the migration issues in Azerbaijan should be considered by the State Committee on Refugees and Internally Displaced People. "They have a good experience in this field, what can help in the management of the process," MP added.

Foreign policy

In response to comments from Trend Special Correspondent at the press conference in Strasburg on 16 April regarding the fulfillment of obligations undertaken by Azerbaijan before the Council of Europe, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Rene van der Linden stated "I pleased with the positive approach shown by the Azerbaijani delegation during discussions over Azerbaijan's obligations,".

He highlighted the importance of co-operation between Azerbaijan and PACE. In addition, the President commented on the significance of the views of the co-rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee on Azerbaijan and the necessity to continue joint activities with the co-rapporteurs and delegation. Linden highlighted the existence of certain problems in Azerbaijan regarding political prisoners and freedom of press which would be discussed at the session. He emphasised the necessity to continue working towards solving the election problems.

Answering the question on negotiations with regards to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, the President replied that he supports the prompt settlement of the conflict. According to him, this issue should be resolved through negotiations between the conflicting sides.

Irakli Chubinishvili, the Georgian Ambassador to Russia, has informed the Trend correspondent in Moscow that Georgia values its relationship with Azerbaijan and plans to develop it.

The Ambassador stressed that implementing significant energy projects by Azerbaijan is a priority for the entire region. "The Georgian government is interested in implementing the projects in due course and I do not foresee any obstacles. Georgia is keen to co-operate with Azerbaijan, the reason being our historical relationship which is very prospective at the same time," Chubinishvili said.

Commenting on the question as to whether the Armenian non-constructive policy in the region creates obstacles for Azerbaijani-Georgian links, the Ambassador said that Georgia maintains partnership both with Armenia and Azerbaijan and this should not hinder bilateral projects. "We hope all problems and conflicts in the region will be soon be settled in a fair way," the Ambassador stated.

Rene Van den Linden, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), welcomed steps taken by Turkey to join the EU. During the press conference held in Strasburg, Mr. Rene Van den Linden, stated that EU consists of several countries with significant Muslim communities, and the fact that Turkey is an overwhelmingly Muslim country is not a problem.

The PACE President expressed his satisfaction during his recent visit to Cyprus stating that the visit gave him a much greater insight into the obstacles to re-establish peace, stability and unity that this beautiful island, with its rich history and culture, deserves. He also added that he had invited Mehmet Ali Talat, the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to pay a visit to the Council of Europe in October this year.

Ganira Pashayeva, Member of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijan's Parliament), Member of the Azerbaijani Parliamentary Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has stated that Azerbaijan is still intent on passing the Bill "On Alternative Military Service".

In its resolve to join the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan made the commitment to pass the Bill - "On Alternative Military Service". However Baku considers this to be impossible until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is resolved. This issue has also been included into reports by the PACE's Co-Rapporteurs for Azerbaijan.

The member of the Azerbaijani Parliamentary Delegation says that Azerbaijan was unable to fulfill two of the total number of commitments to the European Organization. The first commitment is the peaceful resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the second is the adoption of the Bill - "On Alternative Military Service". "It is actually necessary to put forward the issue to adopt the Bill "On Alternative Military Service" for public consideration and discussion, since Azerbaijan is a country, which is still in a state of war. We will not abandon this commitment, although it will take some time before the bill is passed," said Mrs. Pashayeva. The Azerbaijani MP considers that Azerbaijan has fulfilled most of its commitments to the Council of Europe.

The newly created Israeli-Azerbaijani Association will play a significant role in developing Azerbaijani-Israeli relations," said the Chairman of Baku Religious Community of European Jews, Genaddy Zelmanovich, on 16 April in Baku, commenting on the activities of the newly created Association.

Zelmanovich said that one of the key activities of the Association will be to propagate the reality regarding Azerbaijan in Israel, and special attention will be paid to presenting to the attention of the Israeli community the realities of the Azerbaijani-Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan's position in this process.

Zelmanovich said that at the time of the constituent conference of the Assembly which took place in Tel-Aviv, Israel defined the priorities and tasks of the Organization and elected ruling staff. The Association will be headed by the Deputy of Knesset of Israel, Josef Shagal, who is also the Head of the Israeli-Azerbaijani Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Law Observers and the President of Public Forum "For Azerbaijan", Eldar Namazov, who is on a visit to Strasburg, held a number of meetings during the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Namazov told of meetings with members of the Monitoring Committee and Political Committee of PACE, Chairman of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and PACE co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan. The meetings also covered the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. According to him, representatives of Armenia tried to make certain corrections to the Nagorno-Karabakh related part of the report regarding the obligations of Azerbaijan. He added meetings will be held at PACE, Council of Europe and European Court on Human Rights. Azerbaijan is represented at the session by a delegation including Samad Seyidov, Gultakin Hajiyeva, Sabir Hajiyev, Ganira Pashayeva, Ali Huseynov and Rafael Huseynov. The session will conclude on 20 April.

Mikhail Grishankov, a Member of the State Duma ( Russia's Parliament), First Deputy of the Chairman of the Committee for Security of the Russian Parliament, has said that Russia and Azerbaijan has huge reserves to reinforce their bilateral relations.

According to him, Azerbaijan is a wonderful country, where he has many close friends. He said that because of this, he had entered the Inter-Parliamentarian Friendship Group between the two countries.

Giving his estimation of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, Mr. Grishankov stated that over the past 15 years, many things have taken place, both the countries have developed in their own way, but there has always been a priority to maintain good neighbourly relations as well as close and friendly ties with each other. "They both should be among the nations and political leaders, irrespective of whether these are MPs or representatives of the Executive Power. I am confident that we are able to cement and develop our relations both economically and in other spheres. It goes without saying that kind, friendly, and warm relations between the leaders of our countries, Russian President, Vladimir Putin and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev may become a good example for warm and sincere relations," said the Russian MP.

Touching upon Azerbaijan's policy toward Russia, Mr. Grishankov stated that it would be stupid to compare the Azerbaijani policy with the corresponding policies of some other CIS member-states. According to him, attempts from some neighbouring states to confront Russia, and discriminate against our country have not brought any positive results to anyone.

"The sad situation is that the people suffer from it. Politicians make their one-minute decisions and solve their tasks, but their economy and people are left in a poor state. I had the opportunity to study in Tbilisi in 1990-1991, and I witnessed negativity, nationalism, even during the Soviet Period, which destroyed the consciousness of the people, and who has suffered from it? It was just the Georgians. Therefore, I consider that common sense should take over, and those historical lessons, the very one Georgia has experienced, should not be forgotten, That is why, I think that the total confrontation to any positive actions taken by Russia, the blackening of any measures taken by our country, including rather constructive ones do not have any perspective. Therefore, in this respect, I appreciate the wisdom which Azerbaijani leaders possess, and this always pleases me," concluded the Member of the State Duma, First Deputy of the Chairman of the Committee for Security of the Russian Parliament.

Azerbaijan's Commitments to the Council of Europe (CE) were discussed during the first meeting of the Spring session held by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg on April 16. The Co-Rapporteurs of the CE Monitoring Committee, Andres Herkel and Tony Lloyd, delivered their reports in the beginning of the meeting. Mr. Lloyd voiced his satisfaction with the decrease of prisoners in Azerbaijan and expressed a hope that his work in the direction would be continued.

The debate on the question under the discussions began afterwards. Member of PACE, Leo Platvoet delivered his critical speech. He noted that the rapid development of the economy of Azerbaijan had not lead to social increase and the country's efforts for democracy were insignificant yet. He also voiced his discontent on the situation with the freedom of press and speech in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani MP Gultekin Hajiyeva stated that it was rather easy to change the legal basis of the country, what could not be said about the mentality of the people. According to her, democracy has a beginning, but has no end, and Azerbaijan stands at a cross-road of the interests. "This is the very reason why it is rather difficult to achieve democracy in the country with a plenty of refugees and 20% of its territory occupied," she added.

The Head of the Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation, Samad Seyidov, voiced his gratitude to the Co-Rapporteurs for their work and noted that for the first time in the CE's history a report had been prepared jointly with a parliamentary delegation.

According to Seyidov, Azerbaijan is a young state considering development of democracy. However, the people is determined to get familiar with the western values, and the proof for it is the fact that Azerbaijan has joint the EC new policy program.

Azerbaijani MP Ali Huseynov stated, "We really intend to resolve the problem connected with human rights. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Justice has been charged with construction of new prisons including the ones for life-term inmates. Fundamental reforms have been carried out in judicial system.", he added.

Commenting the critical statements on the report, Mr. Herkel noted that the situation in the country would clear up after the presidential elections to be held in 2008. He also voiced his surprise with the fact that the Azerbaijani opposition members were not in attendance.

Mr. Lloyd also added that the report would recognize the progress in Azerbaijan. However, the final results would be revealed after the presidential elections.

Ganira Pashayeva, an Azerbaijani parliamentary representative to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), reported that the discussions which took place at the PACE spring session on 16 April, regarding Azerbaijan's fulfillment of its CE obligations, were very constructive.

However, in line with Azerbaijan's achievements, some critical comments were also expressed. "They stressed the developments in all spheres in Azerbaijan,' she added.

During the discussions, the Armenian delegates proposed to inject some changes to the report on Azerbaijan's fulfillment of its CE obligations. "In entering the CE, Azerbaijan and Armenia have undertaken an obligation to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This obligation has not been fulfilled which is due to the fault of Armenia who is not fulfilling its CE obligations, or the CE Resolution 1416," she added.

Azerbaijani delegates stressed that Armenia has not taken any constructive steps towards settling the conflict. In fact the case is contrary and the situation has been made tenser. Armenian separatists, with the support of Armenia, are going to hold so-called 'presidential elections' in the inseparable territory of Azerbaijan-Nagorno-Karabakh. The CE should prevent this from taking place," she insisted.

Pashayeva said that attempts had failed by Armenian MPs to inject changes to an item that stated that the Nagorno-Karabakh region belongs to Azerbaijan. "The Belgium delegate, Graff, was also against the amendment and backed Azerbaijan's position. Finally, the document remained unchanged in that Nagorno-Karabakh belonged to Azerbaijan," he announced.

The MP noted that after discussions, the report was adopted. Along with Azerbaijan's successes, several recommendations were also put forward.

Gultakin Hajiyeva, the deputy chairman of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE reported from Strasbourg on 17 April that the Armenian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) during the session of the organization once again intended to make changes to the report on the state of Azerbaijan's fulfilment of its CE obligations and thus create problems for the country. However, Armenian MPs did not achieve this goal. Hajiyeva noted that Armenia will hold presidential elections on 12 May. "MPs representing Armenia did not attend the Spring session due to this fact. However, Azerbaijan put forward a number of proposals at the meeting of the PACE Monitoring Committee held on 28 March during discussions of the final draft of the report, and the amendments were taken into consideration," the MP reported.

The MP added that one of the amendments made in the final draft of the report was dealing with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In the report prepared by PACE co-rapporteurs, Karabakh was indicated as a component part of Azerbaijan. "The document reveals the real situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. In order to make amendments to this part of the report the Armenian PACE delegation attended the session in full membership, though their participation had not been expected. Armenian MPs intended to put a shadow on our success gained on 28 March, but failed," Hajiyeva said.

Hajiyeva reported that the issue had been previously discussed at the monitoring committee and the proposals of the Armenian MPs rejected. She noted that the Armenian delegation once more proposed to change the "Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan" words in the report into "Nagorno-Karabakh region". The proposal was rejected. "As a result we achieved the greatest success in CE history. Recognition of the territorial integrity of countries within the UN format was reflected in the PACE document. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan was recognized in compliance with the UN format. Armenia's regular attempt at foreign policy failed," Hajiyeva added.

The Ambassador of Turkey to Azerbaijan, Huseyn Avny Gasiroglu, said on 17 April that information on the entry of Kurds to Azerbaijan via the border of Turkey does not correspond to reality. According to him, the figures have been over estimated.

"The mass flow of Kurds from Turkey to Azerbaijan has not been seen. The situation is under control," the Ambassador said. Expressing his position towards additional accumulation of troops on the borders of Turkey with Iran, the Ambassador said that Turkey takes measures on the borders to ensure its security. He stressed that Turkey intends to act within its borders because it is required by the complicated situation

The Foreign Minister of Latvia, Artis Pabriks, who is on the visit to Ganja city of Azerbaijan, said on 18 April that he got familiarized with the State Program for Social-Economic Development of Regions of Azerbaijan. After his meeting in the Executive Power of Ganja, the Minister said that there are good conditions to develop the relations between the entrepreneurs of Azerbaijan and Latvia. In particular, he highlighted the sphere of tourism.

Famil Aliyev, Adviser to the Azerbaijani Embassy in Bulgaria, reported that the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Sergey Stanishev, plans to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan this year.

The visit is arranged at the invitation of the Azerbaijani Prime Minister, Artur Rasizade, Aiyev said during a telephone conversation. He noted that the Bulgarian prime minister confirmed his intention at the meeting with the Azerbaijani Minister for Emergency Situations, Kamaladdin Heydarov, who visited Sofia on 17 and 18 April.

Stanishev voiced his government's interests to expand trade and economic relationships with Azerbaijan, which has a great deal more potential. The goods turnover between the two countries made up $56mln last year, including the Azerbaijani export in the amount of $47mln and import $9mln.

Aliyev noted that the Bulgarian prime minister also stressed the necessity to intensify bilateral intergovernmental commission on economic co-operation. The next meeting of the commission will be held in Sofia during the second half of 2007.

Khazar Ibrahim, the Spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, reported that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs had offered two proposals on the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh during the meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers Elmar Mammadyarov and Vardan Oskanian in Belgrade on 18 April.

He did not elaborate on what the proposals were, but noted that the meeting had discussed all 8 components of the conflict resolution and had also decided that the next visit of the co-chairs to the region after the parliamentary elections would be held in Armenia on 12 May

Tony Lloyd, the Co-Rapporteur of PACE (parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe) for Azerbaijan has marked the positive changes happening in Azerbaijan.

Emphasizing his efforts and strains to keep on the objectivity in the preparatotion for a report to be made jointly with another PACE Co-Rapporteur for Azerbaijan, Andreas Herkel, Mr. Lloyd particularly marked the metings they held with the Azerbaijni Government , opposition, and representatives of local NGOs during preparing this report.

Having marked the fact of the availability of troubles in the sphere of development of democracy and human rights in some European countries, the PACE Co-Rapporteur noted that such shortcomings were available in Azervbaijan as well.

Being quite satisfied with Azerbaiojan's ataching a great importance to cooperation with the Council of Europe as a whole, he expressed his satisfaction with the constructiviness of approaches, the Azerbaijani Parliamentary Delegation to PACE takes and applies in the Assembly.


The field assistants of the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office have conducted a monitoring session on the territory of Tartar District of Azerbaijan, the contact line between Armenian and Azerbaijani armies. Trend Regional Correspondent reports that the Assistants first met Vidadi Isayev, the Head of the Executive Power of Tartar District of Azerbaijan.

The OSCE representatives showed their interest when it was reported that the Armenians had broken the ceasefire agreement on the front line. Mr. Isayev told them that units of Armenian Forces regularly fired at the Azerbaijan National Army, based in the District as well as well as at the local Azerbaijani population. The monitoring began at 11:30 a.m. and lasted for 15 minutes. Fortunately, it was held without incident.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Ad Hoc Committee are holding a meeting in Strasbourg on 17 April . The Armenian delegation has refused to participate.

The discussions focused on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and included a tour of the region by the head of the Committee, Russel Johnston. It was decided to hold the next meeting in June.

After the meeting MP Samad Seyidov, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE informed journalists that the Armenian delegation's refusal to participate in the meeting confirms their weakness. Seyidov added that during the tour of the region, Johnston confirmed his attendance to the June meeting. He regarded the absence of the Armenian delegation from the meeting as not serious. The next meeting scheduled for June will be dedicated to this subject.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could be close to a resolution and Armenia is committed to working on the peace plan negotiated by the OSCE Minsk Group within the conflict, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian informed the OSCE Permanent Council.

"We could be close to a resolution. I have been a Minister for nine years now and prior to that I was the chief negotiator on the Karabakh issue. I have seen all the proposals that have been produced by the mediators and I can assure you that we have never been as close as this," Minister Oskanian said.

The Minister said he would travel from Vienna to Belgrade for talks with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, and that he would "reaffirm our commitment to every single principle that has been inscribed in that document. We will never backtrack on our promises. We will continue to reaffirm our position."

Fiorenzo Stolfi, the Chairman of the Council of Europe Ministerial Committee, the Foreign Minister of San Marino, called the 'presidential elections', to be held in Nagorno-Karabakh as unacceptable.

Answering the questions and appeals addressed to the Committee he stated that the holding of any elections in the occupied territory of any CE member-state is unethical and does not meet any international standards, Stolfi noted that much work should be done in connection with this issue.

Stolfi was commenting on the appeal by the Azerbaijani parliamentary delegate, Ganira Pashayeva, with respect to the so-called 'presidential elections' to be held in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh on 19 July, which will negatively impact the negotiations continuing between Azerbaijan and Armenia and steps taken by the CE Ministerial Committee to prevent illegal elections hindering the establishment of peace in the South Caucasus region. Stolfi was commenting on the appeal by the Azerbaijani parliamentary delegate, Ganira Pashayeva, with respect to the so-called 'presidential elections' to be held in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh on 19 July, which will negatively impact the negotiations continuing between Azerbaijan and Armenia and steps taken by the CE Ministerial Committee to prevent illegal elections hindering the establishment of peace in the South Caucasus region.

Later Pashayeva again appealed to Stolfi, questioning about the sufficiency of CE's activities in the direction of resolution of the problems in some areas and CE's activity in the settlement of these problems. The head of the committee stressed the importance of CE's activity on these issues. Stressing CE's attention to such matters, Stolfi noted the necessity to increase CE's activities in the resolution of the problem.

For several times, Azerbaijan and Armenia were near to resolve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but at the end, carrying out these plans appeared as impossible, the politician of Azerbaijan, Rasim Musabeyov, said commenting on the statement of the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Vardan Oskanyan, on approach of the conflicting sides to the settlement.

Musabeyov said that such opinions are voiced not only by the Foreign Minister of Armenia. The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, also stressed that the conflicting sides have reached a unified agreement on five out of ten discussed items. It is a result of the productive discussions held by the Ministers.

As regards to the meeting of the Foreign Ministers in Belgrade, the experts say that it mainly aims to create a base for discussing questions that can be agreed upon in the near future. The Representative of the Political Council of the ruling new Azerbaijan Party (NAP) and also Member of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), MP Aydin Mirzazade, said that the senior officials of Armenia have made such statements for several times.

"Each time we could see that they are only deception of Armenia. Therefore, it is clear how Oskanyan's statement reflects the reality and readiness of Armenia for the conflict settlement," he said.

on April 18, 2007, Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, has issued an order on making alterations into the previous Presidential order - "On Increasing the Wages of the Employees of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan", which was issued on July 1, 2002. An amendment has been moved into the Item 2 of the previous corresponding Presidential order by the today's new Presidential order.

The item was changed in the form of "to fix the monthly salary of the Full Members of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan at an amount of AZN 1000, and AZN 700 - to the Corresponding Members of the National Academy".

The Presidential order puts into effect starting from May 1, 2007.

Azerbaijan Ambassador to Kuwait, Shahin Abdullayev, has reported on 19 April that Kuwait still supports Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The statement was made by Kuwaiti officials during the meeting with the chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Clerical Port (CMCP), Sheikh-ul-Islam Haji Allahshukur Pashazadeh.

The plight of the refugees and internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan, who were forced to leave their homes as a result of the Armenian conflict, was discussed with the administration of Kuwait. The parties also discussed the dialogue between civilizations, prospect of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Kuwait, and interaction within the framework of international organizations.

Sheikh-ul-Islam was accompanied by the Patriarch of the Entire Georgia, Iliya II, and the Archbishop of Caspian and Baku eparchies, parson Alexander. They also discussed neutralizing the affect of globalization on national values.

The visit of the clerical leaders was completed on 19 April. The delegation will return on 20 April.

Vardan Oskanian, Armenia's Acting Foreign Minister, has stated during the joint press conference being held with his Latvian counterpart, Artis Pabriks in Yerevan today that Armenia and Azerbaijan are close to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"While comparing the document, which is presently on the negotiations table together with the previous documents, it is evident that the document is more realistic forboth disputing parties. The principles that are included in the document have been more balanced. In addition, the overwhelming majority of approaches to the issue have been agreed by the both parties. We are really close to settling this conflict," he stated, Trend reports referring to ARKA.

At the same time, the Head of the Armenian Foreign Ministry noted that there were some approaches and principles left disagreed by the disputing parties, but these are to be agreed during the meeting between the Presidents of the two states. "Only after that, it will become clear whether the peaceful negotiations will progress or not," he added.

Commenting on his last meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, Mr. Oskanian refused to comment by stating that "the time has not yet come to do it". However, during the last meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart he did say that the next date for negotiations between the two Heads of the Foreign Offices of the two countries had not been determined.

"No agreement was reached on the next forthcoming meeting. However, the OSCE Minsk Co-Chairmen will certainly visit the region to become acquainted with the situation there and prepare a ground for the meeting between the two Presidents prior to the Armenian parliamentary elections to be held on 12 May" stated Mr. Oskanian.

The president of the Azerbaijani National Forum of Non-Governmental Organizations, MP Azay Guliyev, reported that the Forum applied to world community with respect to the presidential elections to be held in the fictitious Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in June.

The appeal was undersigned by 425 NGOs. They state that the election along with all activities of the unrecognized by international community separatist regime should be cancelled. "The US State Department, the Council of Europe and other international organizations have urged that the results of the elections will not be considered legitimate," Guliyev said.

The illegal elections held without agreement of Azerbaijani citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh are out of Azerbaijan's control. The event does not correspond to law and negatively affects the settlement of the conflict. The elections hinder the activities of the local and international organizations in this connection. "The intentions to hold the elections prove the fact that the Armenian government does not support constructive policy in negotiations on the settlement of the conflict," the appeal states.

The national Forum of the NGOs voiced its confidence that peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would be impossible unless Armenia stops demonstration of elections show and vacates the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Current situation increases the possibility of restoration of military operations in the region. The Armenian government and the people of the country will be in charge of the events. "Thus, we hope that the co-rapporteurs of the OSCE Minsk Group will show more determination in the prevention of the reciprocal actions, which will be illegal, of Armenia and will give a proper estimation to the policy of the aggressor," the representatives of the NGO added.

Azay Guliyev, a Member of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijan's Parliament), the President of the Azerbaijan National NGOs Forum, has said that due to Armenians' preparing the "general" plan" for the ancient Azerbaijani Town of Shusha called "rebuilding", the National NGOs Forum of Azerbaijan, has appealed to Koishiro Matsura, the Director General of UNESCO.

The appeal, which was signed by 425 Azerbaijani NGOs, says that Armenians has prepared a new "general plan" for the ancient Azerbaijani Town of Shusha named "rebuilding" in order to root out the National architectural culture of Azerbaijan.

"Shusha, the centre of the ancient Azerbaijani history and culture, which has been under the Armenian occupation since May, 1992, is currently under a serious threat. Armenians jointly with an American company "SEMA" have prepared a "general plan" called "building" to fully wipe out the ancient Azerbaijani Town, which is internationally-known as a unique historical monument. It is evident that the key objective of the mentioned "general plan" is to fully annihilate Azerbaijan national and culture heritage, which has left in Shusha yet by replacing it constructions in the style of Armenian town-planning," says the appeal.

The appeal indicates that in order to justify their dirty action, Armenian has carried out a so-called "archeological dig" with no scientific conception. Due to it, they allegedly found "Armenian steps" in the ancient Azerbaijani Town, which has been laid by the Azerbaijani Karabakh Khan Panah-Ali. "All these are being happening despite the fact that every objective historian does not doubt that Armenians became resettling in Nagorno-Karabakh in the first quarter of 19 century, and this fact was proved long time ago," indicates the appeal.

The appeal also says that the Azerbaijan National NGOs Forum appeals to Koishiro Matsura, the UNESCO Director General while Shusha is under the threat of Armenian's total annihilation and misappropriation of Shusha, which is the pearl of not only the Azerbaijan culture, but also the World one. "We appeal to You with a request to help the Azerbaijani people to ruin this brutal plan, Armenians seek to implement," stresses the appeal to the UNESCO Director General.

The Armenian Armed Forces, located in the occupied Azerbaijani Village of Gorganly in the Fizuli District, fired at the Azerbaijani National Army from 13:40 to 14:15 on 19 April, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

No injuries were reported

Political movements

MP Asim Mollazadeh, the chairman of the Democratic Reforms Party (DRP), met with the head of the OSCE Baku Office, Jose Luis Herrera on April 16. Socio-political situation in the country and the activities of the party were discussed.

Mollazadeh informed in details the OSCE representative about the DRP and its proposals on reforms in the elections system of Azerbaijan.

Herrera spoke on OSCE's scheduled events dealing with political parties. He invited the DRP to attend the events.

Aydin Guliyev, a member of the Congress Organizing Committee of Rasul Guliyev's Azerbaijani Democratic Party (ADP), a member of the Supreme Assembly of the Open Society Party (the party changed its name from ADP into OSP at the congress), and the most active supporter of Rasul Guliyev, reported on April 16, "I would not like to comment on the results of OSP's congress and the issues dealing with the formation of the administration."

Guliyev did not reply to whether he was dissatisfied. Guliyev took part in the preparations of the congress, but did not clarify the question of why he had not been selected a member of the administration. "The congress has ended and I do not wish to comment," he said.

Commenting on the present composition of the party's administration Gukiyev stated that "time is a great healer. I have no idea on the matter, we will see," he noted.

Azad Rahimov, the Minister of Youth Azerbaijan, reported on 16 April during the international conference initiated by the Youth Organization of the New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) that a forum of the European youth would be held in Baku soon.

The Minister stated during the event held under the slogan "Young Leaders Support Peace and Security in World" that Azerbaijan had already become the venue for meetings of international youth organizations. According to him, some international events would be held in Azerbaijan within the frames of "The Year of the Youth" in 2007.

Ali Ahmadov, the Executive Secretary and Deputy Chairman of NAP, stated during the meeting that youth joining in the fight against terrorism and other global problems in the world was a very important matter. Lack of productive support to settle the conflicts in different regions, in the Caucasus in particular, hinders peace and security all over the world.

The Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Huseyn Avni Garslioghlu, noted that such events prove that Azerbaijan does have an influence in the Euro-Atlantic space. He urged that the oil factor be analysed as the main reason for all the conflicts of the second part of 20th Century.

Representatives of the youth organizations from 8 countries were in attendance. All the participants agreed to form a "Young leaders Support Peace and Security in World" international movement.

Akif Shahbazov, the chairman of the newly formed Open Society Party of Azerbaijan (OSP), has reported that the party does not have any intention to join the opposition bloc Azadlig.

Shahbazov has noted that the organization does not intend to maintain co-operation with any party or bloc. Their first priority is to define the strategy for the party. Shahbazov declined all reports on OSP's intentions to join Azadlig. He said that the leader of the party, Rasul Guliyev, had not raised the issue to re-join the bloc.

The ex-Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament, Rasul Guliyev, has been the leader of the Azerbaijani Democratic Party (ADP) since 1998. The ADP joined the bloc Azadlig in 1995 and resigned in February, 2007 due to a disagreement that occurred within the party. The supporters of Guliyev organized a congress of the party and announced the establishment of the OSP.

President of Public Forum "For Azerbaijan", Eldar Namazov, who was invited to the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), positively assessed the 16 April discussions over the obligations of Azerbaijan undertaken before the Council of Europe. Namazov said that the report included corrections offered by them. He considers the report as objective.

Highlighting the impact of the report on the democratic development in Azerbaijan, Namazov mentioned the favorable atmosphere of the meeting.

Azerbaijani National Independence Party (ANIP) applied to the Baku City Executive Power on 18 April in order to be enabled to hold a rally on 27 April in front of the Iranian Embassy in Azerbaijan. Press Secretary of the ANIP, Ali Orujev, has reported that the party will hold the rally even without permission.

The ANIP holds regularly rallies in front of the Embassy and demands to stop the infringement of human rights in South Azerbaijan (Iranian province). The latest rally was held in the beginning of March.

Oppositional ANIP, which is a member of the International Democracy Union, was founded in 1991.

Three opposition parties of Azerbaijan created a new Union. The Chairman of Azadlyg Party, Ahmad Oruj, Chairman of Azerbaijan Classic Popular Front Party, Mirmahmud Miralioglu and Chairman of Azerbaijan National Democratic Party, Iskandar Hamidov, signed an agreement on creation of Union for Democracy.

The parties which signed the agreement assumed responsibilities to provide legal and organizational assistance to each others; co-operate with all powers for the democracy; function to cerate democratic electoral atmosphere and legislative base, etc.

According to him, the Union differs from other blocks and parties. It is possible that other parties will also joint the Union.

Fazil Gazanfaroghlu, a Member of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijan's Parliament), Head of the Azerbaijan Great Creation Party, has said that "Adalat" (Equity) Party's and Azerbaijan Great Creation Party's joining up is impossible, and this is now out of question.

According to him, different proposals have been put forward on this issue.

"However, we are not interested in such proposals coming from other parties. We keep on our activity as an independent party," stressed the MP.

Mr. Gazanfaroghlu added that Ilyas Ismayilov had not proposed him to take the post of the Chairman of the "Adalyat" Party.

Notably, pro-opposition the Great Creation Party was founded in 2003. Fazil Gazanfaroghlu, an acting Azerbaijani MP is the Chairman of the Party.

Ali Hasanov, the head of the Public and Political Department at the Azerbaijani President's Executive Administration, reported on 18 April that the Azerbaijani Government had discussed the recent proposals of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

Hasanov noted that some of the proposals were acceptable for Azerbaijan, while the others were not. "The proposals that are considered to be acceptable will be put for discussions," Hasanov added.

Formation of election commissions on parity basis is among these proposals.

Hasanov avoided further information and said that the details will be publicized if necessary

The Chairman of the Azerbaijani Islamic Party, Hajiagha Nury, has reported that the Union of Pro-Azerbaijani Forces uniting three opposition parties is to re-establish its operations.

The Union of Pro-Azerbaijani Forces was established by the Social Democratic Party, the Vahdat party and the Islamic party. The Vahdat party and the Social Democratic party later broke away from the union. Currently the Union includes the Islamic Party, the Khalg Dirchalish party (National Revival) and the Birlik party (Unity).

Nury has noted that the union did not disband despite its weak activities and will re-establish its operation prior to the elections. The Union will participate in the presidential elections 2008.

Nury added that the Islamic Party is making preparations for its congress to be held in the summer.

The Deputy Chairman of ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), MP Mubariz Gurbanly, said on 20 April that the editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan -- Realni Azerbaijan newspapers, Eynulla Fatullayev, has been arrested for interpreting Khojaly Genocide and insulting inhabitants of Khojaly, and accusing the State of it is absurd. According to him, not only inhabitants of Khojaly, but also all Azeri people express their dissatisfaction with Fatullayev's article. In addition, he said that during his visit to Khankendy, Fatullayev disseminated unreal information on Khojaly tragedy.

Gurbanly said that the Power of Azerbaijan does not need to order the arrest of journalist. "It is a court process on the base of the law suit by people whose rights have been violated, and the fault of the prosecuted person has been proved. Looking for other thesis and accusing the Power of it is absurd," Gurbanly said. On 20 April The Yasamal District Court sentenced Fatullayev to two and a half-year imprisonment. The journalist was arrested at the Court hall

The President of National Forum of NGOs, MP Azay Guliyev, said on 20 April that the Forum had submitted a project to the Government of Azerbaijan. The project envisages the allocation of finances by the State to the non-governmental organizations. He stressed that presently the Ministry of Finance is verifying the mechanism to allocate funds to the NGOs from the State budget.

"I met with the President's Advisor for Economic Affairs, Vahid Akhundov. Presently studies are being made as for what spheres it is possible to allocate finances to the NGOs," Guliyev said. According to him, the finances will be provided as a grant and this issue will be defined through competition.