Weekly political review

Official news

On 7 May the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, sent a congratulatory message to Nikolai Sarcozi on his election as the President of France.

President Ilham Aliyev stated in his congratulatory message that he attaches a great importance to the relations between Azerbaijan and France. "I am sure that the relations and co-operation between Azerbaijan and France in many spheres will always develop for the welfare of the French and Azeri people," the letter read.

The Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, held a one-to-one meeting and a meeting in large with the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarek.

During the meeting it was marked that Aliyev's visit to Egypt will promote the further expansion of relations.

They noted that bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Egypt, cooperation in political, economic and other areas are developing successfully. The two sides also mentioned intensive interaction within the framework of international organizations. The sides stressed that there is potential for expansion of relationships in the economic sector and its efficient use would be profitable for both sides.

The meeting touched upon the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh. The Egyptian president particularly stressed that his country supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and backs a peaceful resolution to the conflict under the principle of inviolability of borders.

During the visit the Azerbaijani president met with the rector of the world renowned Azhari Sharif University, Sheikh Muhammad Tantavi, in Cairo.

At present 76 Azerbaijani students study at the university along with young people from other Muslim countries. The university established in the 10th century at the Al-Azhar Mosque, expanded its activities and turned into a scientific-religious centre. There is Muslim Law, Theology, Arab Languages and Medical Departments at the University.

On 6 May, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, participated in the opening ceremony of the new Azerbaijani Embassy in one of the most beautiful districts of Cairo. The Embassy of Azerbaijan in Egypt was opened in 1994. The Prime Minister of Egypt, Ahmed Nazif, stated at the ceremony that his country, which pursues an active policy in the region, acts as mediator in settling many conflicts. Speaking of the economic development of Egypt, he stressed that his country is interested in strengthening economic relations with Azerbaijan and invited Azerbaijani business people to Egypt.

The state head of Azerbaijan invited the president and prime minister of Egypt to visit Azerbaijan. He voiced his confidence that documents signed during his present visit will provide impetus to bilateral cooperation. At the end of the first day of his official visit to Egypt, the President of Azerbaijan got familiarized with the Egyptian pyramids.

12 bilateral documents were signed between Azerbaijan and Egypt regarding the development of co-operation.

The documents were signed at the time of the present official visit of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev to Egypt.

On 7 May the State Head of Azerbaijan met with the President of the National Assembly and Prime Minister of Egypt. The meeting focused on a large range of issues regarding bilateral co-operation. Within his visit, Ilham Aliyev, also met with Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Amir Musa. The meeting covered the possibility of developing relations between Azerbaijan and the League of Arab States. Prior to the meeting, the President of Azerbaijan made a speech before the ambassador of the foreign companies to the organization. The President informed them of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Within the visit, the State Head of Azerbaijan also laid a wreath in front of the grave of the unknown soldier in Cairo dedicated to the victims in their fight for Egypt's independence. On the same day, Aliyev visited the deceased President of Egypt, Anvar Sadat, who was killed by members of the terrorist organization Brothers of Muslims.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the King of Spain Juan Carlos will exchange official visits in the near future. The issue will be discussed during the forthcoming visit of the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, to Baku on 4-5 June.

The first secretary of the Azerbaijani embassy in Spain, Anar Maharramov, announced on 8 May by telephone that during the meetings with the Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, the Spanish foreign minister will present them with an invitation to pay an official visit to Spain.

According to Maharramov, this visit will promote the development of bilateral relationships. The discussions in Baku will cover a wide range of issues ranging from political to humanitarian sectors. The dates of visits will be confirmed later through diplomatic channels, he added.

Today, on the Victory Day, Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev has put a wreath on the Monument to twice the Hero of the Soviet Union, Famous Tank General, Hazi Aslanov.

Today, the Head of the Azerbaijani State has held a meting with veterans and participants on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the victory over Fascist Germany in the Great Patriotic War.

On 11 May the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, arrived in the Polish city of Krakow to participate in the energy summit attended by the State Heads of Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuanian and the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Poland, Vilayat Guliyev.

According to the Ambassador, the Azerbaijani President's itinerary included two meetings with the Presidents of summit-participating countries as well as a trilateral meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Georgia.

"The energy security is one of the key issues for Europe and Azerbaijan possesses large potentials in the energy sector and may make a significant contribution to the regional co-operation," said the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, at the press-conference as a result of the energy summit which took place in the Polish city of Krakow and was attended by the State Heads of Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Lithuanian, as well as Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Kazakhstan.

The State Head stressed that Azerbaijan has new oil and gas fields and pipelines to export hydrocarbons. He underlined that presently Azerbaijan exports its natural resources to the European and world markets via various routes. "Concrete work should be carried out with regards to the energy co-operation," the President said. Aliyev underlined that the regions of Caspian, Black and Baltic Seas are transforming into a unified region.

Initiated by the President of Poland, Lekh Kachinsky, the summit passed a communique reflecting issues of developing transport infrastructure, exportation of oil and gas to the European and world markets, co-operation of countries of Caspian, Black and Baltic regions, integration into Europe. The issues specified in the joint communique will provide an opportunity to the countries represented at the summit to realize concrete projects.

A bust of the Azerbaijani ex national leader Heydar Aliyev was unveiled on 12 May in Tbilisi, Georgia. The ceremony is proof of the brotherhood of the Azerbaijani and Georgian nations, the presidents of the two countries said.

"The bust in Tbilisi is an example of our inviolable friendship," Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said at the ceremony.

The designer of the monument that was erected in the centre of Tbilisi is Baku sculptor Natig Aliyev. The black marble pedestal has a bronze bust of Heydar Aliyev on top. The monument was unveiled in Heydar Alliyev square, which was decorated by the city authorities. The cost of the decorations amounted to $45,000.

"First of all I would like to thank my brother Mikhail Saakashvili (Georgian President) on his decision to erect a monument of our national leader in one of the most beautiful places of Tbilisi. I also thank the Georgian nation for their respect to the memory of our great leader. The ceremony proves the fact that our nations at present and in decades of years to come will help each other," Mr. Aliyev said. He voiced his confidence that the friendship and brotherhood of the two nations would be eternal.

The Azerbaijani President stressed that both nations had achieved through suffering the right to be independent states and noted that the late Heydar Aliyev had profoundly contributed to this. "Heydar Aliyev was the personality who began building independent Azerbaijan and today we can say with pride that a lot has been achieved in connection to this. We are turning to a weighty part of Europe and the entire world," the President noted.

"The monument to Heydar Aliyev has intentionally been placed at the core of Georgia that is the centre of Tbilisi. This displays the historical friendship and brotherhood of the nations. Azerbaijanis have always been out brothers and genuine citizens of Georgia as plenty of Azerbaijanis reside in our country. They are the real patriots of their motherland Georgia. Nevertheless, they develop their own language and culture," Mr Saakashvili said.

"Ethnic Azerbaijanis residing in our country are an integral part of Georgia and Azerbaijan is an integral part of Georgia's future," the Georgian leader stressed. He added that efforts and attempts to create a discord between Georgians and Azerbaijanis were in vain. "Those who oppose our unity and brotherhood are the foes of our nations. Our strength lies in unity," Mr Saakashvili urged.

The Georgian President said that Georgia would never forget how last winter Azerbaijan left a part of its population without energy and shared it with Georgia, as Russia had cut gas and electricity supplies to the country.

" Azerbaijan shared heat from its houses, hospitals, schools and stopped the operation of its plants. Last year, when Georgia could not afford gas when Russia put up its prices by 4 times, Azerbaijan again shared its fuel with us. I believe such facts will remain in the memory of every nation," Mr Saakashvili said.

Mr Saakashvili stressed that Heydar Alliyev had played an important part in consolidating Georgian-Azerbaijani relations. "As early as the 90s Heydar Aliyev suggested that Azerbaijan gain access to European markets via Georgia. The suggestion seemed to be politically risky. However, he managed to embody the idea. But for the alternative we would not be able to receive aid from Azerbaijan today and the idea of an alternative energy supply to Europe could not be put into practice. The geopolitics of our region changed only after the very decision of the former Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev," The Georgian President noted.

He stressed that Heydar Aliyev was the founder of present-day Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani nation. "Consolidated Azerbaijan, friendly Azerbaijan, successful Azerbaijan is the pledge for integration and success within Georgia, as well as for our common future," he stressed indicating Azerbaijan and Georgia's strategic partnership.

Parliament Parliament

Ziyafat Askarov, the first vice speaker of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani parliament), reported on 7 May that no changes or amendments would be made to the Bill on Amnesty passed by the parliament on 1 May. He was commenting on the proposal of human right activists to change the bill.

Askarov said that the bill, which had been submitted by MP Mehriban Aliyeva, the president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, was a full-fledged one and did not need any amendments. As to the supposition that the amnesty will cover political prisoners as well, the vice speaker said the bill clearly states who can be amnestied.

The vice speaker stated that Azerbaijan did not have political prisoners. "In connection with the bill we cannot follow one's personal considerations. I think Azerbaijan does not have the problem of political prisoners so far. The bill will not be changed in connection to this," Askarov added.

The Milli Majlis ( Azerbaijan's Parliament) has passed the Draft "On Society of the Golden Crescent of Azerbaijan" in its third reading during today's sitting of Parliament.

The Chairperson of the Permanent Committee for Human Rights, Rabiyyat Aslanova, said that after the legislation was passed in the second reading, the mentioned bill has been significantly improved on the basis of proposals put forward.

Mrs Aslanova said that the society had been founded in 1920 and rendered exemplary humanitarian aid for many years. Over the past years of its activity, the organization has worked out its own traditions and its mission. It successfully continued its activity after Azerbaijan claimed its independence in 1991.

She also noted that the mentioned draft would serve to the development of the Society of the Golden Crescent of Azerbaijan, by adding that this document would play an important role in judicial regulation of the activity of the organization.

The draft consisting of 8 articles, determines the status, rights, and orientations of further activity, as well as bilateral relations with state offices and agencies and municipalities. In accordance to the mentioned Bill, the Society of the Golden Crescent of Azerbaijan will be financed from the State Budget of the country. After debates over the mentioned draft took place in Parliament, the Bill was passed in its last - the third reading.

Milli Mejlis (Azerbaijan Parliament) approved Azerbaijan joining the International Convention on 'Fight against Drugs in Sports', adopted at the 33rd session of the UNESCO General Conference.

Hadi Rajabli, the chairman of the permanent parliamentary commission on social policy of the Milli Mejlis, stressed the importance of Azerbaijan joining this Convention which should strengthen the development of all types of sports in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan participates in sports competitions as well as in the International Olympic Games.

The International Anti-Drugs Organization prohibited the use of more than 60,000 medicines. Any sportsman found to consume any of the medicines mentioned on the list will be disqualified from any competition. Furthermore, any sportsman who is tested positive three times is automatically disqualified from international tournaments.

Azerbaijan has specialized control to prevent such cases and the Anti-Drugs Commission of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Youth

MP Aydin Mirzazadeh, a member of the Azerbaijani Permanent Parliamentary Commission on Security and Defence and member of the Political Council of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, stated on 8 May that in the case of a threat to state security occurs as a result of migration of Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin, the official bodies will respond.

The MP noted that Azerbaijan is a democratic state and foreign journeys as well as entrance and exit from the country are regulated by law. "I do not see anything to be concerned about in this occasion," he said.

Notably, reports on mass migration of Turkish Kurds to Azerbaijan have been spread lately. have been spread lately.

The Azerbaijani Parliament of the Milli Majlis has made changes and alterations to the Bill - "On Youth Policy". The age requirement for youth in the country has been reduced from 29 to 35.

Khadi Radjabli, the Chairman of the Permanent Commission for Social Policy, said that the Bill also envisaged the continuation of labour activity on the same job position of those persons who passed their military service. The mentioned Bill also reflects the enlightenment in the field of family planning and reproduction of health, as well as maintenance of talented and creative youth.

Notably, the previous age requirement for young families has been kept to create favourable conditions to receive mortgage crediting

The Chairman of the State Committee for Land proposed reconsiderayion bill on lands.

According to Garib Mammadov, this proposal was made by the Committee. "There are more than 40 signs, codes and other legal acts regarding private land. For this reason, it is necessary for a law to be devised to regulate management, protect and ensure rational use of the State land," he said. Mammadov believes that the perception of plot of land in the legislation needs to be cancelled. He said that according to the law on Land Reforms confirmed by the President of Azerbaijan in 1996, all such land was liquidated.

Forgiving prisoners who have committed a crime and releasing them from prison to live a normal life demonstrates the development of Azerbaijan in line with humanitarianism principles. These words were sounded by MP Mehriban Aliyeva, the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, during the discussions on the Amnesty Act at a meeting of the Milli Majlis [Azerbaijan Parliament] on 8 May.

MP Aliyeva introduced to the Parliament an Amnesty Act in connection with the 84th birthday of ex-Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev.

In her remarks MP Aliyeva noted the importance of developing the bill. Within this proposal, the First Lady stipulated the people who had committed crimes and were serving their imprisonment sentence and returning them to their families to lead a normal life.

"We release these convicted prisoners to lead a normal life and by doing so we demonstrate to the world the development of Azerbaijan in line with principles of humanitarianism. It is necessary to resolve the most serious problems of society with the sense of humanity and charity. The civil society is a society in which all kinds of freedom and superiority of laws exist, where citizens are active and there is unity and solidarity. It is one of the important principles in the formation of the civil society," she stressed.

The President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation added that the Great Azerbaijani Leader made every effort to establish such a society. "Heydar Aliyev was keen to see Azerbaijan as an independent, powerful and prosperous country," MP Aliyeva emphasized. The First Lady added that at present Azerbaijan is developing in the right direction. She voiced her hope that other MPs will support the Amnesty Act, dedicated to Heydar Aliyev's memory.

Oktay Asadov, the Chairman of the Parliament, stated Parliament's intention for approximately 45 MPs to report on the draft law.

The task group formed to improve the Election Code of Azerbaijan is going on with its discussions and the issue will not be considered in parliament in the near future. This is due to the lack of a final decision in this connection, the vice speaker of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijani parliament), a member of the Administration Council of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), Bahar Muradova said.

"I believe the discussions should be constant as it is a legislative activity. For this reason, the discussions on several law drafts should be held together with international organizations. We will consider the issue at the appropriate time," Muradova stated. The vice speaker noted the invariability of the government's position on the membership of the election commissions on parity base and voiced her believes in the right of the position. "

"I believe the election commissions should include experts and non-political figures," Muradova added.

The vice speaker indicated the presence of such practice in other countries, where elections are held by a state organization or experts.

"Taking all of this into consideration, we have to work out a definite variant and prevent different political parties from dealing with the matter for their own interest," Muradova added. The vice speaker urged that the organization of elections should be entrusted with a body that has social confidence.

"The matter is not of the ability of the organization to cope with the task. The matter of confidence is still a problem. If the opposition does not agree with the election commissions, which mainly include the NAP members, they will also not believe in that organization. That is why experts have to be charged with elections in order to prevent any suspicions," Muradova said.

Some changes are expected to be made into the administrative and territorial division of Aghdam, Tartar, and Beylagan Districts of Azerbaijan, the Press-Service of the Azerbaijani Parliament of the Milli Majlis reports.

Due to this fact, the Permanent Committee for Regional Issues of the Azerbaijani Parliament has prepared a draft. During the forthcoming sitting of the mentioned Parliament's Committee to be held on the coming Friday, the drafts envisaging changes to be made into the administrative and territorial division of Aghdam, Tartar, and Beylagan Districts of the Country.

The raised issue is expected to be viewed during the plenary sitting of the Azerbaijani Parliament to be held soon.

The meeting of Azerbaijan Parliament's Permanent Commission on Natural Resources, Energy and Ecology focused on the draft law on amendments and annexes on manufacturing and domestic wastes, the Parliament's Press Service informs.

The Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Elton Mammadov, said that the necessity to make amendments appeared after Azerbaijan joined international conventions in 2001 and created a new organization. The law was adopted in 1998 and presently needs to protect the environment in accordance with European standards.

The draft law is ready for consideration by the Parliament.

The meeting of Azerbaijan Parliament's Permanent Commission on Natural Resources, Energy and Ecology focused on the draft law on amendments and annexes on manufacturing and domestic wastes, the Parliament's Press Service informs.

The Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Elton Mammadov, said that the necessity to make amendments appeared after Azerbaijan joined international conventions in 2001 and created a new organization. The law was adopted in 1998 and presently needs to protect the environment in accordance with European standards.

The draft law is ready for consideration by the Parliament.

The Chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament, Oktay Asadov, said at the meeting with the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Turkey, Tulay Tugchun, on 11 May that the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey reached the level of strategic partnership due to mutual visits and political wills of the State and Government Heads of the two fraternal countries. "Strengthening this friendship is the focus of attention of the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev," Asadov said.

He stressed that the co-operation between the two countries also continue at the level of parliaments. Friendly groups function at the parliaments of the two countries. "The parliamentarians of Azerbaijan and Turkey demonstrate same position in the international organizations," Asadov underlined, adding that the investments allocated by the Turkish business people to various spheres of Azerbaijan economy amount to AZN 2 bln. "Large-scale projects such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, South Caucasus Pipeline, Kars-Akhalkalaki-Baku railway further strengthened Azerbaijan's position in the region," the Speaker stressed. The Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Turkey, Tulay Tugchun said that as in other spheres, the Turkish-Azerbaijani relations are also developing with regards to legal State establishment. Tugchun expressed his attitude towards future prospects of co-operation between the constitutional courts of the two countries.

The Chairman of Azerbaijan Parliament's Permanent Commission on Social Policy, Hady Rajably, said on 12 May that a number of measures are planned to be taken for social adaptation of the released prisoners. According to him, the law on social adaptation of released people who were serving in Penal institutions, which will be adopted by the Parliament in the third reading, will reflect solutions to several problems of former prisoners.

Rajably stressed that social adaptation centres will be created for this purpose. In addition, the former prisoners will receive material aid in double amount of minimal salary. As a first aid, it is planned to provide them with housing-communal conditions, medical, legal and psychological assistance, job and opportunity to get education. The Amnesty Act adopted by the Parliament of Azerbaijan on 8 May envisages release of 1,500 convicted and cut in punishment term of other 7,500 prisoners. The amnesty acts have been realized in Azerbaijan since 1995. Seven amnesty acts have been made over the reported period and 32 orders have been issued on pardon. These acts have been referred to 77.000 people.

The member of Azerbaijan Parliament's Permanent Commission on Economic Policy, MP Vahid Ahmadov, said on 11 May that the Government of Azerbaijan submitted the draft law on Implementation of 2006 State Budget to the Parliament.

Ahmadov stressed that at present the draft law is being discussed by the Commission. "We are studying how the 2006 State budget has been implemented and its shortfalls. The Accounting Chamber of Azerbaijan should provide a response how the 2006 State budget has been implemented. Presently we expect the assessment by the Accounting Chamber," Ahmadov said. He added that once the issue is considered by the Commission, the draft law will be presented to the discussions of the Parliament.

Foreign policy

It is necessary to intensify the inter-parliamentary cooperation to develop economic relations between Belarus and Azerbaijan, chairman of the permanent commission for international affairs and ties with the CIS of the Chamber of Representatives Vadim Popov told BelTA.

According to him, "not long ago Azerbaijan kept away from cooperation with the CIS member states". In late 2006 - early 2007, Belarusian and Azerbaijani parliamentarians started intensifying cooperation. A working inter-parliamentary group was set up. However, its work is not efficient enough. "The Azerbaijani party is not active enough, as for the Belarusian deputies, they are ready and open for more intensive cooperation. In the near future we expect them to make steps forward," Vadim Popov noted.

The economic partnership dictates signing of new agreements which should be submitted for consideration of the two parliaments. Without active participation of deputies these issues will take a lot of time to be settled. There is also a need for a relevant legal system to ensure work of joint ventures, the official noted.

Vadim Popov highlighted, "it is necessary to start activity in all directions". The most promising projects are those dealing with the fuel-energy branch and Belarus' participation in oil extraction in Azerbaijan. The political decision to support these projects has already been made. "It means that there are no obstacles for businessmen to carry out the projects," the chairman of the parliamentary commission added.

Azerbaijan. The major problem for Azerbaijan is that the new president will adhere to its pro-Armenian position, regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, as the Armenians backed him in the elections.

Guluzadeh does not consider that the election of Sarcozy to be the nation's choice. "This is the force of a definite oligarchic industrial military complex, which dominates France at present," he stated.

Touching upon the further relationships between Azerbaijan and France, the politician noted that he did not consider the present level of relationships to be developed sufficiently. "The economic bonds between Azerbaijan and France are established on a mutually beneficial base," he stressed.

Another Azerbaijani politician Rasim Musabeyov believes that despite the election of a new president, the policy of the country towards Azerbaijan will not change. The state is headed by the political party which backed Jacques Chiraque.

The politician did not rule out the possibility of certain changes in France's political course. According to him, Chiraque displayed keen interest in the solution to the regional problems including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, Sarcozy will not deal with this problem in the commencement of his presidency. He will focus on internal political problems and issues of European integration. In total the policy will remain the same.

As a result of the presidential elections held on 6 May in France, the representative of the right wing, Nicola Sarcozy received 53.06% of the votes, while socialist Segolen Ruayal received 46.94%. The difference made up some 2mln votes.

The attendance at the elections was the highest compared to the last 20 years (85%).

The statement by the Foreign Ministry of Turkey says that Armenia's refusal to grant visas to the observers from Turkey represented in the OSCE mission testifies the futility of the development of Armenia. The OSCE mission will observe the parliamentary elections in Armenia on 12 May.

Eight observers from Turkey, who hold international observers' status, were expected to travel to Armenia on 6 May. However, several hours before their departure the OSCE representatives stated that the Armenian authorities had not granted them visas. The visit to Turkey was therefore cancelled.

The Foreign Minister of Turkey stated that appointing observers for the parliamentary elections in Armenia had been aimed at normalizing bilateral relations in favor of democratic developments in the country. "By this gesture, Armenia is demonstrating that it disregards any action which may foster the channel of communication between the two countries," the statement read.

The Ministry calls on those countries and international organizations who are in favour of peace and close friendly relations in the region to express their opinions and make a decision on Armenia's unjustified action.

Domoniqio Moizy, senior adviser at the French Institute of International Relations, said in a telephone conversation that the relationships between France and Azerbaijan will not change after the election of the new President. "I do not see any serious changes in the relationship with Azerbaijan. France will change its position on Azerbaijan and it also concerns Russia,' he emphasized.

On 19 March, the Constitution Council of France announced the commencement of the presidential elections and released the names of 12 candidates The leading candidates were Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative front-runner; Segolene Royal of the Socialist Party; Francois Bayrou, a centrist latecomer and Jean-Marie Le Pen of the far-right National Front.

On the 22 April, the first round vote, Sarkozy gained 31.2% of votes and Royal 25.9%. They passed to the second round of polls scheduled for 9 May. As a result of the second round of polls with the participation of 86% of voters, Sakozi took a decisive victory. He won 53% of the votes. The newly elected President will take office on 16 May.

"I do not think Sarkozy will change anything in France's relationships with foreign countries. At present Sarkozy's priority is the establishment of the Mediterranean Union and Turkey is also proposing to join this union. However, Turkey is keen on entering the European Union and nothing else, even the Mediterranean Union. Talks over Turkey's entrance to the European Union have been carried out for 14 years and it is in progress even now. Moreover, along with relationships with Turkey the relationships with other countries will not change, while changes are possible in the style of relationships but not the essence," he said.

During televised debates the candidate to the presidency, Sarkozy, stated that on election to the post of President of France he will hinder Ankara's entrance to the European Union. "Unlimited expansion of the EU will mean the death of the political integration of Europe," he stated.

Moizi noted that the newly-elected President's key priorities are focused on the country's internal affairs. He wants to establish a more flexible economic system with a prevailing liberal economy. At the same time he is eager to upgrade the country.

The Press Secretary of Azerbaijan President, Azer Gasimov, said as a result of Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev's visit to Egypt that a new stage of cooperation began between the League of Arab States and Azerbaijan. Speaking of the President's meeting with the Secretary General of League, Amir Musa, Gasimov said that the President of Azerbaijan provided extensive information on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, its impacts on Azerbaijan and negotiations on a conflict settlement. In addition, the President of Azerbaijan touched upon the economic cooperation with League member-countries.

In turn, Amir Musa stressed that the League member-countries attach great importance to the cooperation of Azerbaijan which is a leading State in the region.

Ann Dersy, the United States' Ambassador to Azerbaijan, said to journalists on 8 May that the United States were calling on Azerbaijani authorities to exclude the article providing punishment of journalists for their articles from the Criminal Code. "Such cases of using violence towards journalists, prosecution and battery, should be seriously investigated," the Ambassador said.

According to Ms Dersy, the United Sates share the concern of international organizations about the detention of five journalists. "We hope that civil society, the media and authorities of Azerbaijan will do their best for the development of journalism in Azerbaijan and the provision of freedom of press," the Ambassador stressed.

The United States believes that free press is of fundamental importance and the government is a guarantor for it, she said. "Press has great prestige with developed countries. Thus, it should be professional, unbiased and neutral. Azerbaijan has vast potential for leadership in the region. Steps made towards democracy are of great importance in connection to this," Ms Dersy added.

Several journalists in Azerbaijan have been made answerable for their press articles. The OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organizations are concerned on this occasion.

Within his two-day visit to Moscow on 7-8 May, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Araz Azimov, held a number of meetings at the Foreign Ministry of Russia which focused on regional and international security, as well as the development of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Russia.

Azimov made a report on Azerbaijan's policy on security at the invitation of the Center for Caucasus Researches of the International State Institute of International Relations on 8 May before the professors and teachers of the Institute and representatives of the expert society. On the same day, Azimov delivered a report at the Moscow Center of Carnegie on contemporary challenges of Azerbaijan and regional security.

Azimov spoke of the results of the consultations held at the Russian Foreign Ministry and the multi-sector foreign policy of Azerbaijan. In particular the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan said that Azerbaijan, as a State of South Caucasus, does not shun from any deep regional frames and pursues multilateral policy. According to him, Azerbaijan implements open and sequential foreign policy directed towards close integration with leading political centers around the world. " Azerbaijan, like Russia, attaches a great importance to the security of its borders in accordance with the national interests and resources," Azimov said.

At the Foreign Ministry of Russia, Azimov held meetings with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia G. Karasin and S. Kislyan. He described the consultations between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries as very useful and important from the point of view of understanding each other and assessing the regional security and interest of the two countries. "During the visit, we were able to establish a full and comprehensive agenda for our talks on the issues of security and military-political co-operation. The consultations continued in a congenial atmosphere," he said.

"They particularly highlighted that Azerbaijan is a very significant partner for Russia and relations are established on the basis of mutual confidence and respect and I added that these relations are possible to be developed further. We have created favorable grounds to continue the consultations which may influence practical co-operation," Deputy Foreign Minister said.

"The issues of co-operation of Russia and Azerbaijan within international organizations that were broadly discussed during Moscow consultations testified that we may do much with regards to inter-civilization talks, fighting against terrorism, organized criminality and narcotics, as well as co-operation in UNO," Azimov said adding that debates were also organized on Euro-Atlantic topic, control on arms, disarmament, non-proliferation and security in Caspian Sea, placement of anti-missile defense system in Europe, co-operation with NATO, general situation around the world, trans-regional and transnational projects. He stressed that the issue of Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the focus of the discussions. "The Azerbaijani side has demonstrated to its fullest the possibility of compromising. In addition, the conflict settlement supported by Azerbaijan is based on the principles of international law. Azerbaijan's position was again presented to the Russians and we are satisfied with the exchange of views," Azerbaijan's Deputy Foreign Minister concluded.

Eduard Urazayev, the Minister for National Policy, Communications and External Affairs of the Russian Republic of Dagestan, visiting Khachmaz District of Azerbaijan Republic, has told journalists today that Dagestan Republic of the Russian Federation has appealed to the Russian Federal Centre and Azerbaijan Republic to loosen the entry-exit regime on the Azerbaijani-Russian border.

In his turn, Gourban Gourbanov, the Mayor of Russia's most southern town of Derbent, who is also visiting the northern Azerbaijani Region of Khachmaz, said that new business conditions should be created for entrepreneurs and businessmen of Khachmaz and Derbent.

Notably, Khachmaz District, with the population of 130.000 people is situated 151 km far away from the Azerbaijani Capital.

Eduard Shevarnadze, the Georgian Ex-President, who worked together with Azerbaijan's All-Nation Leader heydar Aliyev for many years, urges Armenia to respect Azerbaijan, since it is the most powerful state in South Caucasus, Trend reports referring to the National AzTV Channel.

According to Mr. Shevarnadze, just owing to the political will of Heydar Aliyev, Azerbaijan has taken the leading position in the region.

" Armenia should respect Azerbaijan, otherwise it may lost its independence. I think that Armenians will realize the necessity to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The delay in this issue may represent even more heavy results than the present-day ones, as Azerbaijan has left behind both Armenia and Georgia by economic, military and defence, and other indicators," stated Mr. Shevranadze.

"Heydar Aliyev was a unique person. He founded the independent state on an empty place. The existing Azerbaijani leader is a wise man too. Heydar Aliyev did not make a mistake when he chose him as his successor," concluded the Georgian Ex-President.

The Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Khalaf Khalafov, said on 10 May stated that settling the issue of reaching a multi-lateral ( Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Russia) agreement on legal status of Caspian Sea has been delayed. Touching upon the five-sided meeting on the legal status of the Caspian Sea on 23-24 April in Ashgabat, Khalafov stressed that bilateral agreements must be reached more promptly.

It was decided during the Ashgabat discussions to hold the next multilateral meeting of the working group on the legal status of the Caspian Sea in Tehran. Khalafov said that the meeting is planned to be held within the next three months. Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan reached an agreement on the legal status of the Caspian Sea and have signed bilateral and trilateral agreements. Turkmenistan and Iran have failed to come to an agreement.

The European Union (EU) backs the call of Miklos Haraszti, OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media, on Azerbaijan to end the application of penal legislation to restrict media freedom in the country. The organization has expressed its regret about the sentencing Eynulla Fatullayev, the editor-in-chief of the opposition Realny Azerbaijan and Gundalik Azerbaijan newspapers to 2.6-year imprisonment. He is charged of libelling the residents of Khojaly (occupied Azerbaijani region) and spread of false facts about occupation of the region.

The EU has mentioned that the major obligation of Azerbaijani authorities is to protect journalists from threat and violation and expressed regret that two more journalists Rafig Taghi and Samir Sadagatoghlu had been detained and sentenced to 4-year and 3-year imprisonment respectively for publication of a philosophical essay in the Sanat newspaper which was allegedly an incitement to national, racial and religious hatred.

The EU has also welcomed the positive developments the EU perceived to emerge from the visits of Miklos Haraszti and Peter Semneby, OSCE Special Representative for South Caucasus, in Baku in April, who were attending the international conference 'Role of Media in Development of Tolerance and Mutual Understanding' organized jointly by the Azerbaijani Government and the General Secretariat of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The EU has appreciated the open discussions between President Aliyev and Haraszti and the agreement between Foreign Minister Mammadyarov and Semneby on systematic dialogue between the EU and Azerbaijan on media-related issues. The EU has welcomed the granting of a license for 6 more years to the private broadcaster ANS TV and Radio.

The EU has called on Azerbaijan to investigate the cases on violence against the journalists and assassination of Elmar Huseynov in particular as well as recent attack on Uzeyir Jafarov.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, participated in the 117th session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CE) in Strasbourg on 11 May, the Ambassador Arif Mammadov, the permanent representative of Azerbaijan in the CE, reported on 11 May.

The Minister informed the Committee of the social and political processes taking place in the country and fulfilment of the obligations to CE.

The implementation of the decisions made 2 years ago at the meeting of the heads of the CE governments in Warsaw. A memorandum on understanding was signed and the decision to accept Montenegro Republic the 47th member of the CE. At the end of the session Serbia undertook the chairmanship.

The Minister met with his Sweden counterpart Tomas Hummerberg, the administration of the Ago Group, co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk group and other officials.

Elmar Mammadyarov, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs held discussions in Strasbourg over the peaceful resolution of the Armenia Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ambassador Arif Mammаdov, the Azerbaijani permanent representative at the Council of Europe, said in a telephone conversation that, the two sides held discussions recently over dinner. Regarding the achievement of an agreement on the forthcoming round of talks due in St. Petersburg between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, scheduled for 10 July within the framework of the Economic Summit, the ambassador said that the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is expected to participate in the Economic Summit in St. Petersburg. However, it is still unknown whether the consultations will take place.

Mammadov also stressed that the peaceful negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the focus at the meeting of the CE's Ago Group, which was held in Strasbourg on 10 May with the participation of the Azerbaijani minister.

The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs held consultations separately with Vartan Oskanian, the Armenian foreign minister in Strasbourg on 11 May, Mammadov reported.

On 10 May Moratinos met with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in Madrid and discussed ways to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh The issue will be the focus of discussions during the Spanish Minister's forthcoming visit to Azerbaijan and Armenia due on 4-5 June.

.

Political movements

Ayaz Rustamov, the Chairman of the Azerbaijan National Independent Party (ANIP) stated on 7 May, 2007 that the leader of the party, Etibar Mammadov, laid definite commitments for members of the Political Organization to restore the authority of this political party that was demonstrated previously.

Rustamov noted that this issue was discussed on 5 May during a meeting with Mammadov and members of the ANIP Baku branches. During the meeting Rustamov spoke about the current state of the political organizations, made his proposals in this respect and stressed the importance of strengthening the activities of ANIP's central and regional branches. According to Rustamov, the party plans to exercise a range of measures to resolve their problems.

The ANIP was founded in 1992. Etibar Mammadov was the leader of the party for twelve years and in 2004 he resigned at his own free will.

Igbal Agazade, the Chairman of the Umid party stated that the party made the decision to nominate him for the 2008 presidential elections.

During the second conference of the party held on 6 May, 2007, Igbal Agazade was re-elected the Chairman of Umid. Seven people were elected to the Control and Observation Commission and fifteen people became members of the Executive Committee.

Igbal Agazade, the Chairman of the Pro-Oppositional Umid Party is a member of the Milli Mejlis [Azerbaijan Parliament].

Igbal Agazade, the Chairman of the Umid party, stated that Umid had sent a letter of protest to the Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan, a South Caucasus country, international organizations and all the foreign embassies accredited in Azerbaijan.

Police from Baku Police Precinct 37 disrupted a second conference of the party held in Baku on May 6, 2007. Police explained their actions without providing the appropriate authorization by the Baku City Executive Power. Agazade stated that the party planned to lodge a complaint to the Police Precinct 37 regarding the illegal intervention into the party's affairs.

Azerbaijan is the member of the International Convention and the violation of the regulations of this organization, particularly the rights of the party members, will be further discussed at the international organization.

The opposition party Umid was founded in 1993 and the National Unity Party joined in 2002.

MP Vahid Ahmadov (Azerbaijani Parliament) and the Co-founder of the former political block "Yeni Siyasat" (New Policy) stated on 11 May that the negotiations on the re-organization of the block into political movement are currently underway.

The Yeni Siyasat was founded as the electoral block but stopped functioning after the parliamentary elections. Ahmadov added that there are proposals and projects concerning the re-organization of the Yeni Siyasat into a political block and he is going to participate in this process.

The block was founded in 2005 on the eve of the parliamentary elections. The members of the block were the oppositional parties, independent political organizations, state and social figures. Vahid Ahmadov and Ali Masimi, who nominated from the bloc, won the 2005 parliamentary elections.

MP Ilyas Ismayilov, Chairman of the Adalat Party, has brought a legislative initiative before the Azerbaijan Parliament. Ismayilov submitted to the MilIi Majlis [Azerbaijan Parliament] a draft proposal on changes and supplements to the Law on Protection of People's Health.

The proposal suggests the state financing of medical aid to children with heart deficiencies and their free medical examination, which was developed on the basis of the electors' complaints. Previously, Ismayilov submitted to the Parliament a proposal on Dual Citizenship in 2006.

Adalat was founded in 1995; the party joined the Azerbaijani Democratic Party in 1996 while Adalat restored its independent functioning in 2000. The right-central party held its first restoration meeting on 2 June, 2001

Ilgar Qasimov, the Chairman of the political movement Way of Azerbaijan reported on 10 May that the movement has completed preparations for a rally to be held at the Ukraine square on 12 May.

Gasimov noted that action was aimed at protesting against the decision of the Azerbaijani Tariff Council on increase of prices of energy resources, as well as issues concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh

According to Gasimov, 3,000 people will attend the action. The Azerbaijani Democratic Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, parties entering the block Our Azerbaijan, as well as a range of non-governmental organizations will join the rally.

The Way of Azerbaijan reported that the Musavat party postponed the action, originally scheduled for 27 May, to 20 May and it surprised the leader of the movement.

"The reason for such step is unknown. The rally that we are going to hold will not hinder the other actions. We do not want the rallies to become a way of competition among the political parties," Gasimov stressed.

Isgandar Hamidov, the Chairman of the National Democratic Party, stated that it would be better for Musavat to join the action to be held by Way of Azerbaijan rather arranging an action separately on 20 May. "The opposition parties should not act separately," emphasized.

The Executive Power of Baku sanctioned the rally to held by the Way of Azerbaijan at the Ukraine square from16:00 to 18:00 pm on 12 May

Ilgar Gasimov, the General of the Russian Justice Ministry leads the pro-oppositional social-political movement Way of Azerbaijan.

Nagorno-Karabakh Nagorno-Karabakh

Karabakh Liberation Organization (KLO) considers that according to the proposals made by the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, only five districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh will be released (on very severe conditions), the destiny of the remaining two districts remains uncertain and Nagorno-Karabakh will be lost forever," mentioned by the KLO statement made on 7 May.

The statement says that the key task of the peacekeeping forces that will be placed in the region will be not to allow the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia to interfere in Nagorno-Karabakh and to ensure free, unchecked activities of occupant regime of fictitious country.

KLO considers that the Government should not participate in implementing deceitful and bloody plan against Azeri people and State and should immediately terminate the negotiations and refuse the mediation of the Minsk Group, which meet the interests of Armenia.

The conflict between the two countries of South Caucasus appeared in 1988 due to the territorial claims of Armenia against Azerbaijan. Armenia has occupied 20% of the Azerbaijani lands including Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven Districts of the country surrounding it. Since 1992 to the present time, these territories have been under the occupation of the Armenian Forces. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a cease-fire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France and USA) holds peaceful negotiations.

The Karabakh Organization Committee (KLO) was founded in Baku on 28 January 2000 with an objective to conduct public struggle for the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh from the Armenian occupants. The organization headed by Akif Nagi, the candidate in historical sciences, unites over 10,000 people, including outstanding representatives of intelligentsia, refugees and internally displaced people, youth, former fighters, senior ranking officers in reserve, as well as different social layers of the population.

Nizami Bahmanov, head of the Shusha City, also head of the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh stated on 8 May that compared to previous years, this year revealed an optimistic mood with respect to the liberation of Shusha City, an ancient Azerbaijani history and culture. Such optimism appeared after the recent statement by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on the details of negotiations regarding the peaceful resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

"This statement clarified some dark milestones and put an end to absurd statements by some politicians," Bahmanov stressed. Actually we are all waiting for an order by the Commander-in-Chief for the liberation of Shusha from the Armenian occupants. He noted that the foreign policy pursued by the head of state raised the confidence in the liberation of the Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani land.

Shusha District of Azerbaijan is located in 400km of Baku. Shusha was occupied on 8 May 1992 by the Armenian Armed Forces.

Major in reserve Alakbar Mammamdov, the director of the Azerbaijani Centre for Democratic Civil Control over Armed Forces, reported on 11 May that so far over 5,000 soldiers and officers of the National Army of Azerbaijan have been killed since the signing of the ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1994. According to Mammadov, the most death cases were caused by the breaking of the ceasefire, burst of mines and other reasons. Over 2,000 soldiers and officers were killed from 1995-2000 and over 500 since 2000.

Military expert Uzeyir Jafarov reported that over 1,000 Azerbaijani civilians residing in border territories died during the period of ceasefire. Eldar Sabiroghlu, spokesman for the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, reported that despite the ceasefire Armenian armed forces had been regularly violating the regime. He did not tell the exact number of the victims.

A source at the National Agency on Mines Liquidation said that they neutralized 216,565 mines from 47,882,491 sq m. Some 53 people have died due to 86 mine explosions and 122 have been injured since 2001.

The ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia was signed in Bishkek city on 12 May, 1994.

The divisions of the Armenian Armed Forces, located in the occupied Merzili Village of Agdam District of Azerbaijan fired at the Azerbaijani National Army on 10 May at 12:00 hours. As a result of the shooting which lasted until 14:00 hours, a soldier of the Azerbaijani national army, Abdulrahmanov Vahab, was killed.

Abdulrahmanov, 19, was called to military service by the Military Commission in Sheki, North Azerbaijan, in June 2006. His death has been confirmed by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, briefed the media that his organization wishes the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be settled promptly. Highlighting his satisfaction with several progresses obtained in the negotiations process, the Council of Europe's Secretary General voiced his hope that the people who became internally displaced persons as a result of the military actions will return to their native lands in a short-time. Touching up on the two-day meetings of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Groups with the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Council of Europe, Davis mentioned the necessity to continue the talks on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.

The Chairman of Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, Foreign Minister of San-Marino, Fiorenso Stolfy, highlighted the importance to periodically clarify and discuss the ways of resolving the conflict. He stressed that the Council of Europe is closely interested in these issues and maintains the negotiations process on the focus of attention.

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