Weekly political review

Official news

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, supports the development of the regional energy co-operation and promises that Baku will fulfill all obligations to deliver energy resources, RIA Novosti reports.

"We will co-operate with the BSEC member-countries. Azerbaijan is considered as one of the large exporter countries and will fulfill all obligations on delivery of the energy resources," stressed Aliyev while making a speech at the summit of Black Sea Economic Co-operation in Istanbul.

"The next stage of Azerbaijan's energy policy is the regional co-operation," stated the President of Azerbaijan. According to the State Head of Azerbaijan, in the near future many aspects will be achieved in the transportation of the energy resources. "In truth Azerbaijan possesses large energy potential and in and many aspects we play a vital role in the development of the co-operation between BSEC countries," Aliyev emphasized.

According to him, Azerbaijan's pipelines will participate in the projects within BSEC.

Azerbaijan has always served as an example in implementation of regional energy projects, Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, stated in Turkey on 26 June, according to Azerbaijani Council General in Istanbul, Sayad Salakhly.

Speaking at the 10th annual conference of 'New Ambits of Energy Security', Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan would retain its leadership and exemplary attitude towards implementation of further projects.

Turkish, Georgia, and Ukrainian Presidents spoke at the conference. They stressed the importance of extension of energy projects. In their unanimous opinion, economic cooperation of Black Sea countries is of strategic importance.

Turkish Energy Minister, Hilmi Guler, noted that in the next month Azerbaijani gas would be transported to Italy via Erzurum and both Azerbaijan and the countries involved into the project on energy supply to Europe will gain benefits.

The conference that has already been completed was attended by some 400 governmental officials from 34 countries in order to discuss strategic oil and gas problems, interaction in energy filed, bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and transportation of energy resources.

On 27 June the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, signed an executive order including students of the High School of Art under the Azerbaijan National Music Conservatory, into the "Golden Book" of young gifted persons of Azerbaijan, and awarding them a special presidential stipend

On 28 June, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, sent a message of congratulations to Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov for his re-election.

"Under your leadership, the government of Moscow made great contributions to development of various sectors of economy and industry, the social sphere, and to improvement and modernization of the Russian Federation capital city's infrastructure," the letter said.

The Azerbaijani Leader expressed confidence that cooperation between Azerbaijan and Moscow will continue to develop.

The President wished Mayor Luzhkov good health, happiness, and success for the prosperity of Moscow and Muscovites.

On 28 June, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, issued an order dismissing Sunduz Babayev from his position as Head of Executive Power of Devechi District; Novruzov Novruz was appointed as the new Head of Executive Power in his stead. According to another Presidential order, Novruzov was dismissed from his position as Head of Executive Power of Goranboy District. In addition, Elshan Abbasov, was appointed as the Head of Executive Power of Goranboy District.

On 28 June Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received a group of Azerbaijani and Armenian intellectuals who visited Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia on 28 June.

A group Azerbaijan and Armenian public figures led by the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors to Russian, Armen Smbatian and Polad Bulbuloglu, toured Khankandi and Shusha on 28 June under the aegis of OSCE's. Later on they visited Yerevan to meet with Armenian President Robert Kocharian.

The group included Prof. Armen Smbatian, the Armenian Ambassador to Russia, the Honorary Culture Figure of Armenia, Prof Sergey Sarachian, the Rector of the Yerevan State Conservatoire, Acad. Radik Martirosian, the President of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, Prof. Alexander Grigorian, People's Artist of Armenia, Head of the Russian Dram Theater, Lyudmila Grigorian, Head of the Therapeutic Department of the Republican Hospital of Armenia, Prof Polad Bulbuloglu, the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia, People's Artist of Azerbaijan, Prof Farhad Badalbayli, the rector of the Baku Musical Academy, People Artist of USSR, Prof Kamal Abdullayev, the Rector of the Baku Slavic University, correspondent member of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Honorary Scientific Figure, Prof Azer Pahsa Neymatov, the Chairman of the Azerbaijani Union of Theater Figures, People's Artist of Azerbaijan, Ilham Fataliyev, the honorary Engineer of Azerbaijan, a businessmen.

Reaffirming his country`s position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, President Aliyev emphasized that the dispute could only be solved on the basis of the principles of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and inviolability of borders, with granting a high level of self-governance to Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on enactment of the Program on Drug Enforcement and Trafficking of Drug and Psychotropic Substances.

The State Commission on Drug Enforcement and Drug Trafficking is in charge of a control over the implementation the State Program for 2007-2012. The State Commission is committed to study the state of work and annually repot to the President.

The Azerbaijani President's press-service reported that the Azerbaijani horse participates in the fourth annual race for Prize of Russian President.

The Azerbaijani fast horse from Avsarbay genus from Turkey received number 1 in the lot drawing.

Ozjan Yildirim, the Turkish jockey galloped on the Azerbaijani horse.

The Presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova and Uzbekistan, as well as the leaders of other of countries watch the competition.

In 2007 the race prize's fund amount to 7mln rubles which is more as compared to 2006.

The Prize of Russian Federation was founded through the initiative of the Agricultural Ministry in 2004. The first races were held in Moscow at the Central Moscow race track on 3 June 2004.

Before the similar level, competitions were held before revolution. The Imperial prize was held in 1916 for the last time. The race competition gained popularity at the end of 19th century. The 'Russian Derbi' prize which made up 30.000 rubles was one of the expensive and prestige prize at the Moscow race track. The same can be said abut the Imperial Prize and the Prize of Empress Maria Federovna. The Empress Maria Federovna's Prize was considered one of the expensive and prestige prize in pre-revolutionary Russia - 50.000 rubles.

Foreign policy

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev held bilateral meetings with the Turkish Prime Minister, Rajab Teyyub Erdogan and President Ahmed Nejdet Sezer, stated the Consular General of Azerbaijan to Istanbul and Azerbaijan's representative to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Sayyad Aran, on 25 June by telephone from Istanbul.

On 24 June, Ilham Aliyev, arrived in Istanbul to attend the jubilee summit of the BSEC. The State Heads of Azerbaijan and Turkey discussed bilateral relations with regards to policy, economy and culture. Special attention was paid to the energy cooperation of Azerbaijan and Turkey.

In addition, the President of Azerbaijan held a meeting with the Executive Director of UNISEF, Ann Veneman.

The BSEC summit will take place in the evening. As a result of the event, a working group on energy security is expected to be established. The summit will cover the prospects of cooperation of the countries of Black Sea basin with regards to energy, trade, transport, protection of environment and the fight against organized crime

The Russian President's proposal on the joint use of the Russian-leased Azerbaijan Gabala Radar Station with the US n response to the plans of the US to establish a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe, reveals that Russia recognizes the potential threats from Iran. "The US President, George Bush, welcomed the Russian President, Vladimir Putin's proposals and we are glad that finally Russia has considered our proposal in co-operation in this sphere," stated Jonathan Henick, the Head of the Office for Public Affairs of the US Embassy in Azerbaijan.

On the 7th of June, as a result of the meeting with US President George Bush, within the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, Putin highlighted his proposal to jointly use the Russian-leased Azerbaijan Gabala Radar Station with the US. According to Henick, Bush stated that presently the goal of the missile-defense system may be considered as a defense through open and transparent methods. "The USA wishes to co-operate to develop the agreement which will ensure the safety of Europe, Azerbaijan, Russia and USA from the nuclear threats Iran imposes," he added.

Turkey has intentions to turn the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) into an organization dealing with the implementation of precise projects, Turkish Prime Minister, Tayip Erdogan, stated, according to RIA-Novosti.

"Our goal is to turn the BSEC into a flexible and efficient organization focusing on the implementation of precise projects," he stressed, on the 25th of June, during a dinner-party in honour of the participants of the jubilee summit of the BSEC in Istanbul.

Erdogan spoke on the development of the relationships between the BSEC and the European Union and noted that the dialogue which had begun with the European Union was encouraging.

"During Turkey's chairmanship in the BSEC we plan to hold the first meeting of ministers between the BSEC and EU in October," the Prime Minister stated.

According to Erdogan, political conflicts represent serious obstacles regarding the progress of efficient economic cooperation in the region. "We have to make joint efforts to settle the conflicts present in the region," he noted.

Erdogan voiced his hope that the Istanbul summit of the BSEC will be the turning-point in the activities of the organization.

Armenian Foreign Minister, Vardan Oskanyan, urged after the meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, that Turkey should open the borers with Armenia, according to the reports of Turkish media.

In his interview with journalists Oskanyan noted the necessity to begin economic cooperation between the two countries. He voiced his hope that after parliamentary elections in Turkey to be held on 22 July the new Government will review its position regarding the borders.

Turkey closed the borders with Armenia in 1993 as a protest to Armenia's occupation of some 20% of Azerbaijani territory. There are disagreements between Ankara and Yerevan on the fictitious genocide of Armenian people which according to official Yerevan was committed by Turks in 1915.

Ankara informed of impossibility to open the borders until Armenia vacates the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Turkey proposed to establish joint commission on study of the events of 1915.

According to Oskanyan, Armenia will view establishment of a commission provided that normal diplomatic relations are established between the countries, according to Reuters. Oskanyan criticized Turkey's proposal on establishment of a commission and said that the proposal was an attempt to prevent parliaments from recognition of the events of 1915 as genocide of Armenians.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) calls on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to develop trans-boundary investment projects in the South Caucasus region which includes Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, stated a PACE Resolution adopted by the report "EBRD: support to Eastern and Southern-Eastern Europe", ITAR-TASS reports.

The resolution says that over recent years, sustainable economic growth has been observed in the South Caucasus and steady progress is taking place to complete the first stage of economic reform.

In addition, European parliamentarians highlighted the existence of political instability in the region, non-maturity of democratic institutions, weakness of the legal State, existence of corruption and problems in the area of competition and financial markets.

In this context, the assembly calls on the EBRD to further activate work in the region countries and assist in expanding regional cooperation within the initiatives for the countries beginning with a stage of transition economy. According to the PACE members, such activity of the EBRD will assist political and economic stabilization in the region.

The assembly welcomed that the Council of Europe and the EBRD joined the regional project ' Kiev initiatives' directed towards the development of a civil society through assistance to sustainable social-economic development in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Vafa Guluzade, former Azerbaijani adviser on foreign policy and political expert, said that Ankara is to make the decision on the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border and Oskanian [Armenian Foreign Minister] is unaware of the issue he is speaking of. He was commenting on a statement by the Armenian Foreign Minister on the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border.

Guluzade noted that Turkey may open its border with the neighbouring country as a result of pressure from the US Government and the Armenian lobby of the United States. "However, in exchange Turkey could achieve something. Turkey will not open its border," he added.

The issue on the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border does not depend on political forces which will come to state power. This is Ankara's state policy.

" Armenia still accuses Turkey of the alleged 'Armenian genocide' and is still occupying Azerbaijani territory. Therefore, the border will not be opened," he stressed.

The borders will be kept closed until Armenia is Russia's ally. The Turkish-Armenian border is closed due to Russia's policy.

" Russia is decisively against the opening of borders, because Turkey is a NATO member-country and once the borders are open Armenia, an outpost of Russia, will establish economic bonds with this country. As a result Armenia will slowly move away from Russia and come close to NATO. So, Moscow will not allow the opening of the border." Guluzade stressed.

Rasim Muzabayev, a political scientist, said that no political force in Turkey is willing to establish relations with Armenia despite Armenia's dreams. Oskanian's hope in this issue is groundless.

He explained the non-opening of the borders with Armenia's groundless claims on Turkey.

"However, Azerbaijan occupies an important place in Turkey's policy. Armenia's groundless claims on Turkey and the occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia greatly affect the issue," he noted.

If Armenian back down from their claims on Turkey a proposal on opening of borders will be included in the agenda and Ankara will certainly hold consultations with Azerbaijan on this issue.

Meanwhile, the Armenian Foreign Minister, Vardan Oskanian, stated after meeting with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul that Turkey should open its border with Armenia. Talking to journalists Oskanian noted the importance of commencing economic cooperation. He voiced his hopes that after the 22 July parliamentary elections in Turkey the new Government will consider the issue of the opening of the state border.

Turkey closed its state border with Armenia in 1993 to protest the occupation of 20% of Azerbaijan's territory by Armenians. Ankara and Yerevan are in disagreement on the alleged 'Armenian genocide', which Armenia says occurred in 1915.

Ankara stated that it will not open its borders with Armenia until the latter withdraws its troops from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan. Turkey proposed establishing a joint commission to set up research into the events of 1915.

Eldar Namazov, political scientist and president of the Public fund 'for Azerbaijan' informed from Strasburg, where he is participating at the summer session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), that Azerbaijani law defenders attending the summer session of PACE held a range of meetings.

Namazov noted that together with the law defenders they held a range of meetings at the Political and Monitoring committees of PACE. During the next meeting of the Monitoring committee of PACE the issue concerning the Azerbaijani media will be discussed.

According to Namazov, a meeting with Rene-Der Lenden, the president of PACE will be held.

Namazov added that the Azerbaijani delegation tried to put on agenda of PACE's autumn and winter sessions issues concerning Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani delegation developed a document under the title 'The diary of democracy in Azerbaijan' and proposed to PACE to admit the document. The document reflects the main proposals discussed at the four plenary sessions.

"The document envisages the issues concerning the forthcoming Presidential elections in Azerbaijan, suspension of pressure on media, creation of normal conditions for developing independent media, restoration of opposition parties' rights for freedom to rally, injection of changes into the Electoral code, as well as many other serious issues," Namazov added.

The political scientist noted that the issue of appointing a new reporter on Azerbaijani political detainees was considered at the meeting held at the Political and the Monitoring committees of PACE.

The Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said during a meeting with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, said he particularly explained his proposals on cooperation of Russia and the USA with regards to missile-defence system, especially his proposal on the joint use of the Russian-leased Azerbaijan Gabala Radar Station with the US, Vesti reports.

"Citing myself, I said that I am not a technical expert, but the Gabala Station will not resolve all issues regarding threats of missile launch by outlaw countries. I stressed that there is no impression that the Gabala Station is considered as an alternative for bilateral talks between the USA, Poland and the Czech Republic," the NATO Secretary General stated, RIA Novosti reports. On 7 June, as a result of a meeting with US President George Bush, during the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, Putin highlighted his proposal for the joint use of the Russian-leased Azerbaijani Gabala Radar Station with the US.

The document 'role of non-governmental organizations in developing of dialogue among civilizations/the Heydar Aliyev Foundation/', developed by Ganira Pashayeva, a member of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), was signed by more than 60 MPs of Europe.

The document stated that the development of dialogue among civilizations and cultures is a key issue for Europe, as well as for all countries.

Such issues as inter religious tolerance and the role of non-governmental organizations in these processes have a great importance in dialogue.

" Azerbaijan, being a Muslim country and possessing national values, historically was well-known for its ethnic and religious varieties and traditional tolerance. We, signing this document, especially underline the functioning and experience of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation as the biggest and authoritative non-governmental organization in the developing of inter-religious and intercultural dialogues," stated the statement.

The document was signed by Germany, Ireland, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Russia, Moldova and other countries.

In the case of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development- Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova (GUAM) countries forms peacemaking forces, all decisions will only be made and implemented with the UN's permission, reported Oleg Demin, the Ukrainian ambassador to Russia.

Demin noted that there were many problems in GUAM countries, especially terrorism.

The infrastructure of these peacemaking forces has not yet been determined. The main assignment of the peacemaking forces will be regarding the struggle with terrorism," Demin added.

Each country, united in GUAM, has work experience in peacemaking forces. The Ukraine especially has vast experience, RBK reported.

GUAM was formed by post-Soviet countries at the summit of the European Union in Strasburg in 1997. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the organization only to separate again after four years.

It was decided that GUAM should be announced as an international organization and it was named the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development- GUAM during the first GUAM session in 2006.

The Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Nagorno-Karabakh of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and a Deputy from Great Britain, Lord Russell Johnston, will visit the region in the beginning of October, the Chairman reported in Strasburg on 27 June during the meeting with Azerbaijani human rights activists and the President of the "In the Name of Azerbaijan' public forum, politician Eldar Namazov.

Namazov reported on 27 June from Strasburg, that the preparation for Johnston's visit is under way and the route of the visit was being defined. Along with Azerbaijan and Armenia, Johnston is also expected to visit Nagorno-Karabakh.

The summer PACE session began on 25 June and will conclude on 29 June. The Azerbaijani delegation, as well as human rights activists Arzu Abdullayeva, Novella Jafaroglu, Saida Gojamanly, Saadat Bananyarly, Eldar Zeynalov, Zarifa Zeynalova, and politician Eldar Namazov, are in attendance.

Witold Waszczykowski, the Polish Deputy Foreign Minister, stated in Washington on 27 June that Poland considers Russia's proposal on the use of Gabala Radar Station in Azerbaijan as a 'dirty trick' aimed at suspending talks among the United States, Poland and the Czech Republic on the deployment of interceptor missiles.

The Polish deputy foreign minister leads a delegation in talks with the United States on the deployment of interceptor missiles, RIA Novosti reports.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed earlier in June that the US use the powerful Gabala radar station Russia leases from the Caucasus state to monitor possible attacks from Iran and North Korea instead of opening installations in Central Europe

Waszczykowski said Wednesday it was a well-calculated move aimed at blocking or freezing discussions, although he added that Poland was not opposing separate US-Russian talks on the Gabala radar while Washington and Warsaw continue discussions on the deployment of ten interceptor missiles in Poland.

"An agreement on the construction of an air defence base in Poland with ten interceptor missiles can be signed by September 2007," Waszczykowski added.

Azerbaijani and Russian parliamentarians clashed in a difference of opinion during the 66th Rouz-Rout seminar of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Croatia, according to one of the two attending Azerbaijani MPs, Malahat Hasanova. According to her, the agenda included the issue of the status of Kosovo. The Russian parliamentarians stated that the model of Kosovo should be applied to the Nagorno-Karabakh and South Osetian conflicts. "However, we protested against the similarity between Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh," Hasanova said, adding that the seminar's participating delegations and Head of NATO Parliamentary Assembly stressed that the status of Kosovo cannot be an example for the solution of other conflicts.

Azerbaijan was represented at the seminar by its parliamentarians Siyavush Novruzov and Malaht Hasanova.

Delegations from the member-states of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM ( Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) held a meeting at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg on 28 June.

MP Samed Seyidov, the head of the Azerbaijani Parliamentary Delegation to the PACE, said in a telephone talk that the meeting was held as part of the PACE summer session.

Terry Davis, the CE Secretary General, also attended the event held at the Azerbaijani Representation of the CE.

The meeting was organized in connection with the 10th year of the establishment of GUAM and transition of chairmanship to Azerbaijan. The event focused on an exchange of views on coordination of activities of the delegation from the GUAM member-countries, as well as representatives of member-countries to the CE.

The discussions also concerned the development by the GUAM member-countries on ethnic conflicts and other problems

Elmar Mammadyarov, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, stated during the second Security Forum of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) on 29 June that Azerbaijan adhered to the economic market's rules and international rights' principles, as well as accessibility recourses and energy security.

International cooperation is necessary for resolving energy problems.

" Azerbaijan's aim is to develop cooperation with the international community," the Minister said.

In his speech, the Minister spoke about Azerbaijani achievements in energy and shared the country's experience in this sphere.

"We should observe the global economic market's rules to reach stable energy production and transportation of energy resources," Mammadyarov added.

According to Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan plans to use the whole transport capacity of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline in 2008. Negotiations with Australia on cooperation with Australian Nabucco Gas Pipeline International Project are being held.

"It will be a very important project for Azerbaijan, because Nabucco is a very interesting project for foreign gas suppliers," Mammadyarov added.

EAPC's Security Forum is an informal summit involving NATO's country-members. The key theme of the Forum is 'Assistance to Peace and Stability: Current Challenges and Solutions'.

The main focus during the forum was attached to discussions of the problem on providing stability in Afghanistan and the Balkan Mountains.

The Head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Samad Seyidov, said on 29 June by telephone from Strasburg, that the opposition does not accurately understand the relations between Azerbaijan and PACE. "The relations between Azerbaijan and PACE are constructively developing and are established on the foundation of respect and understanding," Seyidov added.

According to him, there have not been and cannot be any problems between the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan.

Seyidov considers that the PACE summer session was constructive for Azerbaijan. "There were not serious problems. The opposition stated that Azerbaijan will reveal problems during the PACE winter session. Such statements are groundless and the session testified it," Seyidov said.

The First Deputy Command of the Cosmic Troops of Russia, Alexander Yakushin, said on 30 June in the briefing for the mission of the international journalists in Russian-leased Azerbaijani Gabala Radar Station that Russia will pay off $101 mln to Azerbaijan over the period of validity of agreement on the status and using principles of the Gabala Radar Station.

According to him, of them, $70 mln will be paid for the lease of the station ($7 mln per year) and $31 mln for the use of station ($2.6 mln per year). The Gabala Radar Station provides an opportunity to discover the missile flights from the south direction. The Station began fulfilling battle duty in 1985. The Station is capable to discover the start of ballistic and winged missiles in the distance of up to 6.000 km. The 10-year Russian-Azerbaijani contract on Gabala Radar Station was signed in 2002.

Yakushin said that the Station is capable to control on the region of Near and Middle East and water area of Arabian Sea and Indian ocean. Speaking of the terms of the agreement, Yakushin said that it has been envisaged for ten years with a condition to be pronged for the next three years if six months before the completion of the agreement period, one of the sides does not notify to cease the validity of the agreement. In addition, Yakushin stressed that the equipment in the Station fully implements the tasks being faced. The Station may be modernized if a military-political decision is made, he added.

First Deputy Command underlined that during the Iranian-Iraqi war, the Station discovered starts of more than 150 Scad missiles and in 2007 the start of 'Shahab 3' missile from Iranian territory of Hamadan.

Political movements

The chairman of the 'Our Azerbaijan' political bloc, the director of the Turkish Nationalistic Party, Vugar Beyturan has developed a proposal to the Football federations of the Turkic Speaking counties.

Beyturan developed several proposals relating to the integration of the Turkic world and close cooperation of the Turkic speaking countries. One of the proposals concerns the most popular sport of football and the organization of football matches. The chairman of the bloc proposes to organize football matches for the Turkic World Cube with the participation of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and the autonomous Russia.

The competitions should be held in each country by turn. Beyturan considers this to be an interesting and important event in the direction of integration of the Turkic speaking countries. The proposal was addressed to the Football federations of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.

The opposition bloc of 'Our Azerbaijan' unites eight parties.

Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) left its temporary office located in the headquarters of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party (ADP) on 25 June, the deputy chairman of the APFP, Hasan Karimov, reported.

According to Karimov, the reason was the reports published in the Hurriyat newspaper intended against the head of the APFP, Ali Karimli.

"The building where the APFP and the ADP were located is owned by the Huriyyat newspaper. The articles about the chairman of the APFP caused discontent among the members of the party. In order to prevent undesirable clashes we left the office," Karimov reported.

According to Karimov, the meetings of the administration of the APFP will be temporary held in different venues. "The main work will have to be carried out in autumn. We will continue search of an office during summer vacation," Karimov added.

Since 1994 the APFP was located at the editorial office of the Azadlyg newspaper situated in 33, Khagani avenue. By court's decision the State Committee on Management of State Property evicted the editorial office in the November of 2006. The APFP moved to the headquarters of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party.

The Central Council of the 'Borchali' National Movement reported that they oppose the visit of MPs from the Musavat Party to Georgia.

Azerbaijanis residing in Georgia hoped that the MPs' visit would fundamentally influence their problems.

"Contrary to our expectations, the MPs did not show an interest in the common problems of our compatriots. The MPs of the Musavat Party met with people who interested them and did not consider the problems of Azerbaijanis residing in Georgia. The aim of the MPs' visits to Georgian regions densely populated with Azerbaijanis is to generate contention among the local population, as well as to damage socio-political relations, established between the countries," the movement stated.

Similar visits will be met with protest action against MPs in the central streets of Tbilisi.

The National assembly of Georgian Azerbaijanis held similar protest actions.

"We went to Georgia with the aim to familiarize ourselves with the problems of Azerbaijanis residing in Georgia. During the visit eight meetings were held, as well as meeting with the public. The details of the visit will be revealed at a press-conference," Nasib Nasibli, a member of the MPs delegation from Musavat stated.

Azerbaijan and the USA intend to the hold next annual security consultations and discuss all spectrums of issues in this area. The Head of Office for Public Affairs of the US Embassy in Azerbaijan, Jonathan Henick, said that the consultations will take place on 9 July. The US delegation in the talks will be headed by the Assistant Secretary of State for Military and Political Affairs, John Rood. In addition, the delegation will include the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Bryza and representatives from the US Defense Ministry. The Azerbaijani delegation, which includes representatives of various ministries and departments, will be headed by the Deputy Foreign Minister, Araz Azimov.

"As usual, the talks will include all spectrums of security issues with regards to the bilateral relations, as well as cooperation in fighting against terrorism, military assistance, support to peace, NATO-Azerbaijan Individual Partnership Plan and military reforms," Henick said.

The Azerbaijan-US security consultations, originally scheduled for 23-25 April, were delayed by the Azerbaijani government. Baku protested the changes made by the US Department of State on 20 April to its Human Rights Practices Report issued on 6 March, which indicated the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven districts attached to it by Armenia.

In this respect Baku postponed the visit to Washington for security consultations, of the government delegation headed by Deputy foreign minister, Araz Asimov. However, on 25 April the US Department of State restored the report to its original version and Baku and Washington confirmed a new date for consultations

The Municipal system of Azerbaijan has vindicated itself and there is no need to establish a two-stage municipal system, the Head-of-Staff of the Executive Administration of Azerbaijani President, Ramiz Mehdiyev, stated at a republican meeting of municipalities in Baku on 27 June.

He noted that changing to a two-stage system can hinder its development. "The key goal of municipalities for today is to pay attention to enlightening work with members and employees of autonomous bodies," Mehdiyev said.

Mehdiyev called it unforgivable that part of Presidential the decrees on allocation of property to municipalities is not executed. Speaking on the multiplicity of municipalities, Mehdiyev said, "We have to eliminate this undesirable practice." For this purpose the Head-of-Staff suggests holding explanation work among the public of thinly populated settlements. Mehdiyev considers observation of law to be the key solution to the problem. Notably, the population of 900 municipalities make up around 500 people. Authorities of municipal bodies, in his opinion, should be expanded within the framework of democratic principles. "Municipalities have certain experience and it is time to extend their opportunities and allow them new authorities," Mehdiyev noted.

He blamed illegal sale of land by municipal bodies. "Lands are allotted to municipalities not to be put up for auction," Mehdiyev added.

Sulkhaddin Akpar, the Chairman of the Supreme Assembly of the Musavat Party, stated on 27 June that the Party would not boycott the forthcoming Presidential elections in Azerbaijan in 2008.

"Musavat considers that it is not right to speak about boycotting when the popular belief in a fair election is maintained on the lower level. Boycotting will therefore not produce any positive results," Akpar noted.

According to Akpar, the position of Musavat on the forthcoming Presidential elections is clear. Isa Gambar, the head of the Party will nominate his candidacy for the elections. Presently, no other candidate registered in the party to nominate his candidacy for the Presidential elections.

A range of Azerbaijani opposition parties, as well as the Azadlyg Bloc have called on the population to boycott the forthcoming Presidential elections.

Musavat was formed at the beginning of the 20th century and the party was restored in 1992. Isa Gambar, the head of the Party, was the Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament between 1992 and 1993 and a candidate for the 2003 Presidential elections.

Five MPs represented Musavat in the Azerbaijani Parliament.

Ramiz Mehdiyev, Head-of-Staff of the President's Executive Power, stated on 27 June that a Baku city municipality will not be established.

He noted that talks on establishing a city municipality have been in progress for a long time and that this initiative was put forward by the former head of the Baku City Executive Power, Rafael Allahverdiyev in 1997 - 1998.

According to Mehdiyev, by this initiative, Allahverdiyev pursued his subjective interests. "Local self-governing bodies function in Baku districts and villages and they fully meet the necessary objectives," he assured.

The municipalities should not put their lands for sale at auctions to serve their own interests. These lands should be used in the resolution of important problems, he stressed.

Arif Rahimzade, the Chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Commission on regional issues of the Milli Majlis [Azerbaijan Parliament], stated at the Republican Meeting of Municipalities that the Azerbaijani municipalities face pressure by some executive bodies.

The interference of executive bodies in the activities of self-governing bodies contradicts the state concept of municipalities, Rahimzade stated. He noted the necessity of preventing this pressure on municipalities by the Executive Power.

The Permanent Parliamentary Commission on Regional Issues is developing a draft law envisaging the improvement of municipal employee welfare, Rahimzade stressed. The bill will be submitted to the Parliament's autumn session.

Some AZM 4.9mln in taxes was collected from the lands under the balance of municipalities in 2005 and AZM 5.1mln in 2006, according to Rahimzade.

The Musavat Party's MPs, who paid a visit to Georgia, reported during the 28 June press conference that the names of Azerbaijani villages, mainly in the densely-populated Kvemo-Kartly (Borchali) regions would be exchanged for Georgian names.

MP Nasib Nasibli, who represents the Musavat Party at the Azerbaijani Parliament, noted that the MPs held eight meetings focusing on the problems facing Azerbaijanis residing in Georgia, during their visit to Tbilisi and Takhle, Sadakhli, Garayazi and other regions of Borchali. The main complaint of the population was due to the change of Azerbaijani village names to Georgian ones.

All Georgian schools will teach in the Georgian and Abkhaz languages by 2010. In addition, 117 Azerbaijani schools of 167 were closed. Fifty more schools are expected to be closed by the end of 2007.

According to MP Iltizam Akbarli, Georgian Azerbaijanis face additional problems when it comes to applying for admission to Azerbaijani Universities as they don't have sufficient time in which to send their documents.

"Azerbaijani school graduates, residing in Georgia, cannot submit their documents to Baku in order to pass exams. The admission of documents in Azerbaijan will end on 5 July, and the Azerbaijani school graduates residing in Georgia will only receive their diplomas on 2 and 3 July," Akbarli said.

The Azerbaijani population of Georgia has no gas and light problems. The Georgian government provides all possibilities for democratic development of the country. However, discrimination of Azerbaijanis on the national scale in Georgia has been observed, the MP said.

Sardar Jalaloglu, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) has stated that six Azerbaijani political parties united within the newly established Consultative Council achieved an agreement on a range of issues.

DPA, the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (SDPA), the Azerbaijani National Independence Party (ANIP), the Musavat Party, the Tereggi Party and Eldar Namazov, the politician, are represented in the Consultative Council.

Jalaloglu said that the meeting held on 27 June decided to hold a meeting at the beginning of July to discuss social and economic problems.

The Consultative Council is a union of parties with different political positions and is an optimal mean of coordination.

In spite of differences in positions, the political parties reached an agreement on some essential issues including exchange of information, co-ordination of positions, and joint approach to future solution of national problems.

"It was decided to take joint steps with respect to the forthcoming elections. The proposal on joint position of political parties during the forthcoming Presidential elections is likely to be considered," Jalaloglu said.

According to Jalaloglu, the Consultative Council will not have its Charter.

Sardar Jalaloglu, the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA), has stated that the Azadlyg Bloc is not a real centre of force.

Azadlyg Bloc was formed by the Musavat Party, the DPA, the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party, and the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan for joint participation in the Parliamentary elections in 2005. After elections, the Musavat was the first party to separate from the bloc; in 2007 the DPA separated. Presently, the bloc unites the Popular Front Party, the Liberal Party, and the Citizen and Development Party.

Jalaloglu noted that Azadlyg is still a new bloc, as its two founders -the DPA and Musavat separated from the bloc.

The consultative structure of opposition, where the DPA is currently represented, was not formed as an alternative to the Azadlyg Bloc.

"The present Azadlyg is not a bloc, which sometimes was a single force centre. When the DPA was represented in the Azadlyg Bloc, except for some meetings, it showed no sign of activity. The Bloc does not partake in the political life of the country," Jalaloglu said.

The member parties of the 'Our Azerbaijan' Bloc and Liberal Democratic Party of Azerbaijan agreed to join the 'Way of Azerbaijan' political movement.

According to the parties, the move was caused by a split in the opposition. The parties, who joint the 'Way of Azerbaijan', believe that the split among the opposition will lead to passiveness of the electorate during presidential and parliamentary elections.

"In order to oppose that, the decision on integration into 'Our Azerbaijan' Bloc was made. The optimal way out of the situation with the opposition today can only be in merging into one organization," according to the parties.

The political movement of 'Way of Azerbaijan' is an opposition public organization. The movement unites several NGOs and eight political parties. The 'Way of Azerbaijan' is headed by Ilgar Gasymov.

Nagorno-Karabakh

Subdivisions of Armenian Armed Forces deployed in the Moseske village of Armenia's Berd district subjected to sub-machine-gun and machine-gun fire the opposite positions of Azerbaijani National Army on 26 June from 20:20 a.m. to 20:25 a. m., according to Azerbaijani Defence Ministry.

In addition, subdivisions of the Armenian Armed Forces subjected the occupied village of Chiragly in the Azerbaijani district of Agdam to sub-machine-gun and machine-gun fire in the direction of the Azerbaijani National Army on 27 June from 12.35am to 12.45am.

The firing stopped by reciprocal action, there were no losses.

Azerbaijani and Armenian Ambassadors to Russia, Polad Bulbuloghlu and Armen Sabatyan, visited Nagorno-Karabakh, the Spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, Khazar Ibrahim, reported to Trend.

Ibrahim noted that it was an initiative of the Ambassadors, who are former Culture Ministers. They visit the region not only as diplomats.

"The Ambassadors met with the Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian origin residing in Nagorno-Karabakh, including Arkadiy Gukasyan," Ibrahim said.

The Spokesman noted that the visit had been intended to fortify trust between Azerbaijani and Armenian communities, who will live in the same territory after resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "The conflict will be settled in one way or another and the visit was organized in order to provide for a smooth post-conflict period," he noted.

According to Armenian media, the importance of the initiative of the Ambassadors was noted at the meeting with Gukasyan. According to Gukasyan, the visit can provide for a healthy and constructive atmosphere during the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The attendees of the meeting voiced hope that a dialogue between the representatives of intelligentsia would continue in the future and would cover wider public circles.

The Foreign Minister of Serbia, and Chairman of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, Vuk Jeremic, said on 28 June in Strasburg that the international community once again stated that any elections in Nagorno-Karabakh will not be recognized.

During the summer session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Jeremic said that as stated before the constitutional referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2006, as well as presidential elections in the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic scheduled for 19 July, cannot serve the conflict settlement and only delays the negotiations.

Answering the question of the Azerbaijani delegation regarding presidential elections in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Minister replied that the position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains unchanged. Whilst joining the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan and Armenia undertook obligations to peacefully resolve the conflict. The Committee of Ministers supports the talks which have been taking place between Azerbaijan and Armenia for already several years through the support of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Jeremic said that they are interested in peace and stability in Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as in the whole South Caucasus region. Reaching an agreement is extremely significant for both countries and the conflict needs to be resolved through talks, Jeremic said.

The latest inspection conducted on the line of contact of the troops near the Hindarkh-Agdam highway on 28 June in compliance with a mandate of the special representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office was completed without incident, Trend Regional Correspondent reports.

Miroslav Vimetal and Imre Palatinus, field assistants of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office's special envoy, Andrzej Kasprzyk, were in charge of monitoring the Azerbaijani side of the frontline.

Peter Key and Jaslan Nurtazin, field assistants to the OSCE Chairman-in-Office's special envoy, carried out monitoring of the Armenian side of the frontline in the territory internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.

Before the inspection, the OSCE representatives met with the Head of Agdam Executive Power, Hasan Sariyev. During the meeting, Sariyev informed the envoy of arson committed by the Armenian Armed Forces in occupied Azerbaijani lands and the problems that emerged as a result.

Agdam is located in 380 km south-west of Baku.

Kosovo cannot become a precedent in the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the State Secretary and the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Slovakia, Olga Algaerova, said to journalists in Yerevan on 28 June.

"We do not believe that the way of resolving the situation with Kosovo can be used while settlement of other conflict, including Nagorno-Karabakh," she said.

Algaerova noted that that difference between the conflict in Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh is that the countries are different and have different political situations," according to Novosti Armenia. In Armenia they say that Kosovo's independence can serve as precedent for Karabakh. The Vice-Speaker of Armenian Parliament, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of 'Dashnaktsutun', Vaan Ovannisyan, has recently stated that to journalists.

Subdivisions of the Armenian Armed Forces located in Moseskeh village of Berd District of Armenia fired with sub-machine-gun and machine-gun the Azerbaijani National Army near Agdam village of Tovuz District of Azerbaijan on 28 June from 21.40am to 21.50am and from 01:50 to 03:00 on 29 June, according to the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry.

The firing stopped by reciprocal action, there were no losses.

"Azerbaijani Professor, Rector of Baku Slavic University, Kamal Abdulla, who has recently returned from Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, said on 29 June that Azerbaijan's city of Shusha has already transformed into a dead city and there are not any signs of life there.

On 28 June, the OSCE organized the visit of the Azerbaijani and Armenian intellectuals, headed by the ambassadors of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Russia, to Khankendy and Shusha. From there, they left for Armenia and met with the Armenian President, Robert Kocharyan.

Kamal Abdulla said that arriving in Shusha, they found all Azerbaijani heritages destroyed. The bust of Azerbaijan's great art worker, Bulbul, has been destroyed and only its walls have remained available. "We wished to go to Cidir Duzu, but faced refusal. We understood that the monument of Azerbaijan's great poet, Vagif, has been destroyed. We could go to Shusha via Agdam, but we were not allowed to walk in Agdam because it has been destroyed. No signs of life have remained available in Shusha," Abdulla said.

According to him, the Armenian intellectuals had an opportunity to become familiarized with the Armenian churches in Baku. "They were surprised how we have kept the churches and Armenian books. They saw difference in maintaining Armenian churches in Baku and Azerbaijani mosques which has been destroyed by the Armenians. They regretfully looked at Baku and understood unsuccessful Armenian policy," Abdulla stressed.

"I am right in visiting Nagorno-Karabakh," said the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu, who headed the Azerbaijani delegation visiting the occupied Azerbaijani lands on 28 June together with Armenian intellectuals.

According to Bulbuloglu, somebody had to do it. The diplomat said that he is going to continue his activity in this regard.

The Ambassador did not exclude the possibility to realize humanitarian projects together with the Armenians in the occupied Azerbaijani lands, as well as the restoration of mosques in Shusha.

We should work with the Armenians residing in Nagorno-Karabakh, but not threaten them, said the Head of State Conservatory, Farhad Bedelbeyli, on 29 June at the conference dedicated to the results of the visit made by Azerbaijani and Armenian intellectuals to the occupied Azerbaijani lands.

According to Bedelbeyli, there needs to be a change in tactics with regards to the Armenians, as the old tactics have not yielded any results over the past fifteen years. "Each Azerbaijani should be a diplomat," Bedelbeyli said.

According to him, the emotions of the Armenians residing the Azerbaijani territories have been stirred by the visit. Bedelbeyli added that he cannot say what results the visit will yield.

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