Weekly political digest (26.01- 31.01.2009)
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev is currently visiting Hungary. On Jan. 26, he gave an interview to the Hungarian Telegraph Agency and the Duna television at his residence - the InterContinental Hotel, AzerTaj state news agency reported.
The President answered questions about the importance of the Nabucco project, Azerbaijan's attitude towards the project, country's gas production, the export potential and prospects, the role of Azerbaijan in Europe's energy security, as well as the historical similarities between the peoples of Azerbaijan and Hungary, the close relations, the importance of media in the development of relations between both countries.
Azerbaijani President also gave an interview to the Hungarian Bloomberg-News television. Ilham Aliyev responded to questions related to Azerbaijan's position on the Nabucco project, country's current situation and prospects of oil and gas industry, the operation of pipelines, Azerbaijan's participation in ensuring European energy security.
On 26 January Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met the Prime Minister of Hungary Ferentsem Dyurchanem in the Budapest Parliament, information state news agency AzerTaj reported.
At the meeting it was noted that the ties between Azerbaijan and Hungary in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres successfully develop, having great potential for further expansion.
On January 26, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in Budapest, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Mirek Topolanek, information state news agency AzerTaj reported.
According to Ilham Aliyev, the cooperation with the Czech Republic during its presidency of the European Union will also further expand the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU. " Azerbaijan is directly involved in the New Neighborhood Policy of European Union, it contributes to the EU's energy security, Azerbaijani gas is exported to European countries", said the head of state.
President Ilham Aliyev pointed out the importance of Nabucco project. He expressed confidence in further expansion of bilateral relations with the Czech Republic. The President also noted that the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, Armenia's occupation of the country create more obstacles to regional cooperation and security architecture.
President Ilham Aliyev expressed confidence that the European Union will actively participate in the speedy settlement of the conflict. According to the Prime Minister, the Czech Republic stands ready to contribute to the further expansion of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU during the presidency of the European Union and the closer integration of Azerbaijan into European structures. "Our cooperation will develop in various fields. Czech Republic is interested in it ", - said the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. Mirek Topolanek also spoke about the importance of Nabucco project, described Azerbaijan as a country playing an important role in the issue of energy security of Europe.
On January 26 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Sergey Stanishev in Budapest, as was provided by the state news agency AzerTaj.
The meeting exchanged views mainly on cooperation in the energy sector and further development of two-side relations in all fields.
According to Ilham Aliyev, thesel relations are developing dynamically.
"Today, the energy factor is one of the priority issues on the agenda. This will continue, because energy security is an important issue for any country. In this context, a summit of Nabucco will create an opportunity for enhanced cooperation ", said the head of the Azerbaijani State.
The Prime Minister of Bulgaria said that the Budapest summit of Nabucco project will be of great importance in terms of taking concrete steps.
Azerbaijan, a key potential supplier for the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, remains a supporter of the project and calls on participants to move the project forward, President Ilham Aliyev told a conference on the Nabucco gas pipeline project in Hungary. Nabucco is designed to diversify sources of energy supplies to Europe.
"As far as Nabucco is concerted, Azerbaijan has always been supportive to this project and today once again we'd like to declare that we continue to support," Aliyev said.
Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia met in Zurich on Jan. 28
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Armenia's Edward Nalbandyan discussed preparation for the Presidents' meeting and ways to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Azerbaijan plans to double its gas production in the next 5 years, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 29."We are planning at least to double gas production over the next 5 years. Thus, the available markets are not enough. It is very important to have a clear understanding of our potential markets," he said. "Today, Azerbaijan has no problems with diversification," Aliyev. "On the contrary, we have 7 pipelines for oil and gas exports, which can transport our hydrocarbons in different directions. We do not depend on only one route and one market. It may seem a bit strange, but even those countries that produce more oil and gas than Azerbaijan want to buy our gas and oil." Azerbaijan is now focused on finding new markets and expanding its pipelines, he added. Bringing together the efforts of the countries involved in the Nabucco project and strong financial commitments can help advance the project, Aliyev said.
"Nabucco shareholding nations, as well as project-backing organizations, should consider Nabucco not only as a means of profit. There is the issue of energy security. Energy security ensures common security and independence in the long run," he said.
"Nabucco needs more political will, more precise financial commitments, and countries like Azerbaijan who are willing to play the gas supplying and transiting role," Aliyev addes.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met in Davos with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AzerTac reported.
They praised successful development of fraternal relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey. The sides underlined the two countries` economic development serves increasing their peoples` welfare. They noted the bilateral relationship between the two countries also contributes to regional cooperation.
The sides stressed the importance of reciprocal visits by the two countries` high-level officials in terms of strengthening and expanding bilateral cooperation.
They also expressed confidence that mutual relations would continue to develop.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with the Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in Davos, Switzerland.
During the conversation, they pointed out successful economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and UK, and expressed confidence it will continue enhancing.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met in Davos with President and CEO of StatoilHydro Helge Lund, AzerTac reported.
Helge Lund said successful cooperation with Azerbaijan`s State Oil Company was underway within "Shah Deniz-1" and "Shah Deniz-2" projects. He, however, stressed the necessity of speeding up work on "Shah Deniz-2" project.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met in Davos with Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Poland Donald Tusk, AzerTac reported.
The sides stressed that relations between Azerbaijan and Poland were successfully developing in political, economic and other spheres.
They praised the level of bilateral economic cooperation.
They also exchanged views on energy cooperation within the Nabucco project.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev was interviewed here today by The Wall Street Journal newspaper. The Azerbaijani leader responded to a number of questions covering the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan`s energy potential, the country`s role in ensuring European energy security, economic situation in Azerbaijan, the Nabucco project and regional issues
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan sent a message of congratulations to the newly elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill, AzerTac reported.
The letter runs: "Your Eminence, I am confident that the friendly and kind relations with deep historical roots between the nations of Azerbaijan and Russia will strengthen even more in the period of Your patriarchate."
"Your Eminence, I wish You robust health, welfare and success in all Your initiatives," the letter said.
President Aliyev spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos about Azerbaijan's relations with the European Union (EU) and expressed his satisfaction with level of bilateral relations. "The EU-Azerbaijan relations are at a good level. We are satisfied with level of our cooperation with the EU and want enhance cooperation more," President Aliyev said.
Azerbaijan and the EU signed a strategic cooperation agreement two years ago and at present the country is holding discussions on energy transport cooperation, the president said. "These are very important events, Our relations are based on mutual benefit and respect. We hope to continue relations in a positive direction," the Azerbaijani President said.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev met with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Albania Sali Berisha on 29 January in Davos at the hotel "Congress", reported information state news agency AzerTaj.
The meeting pointed out that bilateral relations are developing in various areas, noting the existence of good potential for cooperation in the economic sphere. During the meeting the need to explore possibilities for expanding ties in the economic field was discussed.
Президент Азербайджана Ильхам Алиев 29 января в Давосе в отеле "Конгресс" встретился со старшим вице-президентом корпорации Microsoft и президентом Microsoft International Жаном-Филиппом Куртуа. На встрече были подчеркнуты экономические успехи Азербайджана в последние годы, отмечалось, что глава государства в качестве одного из приоритетных направлений выдвинул развитие не только энергетического, но и ненефтяного сектора, в частности, сферы информационных технологий, и в этой области уже достигнуты успехи. В этом контексте был проведен обмен мнениями о нынешнем состоянии и дальнейших перспективах сотрудничества между Азербайджаном и Microsoft, являющейся ведущей мировой компанией.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev met with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus on 29 January in Davos at the hotel "Congress", provides information state news agency AzerTaj.
The meeting welcomed the successful expansion of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Lithuania, the importance of high-level meetings to further strengthen ties.
The Presidents stressed the existence of good prospects for further expansion of cooperation between the two countries in various fields.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Thomas Global at the hotel "Congress", in Davos January 29.
The meeting welcomed the successful cooperation of Azerbaijan with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and exchange of views on the current status and future prospects for relations.
Azerbaijani and Latvian presidents Ilham Aliyev and Valdis Zetlers met at the Congress Hotel in Davos on Jan. 30, the Azertaj state news agency reported.
The presidents expressed their approval of the developing bilateral ties between the two nations.
The growing economic and political relations between Latvia and Azerbaijan contribute to advancing Azerbaijani-EU ties on the whole, experts report.
The heads of state voiced their confidence that the bilateral relations will continue to develop.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Israel's Shimon Peres met in Davos on Jan. 30.
Presidents discussed bilateral relations and economic links between the two countries.
The agenda of the Azerbaijani parliament's spring session has been released. The session will discuss draft laws for the Administrative Procedural Code, Construction Code, Housing Code, education, science and national scientific and technical policies, reproductive health and family planning, physical fitness and sports, ensuring the rights of Azerbaijani military personnel participating in peacekeeping operations, special economic zones, employee wages at state-financed organizations, applying special economic regimes in oil-and-gas export activities, beekeeping and cotton, parliamentary spokesperson Akif Nasirov said at a news conference on Jan. 28. The spring session will begin on Feb. 2.
The parliament's Web site is currently being updated, Nasirov said.
"Citizens will be able to make an appointment with members of parliament via the Internet. An electronic parliamentary library will also be created," he added.
Группа оппозиционных партий Азербайджана утверждает, что проведение референдума противоречит конституции. "В связи с этим в ближайшие дни предусматривается обратиться в Европейский суд", - сказал Энвер Агаев, заместитель председателя партии "Умид", представленной в утвержденной агитационной группе по референдуму "Движение за Карабах и республику". По словам Агаева, на заседании движения прозвучали мнения о том, что вынесенные на референдум изменения и дополнения противоречат статьям 156 и 158 Конституции Азербайджана. "На заседании также был обсужден вопрос об оказании давления в отдельных регионах страны на тех, кто собирает и дает подписи. Чтобы приостановить кампанию давления и преследования, направлено обращение властям", - добавил функционер оппозиционной партии.
Прооппозиционная партия Азербайджана отказалась от намерения учредить агитационную группу по референдуму. "Мы не захотели независимо участвовать в этой кампании. Мы будем вести пропаганду вместе с другими созданными по референдуму агитационными группами", - сказал председатель партии "Современный Мусават" Хафиз Гаджиев. Гаджиев не согласен с утверждениями о том, что изменения в Конституцию нанесут вред азербайджанскому государству. "Мы не думаем, что в будущем эти изменения могут привести к созданию монархии. По-нашему, это сыграет большую роль в дальнейшем развитии Азербайджана",- сказал он.
Правящая партия Азербайджана готова к диалогу с оппозицией и рассмотрению тем, по которым он будет вестись. "Если поступят предложения, обсудив их, мы можем высказать свое мнение", - сказал 28 января депутат Мубариз Гурбанлы, заместитель исполнительного секретаря правящей партии "Ени Азербайджан" (ПЕА). По словам Гурбанлы, проводимые правящей партией мероприятия открыты для всех политических организаций.
"Мы обратимся к правящей партии по нескольким вопросам для проведения диалога", - сказал депутат Фазиль Мустафа, лидер Партии великого созидания (ПВС). По его словам, существует необходимость в проведении обсуждений между властями и оппозицией по повышению роли партий в обществе, восстановлению пропорциональной избирательной системы и финансированию партий из госбюджета.
Объединение всех левых сил Азербайджана в едином блоке не состоялось. Левые партии - Народно-социалистическая, Прогрессивно-социалистическая и Левых демократов - создают отдельно новый блок для консолидации усилий в преддверие парламентских выборов в стране. По словам председателя ПЛД Эльшана Манафова, деятельность блока социалистических партий без коммунистов будет более приемлема. Левые партии пришли к согласию относительно создания аналитического центра, сказал он. "Основная цель в создании центра - подготовить и представить правительству программу антикризисной деятельности.
В марте стартует новый проект Общественного объединения Азербайджана "Ирели". "В рамках проекта "Сотрудничество молодежи во имя глобального диалога" будут организованы встречи молодых лидеров Азербайджана с депутатами Азербайджана и зарубежных государств. Первые такие встречи планируется провести в Египте и Италии", - сообщил председатель "Ирели" Джейхун Османлы.
На заседании правления правящей партии Азербайджана 29 января был обнародован отчет о деятельности партии в 2008 году, сообщили в пресс-службе партии "Ени Азербайджан" (ПЕА). Согласно статистическим данным, в 2008 году в партию было принято 35 752 новых члена, и общая численность членов ПЕА достигла 470 605 человек.
Вопрос усиления сотрудничества между правящей партией "Ени Азербайджан" и Национальным институтом демократии США был обсужден в штаб-квартире правящей партии заместителем председателя, исполнительным секретарем ПЕА Али Ахмедовым и директором Национального института демократии США по международным отношениям Ариеном де Вольфом. На встрече была подчеркнута важность углубления отношений между Национальным институтом демократии и ПЕА, расширения зоны охвата осуществляемых проектов, было принято решение о совместном продолжении тренингов.
Коммунистическая партия Азербайджана (КПА) планирует вести наблюдение за ходом референдума по всей республике. "Коммунистическая партия поручила 46 городским и районным организациям подготовить список наблюдателей. Члены партии будут участвовать в центральных, окружных и участковых избирательных комиссиях в качестве наблюдателей", - сказал Рауф Гурбанов, председатель КПА. В Азербайджане 18 марта состоится референдум по вопросу внесения дополнений и изменений в 29 статей Конституции. До сих пор создано 14 инициативных групп по референдуму.
"Если в Центральную избирательную комиссию поступят официальные обращения в связи с любым нарушением закона в ходе кампании по сбору подписей, они будут расследованы и обсуждены", - сказал руководитель пресс-службы ЦИК Азер Сарыев.
Центральная Избирательная Комиссия Азербайджана зарегистрировала инициативную группу "Шехер" как агитационную группу. Инициативная группа "Шехер" представила в Центризбирком 44 300 подписей избирателей из 62 избирательных округов, сказал секретарь ЦИК Натиг Мамедов. "Из общего количества подписей действительными оказались 41 637, недействительными - 2663", - сказал он.
Центральная избирательная комиссия (ЦИК) Азербайджана пригласила все заинтересованные стороны принять участие в процессе проверки подписных листов, представленных инициативными группами по референдуму. "В этом процессе могут участвовать представители прессы, международных организаций, члены инициативных групп. Их участие докажет прозрачность процесса проверки подписей избирателей", - сказал 27 января на заседании ЦИК Мазахир Панахов, председатель структуры.
Председатель Центральной избирательной комиссии Азербайджана нормально воспринял новость о том, что некоторые оппозиционные партии хотят подать на него в суд. "Любой гражданин имеет право подавать в суд. Оппозиционные партии также могут воспользоваться этим правом", - сказал 29 января журналистам Мазахир Панахов, председатель ЦИК. Агитационная группа по референдуму, учрежденная некоторыми оппозиционными партиями Азербайджана, намерена подать в суд на председателя Центризбиркома. "Центризбирком необъективно рассмотрел нарушения, с которыми во время кампании по сбору подписей столкнулись члены оппозиционной партии и предоставляющие свои подписи. Кроме того, председатель комиссии выступил по телевидению против нас", - сказал Сардар Джалалоглу, председатель Демократической партии (ДПА), представленной в инициативной группе по референдуму "Движение за Карабах и республику". По его словам, на председателя ЦИК Мазахира Панахова в суд будет подан иск от имени агитационной группы. "От имени "Движения за Карабах и республику" мы обратились и в инициативные группы, учрежденные другими оппозиционными партиями. Нашей целью является то, чтобы к "Движению за Карабах и республику" присоединились агитационные группы, учрежденные партией Национальной независимости и другими представленными в Союзе за демократию партиями", - добавил Джалалоглу.
ЦИК ожидает поддержки международных организаций для содействия в вопросе внесения в список избирателей граждан Азербайджана армянского происхождения. "Серьезной проблемой остается то, что мы не можем внести в список избирателей имена граждан Азербайджана армянского происхождения по той причине, что нагорно-карабахский конфликт не урегулирован и международные структуры не оказывают содействие ЦИК в этом вопросе", - сказал 29 января секретарь ЦИК Натик Мамедов. В Азербайджане 125 избирательных округов. Из них восемь находятся под оккупацией.
На прошедшем 30 января заседании Бюро Парламентской ассамблеи Совета Европы (ПАСЕ) было принято решение направить наблюдателей структуры на референдум, который пройдет в Азербайджане весной. "Бюро приняло решение, что нет необходимости в наблюдательской миссии в широком составе, за ходом референдума будут наблюдать приблизительно десять депутатов СЕ", - сказал глава азербайджанской делегации в ПАСЕ, вице-президент структуры Самед Сеидов. По словам Сеидова, вопросы, связанные с внесением предложенных изменений в Конституцию, будут направлены Венецианской комиссии.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Chairman Luis Maria de Puig is prepared to make offers to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"We will try to find a way out of the situation and make proposals. But the sides should reach an agreement," Puig said at a news conference on Jan. 26.
The PACE winter session began on Jan. 26.
The Council of Europe Ad Hoc Committee was formed to prevent conflicts in member nations and is engaged in resolving frozen conflicts, including Nagorno-Karabakh, Puig said.
"The Council of Europe is trying to mediate the situation and create an atmosphere of confidence among the sides," Puig said.
"The Azerbaijani and Armenian delegations held a meeting at a previous session to solve the conflict and their meeting was positive and constructive," Puig said.
Puig said a new committee chairman has not been elected, although an election is on the agenda.
Council of Europe intends to further develop relations with Azerbaijan, head of the Azerbaijani journalists delegation to PACE Samad Seyidov said on Monday in Strasbourg, after the meeting with PACE President Luis Maria de Puchom.
According to Seidov, expansion of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe were discussed.
"Relations between Azerbaijan and the EU will grow even despite the fact that certain forces want to inflict such damage relations", said Seidov.
In Strasbourg on January 26, has started regular winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) discussed the upcoming referendum and ban on foreign radio stations on Azerbaijani national frequencies on Jan. 29.
"The Monitoring Committee stressed that the Azerbaijani people have the sovereignright to hold the referendum," head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE Samad Seyidov told reporters. "It was stated that the referendum will be held by the will of the Azerbaijani people. No organization can pressure Azerbaijan in this regard. The Council of Europe and Venice Commission are ready to render their support."
Seyidov said the PACE co-reporters tried to describe the ban on foreign radio stations as restricting the freedom of speech and media. But the Monitoring Committee decided that the foreign stations were closed on the basis of the Council of Europe's recommendations for Azerbaijan.
"The Azerbaijani National Television and Radio Council was established upon the recommendation of the Council of Europe," Seyidov said. "Claims that the decision is illegal are unconvincing. Monitoring Committee representatives said their countries have also banned foreign radio broadcasts."
Seyidov said certain forces in the organization hope to harm Azerbaijani-Council of Europe relations.
"This will not happen. Azerbaijan takes legal actions based on the Council of Europe's laws," he said.
As a result of Armenia's ethnic cleansing policy, thousands of people in Azerbaijan have become disabled, said a member of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Ganira Pashayeva.
"As a result of the ethnic cleansing policy held by Armenia 20 years ago, 300,000 Azerbaijanis were expelled from their homes, thousands of people suffered various injuries, they were subjected to torture and torment. Thousands of people lost their health and became disabled," Pashayeva said when discussing the "Report on ensuring the rights of disabled persons and persons with disabilities and their full participation in the public life at the winter session" of PACE.
Azerbaijan is home to 420,000 disabled persons, with 15 percent of children.
Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory, killing 20,000 people and making disabled over 60,000, said Pashayeva.
"We, the members of the Council of Europe, should increase efforts to implement the issue set forth in the UN and the CoE Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan. Azerbaijan joined the UN and CoE Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the issue in a number of government priorities," she said.
To ensure the full and active participation of disabled persons in the public life, their social protection and the protection of their rights are the main priorities for Azerbaijan. The official Baku has always endorsed the documents of the Council of Europe, she said.
"Under the laws, institutions have quotas to employ persons with disabilities. In the past few years, thousands of disabled persons were provided with apartments, built by the State. Hundreds of families of disabled persons were provided with free cars. At the initiative of the First Lady of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva, serious work was conducted to train persons with sight disability to enable their better integration into society, their social security," Pashayeva said.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) distributed a written declaration on the 60th anniversary of the Azerbaijani deportations from Armenia.
"The repatriation rights of all peoples deported under Stalin's regime have been recognized," Azerbaijani PACE delegation member Ganira Pashayeva wrote in the declaration on Jan. 28. "But so far Armenia has not recognized the repatriation rights of the Azerbaijanis who were deported from Armenia in 1948-1953. For 60 years Armenia has violated their basic rights."
Azerbaijanis were deported from Armenia in four stages - in 1948, 1956, 1987 and 1988.
According to archive documents, over 1.5 million Azerbaijanis were evicted from their homes in areas, which are today recognized as Armenian territory.
The names of 698 of 940 Azerbaijani settlements were changed after the Armenian Soviet Republic was established. The names of the last 91 Azerbaijani settlements were changed after an order by former Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan on April 9, 1991.
Over 20 members of parliament in the UK, Germany, Turkey, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria and Albania signed the declaration and recognized the document.
"Yerevan continues to violate the rights of 150,000 deported Azerbaijanis by refusing to recognize and provide them with their repatriation rights. All peoples have been given these rights except Azerbaijanis. Only they are still deprived of them," the document said.
In 1988 Armenia pursued a mono-ethnic policy and deported all Azerbaijanis from the country. A total of 300,000 Azerbaijanis were forcedly deported from their homes.
The declaration said PACE, which considers protecting human rights to be a priority, as well as member nations, condemn the crimes committed against the Azerbaijanis.
The Council of Europe also urges member nations to use strict influence and pressure to force Armenia to recognize and provide the deported Azerbaijanis with their basic rights.
The United Nations (UN) will discuss the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.
A Universal Periodic Review report on the human rights situation in the country will be discussed at the fourth session of the UN Council of Human Rights in Geneva on Feb. 2-4, the UN High Human Rights Commissioner's Baku Office told Trend on Jan. 29.
The report completely describes the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, Justice Ministry told Trend .
U.S. congressmen will soon learn about the Khojali genocide committed by Armenians against Azerbaijanis.
"We will meet with congressmen in February and inform them about the Khojali genocide. We plan to distribute CDs with records of the tragedy to the congressmen," Turkish-U.S. Associations Federation President Kaya Boztepe told Trend in a telephone conversation from New York on Jan. 30.
On the night of February 25-26, 1992, the Armenian armed forces killed 487 people, including 76 youths, in Kholjali, Azeraijan. A total of 1,275 people were taken prisoner.
Although most of the prisoners have been released, the fate of 150 people remains unknown.
Boztepe said they will discuss the alleged "Armenian Genocide" with the congressmen, as well.
On Jan. 25, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azeri troops in the Gedabay region at 12:30-01:05. The shots were fired from the Krasnoselsk region in Armenia.
The Azeri Defense Ministry reported that the Armenian soldiers fired at Azeri troops from positions nearby of the Ashagi Seidkhamanli, Garvand and Garaxanbaili villages at 12:15 -12:25 and 03:30-03:45, from nameless heights of Fuzuli and Khojavand regions at 11:00-00:00.
The Azeri troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.
"Sources of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be investigated and its causes must be eliminated. The Council of Europe pays great attention to the South Caucasus," Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Terry Davis said on Jan. 26. He commented to the Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation, participating in the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, on what mechanisms the Council of Europe can involve to protect the rights of hundreds of Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs, whose rights were violated as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Today, the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe started in Strasbourg.
Davis said that in any conflict, including Nagorno-Karabakh, the source should be found and the causes combated. "This is a "triangular" or tripartite conflict. I always said at the meetings between the Presidents or Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan that the negotiations should be conducted within the OSCE Minsk Group. We support the efforts of the Minsk Group and cannot replace them. We must go forward," he said. According to Davis, human rights are the fundamental principle of the CE. "Indeed, in Azerbaijan and in Armenia there are hundreds of refugees and IDPs. At a meeting with President Ilham Aliyev during my last visit to Baku in December, I felt a progress and hope in resolving the conflict. I hope this conflict will be resolved before the end of my term of office," he said.
Monitoring was held on the contact line between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces on Jan. 27 in 2009 after a mandate by the special envoy of the OSCE chairman, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry told Trend .
The monitoring in Borsunlu village of Azerbaijan's Naftalan region proceeded without incident on Jan. 27.
The monitoring was held on the Azerbaijani side by the OSCE Chairman's Personal Representative Imre Palatinus and Vladimir Chountulov.
The monitoring was held on the Armenian side by the OSCE Chairman's field assistants Pieter Ki, Antal Herdich and Irji Aberli.
On Jan. 26, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from the Jojugmarjanli village of the Azerbaijani Jabrayil region at 09:10-09:25.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that the Armenian soldiers fired at Azerbaijani troops from nameless heights in the Fuzuli region at 11:15-11:30 and 23:20-23:39 and an area outside the Sarijali and Shurabad village in the Agdam region at 02:35-03:50 on Jan. 27.
The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.
On Jan. 27, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops in the Munjuglu and Kokha Nabi villages of the Tovuz region at 14:50-15:05. The shots were fired from nameless heights and near the Aygedzor and Chinarli villages of Armenia's Berd region.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that the Armenian soldiers fired at Azerbaijani troops from an area outside the Gorgan and Garvand villages, as well as nameless heights in the Fuzuli region at 10:40-10:50, 22:50-22:25 and 23:15-23:35, from positions near the Yusifjanli village in the Agdam region at 21:25-21:30 and from positions near the Kuropatkino village of the Hojavand region at 23:37-23:40.
The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry confirmed the death of three Armenian soldiers on the line of contact. Several Armenian soldiers were wounded.
The Armenian armed forces began to move toward the Javahirli village in the Agdam region of Azerbaijan to capture the positions of the Azerbaijani army and strengthen their positions on Jan. 26 at 07.00, Defense Ministry spokesman Eldar Sabiroglu told Trend .
The battle lasted for one hour. The enemy retreated with three losses and several wounded, Sabiroglu said.
The body of one Armenian soldier is presently near the line of contact. The Armenian military took the rest of the bodies and wounded. No casualties were reported on the Azerbaijani side.
Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia made progress in solidifying mutual understanding on several key elements of the Basic Principles, OSCE Minsk Group U.S. Cochair Matthew Bryza sad.
The two presidents met in Zurich on Jan. 28.
"The meeting was positive and constructive. The presidents made progress in solidifying mutual understanding on several key elements of the Basic Principles, and in narrowing differences on some other issues," said Bryza.
The Cochairs plan to visit the region within the next month to help sustain this positive momentum, he said.
Trend interview with Europe Programme Director at the International Crisis Group Sabine Freizer
Question: Can the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict be solved in 2009?
Answer: The key to the solution of the conflict lies with the leaders and peoples of Azerbaijan and Armenia. It is primarily Azeris and Armenians, including those from Nagorno-Karabakh, who need to find a mutually acceptable compromise solution. This solution should be achieved through peaceful negotiations and with due consideration to the rights and underlying interests of all major stakeholders in the conflict, so as to ensure a stable, sustainable and just peace.
The external players, be it OSCE Minsk Group or individual states, may only play a secondary role in shaping the dynamics of the conflict and helping the parties to come to peace. We cannot fully exclude the possibility of signing of a peace agreement in 2009. However, even if Armenia and Azerbaijan sign a peace agreement, it will take years for Azeris and Armenians to build trust and learn to peacefully coexist in Nagorno-Karabakh and elsewhere. So, solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a long-term process.
We cannot exclude the possibility of a significant progress towards peace in 2009. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan continue talks using Minsk Group's Madrid proposals as a framework. The August crisis in Georgia has increased the importance and urgency the international community attaches to the solution of the conflicts in the South Caucasus. The Moscow declaration signed in November by Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian presidents, despite the fact that it was perceived as primarily a Russian attempt to improve its international image after Georgia war, was an important development in a sense that it was the first signed document between Armenia and Azerbaijan ever since 1994 cease-fire and called for a political resolution of the conflict.
Turkey is also stepping up its regional efforts in the Caucasus and the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations would have a positive impact to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. So, given all these recent developments, there are some grounds for cautious optimism. However, as I said, the solution to such complex problems as Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a long-term process and it will take at least a decade, if not more, before the conflict can be fully resolved. To start that process it is essential that leaders on all sides start making their populations aware of the Madrid principles and encourage confidence building measures between their societies.
Q: Can the war be resumed this year?
A: War can erupt at any time as long as the conflict is unresolved and the two armies face each other in the trenches. The August war in Georgia has demonstrated how fragile the status quo is in the region. But it also had a deterring effect in a sense that it showed what catastrophic consequences the resumption of hostilities may have. This puts a special responsibility on the shoulders of the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders not to allow a similar scenario in Nagorno-Karabakh, which represents an even bigger security challenge for regional and European security than the one posed by August 2008 war in Georgia. The leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia should benefit from increased attention of the international community to the South Caucasus and use its assistance to achieve a peaceful solution.
Q: What principles of the draft framework agreement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remain uncoordinated?
A: The Minsk Group proposals, officially presented to the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan at the Madrid summit of the OSCE in November 2007 constitute the basis of present-day negotiations. These proposals, also known as "basic principles", are an outcome of series of meetings between Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers since 2004 initiated in Prague, and thus dubbed the "Prague process". The proposals are generally known, and have been previously elaborated in Crisis Group's relevant reports "Plan for Peace" (2005) and "Risking War" (2007).
The proposals envisage determination of a final status of Nagorno-Karabakh by a popular vote in the last stage of the peace process, after all other confidence measures, including renunciation of the use of force, gradual withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the occupied territories, return of displaced population to their homes and re-opening of trade and communications, have been put in place.
However, the parties have significant differences on the issue of return of Kelbajar and Lachin districts, the modalities of the vote which would determine Nagorno-Karabakh's ultimate status, and the issue of return of displaced Azeris to Nagorno-Karabakh before such a vote takes place. The Minsk Group currently works with parties to bridge the remaining differences so as to enable Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders sign up to the "basic principles".
Crisis Group believes the ongoing negotiations based on Madrid proposals constitute the best framework for peaceful resolution of the conflict. In Azerbaijan there are widespread misperceptions and clichй-type thinking about these proposals, as if they constitute a hidden plot to legitimize Nagorno-Karabakh's secession from Azerbaijan. Analogical fears exist in Armenia too. It is crucial that the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia inform and consult with their societies on the substance of the Minsk Group's proposals. Greater public awareness and civic discussions within Azerbaijan and with Armenian counterparts is very important for achieving a progress in the peace process.
Q: Media outlets have reported Russia has transferred 800-million-dollar worth weapons to Armenia. Does this undermine the peace process?
A: I have read about this in the Azerbaijani media and at this stage it is hard for me to judge on the issue. The Russian side denies the report and we do not have an independent verification of the claim. However, if true, this fact certainly undermines Russian position as a Minsk Group co-chair and impartial mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The arms transfer also contravenes the UN Security Council Resolution 853 (1993) urging the states to "refrain from supply of any weapons and munitions which might lead to an intensification of the conflict or the continued occupation of territory".
We in Crisis Group believe any supply of offensive weapons to either Armenia or Azerbaijan as long as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is unresolved serves only to undermine the peace process, brings further militarization and diverts scarce resources away from public needs.
On Jan. 28, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops at 10:50-10:55 and 23:43-23:48. The shots were fired from near Kuropatkino village and nameless heights in Khojavand region.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that the Armenian soldiers fired at Azerbaijani troops from an area outside the Talish village in the Goranboy region at 16:50-17:05, near Ashagi Abdurahmanli village in the Fuzuli region at 00:40-01:00 on Jan. 29.
The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No casualties were reported.
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group hope the parties will be able to bridge these remaining differences in the nearest future to secure a peace agreement that is far better for all parties than the status quo, the press release placed on the OSCE website said.
The Co-Chairs' goal is a just and balanced agreement based on the Helsinki Final Act principles of territorial integrity,
"The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassador Bernard Fassier - France; Ambassador Yuri Merzlyakov - Russian Federation; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza - United States) traveled to Baku on Jan.19, 2009, where they met with President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, and to Yerevan on Jan. 20, 2009, where they met with President Serzh Sarkisyan and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
On Jan. 29, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops in the Alibayli village of the Tovuz region at 20:10-20:20. The shots were fired from the Aygepar village in Armenia's Berd region.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that the Armenian soldiers fired at Azerbaijani troops from positions in the Fuzuli region at 10:45-10:50 and 16:30-16:40 and from nameless heights in the Goranboy region at 13:10-13:30 and 14:00-14:10.
The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.
On Jan. 30, Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from Yusifjanli village of Agdam region from 09:00 to 09:51 and from 21:00 to 21:10.
The Armenian armed forces were also firing from Seysulan village of Terter region from 12:45 to 13:05, nameless heights of Goranboy region from 14:00 to 14:10 and Garvand village of Fuzuli region. On Jan. 31, the shots were also fired from Kuropatkino village of Khojavand region from 00:20 to 00:30 and from Sarijali village of Agdam region from 01:40 to 03:20. This was reported by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry press service.
The response of fire shelling was suppressed, without any losses.