Weekly political digest

Official chronicle

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva got familiar with the reconstruction of the Azerbaijan State Young Spectators' Theatre on April 13. The President was informed about the reconstruction work here.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva got familiar with the new building of the State Film Fund on April 13. The President was informed about the building and reconstruction work here.

On April 14, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended a presentation of the Garadagh OJSC`s cement plant reconstruction project and groundbreaking ceremony for a state-of-the-art dry-process rotary kiln. The kiln construction project worth $400 million is one of giant projects in Azerbaijan's non-oil sector.

On April 13 Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev received the delegation headed by the President of BP-Azerbaijan Bill Schroeder. Aliyev congratulated the guests on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of BP and called it a historic day noticeable not only in the life of BP, but also in the history of the entire oil industry. The Head of State expressed his confidence that the spirit of positive partnership between the government and companies, Azerbaijan and BP will continue to serve mutual interests.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received the Swiss Holcim Group Chairman and Director General Marcus Akerman, the Azertaj information agency said. Azerbaijan experiences an economic development, new jobs have been opening and relevant measures to protect the environment have been taking despite the global financial crisis, President Aliyev said.

President noted that favourable conditions for attraction of investments and foreign companies have been created in the country. Aliyev stated about Azerbaijan's reliable partnership and noted the significance of the partnership with Holcim. This cooperation will yield its positive results, the President said. Akerman expressed satisfaction on company's functioning in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received a delegation led by Iraqi Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Qahtan Abbas al-Juburi on April 15, AzerTaj state news agency reported.   The President said Azerbaijan is interested in developing ties with Iraq and enhancing active cooperation. President Aliyev stressed importance of reciprocal visits and added that there are good opportunities to develop relations. The President said he was hopeful that the visit of the delegation led by al-Juburi will enable to consider opportunities of cooperation between respective bodies of the two countries and to get close familiarization with Azerbaijan.  

Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Minister al-Juburi extended greetings of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to Azerbaijani President. The Iraqi minister said he is pleased with his visit to Azerbaijan and expressed his gratitude for the Azerbaijani people for support during Iraq's hard times. Al-Juburi said the visit provides good opportunities to discuss cooperation prospects with his Azerbaijani counterparts in the field of tourism and antiquities. 

On April 15 Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev adopted United States Secretary of State's Adviser for South Caucasus and Central Asia, co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group Matthew Bryza.
During the meeting views were exchanged on the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has today accepted credentials of newly appointed ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Fahd bin Ali al-Dusari. Ambassador conveyed to Azerbaijani leader greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. He said he is honored to become an ambassador in Azerbaijan. He pledged to spare no efforts to strengthen bilateral ties during his tenure.

The Head of State stressed that bilateral ties between Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia are developing successfully in a variety of fields. President Aliyev recalled his meetings with Saudi King, stressing they are important for solidifying bilateral ties.

The Head of State emphasized that both countries continue to support each other's positions within international organizations. President Aliyev wished every success to the ambassador. Azerbaijani President expressed hope that the new ambassador would try his best to expand bilateral relationship.  The President asked ambassador to pass on his greetings to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins and his accompanying delegation on April 16, AzerTaj state news agency reported. Relations between the two countries are successfully developing in various spheres. High-level reciprocal visits intensively boost bilateral ties, and the two countries have good potential to expand cooperation even more. In the meeting, confidence was also expressed that Latvian Foreign Minister's current visit to Azerbaijan would contribute to strengthening bilateral relationship.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received the Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Interparliamentary Economic Commission Co-Chairman Jean-Daniel Gerber. Gerber said that he used to visit Azerbaijan being the chairman of the World Bank for Azerbaijan. Gerber remembered his meetings with the National Leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev.

Azerbaijan experiences an economic development, which was achieved through fruitful activity of Heydar Aliyev and the incumbent President Ilhm Aliyev.

Azerbaijani President said that the bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Switzerland were developing on the highest level. Aliyev noted the productive cooperation among international financial institutes, including the World Bank. Aliyev said that Gerber's visit to Azerbaijan would contribute to the expansion of the Azerbaijani-Swiss relations.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree approving the State Program of Socio-Economic Development of Regions of Azerbaijan for 2009-2013 in order to diversify the economy and its effective integration into the global economy, improve the level of infrastructure and public services, improve living standards.

The Presidential decree states that the successful implementation of State Program of Socio-Economic Development of Regions of Azerbaijan for 2004-2008, Program for Acceleration of Socio-Economic Development of Baku Districts for 2006-2007 have laid the basis for a qualitatively new stage in social and economic development, gave a boost to sustainable development of non-oil sector, created new jobs, played an important role in further improving the business environment, increased the investment in the economy, increased employment and reduced poverty.

The order notes that the main tasks of the State today is to increase the development of agriculture and industries, using the existing capacity of the regions of Azerbaijan more efficiently, support entrepreneurs in this case, advance resolving the problem of poverty, improve living standards and the full development of the country from an economic point of view.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed an order appointing Azerbaijani ambassador to Mexico. Ilgar Mukhtarov was appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States of Mexico. According to other Presidential order, Mukhtarov was conferred the diplomatic rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev decreed to apply additions to the Law on Making Additions to the Law on Mass Media Outlets on April 16. The Cabinet of Ministers is instructed to develop proposals on aligning current legislative acts with the Law on Making Additions to the Law on Mass Media Outlets and submit them to the President in a month.The Cabinet of Ministers must ensure conformance of cabinet's normative and legal acts and those of the central administrative bodies with this law. Azerbaijani Justice Ministry will act as "respective administrative body" envisaged by the second part of the article 19 of the Law on Mass Media Outlets.

The following text is added to the second part of the article 19 of the Law on Mass Media Outlets: if foreigner or a person without higher education is appointed editor-in-chief of a press outlet and he/she is appointed to this post once again after being held responsible for abusing freedom of mass media and journalist right, the respective administrative body will file a suit in the court to close down the press outlet.  

Azerbaijani President has decreed to apply Law on Joint Activities, Unification and Separation of Municipalities and Administrative Control over Municipalities' Activities dated March 17, 2009.

The Cabinet of Ministers is instructed to develop proposals on aligning current legislative acts with the Law and submit them to the President in a month.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev issued a decree amending some of the previous decrees and orders of the President with regards to the establishment of the State Committee for Standardization, Metrology and Patent.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev issued an order approving a number of documents signed between Azerbaijan and Kuwait in the city of Al-Kuwait on 10 February.

The Cabinet of Ministers is in charge of taking necessary measures for the implementation of the document.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev signed an order approving a number of documents signed between Azerbaijan and Iran in Tehran on March 10, AzerTaj state news agency reported. The Cabinet of Ministers is in charge of taking necessary actions to implement this document.

Also, Ilham Aliyev signed an order approving Memorandum on the results of the seventh meeting of the joint intergovernmental commission on economic, trade and humanitarian cooperation between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, signed in Baku on 19 February.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev issued an order to apply the Law on Amending the List of Municipalities in the Republic of Azerbaijan, AzerTaj state news agency reported.

Upon the decree, the Cabinet of Ministers is in charge of preparing and submit proposals to bring existing legislation into conformity with the Law within two months.

Also the laws and regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers and regulations of relevant central executive bodies must be harmonized with the Law. The decree takes effect from the date of publication.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev issued a decree on the application of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Application of Special Economic Regime in Export Oil and Gas Activities. Upon the decree, the Cabinet of Ministers is in charge of preparing and submit proposals to bring existing legislation into conformity with the Law within two months.Also the laws and regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers and regulations of relevant central executive bodies must be harmonized with the Law, draft legislation must be devised to define the types of liability for violation of the Law. The decree takes effect from the date of publication.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev sent a letter of condolence to the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski on a human loss in Kamien Pomorski city after a fire at a hostel for homeless people, AzerTaj state news agency reported. "The news of a human loss as the result of a fire at a hostel for homeless people in Kamien Pomorski was a source of great sorrow to me" the President said in his letter. "On behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf, I offer sincere condolences to you and the people of Poland and wish recovery to the injured" President Ilham Aliyev said.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulated President of the Democratic Republic of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika on re-election on April 14.

Azerbaijani President said he is hopeful consistent efforts to maintain historical friendly ties between Azerbaijan and Algeria and to enhance cooperation in all fields will be continued.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev offered birthday greetings to Queen Regnant of Denmark Margrethe II. In the congratulatory letter, President Ilham Aliyev expressed hope that friendly and cooperative relations between Azerbaijan and Denmark will further continue to develop and contribute to welfare of the two countries` peoples. The Head of State wished the Queen Margrethe II robust health, successes in her activities, and the people of Denmark - peace and prosperity.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulated Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad with the national holiday -Day of Evacuation, the Azertag state information agency reported. "I heartily congratulate you and your people with the national holiday of the Syrian Arab Republic - Day of Evacuation," the congratulatory letter says.

Ilham Aliyev wished to President of Syria all the best and peace and prosperity to the friendly Syrian people. Azerbaijani President expressed his confidence that mutual efforts to develop of friendship relations and cooperation between Azerbaijan and Syria will be continued.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the orthodox Christians of Azerbaijan on Easter holiday which is marked on April 19. "Dear fellow countrymen! I extend my heartfelt greetings and best wishes for your health and happiness on the occasion of holy Easter.

A centuries-long atmosphere of tolerance, peaceful coexistence of various nations and confessions enjoying mutual respect and friendship, and preservation of ethnic and cultural diversity are our historic achievements, which stipulate national-spiritual unity and have become priority norms of our socio-political stability within the Azerbaijani society. We continue our efforts to strengthen peace and civic solidarity even more and to ensure rights and freedoms of all citizens, irrespective of their language, religion and ethnicity.

It is with great satisfaction that I point out the fact that preserving its national and traditional values, Azerbaijan's Orthodox Christian community is taking active part in public-political and socio-cultural life of our country and civil society building.

Every year, Easter is widely celebrated in Azerbaijan as the symbol of peace, unity, mercy and compassion. May this blessed holiday bring a lot of joy to your families and prosperity to your homes. Happy Easter!" the president's address said.

A meeting between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is being held in the Russian President's country residence, the RIA Novosti reported.

President Aliyev is on a two day working visit to Russia at the invitation of the Russian President. In July 2008, the sides signed a Declaration on Friendship and Strategic Partnership between the two countries during Russian President's visit to Baku. At early meeting Medvedev said that "good relations have been established" between the countries.

"We are regularly discussing issues which interest the both countries. The last year turnover between the countries reached 40 percent," Medvedev said. This year will be more complicated. "Our task is to preserve what we have already achieved. We succeeded growth not only through energy resources, but thanks to qualified trade turnover," Medvedev said. Russian President proposed to maintain the positive dynamic of the bilateral economic relations. The enhanced humanitarian relations combine us, he added.

Aliyev said that "our personal friendship relations" have a positive influence on the development of bilateral relations.

The global financial crisis has caused certain corrections in the development dynamic of the economic relations. Aliyev voiced a hope that the trade turnover between the countries will reach $3 billion.

Aliyev stressed that "Russia is Azerbaijan's friend, neighbor and strategic partner, and we will develop our relations on this basis."

The agenda of the meeting includes discussions of new prospective directions of interaction, particularly, in the energy sector to expand the Azerbaijani natural gas output.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, who is on a working visit to Moscow, and his spouse Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva have met today in the ITAR-TASS news agency heads of Russia`s leading mass media.

ITAR-TASS director general Vitaly Ignatenko called the meeting a good opportunity to hear President Ilham Aliyev`s views on various issues from him personally.

The Head of State responded to a number of questions, covering the Azerbaijan-Russia bilateral relations, Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan`s involvement in international energy projects, the country`s economic development amid the world`s economic and financial crisis, regional issues, and Azerbaijan`s role in the international relations system.

Present in the meeting were director general of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company Oleg Dobrodeyev, director general of the Channel One Konstantin Ernst, Editor-in-Chief of RIA Novosti agency Svetlana Mironyuk, Editor-in-Chief of Echo Moskvy radio station Alexei Venediktov, as well as heads of leading newspapers and magazines

Parliament

An Azerbaijani opposition member of parliament has developed two new bills. "One of bills envisage marking the 1st of May as the Day of Workers," Musavat MP Group member Panah Huseyn told Trend on April 13. "The bill has been registered at the parliament." Huseyn said the second bill is connected with amending the Law on Citizenship. "Amendment which was injected into this law last year aroused a lot of serious problems for 10 thousands of people," Huseyn said.

The amendment which was injected into the Paragraph 1 of the Article 5 of the Law on Citizenship consider those people as citizens who were registered in 1998 when the law was adopted, the parliamentarian said. "Therefore, children whose parents lived in Russia, Turkey or other countries for a long time face with difficulty while receiving citizenship," Panah said. Panah said this amendment contradicts the Articles 52 and 53 of the Constitution. "We have received a data that bribery and corruption arouse at some governmental bodies due to this amendment. Therefore, I put forward a legislative initiative to solve this problem," the member of the parliament said.

The administrative territory of the Naftalan city will be extended in connection with development of tourism sector in Azerbaijan. The draft law to make partial changes to the documents on administrative territory of the Goranboy region and Naftalan city was adopted a the parliament on April 14.

The Azerbaijani parliament changed composition of the Public Television Company Broadcasting Council on April 14.

Kapsel Company Director Namiq Mammadov from Entrepreneurs Council, Students-Historians Scientific Society Chairman and Parliamentarian Fuad Muradov from youth organizations and Baku Women Association Chairman Zarifa Salahova from women societies were elected members of the Broadcasting Council.

Two candidates were nominated from the Entrepreneurs Council and youth organizations and three candidates - from women societies. The Broadcasting Council comprises 9 members and three of their four-year term expired. Members of Azerbaijani parliament have condemned possible opening of the Turkey-Armenia border. MPs from the opposition Musavat party say opening of Turkey-Armenia border will harm Turkey.

"Opening of borders will harm bilateral ties with Azerbaijan, Turkey's regional ally. States who are concerned with friendly ties between the two countries can take advantage of it," MP Ikram Israfil said.

Azerbaijani parliament's Committee on Regional Issues chair says part of the municipalities may unite until the next elections. "Municipalities unite from the viewpoint of population and territory in some countries. We believe municipalities should solve this issue themselves," New Azerbaijan Party website quoted committee chair Arif Rahimzade as saying. Rahimzade said the municipalities which will unite must be located close to each other. "The important is that they will have more population, broader financial opportunities and will do much social work." - he added. He said work is underway to increase municipalities' powers and the bill on this issue has been adopted at a first reading.

"But there are some disagreements about the bill. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe has made proposals in this regard. The bill is being designed by taking into consideration all proposals. I think powers of municipalities must be enhanced," Rahimzade said. He said some issues must be taken into account while enhancing municipality powers. "Whether municipalities are ready to assume the responsibility must be determined. Admittedly, municipalities have a poor material and technical basis and financial opportunities. It is impossible to grant them powers until these problems are addressed," he said. 

The Azerbaijani parliament has ratified a bill on "Special economic zones" in the third reading on April 14. The Azerbaijani government is taking concrete measures to create a competitive economy under the global financial crisis conditions, Permanent Parliamentary Commission on Economy Policy Chairman Ziya Samadzade said. Moreover, Samadzade regards necessary effectively to use all opportunities to improve investment climate in the country.

"Azerbaijan's geographic state opens great opportunities to create special economic zones (SEZ)," Samadzade said. "This law regulates legal and economic relations to form and manage the SEZ, as well as specify rules of entrepreneurs' activities in these zones." Besides, he believes forming these zones will not solve all problems. "Under the global financial crisis conditions, it is necessary to use all opportunities, including forming the SEZ to provide dynamic and stable economic development," Samadzade said.

The Azerbaijani and Turkish parliamentarians adopted a statement to jointly combat activities which will damage the two countries' fraternal relations at the end of the forum in Baku on April 15. "None of forces and events can damage the two countries' fraternal relations. The both countries' nations will confidently step from common history to common future," said the statement of the forum on "Azerbaijan-Turkey: common interests and problems" which was held at the Azerbaijani parliament with the Turkish parliamentarians' participation.

Authors of the statement consider important for Turkey and Azerbaijan to have the unified position on the Nagorno-Karabakh, alleged "Armenian genocide", Kurdish Labor Party's (KLP) terrorism and Northern Cyprus issues.

Political movements

Consultations by Azerbaijani opposition in an effort to unite for the municipal and parliamentary elections have failed. "Chairmen of some parties included in the Movement for Karabakh and Republic make statements that contradict opposition's general condition and do not help opposition to handle political crisis. This approach can cause more serious problems," MP from Musavat party Panah Huseyn told Trend . Musavat is a part of the Union for Democracy.

In March, the Union for Democracy proposed to hold all-opposition conference in an effort to design new draft Constitution and to adopt a final decision regarding municipal and parliamentary elections.

Azerbaijan will hold municipal elections in December 2009. Previous municipal elections were held in 1999 and 2004.

Huseyn said the six parties included in the Movement for Karabakh and Republic were proposed to organize the conference. "If there had been consent, 11 parties would have united. Unfortunately, these parties have not provided with serious conclusions on this issue," he added. A unified decision on cooperation in the municipal and parliamentary elections was also expected to be adopted. "The parties included in the UFD are selecting their candidates. If there is no unified political agreement, each opposition party will nominate its own candidate," Huseyn said. 

Azerbaijan's liberal-oriented party has designed package of proposals regarding opposition's joint participation in the municipal elections.  "We will launch meeting tomorrow and will consult in a bid to set up a new bloc," Liberal Democratic Party chairman Fuad Aliyev told Trend .  

Aliyev said liberals have proposed to launch Azad Azan (Free Voice) election bloc in an effort to take part in the municipal elections together. "The package of proposals covers number of candidates which will be nominated in all polling stations from the parties included in the bloc and determining number of candidates for each polling station," he said.

The consultations will be held with Azadlig, Great Establishment, Party of Reforms, Tekamul and Musavat parties. "We want the process to end by August. If we establish a new bloc, liberal parties will achieve great success in the municipal elections," Aliyev said.

The issue on participation in the upcoming municipal elections will be discussed at the next meeting of the Azerbaijani opposition party Assembly.

"The party instructed local organizations related to preparations to the municipal elections," Musavat party Central Executive Centre head Arif Hajili told Trend .  The municipal elections will be held in Azerbaijan in autumn 2009.

The strategy of municipal elections will be reviewed at adopted at the meeting, including the document on party's participation in the election within a coalition or independently, Hajili added.

The party will nominate its candidates from each constituency.  The cooperation with other parties during the municipal elections, as it was during the referendum, is very significant. "Two opposition agitation groups passed registration during the referendum campaign. We succeeded to implement a joint cooperation. I think that all parties should nominate their candidates from every constituency," Hajili said.

"Parties face problems while taking part in the municipal elections both separately and in a joint manner," Azerbaijan Democratic party chair Sardar Jalaloglu told Trend . The ADP is a member of the Movement for Karabakh and Republic.

He said at lest 50-page document must be designed to nominate one person for the elections. "The movement composes six parties. It is required to nominate candidates for half of the municipalities in an effort to take part in the elections as a bloc. It means we must nominate candidates for 1,400 municipalities out of 2,800 and must design 50-page document for each of them. We do not have enough funds to pay for such big volume of papers," Jalaloglu said.

He said the problems regarding separate participation in the elections is due to the fact that majority of municipalities operate in remote mountainous villages. "Parties usually campaign in regional centers and densely-populated areas. Therefore it is not realistic for us to nominate candidates in areas with small number of population," Jalaloglu said. He said it is inappropriate to say whether the party will take part in the elections separately or in a joint manner until serious discussions are held. "As a result of discussions, the movement can act as a bloc for the parties participating in the elections," Jalaloglu said.

An Azerbaijani new opposition party intends to partake in the municipal elections.

"A form of our participation in the elections will depend on whether the Justice Ministry will register the party," Aydinlar Party Chairman Gulamhuseyn Alibayli told Trend on April 15. The municipal elections will take place in Azerbaijan in autumn 2009 and the parliamentary elections in autumn 2010. Earlier, the municipal elections took place in 1999 and 2004. Alibayli said if the party is not registered, its members will nominate independently. "We even can participate in the elections in composition of the bloc with other opposition parties," he said. An issue on joint participation will be discussed after official start of the election campaign, Alibayli said. "We can cooperate or form a bloc with the right-wing parties in the elections," he added.

Two Azerbaijani left wing parties - the Progressive and Socialist Party of Azerbaijan (PSPA) and the Popular and Socialist Party of Azerbaijan (PSPA), united 

Under the agreement, members of the Progressive and Socialist Party and its organizations agencies will united with adjusted agencies of the Popular and Socialist Party. Chairman of the Progressive and Socialist Party Rustam Shakhsuvarov will be the deputy chairman of the Popular and Socialist Party on public relations issues.

The plenary session of the Progressive and Socialist Party Central Executive Committee has unanimously approved the agreement to unite with the Popular and Socialist Party. The agreement will come into force after the issue of adjusted order of the Popular and Socialist Party Chairman Rovshan Huseyinov.

Azerbaijani opposition party faces problems in designing bill on former presidents' status.

"Our major task is to identify some privileges for family members while designing a bill on former presidents' status," member of parliament and Great Establishment Party chairman Fazil Mustafa told Trend .

Mustafa said the designing of bill is nearing end. "We are studying world experience of privileges for ex-presidents," he said.

He said Azerbaijan needs a law to give guarantee to family members of former presidents, he said. "Laws of some countries indicate which members of the family are granted privileges. In some countries those who terminate their office of president and those who resign from the post for health reasons are granted former president status. We aim to study world experience in detail and complete the bill," Mustafa added.

Azerbaijani right wing party opened an election headquarters for preparations to municipal elections.

"The headquarters is functioning for several days and local organizations were instructed to choose candidates for municipal elections," the Democratic World of Azerbaijan Party (DWAP) Chairman Mammad Alizade told Trend . According to Alizade, DWAP will nominate its candidates from every constituency. Alizade does not see a necessity in the cooperation among parties during the elections. "We are sure of our force. We believe that we can achieve more success in the municipal elections," he said.

Azerbaijani opposition offers to finance parties who win considerable part of votes in parliamentary elections from the public budget.

"We welcome ruling party representative's statements calling for solution of this problem soon," Unified Azerbaijan Popular Front Party chair and member of parliament Gudrat Hasanguliyev told Trend on April 17.  Hasanguliyev said the results parties achieve in presidential, parliamentary and even municipal election are taken into consideration while being financed in world experience. "It will not be appropriate to take into consideration party's results achieved in the municipal elections as municipalities have not yet been formed in Azerbaijan," Hasanguliyev said. He said it is more appropriate to rely on results of parliamentary elections. "Of course there is solution to the problem. A bill must be designed first of all. Later best way of financing parties from the public budget will be determined," he added.

Financing parties from the public budget will have some advantages. "First of all, it will provide for transparency in our activities. Second, it will eliminate parties' dependence on foreign and internal finance sources," Hasanguliyev said.

Alliance of Azerbaijani opposition parties has not yet adopted a final decision on participation in the municipal elections.

"Each member party will hold discussions on this issue. The final decision will be adopted in early May," Taraqqi party chairman Chingiz Demiroglu told Trend . Tereqqi is a part of Tereqqi Alliance of Azerbaijan (TAA). Demiroglu said the TAA faces many problems which impedes it to take part in the elections. "Therefore party's participation in the elections individually is an acceptable option," he said.

Foreign policy

U.S. John Hopkins University Central Asia and Caucasus Institute says Erdogan administration was ready to open border with Armenia without any conditions.

"The Justice and Development Party was ready to open Turkey-Armenia border without any condition. However, wining mall small part of votes in the municipal elections, opposition protests and Azerbaijani government's tough position prevented it," John Hopkins University Research Director Svante Cornell told Trend over telephone from Sweden. Cornell said Armenians will not make any compromise regarding the so-called genocide once Turkey-Armenia border is opened. "Armenian diaspora's radical groups will not surrender this claim even after Turkey-Armenia border is opened," he said.

Cornel said the so-called Armenian genocide is not a serous issue for the U.S.

"The 'genocide' is not serious issue for the U.S. This is mainly problem of the Armenian lobby in the U.S.," he added.

Azerbaijan will take over chairmanship of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) from Armenia at the meeting of organization's foreign ministers in Yerevan, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev told Trend on April 14.

Armenia, as organization's chairman, has invited Turkish and Azerbaijani foreign ministers to the BSEC foreign minister's meeting in Yerevan on April 15-16, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan told reporters earlier.

Azerbaijan has been in conflict with Armenia since the latter occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's lands.

Azerbaijan backs initiative to establish Caspian Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.

"Azerbaijan welcomes initiative to establish Caspian Sea Economic Cooperation Organization," Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Elkhan Polukhov told Trend . Russia is prepared to design proposals to establish Caspian Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, Vesti television channel quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying. The organization may compose Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The organization may focus on cooperation regarding energy, transport, water bioresources, finance, investments and trade, Lavrov said.

"Caspian Sea Economic Cooperation Organization has been on agenda for a long time. We can design concrete proposals to establish such organization," Russian foreign minister said.

"We think establishing such economic organization can help determine status of the Caspian Sea. It will encourage this process," he said. "We back open, predictable and consistent policy. Establishing and activities of this organization will be beneficial," Polukhov said.

The existence of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict presents threats for the security and stability in the South Caucasus region, said the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan to Sweden Rafael Ibrahimov at the meeting with the Swedish MPs. "Often the conflict is called as frozen, but the practice shows that the understanding of "frozen" is very precarious and volatile and the conflict tends towards ignition," said Ibragimov.

The Ambassador highlighted all aspects of the conflict, including occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia, the existence of millions of army of refugees and internally displaced persons. The diplomat has brought to the attention of the MPs that Azerbaijan's position remains unchanged: any cooperation with Armenia can not be topic of discussion unless the occupied territories are freed and Azerbaijani refugees return their homes.

Ibrahimov provided details on the economic development of Azerbaijan, on energy policy, all large-scale oil and gas projects in the Republic, transportation of energy from Azerbaijan to European markets. The ambassador again stated that the conflict threatens the stability and functioning of energy transport corridors.

Latvia expects that the EU East Partnership program will create stability and peace in eastern countries, Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins said at the meeting with Azerbaijani colleague Elmar Mammadyarov in Baku.

The EU East Partnership program, which was initiated by Poland and Sweden, provides cooperation with six post Soviet countries - Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belorussia.

EU can expand the cooperation with six eastern countries, Riekstins said. "Latvia stands for improvement of relations with Azerbaijan and EU," he added.

Russia is ready to be a guarantor in settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, new Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Vladimir Dorokhin told journalists on April 16. Russia is interested in peaceful settlement of the conflict which are admissible for both sides in line with international standards and recognizes Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Dorokhin said at his first news conference.

Russia holds an absolute neutral position in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and is ready to support any resolution of the problem which will be accepted by both sides - Baku and Yerevan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said when answering a question of readers of the "Rossiyskaya gazeta". "Russia has never hold a unilaterally oriented position in settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue," Lavrov said. "We participate in settling this issue under cooperation with international community and OSCE Minsk Group. Therefore, it is incorrect to speak about "change" in Russia's participation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement," Lavrov said.

Latvia supports territorial integrity of states in all conflicts, Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins said in Baku on April 17. "We discussed regional stability yesterday. Latvia's position regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is obvious. In all similar conflicts we support territorial integrity of states," Riekstins said. There are already starts and initiatives by international community to find solution to the long-drawn problem within the OSCE Minsk Group, the minister said. He said the best, but not easy option is talks. The Latvian Foreign Minister confirmed "Riga's strong support to territorial integrity of all states."

Human rights

Azerbaijani ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova will participate in the international meeting as expert in Moscow.Sub regional meeting will be held together with Moscow's Bureau of UNESCO and Russian Department of UN Supreme Commissioner on Human Rights. Heads of UNESCO chairs on human rights of central and Eastern Europe countries, international experts in human rights, ombudsmen, representatives of authoritative international organizations, state and NGOs will participate in the meeting, ombudsman's office said on April 14. Azerbaijani ombudsman will address regarding education in human rights.

Sub regional meeting is held within the international year of human rights training announced by UN. Urgent issues concerning realization of human rights and freedom, including rights for education of UNESCO competence, as well as education on human rights, legal enlightenment and training will be discussed at the meeting.

Azerbaijani Supreme Court has summarized court practice on human trafficking. Consideration and summarizing court practice on criminal cases related to human trafficking in 2006-2007 was brought up for discussion at the Plenum of the Supreme Court on April 17.

"Criminal offences related to human trafficking are culturally inappropriate and are consequences of transition period and globalization processes," it was noted during the Plenum. Human trafficking related crimes increased 39.2 percent compared to 2007 and totaled 384. As many as 349 individuals were held accountable.  Human trafficking related crimes against women increased 60.8 percent and totaled 193. About 56.2 percent (196 individuals) of the committers were women.

Baku Supreme court chairman made a report on fair court investigation in 2009. The complaint by Agstafa court chairman against Law-Court Council decision was also examined.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

On April 13, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops at 01:00-01:20 from an area outside the Gizil Oba village in the Terter region, at 05:30-06:10 from positions near Garakhanbayli village in the Fuzuli region and at 05:55-06:35 from nameless heights in the Khojavand region, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported. The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported. The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.

The United States is ready maximum to assist in peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said. "Our president had also made clear that the United States stands ready to do all what can to help resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, working in partnership with our Minsk group partner," Bryza told Trend in a telephone conversation from Washington. "We have an historical opportunity to advance peace and prosperity throughout the Caucasus region," Bryza said. Bryza said President Obama has made clear his support for normalization of Turkey - Armenia relations. "Normalizing these relations can favor breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement," Bryza believes.

On April 13, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops at 12:20-12:40. The shots were fired from the nameless heights in the Fuzuli region, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

On April 14, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from positions nearby of the Ashagi Veysalli village of Fuzuli region and at 21:05-21:30. On April 15, the shots were fired from the Yusifjanli village of Aghdam region at 05:30-05:45, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported. The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.

Azerbaijan prepared to consider any proposals on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, ITAR-TASS quoted Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev as saying at a press conference on the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation meeting in Yerevan.

"If someone has real proposals on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, we are ready to consider them," he said in a response to a request to comment on Turkish President Abdullah Gul's statement that Ankara is involved in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "We welcome efforts of any country to address this issue," he said. "Existence of the conflict in the current form gives advantages to none of the sides." "There is no other way but to solve the conflict under international law," he said.

Mammadguliyev said he is not familiar with Turkey's initiative. "But taking into consideration the fact that Turkey is "a participant of the Minsk Group and serious player in the region, we are prepared to consider its proposals. We will support offered ways of resolution if it suits us," he said.

Azerbaijan's position is that the Turkey-Armenia ties can be normalized only after resolution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said answering to the question of Mediamax on Baku's attitude towards attempts of Armenia and Turkey to improve the ties.

Minister Mammadguliyev is on a visit to Erevan to attend the meeting of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). "We consider the contacts between Armenia and Turkey as internal affairs of both sides. On the other hand, given the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, we follow the dialogue with interest and see that the Armenia-Turkey ties cannot be restored without resolution to the Karabakh conflict. We believe that these issues must be interconnected. This is our position," Mamadguliyev said.

Azerbaijan and Armenia will focus on the Basic Principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict's resolution the OSCE Minsk Group has been elaborating with the parties, U.S. co-chair Matthew Bryza said. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for South Caucasus and Central Asia and OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Matthew Bryza on April 15, AzerTaj state news agency reported.

The President and U.S. Co-Chair exchanged views on the resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"We agreed that our focus is on finalizing the Basic Principles the OSCE Minsk Group has been elaborating with the parties," Bryza told Trend . He said the meeting was constructive and friendly. "We discussed our joint efforts within the Minsk group to resolve the few key remaining differences on the Basic Principles, which would outline a just and balanced settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh settlement that involves return of territories and displaced persons, a sense of security for all residents of Nagorno-Karabakh and the other territories, restored transit links and international guarantees," Bryza said.

On April 15, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from the nameless heights in the Khojavand region at 17:10-17:35, from the nameless heights in the Goranboy region at 20:50-21:10 and from the nameless heights in the Terter region at 21:15-21:35, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported. The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.

Azerbaijani National Security Minister and Lieutenant General Eldar Mahmudov says the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict poses threat for security in the region.  "The occupation Azerbaijan faces poses threat not only for Azerbaijan, but also for the entire region from the viewpoint of uncontrolled territories. The conflict must be resolved soon," Mahmudov said at a meeting with OSCE Minsk Group U.S. co-chair Mattew Bryza, National Security Ministry press service said.

The minister spoke about ongoing processes in the region, international terrorism and extremism, measures against transnational crime and results achieved.

On April 16, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from the nameless heights in the Kuropatkino village of the Khojvand region at 11:50-12:15, from positions in the Goradiz and Garakhanbayli villages of Fuzuli region at 20:15-20:25 and on April 17 from the Gizil Oba village of the Terter region at 02:10- 02:20, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported. The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed his gratitude to Russia "for attempts to align positions on the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh problem", RIA Novosti reported.

The president voiced his hope that the conflict will be resolved soon enough.

"Of course, the absence of any result cannot gladden us. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to a certain progress in the talks. This progress gives us hopes that the conflict will be resolved soon enough. Positions of the sides have become closer to a certain extent lately. Some issues which were difficult to solve earlier have been coordinated. It provides a good basis to continue talks," Aliyev said in a news conference on results of the Russia-Azerbaijan talks on April 17.

The President said there are issues that sides cannot agree upon.

Russia would like to achieve maximum progress in the negotiations on the [Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict] Nagorno-Karabakh resolution, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, the RIA Novosti reported.

"I think the regular meetings between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia are very important. Russia is ready to fulfill its mandate. We have always tried to contribute to the process. If such contacts are continued - there is not another alternative - I'm sure that the problem can be solved merely on the basis of interests of both nations and new proposals, Medvedev said to journalists after the talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on April 17. Medvedev did not rule out "new ideas" to appear in this respect. "It is necessary to act in a legal platform, but not be closed from new approaches, which may infuse a fresh spirit into the situation enabling to consolidate positions. I believe it is possible," he said. Medvedev stressed that the Russian Federation would take its utmost to resolve the complicated, but solvable problem. According to Russian President, the sides hear each other's arguments. "There are prospects, and one needs to rely on international law and resolutions adopted by the UN and the OSCE.

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