Weekly political digest (14.09- 19.09.2009)

                                                             Official chronicle

On the Day of Knowledge on Sept.15 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev got familiarized with the elite high school in Nasimi district of Baku after its repair and reconstruction.

The teaching staff, pupils, parents met Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva with flowers, AzerTag state news agency reported.

All conditions for education were provided in the gymnasium, which was renovated in accordance with the contemporary requirements under the presidential order.  

The school has a special corner dedicated to Azerbaijani National Leader, Heydar Aliyev, and President Ilham Aliyev, as well as to public attributes and education.

The president showed interest in the educational process and congratulated teachers and pupils of the school with the new academic year.

On September 15, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev received EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

Mr. Piebalgs congratulated the Azerbaijani leader on the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Contract of the Century, and offered him greetings of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.
Andris Piebalgs praised the Azerbaijani government's attention to the education sector, pointing out to the President's opening a new school in Baku.

Mr. Piebalgs praised the Azerbaijan-EU relations, saying the organization is keen to expand the bilateral cooperation.

President Ilham Aliyev touched upon the importance of the Contract of the Century.
"Our country has followed a great path of development over these 15 years, and energy achievements have greatly contributed to our successes."

The Azerbaijani leader recalled his last visit to the European Commission, describing it as a success.
President Ilham Aliyev expressed hope the cooperation between the country and the organization would continue to develop.

"The European neighborhood policy, the EU Eastern Partnership program and energy dialogue are the issues that are bound up together, and we have achieved good results in all directions."
The Azerbaijani President asked Andris Piebalgs to convey his greetings and best regards to the European Commission chief.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze on Sept-15, the AzerTag state news agency reported.

The Georgian Foreign Minister conveyed Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's greetings to Aliyev.

The sides spoke about the development of the Azerbaijan-Georgia relations in different fields, and the importance of mutual visits at various levels in the expansion of relations. Aliyev and Vashadze expressed confidence that the minister's visit to Azerbaijan will promote strengthening the bilateral relations.

Aliyev thanked Saakashvili for his greetings, conveying his sincere greetings to his Georgian counterpart.

A solemn ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Contract of the Century has been held on Tuesday at the Buta palace in Baku, AzerTAj State News Agency reported.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva attended the celebrative event.

The President made a speech at the ceremony, saying the Contract of the Century opened up new horizons for Azerbaijan.

"It facilitated Azerbaijan`s development and ensured the flow of foreign investments to the country", said Ilham Aliyev. 

"These investments contributed to developing the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan along with the oil sector," said the President.

"And it also opened the Caspian`s hydrocarbon resources to the world", he said.

President Ilham Aliyev also touched upon the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, saying it was very important not only for Azerbaijan, but also for regional countries.

"The importance of the BTC has been continuing, turning Azerbaijan into a transit country," he added.

The Head of State spoke of Azerbaijan`s energy policy, saying "it expanded from a regional to a global scale".

"Azerbaijan has become a reliable oil and gas exporting country worldwide," the President said.

Other speakers, including SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev, BP-Azerbaijan President Rashid Javanshir and EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs praised Azerbaijan`s achievements since the signing of the Contract of the Century.

Following the speeches, the event featured demonstration of a film about the anniversary of the Contract, and a concert.

On September 16, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received British delegation led by Lord Hunt, Minister of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

The State minister congratulated Azerbaijani leader on the occasion of 15th anniversary of the "Contract of the Century", saying "this contract has played significant role in Azerbaijan's development."
Hunt said his government hails President's previous official visit to London in June.

The Head of State noted the "Contract of the Century" made "great" contribution to progress of the country`s economy. The Azerbaijani leader said this contract became a reason for initiatives of various energy projects, including those of Europe's energy security.

President Ilham Aliyev said his country attaches much more importance to energy cooperation with Great Britain. He praised BP's contribution to further developing bilateral relations in this field.
Touching upon the Memorandum of understanding between Azerbaijan State Oil Company and BP signed during his official visit to London, the President expressed hope that bilateral energy cooperation will further enhance.

The State Minister praised "successful" cooperation between Azerbaijan and BP, saying "Great Britain will further support this cooperation".

On Sept. 16, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with ambassadors of Muslim countries in Azerbaijan on the occasion of Ramadan Holiday, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

The Azerbaijani leader congratulated ambassadors and asked them to convey his congratulations to the heads of states and governments of their countries. "I am very pleased that the number of ambassadors representing Muslim countries in Azerbaijan is increasing. This is a very remarkable fact. In turn, Azerbaijan increases the number of its embassies in Muslim countries, and this process continues," said President Ilham Aliyev.

According to the President, the relations between states are developing very rapidly. Relationships are at a high level, and it is necessary in future years to continue the comprehensive development in order to make the relationship between the countries stronger.

"Political, humanitarian and economic cooperation of Azerbaijan with Muslim nations meets our interests. This year, Baku was declared the capital of Islamic culture. This is a great honor for us," said the President of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani leader also praised cooperation among Muslim countries within international organizations, including the United Nations and Organization of Islamic Conference. He said a resolution on situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was adopted in UN General Assembly last year due to full support of Muslim countries.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mrs. Aliyeva attended the opening of the operating body of the National Cancer Center, AzerTag state news agency reported.

The President cut the ribbon and familiarized with the center.

Aliyev congratulated the staff of the center and wished success in their work. The doctors expressed gratitude to Aliyev for his care and attention towards the development of health.

On Sept. 17, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev received TURKSOY Director-General Dussen Kasseinov, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

The TURKSOY chief praised the organization's cooperation with Azerbaijan.
Dussen Kasseinov said TURKSOY plans to arrange an event in Baku.

"Under TURKSOY`s project the Koroglu opera by outstanding Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibayov will be staged at the Baku stage on September 18."

"The performance has already raised a tremendous interest in Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan," the TURKSOY chief added.

President Ilham Aliyev said the project would help bring the two countries' people closer to each other and strengthen their cultural ties.

Both President Ilham Aliyev and Dussen Kasseinov expressed confidence the Azerbaijan-TURKSOY cooperation would further develop.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is visiting the Guba region of the country, AzerTag state news agency reported on Sept.18.

The president visited the monument to Azerbaijani National Leader Heydar Aliyev located in the center of Guba.

Aliyev attended the opening ceremony of the Diagnostic and Treatment Center and familiarized with the construction work of the building of Heydar Aliyev Museum in the region.

President Ilham Aliyev has arrived in Gusar region after completing his trip to Guba.

The Head of State first visited the Heydar Aliyev park to lay flowers at the nationwide leader's monument.

At the conclusion of his visit to Guba, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev arrived Friday in the district Gusar.

At the beginning of his visit, the Head of State visited the bust of the great leader in Heydar Aliyev park in Gusar, and laid a flowers at the monument.

On Sept. 18, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev viewed the State Flag Square in Gusar region.

The Square, construction of which started in May current year, was built on the highest place of the city's entrance.

The construction of the square was supported by State Oil Company of Azerbaijan and covers 16.000 square meters.

The Head of State was informed about the plan-scheme of Samur-Hazra Road, and draft of the Heydar Aliyev Park and museum complex.

President of Azerbaijan gave certain instructions and assignments.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has visited today "Suvar" Alpine Tourist Centre at the bottom of Shahdag in Gusar, State News Agency Azertag reported Friday.

The president was informed that the area of the center is 5 hectares and is at a height of 1850 meters above sea level. There are 28 cottages with 1, 2 and 3 rooms meeting high-tech standards. The center also includes 2 canteens and a parking garage.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has today visited fish factory in Gusar city, State News Agency Azertag reported Friday.

The factory, which established at the beginning of the current year covers 11 hectares of area and has 55 ponds.

President Ilham Aliyev wished success to employees of the factory.

At the conclusion of his visit to Guba, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev arrived Friday in the district Gusar.

At the beginning of his visit, the Head of State visited the bust of the great leader in Heydar Aliyev park in Gusar, and laid a flowers at the monument.

On his way to Baku from Gusar region, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with representatives of Jewish community in Red settlement of the Guba region.

The residents expressed gratitude to the Azerbaijani leader for his care to development of Guba.
The Head of State expressed satisfaction with ongoing construction works in the region.
President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the residents and wished them good health.
The President ended his visit to Guba and Gusar regions.

President of Azerbaijan decreed to confer the honorary title of the "Honored Engineer of the Azerbaijan Republic" on a group of oilmen, give the "Tereggi" medal and personal pensions to another group of Azerbaijani oilmen, on their professional holiday and the 15th anniversary of the "Contract of the Century".

On September 14, the President of Azerbaijani Ilham Aliyev rewarded Agasaf Aliyev with the "Shohret" (Glory) Order, for merits in development of the oil industry in Azerbaijan.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev issued a decree to confer the "Dostlug" (Friendship) Order on William George Schroeder, for merits in development of oil industry in Azerbaijan and on 15th anniversary of the "Contract of the Century".

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev issued an order awarding Kazim Gurbanov the Tereggi Order ("Progress") for his years of work in public service in the Republic of Azerbaijan, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev signed a decree approving the notes on the exchange of documents under a loan agreement, signed between Azerbaijan and Japan on the "Project on water supply and sewer system in small towns".

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry was tasked to inform the Japanese Government on the implementation of the necessary domestic procedures for the entry into force of the note on this loan agreement.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulated his Russian Counterpart Dmitry Medvedyev on his birthday on Sept.14 over the telephone.

The head of Azerbaijan wished Medvedyev success in his activity and good health.

The Russian President thanked Aliyev for attention and congratulation.

The Presidents expressed satisfaction with the successful development of the Azerbaijan-Russia relations in various spheres. The parties noted the importance of the periodic presidential meetings to further strengthen relations. Aliyev and Medvedyev voiced confidence in further expansion of bilateral relations.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has sent a letter of congratulation to his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon Hinojosa on the country's Independence day.

In the letter, the President expressed assurance that relationship between Azerbaijan and Mexico will continue developing to contribute to strengthening "our friendship and cooperation".

President Ilham Aliyev extended to the Mexican leader his best wishes and the people of Mexico peace and prosperity.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev sent a congratulatory message to the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama.  

Head of the Azerbaijani State expressed pleasure for the current level of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Japan, noting that these relations will further serve to boost mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

President Aliyev wished Japanese Premier robust health, happiness and success in activity for welfare of the friendly people of Japan.

On Sept. 17, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Jewish people on the National Day of New Year Holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

"We assess the traditional friendship and brotherhood between peoples, ethnic and cultural diversity of contemporary Azerbaijani society as the achievement of national statehood of the Republic. Guarantee for the freedom of everyone regardless of language, religion and ethnicity, as well as the country's stability and civil solidarity are the priorities of our policy. The Azerbaijani State has always approached this area with particular care and attention, creating democratic and legal environment for the development of language and culture for all national minorities, including the Jewish community," Head of State said in the congratulatory letter.

Azerbaijani citizens of Jewish nationality are now actively involved in political life and building a democratic state, the letter says.

On Sept. 18, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev congratulated Azeri people on Ramadan Holiday.

"I heartily congratulate you and all compatriots who live in different parts of the world on sacred Ramadan Holiday and express all my warmest wishes," the congratulatory letter by State Head says.

The letter says that being the divine wisdom of the Koran, the sacred Ramadan Holiday encourages people to peace, calmness and equality, demonstrating the triumph of moral and ethical purity and good deeds.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has sent a congratulatory message to Malian counterpart Amadou Toumani Toure on the country`s Independence Day.

The President expressed hope that "friendly and co-operative relations between Azerbaijan and Mali will continue to develop".

The Head of State also wished the Malian leader "robust health and successes in your activities" and "the friendly people of Mali peace and prosperity".

President of Azerbaijan İlham Aliyev has sent a congratulatory message to his Maltese counterpart George Abela on the country`s İndependence day.

The President expressed hope that friendly and co-operative relations between Azerbaijan and Malta will continue to develop in accordance with the interests of the two countries` peoples.

The Head of State wished the Maltese leader robust health, successes in his activities and the friendly people of Malta peace and prosperity.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has today sent a letter of congratulation to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques on the country`s public holiday, Saudi National Day.

"Today, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia enjoy good friendly and cooperation relations. I am sure that we will continue our efforts towards development of relationship in all fields, all-round expansion of ties,"

President Ilham Aliyev wished the Saudi Leader good health, success in his work and friendly people of Saudi Arabia peace and prosperity.

Parliament

The Permanent Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Turkic-speaking countries will operate at the Parliament of Azerbaijan, Co-Chair of the working group on the Azerbaijani-Turkish Intergovernmental Affairs, Nizami Jafarov told Trend on Sept. 14.

"Regarding the fact that the events of the Assembly in Baku are held at the Azerbaijani Parliament, the secretariat must also operate at the Parliament," said the parliamentarian.

Jafarov said the summit of the Assembly to be held in Baku on Sept. 26-27 will also discuss reforming a permanent secretariat to the acting body.

"This is the first meeting after the establishment of the Assembly. Therefore, the issues that will be discussed will be determined at the opening of the summit, by common agreement of the parties," said Jafarov, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Cultural Affairs.

According to the co-chair of the working group, the talks are being held with the parliamentarians of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to attend the Baku meeting. "We would really like the Baku summit to be attended by all the Turkic-speaking countries. I think that the discussions with officials from each of the two countries will be fruitful," said Jafarov.

Election of Baku mayor is necessary, Azerbaijani MP, Fazail Ibrahimli, said.

"If we have taken such an obligation before the Council of Europe, then one day it must be done," Fazail Ibrahimli, Azerbaijani MP, a member of the parliamentary committee on regional issues, told trend News on Sept.14.

Ian Micallef, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, said that it is time for Azerbaijan to elect the mayor of its capital, as other countries in the South Caucasus did. Congress advised Azerbaijan to make the position of Chief Executive of the capital (the mayor) elected, but not appointed, "Micallef said.

According Ibrahimli, before the elections, first it is necessary to determine the status of the Baku mayor and mayor's terms of office. "The election of the mayor through the voting will increase the responsibility of the person. I believe the law, which will be developed, will also include the regulations on the election of mayor for no more than two times. Of course, if the first term of his activities would not be satisfactory, no one will give him confidence for a second term. If we are a democratic country, it is necessary to fulfill the obligation to establish the institution of mayor in Baku in the near future, "Ibrahimli said.

Opinion of the deputy chairman of the State Duma of Russia regarding Nagorno-Karabakh is seriously prejudicial to the interests of official Moscow, Azerbaijani MPs consider.

"Zhirinovsky's words not only contradict to the interests of Azerbaijan, but also Russia. If we take into account whom the present territory of Russia belonged to and the separatists, periodically appearing in this country, then nothing will remain from Russia. This is Zhirinovsky's shortsightedness that he makes so stupid and irresponsible statements," Aydin Mirzazade, MP from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), told Trend on September 16.

Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma, Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky said in his interview with News-Armenia that Nagorno-Karabakh is the native Armenian lands. "It is possible to hold negotiation 5-10 years more, but everything will conclude over the fact that Nagorno-Karabakh will be annexed to Armenia or will be recognized as an independent state," he said.

"Some preliminary results of the negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh or the signing of a peace agreement are not so far. Firstly five and later two districts will be returned. Later, debates will be held on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is interesting that Russia protects this principle. So, today Zhirinovsky strongly acts against state policy of Russia. His statements seriously affect the image of Russia," said Azerbaijani MP.

"Zhirinovsky is the politician of yesterday. He acts against the principle of territorial integrity, keeping peace. Today Russia itself also faces similar problems - Japan's claim on the Kuril Islands, a separatist movement that was formerly in the North Caucasus. Did Zhirinovsky really forget about all these? If he is really so interested in the issue of self-determination of Armenians, let him make a proposal to establish an independent Armenian state in Russia's cities of Stavropol, Krasnodar and in Moscow, and Azerbaijan will watch what it will bring and come to a definite conclusion," said Mirzazade.

According to the MP, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem is not solved by such aggressive people as Zhirinovsky, but by the Azerbaijani people and president.

"So, in what form the Armenians residing in Nagorno-Karabakh will receive status is a matter of the future. And most importantly, as the president said, the status will be determined within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," said the MP.

According to Mirzazade, there is no need to protest in connection with Zhirinovsky's words at the level of parliament. "It is unworthy to pay attention to irresponsible speeches of people like him," he said.

It is not necessary to seriously accept the words of deputy chairman of Russia's State Duma regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, MP Zahid Oruj, deputy chairman of Ana Vatan Party, told Trend on September 16.

"If we seriously accept the position of Vladimir Zhirinovsky in the current reality, answering him with official actions, statements and parliamentary factions, it will facilitate his position. Of course, the MPs should express their strong protest against this, but only because he voiced this position not as a representative of the party, but as the deputy chairman of the State Duma of Russia," Oruj said.

According to the MP, the issues related to Zhirinovsky's opinion should be regulated in the information plane. "The use of other forms of expressing attitude towards this can lead to the implementation of plans, drawn up by Zhirinovsky together with Armenia, further replication and spread of his views in the society, and may even contribute to their entry into the international community," he said.

Oruj said that no one has proper influence on the position of deputy chairman of the State Duma of Russia. "The Azerbaijanis are concerned by it. But he has no legal and political weight to make this position accepted by the international organizations. Zhirinovsky was the author of so many extravagant steps, actions and statements that some countries simply refused to seriously accept and officially respond to his position," said the MP.

An individual approach is necessary while determining age limit for teachers, the Azerbaijani MPs said.

"Some older teachers teach pupils much better than their younger counterparts. Therefore, this issue requires an individual approach. A man gets experience and it is wrong to send him to retire when he fruitfully enjoys this experience," said Jamil Hasanli, MP, a member of the parliamentary committee on science and education.

Under the new law on education, the Cabinet of Ministers was tasked to determine the age limit required for the teacher in Azerbaijan. The age for retirement has no been determined yet, Education Minister, Misir Mardanov, told journalists. According to Mardanov, the government should also guarantee the proper habitation of teachers after their retirement.

In Azerbaijan, about 170,000 teachers operate at secondary schools, in higher education - 12, 450, in private and colleges - 1,960.

According to Hasanli, the determination of the age limit of teachers should be based on international experience. "However, we must take into account the support of the retired teachers. In Azerbaijan it is certainly inappropriate to discharge the teacher with the current pension. Pension is too low," the MP said.

Determination of the age limit of teachers will be mostly covering those who hold high positions. "In my opinion, these criteria will apply to persons acting as directors of scientific institutions, department heads, chairs and other positions," the deputy said.

According to MP Lala Abbasova, a member of the parliamentary committee on science and education, pension, which teachers will receive, should cover their cost of living.

Determination of the age limit of teachers cannot be solved once, the process may take several months, maybe a year, Abbasova told Trend .

"There is a teacher aged 65, who face difficulties during the lesson, standing on their feet and often can not teach students. Of course there are exceptions. There are teachers who in 70 years may be fully productive due to their physiology and genetics," Abbasova said.

According to the MP, when determining the age limit of the teachers, the professionalism of teachers must be verified through accreditation. "Teachers should continue its efforts to meet modern standards. The modern teacher must have good computer skills. We can not rely on the base of the last century" Abbasova said.

Azerbaijani MP considers the ban imposed on the entry of citizens of Georgia to Russia via the land border with Azerbaijan as another means of pressure of Russia on Georgia.

"Mostly Azerbaijanis living in Georgia will suffer from this pressure," Azerbaijani MP Nasib Nasibli told Trend .

Foreign Ministry stated that in connection with the withdrawal of Georgia from CIS, the citizens of this country can no longer enter into Russia through the land Russian-Azerbaijani border.

"Georgia's withdrawal from CIS on August 18, 2009 automatically excluded the citizens of this country from the list of foreigners who are allowed to enter Russia and leave it through the checkpoints on the land Russian-Azerbaijani border," the Foreign Ministry stated.

According to Nasibli, part of Azerbaijanis living in Georgia, are in Russia, and mostly those who can not obtain a passport from that country will suffer. "Russia's decision related to the citizens of Georgia is a continuation of the unfair Caucasian policy of this country," said the MP.

Political movements

The New Azerbaijan Party approved the election program in connection with municipal elections.

"At the meeting of party's Board was approved the electoral program of the Party in connection with municipal elections and the relevant instructions and documents, which were prepared by the Executive Secretariat," the press service of the ruling party told Trend on Sept. 17.

The municipal elections in Azerbaijan are expected in mid December.

The Board meeting mentioned there was a need for a number of activities to prepare for municipal elections in the district and city organizations of the party. For party activists will also be organized trainings and seminars in accordance with the schedule of preparations for the elections, developed by the Executive Secretariat of the Party.

In Azerbaijan it is possible to hold a dialogue between the government and political parties, the Head of the Presidential Administration Political Analysis and Dataware Department, Elnur Aslanov told journalists on Sept. 18.

"The discussions can focus on important issues. But now such issues do not stand on the agenda," said Aslanov.

The last time, a political dialogue between the authorities and the opposition was organized through the mediation of the OSCE in the run-up to parliamentary elections in 2005. After the 2008 presidential election, its continuation was necessary. The ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) has repeatedly said it is ready for dialogue with the opposition on national issues

Elections

The Venice Commission is ready to work over the amendments to the Election Code of Azerbaijan, if it receives the relevant request from the official Baku, Representative of the Council of Europe (CE) Venice Commission, Sergei Kuznetsov told Trend in a telephone conversation from Strasbourg.

"If we receive an official request from the Government of Azerbaijan, we are ready to work over it," Kuznetsov said. "According to our regulations, either the authorities of a country or statutory bodies of the Council of Europe - Parliamentary Assembly or the Committee of Ministers apply to us."

Kuznetsov said the commission had not yet received any request from Azerbaijan to continue the work over the Election Code.

In the run-up to the municipal elections in Azerbaijan, a number of opposition parties support amending the existing code. Azerbaijan will hold the municipal elections in the second half of December.

The Election Code was amended in early June 2008 after joint discussions between the government and Council of Europe Venice Commission. The amendments did not include forming election commissions on a parity basis as the opposition hoped. Several Azerbaijani opposition parties refused to partake in the elections on Oct. 15 as a protest against the Election Code.

The Azerbaijani Government will initiate discussions with the Venice Commission in order to again make changes and amendments to the Election Code, earlier Chairman of the Parliamentary Administration, Safa Mirzayev told Trend . There is a need to improve the Code in connection with the municipal elections, in particular with the nomination of candidates and campaign period, the organization of voting in municipal elections.

Azerbaijan will organize the municipal elections at the highest level, Head of Presidential Administration Political Analysis and Dataware Department, Elnur Aslanov, told journalists on Sept.18.

"The government is holding normal preparations on the elections. The municipal elections will be democratic and transparent. The election will be held at the highest level in accordance with democratic norms and standards," Aslanov said.

Municipal elections in Azerbaijan are scheduled for mid-December, 2009.

According to Aslanov, on the eve of municipal elections, the socio-political situation in Azerbaijan is stable.

Foreign policy

On Sept.14, Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze arrived in Azerbaijan, the AzerTag state new agency reported.

During the two-day visit the minister will meet with the government and the state officials. The meetings will mull bilateral, international and regional issues.

Vashadze will also visit the grave of Azerbaijani National Leader at the Honors Cemetery and the Martyrs Lane. 

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, will discuss the bilateral and regional perspectives of the Azerbaijani-Iranian cooperation in Tehran.

The Minister is expected to visit Iran after the Ramadan holiday, the Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Muhammadbaghir Bahrami, told journalists on Sept.15.

Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Iran, Elmar Mammadyarov and Manouchehr Mottaki agreed on the visit over the telephone conversation, the ambassador said.

In Tehran, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister is expected to discuss the countries' cooperation in the energy sector, along with the political issues.

Azerbaijan and Tuvalu have signed a joint communiqué on establishing diplomatic ties between the countries.

According to the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN, the communiqué was signed to strengthen cooperation and friendly relations and understanding between the two countries, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry told Trend on Sept. 15.

The agreement was signed by Azerbaijan's Permanent Representative to the UN, Agshin Mehdiyev and Permanent Representative of Tuvalu to the UN, Afelee Pete.

The President a.i. of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe will submit a detailed report on the results of the visit to Azerbaijan on 21 September, at the next Bureau meeting of the Congress in Strasbourg, statement placed on Council of Europe's official website says. 

Micallef's official visit to Baku started on September 10 and ended on September 14.

During the visit, he held meetings with the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, Deputy Minister of Justice, Deputy Foreign Minister, Vice-Speaker of Parliament, the Azerbaijani delegation to the Council of Europe, opposition parties, NGOs.

Chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament, Oktay Asadov, will mull the prospects of the bilateral inter-parliamentary cooperation in Bern during his visit to Switzerland on Sept.16-18.

This is the first official visit of the Azerbaijani parliament to Switzerland, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Switzerland, Elchin Amirbayov, told Trend .

Asadov will meet with the heads of Switzerland's parliamentary chambers, head of the National Council, Chiara Simoneschi-Cortesi, and head of the Cantonal Council, Alain Berset, as well as with members of the parliamentary friendship group.

The meetings are expected to discuss prospects of cooperation between the Azerbaijani and Swiss parliaments within bilateral plan and exchange views on security issues and the current status of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Amirbayov said.

The Azerbaijani parliamentary chairman also plans to meet with Switzerland's Foreign Minister.

Azerbaijani delegation, which also comprises members of the Parliamentary Friendship Group from Azerbaijan Asim Mollazade, Chingiz Asadullayev and Elton Mammadov, will visit several industrial sites in the northern Switzerland

GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) Foreign Ministers will meet in New York on Sept. 25 to discuss prospects for cooperation. The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) will be held under the 64th UN General Assembly in New York, the secretariat of the organization told Trend .

The draft program and agenda of the next Ministerial Council meeting agreed at the 17th meeting of the GUAM Council of National Coordinators (CNC) in Kiev on Sept. 10-11.

In New York, it is also scheduled to hold meeting in the format of GUAM-US, GUAM-Japan and GUAM-Poland.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov will represent the country at the meeting, the ministry reported.

It will largely depend on the South Caucasus countries that how soon an agreement on association between EU & South Caucasus will be signed. But it is unworthy to expect the process to develop this year, said Christiane Hohmann, Spokesperson of European Commissioer on External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

There are individual agreements with each country and they don't depend on each other. The negotiation could proceed at different speed and therefore can be finalized at different times. It will be different according to the state of play of each country, Hohmann told Trend over the telephone.  

According to Hohmann, the negotiations with each country will proceed at different speed. It depends on whether that country has already undergone reforms or it is still planning to do them.

The beginning of the negotiation is not likely to start this year.  After the draft is worked out by the Commission, these proposals will come to the EU member states. And only once the EU member states agree on that mandate and adopt it (they have possibilities of changing this mandate), the Commission could prepare the negotiation with the three countries of the Southern Caucasus, Hohmann added.

For already ten years the South Caucasus countries have been associated with the EU through the cooperation agreement.

"Eastern Partnership as an initiative includes the offer for all the countries participating in Eastern Partnership to deepen and extend relationship. So we work on all areas starting with a political dialog, but covering also science, culture, trade, economic affairs, financial affairs, justice and etc," Hohmann said.

The Eastern Partnership is the Polish-Swedish initiative in the neighborhood policy, aimed at improving the EU's relations with the post-Soviet countries. The program was approved at a meeting of the EU on March 20. Eastern Partnership will cover the six countries neighboring the European Union: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. The program targets assisting talks on establishment of free economic zones and agriculture products, as well as partner and visa agreements.

According to Hohmann, these agreements will have to be adopted according to states of developments of all three countries. The development in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia is not the same. Some are more advanced, some have to cover more ground.

As an example Hohmann cited the necessity to be a member WTO to sign a free trade agreement. And therefore it might take longer if the country is not a member of WTO yet.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky's opinion on Nagorno-Karabakh, stated in an interview with News-Armenia, does not reflect the position of the Kremlin, said Vladimir Dorokhin, Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan.

"Vladimir Zhirinovsky is a representative of the opposition party, and he has a position in the State Duma thanks to the Russian system, which allows representatives of the major parties hold positions in the Duma," said Dorokhin.

Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma, Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky said in his interview with News-Armenia that the Nagorno-Karabakh is the native Armenian lands. "And if we help to return them to Azerbaijan, it will again be a confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Talk with them about the federation, that it will be broad autonomy - is the same question, as with the Abkhazians and Ossetians," he said.

The ambassador said Zhirinovsky's opinion on Nagorno-Karabakh is not the Kremlin's position.

"Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM and the OSCE will intensify cooperation in combating the organized crime and border cooperation. The agreement was reached in Kiev at a meeting between the OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and GUAM Secretary General Valeri Chechelashvili, GUAM Secretariat told Trend .

The parties agreed to intensify contacts between experts of the two secretariats.

The next Azerbaijani-Iranian talks on the status of the Caspian Sea will be held in Baku, Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Abbasali Hasanov, told Trend .

The meeting of two countries' experts is expected to be after the Ramadan holiday. The Iranian Foreign Ministry waits for the invitation of the Azerbaijani side, which should propose the date of the meeting, Hasanov said. 

Azerbaijan is one of the most important countries in shaping the regional security in Europe, the Head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Political Analysis and Dataware Department, Elnur Aslanov said at an international conference "Security and stability in the Caspian Sea region in the prism of the new geopolitical realities" on Sept. 18.

"Azerbaijan is the leading country in the region and it is not only from a geopolitical, but also the geo-economic point of view. Today, Azerbaijan is the only country in the region, which pursue an independent policy," said Aslanov.

"The territorial integrity is a fundamental principle of the international law and its violation by military actions is a crime against peace, Aslanov said. The principle of nation's self-determination cannot be considered as a notion of political independence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and other similar conflicts. The national minorities, including the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh, cannot justify their separatist demands. It is clear for the world that separatism has no future."

Increase in geopolitical and geo-economic weight of Azerbaijan is an indicator of the direction in on which the region will develop in the future, said Aslanov.

The British Government considers the aligning with Europe as one of the important decisions of the Azerbaijani government.

Speaking at the Center for the Strategic Studies under the Azerbaijani President, Caroline Brown, British ambassador to Azerbaijan, said that the United Kingdom (UK) is pleased to see Azerbaijan's growing integration into the international community and considers aligning with Europe as one of the important decisions of the Azerbaijani government.

According to Brown, one of principle directions of London's foreign policy towards Baku is the establishment of mutual trust.

"Azerbaijan is one of the UK's leading partners. In 2005, exports from Azerbaijan to the UK amounted to 4.2 million pounds sterling," the ambassador said.

Azerbaijan is the second largest importer of the UK goods. "Relations between the two countries are much wider and deeper than the ties at the governmental level. These are the cultural ties and language," Brown added.

According to Brown, the main objectives of the British foreign policy's strategy is to fight against terrorism, to ensure non-proliferation of nuclear arms and economic development at the international and regional level, to prevent and resolve territorial disputes, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "The UK is interested in rapid resolution of the conflict," the ambassador added.

Heads of the two chambers of the Swiss Parliament have been invited to visit Azerbaijan.

Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament, Oktay Asadov during meetings with the head of the National Council, Chiara Simoneschi-Cortesi, and the head of the Council of Cantonese, Alain Berset invited them to pay official visits to Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Switzerland, Elchin Amirbayov told Trend on Sept. 18.

During the first official visit to Switzerland, the Speaker of Azerbaijani parliament debated in both chambers the cooperation between the parliaments, the activities of the friendship group with Azerbaijan in the Swiss Parliament, informed the Swiss side about the situation in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

"The Swiss side has confirmed the importance of developing inter-parliamentary relations with Azerbaijan, given the country's role in the region, and interest in Azerbaijan, which has increased significantly worldwide in recent years," said the ambassador.

The Azerbaijani delegation was received by the Foreign Minister of Switzerland, Micheline Calmy-Rey, who expressed satisfaction with the relationship between the countries that emerged over the past few years. The sides exchanged views on the process of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, on Switzerland's role in promoting stability in South Caucasus, the ambassador said.

The sole purpose of Switzerland is to assist in restoring peace and stability in South Caucasus, and in this context, it takes some effort to bring together the Armenian-Turkish relations, also represents the interests of Russia in Georgia and Georgia in Russia, which, in principle, consistent with the general lines of the Swiss policy on mediation, the ambassador said, referring to the statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.

If Azerbaijan puts forward its candidature for membership to the European Union (EU), it will be supported by official Ankara, said State Minister of Turkey.

"If Azerbaijan puts forward its candidacy for EU membership, official Ankara will support Baku in every possible way," the head of the delegation on negotiations on Turkey's entrance to EU, Minister of State, Egemen Bakish, told Trend in an exclusive interview on Sept. 18.

Turkey, as a country negotiating with the EU, supports the development of relations of this organization in the region with friendly and fraternal Turkey and Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus as a whole, said the State Minister.

According to him, due to the fact that the EU is a consumer of oil and gas, Azerbaijan's significance for it will further increase.

"As long as the steps taken in the world in terms of energy security are important for the EU and Turkey, they are important for Azerbaijan as well," he said.

he U.S. President and the Secretary of State are committed to doing everything possible to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan and Armenia living side-by-side in a peace,  William J. Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, said while making a speech to a conference on Azerbaijan -U.S. relations, organized at the Georgetown University.

Appointment of Bob Bradtke as the next U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group pursuers merely this purpose, Burns added.

"We hope progress in the negotiations between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia will enable to achieve significant results during their upcoming meeting next month," Burns said.

"The outline of a possible settlement has been clear for some time, though as with all things, the devil lies in the details and further discussions will be needed to satisfy the concerns of both sides. We trust that all parties will show the political will necessary to close negotiations and bring the conflict to its desired end. And we will devote considerable time and effort towards this goal," Burns added.

Obama administration's decision about abandoning putting its anti-missile defense systems in Poland and Czech Republic has raised the importance of Azerbaijan for US, told in a conversation with TREND David Kramer, Senior Transatlantic Fellow of German Marshall Fund and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor stressed that Azerbaijan is one of best friends and allies of US.

Kramer said that Azerbaijan is one of the best friends and allies of the U.S.

Kramer stated that this decision might forward Washington's attention onto Azerbaijan. In that terms analyst referred to one of Pentagon officials - general Cartride's statement about the possibility of putting the US anti-missile systems on Caucasus.

"Azerbaijan is the only country among the South Caucasus republics where there is radar. Azerbaijan is also neighboring Iran. And these factors might increase the importance of the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the US" - said Kramer.

Former US official also believes that currently Azerbaijan's geostrategic importance for the US has risen and became more than ever.

Human rights

The Parliamentary permanent committee on social policy is developing a social protection code, head of the commission, Hadi Rajabli, said.

Azerbaijan has adopted several laws on the people's social protection and developed a bill on social services, but to unify all laws on social sphere will be more efficient, Rajabli added. 

According to Rajabli, a draft code will be ready by late 2009.

Azerbaijan fully executed the decision of the European Court on Human Rights, representative of Azerbaijan to the European Court Chingiz Askerov told Trend , expressing attitude towards rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

"Azerbaijan has taken necessary measures in connection with the execution of decisions of the European Court," said Askerov.

PACE rapporteur Christos Purgorides expressed concern that the European Court decisions are not executed completely.

Rapporteur said that of 47 member countries of the Council of Europe, 36 do not completely implement the decisions of the Court. This list also includes Azerbaijan in connection with the fact that the country did not completely implement the European Court decision on Sardar Jalaloglu and Alikram Humbatov.

Several days ago, the Supreme Court chairman Ramiz Rzayev said that the decisions taken with regards to Azerbaijan are executed timely.
European Court made 16 decisions with regards to Azerbaijan.

Currently Azerbaijan and European Court hold talks on more than 30 cases.

The Azerbaijani Ombudsman has applied to Transport Minister.

Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova's address expressed regret at the fact that in recent years members of the Transport Ministry have allowed violations of the law, the ombudsman administration told Trend on Sept. 15.

The Ombudsman has asked Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov to take the necessary measures to prevent similar incidents, to conduct enlightenment among the staff of the Ministry, to explain to them their rights and responsibilities, authority, law and rules to punish employees who have committed violations, to monitor the activities of workers of the Transport Inspectorate under the law and to provide information on activities, held.

Azerbaijani Citizen, Raya Amirgulieva appealed to the Office of the Ombudsman with a complaint against the Road Safety Office of the Transport Ministry. The plaintiff provided a video showing the beating of her son Mehman Amirguliev by employees of the department.

Employees of the transport inspection and Azeryolservis OJSC remove state numbers from cars, take documents for the car, use physical pressure against the drivers, beat, insult them, exceed their power, which leads to fair dissatisfaction of owners of motor vehicles, the Office of the Ombudsman reported.

 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The president of the 62nd UN General Assembly believes raising the Nagorno-Karabakh issue on the level of the General Assembly signals strengthening of the international interest to the region.

"The fact that Azerbaijan raised the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh on the level of UN General Assembly is strengthening the international interest to the events in that region," President of the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, former Macedonian Foreign Minister, Srgjan Kerim told Trend .

Mr. Kerim reminded that the resolution about the situation on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan has been added to UN GA agenda few years ago and is being passed to the next sessions.

He said "the future of this resolution depends on Azerbaijan itself, but lobbing at UN is playing a big role in such kind of issues".

He also added that there are usually quite a lot of supporters to such resolution, because the facts that are shown there are based on many other international documents including UN resolutions.

On the other hand, president of the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly is not satisfied with the involvement of UN in the frozen conflicts matters. He thinks that the UN mechanisms on adjusting conflicts must be strengthened. 

"The effectiveness of international security system impacts on the authority of the UN. As you know, the democratization of the UN was the overarching priority of my presidency. I believe UN needs to take radical steps. We are certainly the most representative body of the international system. But I don't think we can say UN is the most effective," said Mr. Kerim.

Deniz Baykal, Turkish Opposition Leader, demanded to include the Nagorno-Karabakh issue in the Ankara-Yerevan protocol signed in August, Turkish CNN TÜRK TV channel reported.

"The Nagorno-Karabakh issue should be included in the Turkey-Armenia protocol," Baykal said. 

On Aug. 31, Turkey and Armenia in the talks mediated by Switzerland reached an agreement to launch "internal political consultations" to sign the Protocol on Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and Protocol on Development of Bilateral Relations, the Turkish Foreign Ministry reported.

Political consultations will be completed within six weeks, and following that two protocols will be signed and submitted to the two countries' parliaments for approval. At present Turkey does not plan to open the borders with Armenia, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davudoglu said.

Armenian-Turkish ties have been severed since 1993.

The meeting between the opposition leader and Davudoglu to discuss the protocol is expected to take place on Sept.15.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can be resolved only with the assistance of the region's countries, said Muhammadbaghir Bahrami, the Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan.

"For 17 years, foreign countries have been engaged in solving the conflict, but it has not yet yielded any results, the conflict can be resolved only with the assistance of the countries of the region," Bahrami said at a news conference at the Trend Press Centre on Sept. 15.

The states that have no relationship to the region, pursue their interests, and the OSCE Minsk Group is an example of this, said the ambassador.

"Undoubtedly, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be solved as part of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Iran has always condemned and condemns the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh," the diplomat said.

The ambassador said Iran's relationship with Armenia is not directed against Azerbaijan, they are neighbors and serve to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Egypt  recognizes the occupation of Azerbaijan's territory and protests against the non-fulfillment of the UN resolutions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Ismail Serageldin, said.

"I can speak as a member of the [Egyptian] parliament, but our task as academicians is to bring the truth to future generations and society," Serageldin said. Serageldin was awarded Honorary Doctorate of the Institute of History of the Azerbaijani Academy of Science (AAS).

According Serageldin, the Institute of History plays an important role in disclosure and reporting of truth to the society.

"I am confident we can build a bridge between East and West by this way. Science will always win over ideology," the director said.

On Sept. 14, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from the nameless heights in the Goygol region at 14:20-14:40, from areas outside the Gulustan village in the Goranboy region at 18:25-18:50, from the positions near the Marzili and Tagibayli villages in the Agdam region at 22:40-23:00 and on Sept. 15 at 05:45-06:05, from an area outside the Horadiz village in the Fuzuli region at 01:20-01:35 and from the position near the Mehdili village in the Jabrayil region at 01:45-02:20, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.

The Azerbaijani political analysts predict a breakthrough in the solution of the Armenian -Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"I am convinced of Ankara's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is consistent and will remain so. I cannot imagine the Karabakh dispute to remain suspended while the Turkey-Armenia relations were being normalized. Taking into account the situation in the region, I think there will be a breakthrough in resolving the conflict," Rasim Agayev, Azerbaijani independent political scientist, said at a roundtable on "The settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Armenian-Turkish relations. Parallel processes or ...." on Sept.16

The political consultations will complete within six weeks. Afterwards, two protocols to be submitted for approval by the parliaments of two countries will be signed," the same source added.

According to Agayev, each country in the South Caucasus has its own opportunities. "The Armenians' positions in the world are strong enough due to powerful Armenian lobby. However, Azerbaijan has strategic springboard and energy. At present, Armenia seriously relies on the improvement of the situation after opening borders and moves towards the resolution. Turkey, of course, must proceed from its national interests that are vast and varied. I am sure that Ankara's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh consistent is consistent and will remain so," the political scientist said.

Armenians; efforts to achieve half-recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh will be the first step towards full recognition, independent political analyst, Zardusht Alizade, said.

"Regardless the content of the protocol, I believe the movements in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are hiding behind this. If this were an open declaration, then the government, disliked by more powerful political forces, would change in Armenia. We should expect the signing of a framework agreement in several months," Alizade said.

The Azerbaijani Army Soldier, Samir Mehbaliyev, 18, was wounded as a result of ceasefire violations by Armenia in the Tartar Region, Trend regional correspondent reported.

Mehbaliyev was wounded from the shoulder and he was immediately given the first aid.

The Azerbaijani soldier was enlisted by the Gazakh Region Military Commissariat.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry confirmed the case of the wounded soldier

On Sept. 16, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops in the Jafarli village of the Gazakh region at 12:15-12:20. The shots were fired from an area outside the Azatamurt village in Armenia's Ijevan region.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that the Armenian soldiers fired at Azerbaijani troops from the nameless heights in the Gazakh region at 12:10-12:20 and an area outside the Garakhanbayli village in the Fuzuli region at 19:15-20:00.

The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.

French MP Tierri Mariani believes the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict can no longer continue.

"Unsolved conflicts may resume with renewed vigor at any time. It is doubtless that they are threatening the security of the region. It is time for dialogue to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," said Mariani, MP of the French National Assembly, member of the French delegation to the CE Parliamentary Assembly.

According to Mariani, although the French parliament recognized the so-called "Armenian genocide", France condemns the occupation of 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory.

A US-based Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy is to hold a Symposium on Reassessing the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in Medford, MA on Sept. 26.

The conference is aimed to discuss the ways of adjusting the conflict with the participation of US, Azerbaijani and Armenian experts and also officials, including Elin Suleymanov (Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles), Anar Ziyadov and Fariz Ismailzadeh (Azerbaijani Diplomatic Academy).

Among the main matters of discussions are the challenges and prospects of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process in the context of new regional realities, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the aftermath of the Russia-Georgia war.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia has presented a note to the Azerbaijani Representation in the UN.

According to the reports from the Azerbaijani Permanent Mission to the UN, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia has presented a note concerning the UN Secretary General's report on implementation of the 62/243resolution "Situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan", adopted on March 14 2008 at the 62nd UN General Assembly, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry told Trend on Sept. 18.

The note states that the Australian Government's support to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan remains unchanged, it does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state, and will continue to support the mediation efforts of the OSCE for a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict, acceptable both for Azerbaijan and Armenia. In addition, the note said that the Australian government prefers to consider the peace process of the OSCE.

On Sept. 17, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from the positions near the Mehdili village in the Jabrayil region at 06:40-07:00 and from the positions near the Sarijali and Shurabad villages in the Agdam region at 23:00-23:15 and on Sept. 18 at 05:30-05:45, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.

Baku expects Yerevan to take a constructive position in the next rounds of negotiations on the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijani President's special envoy for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Deputy Minister of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan Araz Azimov told TREND's Washington correspondent that the negotiations are based on the principal of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the position of Baku on this will not change.

Azimov said that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be adjusted only within the international laws.

Azimov added that in the next rounds of negotiations Baku expects Yerevan to take a constructive point of view.

On Sept. 18, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from the positions near the Yusifjanli village in the Agdam region at 17:48-18:00 and from the positions near the Gulustan village in the Goranboy region at 18:20-18:40; from the positions near the Kurapatkino village in the Khojavand region at 19:15- 19:20 and from the nameless heights in the Fizuli region 20:15-20:30, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

The Azerbaijani troops answered their fire. No causalities were reported.

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