Weekly political digest (14.12- 19.12.2009)

Official chronicle

On Dec. 19, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev visited newly-reconstructed Juma mosque in Buzovna, AzerTAj state news agency reported. The mosque has been overhauled as part of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation's "Azerbaijan - home to tolerance" project.

The President, accompanied by his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva, viewed photos featuring the mosque`s look before and after the complete overhaul. The mosque is capable of holding 500 people.

The President chatted with local residents, and praised the look of the mosque. President Ilham Aliyev and the first lady were presented with a Quran.

On Dec. 14, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree conferring honored ranks on a number of people for their productive activities in the field of communications and information technologies.

On Dec. 14, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree awarding special monthly stipend of President of the Azerbaijan Republic to a number of people with special music talent.

On Dec. 14, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree awarding Khoshbakht Yusifzade the Sharaf Order ("Glory") for his great contribution to the development of the oil industry and science in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has signed the decree to establish a professional Builder's Day.

Each year April 10 will be marked as a Day of Builder, the decree said.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev conferred honorary title "Distinguished public servant" upon Huseyin Movsumov for his long years fruitful activities in the public service in the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Upon another decree of the Head of State, Vagif Farzaliyev was conferred the honorary title "Honored worker of science" for his services in the development of chemical science in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani President awarded Arif Mehdiyev the Shohrat Medal ("Glory").

Upon the order by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Arif Mehdiyev was awarded the Shohrat Medal for his merits in the development of Azerbaijani science, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev congratulated Romanian President Traian Basescu on his re-election as president.

"I heartily congratulate you on the occasion of re-election as president of Romania. Today, the bilateral relations between Romania and Azerbaijan in various spheres, including political, economic and humanitarian, are developing successfully. Expansion of relations between our countries give their results in regional cooperation and security," the message says.
Azerbaijani President expressed hope that joint efforts for development of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Romania and the strengthening of friendly relations will continue in the future, and wished Traian Basescu health and success in his activities for the prosperity of the friendly people of Romania.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has sent a letter of congratulation to King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on his country's National Day, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

The letter says: "I hope friendship and cooperation between Azerbaijan and Bahrain will continue developing and enhancing for the prosperity of our peoples."
President Ilham Aliyev wished the Bahraini King and the people of his country "best regards, peace and welfare".

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has sent a congratulatory letter to Doris Leuthard as her election as President of the Swiss Confederation, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

The Head of State hoped "friendship and cooperation between Azerbaijan and Switzerland will continue developing and enhancing for the prosperity of our peoples".
President Ilham Aliyev wished Doris Leuthard "robust health, happiness and successes in your activities for the welfare of the friendly people of Switzerland".

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev on the national holiday - Independence Day.

"On my own behalf and on behalf of the Azerbaijani people, I congratulate You and all people on the national holiday - Independence Day. Azerbaijani-Kazakh relations have historically developed and strong tradition of friendship. I believe that we will continue to consistently make efforts aimed at full development of our relations based on mutual understanding and trust, expand the scope of our cooperation," said the congratulatory letter.

Ilham Aliyev wished Nursultan Nazarbayev good health and success, and the friendly people of Kazakhstan - peace and prosperity.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and the people of Qatar on the national holiday of the country, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

"Today, Azerbaijani-Qatari relations are developing. I believe that we will continue to take joint steps aimed at further strengthening the friendly relations and cooperation in accordance with the will of our peoples. On this auspicious day, I deliver you my best wishes and wish good health and success in business, the friendly people of Qatar - peace and prosperity," said Azerbaijani President said in his congratulatory message.


The speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament put forward a proposal to the U.S president.

"Although Congress made the decision to provide assistance to the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh, the U.S. president has not approveethis document. So, we must establish a commission and appeal to both U.S President Barack Obama and the Congress," Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Oqtay Asadov said today.   

A general budget bill for the 2010 fiscal year was approved at a joint conference of the Senate and House of Representatives Dec. 8. 

Asadov said that if the appeal is approved, the U.S. president is unlikely to confirm the decision rendering assistance to separatists.

A commission, including Mussa Guliyev, Ali Huseynov, Nasib Nasibli, Yevda Abramov, Elman Mammadov, Rovshan Rzayev and Gulyar Akhmadova, has been established upon the initiative of the speaker. 

Asadov put forward the proposal for the commission to prepare a corresponding appeal during over the course of today and submit the document to the parliament.

The parties represented in the Azerbaijani parliament approved the appeal to the U.S embassy in Azerbaijan as a sign of protest against the U.S Congress's decision to assist separatist regime of the Nagorno-Karabakh.

The U.S Congress takes an action contradicting national interests of both countries, as well as strategic partnership, the message said. This decision serves only interests of Armenian nationalists, the letter said.

Azerbaijani political figures said that this financial aid damages the United States' authority in the international community.

Ruling party 'New Azerbaijan', pro-governmental parties - Social Welfare Party, Ana Veten, opposition parties - Musavat, Adalat, Azerbaijani United People's Front Party, Civil Solidarity party, Great Creation party, Umid, People's party, Democratic Reforms Party and Civil Unity party signed this appeal.   

The decision made by the U.S. Congress to assist the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh has a negative impact on relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani MP said.

"The U.S. is co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group. Naturally, this decision of the Congress is a step that cast doubt on the ability to adhere to a fair and neutral position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement," MP Ganira Pashayeva told Trend on Dec. 15.

According to Pashayeva, after appeals made by the parties represented in the Parliament and the Parliament itself, the U.S. government will attentively approach this issue and take steps to eliminate injustice and not implement the decision.

"But, in my opinion, non-governmental organizations in Azerbaijan should also be active in this process. Our compatriots living in the United States must also be attentive to this issue. Because the Azerbaijanis living in the United States, as citizens of this country, should be very sensitive to this issue. I think they should send a letter of protest to the Congress and at the same send an appeal to the U.S. President, the White House to avoid this step," said Pashayeva.

According to the MP, the Turks living in the United States must also be sensitive and attentive to this issue. "All the Turkish diaspora organizations must make an appeal to the U.S. President to stop this step. Because this is a step adversely affecting the negotiation process to resolve the conflict. At the same time, this step causes great doubt over fair position of the United States in resolving the conflict," she said.

Azerbaijani parliamentary representatives will take part in an Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Parliamentary Union meeting.

"Today First Deputy Speaker Ziyafat Asgarov and MP Govhar Bakhshaliyeva will leave for the Egyptian capital Cairo to attend a meeting of the Parliamentary Union of OIC Member States," the MM Press Service told Trend today.

The event will begin with a meeting of experts. Discussions will then be continue under the chairmanship of Egyptian Parliamentary Speaker Azerbaijani parliamentary representatives will take part in an Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Parliamentary Union meeting.

"Today First Deputy Speaker Ziyafat Asgarov and MP Govhar Bakhshaliyeva will leave for the Egyptian capital Cairo to attend a meeting of the Parliamentary Union of OIC Member States," the MM Press Service told Trend today.

The event will begin with a meeting of experts. Discussions will then be continue under the chairmanship of Egyptian Parliamentary Speaker Ahmet Fathi Sorour at the level of heads of parliaments.

"Secretary General of the OIC Parliamentary Union Mahmud Erol Kilic's report will be heard at both meetings. Taking into account the proposals made by experts during the Algerian and Cairo meetings, a general discussion was held of the report on the charter and the rules of the OIC Parliamentary Union," the MM Press Service added.

Representatives of the Azerbaijani parliament will acquaint participants with the country's position on various issues during the visit, which will last until Dec. 22.

at the level of heads of parliaments.

"Secretary General of the OIC Parliamentary Union Mahmud Erol Kilic's report will be heard at both meetings. Taking into account the proposals made by experts during the Algerian and Cairo meetings, a general discussion was held of the report on the charter and the rules of the OIC Parliamentary Union," the MM Press Service added.

Representatives of the Azerbaijani parliament will acquaint participants with the country's position on various issues during the visit, which will last until Dec. 22.

The Parliament of Azerbaijan created conditions better than in Armenia for the activities of the journalists.  

"The situation in Azerbaijan for the parliamentary journalists is relatively better compared to the situation in Kazakhstan, and even in Estonia," noted on Dec. 18 at an event held at the initiative of the Association of Impartial Journalists with the support of Fund of State Support to Media Development under the Azerbaijani President.

The head of the Association Elshad Eyvazli said that the main purpose of the event was to study the international practice in covering the parliament. "For example, after the Iraqi journalist threw his shoes to the U.S. President George W. Bush, the Estonian Parliament introduced a special ban for journalists. Now journalists are allowed to the meeting of the Estonian Parliament, attended by the Speaker, after they take their shoes off," said Eyvazli.

"Not only the Parliament, but also the journalists play a great role in presenting to the attention of the world the genocide committed by the Armenians against the local population in Guba region of Azerbaijan," said MP Vahid Ahmadov, who attended the meeting.

As a result of the event, journalists and MPs summarized the suggestions and decided to present this issue to one of the next meetings of the Parliament.

Political movements

The Union for Democracy plans to hold another forum on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict Dec. 16. The union comprises several opposition parties.

"Opinions about the current stage of negotiations on resolving the conflict and allocating help in the amount of $8 million to the Nagorno-Karabakh separatist regime by the U.S. Congress will be heard at the forum," Great Azerbaijan Party Chairman Elshad Musayev told Trend today.

The Union for Democracy has held nine forums over Nagorno Karabakh so far.

Musayev said that, an invitation was sent to the New Azerbaijan Party to participate in the forum on Nagorno Karabakh.

"As organizers we want leaders of opposition parties, NGOs and academics to participate in the forum," the chairman said.


The Central Elections Commission (CEC) registered 135 political party members as municipal election observers in Azerbaijan.

"The CEC registered 135 individuals as local observers wishing to monitor the elections as political party representatives and 176 as NGO representatives," CEC Press Service head Azer Sariyev told Trend today.

Appeals received by the CEC will be examined over five days. The CEC is accepting appeals in connection with observer registration until the evening of Dec. 18. The CEC and constituencies have registered 36,000 observers who will monitor the course of the elections.

According to Sariyev, 802 local observers were registered on their own initiative.

"Ten candidates have also registered as observers," he said.

Local and foreign observers will have the opportunity to watch the municipal elections at military units and prisons, Central Elections Commission (CEC) Secretary Natig Mammadov told Trend today.

"Regardless of the places of voting we will create conditions for local and foreign observers who want to observe," he told Trend today.

Mammadov said preparation for the elections in prisons and other closed facilities are ongoing and in no way differ from such procedures in other locations.

"We stand for transparently holding elections throughout the country. We are sure the voting process will be held at a high level," Mammadov said.

Invisible ink and ultraviolet detectors have been brought from Denmark to Azerbaijan on the eve of the municipal elections.

"The district election commissions and constituencies have received invisible ink and ultraviolet detectors," Central Elections Commission (CEC) International Relations Department head Rovzat Gasimov told Trend . 

Gasimov said some constituencies have been provided with additional portable ballot boxes.

Regional centers of the Azerbaijani Ombudsman's Office are monitoring the municipal elections.

The ombudsman issued orders to monitor how employees of local executive power authorities, district election commissions and voters are preparing for the municipal elections.

The monitoring aims to follow voter lists, ensure constituencies have mobile and stationery  ballot boxes, send summons to voters and ensure citizens have identity cards, equip constituencies with the necessary technical equipment, and study the general training and organization of employees involved in the voting process.

Thirty-nine members of the ombudsman's central and regional offices will observe the electoral process on election day. They have already been officially registered and received instructions.

13 district election commissions and 22 polling stations have been established at Azerbaijani prisons with regards to municipal elections, the public relations department of the Penal Service \(PS\) of the Ministry of Justice told Trend .

PS has prepared an action plan in connection with the upcoming municipal elections on Dec. 23. The number of voters who will participate in the elections has already been defined. The elections will be attended by nearly 15,500 people, including nearly 14,000 prisoners, 1,500 soldiers in active military service.

Information about the exact number of voters will be represented to the election commissions five days before the election. Prisoners will be provided with documents ensuring their identity. They will vote through the identity approved by the management of prisoners.

Necessary measures have been taken in prisons to ensure security of observers during the elections.

Pre-election situation in Azerbaijan is democratic with freedom of speech and press and a favorable atmosphere for the activities of political authorities. This conclusion has been made by Baku branch of the International Institute for Monitoring Democracy Development, Parliamentarianism and Suffrage Protection of Citizens of the Secretariat of the IPA CIS Council after the initial monitoring of municipal elections in Azerbaijan on Dec. 23, 2009.

According to observations of the Baku branch of the Institute, organizing of the electoral process allows holding democratic, fair and transparent municipal elections in Azerbaijan.

The monitoring was held in Baku, Ganja, Yevlakh, Shamakhi, Oguz, Absheron, Sumgait, Guba and covered the activities of electoral commissions on preparation for the municipal elections. In addition, broad poll was held among people in Baku.

The results of the long-term observations of the Baku branch of the Institute will be announced the next day after the elections.

Foreign policy

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov launched his visit to neighboring Iran Dec 14, Mehr reported.

The minister is expected to meet with his Iranian Counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) mulled the activities of the Nagorno-Karabakh Subcommittee in Paris today, the organization's press officials told Trend .

"PACE President Luis Maria de Puig spoke with a communique in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh subcommittee," the source said. "The bureau members exchanged their views. Despite the fact that a decision on the basis of the discussions was not accepted, it was decided to discuss the issue at the regular PACE winter session."

Culture Days of Iran will be held in Azerbaijan and Cultural days of Azerbaijan in Iran next year, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said in Tehran today

The minister is on an official visit to Iran

The Azerbaijani FM and his Iranian counterpart discussed the situation on South Caucasus and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as bilateral and regional cooperation.

Iran is ready to mediate in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in Tehran today after meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov.

The situation in the South Caucasus and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have become a major topic in the talks between the Azerbaijani and Iranian foreign ministers.

"We have discussed many issues of bilateral and regional cooperation," Mammadyarov said at a press conference during his official visit to Tehran. 

He thanked Iran for its fair position voiced in the international organizations on Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Iran is our neighbor. We hope Tehran will continue making efforts to restore peace and stability in the region," Mammadyarov said. 

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will pay an official visit to Turkey Dec. 24-25, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Elkhan Polukhov said.

A wide range of issues covering bilateral and multilateral relations, as well as the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, will be discussed during the visit," Polukhov said.

He added that the minister will meet with his Turkish counterpart and several other officials.

Deputy General Director and Central Europe and Eurasia Division head at the Israeli Foreign Ministry Pinhas Avivi will visit Azerbaijan Dec. 22-23, Izrus reported.

The aim of the visit is to hold tlaks on Azerbaijani-Israeli relations.

The main issue on the agenda are the terms of an official visit by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to Baku - the first in the history of the two countries' relations. The visit is planned for February.

This visit was discussed during a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers in Athens Dec. 1. At that meeting, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman invited his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov to Israel. The ministers may meet once more before Lieberman's Baku visit at the international economic forum in Davos in late January. Earlier the ministers also met at the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September.

Avivi's Baku visit will be the final chord in boosting bilateral relations. In addition to the intense dialogue of the foreign ministers, Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Baku in June. The sides, particularly Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Lieberman, had talks in Prague in May.

The best option scenario now would be to link the opening of the Turkey-Armenia with the final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, British Transatlantic Institute Director Ziba Norman said.

"But, the political realities dictate that it will not be that smoothly achieved. There are too many players who are looking to derail the process. Not least, those in power in the Nagorno-Karabakh itself," Norman wrote Trend in an e-mail.

According to Norman, the U.S is looking to enhance ties with Armenia, for example, by drawing "Armenia into the NATO partnership action plan.  Opening the Turkey-Armenia border is a very important aspect of this, so support for Serzh Sargsyan will be essential if this is to be realized."

Regarding the U.S. Congress granting financial aid to the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh, Norman noted that the U.S assistance to Armenia has declined compared with previous years, despite Obama's promises to the Armenian lobby on the eve of taking office.

"This shows the Obama Administration have understood the real political realities of the situation and will not blindly support one side, the expert added.

"By making a concession to the Diaspora lobby, who have argued for these funds to be unrestricted, the US may hope to ease conditions for negotiations," Norman believes.

The PACE Monitoring Committee discussed the upcoming visit of the co-rapporteurs to Azerbaijan.

"The meeting held on Dec. 17 confirmed the Monitoring Committee co-rapporteurs' visit to Azerbaijan in February next year," the Vice President of PACE, head of the parliamentary delegation of Azerbaijan Samad Seyidov told Trend in a telephone conversation.

According to Seyidov, the agenda of the winter session of PACE is already known. "Due to the upcoming visit of the co-reporters in February, the agenda of the winter session of the Assembly does not include anything regarding Azerbaijan. Despite this, Azerbaijani MPs will actively participate in discussions on all issues," said the MP.

Azerbaijani Ambassador to Washington Yashar Aliyev presented the official protest note in connection with the U.S. Congress's decision to allocate $8 million to the Nagorno-Karabakh. The note says that such actions by the United States may adversely affect the negotiation process on the Nagorno-Karabakh.

In the protest note Azerbaijan stated that such actions call into question the impartiality of the United States as a mediator in the talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani Ambassadir to the U.S. Yashar Aliyev presented an official note of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry to the US State Department to protest the U.S. financial assistance to the separatists of Nagorno-Karabakh, ANS TV reported.

"This assistance strengthens ethnic separatism in Nagorno-Karabakh and adversely affects the solution of the conflict. This step of U.S., who recognizes Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, implies moral and material support. This step decreases a confidence and trust to U.S. in Azerbaijan," the note read.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov is supposed to visit Qatar in the first months of 2010, a source at the Foreign Ministry told Trend on Dec. 18.

The exact date of the visit is not known.
Formerly the visit was planned for the end of November, but due to the season of pilgrimage - Hajj and Gurban Holiday, the visit was postponed with the request of the Qatari side.

The prospects of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Qatar in the political and economic spheres are expected to be discussed during the visit.

Human rights

American judges will hold workshops for candidates to judges in Azerbaijan, the Judicial Legal Counciltold Trend today.

80 candidates to judges will attend a week-workshop under the US embassy's support

The workshop opened at the Justice Academy.

The workshop will focus on judicial registration, judicial session management, the ethics of judicial conduct, ensuring the principle of competition, the fight against corruption issues. The staged trials will be held.

The Committee has held two competitions for judges so far. 157 highly qualified lawyers were appointed judges.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh regards the U.S aid to separatist regime as injustice.

"If it is not discrimination, then let the U.S to help the Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh, too," Head of the Azerbaijani community of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region Bayram Safarov told Trend .

"Azerbaijan condemns financial aid rendered to the Nagorno-Karabakh by the United States. Azerbaijan calls on the United States to preserve its neutral status and not to assist the separatist regime," the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Public-Political Department Head Ali Hasanov said earlier.

He said that the U.S. is represented in the OSCE Minsk Group to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This country's assistance to separatist regime must be negatively accepted. 

"We cannot regard the U.S. support toNagorno-Karabakh without any notification or explanation as correct. The U.S., who recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, was to coordinate it with Baku," Trend quoted First Deputy Parliamentary Speaker, Commission on Security and Defence Head Ziyafet Asgerov as saying.

According to Asgerov, Azerbaijan is a strategic ally of the U.S. and Washington was to inform Azerbaijan about it respecting the territorial integrity of the country. "

Asgerov thinks to preserve the fair position the U.S. ought to assist the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh, too. "We are unaware for what purpose the beneficiary will use this aid. We know that Armenia spends U.S. financial assistance for armaments. I think the aid for Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh in this sensitive phase of talks counteracts the spirit of our strategic ally relations."

Safarov regards the U.S help to the opposite side as action against the Azerbaijani government and its people.

According to him, the protest note on this issue will not bring results. "We have appealed on other injustice actions, but in vane. It is enough to appeal," he added.

Official Washington's strategic policy has certain inconsistency and bias that greatly damages U.S global democratic image, the Center for Strategic Studies under the Azerbaijani President head Elkhan Nuriyev said commenting on the media's information on the allocation of financial assistance by the U.S. Congress to Nagorno-Karabakh for 2010.

He said that speaking about democracy in the XXI century, it is impossible to carry out the practice of double standards, including one standard for small countries, and another - for the major powers. "Financial assistance rendered by the U.S. Congress to Nagorno-Karabakh and CIA's recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh's illegal authorities as separatists (see the official website of the CIA) are two opposing factors. They note the existence of elements of inconsistency and bias in U.S. policy on the problem of settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh conflict ", Nuriyev said.

The Center for Strategic Studies head said that in terms of real significance of democracy, one-sided approach to render financial assistance (in the context of the lack of rendering similar assistance to the Azerbaijani community) actually means about violation of democratic norms and principles of the United States. "Taking into account the negative impact of certain political and lobby circles of the United States, the apparent presence and even strengthening elements of bias in the strategic policy of official Washington seriously undermine the democratic image of the United States in the global arena," Nuriyev said.

The U.S embassy in Azerbaijan has commented on the U.S aid to separatist regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh.

"The United States does not recognize the so-called Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh government. That has been our policy and it has not changed," U.S Embassy Spokesman Terri Davidson said replying to the question about the U.S aid to separatist regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh.

"In the case of funds designated for the Nagorno-Karabakh by the U.S. Congress, U.S. assistance is given to people, not the government.  This is purely humanitarian assistance, for projects such as demining. These projects are carried out by NGOs," he added.

"The United States at the same time provides assistance to the IDP population in Azerbaijan. Again, we have supported large demining efforts in recent years, built new schools for IDP populations and attempted to improve living conditions in a range of projects," he added.

Monitoring of the troops contact line was broken nearby Garakhanbayli village in the Fuzuli region of Azerbaijan in conformity with the mandate of the personal representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office on Dec. 15 as a result of opening fire by Armenian armed forces, Azerbaijani Defence Ministry press-service reported.

At present, the OSCE's representatives study reasons of the incident, the ministry of defense press-service reported.  

The Armenian lobby is responsible for the U.S. Congress deciding to provide financial aid to Nagorno-Karabakh in 2010, European expert on the South Caucasus Amanda Akcakoca said.  

"However, at the same time this aid has been given for over 15 years and is clearly a result of the strong Armenian lobby in the U.S.," European Politics Center expert Amanda Akcakoca told Trend via e-mail.

There is no humanitarian crisis in Karabakh. Rather it seems this money goes toward specific NGO projects like restoring monuments, she said.    

"Personally I do not support the financial assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh because it could give the impression that the U.S government is supporting an unrecognized regime," she said. 

Ramin Mehmanparast, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, announced Iran's readiness to mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan to settle of the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, Tehran Times reported.

Mehmanparast made the remarks in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Referring to the Azerbaijani foreign minister's trip to Tehran, the speaker said this trip has been made in keeping with a policy to boost ties with the countries in the region.

On Dec.16, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from the nameless heights in the Goranboy region at 17:20-17:35 and from positions and areas outside the Sarijali and Yusifjanli villages in the Agdam region at 20.05- 20.10, 21.10-21.20 and  23.30-23.40, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from positions and areas outside the Garakhanbayli, Horadiz and Ashagi Sayidahmadli villages in the Fizuli region at 20.30-21:00, 23:40-23:50 and  00:30-00:50  Dec.17, the ministry reported.

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

Dec.17, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from positions and areas outside the Chilaburt village in the Tartar region at 12.05-12.25, as well as from positions and areas outside the Garakhanbayli and Ashagi Abdurahmanli villages and from nameless heights in the Fizuli region at 13.00-13.25, 22.10-22.40 and 23.05-23.20, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from positions and areas outside the Sarijali and Yusifjanli villages in the Agdam region at 21.40- 21.45 and 00:00-00:25 Dec.18, as well as from nameless heights in the Khojavand region at 00.20-00.30,  the ministry reported.

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

Azerbaijani-American Council (AAC) expresses its severe disturbance with the decision of U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday to allocate $8 million in direct aid to the separatist regime of Nagorno-Karabakh, says a press-release of the organization.

In March 2009, the representatives of AAC and other Azeri-American organizations submitted witness testimonies to the U.S. Congress calling to stop the allocation of direct U.S. aid to Nagorno-Karabakh based on the fact that this unrecognized regime was established illegally, as a result of military occupation and ethnic cleansing.

Press release states that the position taken by the U.S. Congress contradicts the official position of the country expressed by the U.S. State Department, that is, recognizing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

AAC called the U.S. lawmakers to take a more balanced position and to stop unfairly punishing Azerbaijan under the influence of ethnic lobbies.

Azerbaijan loses the credibility in the OSCE Minsk Group mediating in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijani Parliamentary Deputy Speaker Bahar Muradova said.

"The OSCE Minsk Group has stated its position only in separate stages of the negotiations," she said. "However, its representatives have always refrained from expressing an opinion in connection with the actions of members of this group."

In its time Russia and France have supported Armenia, she added.

"So they [the OSCE MG] do not condemn one another in this matter and I do not think that would condemn in the future," Muradova said.

Muradova called on the Minsk Group to fulfill its duties, mobilize efforts to intensify the negotiations and to represent a solution acceptable to both parties.

Dec.18, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from positions and areas outside the Kangarli and Yusifjanli villages in the Agdam region at 14.10-14.20 and 14.20-14.30, as well as from positions and areas outside the Gulustan village in the Goranboy region at 16.50- 17.10, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from positions and areas outside the Garakhanbayli village in the Fizuli region at 21.50- 22.05, the ministry reported.

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

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Azerbaijan confirms 228 more COVID-19 recoveries
Liberation of Azerbaijani lands from occupation - gratifying – Iranian General
Canadian Azerbaijanis protest against Armenian attacks on Ganja (PHOTOS)
US too knows Armenia is terrorist state, MP
Military uniform price in Armenia increase
Russia’s coronavirus case tally exceeds 1.5 mln
Azerbaijani army destroying military equipment, in background of which Pashinyan took selfie (PHOTO)
554 streets disinfected in Baku (PHOTOS)
Footage about Armenia's missile attack on Ganja prepared (VIDEO)
Funeral service for 13-year-old Arthur, who died due to Armenian terror, being held in church in Ganja (PHOTOS)
Iran assigns lands to develop Pardis Technology Park
Will Iran export water?
Iran to increase in detergents and sanitizers price
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for October 25
US Azerbaijanis hold protest in San Francisco against Armenian terror (PHOTOS)
Azerbaijani army heroically fighting for liberation of native lands from Armenian occupation (VIDEO)
Names of foreign mercenaries fighting in Karabakh within Armenian army revealed
Armenia must be held accountable for using children in battles, Azerbaijani expert
Azerbaijan announces recent statistics on COVID-19 cases across country
Armenian doctor who issued fake COVID-19 certificates to evade conscription arrested
Iran’s CBI announces volume of funds allocated for imports of essential products
Assistant to Azerbaijani president gives interview to leading Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram
Footage from Azerbaijani Gubadli region liberated from occupation unveiled (VIDEO)
Armenian military attacks against Azerbaijan along bordering regions - acts of aggression as enshrined in UN Charter, says Azerbaijani top official
Armenian Armed Forces shelling Azerbaijani Aghdam, Tartar and Agjabedi regions - MoD
Azerbaijani president's aide comments on French delegation's visit to Armenia
Volume of loans attracted for purchase of agricultural machinery in Iran revealed
Azerbaijan Army uses precision weapons against Armenian Armed Forces (VIDEO)
Iranian gov't to impose strict limitations to fight COVID-19
Production of home appliances in Iran increases
Export of agricultural products from Iran's Kurdistan region increases
Georgia reports 1 928 new coronavirus cases, 604 recoveries
President Ilham Aliyev gave interview to US Fox News TV channel (PHOTO)
Iran strongly condemns disrespect for Prophet of Islam in France
Iran unveils amount of loans issued to services sector
Bahar Azadi gold coin price falling in Iran
Statement made following investigation of Armenia's shelling of civilians in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan close to military victory in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - Russian analyst
Armenia's hopes that Russia to help it fight against Azerbaijan doomed to fail - expert
New refrigeration unit commissioned in Georgia
U.S. Vice President Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19
Azerbaijan forces Armenian troops to retreat in Gubadli direction - MoD
Significant amount of Armenian Armed Forces’ manpower, equipment destroyed - MoD
Azerbaijani troops advance new positions in Khojavend, Gubadli, Lachin directions of front
Over 150 new COVID-19 cases reported in Kazakhstan
Volume of loans issued to trade sector in Iran disclosed
WHO reports record increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases of over 465,000 in 24 hours
Samsung chief Lee dies
5.4-magnitude quake hits 74 km off Kawalu, Indonesia
Turkey reports 2,091 COVID-19 patients
Yemen's Houthis targeted two airports and a base in Saudi Arabia
Brazil reports another 432 COVID-19 deaths
Moscow's death toll from confirmed COVID-19 cases rises by 68
Afghan forces kill senior al Qaeda leader al-Masri who was on FBI most wanted list
UK records another 23,012 coronavirus cases with 174 deaths
Helpless on battlefield Armenia spreads false, provocative information - Azerbaijani MoD
Hikmet Hajiyev: Using children under 15 as soldiers is a war crime
8 killed, 4 injured in road accident in Pakistan's Punjab province
Necessary conditions will be created to extradite Armenian prisoners of war and civilians to third countries - MoD
Armenian army's combat equipment destroyed (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry calls on civilians in occupied territories to stay away from military facilities
Ministry of Defense: Armenian Armed Forces resort to provocations to prevent operations of Azerbaijani army
Iran declares amount of loans issued to housing & construction sector
Armenia continues to use underage children in military hostilities (VIDEO)
Photo of another missile launched by Armenia against Azerbaijan unveiled (PHOTO)
President Ilham Aliyev on political objectives of Armenian military attack on Azerbaijan
In center of Baku, there is Armenian church, but mosques on occupied territories were destroyed - President Aliyev
With Georgia our relations are excellent, says Azerbaijani president
Armenian government should not try to frighten its population with Turkey - President Aliyev
And after war with Armenia stops, political settlement enforced, role of Turkey will be very important, very positive - President Aliyev
Wounds of war must be healed by political wisdom, by political will - President Aliyev
Armenian government should understand that they are not now in position to dictate - President Aliyev
Best way for future of Karabakh - to live in peace in harmony, try to become good neighbors again, says President Aliyev
Unlike Armenia, from Russia we buy weapons, we pay for them, says Azerbaijani president
Turkey is not involved in the conflict at all - Azerbaijani president
If Armenia didn’t violate ceasefire today clashes would have stopped - President Aliyev
We cleaned completely the Azerbaijani-Iranian border from Armenian occupants, and there will be no more inconvenience for our brothers across river of Araz in Iran - President Aliyev
If Armenia do not stop, we will go until end to liberate all occupied territories - Azerbaijani president
Azerbaijan became already regional hub for not only for energy, but also for transportation - President Aliyev
Armenia - occupier, obliged to liberate territories of Azerbaijan - Lebanese political scientist
Loans of dead servicemen and persons affected by hostilities to be repaid in Azerbaijan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Azerbaijan begins to return its lands
Azerbaijani army liberates occupied lands with great inspiration (VIDEO)
Religious confessions of Azerbaijan demonstrate solidarity in fight against Armenian terror (VIDEO)
65 Azerbaijani civilians, including women, children, killed since beginning of Armenian provocation - Prosecutor General's Office
State-controlled international television and radio network Voice of America apologizes for its mistake (PHOTOS)
Russian Embassy in contact with family of teenager who died as result of Armenian shelling
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