Weekly political review (11.01- 16.01.2010)

Official chronicle

On Jan. 13, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev inspected construction progress of the National Flag square.

The foundation stone of the square was laid on December 30, 2007. The Head of State has visited the construction site several times since then.
The Azerbaijani Leader was informed about the construction work.
The national flag with a 162 meter-high flagpole measures 70 meters high x 35 meters wide and weighs 350 kilos.
President Ilham Aliyev gave respective instructions and recommendations concerning the building work carried out by local and foreign specialists.

On Jan. 14, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev visited the Baku bay to see ongoing construction of a dry-cargo port station. The construction of the facility began in 2008, AzertTAj state news agency reported. The facilities already built include six bridges for unloading dry goods, four bridges for washing ships and a number of storages.

The President toured the station.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva have today attended a celebrative event to mark the 80th anniversary of prominent oilman, SOCAR`s first vice-president for geology, geophysics and field development, academician Khoshbakht Yusifzadeh, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

The President delivered a speech at the event. He congratulated Yusifzadeh on his anniversary.
President Ilham Aliyev praised the academician`s contributions to developing oil industry in Azerbaijan, in particular oil and gas exploration and field development in the Caspian Sea.
The President presented Yusifzadeh with the Order of Glory.

The Academician thanked the Head of State for the attention. Yusifzadeh shared his memories of national leader Heydar Aliyev. He vowed he would "continue working for the prosperity of Azerbaijan under President Ilham Aliyev, a worthy successor to the nationwide leader".
The event featured a film devoted to Yusifzadeh, and a concert.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has inspected reconstruction of the Respublika hotel in Baku on Friday.

The President and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva arrived at the site of hotel which is being rebuilt to the modern standards.

The Head of State was informed that the reconstruction was being carried out by local constructors.

The hotel will include a conference hall, as well.

The reconstruction is expected to be completed in May this year.

President Ilham Aliyev gave certain instructions and recommendations.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva have today participated in a ceremony to officially open a Dalga Plaza business center in Baku, Azertaj State News Agency reported.

The total built-up area of the center is 11,000m2.

The Head of State and his spouse viewed the big and small conference halls on the ninth floor.

There are 12 rooms on every floor.

President Ilham Aliyev expressed his satisfaction with the work done here.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed an order awarding Vasif Talibov "Shokhrat" Medal ("Glory") for his merits in improving the legislation and ensuring socio-economic development, AzerTAj state news agency reported.

On Jan. 14, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has signed an Executive Order on preparation of a plan of action to celebrate the 100th anniversary of People's poet of Azerbaijan Rasul Rza.

The President instructed the Cabinet of Ministers to deal with the issues arising from the order.

The Azerbaijani staff of the inter-governmental commission on cooperation in the economic and humanitarian spheres between Azerbaijan and St. Petersburg was approved by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's decree dated January 15. The Azerbaijani staff consists of the following individuals:

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree to recall Novruz Aliyev from his posts as an ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan to the Kingdom of Spain and the Principality of Andorra and permanent representative to the World Tourism Organization.

Upon another decree, President Ilham Aliyev recalled Elkhan Huseynov from his post as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan to Turkmenistan.

On Jan. 15, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed an order to ensure social protection of the 9 millionth citizen of Azerbaijan.

In accordance with the order, the Baku Mayor's Office was tasked to allocate an apartment to the child's family to improve their housing condition.

According to the document, 20 000 AZN was allocated to the child - Ahmadli Ilham Ilkin oglu from the Reserve Fund of the President of Azerbaijan, and the Central Bank was ordered to open a bank account for him.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has sent a congratulatory message to Ivo Josipović on his election as the President of Croatia.

In his letter, the President expressed hope that friendly and cooperative relations between Azerbaijan and Croatia will continue to develop to serve interests of "our peoples".

President Ilham Aliyev wished Ivo Josipović robust health and happiness and successes in activities for the prosperity of the people of Croatia.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has sent a letter of condolence to Haitian counterpart Rene Preval over the loss of many lives caused by the devastating earthquake in the country, the AzerTaj state news agency reported.

"I was shocked upon hearing the news on the loss of many lives caused by the earthquake. On behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf, I offer sincere condolences to you, families and relatives of the dead and all the people of Haiti, and wish recovery to the injured," the President said.

Parliament

Azerbaijan's First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, MP Mehriban Aliyeva became the winner of the survey "The most active MP of the year, making legislative initiatives".

Mrs. Aliyeva was awarded the title for legislative initiatives in the parliament in 2009 based on the survey conducted among journalists accredited in the Azerbaijani parliament.

In 2009, prior to Novruz holiday the parliament was submitted a draft bill on the amnesty act initiated by Mrs. Aliyeva. This act, approved by Parliament, covered about 9,000 prisoners.

"The survey was conducted in the nomination of " The most active MP of the year "," Active MP of the year, who protects the voters' rights "," Active MP, representing Azerbaijan in international organizations", " The most active MP of the year, making legislative initiatives" and " The passive MP of the year", Parliamentary Journalists Association Head Elshad Eyvazli said at today's event.

According to him, the survey named active MPs the Deputy Speaker Bahar Muradova, deputy executive secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) Siyavush Novruzov, member of the YAP Political Council Aydin Mirzazade, Gudrat Hasanguliyev, Fazil Mustafa, Panah Husein, Vahid Ahmedov, Zahid Oruj, Ali Masimli and Azay Guliyev.

Ganira Pashayeva, Jamil Hasanli, Sabir Rustamhanli, Arzu Samadbeyli, Ikram Israfil, Intizam Akberli, Fuad Muradov, Gular Ahmedova, Nazim Mammadov and Elmira Ahundova were active MPs in the voter's rights field.

The Parliament of Azerbaijan devises a new law on culture.

"Due to the fact that during the adoption of the Law on Culture, the material opportunities of our country were at a lower level than now, the provisions for financing at a higher level will be reflected in the new bill," the chairman of the committee on culture of the Parliament of Azerbaijan Nizami Jafarov told Trend on Jan. 15.

The Law on Culture was adopted in 1998. However, the Parliament of Azerbaijan considers that there is a need for a new law.

According to Jafarov, preparing a new draft law on culture postpones the need to adopt a special law on the creative organizations. "This bill will reflect these issues. Because, in spite of funding are considered by the creative organizations the Union of Writers, Union of Composers and Union of Painters, the legislative funding mechanism is absent. The new bill will take this question into account," said chairman of the committee.

According to him, the main problem is associated with the producers. "Art is now operating on market principles," he said. "The art people do not know the technology to realize their works. It is essential to develop the system of producing for the development of art. In the new draft law on culture, we will fully cover these and other questions," said Jafarov.

Chairman of the committee did not exclude that the bill will be included in the agenda of the session of Parliament.

Political movements

The Azerbaijani Liberal Party has offered to participate in the 2010 parliamentary elections with two blocs, Acting Chairman Avez Temirkhan told Trend today.

Parliamentary elections will be held in Azerbaijan in autumn 2010. The previous elections were held in November 2005. Parliamentary elections are held on the majority system in 125 constituencies.

Temirkhan said by establishing a coalition with the Azadlig bloc, the opposition will have sufficient pre-election airtime. 

"The opposition should launch discussions without media outlets to discuss this option," Temirkhan said.

Elections

Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission overturned the results of municipal elections held on December 23, 2009, in a number of election districts and polling stations, the press service of the CEC told Trend . The decision was taken at the CEC meeting on Sunday.

Following discussions it was decided to release the chairman of the district election commission Gobustan-Khizi-Guba number 50 from his post.

In addition, it was decided to dissolve completely the district election commission number 70 of Masalli city.

The results in the municipalities of Sarkhanli of Imishli-Beylagan constituency number 80, Boradigah of Masalli rural constituency number 71, Naftalan of Goranboy-Naftalan constituency number 96, Merzeli of Imishli constituency number 79, Shahriyar of Sabirabad constituency number 64 were nullified.

Also, it was decided to conduct a recount in the polling station number 3 of Masalli city district election commission number 70 and to dissolve the composition of 7 polling station of Imishli constituency number 79.

The Azerbaijani Central Election Commission (CEC) publicized the final results of the Azerbaijani municipal elections.

The CEC has approved the voting results at the country's 1,709 municipalities at today's meeting. The commission annulled the voting results at the 33 polling locations, as well as at 9 municipalities.

Azerbaijan held the municipal elections in accordance with the Electoral Code, CEC chairman Mazahir Panahov said.

He said the elections were fair and transparent.

Azerbaijan held the municipal elections Dec.23.

The country has about 4.6 million registered voters. About 15,682 members are planned to be elected to 1,718 municipalities. Municipal elections were held twice in 1999 and 2004.

Azerbaijan has registered about 31,000 candidates, including 6,108 women, for municipal members. Candidates from 18 political parties have been registered for elections.

The Central Elections Commission (CEC) registered 48,388 observers, including 1,160 local observers and 52 foreign observers.

According to Panahov, the observers have not recorded violations that could affect the results during the voting process.

A paragraph on the municipal elections will be included in a report on Azerbaijan, PACE Vice President Samad Seyidov said in an interview on the ruling party's Web site.

He said the municipal elections will not be discussed by PACE. However, the issue may be submitted for discussion to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

Seyidov said the elections were normal, objective and met international standards.

"Some forces try to tinge elections, but it is impossible. Azerbaijani voters know their rights well," he said.

Seyidov thinks the Azerbaijani parliamentary elections to be held in 2010 will also be successful.

Foreign policy

In 2010, Azerbaijan will open about 10 diplomatic missions abroad, Deputy Foreign Minister Vagif Sadikhov told journalists today.

The diplomatic missions will be opened under the Azerbaijani Parliament's decision.

The country will open embassies in Serbia, Oman, Argentina, Thailand, Croatia, Libya, Lebanon and Estonia, as well as a Consulate General in Batumi.

Sadikhov said currently Azerbaijan has 65 diplomatic missions operating abroad.

"Azerbaijan's relations with the Arab countries are expanding," he said. "These countries are increasingly interested in Azerbaijan. Last year, the Palestinian Authority decided to open an embassy in Azerbaijan."

Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister and Rector of the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy Hafiz Pashayev regarded the U.S. Congress decision to allocate $8 million to the separatist government of Nagorno-Karabakh as a negative step in the way of development of the Azerbaijan-U.S. relations.

"This step by the Congress may adversely affect the U.S.-Azerbaijan relations," he told journalists today. "But we hope this will not happen."

Azerbaijani Former Ambassador to the U.S Pashayev considered the Congress's intervention in U.S. foreign policy as a move contrary to Washington's interests.

According to Pashayev, the Congress took such actions due to the influence of Armenian lobby operating in the United States.

The intervention of Congress in the U.S. foreign policy is evident not only in regard to Azerbaijan,.

Azerbaijan attaches great importance to developing relations in all fields with the Arab and Islamic countries, with whom it has historical, religious, cultural and economic ties, Azerbaijani ambassador to Syria and Lebanon Mahir Aliyev told in an interview with the Arabic weekly "al-Hawadeth".

According to ambassador Aliyev, an example of Arab-Azerbaijani relations is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's visit to Baku in July 2009, where were signed 19 agreements on cooperation in various fields, and opening a Syrian embassy in Azerbaijan in 2010, as well as Azerbaijan's decision to open diplomatic missions in Lebanon, Libya and Sultanate of Oman.

"At the same time, Azerbaijan confirms continuing mutual support between it and the Arab countries on the problems that exist for both sides," said the ambassador.

Regarding the development of relations with Lebanon, according to ambassador Aliyev, Azerbaijan believes that a prosperous future expects the country, including prospects for the development of economic and cultural relations between Baku and Beirut.

"Azerbaijan will always support Lebanon on the regional and international level in addressing problems that Lebanon may face. Azerbaijan hopes that the new government will be able to establish stability that Lebanon deserves and needs," said the ambassador.

During his official visit to Qatar Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with Qatar's sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar's state agency QNA reported.

During the meeting Azerbaijani Foreign Minister delivered a letter to Qatar's Emir from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

The agreement on exemption of diplomatic individuals of both countries from getting visa is planned to be signed during the visit.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Mammadyarov will hold meetings with Qatar's minister of finance and economy Yousef Hussain Kamal, Emir's advisor on information policy Sheikh Hamad bin Samir Al Thani, as well as deputy executive director of the company Al Diyar Al Qataria Isa al Fadal.

It is impossible to establish peace in the South Caucasus without Azerbaijan, former U.S. Congressman Robert Wexler said. Wexler yesterday began working as president of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation.

"Azerbaijan's point of view must be taken into account while normalizing Turkey-Armenia relations," Wexler told Trend .

"The normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations must be stimulating process for the sides," Wexler said.

Wexler said Turkey and Azerbaijan have a positive political will to bring the dynamism to the region.

"The U.S. continues to see Turkey and Azerbaijan as its main allies in the region," he added.

Azerbaijan and Qatar signed an agreement on visa elimination for diplomatic persons, who have official passports, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Elkhan Polukhov told Trend .

The agreement was signed after Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov's meeting with his Qatari Counterpart Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabr Al Thani as a part of his official visit to Doha.

During the meeting, the sides mulled issues of bilateral cooperation, as well as regional and international issues of interest to both countries.

Qatar is interested in implementation energy projects with Azerbaijan, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said at a meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, the Foreign Ministry press-center reported.

Qatar's Emir stressed importance of creating direct air flights between the countries to develop mutual contacts. The sides also stressed importance to establish the inter-governmental commission for economic cooperation to expand economic ties.  

Elmar Mammadyarov paid official visit to this country on Jan. 11-12. He thanked Qatar's leadership for fair position in solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and support on the international arena.

"Qatar supports Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and its position in solving the conflict. Qatar thinks that solving the conflict can have positive results for the entire region and Armenia," Emir said.

Middle East's problem and Qatar's role in ensuring regional security were also discussed at the meeting.  

During his visit to Qatar Azerbaijani Foreign Minister met with Qatar's officials. The agreement on visa abolition for people having diplomatic and official passports was signed.

In 2009, in different directions, Azerbaijan moved to the tactics of attack, particularly on the issue to resolve collisions in the legal introduction of the principles of territorial integrity and self-determination, and the flexible export policy pursued by Azerbaijan has created new opportunities for strengthening the country's leading role in the transport and energy transportation in the region, said Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry's report on results of last year.

Last year, the country continued to contribute to international efforts to combat global challenges, threats and risks and further strengthened the existing basis for cooperation with the European Union and NATO, said the press center of the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry.

Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry mentions the increase of political prestige and importance of Azerbaijan in the Islamic world, strengthening relations with the Turkic states last year.

Israel's policy today is aimed at strengthening relations with Azerbaijan and Central Asian region. The aim of the forthcoming visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Baku is the improvement of economic and political ties that are rapidly developing, the Inter-Parliamentary Association "Israel-Azerbaijan" head Robert Ilatov said.

"Our task is to expand ties between Israel and Azerbaijan both in economic and political spheres. The policy of the Foreign Ministry [Israel] today is aimed to develop relations with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. These regions are on Israel's agenda," Ilatov, who heads the faction of the party "Our Home Israel" in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), told Trend over phone.

Israeli Foreign Minister and head of the party "Our Home Israel" Avigdor Lieberman is expected to visit Baku on February 9, Israel's embassy in Azerbaijan told Trend .

Jerusalem has not confirmed the program of the visit yet.

Lieberman will be the second senior figure of Israel, who will visit Azerbaijan, after President Shimon Peres visited Baku in late June 2009.

Earlier, Israeli Foreign Minister visited Azerbaijan as a deputy prime minister of Ehud Olmert's government.

Ilatov said during the visit Lieberman is likely to discuss establishment of the inter-governmental economic commission, which will help to strengthen ties in power engineering and oil industry taking into account the interest of Israel to an increase in the volume of trade turnover between countries and expansion of economic cooperation.

He said Israel can also help Azerbaijan on several issues, including the use of water resources, water resources management and technological modernization of the industry.

"Our basic positions are the development of economic relations and increasing trade turnover. There are many areas in which Israel can help Azerbaijan. I think that Lieberman will discuss these issues during the visit," Ilatov said.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and U.S Special Envoy of Secretary of State for Energy Richard Morningstar discussed development of energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United States.

The sides discussed energy projects implemented in the Caspian region, the Foreign Ministry press-center said.

Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jan Kohout will discuss prospects of development of the Czech-Azerbaijani bilateral relations in Baku. Kohout's visit is scheduled for spring of 2010, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the Czech Republic Tahir Tagizade told Trend over telephone.

The talks will mainly focus on development of cooperation between the two countries, both at bilateral and at international levels.

According to the ambassador, the status and composition of the Czech-Azerbaijani intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation is also expected to be defined soon. In 2009, the countries signed an intergovernmental agreement on economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation, covering such fields as engineering, transport, energy, oil and gas and chemical industry, metallurgy, agriculture, standardization, construction and others.

The sides are expected to establish a special commission comprising of representatives of the two states to implement this cooperation.

According to the Azerbaijani State Statistics Committee, in January-October 2009, trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic amounted to $22.2 million.

The Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia has submitted a protest note to the Russian Foreign Ministry in connection with State Duma Deputy Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky's statement, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Elkhan Polukhov told Trend .

In his interview to the Latvian newspaper Neatkarigas Rita Avize, Zhirinovsky said that "if the Nagorno-Karabakh proclaims its independence, Russia should recognize it."

The Azerbaijani embassy's note expresses protests against the Vice Speaker's such calls and states such statements counteracts the spirit of relations between the two countries, Polukhov said.

Human rights

Human rights situation in Azerbaijan is improving, but still it is not enough for a Council of Europe member country, newly appointed Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan Joseph Debono Grech believes.

"Media freedom is the most important issue for us," he told Trend over the telephone. "Let us hope that Azerbaijan will go forward in this regard."

PACE Co-rapporteurs of the on Azerbaijan, including Estonian MP Andres Herkel and Malta's MP Grech are expected to visit Baku Feb.8-12.  

This is Grech's first visit to Azerbaijan, which would give him the opportunity to become acquainted with the situation in the country to draw conclusions.

Hailing Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's recent decree to pardon a number of convicted persons, he said "based on the materials that I have studied, we can say that the current situation provides a basis for further progress [in human rights field]."

Dec. 25, 2009, Aliyev signed decree to pardon a number of prisoners. About 89 prisoners sentenced to imprisonment, including 3 sentenced to limitation of freedom and 6 sentenced to the penalty of a fine, were released.

Some of these individuals are in the list of so-called political prisoners of local NGOs on Human Rights. Journalist of the Bizim Yol opposition newspaper Mushfiq Huseynov was also released under the recent decree.

During the visit, co-rapporteurs are planning to meet with representatives of government and the opposition, and to discuss many vital issues, including media freedom in Azerbaijan.

Report on the visit will be published in April.

Azerbaijan will establish a community of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia.

An Azerbaijaniopposition party is continuing preparations to form the Community of Western Azerbaijanis and Yerevan government-in-exile.

"We decided to prepare a list of western Azerbaijanis - covering all regions - to establish the government-in-exile of West Azerbaijan," the Modern Musavat Party told Trend Jan.11.

According to statistics and archival documents, over 1.5 million Azerbaijanis residing in Armenia were expelled from their historical homelands during the mass deportations of Azerbaijanis from Armenia in the 20th century.

After the establishment of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic by decision of the Armenian Supreme Council, 698 of 940 settlements where Azerbaijanis lived were renamed with Armenian names. But the Armenians were not satisfied. Renaming the settlements happened after Azerbaijanis were completely expelled from the republic. All 91 settlements were renamed with Armenian names according to a decree by Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian April 9, 1991.

According to information, the decision has been adopted to launch a campaign to collect signatures to return western Azerbaijanis expelled from their historical homelands to these areas, return their lost property, and achieve their recognition as refugees by international organizations.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg is expected to visit Azerbaijan within a traditional monitoring procedure on March 1-5, a source in the CE told Trend today.

Hammarberg will meet with Azerbaijan's senior officials, ombudsman, representatives of various political parties and NGOs within the visit.

CE Commissioner for Human Rights will familiarize with the situation in Azerbaijan's execution of obligations which have been taken before organizations, actions which have been conducted recently in this area and the implemented reforms.

As a result of the visit, Hammarberg is expected to prepare an appropriate report, which will be submitted to CE Committee of Ministers later.

Hammarberg's paid his last visit to Azerbaijan in September 2007.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The activity demonstrated by the Turkish and Russian politicians in early 2010, must be beneficial for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Mikhail Gusman, first deputy director general of Itar-Tass news agency said.

"On the one hand, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Moscow and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Armenia are in the regular agenda of the inter-state dialogue, between these countries. On the other hand, the activity demonstrated by politicians in early 2010, must be beneficial for such a long and painful for Azerbaijan conflict to be solved," Gusman told Trend .

"Exchange of views to continue the negotiation process on Nagorno-Karabakh settlement in the context of intermediary efforts taken by Russia to solve the conflict will be in the center of attention," Nesterenko said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Gusman said one should realize that issues related to the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are directly in the context of the efforts made by countries-mediators. The development of relations, which has been recently observed between Armenia and Turkey, is likely to impact on solving the conflict.

"I think, besides Azerbaijan and Armenia, Russia is one of the countries greatly interested in solving their long-standing territorial conflict. Russia is really taking important steps envisaging Russia's desire to be an honest mediator in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Gusman said.

Gusman said that in this context one can consider several trilateral meetings between the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia in the political calendar of last year.

But whatever efforts Moscow and other mediators have made, the presidents of two countries - Azerbaijan and Armenia must solve this conflict, the expert said.

"If one speaks about Russia's role in supporting Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan on the delicate question of concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the following question arises whether this assistance is sufficient compared to the frustration that can cause this kind of concession in Armenia, Gusman said.

Jan. 10, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from the Azamut village in the Armenian Ijevan region to the Jafarli village in the Gazakh region at 11:45-11:50 and from areas and positions outside the Kurapatkino village in the Khojavand region at 11:20-11:30, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from nameless heights in the Fizuli region at 11:45-11:50 and from areas and positions outside the Gulustan village in the Goranboy region at 16:00-16:15, as well as from areas and positions near the Kangarli village in the Agdam village at 23:55-00:00, the ministry reported.

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

The Azerbaijani State Commission on Hostages, POWs and Missing People checks Armenian media outlets' information with reference to the Armenian Defense Ministry concerning Armenian family's crossing the border from Armenia to Azerbaijan.

The Armenian Defense Ministry reported today about unexampled violation of Armenia-Azerbaijan border on Yeraskh-Nakhchivan, Mediamax said.

The State Commission investigates reliability of the information, the organization told Trend on Monday. 

On Jan. 10 at 07:00 p.m, Armenian citizen Yegishe Gevorkyan, 52, with his wife and three minor children (7, 6 and 3) run border barriers by his car Yeraz not obeying Armenian border guards' orders and passed through the territory of Nakhchivan under shots of the Azerbaijani side.

Armenian border guards did not open fire to destruct taking into account three minor children, the defense ministry press-service said.

According to the State Commission's last information, the organization does not have such information.

Cooperation between Russia and Turkey, as the two most powerful regional players, will contribute to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but in the long run, experts believe.

"Russia is a strong regional player, as Turkey. Achieving the agreement between these countries on a certain issue promises concrete results, even in a long-term prospect," said Sinan Ogan, Head of the Turkish Center for International Relations and Strategic Analysis Turksam.

During the talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed the desire for Russia to play a more active role in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, TRT said.

In his turn, Putin stated about readiness to provide all possible support in this issue.

Observers believe that Russia would not exert pressure on Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but will continue its efforts as a mediator.

However, despite the fact that Ankara and Moscow hold a unified position in their desire to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russia is unlikely to put pressure on Armenia in an effort to achieve progress in this issue, the expert said.

"Now one can say that the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh problem has been already coordinated with Moscow and Ankara," Ogan told Trend over phone from Moscow.

Jan. 11, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from positions in Yanagchal mountain near the Noyenberyan region of Armenian Republic to positions in Yanikhchal mountain in the Gazakh region at 15.34-15.40 and from positions near the Horadiz village in the Fuzuli region at 10.30-10.55, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

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

The profound historic and material mistrust between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the single most decisive factor in the stalled process, expert at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute John Sitilides said.

This is compounded by Russia's strategic interest in consolidating and enlarging its influence in the Caucasus, as well as the increasingly lucrative energy grid expanding across the region," DC and chairs the Woodrow Wilson Center Southeast Europe Project, Sitilides told Trend .

"The Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process remains at a strategic standstill, even as Turkey aspires to engage Russia in pressuring Armenia, as well as legislative procedures in Ankara and Yerevan to ratify the protocols normalizing their bilateral relationship," Sitilides said.

Yerevan will further point to the OSCE Minsk Group process and related statements in late 2009 reiterating that no linkage exists between improving Turkey-Armenia relations and resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Sitilides said. 

The U.S-Russia cooperation is an unlikely prospect, as the United States and Russia have divergent visions of how the Caucuses should develop politically and economically, expert said.

"The critical factor here may well be Turkey, which is asserting its strategic independence from the U.S. and NATO, and is increasingly keen to cooperate with Russia in the Black Sea and Caucasus regions in pursuit of its own interests," Sitilides said. 

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry confirmed that an Armenian family crossed the border.

The Armenian family of five is currently in Azerbaijan. The incident is under investigation, ministry spokesman Teymur Abdullayev told Trend .

The Armenian Defense Ministry announced a breach of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in the area of Yeraskh-Nakhchivan Jan. 11, Mediamax reported.

Armenian citizen Yeghishe Gevorgyan and his wife and three children crossed the border by car illegally and traveled to Nakhchivan Jan.10 at 7:00 p.m., disregarding the instructions of the Armenian border guards, the news agency added.

The border guards did not open fire because of the children, the ministry reported.

Jan. 12, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from positions near Kurapatkino village in the Khojavand region at 18.30-18.35, from nameless heights in the Fizuli region and from positions near the Ashagi Abdulrahmanli village at 19.30-19.50, 21.00-21.05 and 21.25-21.34, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

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

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the immediate return of the occupied Azerbaijani lands, the Turkish agency Anadolu reported.

"The occupied Azerbaijani territories must be liberated," he said at the Moscow State University. "Armenia and Azerbaijan should establish long-term peace."

The fate of 84 people registered as missing last year by the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons was clarified.

According to the website of the State Commission, 29 people from this number are alive, 35 were killed in battle and buried after the identification by relatives and friends, the names of 13 people on the list are repeated, seven went missing outside the zone of conflict.

The investigation revealed that seven people were missing during battle. Their names have been listed in the appropriate list.

As of December 1, 2009, 4133 people were missing, 1396 people were registered by the State Commission as individuals, freed from hostages and captivity.

It became clear that 44 persons, registered by the State Commission as missing, are on territory occupied by the Armenian armed forces and presumably were taken prisoners or kept as hostages.

Russia is a strong regional player, as Turkey. Achieving the agreement between these countries on a certain issue promises concrete results, even in a long-term prospect, Sinan Ogan, head of the Turkish Center for International Relations and Strategic Analysis Turksam said.

"Now one can say that the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh problem has been already agreed with Moscow and Ankara," Ogan told Trend over phone from Moscow.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's statement that the Armenian-Turkish problems and the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement are not connected between each other, should be taken for granted, Ogan said.

He said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Yerevan testifies that Moscow pays much attention to these issues.

However, despite the fact that Ankara and Moscow are united in their desire to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russia is unlikely to put pressure on Armenia, trying to get progress from it in this issue.

"Russia is historically linked with Armenia by closer ties than with Turkey," he said.

Jan. 13, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Kurapatkino village in the Khojavand region at 11:35- 11:44 and from areas and positions outside Tapgaragoyunly village and nameless heights in the Goranboy region at 16:55-17:15 and 21:35- 21:45, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Jojugmarjanli village in the Jabrayil region at 18:09-18:30 and from the nameless heights in the Gazakh region at 21:00-21:10, as well as from areas and positions outside the Gorgan village and nameless heights in the Fizuli region at 21:30- 22:10 and 23:10- 23:15, and from areas and positions outside the Tagibayli village in the Agdam region at 00:30-01:10, the ministry reported.

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

Turkey's Prime Minister Receb Tayyip Erdogan said the normalization of Ankara-Yerevan relations is related with solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict while estimating the results of Russian ambassador's activity, Turkish CNN Turk news portal reported.

Erdogan also said that although people often say about lack of connection between Ankara-Yerevan relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, tension in Turkish-Armenian relations with further closing of the borders occurred after occupation of Azerbaijani territories.

Erdogan said that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be solved and Azerbaijan's occupied territories must be liberated soon.

Jan. 14, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Kurapatkino village in the Khojavand region at 09:05-09:20 and from areas and positions outside Tapgaragoyunly village in the Goranboy region at 19:20-19:30, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Javahirli village in the Agdam region at 01:15-dən 01:30, as well as from areas and positions outside the Garakhanbayli village in the Fizuli region at 05:45-06:40, the ministry reported.

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

Jan. 15, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Gulustan village in the Goranboy region at 18:00-18:10 and from areas and positions outside Horadiz village in the Fizuli region at 20:00-20:20, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Javahirli, Sarijali and Shurabad villages in the Agdam region at 01:00- 01:30 and 02:00-02:30 Jan.16, the ministry reported.

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

Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 30
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 30
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PetroIran Development Company developing several oil fields
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Iran's Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to rise
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