Weekly political review (25.01- 30.01.2010)

Official chronicle

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has today left for a working visit to Sochi city of Russia, the AzerTaj state news agency reported.

At the Heydar Aliyev International Airport, the President was seen off by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, Chief of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev and Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalybov.

Jan. 25, Sochi will host a meeting of the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has today arrived in Sochi, Russia for a working visit.

At the Adler-Sochi International Airport, the Azerbaijani leader was welcomed by top ranking Russian state and government officials.

Azerbaijan`s President Ilham Aliyev, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan have today held a joint meeting at the Grand Polyana hotel in Sochi.

The Presidents were then joined by Foreign Ministers Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan, Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Edward Nalbandian of Armenia.

The meeting discussed settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijan`s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan had a meeting on Monday at the Adler-Sochi International Airport.

The Presidents were later joined by Foreign Ministers Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan, Edward Nalbandian of Armenia, Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Ambassadors Robert Bradtke of the United States, Bernard Fassier of France and Yury Merzlyakov of Russia, - as well as Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk of Poland.

The meeting focused on the current state of and prospects for the talks on the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has today left for Davos, Switzerland, to attend annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

At the Heydar Aliyev International Airport, the President was seen off by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, Chief of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev and Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalybov.

On Jan. 27, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev arrived in Switzerland to attend annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

President Ilham Aliyev traveled from Zurich to Davos.

On Jan. 27, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev gave an interview to the Bloomberg News Agency's correspondent Yuriy Humber.

The Head of State responded to a wide range of questions, including those related to oil and gas production in the country, the work done in the energy sphere, prospects for export of energy resources, Azerbaijan`s role in ensuring energy security of Europe and Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met Wednesday here Slovenian counterpart Danilo Turk.

They said relationship between the two countries was developing in various spheres.

The Slovenian President recalled his visit to Azerbaijan, saying it marked fruitful meetings. "We had effective talks which laid foundations for our cooperation in a wide range of spheres."

He noted at present, the Slovenian side was actively working on the agreements achieved during the visit.

President Danilo Turk underlined his country was keen to expand the scope of its relations with Azerbaijan.

He also expressed interest in the ongoing economic processes in Azerbaijan, as well as settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

President Ilham Aliyev praised the bilateral relations.

The Head of State also touched upon the ongoing talks to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijan`s President Ilham Aliyev has met Wednesday here CEO of RWE Juergen Grossman. 

It was noted during the meeting that SOCAR and RWE had successfull cooperation.

They expressed confidence that bilateral cooperation would boost even more in the future.

The talks also revolved around the Nabucco project.

Grossman said the German government backs Nabucco, expressing hope that cooperation in realizing the project will be carried out successfully.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has met here today BP`s Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward.

The sides praised successive continuation of cooperation between the Company and Azerbaijan, expressing confidence for further development of bilateral relations.

They also exchanged views over prospects of relations between Azerbaijan and BP.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has today met here CEO of Edison Umberto Quadrino.

It was noted Azerbaijan and Italy enjoy good cooperation in all spheres, in particular, energy one.

Quadrino said his Company was interested in carrying out a new project - Turkey-Greece-Italy gas pipeline, adding there is good prospects for it.

President Ilham Aliyev, in turn, said Azerbaijan supports the project which is important in terms of diversification of energy transport routes.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev today has met here vice-president of Chevron Corporation Jay Pryor.

They exchanged views on energy issues, and praised current level of cooperation between Azerbaijan State Oil Company and Chevron Corporation.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has Wednesday given an interview in Davos to The Wall Street Journal newspaper`s correspondents.

The President answered a number of questions covering the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs` activities to settle the dispute, regional issues, Azerbaijan`s role in ensuring energy security of Europe and the ongoing work in the energy sphere in the country.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended the 40th World Economic Forum on the theme "Improving the state of planet: rerealizeing, replaning and rebuilding the world" in Davos Switzerland. Aliyev also attended the meeting on the theme "Global energy view" on January 28. President spoke about the work done in the field of energy in Azerbaijan. Speaking about the country's role in the global energy security Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan had implemented projects of international importance due to the right policy and with the joint effort of the partners. Azerbaijan's energy resources are transported in various directions. Pipeline infrastructure has been established for this purpose.

The president emphasized the Azerbaijan's increasing role in the world natural gas market and said there were quite enough confirmed gas fields in the country. "Azerbaijan is exporting natural gas to the neighboring countries currently despite that natural gas output of some of those countries is much more than Azerbaijan. We will develop diversification of gas export."

Regarding the energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia, the Head of State noted that the relations between the two countries have a large history and good results.

President Aliyev spoke about the economic development of Azerbaijan and said it became one of the most rapidly developing countries of the world in the past six years. "As a result of reforms, the economic development is provided on the basis of market principles. Private sector has 85% share of the country's GDP. Despite the crisis, Azerbaijan continued its development in 2009. GDP rose 9.3% and industrial production - 8.6% in Azerbaijan last year. The national currency of Azerbaijan didn't fall in price as well".

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met Thursday with President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.  

Successful development of bilateral relations between the two countries was stressed at the meeting.

President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers said his visit to Azerbaijan had been very successful, adding Baku meetings produced fruitful results. He noted there are good opportunities for expanding economic ties between the countries.

Azerbaijani leader emphasized the importance of Latvian President`s Azerbaijan trip for development of bilateral ties.

President Ilham Aliyev said he favors expansion of cooperation between Azerbaijani and Latvian companies.

The sides exchanged their views on the regional cooperation, bilateral relations, and international matters.

Azerbaijan`s President Ilham Aliyev has met on Thursday in Davos King Abdullah II of Jordan.

They praised relations between Azerbaijan and Jordan, stressing the role of high-level reciprocal visits in strengthening the bilateral cooperation.

They pointed out there was good opportunity to develop the bilateral relations in various fields.

The Azerbaijani President and the King of Jordan also exchanged views over international issues.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met on Thursday the Prince Andrew, Duke of York in Davos.

They praised economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom, and discussed future prospects in this field.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has met on Thursday his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski.

The Presidents praised the Azerbaijan-Poland relations, and said they were developing in a wide range of fields, in particular the political and economic ones.

The two leaders also stressed the importance of high-level reciprocal visits, saying they contributed to expanding the bilateral relations.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met on Thursday Swiss counterpart Doris Leuthard in Davos.

Mrs. Leuthard recalled the Azerbaijani leader`s official visit to Switzerland, describing it as "a success".

The Swiss President stressed "we have good potential to develop economic and energy cooperation".

The Azerbaijani leader said relations between the two countries were developing in various fields, in particular economy.

President Ilham Aliyev praised the fact "a number of Swiss firms operate in Azerbaijan".

They also discussed cooperation on Nabucco project and regional and international issues.

Upon the order by the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Musa Musayev was dismissed from his post of head of executive power of Naftalan city.

Upon another presidential order, Natig Aslanov was appointed to this post.

President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on making amendments to decree №538 "On approval of the amnesty regulations" signed July 18 2001.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree to approve a list of positions with higher special ranks in migration agencies.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev sent a letter of congratulation to his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patilon on the national holiday, the Republic Day.

The Azerbaijani leader expressed hope that cooperation between Azerbaijan and India will continue to develop for prosperity of the two nations.

The Head of State wished Mr. Pratibha Patilon robust health and success, and welfare and prosperity to the friendly people of India.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia Quentin Bryce on the country's national holiday, Australia Day.

The Azerbaijani leader expressed hope that friendship and cooperation between Azerbaijan and Australia will continue to develop for prosperity of the two nations.
Head of the Azerbaijani State wished Quentin Bryce robust health and success, and welfare and prosperity to the friendly people of Australia.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has sent a letter of condolence to President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman.

"I was deeply grieved upon hearing the news on the massive loss of your compatriots` lives caused by the passenger plane crash off Beirut.

On my own behalf and on behalf of the Azerbaijan people, I extend sympathies to You, families of the killed and all people of Lebanon," the letter reads.

Aliyev has sent a letter of condolence to Ethiopian leader Girma Wolde-Giorgis over the Ethiopian airlines`s jet crash off Beirut, which caused massive loss of lives.

President Aliyev expressed his deep sympathies to the head of Ethiopia, families and friends of the dead.

Parliament

Azerbaijani parliament has prepared a bill to regulate agriculture employees' activity.

Milli Mejlis Committee on Agrarian Policy will submit a bill on agricultural cooperation, Eldar Ibrahimov, head of the committee, said at today's meeting.

"The current project will regulate the activity of employees in the agriculture sector. Many European countries have similar laws," Ibrahimov said.

"Information on the legislative works of the spring session of 2010 has been given at the meeting today. The committee on agrarian policy plans to submit two more bills for consideration during the spring session. They are the bills on the 'purchase of land for public use' and the bill on 'cotton growing,' which have passed the first reading," Ibrahimov added.

Azerbaijani Parliamentary Speaker Ogtay Asadov will visit Iran.

The speaker will visit Tehran upon his Iranian Counterpart Ali Larijani's invitation in late February. This will be response visit after Iran's ex-Parliamentary Speaker Gulamali Haddad Adil's Baku visit, Iranian Embassy's Spokesman Abbas Iskenderi told Trend .

During his visit, Asadov is expected to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and other officials, he added.

The first meeting of Azerbaijan's Parliament Spring Session will be held Feb.1, Akif Tavakkuloglu, Milli Majlis press service head, said today.

According to him, reorganization of the Disciplinary Committee of the Parliament will be considered at the first meeting of the session.

"Also bilateral agreement on visa-free regime signed between Azerbaijani and Kazakh governments will be approved," Tavakkuloglu said.

He said that amendment drafts to the Law on Police and to the Administrative Offences Codex will be discussed at the first meeting of the session.

"Account Chamber of the Milli Majlis will be reorganized at the meeting," Tavakkuloglu added.

Political movements

A public committee to protect the rights of the "Cuban Five" will be created in Azerbaijan on the initiative of Azerbaijani People's Socialist Party (NSPA).

"During a meeting with Cuban Ambassador, representatives of the People's Socialist Party of Azerbaijan (NSPA) informed the diplomat about their decision to establish an independent public committee to protect the rights of the famous 'Cuban Five'- five Cuban citizens illegally arrested in the U.S. in 1998 and sentenced long-term prison on unfounded accusations," the party said.

At the moment, there are over 130 public committees protecting the rights of the five Cubans and trying to force American authorities to cancel the sentence.

NSPA Deputy Chairman Ibrahim Asadli was elected as chairman of the independent public committee.

Azerbaijan's political forces do not have a culture of unity, Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (SDPA) Araz Alizade told Trend today.

"My party made several attempts to create a bloc, however, for the above reason failed to achieve unity," he said. "Therefore, we have no intention to fight with windmills and we will run for the parliamentary elections alone."

Azerbaijan is expected to hold the parliamentary elections in autumn 2010. Previously, elections were held in November 2005. Azerbaijan holds the parliamentary elections on the majority system in 125 electoral districts. Although, in 2005 the left and rights forces voiced ointention to establish a bloc, they failed to realize it.

Regarding preparations for the parliamentary elections, Alizade said the party's material capacities do not allow for large-scale campaign and the party will take part in the elections with a limited number of deputies.

Elections

The Venice Commission is ready to cooperate with the Azerbaijani government, Council of Europe Venice Commission Elections and Referendums Department member Sergey Kuznetsov told journalists on the first day of the PACE winter session.

"We have repeatedly brought to the attention of Azerbaijani government circles that our opinion on the Electoral Code remains in effect," he said." We are ready to discuss other open questions. We are always ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan."

Regarding the composition of electoral commissions, he said their members should be individuals who enjoy the confidence of all sides.

"We advocate the formation of electoral commissions whose members enjoy the confidence of all sides," he added.

Foreign policy

The issues concerning cooperation between the Azerbaijani and Indian parliaments will be mulled Azerbaijani Parliamentary Speaker Ogtay Asadov's India visit.

Asadov's India visit is scheduled for the first half of 2010, Indian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Debnat Show told Trend .

In 2007, heads of upper and lower houses of the Indian Parliament invited the head of the Azerbaijani parliament to visit India, but the visit did take place. "We have recently updated the invitation," the ambassador said.

It is also planned to hold ministerial talks in the first half of 2010, the diplomat said.

Feb.1, Iran will unilaterally lift visa regime for the Azerbaijani citizens.

"The Azerbaijani citizens can stay in Iran for 15 days," Iran's Consul to Azerbaijan Zare Behrouz Mirzaei said.  "Those wishing to extend the stay in the country may apply to the Iranian Interior Ministry."

Based on appeal, duration of the visit could be extended up to three months, he added.

However, despite the abolition of the visa regime, the country maintains order on passing of the Azerbaijani citizens from blood tests for the presence of dangerous diseases. Special centers will operate in Baku, Ganja and Lankaran for this purpose.

So far, Iran has lifted visa regime for the Turkish citizens only.

OSCE acting chairman, Kazakhstan's foreign minister Kanat Saudabayev will visit Azerbaijan on Feb. 14-15, ambassador of Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan Serik Primbetov told Trend . According to him, during his visit, Saudabayev is expected to meet with officials of Azerbaijan.

Primbetov said that the minister of health of Kazakhstan is expected to visit Azerbaijan in early February.

Preparations are underway for the Azerbaijan-Lithuania intergovernmental meeting on economic cooperation scheduled for the first quarter of 2010, Vilijus Samuila, First Secretary of the Lithuanian Embassy in Azerbaijan, told Trend .

"Lithuania is very interested in economic cooperation with Azerbaijan," he said. "The Azerbaijan-Lithuania meeting will give a new impetus to the development of these relations."

According to the diplomat, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė will soon approve a co-chair and the staff of the economic commission. Earlier this function was performed by Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas, who was dismissed from his post with a presidential decree.

Moreover, work on several agreements on bilateral cooperation is also underway, the diplomat said.

US Congressman John Shadegg send a letter to all members of Congress on January 26th, saying "Don't forget Azerbaijan", Trend Washington correspondent reported.

Letter says that at the same time most of Congressmen have been heartened by the recent signing of protocols on normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia it is important that the United States not forget the vital interests of Azerbaijan, one of US "strong allies in the region".

In his letter, Shadegg reminded that armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan resulted in several hundred thousand Azeris becoming internally displaced, and about 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including Nagoro-Karabakh, coming under Armenian occupation.

"The success of the Armenia-Turkish negotiations should not result in the Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations being relegated to the diplomatic back burner", the letter says.

Shadegg noted that Azerbaijan has supported US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its vast gas resources show promise for diversification of Western Europe's energy needs.

"It is vital that the US not take Azerbaijan for granted in its diplomatic initiatives toward Turkey, Armenia and the entire Caucasus region", says the letter.

Secretary General of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Cooperation - GUAM Valery Chechelashvili will hold political consultations with Azerbaijan.

"My visit is scheduled to Baku in mid February, during which I plan to hold meetings at the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan and discuss urgent issues of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the organization this year," Chechelashvili told Trend on Jan. 27.

During the visit, the Secretary General will also participate at the meeting of the working group on tourism, which will be chaired by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and is scheduled for February 16.

Prospects of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Cuba in the economic, humanitarian and cultural spheres will be discussed in Havana on March 3-8 as part of the third meeting of the joint commission, Cuban ambassador to Azerbaijan Marcello Caballero Torres told Trend .
The meeting will be given a new impetus to economic and trade relations, the ambassador said.

The meeting will give a new impetus to economic and trade relations, the ambassador said. According to him, for the development of bilateral relations, much has to be done in this regard. "To solve this problem, a mechanism of intergovernmental joint commission on cooperation between the two countries has been acting since 2007. Up to now, we have already held two meetings, have signed three important agreements on cooperation in culture, tourism and sports, and 10 more agreements on cooperation in such fields as energy, health, communications and agriculture are in the process of signing," the diplomat said.

Cuba is interested, the ambassador said, in equipment and machinery produced in Azerbaijan. "Currently, about 70 percent of the equipment used by Cuba in the petroleum industry is of Azerbaijani origin. We are also interested in food and agricultural products. Other possible spheres of collaboration are communication, health, the Cuban medicines," said the ambassador.

The spheres of mutual interests are enough, the ambassador said. "The most perspective in our economic relations are tourism, oil and gas and information sectors, pharmacology and health, education, sports and other spheres," said Torres.

As part of the commission meeting, Days of Culture of Azerbaijan will be held in Cuba in those days, the ambassador said.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is the most open and effective structure in support to Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and cessation of Armenia's occupation of the Azerbaijani territories, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told Trend .

"Our position is unwavering," he said. "We will always support the international decision in favor of Azerbaijan. We will continue to support Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution."

According to him, while he holds the position of Secretary General, the OIC will not change its position in relation to Azerbaijan. "Azerbaijan has a special significance for me," Ihsanoglu said.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri is supposed to visit Baku in the first half of this year, honorary consul of Azerbaijan in Beirut Nazih Gassub told Trend .

"According to the official invitation of the Azerbaijani government, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri will visit Baku this spring, but the exact date has not yet been determined," Gassub said by telephone from Beirut.

This year Azerbaijani embassy will also be opened in Beirut.

Regarding cooperation between Azerbaijan and Lebanon,  Gassub said that during the visit of the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister to Beirut were discussed issues of cooperation in the field of investment and oil.

The new chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Movlud Chavushoglu received the Azerbaijani delegation on Jan. 28. Chairman of the Azerbaijani delegation Samad Seyidov handed to Movlud Chavushoglu the congratulatory letter from the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on his election to this post.

The meeting highlighted the active role of Azerbaijan in the CoE, the fact that Azerbaijan has great expectations from the CE, but double standards, bias attitude, questions not corresponding with real development in Azerbaijan take place sometimes.

"The delegation did, does and will do everything possible to eliminate the Azerbaijan-related negative problems and combat it. Chairmanship of the Turkish representative to PACE will make the process more objective, faster and open," said at the meeting.

PACE President Chavushoglu expressed gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev, to whom he felt a deep respect and reverence, for the letter addressed to him. The Chairman assured the delegation of Azerbaijan that he will strengthen relations with the parliament of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, will raise to the relations between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe to a higher level, will promote the objective consideration of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem by the Council of Europe and presenting objective information to the European MPs.

The U.S. Administration does not recognize the structure named Nagorno-Karabakh, the United States Department of State's response to the note of Azerbaijan says, press secretary of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Elkhan Polukhov told Trend .

According to him, the Department of State's response was received by the Embassy of Azerbaijan in the United States on Jan. 26. U.S. reiterates that Washington is committed to the principles of openly and transparently informing Azerbaijan of U.S. projects realized in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Earlier, the Ambassador of Azerbaijan Yashar Aliyev to Washington submitted an official note of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry to U.S. Department of State in connection with the U.S. Congress's adoption of a bill providing $8 million financial aid to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The note states that the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, along with seven other surrounding districts, is under illegal occupation of Armenia and conducting any programs and activities by the U.S. government in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan without adequate prior consultations with Azerbaijan contradicts to officially stated position of U.S. on support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.

Azerbaijan strongly supports the efforts of the international community to bring security and stability to Afghanistan. This was a major keynote in Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov's speech, which he delivered at the London Conference on Assistance to Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said.

"In solidarity with the international community, as well as with the Afghani people, Azerbaijan has joined the ISAF operation since the beginning. In 2009 we redoubled the number of military servicemen and currently a full company of 90 members of Azerbaijan Armed Forces is serving within the ISAF. Lately Azerbaijan has decided to expand its engagement in Afghanistan in non-military spheres. Real cooperation has already started in training of the Afghan specialists in mine clearance actions and preparatory works are being carried out for the assignment of Azerbaijani military doctors to hospitals in Afghanistan, education of Afghan nationals in the Medical University and training of medical personnel in Azerbaijan; training of Afghan military personnel in the Military Academy and other military schools; as well as education opportunities for Afghani students in Azerbaijan. Currently the Diplomatic Academy of Azerbaijan and Geneva Centre for Security Policy are working on a program for Afghani students to be implemented in Baku," Mammadyarov said.

Azerbaijan's ambassador to Jamaica Agshin Mehdiyev attends Jamaican Annual Diplomatic Week (January 25-30, 2010).

Mehdiyev met with Jamaican FM and foreign trade minister's deputy for multilateral cooperation, ambassador Vilma Macknish Jan.27.

Views exchanged on issues of mutual interest in the international organizations to which both countries are members, and necessity of continuing the consolidations in this regard was also emphasized during the meeting.

Mehdiyev met with Jamaican deputy prime minister, foreign affairs and foreign trade minister Kenat Boug Jan.28.

The meeting focused on the ways of strengthening bilateral relations and prospects of development of cooperation in all spheres, in which our country is interested. Also views exchanged on improving agreement-legal base of relations between the two countries.

Touching upon Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, Mehdiyev brought to the minister's attention that Armenia has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories and over 1 million Azerbaijanis were refugees and IDPs, and informed the minister about the conflict in details.

Human rights

Azerbaijani Supreme Court Chairman Ramiz Rzayev will visit Strasburg to attend Opening of the judicial year of the European Court of Human RightsJan.27-30, the Azerbaijani permanent representation to the Council of Europe said.  

During his visit, Rzayev is expected to meet with President of the European Court of human Rights Jean-Paul Costa and other senior officials.

During his visit, Rzayev will be accompanied by Supreme Court's Executive Office Head Alirza Kazimov.

Last year, 154 policemen were made answerable over 134 cases of violations of human rights, said the Ombudsman of Azerbaijan.

Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova said at an event dedicated to the anniversary of the country's membership to the Council of Europe.

According to Suleymanova, the cases over several facts were referred to the court, and administrative penalties, including dismissal, were introduced with regards to others.

"Facts of torture were not recorded in Azerbaijan, but their use is not excluded in 200 facilities. They are penal colonies, homes for the elderly and children which are under our control," said Suleymanova.

However, the ombudsman said that sometimes torture is wrongly associated with inhuman treatment and insulting of human dignity.

The process of reviewing complaints at the European Court will be accelerated, Veronika Kotek, the court's special envoy to Azerbaijan said today.

She added that the review process will intensify when the court's Protocol 14 comes into force. 

The number of complaints received by the court has increased, Kotek said.

Each member state is responsible for the human rights situation in the country. These countries must attach significant importance to human rights protection and complaints about human rights infringements, Kotek said.

A total of 154 individuals were punished for human rights violations in Azerbaijan in 2009.

Heads of the Azerbaijani constitutional and supreme courts Farhad Abdullayev and Ramiz Rzayev met with European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) President Jean-Paul Costa in Strasbourg Jan. 28, where they arrived to attend an event dedicated to the opening of the new judicial year in the ECHR.

The meeting addressed several issues of mutual interest, in particular, mutual relations between the ECHR and Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan's execution of ECHR decisions, and exchanging experience with Azerbaijani judges in the European Court of Human Rights.

"At the meeting, the ECHR president announced a new initiative to compare the decisions of the Azerbaijani courts and the ECHR every Tuesday, as well as to jointly discuss the decisions of the ECHR and articles of the ECHR . Jean-Paul Costa highly appreciates the initiative. At the same time adaptation of some of the laws of Azerbaijan to the European Convention on Human Rights was also discussed. In general, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court expressed satisfaction with the relations with the ECHR," the ECHR said in a statement.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Information spread by Armenia on the adoption of the illegitimate apparatus Commissioner for Human Rights of the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh of Azerbaijan to the European Ombudsman institution, has not been confirmed, Azerbaijani Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova told journalists today.

"We have filed a written appeal in this regard to the members of the Board of the Institute," she said. "None of the Ombudsman confirmed a vote on the membership."

According to her, the apparatus continues study of the situation in this regard.

"There is no information about such a membership in the structure of the ombudsman of Nagorno-Karabakh and on the website of the European ombudsman. Feb.4, the structure will hold a board meeting. We will present materials on the matter. We shall point out the fact that the Nagorno-Karabakh is not an independent state and its ombudsman can not be admitted to the structure because of illegitimate," she added.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will do its best to solve the frozen conflicts, Movlud Cavusoglu, new PACE president and chairman of the Turkish delegation to PACE, said referring to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"The solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is important for Europe and this question awaits its resolution," he said. "The OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries, as well as Switzerland in the recent times, continued their efforts to resolve the conflict. The agreement must be mutual. The Armenian-Turkish rapprochement will contribute to restoring peace and stability in the region. The PACE will make every effort to resolve this issue peacefully. War is not the way in solving the problems of our continent, "he added.

Preamble of the document on basic principles for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement gained a common understanding of the parties. The sides will develop their ideas and formulas for future rounds of negotiations on items causing controversy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the trilateral meeting of leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Trend special correspondent reported.

"The sides considered the specific proposals submitted by the OSCE MG co-chairs," he added.

"There is a general understanding on the preamble of this document," Lavrov said. "Everyone considered existence of such a document useful, as it provides an opportunity to talk not abstractly, but in relation to the specific wording," he added.

"Today, the main result was an agreement on that despite ,there are parts that are not subject to the consent of the parties, the sides will prepare their specific ideas and formulas that will bem included in the text," Lavrov said.

The Minister refused to specify the details of the document or at least its preamble. "This is the subject of negotiations between the parties," he explained.

Nagorno-Karabakh's sub-committee activities must be revived, Luis Maria de Puig, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said.

"We tried to harmonize the positions of the two countries," she said at PACE's first winter session conference.

"I rule out armed solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is also PACE's position. The conflict should be settled through peaceful ways. We must move forward through dialogues. The new PACE president will continue this activities," the PACE president said.

Jan. 25, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops fromareas and positions outside the Kangarli and Sarijali villages in the Agdam region at 14:30-14:35 and 19:05-19:15, as well as from nameless heights in the Goranboy region at 14:20-14:40, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from nameless heights in the Khojavand region at 17:01-17:15 and from areas and positions outside the Giziloba village in the Tartar region, as well as from nameless heights in the Fizuli region at 21:05-21:15, the ministry reported.

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

Jan. 26, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from nameless heights in the Goranboy region at 16:15-16:25 and from areas and positions outside the Ashagi Abdurahmanli and Garakhanbayli villages in the Fizuli region at 14:20-14:40, 21:00-21:30 and 22:20-22:35, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from nameless heights in the Jabrayil region at 22:10-22:35, the ministry reported.

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

The unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the main obstacle to stability in the region, the new chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Movlud Cavusoglu said in an exclusive interview to Trend on Tuesday.

Talking about possible contribution PACE could make to solution of Nagorno-Karabakh problem during his presidency, Movlud Cavusoglu said that there are PACE decisions on the conflict and they must be implemented.

"There are PACE decisions on Nagorno-Karabakh. These decisions must be implemented. In addition, the OSCE Minsk Group should more actively pursue efforts that would have this conflict resolved in the near future, because it is the main obstacle facing the region's stability. Minsk Group deals with this question. Many countries provide support to this. We must also support this. We have resolutions on the issue. Additionally, the agenda is the work of the PACE Subcommittee on Nagorno-Karabakh. Perhaps some work can be carried out in this direction too. But, ultimately, we as a Council of Europe, should provide strong support for this reconciliation, resolution of the conflict", said PACE chairman.

"We give most important role in the solution of Nagorno Karabakh problem to efforts of Azerbaijan, Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs," said OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Secretary of State - Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Kanat Saudabayev at the ministerial meeting of OSCE and EU in Brussels, website Kazakhstan's foreign ministry reported.

"We consider that further delay of basic principles on the solution to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict may negatively effect the negotiations process and cause loss of trust between the conflicting sides. In this regard, Kazakhstan is ready to assist coordination of uncoordinated issues on the basic principles and to directly participate in the process," Saudabayev said.  

He considers that only joint efforts of the interested sides can solve the problem. "I believe that European Union and OSCE, which have same interests, may achieve success in this issue working closely and coordinating efforts," OSCE Chairman-in-Office said.

Saudabayev noted with satisfaction the beginning of the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and assessed it as one of the significant events in the South Caucasus. "Kazakhstan, as a country that has traditionally friendly, partnership relations with both countries, makes maximum efforts for the development of this process," he said.

Jan. 27, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Garakhanbayli, Ashagi Abdurahmanli and Gorgan villages in the Fizuli region at 07:30-07:50, 07:40- 08:15, 08:10-08:30 and 20.00:20.10, as well as from areas and positions outside the Tapgaragoyunlu village in the Goranboy region at 18:50-19:00, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside Sarijali village in the Agdam region at 19:20-19:40, the ministry reported.

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

Jan. 29, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Mehdili village in the Jabrayil region at 13:20-13:40, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported.

Further, the Armenian Armed Forces opened fire at Azerbaijani troops from areas and positions outside the Horadiz region, as well as outside the Ashagi Abdurahmanli and Ashagi Sayidahmadli villages and from nameless heights in the Fizuli region at 13:20-13:40 and 23:15-23:40, the ministry reported.

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

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