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Azerbaijan Report: August 3, 2001

3 August 2001
Two Newspapers Ignore Switch To Latin Alphabet
Local newspapers in Azerbaijan changed from Cyrillic to Latin script on August 1 in compliance with a presidential decree signed in June. But there are still some newspapers which prefer to publish in Cyrillic. "7 days," which till now published in Azeri Cyrillic to solve the Latin script problem, is now planing to publish in Russian. According to the paper's editor, Mammad Suleymanoglu this does not only solve the newspaper's Latin script problem, this is also his protest against the Latin alphabet.

The protest by the newspaper "Impuls" newspaper is more spectacular. The paper declined to comply with the president's decree and published in Cyrillic script on August 3. Editor Matanat Aliyeva says that the decree does not apply to independent newspapers but only to state-financed. "The president's decree cannot be a reason to punish a newspaper," Aliyeva said.

Journalists' Unions in Azerbaijan objected to the protests by "7 days" and "Impuls" against the Latin alphabet. The chairman of the Trade Union of Journalists, Azer Hesret, said that those newspapers which are against the Latin script will be Russia's last protectors in Azerbaijan.

(Natig Zeynalov)

Azerbaijani President, Defense Minister Rule Out Use of Force In Dispute With Iran
Speaking at Baku airport on 1 August before his departure to atend the CIS informal summit in Sochi, President Heydar Aliyev affirmed that Azerbaijan wants "friendly and good neighborly" relations with neighboring states, Turan reported. He downplayed the recent violations by Iranian aircrafts and gunboats of Azerbaijani airspace and territorial waters as "minor incidents" which, he said, will not impact on the scheduling of his visit to Tehran. That visit, which has been repeatedly postponed, is now tentatively scheduled for some time this month.

Also on 1 August, Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev told journalists that "Azerbaijan's air defense system is ready to repulse an air attack at any time," but that Azerbaijan would not resort to shooting down Iranian aircraft as "Iran is not a hostile country," Turan reported. Abiev confirmed that his deputy Gorkhmaz Garaev has been dismissed, but denied that he is suspected of corruption. The independent ANS-TV reported late on 1 August that an Iranian war-plane twice entered and overflew Azerbaijani airspace over the Caspian Sea earlier that afternoon, ITAR-TASS reported.

Making his first public appearance on 1 August after being incapacitated for six weeks by a sports injury, President Aliev's son Ilham, who is first vice president of the state oil company SOCAR, said that "Baku will have to take similar measures if the threat of force is made" in the ongoing standoff with Iran, Turan and Reuters reported. Ilham Aliyev also said that SOCAR will insist that BP continues its exploratory surveys at the Araz-Alov-Sharq deposit from which two survey ships were warned away on 23 July by an Iranian military vessel. A BP spokesman said after that incident that the company will not resume survey activities until the Azerbaijani and Iranian governments reach agreement on the dividing line between their respective sectors of the Caspian Sea.

(RFE/RL Newsline)

Azerbaijani Journalists Visit Armenia, Karabakh
A group of Azerbaijani journalists visited Armenia and the occupied territories of Azerbaijan from 26--29 July. The visit was arranged by the Baku and Erevan Press Clubs and financed by the Open Society Institute.

Arif Aliyev, the chairman of the Journalists' Union "Yeni Nasil," held a press conference on 2 August at which he said the main purpose of the journalists was to study the role of the media in the Nagorno Karabakh problem and to find out the opinion of experts and society.

According to Aliyev, the Armenians agreed before the visit that the Azeri journalists would be allowed to film the occupied territories of Shusha, Lachin, Khankendi and Aghdam, but during the visit Armenians changed their mind and refused to allow them to film Lachin. The Armenians also didn't let them visit Aghdam. "Every time we asked the reason for this action they avoided giving an answer," Aliyev said. "But then they confessed that there is nothing to film in Aghdam." Aliyev says this proves that Aghdam is wholly destroyed.

The newly built churches were more interesting for local journalists. Aliyev says that there were 15,000 Azeris living in Shusha before the war, but Armenians claim the figure was only 2,000.

The Armenians have created good conditions for themselves in Khankendi. Aliyev says there are no buildings there which bear traces of the war. According to Aliyev the journalists also had a chance to talk to some people in Khankendi who said they live badly.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

In an interview published in "525 qazeti," Georgia's ambassador to Azerbaijan, Zurab Gumbaridze, said that Georgia takes care of the Azerbaijanis living in Georgia. He said the problems of the Azerbaijani population disturb the Georgian government. Commenting on the recent conflict between Azerbaijanis and Georgians, Gumbaridze said that some politicians try to turn this problem into a political one.

Salim Azizoglu comments in "Yeni Musavat" on the non-official summit of the CIS presidents which was held from 1 -3 August in Sochi. He writes that there was no result during the meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents that took place on the sielines of that summit. It is not surprising, according to the author, because it was expected that the meeting would be fruitless.

Rauf Mirgadirov, in his article in "Zerkalo," writes that Iran's warplanes still behave like permanent "guests" in Azerbaijan. The author recalls that, according to the treaties signed between USSR and Iran in 1921 and in1940, Iran is prohibited from keeping its naval forces in the Caspian Sea. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran's naval forces has started to be active in the South of the sea. According to military sources, Iran is still continuing to locate its naval forces in the South of the Caspian. With its recent actions Iran is trying everyday to show that it doesn't recognize the recent borders between Azerbaijan and Iran in the Caspian Sea. "According to the Azerbaijani constitution, the state borders of the Caspian Sea are known and it means that Azerbaijani forces have to stop the violators of its borders," the author says.

Nasirov in an article in "Ekho" entitled "Azerbaijan-Iran: Business has its own rules in the world" says that bad relations between two countries are also have a negative impact on economic relations. In his article the author also includes the comments of different parties and organizations on this subject. For example the "Vatandash Birliyi" (The Civic Union) party has called on Azerbaijani citizens to boycott Iranian products. But Iranian businessmen in Azerbaijan said recent incidents don't affect their business in Azerbaijan.

Mahir Abdullayev in his commentary in the official newspaper "Azerbaijan" writes that every country has its own national interests in the Caspian Sea. The author suggests that it is possible to understand Turkmenistan�s position too, but this position should not affect the interests of other countries. The author thinks that most optimal way for solving the problems in the Caspian is dialogue between governments.

Sanan Najafov in his analytical article in "Yeni Azarbaycan," the newspaper of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party, comments on foreign grants allocated to political parties in Azerbaijan. The author says that the grants are used to destroy internal stability in the country. The author claims that organisations which allocate such funds are pursuing their own interests in doing so.

Varis comments in "168 saat" (168 hours) in an article entitled "Why did Aliyev deceive Kozeny?" on Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny's intention to sue Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev.