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Azerbaijan Report: September 4, 2001

4 September 2001
Namig Abbasov To Visit Iran
By the end of this week, Azerbaijani Minister of National Security Namig Abbasov is due to make an official visit to Iran. The visit aims at finalizing the preparations for President Heidar Aliev's visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is scheduled for 17-19 September. In the course of the visit, Abbasov will meet with Ali Yunusi, head of ETTALAAT, Iran's security body. It is not ruled out that the Abbasov will meet with President Mohammad Khatami.

According to Araz Gurbanov, head of the press service of the Ministry of National Security, combating organized crime, illegal migration, and illegal trafficking in drugs will be discussed during the visit. The possible extradition of Mahir Javadov to Azerbaijan will also be discussed at the meeting with Ali Yunusi. Mahir Javadov is the brother of the late Rovshan Javadov, former prosecutor of Khatai district and ex- commander of the special police forces known as OMON. He is accused of preparing a coup d'etat against President Aliev. Araz Gurbanov refused to provide information in this regard. Former Deputy Minister of National Security Sulheddin Akbar says that he does not believe Iran will agree to extradite Mahir Javadov to Azerbaijan.

Armenian Delegation Arrives In Baku
On 4 September, a delegation led by Karen Ohanjanyan, chairman of the Armenian Helsinki Civil Assembly, arrived in Baku. The Karabakh Liberation Organization (KLO) released a report in this connection on 3 September protesting the visit. The statement says that Ohanjanyan's arrival in Baku is contradictory to Azerbaijan's national interests because, according to the KLO, Ohanjanyan stated on earlier visits to Baku that Nagorno-Karabakh is not part of Azerbaijan's territory. The Armenian delegation also plans to have a meeting with KLO leader Akif Naghi.

The Youth Union of the Karabakh Liberation Organization has also voiced a protest against the Armenian delegation's visit to Baku. The union members will hold a picket in front of the Baku office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly on 5 September. According to Union head Kenan Haji Ekberoglu, inviting the members of the separatist structure to Baku is a betrayal of the Azerbaijani people. But Arzu Abdullayeva, head of the Azerbaijani Helsinki Civil Assembly, thinks that the delegation's arrival will benefit Azerbaijan. She argues that such meetings can contribute to the negotiation process.

Caspian Status Remains Unsettled
Tehran and Ashgabat are sticking to their positions in the Caspian problem. Azerbaijan has not expressed yet its final say on the problem. Prime Minister Artur Rasizade told journalists that it is not expedient to restart work in the Alov-Araz-Sharg fields. If necessary, the term of the contract with British Petroleum can be extended. Serdar Durdiev, advisor of Turkmenistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department, stated that the Turkmen government has no intention of changing its standpoint regarding the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli fields, of which Turkmenistan claims ownership.

Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov said in his telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that if the problem is not settled, he will not permit work in those fields to continue. It can be supposed that Niyazov's words imply the use of military force as well. Serdar Durdiev says that Ashgabat does not protest against the Caspian littoral states' sitting at the table of negotiations, simply, it demands pre-determination of the status of the sea.

Commenting on the issue, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev characterized Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Ahani's visit to Baku and the talks held with him as a rapprochement between the two countries. However, Ilham Aliev, vice president of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, says that if Iran continues its actions then Azerbaijan will be obliged to take appropriate steps.

Viktor Kalyuzhny, Russian envoy for Caspian issues, met with President Aliyev and suggested he should try to reach a compromise with Tehran and Ashgabat. Aliyev responded that the word "compromise" is accepted very badly in the Azerbaijan community.

Aliyev suggests dividing the seabed at first. He considers expedient to continue the talks in a later development.

Mehti Huseinli Imprisoned For Nine Years
Mehti Huseinli, head of the Julfa branch of the Musavat Party, has been sentenced to nine years for hijacking a plane in August last year. Rauf Arifoghlu, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" was also considered guilty in the case. The same investigation group conducted his case. But before Huseinli's trial began, the decision was made to try Arifoghlu separately. Arifoghlu's name is frequently mentioned in the investigation materials. Arifoghlu did not testify in court at Huseinli's trial.

New Journalistic Organization Established
Some six journalist groups from five countries of Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus have agreed to establish the Network of the Freedom of Word of Middle Asia and Southern Caucasus (NFWMASC). The newly established structure aims at coordinating the work for freedom of speech and of the press, supporting a free press and protecting journalists' rights.

Journalistic organizations from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan reached this agreement. NFWMASC headquarter will be based in Baku and the Journalists' Trades Union (JTU) will coordinate its activity. According to Azer Hesret, JTU head, it will contribute to the development of the mass media in the region. NFWMASC will arrange mutual visits and invite foreign journalists to the region. It plans to cooperate with the International Freedom of Speech Exchange (IFEX) and other international organizations.

Azerbaijan Democratic Party To Stage Protests
The Azerbaijan Democrat Party (ADP) intends to stage mass protests beginning from 29 September, and has already informed the Baku municipal authorities in writing of that decision. According to ADP Secretary-General Serdar Jelaloglu, before making the decision, the ADP held a sort of a poll in Baku, which showed that the majority of respondents think there is an urgent need to stage meetings and to demand resignation of the government. But the ADP's Political Council has decided to put forth demands regarding the population's socioeconomic situation and human rights. Jelaloglu says they have tried to persuade other political organizations to take part in the actions of protest but none of them has yet agreed to do so.

(RFE/RL Baku bureau correspondents)

In a commentary on the Caspian incident published in the (official) newspaper "Azerbaijan," Mehdiev writes that the latest actions by Iran and Turkmenistan continue to complicate the situation. According to the author, there are two groups of states struggling to get their positions accepted. One group consists of Azerbaijan, Russia, and Kazakhstan and the second group includes Turkmenistan and Iran. According to the author, such a situation is not desirable and is dangerous. Naturally, it requires the problem be resolved as soon as possible.

According to the newspaper "Echo," Minister of National Security of Azerbaijan Namig Abbasov will sign an agreement on cooperation with ETTELAAT, Iran's intelligence service. The author writes that ETTELAAT is recognized in the world as an organization that persecutes people for their political opinions. The author also recalls that the organization made efforts a while ago to recruit Genimet Zahidov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Express," when the latter was in Iran. According to the author, many Iranian dissidents live now in Azerbaijan and the majority of them have not yet succeeded in obtaining the status of political emigrants. Probably, the two sides will discuss the issue at the meeting.

Kamran Hasanly, in an article entitled "Curfew of the stability period" in the newspaper "525," writes that since President Heidar Aliev's statement on the need for the protection of "morality" after the incident between the newspaper "Etimad" and the head of the Board of Caucasian Muslims, Allahshukur Pashazadeh, the environment in Baku has changed substantially. The paper continues, "One can come to the conclusion that a state of emergency has been declared in Baku: policemen check citizens' passports at night, investigate the cases 'contradicting our mentality,' visit night bars, etc." According to the author, all this has created fear among the people. Young people are afraid to go out after 2300. The paper draws a comparison with January 1990, when Russian armed forces seized Baku allegedly to secure stability in the city. The author writes that police raids constitute a source of income in that young people "collared" without passports offer bribes in order not to spend the night at the police station, and the police do not refrain from taking such bribes.

Ayten Kerimova in her article in the newspaper "Hurriyyet" writes that contrary to President Aliev's Decree on the Use of the Azerbaijan Language, all the private channels air films and programs in Russian. The sole exception is AzTV (Azerbaijani state television). The paper points to rumors that private channels belonging to President Heidar Aliev, his daughter Sevil Alieva, his son Ilham Aliev, and parliament speaker Nazim Ibrahimov also violate the decree on the use of the Azerbaijani language.

Konul Vagifgizi in her commentary "What is behind the pressures on Etibar Mamedov?" in the newspaper "Ulus" discusses the succession issue in Azerbaijan. She suggests that in order to neutralize Ilham Aliev's rivals, the government makes use of the factor of regionalism. The Western Azerbaijanis are becoming dissatisfied with the government, are creating new organizations and searching for a leader. Vagifgizi says President Aliyev is trying to use this opportunity to create a broad social base for his son. But in addition to Ilham Aliev, Etibar Mamedov, head of the National Independence Party, also intends to use regionalism to gain support among the electorate. The paper thinks that latest attacks on Etibar Mamedov could be a consequence of this conflict. The paper recalls that during presidential elections in 1998, Etibar Mamedov managed to undermine Heidar Aliev's support within society. Therefore taking Etibar Mammadov out of the heir's way is a priority for the ruling clan.

Tural, in the article "The father of the nation-the nation of the father" carried by the newspaper "Tezadlar," comments on the present complicated situation in Azerbaijan. According to him, Azerbaijan, which has been already surrounded by hostilities from the north, south, east, and west, seems to have a very gloomy future. The paper notes that President Aliyev is able only to exert pressure on the local active political forces, but is unable to deal with neighboring states. Referring to the opinion that Heidar Aliyev has become "the father of the nation," the author writes that it might be true, but in reality Heidar Aliyev is a father of a nation which lives in the worst conditions, and many of whose people are refugees and internally displaced persons.

Aynur Gulieva in her article "Inter-clan conflict brings forth Ilham Aliev" carried by the newspaper "Milletin Sesi" (The Voice of the Nation), suggests that the succession issue today has nothing to do with Heidar Aliev's health. The succession issue is the main worry for those people surrounding Aliyev since he came to power in 1993. These people realize that if the next president comes from outside the present ruling clan, they will not be able to retain their influence.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)