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Azerbaijan Report: September 14, 2001

14 September 2001
Azerbaijan Condemns Terrorist Attacks On U.S.
Azerbaijan's Security Council, with the participation of President Heidar Aliev, met on 11 September and discussed the terrorist acts earlier this week in Washington and New York. The speakers at the session condemned the acts and stressed the urgency of intensifying the battle against international terrorism. The national security and internal affairs ministries were reportedly given relevant instructions regarding security issues. The heads of the ministries said that some urgent steps have already been taken to this end.

President Aliyev received on 12 September U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ross Wilson. Aliyev said special steps will be taken to ensure security for the embassy and its employees. Aliyev also sent a letter of condolence to U.S. President George W. Bush extending his deepest sympathy to the families of those who died in the attacks. Aliyev then issued the following statement condemning the terrorist acts:

"The terrible terrorist acts in New York and Washington, D.C. on 11 September have deeply shocked and distressed the Azerbaijani people. The terrible terror, which resulted in heavy casualties and much destruction, has been committed in one of the superpowers of the world. The fact that terror is a global crime recognizing no boundaries and it being against all human values has emerged in an unprecedented form at the beginning of the 21st century. Although the U.S. is on the target now, such a terrible tragedy can potentially take place against all countries and peoples. The Azerbaijani people have been faced with bitter and terrible results of terrorism more than once and therefore understand best of all the grief and stresses of the American people and share this endless grief."

American flags at the U.S. embassy in Baku were lowered and a condolence book was put in the embassy. Beginning from the morning of 12 September, Azerbaijanis came to the embassy to share their grief with the American people.

The victims of the terrorist acts in Washington and New York were commemorated with one minute of silence on 13 September at noon Baku time according to a decree by President Aliev. During this time, all state flags were lowered, and TV and radio companies stopped airing entertainment programs. Representatives of the Azerbaijani community came to the U.S. embassy in Baku and laid wreaths in commemoration of the victims of the terrorist acts. James Seward, an attache at the embassy, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that immediately after the terror, dozens of Azerbaijanis, representatives of political parties, and social organizations sent letters of condolences to them or came to the embassy building condemning the terrorists and sharing the grief of the American people.

According to the information obtained from the Azerbaijani Embassy in the U.S., no Azerbaijanis living in the U.S. were injured in the actions. Because the embassy is located a great distance from the World Trade Center, there was no need to evacuate the embassy and it continues to function.

Allahshukur Pashazade, the head of the board of Caucasian Muslims, also sent a letter of condolence to U.S. President George W. Bush. The letter reads that "the terrible terror in the U.S., which yielded tragic results, has filled our hearts with feelings of pain and anger. Up to now, the Azerbaijani people have felt the bitter results of occupation and terror. We share the American people's grief and curse all the terrorists -- irrelevant of their identity and goals. God will certainly punish them," Pashazade wrote.

Neriman Gasimoglu, a researcher of Islamic history and a translator of the Koran, said in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that some mass media try to form an opinion that only Muslims can commit such crimes. The Russian and Western press particularly stress this notion, he said. According to Gasimoglu, the creation of the wave of anger against the Islamic world is unacceptable because Islam prohibits killing, considering it to be the worst sin.

In his interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Mubariz Gurbanli, a member of Azerbaijan's parliament and deputy executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, called the terrorist acts in the U.S. "a great tragedy." He noted that those who committed these acts deserve the "curse of the world's nations." Gurbanli also noted that the terror will cause drastic changes in the U.S.'s attitude toward terrorism.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azerbaijanis Focused On Terrorist Acts
The terrorist attacks on the U.S. are at the focus of attention of the Azerbaijani community. President Heidar Aliev, social organizations, and citizens have negatively evaluated the terror, noting that it is directed not only against a country but the whole of mankind. The youth organizations of political parties also expressed their attitudes to the terror. Gurban Jebrail, the head of the Press Service of the Islamic Party said immediately afterward that it condemns the terrorist acts. Regarding the naming of the Islamists in the terror, Jebrail said that the accusations have not yet been formally made. He added that there are many bureaus of investigation in the U.S. and he thinks investigators will identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

(Almaz Nasibova)

PACE Chairman In Baku
Lord Russell Johnston, the chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), arrived in Baku on 13 September. According to Anar Kazimov, an employee of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Problems Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Johnston will meet with President Aliev, the chairman of the Azerbaijan Parliament, Murtuz Alasgarov, and Prime Minister Artur Rasizade. Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev will also attend the meetings in which the sides will discuss Council of Europe commitments put forth by Azerbaijan and the extent of their implementation. Before Baku, Johnston visited Armenia and Georgia. Samad Seidov, chairman of the Azerbaijani parliament's standing commission on international and interparliamentary relationships, said that unlike Armenia and Georgia, Azerbaijan will not be blamed for non-implementation of the commitments. According to Seidov, Azerbaijan respects its commitments and carries them out in a timely manner.

However, Hajimurad Sadeddinov, head of the Fund for Democratic Development and Protection of Human Rights, says he cannot understand those who are optimistic about implementation of Council of Europe commitments. Hajimurad Sadeddinov says that some of the commitments are for one, some for two, and some even for three years but the term for ratification of Conventions on Human Rights and against Torture expires at the end of this year. The Council of Europe demanded that the cases of political prisoners Isgandar Hamidov, Rahim Gaziev, and Aliakram Humbatov should be reconsidered by September but nothing has been done to this end. Moreover, three prisoners went on hunger strike for the intolerable conditions in jail. But Samad Seidov thinks that the issue of political prisoners is exaggerated in the mass media. According to Seidov, President Aliyev issues amnesty decrees regularly and it is likely that the guests will be satisfied with the meeting.

(Babek Bekir)

Farhad Mammadov in his article headlined "U.S. prepares for war," in the newspaper "Azadlig," writes that to maintain its place and influence in the world, the U.S. must respond immediately and strongly to the terror in order to appease the American community. Mammadov points out that before taking any steps, the seriousness of the action and later reactions must be analyzed.

Gabil Huseinli, deputy chairman of the Musavat Party, noted in his interview with the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" that the terrorist acts in the U.S. will cause drastic changes in this country's attitude toward terrorism. Huseinli said Osama bin Laden's fate is not a good one, when considered from this standpoint. Huseinli also notes that it will be difficult to capture the number one terrorist in the world. The first factor hindering his capture is bin Laden's deep financial resources. "After the terror, the U.S. will begin serious operations to eliminate terrorism in the world both ideologically and practically." Huseinli notes at the end that to combat terrorism, it is necessary to first eliminate its roots.

Zahid Safaroglu refers to the terrorist actions in the U.S. in his article "Problems of Superpowers," carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat." Safaroglu writes that after the terror, a bitter reality emerged. Those, who can attack the superpower, can reach for Baku and its oil fields as well but the Americans will overcome this situation. Safaroglu notes that presently, the blow on the image of their country is more significant for Americans than the financial losses and the slowdown in world trade. According to Safaroglu, the U.S. would rather reconsider its foreign policy after it settles the existing problems. Otherwise, terrible happenings can take place, for instance, terrorists can resort to nuclear weapons next time.

In his interview with the newspaper "Yeni Musavat," Azerbaijan's former state adviser Vafa Guluzade notes that the terror in America could result in World War III. Guluzade notes that although Russia backs Washington's combating of terrorism, it is doubtful that Russia will fully support U.S. military acts against Iraq. According to Guluzade, although the names of Muslim countries are mentioned in connection with the terror, it is still too early to make a conclusion and determine which states are behind these terrorist acts.

The newspaper "Yeni Musavat" also carries an interview with Azerbaijan's former foreign minister, Tofig Zulfugarov, who calls the terrorist acts "disgraceful." Zulfugarov says that the U.S. must try to forget this "disgrace." According to him, Azerbaijan must now remind the world community about Armenia being a state backing terrorism. Referring to the exaggeration on the religious beliefs of those reported to be involved in the terror, Zulfugarov noted that although Armenia is a Christian state, it cooperates with many Muslim countries.

The newspaper "Echo" took a type of poll regarding Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran scheduled for later this month [it has since been cancelled -- editor]. The newspaper writes that the people of Baku have an equivocal attitude toward the visit. According to the results of the poll, the majority of people expect nothing positive to come from the visit. The newspaper also carries an interview with Azerbaijan's former defense minister, Tajeddin Mehdiev. According to him, the terrorist attacks on the U.S. can result in the inclusion of Armenia on the list of international terrorism as well. Mehdiev recalls the 32 terrorist acts committed in Azerbaijan by the Armenia-based ASALA terror organization. The former defense minister notes that a league of world countries led by the U.S. must not only combat terrorist organizations but also the states financing them.

Boyukagha Aghaev, in his article "Are you from those whom we have made YAP members?" in the newspaper "Azadlig," writes that the ruling party is preparing for its second session by raising the number of its members. According to Aghaev, the party plans to increase the number of its members to 250,000. Aghaev recalls that on the eve of its first session, YAP had 140,000 members, but presently, an application to become a YAP member is also required when one applies for employment in an educational or health institution.

The newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" carries extracts from Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's interview with Turkey-based TV channel CNN-TURK. Aliyev answered questions about his forthcoming visit to Iran [which was cancelled -- editor], the legal status of the Caspian Sea as well as the political processes in Azerbaijan. Referring to his visit to Iran, Aliyev said it is not an extreme case. The president said one of the key goals of the visit is to develop relationships between Azerbaijan and Iran. Referring to the Caspian status, Aliyev recalled the situation during the former USSR. "Discussions on the Caspian status can be held in Tehran. But first of all, the five littoral countries should reach joint agreement." Referring to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, Aliyev said he will continue talks with Armenian President Robert Kocharian. The president noted at the end that there is a democratic environment in Azerbaijan for the activity of any organization with a political affiliation. Pointing out that Turkey does not have as many parties as Azerbaijan does, Aliyev said that conditions have been created for these forces to hold any actions they wish. Aliyev noted that the opposition speaking about democracy wants to overthrow his government in an illegal manner.

The newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" writes about PACE Chairman Lord Russell Johnston's visit to Baku. Johnston said that he will meet with the country's officials and stay concerned about the state of Azerbaijan's implementation of its commitments to the Council of Europe. Johnston said that the rumors about his calling Nagorno-Karabakh an occupied territory in the Armenian parliament does not reflect the truth. Johnston said that during his visit to Armenia he only put forth various ideas for the settlement of the conflict.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)