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Azerbaijan Report: October 30, 2001

30 October 2001
Council Of Europe Experts Visit Azerbaijan
The Council of Europe officials who are visiting Baku held on 30 October their next meeting. Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) deputy Andreas Gross is leading the monitoring group. A meeting with the heads of Azerbaijan's legal-defense organizations was held at the OSCE office in Baku. Some 15 non-governmental organizations took part in the event. Lawyer Saida Gojamanli says that the Council of Europe experts asked them to speak about the work Azerbaijan carried out in the 10 months since it was accepted to the organization. According to Gojamanli, the negative cases exceeded the positive ones within this period. The Council of Europe officials were provided with new information in this regard. Gojamanli claims that since Azerbaijan was accepted into the Council of Europe, the state of human rights in the country became aggravated and the list of political prisoners grew.

According to Gojamanli, the meeting also featured discussion of the activity of the Ministry of Justice, which delays registration of non-governmental organizations. Gojamanli said that the issue of political prisoners was broadly discussed in the meeting. According to her, the submission of the list of 14 political prisoners is a success for local lawyers. Gojamanli noted that the Council of Europe experts assured the lawyers that they will study the submitted lists.

Institute for Peace and Democracy head Leila Yunus says that a meeting with the heads of legal-defense organizations was held on 30 October in the German Embassy in Baku. The representatives of the German Bundestag are also gathering information about the state of human rights in Azerbaijan. Leila Yunus says that the Germans are trying to gather information about the state of women in Azerbaijan. According to Yunus, the guests were also interested in the formation of public television in Azerbaijan. The experts who had visited both Armenia and Georgia were surprised at the fact that only two TV companies were launched after Azerbaijan was accepted into the Council of Europe. According to the experts, there are more independent TV companies in Armenia and Georgia than in Azerbaijan. According to Yunus, the Council of Europe experts stated in conclusion that they will voice their opinion on the situation in Azerbaijan after meeting with President Heidar Aliyev this week.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Azerbaijani Lawyers Dissatisfied With Council Of Europe List Of Political Prisoners
The Council of Europe experts' report on the state of political prisoners in Azerbaijan was finally disclosed. According to the agency Turan, the report says that Azerbaijani lawyers have so far submitted a list of 700 people whom they consider political prisoners to the Council of Europe. The experts took the cases of 23 people from the list and expressed their opinion whether they are political prisoners or not. In accordance with European standards, the experts declared the following people political prisoners: Isgandar Hamidov, Rahim Gaziev, Alikram Humbatov, Elchin Amiraslanov, Natig Afandiev, Adil Hajiev, Nariman Imranov, Arif Kazimov, Galib Abdullaev, Surat Huseynov, Ilgar Safikhanov, Israil Akbarov, Elkhan Abbasov, and Huseynbala Huseynov. But according to them, Fahmin Hajiev, Habib Abuyev, Ajdar Gurbanov, Ruhulla Akhundov, and Sadig Samadov are not political prisoners. The experts could not decide whether Avaz Ramazanov is a political prisoner or not due to lack of information. Even though the Council of Europe experts have unequivocally put forward the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, the lawyers are dissatisfied with the list. They say they do not know the criteria by which the list was formed and some of the men in the list.

Saida Gojamanli, head of the Bureau for Human Rights and Protection of Law, regrets that the men who had certain services in national liberation movement, as well as Fahmin Hajiev, were not included on the list. According to Gojamanli, they will express their protest to the monitoring group, which will visit Azerbaijan in near future and get clarification for the criteria which formed the list and the fate of the other political prisoners. According to Leila Yunus, head of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, what matters is not the number of political prisoners in Azerbaijan but that the experts have put before Azerbaijan the fact that there are political prisoners in this country.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Azerbaijani Community Concerned About U.S. Senate Decision
The U.S. Senate's granting of the authority to President George W. Bush for assistance to Azerbaijan despite Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act attracted pleasant reaction in Azerbaijan at first, but this waned with later developments. One provision of the Senate document drew particular attention. It underscores that Azerbaijan cannot use the U.S. assistance for military operations against Armenia and it must not hinder the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict. The U.S.'s bringing into the agenda the issue of assistance to Armenia has also begun to concern Azerbaijanis.

(Babek Bekir and Natig Zeynalov)

Contrasts In Azerbaijani Science
According to official information, the Azerbaijani state budget for 2002 will allot greater funds for science and education than former years. But independent experts think Azerbaijan's state budget is so small that any great sum cannot save the nation's science and education from crisis. They ask, if a scientist in Azerbaijan receives $50 a month then how can he be engaged in research and commit himself to development of Azerbaijani science.

Professor Firudin Jalilov says that serious reforms must be conducted in Azerbaijan's scientific and educational spheres. According to him, despite the current crisis in national culture and education, some scientists publish their works abroad and gain worldwide fame. He pointed to Professor Rafig Aliyev and Doctor of Technical Sciences Rashad Aliyev recently publishing their book on soft computing in the U.S.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azer Hesret, in an article "Dizziness" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig," writes that the work carried out by the U.S. for softening Section 907 is introduced as the successful foreign policy of the Azerbaijani government. The author claims that the pro-governmental mass media tries to convince the refugees living in camps that Heidar Aliyev is really a great politician and greater achievements will be achieved in the future. The softening of Section 907 is really in Azerbaijan's favor but it is not worth boasting of it. Because full repeal of the section has not yet been discussed. The author claims that as the section has not been fully repealed, it is ridiculous to celebrate it.

Khalid Kazimli in an article "Difficult people" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" refers to the Musavat leader's proposals for unification of the opposition. According to the author, the Musavat leader finally followed the people's recommendations and decided to unite. Now, some opposition members are engaged in minor work instead of trying to settle the issue. The author claims that a greater part of the society including him does not believe in any major success while weak politicians govern the country. Such spiteful politicians can spoil the common view in Azerbaijan's political arena. The remaining people either do not recognize it or do not want to recognize it. The author calls such politicians an obstacle in the way of those who want to make progress.

Khalig Bahadir, in an article "The U.S. in the labyrinth of double standards," writes that after the 11 September terrorist acts, the U.S. has reconsidered both its domestic and foreign policy. The U.S., being the superpower of the world, has always handled its own problems. But the 11 September terrorist acts have almost awakened the country. The U.S. has recognized that a minor incident in another part of the world causes great reaction in this part. The author claims that the U.S. has given consent for the softening of Section 907, as they have understood everything. Azerbaijan accepts 907 as the material assistance to this country and the political side of the section is not taken into consideration. According to the author, the section has not only prevented assistance being allotted to Azerbaijan. Bahadir says Section 907 means supporting the Armenian terrorism in Karabakh, strengthening it, creating problems for Azerbaijan, and depriving it of the right to protect itself against terror.

The newspaper "Hurriyyet" writes that Azerbaijani officials have also understood that it is impossible to resolve the Karabakh problem in a peaceful way. The statement President Heidar Aliyev gave last week in a meeting with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly chairman is the confession of the failure of the eight-month peace policy. The newspaper writes that in order to gain a victory in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan must first of all change the existing regime in the country. Even though Heidar Aliyev admits the current urgency of war now, he has not given up his antinational policy and continues it in a violent way. It is pointed out in the article that Azerbaijan has opportunities to win any conflict in any way. But Heidar Aliyev must be removed from office to this end. Aliev's resignation can be considered an early phase of the fight against the Armenians.

Bakhtiyar Tunjay writes in the newspaper "525" that the achievements of Azerbaijan's foreign policy is leading to the collapse of Armenian President Robert Kocharian. The strengthening of Azerbaijan's influence in the international setting can result in a governmental crisis in Armenia. According to the Armenian mass media, the Armenians themselves acknowledge the approaching defeat. Naturally, it enables the voice of opinions against the Armenian government. If he did not feel any danger, the Armenian president would not point out the need for Armenians uniting at this moment. The author assumes that the rise of discontent in Armenia will deepen the conflicts in the country. The article claims that the Azerbaijani community and politicians should be patient now. According to the author, if we are patient in this period, the processes will develop in our favor in later periods.

Farhad Mammadov writes in the newspaper "Azadlig" that the Iranian-Azerbaijani talks can resume again, but it does not seem convincing that the ties between the two countries will be normalized again. The author recalls that Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's visit to Iran was postponed as some provisions of the documents to be signed during the visit had not been agreed. The author writes, referring to a reliable source, that official Baku insists that the documents should include a provision on respecting the two countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity, refraining from introduction of force in bilateral ties and threats in this connection. The Iranian side is discontent that not the foreign minister of Azerbaijan but his assistant was sent to Iran for preparation of those documents. The Iranian ambassador conveyed this discontent to President Aliev. The author notes that after these meetings, Heidar Aliev's visit to Iran does not seem convincing in the near perspective.

Kamran Hasanli writes in the newspaper "525" that the OSCE could establish a new working group for regulation of the Karabakh problem. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly chairman's proposal to establish a new working group seems strange as the OSCE Minsk group is engaged in the process now. Some observers accept Andrean Severin's initiative as the OSCE leadership's dissatisfaction with the Minsk Group's activity. Undoubtedly, the idea of the establishment of the new structure comes from the inefficiency of the Minsk Group's activity.

Nazim Mustafa writes in the newspaper "Khalg" that Azerbaijani lawyers are also dissatisfied with the Council of Europe experts. It is pointed out in the article that the lawyers are engaged in creating problems for both themselves and the Azerbaijani government. The reason is that the leaders of legal-defense organizations are not independent. The author claims that the lawyers either defend the interests of different political forces or international organizations which hate Azerbaijan. The article criticizes two lawyers -- Leila Yunus and Eldar Zeynalov . The author writes that the principle of justice was violated in the lists which the two people sent to international organizations. According to Mustafa, the Azerbaijani government knows well from the experience what is behind the Council of Europe pressure under the name of protection of human rights.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)