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Azerbaijan Report: November 6, 2001


6 November 2001
NEWS BRIEFS
Azerbaijan Democrat Party Plans Action Of Protest
The Baku municipal authorities are reluctant to condone the action of protest the Azerbaijan Democrat Party plans for 10 November. The party's ideology secretary, Aydin Guliev, says that the party's leaders were summoned to the mayor's office in the morning of 6 November and was advised to postpone the action as the Congress of the World Azerbaijanis will be held on the same day. According to Guliev, they responded that they have no intention of hindering the congress. Guliev said that the his party is ready to begin discuss an alternative rvenue for the protest but will refuse to postpone it.

Guliev said that the party will raise at the meeting the same demands it made earlier regarding problems with the constitution, unemployment, social anarchy, tNagorno Karabakh and political prisoners. According to Guliev, even though they have not included resignation in the list of demands, it does not mean that they have forgotten it. As the government ignored their former demands, they have been faced with the urgency to demand resignation. The developments in Georgia also show that the delay is not the opposition's interests.

(Babek Bekir)

Azerbaijani Experts Comment On The New Deal In Georgia
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has appointed Aslan Abashidze, leader of the Ajaristan Autonomous Republic his personal assistant for resolution of the Abkhaz problem. Head of the Caucasian Researches Center Khaleddin Ibrahimli evaluates positively the new appointment in the Georgian government, noting that the rapprochement will most probably save Georgia from a political crisis. According to Ibrahimli, the Abkhaz people who have hostile attitude to Tbilisi will try to maintain warm relations with the Ajars.

Azerbaijan's former state advisor Vafa Guluzade thinks that the Georgian president has taken an approprrriate step and the sides fragmented by the Russian side can unite only by this way.

Head of the Center for Settlement of Conflicts Elkhan Mehdiev thinks differently. According to him, it is a temporary step as Abashidze himself has major pretensions.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Azerbaijani Experts Comment On U.S. Intention To Use Azerbaijan's Military Bases
The Azerbaijani press has reprinted reports in the US-based Washington Post newspaper that the US, which continues military operations against Afghanistan, intends to use military air bases on Azerbaijan's territory. According to the newspaper, Washington already uses the military bases in Uzbekistan and Pakistan and it considers it necessary to use Azerbaijan's territory in order to successfully complete the operations in Afghanistan.The Bush Administration's increasing pressure on the Congress for the repeal of Section 907 is connected with this factor. Even though such information is evaluated as the rapprochement between the U.S. and Azerbaijan, the fact that Gabala Radio Location Station belongs to Russia is not forgotten either.There are also assumptions that the interests of the two countries can collide in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan's former Defense Minister Tajeddin Mehdiev thinks that each state has its own strategic interests, but the use of the bases of Azerbaijan which is a Moslem country against another Moslem country-Afghanistan could impel terrorist groups to commit unpleasant crimes in this republic. According to Mehdiev, Azerbaijan must pursue a well-thought policy.

Military expert Azad Isazade thinks that utilization of Azerbaijan's bases during the anti-terror operations conducted in Afghanistan does not mean formation of any military base in this country. As for the existence of military bases belonging to superpowers in Azerbaijan, Isazade says that it is impossible and that Azerbaijan must settle the issue of the Gabala Radio Location station with Russia.

Former state advisor Vafa Guluzade does not consider Russia a superpower in this regard noting that it is now impossible for Russia to confront the U.S. As for the second issue, Guluzade says it is irrelevant to be faced with the Moslem countries' reproach in this case, because Iran being a Moslem country has close ties with Armenia which has occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Visit Baku
Before visiting Baku, the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs held special consultations in Lisbon. According to diplomatic sources, official Baku expects a new draft peace treaty from the visit. Some politicians expect nothing new from the visit, but some think that recent international developments can affect the talks the Minsk Group co-chairs hold on resolving the Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan Social Democrat Party co-chair Zardusht Alizade does not believe in a peaceful solution to the conflict, because both sides have recently demonstrated decisiveness in their positions. But the mediators demonstrate that they cannot influence them.

Parliament member Mubariz Gurbanli says that the co-chairs' current visit to the region differs from earlier ones. He said the 11 September terrorist acts in the U.S. have had certain impact on the world policy. According to Gurbanli, when the American co-chair of the Minsk Group visited Baku, the Azerbaijani president conveyed to him his dissatisfaction with the structure's weak activity. Because of this, a substantial change must take place in the current visit of the co-chairs. Political scientist Rasim Musabeyov also expects something new from the visit.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azerbaijani Parliament Discussed 2002 Budget
The Azerbaijan parliament discussed on 6 November the draft budget for 2002. The government ministers who took part in the discussions considered 2001 successful from the point of view of economic development. Parliament chairman Murtuz Alasgarov noted that living standards rose by 2.5 percent, some $8.7 billion was invested in the development of the economy and of which foreign investments accounted for $6 billion. According to Alasgarov, greater achievements will be gained in 2002 in the sphere of elimination of poverty. Budget revenues next year will make some 16.4 percent of the GDP and social expenditures will make 62.5 percent of the budget.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Will Developments In Georgia Affect Regional Energy Projects?
The worsening of the political situation in Georgia is followed with concern in Azerbaijan not only because it is a neighbor to this republic but also a partner to major energy projects of the region.There are assumptions that Russia, which is against the projects, is aggravating the situation in Georgia.

According to former president of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic Sabit Baghirov, the possible governmental change in Georgia cannot affect the fate of the projects as they are in Georgia's interests as well. Moreover, major companies and international financial structures also have an interest in the projects. According to Baghirov, the possibility that Russia will affect the projects is minimal, as Russia has recently shown little opposition to them and the Russian Energy Ministry as well as Lukoil Company has expressed intention of participating.

The head of the Caucasian Researches Center, Khaleddin Ibrahimli, says that the partners to the economic projects are powerful enough to restore stability in Georgia. According to Ibrahimli, the fate of the energy projects can become disputed if pro-Russian forces come to power in Georgia.

(Natig Zeynalov)

Armenian Journalists In Baku
It has already become a tradition to organize visits by Armenian journalists to Baku and by Azerbaijani journalists to Yerevan. The Azerbaijani Journalists' Union Yeni Nasil (New Generation) organizes the visits with the help of international organizations. During Armenians' last visit to Azerbaijan, the local press wrote that they were not journalists but members of radical groups. The Azerbaijani community reacted sharply to the visits and protested those allegations.

According to unconfirmed information, postal links are to be established between the Armenians living in Baku and Armenia through Azerbaijani journalists or lawyers. Local people, particularly, the refugees are irritated with the amount of the fund expended on the Armenian journalists while they were in Baku. The Armenian journalists held events in Zagulba costing $2,500 each day. An Azerbaijani told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service that the fund is equal to the annual compensations allotted for almost 10 refugee families.

According to Elchin Shikhlinskiy, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Zerkalo", mainly Armenian journalists took part in the meetings, which he attended. Now, the Armenian journalists from Nagorno Karabakh have also joined them. According to Shikhlinskii, the meetings have no connection with resolution of the conflict and he questions the point of holding them.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

What Is Wrong With The Azerbaijani President?
Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev's absence from work and the postponement of his visits to foreign countries have strengthened the assumption about the deterioration in his health. According to the information agency Turan, the president's meeting with the officials of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe visiting Baku was called off as well. Even though the president's car is seen in the city every day, it is either empty or his son Ilham Aliyev is in it. Azerbaijani officials still refute reports about a deterioration in the president's health and naturally, rumors supply the information deficiency. Some people say that the president is engaged in analyzing the developments in the Caucasus and in the country and making new plans, but others discuss how the situation will deveop after he loses power.

Hikmet Hajizade, vice-president of the Independent Political and Economic Researches Center, thinks that the president cannot stand the rumors about his health. In this case, he arranges some meeting or sessions or is seen in the television. But the president has not done any of this for the past one week. According to Hajizade, if the president cannot implement his authorities, developments can progress in two directions. In the first case, under the constitution, the parliament chairman will lead the country and there can appear a confrontation between his power base consisting of Western Azerbaijanis and the president's family. But the opposition will join the process after new elections are declared and will fight for free elections. According to the second and the most pessimistic scenario, the aspirants for the presidency ho live in exile will return to Azerbaijan and foreign forces will define the future fate of the country. According to Hajizade, those aspirants are Rasul Guliev in the U.S., Ayaz Mutallibov in Russia and Mahir Javadov in Iran.

Geyrat Guliev, head of the initiative group of the Independent Politicians' Movement, says that Heydar Aliyev has grown weaker after surgery but he successfully continues to rule the state. Guliev calls "biological opposition" some opposition forces' policy predicated on the president's health, noting that internal confrontations are unavoidable in Azerbaijan after Heydar Aliyev leaves power.

(Natig Zeynalov)

PRESS REVIEW
The newspaper "525" has carried an article on the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs' visit to the region. The newspaper quotes the French co-chair Philippe de Suremain as saying that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs understand Azerbaijan's position in resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict better than ever now. The co-chair said that the meeting with Heydar Aliyev was very efficient and now it is urgent to convey the information to the Armenian president. Mr. Suremain said that after the visit to the region, they will go to Bucharest and have consultations with the Romanian foreign minister who now leads OSCE. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov was among the co-chairs. He said that enough opportunities have appeared for resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. According to Trubnikov, the situation in the world has changed after 11 September terrorist acts and because of this, the Karabakh conflict can be settled as well. The American co-chair Rudolf Perina said they are in a sensitive period now and apologized to journalists for his inability to disclose details of the issue because any information requires responsibility.

Rauf Arifoglu writes in the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" that there is a reason for the OSCE co-chairs' deserve President Aliev's reprimand. There is information that the co-chairs have submitted proposals on the basis of the Paris and Key West agreements. It is also reported that if Heydar Aliyev follows the OSCE proposals regarding Nagorno Karabakh, then they will help his son to come to power. According to another information, after the OSCE co-chairs' visit is finalized, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia will meet in Moscow. Thus, it is possible that everything will work against Azerbaijan. OSCE officials also state it and do not react to Heydar Aliev's accusations.

Tural in an article "Heydar Aliev's health" carried by the newspaper "Tezadlar" writes that opposition leaders are more interested in the president's health. Naturally, not because they are concerned about the president's health.They want to specify whether the X-day [Aliev's demise] they have predicted is approaching or not. The author writes that the opposition, which has deluded themselves in this prediction, are unaware of some diseases. The inability to join and hindering others is some of the diseases of the opposition.

Ferhad Mammadov writes in the newspaper "Azadlig" that Heydar Aliev, who issued strict statements a while ago about a military resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, has now changed his position. According to Mammadov, now Aliyev excludes a military solution. If the president tells the OSCE officials one thing in the eyes of the community but states another behind the closed doors, then the following conclusion is possible: the president sees that the number of those giving preference to military solution of the conflict has risen and wants to gain their confidence by making such statements. Thus the president wants to soften the strict attitude towards him in the country. The president tells the OSCE officials that the military way is ruled out and tries to gain those countries' support by this way. But all this is well thought plans for not the state but the president himself and his family.

Kamran Hasanly in an article "Shevardnadze-Abashidze alliance is being realized" carried by the newspaper "525" writes that it is impossible to predict whether Shevardnadze has won or been defeated in the current incidents in Georgia. But Shevardnadze's proposal for his serious rival Aslan Avbashidze, leader of Ajaristan to unite proves how hard his situation is. Shevardnadze personally visited Ajaristan to meet with Aslan Abashidze, helped Abashidze in the elections for the post of Chairman of the Ajaristan Supreme Council, then the Georgian president was awarded with the order of the Ajar leader Vakhtang Gorgasali. All this shows that the ties of the two rivals have become quite normal.

Azer Hesret writes in the newspaper "Azadlig" that up to now, two great leaders of the Turkish world- Abulfaz Elchibey and Ataturk have been included into the history. Elchibey has become a historical person for establishing the Turkish world, the second one- for saving Azerbaijan from the Russian Empire. If we consider Azerbaijan separately, then the names of Mammad Amin Rasulzade, then Abulfaz Elchibey must be cited. But the author writes that there is jealousy of both men in Azerbaijan and President Aliyev tries to present himself as the greatest leader of the twentieth century, trying to give the impression that Heydar Aliyev saved Azerbaijan as Ataturk saved Turkey. Aliyev and the men close to him try to discredit Rasulzade and Elchibey.

The newspaper "Echo" writes that Turkish soldiers will lay an air bridge between Afghanistan and Azerbaijan and official Washington is trying to obtain the Azerbaijani side's consent to this end. Azerbaijan has already consented to Washington's proposal. The newspaper writes that in order to organize the Turkish military's visit, Consultant to the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister for foreign issues and an expert for Afghanistan Aydemir Erman has been involved in this matter. In other words, Baku's offering all its opportunities for the conduct of operations in Afghanistan and Turkey's being active in the process also shows that the service will not remain unanswered. Ankara and Baku rely on Washington's help instead of this service. The newspaper writes that after the operations are completed, Washington's help is a certainty.

Zahid Safaroglu in an article "Western Europe's dilemma" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that the West's policy directed at the Moslem world was de-facto multi-branch. The author cites Turkey noting that it is absurd to demand this country recognize "the Armenian genocide" in order to be accepted into the European Union. Western Europe is jealous of the Turkey-U.S. rapprochement and tries to keep the Turks under its influence. Naturally, Turkey will not agree with such development of events. Turkey's opportunities enable it to withstand stand the pressure directed against it.

Tehmine Naghiyeva, one of the former employees of the State Road Police department in an interview with the newspaper "Hurriyyet" stated that some $30.000-40.000 is required in order to get employed by this department. When they employ a person who cannot even write his name, they demand $15.000-20.000. If a road policeman works an all-day shift every day, then he must give a huge amount in bribes. The highest price is on the Ganja- Gazakh road. At least $500 is daily taken in the form of bribe from that road. Naghiyeva notes in the interview that department head Ramiz Zeynalov has secured a high standard of living for himself. He has some villas near the Ganjlik metro station. But the department head refutes the accusations saying that they are not true.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)

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