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Azerbaijan Report: November 12, 2001

12 November 2001
Mercenaries Will Be Tried In Azerbaijan
On 9 November, the Republican Court for Severe Crimes will try 13 Azerbaijani citizens who planned to fight in Chechnya for independence of the Chechen people. According to the information agency Turan, they are accused under two provisions of the Criminal Code-for planning to take part in military operations as mercenaries and for forming illegal armed groups. Some times ago, foreign and local information channels reported that Azerbaijani Javid Muftizade was killed in Georgia's Kodori gorge together with the Chechens. Then the deceased's mother claimed that her son died for religious goals. She said her son visited the Abu-Bekr mosque before going to Chechnya and fell under the influence of missionaries.

Lawyer Isakhan Ashurov says that the legality of the issues raised will become clear only after the trial ends. He said if the fighters received no military assistance from the Chechen side then it is not right to accuse them of being mercenaries. Secondly, the country where they received training must also be specified. If those persons were trained in one of the neighboring countries to Azerbaijan as Turan claims, then the second provision automatically loses its legality.

One of the translators of the Holy Koran, Neriman Gasimoglu does not rule out that religious factors are one of reasons for citizens of Azerbaijan having such a wish. He said the Holy Koran does not rule violation of local laws and there are no grounds for believing that such cases will become numerous. He said there are a number of problems regarding education or teaching of Islam in the country and the illegal activity of missionary organizations must also be taken into consideration.

(Babek Bekir)

World Congress of Azerbaijanis Opens In Baku
On 9 November, the first session of the World Azerbaijanis begins iin the Republican palace in Baku. Rustam Mammadov, a department head in the Presidential Office, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service that the session will last for two days and some 600 representatives from 38 countries will attend.

Some times ago, Fizuli Mammadov, leader of the People's Patriots Party of the 21st century, aka businessman Frenk Elkaponi, wanted to arrange the first session of the World Azerbaijanis and even stated in press that some $1million dollars would be allotted for organization of the congress. But Fizuli Mammadov could not implement his wish, he was even arrested after such statements in Moscow. There are still some disagreements regarding the 9 November session. Discontent is mainly expressed by Southern Azerbaijanis. Aslan Khalidi, a member of the Southern Azerbaijan parliament, says that they have long expected such a session but the fact that none of the Southern Azerbaijanis working in Northern Azerbaijan has been invited to the session has displeased them. According to Khalidi, they are well aware of the Azerbaijani government's problems with Iran and their non- participation in the session is clearly a concession by Baku to Tehran. Khalidi says that if the problems of world Azerbaijanis are to be addressed during the session, then it is extremely unfortunate that Southern Azerbaijanis who make some 70 percent of the world Azerbaijani population them cannot participate.

Teymur Eminbeyli, a member of the Steering Board of the World Azerbaijanis' Congress, says they have been invited to the session but they expect nothing from it except for arrangement of meeting for Azerbaijanis living in foreign countries. Eminbeyli says that some $1 million dollars has been expended on organizing the session and it would be better to allot this fund to some organization in the form of assistance and that organization would organize the event. As for the Southern Azerbaijanis' not being invited to the session, Eminbeyli said that the Southern Azerbaijanis would have raised their problems at the congress which would upset Iran. Because of this, it would be more expedient for the session to be arranged by another organization.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Conference Devoted To The Azerbaijani Diaspora Was Held In Baku
A scientific practical conference devoted to the development phases of the Azerbaijani Diaspora was held on 7 November in the National Relationships Institute of the National Academy of Sciences in connection with preparation for the first session of the world Azerbaijanis held in Baku. The conference heard lectures on the history, development and current problems of the Azerbaijani Diaspora, there was held the opening ceremony of the Gallery of the Azerbaijani Diaspora. The gallery has six sections with exhibits featuring the past, today and different-branch activity of the Azerbaijani Diaspora. Professor Vagif Arzumanli, Director of the Institute for International Relationships presented his book on the development phases of the Azerbaijani Diaspora. He said the Azerbaijani Diaspora has its own unique history of emergence, development and evolution. The Azerbaijani Diaspora was formed during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and developed in Turkey and Germany. In a later development, Azerbaijani emigre communities were formed in other countries of Europe and Near East. Today, the Azerbaijani Diaspora has organizations in most countries of the world.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service, Arzumanli provided clarification for the disputable issue regarding the number of the Azerbaijani Diaspora. According to him, the Azerbaijanis living in Iran, Daghestan and Georgia are not included in the Diaspora. Because of this, it can be stated that the number of the Azerbaijani Diaspora is over 10 million.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Who Destroyed Jewish Graves In Baku?
Even though the destruction of over 40 Jewish graves in the cemetery called "Gurd gapisi" (Wolf's door) in Baku did not attract the republican politicians' attention, they say that it is not an ordinary crime. Sulheddin Akber, Deputy Chairman of the Musavat Party, rules out the possibility that destruction of the graves is a manifestation of religious intolerance. Because when the Jews were suppressed elsewhere in the world, they were still well treated in Azerbaijan. Akber assumes that the graves were destroyed by foreign forces, which consider dangerous the recent rapprochement between Israel and Azerbaijan. It can also be a demonstration of strength.

Azerbaijan Democrat Party Secretary General Serdar Jelaloglu also thinks that the incident is not a sign of anti-Semitism but an act of sabotage to prevent the rapprochement of Azerbaijan and Israel. According to Jelaloglu, Azerbaijanis manifest tolerance towards other peoples and nations. When the Jews were massively killed in Spain, the Turkish sultan paid gold and bought them.

Deputy Chairman of the National Liberation Party Maharram Zulfugarli thinks that the incident is connected with Azerbaijan's intention to open its embassy in Israel and the Israeli lobby's assistance to Azerbaijan for repeal of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which bans the U.S. governmental assistance to our republic.

The ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party also evaluates the incident as sabotage. The party deputy executive secretary Mubariz Gurbanli says that Azerbaijan's law-enforcement bodies will detain the guilty and punish them.

(Natig Zeynalov)

Liberal Party Chairwoman Lale Shovket Hajiyeva in an interview with the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" called the rumors about the deterioration in Azerbaijani President's health the president's next political step. Hajiyeva says she has obtained information about the president's health from Moscow and knows that the president is healthier than many others are. Lale Shovket thinks that Heydar Aliyev prepares the successor plan not for his son's sake. The politician says the successor plan is the only way out of the difficult situation for Heydar Aliev.

The newspaper "Azadlig" reports that the corpse of an Armenian prisoner will be given back to his country in the next few days. The newspaper writes that the prisoner died two years ago in Bayil prison. Some two months ago, the Armenian side gave back the corpse of an Azerbaijani prisoner who died a natural death but the Azerbaijani side claimed that he died as a result of torture.

Parliament member and executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, Ali Ahmadov, in an interview with the newspaper "525" said that rumors about pressure on elder generation within the party do not correspond to the truth. But there are some people in the party who are willing to create such problem in order to weaken the organization. Ahmadov thinks that these are unsuccessful attempts. The YAP member also said that when force and energy weaken, the younger generation takes over from the elder one. Because of this, the structural changes in the party and the government must be accepted as normal.

Zahid Safaroglu in an article carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" wonders why Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev does not help Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. One of the reasons for Aliev's not-helping his "friend and brother" Shevardnadze is that Russia is behind all these incidents. Aliyev takes into consideration Russia's becoming weak in the Caucasus and does not want to have additional problems. On the other hand, Aliyev demonstrates by this position his taking Russia's interests into consideration.

Namig in an article entitled "Doesn't it turn out, boss?" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that the relationships between the Azerbaijani President's son Ilham Aliyev and the presidential administration head Ramiz Mehdiev are worsening gradually. The author claims that having failed to obtain from the West a pledge to bring Ilham Aliyev to power, President Heydar Aliyev is now holding talks now with Russia on that sceanario. According to some Russian media outlets, that country is going to support Ramiz Mehdiev. The secret fight between Aliyev and Mehdiev gradually becomes more serious. The men backing Ilham Aliyev continue bringing charges against Ramiz Mehdiev.

Khalid Kazimli writes in the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" that the recommendation for resolution of the Karabakh conflict which is contradictory to Azerbaijan's interests may not be implemented. The foreign political forces trying to regulate the conflict want the process to be launched and completed soon.The author writes that it is possible for the international community to exert pressure on Azerbaijan. Simply, Azerbaijan is a profitable state for all in the current situation. But if the country's leadership evaluates the developments properly, then everything can turn out in accordance with with Azerbaijan's interests in future.

Social Democrat Party co-chair Zardusht Alizade in an interview with the newspaper "Azadlig" said that the Azerbaijanis of the world do not concern Heydar Aliev. Alizade thinks that the majority of those who left Azerbaijan were expelled by the government. Even though they have not forgotten Azerbaijan, it is impossible for them to work under Aliev's rule. According to Alizade, it seems strange to represent himself as a patriot and gather together those whom he once banished from the country. Undoubtedly, the congress is held with new political purposes. Alizadeh says that those who do not take part in the congress must be happy that they are not involved in Heydar Aliev's new game.

Yasharoglu writes in the newspaper "Zerkalo" that it is up to official Baku to decide whether to host NATO bases or not. Azerbaijan's joining the anti-terror operations is the first step taken towards establsihing such bases. No state can prevent Azerbaijan from doing so regardless of its attitude towards that country. Simultaneously, Azerbaijan's allies are not capable of assisting official Baku in this matter. According to the author, the perspective of the developments will depend to a greater extent on the decisions Azerbaijan will take independently. Turkish official sources also express agreement with these opinions.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)