19 January 2004
NEWS BRIEFSForeign Minister Denies Armenian Allegations Regarding Denial Of Visas To Armenian Military
"It was Armenia that violated the principles of NATO's Partnership for Peace Program, namely principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and respect for state borders of partner states," said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilaet Guliev, commenting on the Armenian Foreign Ministry's statement on the non-participation of Armenian officers in a NATO forum in Baku. "Apart from the absence of bilateral relations, there is no international-legal ground for Armenia's participation in training held on the territory of Azerbaijan. Considering all this, Azerbaijan had a full right to reject Armenia's participation in military activities in its territories. However, acting in the spirit of partnership, Baku did not take a concrete decision and did not create obstacles to the participation of Armenian officers, Guliev concluded.
Earlier General Mikhail Melkonian, head of the Armenian Defense Ministry's foreign relations department, noted that "NATO administration must respond to Baku's refusal to allow the Armenian delegation to attend the "Cooperative Best Effort-2004" planning conference." Melkonian recalled that Armenian officers attended previous planning conferences for NATO exercises in 2001, the Arminfo news agency reported.
The "Cooperative Best Effort-2004" exercises within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace Program are to be held in Baku in September. A conference on planning these exercises opened on 13 January in Baku. About 100 representatives from 20 countries, except for Armenia, attended the conference. News agencies reported that three Armenian officers tried but failed to obtain Azerbaijani visas in Georgia, flew later to Istanbul to depart from there to Baku. But they could not get the approval of the Turkish authorities to fly to Baku.
According to Ilgar VAliyev of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, the NATO autumn exercises are aimed at strengthening the skills of armed forces that accomplish peacekeeping missions in various countries of the world. General Eivaz Jafarov, chief of the Defense Ministry's Operation and Alarm Department, pointed out that since Azerbaijan joined NATO's Partnership for Peace Program in 1994, it has played host to a series of NATO events. NATO's "Cooperative Determination 2001" multinational peacemaking command staff exercises were held in Baku. (Natig Zeinalov and Etibar Rasulov)
Opposition Leader Prison Terms Prolonged
Nasimi District Court has extended the prison terms of opposition leaders arrested during disturbances in the wake of the October 2003 presidential elections for another three months, on the grounds that the criminal investigation against them has not been completed. Those politicians were arrested on charges of organizing and inciting mass disturbances after the 15 October 2003 presidential election results. Meanwhile, the cases of some of those arrested has been completed and submitted to the Grave Crimes Court. The Committee for the Rights of Persons Arrested during 15-16 October calls the accusations against them are "forged and baseless." Lawyers and human rights activists believe that the investigation was one-sided. To date more than 100 people have been detained in connection with post-election riots in Baku and most of them are charged with participation in mass disorders. (Natig Zeinalov)
Azerbaijani National Encyclopedia To Be Published
On 12 January, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree ordering the preparation and publication of a new "Azerbaijani National Encyclopedia" in 2004-2008 in the Azerbaijani Latin script. At present generalized information about Azerbaijan is being extracted from the Azerbaijani Soviet Encyclopedia published in 1978-1987. "As the country has regained its independence there is a great need to compile and publish a new encyclopedia in the Latin script which is to meet demands of the new epoch and impartially feature the important socio-political, historical, scientific, and cultural developments in the lives of the Azerbaijani people," the decree reads. On the same day, the president issued a decree on publishing new books in the Latin alphabet. The document contains a list of books that are to be published in the Latin script this year.
Most local specialists now ask themselves: will the new encyclopedia not suffer the same fate of the old Soviet one? Ismail Valiev, head of the "Azerbaijani Encyclopedia" Publishing-Printing Union does not see any grounds for concern, as Azerbaijan has experienced a change in its political system. There is neither censorship nor state supervision. Nevertheless, many suggest that public representatives must also be represented in a newly created commission along with leading specialists. Otherwise, the mistakes made in the past might be repeated.
Ali Abbasov, former director of the Institute of Philosophy, points to the need for public supervision over the commission's activities. Unlike applied sciences there is a variety of opinions in the humanities, he said. Therefore, independent specialists must be involved in the work of the commission regarding these spheres. Otherwise, the hopes for new publications may not materialize. Abbasov suggests that Azerbaijanis living abroad can also be involved in such activities. There are diaspora organizations outside Azerbaijan that have long conducted such research and investigations. (Babek Bekir)
(Compiled and translated by Etibar Rasulov)