17 July 2002
NEWS BRIEFSNew Karabakh Protests Planned
The Karabakh Liberation Organization (KLO) is going to hold several actions to mark the anniversary of the occupation of the Agdam district, KLO Chairman Akif Nagi told RFE/RL. Nagi said on 23 July the KLO will conduct a funeral procession in Martyr's Lane together with other opposition parties to protest the leadership's efforts to make people forget Karabakh and the efforts of international organizations that put pressure on the state to make concessions. The participants will again affirm that the Azerbaijani people will not reconcile themselves to defeat. Nagi doubts that the Baku police will grant permission for such actions, and so he will not formally request such permission. Some 5,000 inhabitants of Agdam were killed before and during the Armenian conquest of the region in 1993.
Environmental Organizations Oppose Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline
The contradictions between environmental NGOs and BP, operating on the Caspian within the framework of the "Contract of the Century," are escalating. Recently the president of the International Ecoenergy Academy, Fagan Aliev, said that the mud produced during drilling works is being neutralized at the Garadag Cement Plant. According to Aliyev the mud constitutes a threat to the environment and creates radiation in the cement the plant produces.
On 11 July BP isued a statement saying the Microbiological Institute of the National Academy of Sciences has approved the positive results of the tests regarding the neutralization process at Garadag Cement Plant. Moreover that process is also agreed with the ministries of natural resources and ecology. The tests show that the incineration of the mud at the plant does not adversely affect the environment or people's health. According to the statement further such tests will be held in the future.
Former Prosecutor Accused Of Corruption
Two years ago a group of officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, including high-ranking officers, were charged with serious crimes. After their arrest Prosecutor-General Eldar Hasanov and his deputy, Isa Najafov, had to resign, after which each tried to incriminate the other.
Not long ago Najafov, who is currently a Constitutional Court judge, again enumerated the former prosecutor-general's crimes in a program om state television. At the 9 July presentation of his new book entitled "Assassination in the middle of the night," he accused Hasanov and National Security Minister Namig Abbasov of crimes against the state. According to Najafov, Hasanov, who is currently Azerbaijan's ambassador to Romania, is guilty of the occupation of Kalbajar district by the Armenian forces in 1993 and the persecution of the leaders of the national liberation movement. He also accused Abbasov of the destruction of archival documents about the 20 January incident. Abbasov has refuted those claims which he says are nonsense.
Hasanov, in his turn, appealed to state television to let him respond to Najafov's accusations. For the present, outside observers hold different opinions on that issue. Retired Colonel Ilham Ismail is sure that Najafov is acting on orders. He does not exclude that the government is concerned that the public are less hostile to Hasanov and Abbasov than to some other other officials. At the same time, Islmail noted, it is a hallmark of President Heidar Aliev's cadre policy to promote tension, uncertainty and confrontation among officials. It is possible that Aliyev is trying to benefit from such tensions and thus divert the attention of the politically- active part of the population from the more important issues such as the transfer of power, the forthcoming referendum and presidential elections and others.
Mubariz Ahmedogli, the head of the Center for Political Innovation and Technologies, also considers the confrontation between the constitutional court judge and the ambassador to Romania and the minister of national security as proof of contradictions within the leadership. Ahmedogli predicts that if the president does not restore order, the situation will have a negative impact on political developments.
PRESS REVIEWThe leading theme of the media is the Council of Europe Monitoring Committee. According to the newspapers, its controversial member Andreas Gross is coming to Baku despite the official protests.
The pro-governmental newspaper "Azerbaycan" comments on the opposition's attitude to Andreas Gross.
In an interview with the independent newspaper "Ekho," the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the PACE, Ilham Aliev, said that he has not revised his position on the Monitoring Committee.
An article entitled "Russian-Iran struggle in the Caspian drives Azerbaijan into off side" in the independent newspaper "525" points out that confrontation with Moscow will cost Azerbaijan dear.
Professor Kamil Vali Narimanoglu in an interview with the newspaper "525" claims that the discoveries of Azeri scientists that have been kept for 60-70 years in the archives of the National Academy of Sciences are being sold to Turkey.
Reshidoglu in an article entitled "Andreas Gross is coming to Baku" in the independent Russian-language newspaper "Zerkalo" writes that on 16 July deputies Martinoz Kazan and Andreas Gross will visit Baku. According to Reshidoglu, PACE Secretary-General Bruno Haller demanded from the Azeri authorities an explanation of the protest against Gross's coming to Baku. The author recalls that the "game for democracy" between Council of Europe and Baku started as far back as 2000. Even then Gross, who monitored the parliamentarian elections, said that he had never seen such elections before and called the newly elected parliament illegal. But afterwards he cooperated with that parliament. Reshidoglu express regrets that the Council of Europe is also playing the wrong game together with Azerbaijan. The author concludes that the both parties pursue their own pragmatic interests.
Rustan Garakhanli in an article entitled "Opposition sympathy for Gross" in the newspaper "Azerbaycan" writes that Gross is not the first pro-Armenian individual whom the opposition has designated a hero. The first was U.S. Representative Christopher Smith and the opposition is familiar with his mode of operation. Almost all opposition leaders during their visits to the United States meet with Smith to discuss the social and political situation in Azerbaijan. The author points out that the opposition are pleased when the government is criticized by international institutions and at the same time does not take into account the national interests. To popularize such persons as Gross and Smith, to give more credence to the Armenian mass media than to the Azerbaijani leadership as well as to blacken the successes of the Azerbaijani delegation in PACE is to fall for a hostile trick.
The Democratic Party chairman in an interview with the opposition newspaper "Hurriyyet" claims that the tension in relations between the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan is the result of President Aliev's activities. The president tries to derive benefit from such escalation to strengthen his dictatorship. Guliev notes that after the minister of foreign affairs issued an official statement on the issue, Ilham Aliev, the president's son sent a telegram to Andreas Gross and protested against his coming to Baku. According to Guliev, that ill-mannered incident confirms once more that the constitution, the people and the ministers are nothing to President Aliev, for whom any member of his family carries more weight than either the people or the minister.
Nadir Azeri in an article entitled "Do not forget your language" in the independent newspaper "Uch Nogta" comments on the social unrest in Iran. According to international observers, the outcome of that unrest will depend on the position of the various peoples of Iran. There is no doubt that the stand of the Azeri population is of great strategic importance. Therefore the present Iranian regime should take that factor into account and make an attempt to solve the Azeris' problems now. But the author points out that Tehran is indifferent to the problems of its Azeris. Up to now Iranian officials have not given permission for the opening of an Azerbaijani consulate in Tebriz.
The opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" in an article entitled "Aliev's generals quarrel with each other" comments on the charges against Minister of National Security Namig Abbasov and former Prosecutor-General, Eldar Hasanov brought by Constitutional Court judge Isa Najafov. The newspaper connects the contradictions between these generals who accuse each other of serious state crimes with the struggle for power within the presidential camp. The newspaper expresses regret that the generals have turned their weapons against each other after concluding an armistice with Armenia. The paper draws attention to one point in former Prosecutor-General Hasanov's charges. Hasanov points out that he does not want to tell much about the gangster and smuggler group leaded by Najafov. But the names of the members of the group must be revealed if the confrontation escalates.
Fikret Huseinli in an article "Why Namig Abbasov has been striked" in the opposition newspaper "Ulus" writes that the processes taking place within the leadership prove once more that President Aliev's attempt to bring Ilham Aliyev to power will bring him a headache, because the list of those who oppose the president's "successor plan" is not limited to Abbsov. There are also such powerful opponents as Ramiz Mehdiev, the head of the President's executive apparatus. Huseinli does not rule out that the war against Mehdiev will not be of benefit to Aliev, as Mehdiev has been working with President Aliyev for so long and possesses much information about him. But for the present the struggle is going on and Aliyev is using all opportunities to defeat independent-minded members of his team.
Nasir Ahmedli, a teacher of the Baku State University in an interview with the newspaper "Hurriyyet," speaks about corruption. Asked to compare the level of corruption level in Azerbaijan with the states, Ahmedli argues that one should eliminate the causes of corruption. According to Ahmedli, the situation in the republic is difficult and the people have to struggle not to die of hunger. As the media is very profitable at present there is a strong inflow to that sector. As a result, most media representatives are amateurs who pursue their own interests. Therefore it is no wonder that the majority of the mass media are involved in corruption.