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Azerbaijan Report: June 29, 2001

29 June 2001
More Than 40 Deputies Support Genocide Resolution
On June 29 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe ended its summer session in Strasbourg. Samed Seidov, the chairman of the parliament commission on international relations and head of the Azerbaijani delegation taking part in Council of Europe meeting, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service that Azerbaijan deputies have achieved the distribution by the Council of Europe of two resolutions on Azerbaijan.

One of them is the resolution on the destruction and illegal appropriation of Azerbaijan cultural treasures by Armenians during the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Karabakh. The resolution on the ecological situation of Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of destroying forests and polluting of rivers on the territories of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia and says that the Armenian nuclear power station threatens not only the Caucasus, but also Eastern Europe and the Near East. It also accuses Armenia of burying nuclear waste from the Armenian nuclear power station on occupied Azerbaijani territories.

During June session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe deputies from Italy, Spain, Rumania and Slovenia joined the Resolution distributed at the April session of the Council of Europe and called on the Council of Europe to recognize the genocide perpetrated by the Armenians against the Azerbaijani population from the beginning of the 19 century. More than 40 deputies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe support Azerbaijan Resolution.

Samed Seidov added that a delegation from Azerbaijan has submitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe a written request that Armenia recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. He accused Armenia of violating all international rights.

(Samira Gaziyeva)

Separatist Forces Become More Active In Northern Azerbaijan
The former Head of the Khachmaz Raion administration, Mugaddas Mehdiyev, has issued a statement claiming that separatist forces are becoming more active in the northern districts of Azerbaijan. In an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service, Mekhdiyev said that information is being distributed among the population of the northern districts of Azerbaijan that a provocation against the government will began in the north of Azerbaijan in the near future. Separatist forces supported by the neighboring countries ,using the President Aliev's law about introduction of the Latin alphabet as a pretext, will provoke clashes early in August. Mugaddas Mekhdiyev recalled that some time ago similar information was distributed among the population of the Zagatala- Balakan district, after which shooting incidents occurred there earlier this month.

The head of the National Security Ministry press-service, Araz Gurbanov, in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service rejected Mekhdiyev's statement as untrue and said that the government is in complete control of the situation in republic.

(Maarif Akbarov)

Trial Of Karabakh War Invalids Continues
The deputy chairman of the Karabakh War Invalids' Society, Firudin Mamedov, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service that during the court session on 28 June the police considered as victims and witnesses of clashes during a hunger strike of Karabakh Invalids in February were interrogated. He noted that the evidence given by police in court differed from the evidence given by them during the investigation. He added that lawyers decided to make one of them answerable for giving false evidences. Another police officer acknowledged that his evidence was written by the investigator and he only signed it.

The head of the Committee to Protect the Karabakh War Invalids, Zardusht Alizadeh, said that the judge is not independent and cannot therefore hand down a just sentence on the accused Karabakh Warinvalids. He said that members of Committee will hold a meeting within the next few days to discuss how to protect the Karabakh Invalids.

(Natig Zeynalov)

Azerbaijan Ranked As One Of Most Corrupt States
The German-based Transparency International - a private organisation advocating the fight against corruption - has released its annual Corruption Perception Index or CPI. The document reports on how businesses and individuals rate corruption in 91 countries around the world.

The latest index shows that former Soviet republics are still viewed as being very corrupt. In an interview with RFE/RL after the news briefing during a presentation in Washington, vice-president Frank Vogl addressed corruption in Central Asia. He said international businesses with money to invest view the five states in that region - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - as highly corrupt, and until governments improve the perceptions of corruption, that high level of corruption will deter foreign investment those countries need to help their people develop and grow and socially advance. In comparison, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, both critizised as highly corrupted, are both given a ranking of 71 with identical CPI scores of 2.7, however Azerbaijan, ranked number 84 out of 91 countries with a score of 2.0, is near the very bottom of the CPI list. (Rovshan Huseinov)

Iranian Exhibition Opens in Baku
On 29 June the Ninth Exhibition of Iranian goods opened in Baku. Iranian Minister for export Naziri Khosrof Tadj said that last year trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Iran was estimated at $80 million. Iran exported to Azerbaijan goods worth $70 million. Khosrof Tadj added that Iran has the potential to expand economic relations with Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan's Economic Development Minister Farhad Aliyev said that in recent years Iran invested $56 million in the Azerbaijani economy, which he said was very little. He also expressed approval of an Iranian proposal that Azerbaijan should pay for goods it purchaeses from Iran only 1-2 years after taking delivery.

Iran's Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ahad Gazayi expressed the hope that during Azerbaijan President Heidar Aliev's visit to Iran in the near future some problems in Azerbaijani-Iranian relations will be clarified.

(Zerkhanim Ahmedly)

(Compiled & Translated by Samira Gaziyeva)

ICRC Apologizes For Error
In 1999 the International Committee of the Red Cross with the Interparliamentary Union issued a brochure entitled "Observance of the International Rights" which was distributed among ICRC employees and parliament deputies. A list of postal addresses of ICRC delegations and officers around the world was included in the brochure. In this list the ICRC office in Upper Karabakh was shown within Armenia. This fact caused worry and protest from the Azerbaijan community. Some Azerbaijanis considered it a technical mistake but the majority interpreted it as a deliberate provocation against Azerbaijan.

The head of the parliament Commission on regional issues, Zahid Garalov, accused the ICRS of supporting separatism. He demanded that the representatives of the ICRC should leave Azerbaijan within 48 hours unless the organization officially apologized to Azerbaijan. The Civic Unitu Party issued a statement condemning the ICRS.

On 29 June the ICRC issued a press release responding to an article published in the June 28 issue of "Yeni Azerbaijan" which also criticized the ICRC policy. The press-release says that the list of addresses of the ICRC delegations does not have any political significance. The ICRC apologizes for any confusion created by this list which will be corrected in future editions of the brochure and says all copies of the original brochure have been recalled.

(Zhala Mutallimova)

Yeni Azerbaijan Party Holds Press Conference
The head of the Agency for Restoring and Reconstruction of the Territories Released from Occupation, Ali Mamedov, told a press-conference on 29 June at the headquarters of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party that the Agency was created on 12 July 1996 on the order of the President and has been active since the beginning of 1997. The program covers 15 regions of Azerbaijan with a total area of approximately 5,600 squares kilometers, released from the occupation. Implementing the program will require $117 million, of which 90 per cent has already been provided. The Agency has received $20 million from the World Bank and a $9.5 million credit from the Islamic Bank. It has also has received $47 million in financial support, of which $24 million was provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Ali Mamedov said these figures were not distributed before because some neighboring countries accused donors of helping Azerbaijan.

Ali Mamedov reported that restoration works are underway in Agdam, Fuzuli, Ter-Ter, Khanlar, Geranboy and Nakhchivan. As a result, 36,000 people have returned to their homes and 70 schools and 3,300 houses have been restored.

(Almaz Nasibova)

Mubariz Gurbanly, deputy executive secretary of the Yeni Azerbaijan Party, disagrees with the opinion that the pause in Karabakh talks could last a long time. On the contrary, he says in an interview with the party's eponymous newspaper that "negotiations to settle the Karabakh conflict will intensify in September-October this year." Gurbanly believes Iran's joining the mediation process will have no effect.

Vafa Guluzade, the former Azerbaijani state advisor on foreign policy, sees the law adopted by Russian State Duma as very alarming. The law "On admission of new constituent parts to the Russian Federation and formation of new constituent parts within the Russian Federation" poses a threat to Azerbaijan, "because Russia can raise the issue of joining Nagorny Karabakh to Russia," Guluzade tells the independent newspaper "Zerkalo" in an interview. "Therefore, those who are slow in bringing NATO troops to Azerbaican and Georgia are commiting a crime not only against the peoples of these countries, but against the world community as well," Guluzade concludes.

The genuine opposition forces in Azerbaijan have already undergone a selection process, writes "Hurriyet" in its commentary. The paper claims that "reformers" from the Popular Front Party under Ali Kerimov, the Civic Solidarity party under Sabir Rustamkhanly and the parties gathered in the alternate Democratic Congress have been receiving financial support from the Azerbaijani authorities, and that Etibar Mamedov's Azerbaijan National Independence Party is not a real opposition party anymore. There are only four real opposition parties in Azerbaijan, the paper suggests, Musavat, the Azerbaijan Democratic Party, the conservative wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party and the Liberal Party. But in spite of the fact that they are considered the radical opposition to the regime, they can not unite. The paper nonetheless believes these parties will unite soon.

One of the notorious scandals of recent months connected with the destruction of a sanitary complex built by Turkey on Martyrs' Avenue, is under discussion again, says the independent newspaper "Ekho." According to the paper, Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalybov decided to rebuild the complex, which was destroyed in April, on the territory of the Turkish embassy. But the Turkish embassy disagrees with the Mayor's decision and is expecting the complex to be restored on the original site.

The paper notes that the scandal surrounding the fountain has shed light on many difficulties in bilaterial relations. The issue is often discussed in Turkish media, but the media in Turkey recently pay more attention to problems between Azerbaijan and Turkey, at the same time the newspapers express views to support the need for normalisation of relations between Turkey and Armenia. The Turkish press views the normalisation of relations with Armenia as a possible way of solving Turkey's economic problems. (Samira Gaziyeva and Elkhan Nasibov)