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Azerbaijan Report: September 7, 2001

7 September 2001
Armenian Delegation In Baku
An Armenian delegation led by Karen Ohanjanyan, chairman of the Armenian Helsinki Civic Assembly, arrived in Baku on 4 September. Members of Azerbaijan's non - governmental organizations and lawyers received the delegation with great hospitality. The delegates said the visit is aimed at getting acquainted with Azerbaijan's social organizations. The Armenian guests said more than once that Nagorno-Karabakh has been Armenian land since ancient times, and that they are Armenian citizens. The visit of the Armenian delegation was received differently in the Azerbaijan community. Conflictologist Arif Yunus said that Armenians live in worse conditions than Azerbaijanis do. "Let them come and see how meaningless it is to pursue war with Azerbaijan. When I visited Armenia, I saw that they have no information about Azerbaijan," Yunus said.

Arif Aliev, Chairman of the Yeni Nasil (New Generation) Journalists' Union, also thinks that the Armenians' visit to Baku is a normal event. According to him, there is a great difference between the social-economic situation in Azerbaijan and Armenia. Therefore the visit will not cause damage to Azerbaijan.

But the Karabakh Liberation Organization (KLO) has protested the visit by the 14-member Armenian delegation. The KLO released a statement saying that the delegation members introduce themselves as representatives of the so-called "Nagorno Karabakh Republic," and therefore their visit to Baku, free activity in our capital city is an insult to Azerbaijan. The KLO claims that introducing the separatists' arrival in Azerbaijan almost as a victory and as a success for "people�s diplomacy" aims at creating a mood of capitulation among the Azerbaijani people. The organisation considers that cooperation with Armenia in any form before occupied Azerbaijani lands are liberated is tantamount to betraying Azerbaijan's national interests.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Independent Newspaper Shut Down
The Nizami District Court has ruled that the newspaper "Bakinskiy Bulvar" must cease publication. Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalibov appealed to the court in connection with an article published in the newspaper which claimed that that Azerbaijani officials use illegal methods and seize tpeople's money and property. But according to Elmar Huseinov, founder of the newspaper, Abutalibov's name was not mentioned in the article. The newspaper was fined 100 million manats (about $17,000) and criminal proceedings have been instituted against its founder and editor-in-chief and against the author of the article.

Elmar Huseinov called the court's ruling as unfair. According to him, in compliance with the Law on the Mass Media, no criminal proceedings can be instituted against a newspaper's founder. Huseinov claims that the court ruling is a political action and pressure was exerted on the judge to pass such a ruling.

(Almaz Nasibova)

Namig Abbasov Met With Secretary Of Iran�s National Security Council
The Caucasian region, particularly Azerbaijan, is very sensitive from the security standpoint for Iran, Hasan Rowhani, Secretary of Iran�s National Security Council stated during a meeting with Azerbaijan�s Minister of National Security Namig Abbasov in Tehran. Rowhani also noted that the unique nature of Baku-Tehran ties enable the two countries to settle disputed issues. The Iranian diplomat accused third countries of sabotaging the relationship between Azerbaijan and Iran. He said that if no outside interference is made in Baku-Teheran ties, and if Iran's national interests are not violated in the Caucasus, then there will be no problem in Azerbaijan- Iran relations.

Abbasov assured his Iranian counterpart that Azerbaijan will not let any country use its territory for activities against Iran.

Rowhani's statement was not received unequivocally in Azerbaijani government circles. Political scientist Professor Musa Gasimov told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that Azerbaijan has not made any claim on any neighboring country, but Iran considers that Azerbaijan is dangerous for it from an economic and political standpoint.

On September 6, Abbasov was received by Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunusi. Abbasov characterized Iran as a country with a rich culture, and assured Yunusi that Azerbaijan will not allow any activity against Iran on its territory. Referring to the mutual ties between the two countries, Abbasov pointed out the relations in the security and intelligence spheres.

The two sides also discussed the development of Caspian resources. Abbasov agreed with the Iranian officials' opinion that before conducting any work in the Caspian, the consent of the five littoral states must be obtained. But Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev stated in his meeting with Iran's Special Envoy for the Caspian, Ali Ahani, that Azerbaijan has long conducted work in the territories which Iran considers disputed.

According to Khaleddin Ibrahimli, Head of the Caucasian Research Center, Azerbaijan's position on the Caspian problem remains unchanged. Simply, as the status issue has not been settled yet, the position of the littoral states is a decisive factor in any issue. Because Iran is a neighboring country and the status of the Caspian is still not determined, Azerbaijan must sit at the negotiating table in order to find a solution to the problem, he said.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azerbaijanis Protest Armenians' Visit To Baku
The arrival of the Karabakh Armenians in Baku has engendered protests by city residents who consider that it is unacceptable to welcome warmly persons who do not accept Azerbaijani citizenship and represent the separatist regime in Nagorno Karabakh as an independent state. For this reason, refugees from Karabakh and several organizations staged actions of protest demanding that the "separatists" leave Baku.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

In an interview with the newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan," Armidak Badalova, a member of the Karabakh Armenian delegation visiting Baku, pointed out that social conditions of Nagorno Karabakh's population are very bad. She said the Karabakh people cannot live any longer on humanitarian assistance and investments must be made in the Karabakh economy in order to achieve development. Badalova evaluated such steps positively, noting that they could prepare people psychologically for peace.

Mubariz Ahmadoglu, Head of the Political Innovation and Technologies Center, comments on the recent replacements of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs with other high-level diplomats in his interview with the newspaper "525." Ahmadoglu said that this is an optimistic approach to resolving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. He predicted that, if serious people handle the settlement of the conflict, then concrete results will be achieved.

Veli Garadagli in an article entitled "The Union of the Azerbaijanist Forces has not selected its name properly" published in the pro-government newspaper "Azerbaijan," writes that although the UAF consists of a bloc of opposition parties, there is no unity among them. Some parties have left the bloc for various reasons. One of those "various reasons" is the UAF's preference for a pro-Iranian and pro-Russian policy. According to Garadagli, the organization is pursuing an anti-Azerbaijan policy and the Islamic party, which is part of the UAF, is suspected of working for a neighboring country.

Azer Huseinbala in his commentary "Scandal in the Presidential office" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat," writes that although there have long been talks about Ilham Aliyev as the sole candidate of the ruling clan to succeed his father as president, other contenders disagree with his candidacy and have formed their own teams to take part in the succession struggle. Huseinbala interprets parliament speaker Murtuz Aleskerov's recent statement that he will not resign from his post as a serious sign that he too, together with his team, aspires to come to power after President Aliev's demise. Although the head of the President's Executive Office Ramiz Mehdiev's name is also mentioned in the list of presidential hopefuls, he has not openly revealed his wish to become president. According to the author, some persons do not take into consideration the fact that Ramiz Mehdiev has enemies in the government, namely at the Presidential Office.

Yasharoglu in the newspaper "Zerkalo" claims that pro-Russian forces are becoming active in Azerbaijan. The author names former President Ayaz Mutallibov in this context. He notes that although the local press reported a while ago that Ayaz Mutallibov has little chance of returning to power, now developments show otherwise. Now, the ex-president�s name is mentioned in the composition of the coalition government, which shows that Ayaz Mutallibov was not a bad leader once, the author suggests.