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Azerbaijan Report: September 11, 2001

11 September 2001
President Aliev's Forthcoming Visit To Iran Under Discussion
As Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev's visit to Iran approaches, politicians observe developments more carefully. They say Tehran has abandoned its objections to opening an Azerbaijani consulate in Tebriz. Some experts suggest that Azerbaijan may be obliged to make concessions in order to lessen tensions with Iran. Azerbaijani Minister of National Security Namig Abbasov stated during his visit to Iran last week that Azerbaijan will never allow any activity directed against Iran to be conducted on its territory. His statement can be evaluated as one of the main terms put forth by Iran.

According to Mubariz Ahmadoglu, Head of the Political Innovation and Technologies Center, a review of the relationship between Iran and Azerbaijan requires a new methodology, because there are quite a lot of serious problems between the two countries and it is not easy to have the two sides reach agreement on them. Ahmadoglu says Baku must not retreat from its position in the issue of opening a consulate in Tebriz. He said it is possible to understand the Azerbaijani side. By "serious problems," Ahmadoglu means political problems as well as the geopolitical situation in the region.

Political scientist Rasim Musabeyov thinks that Azerbaijan is ready to make concessions to Iran, but the factor of Russia, the USA and Turkey cannot be forgotten in regulation of the relationship between Iran and Azerbaijan.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azerbaijan And Russia Reach Agreement On Gabala Radio Location Station
Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Safar Abiev has paid a working visit to Moscow and met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov. The sides discussed a number of issues including the Gabala Radiolocation Station (RLS), after which they replied to Russian journalists' questions.

Abiev said the two sides have reached agreement on the Gabala RLS after talks lasting several years, and that the final agreement will be signed later this year during President Heidar Aliev's visit to Moscow. Sergei Ivanov said the contract will be signed for a long period. The Russian Defense Minister also noted that the inter-state commission on Gabala RLS has completed its work. According to Ivanov, the results will be disclosed in near future.

Ivanov said the commission has not confirmed widely spread rumors about the negative environmental impact of Gabala RLS. However it is a simple fact that the Gabala RLS has created dozens of problems in Gabala and the neighboring districts. The majority of children born in this district suffer from birth defects.The environmental damage in Gabala and nearby districts is estimated at millions of dollars. Baku has held a number of talks in this connection with Moscow. The Gabala RLS was also discussed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Baku in January of this year.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told journalists before his meeting with Abiev that the talks would yield practical results. But the developments show that the practical results are not in Azerbaijan's favour. Eldeniz Yusifov, former head of Gabala Executive Power who is now head of the Ecological Research Center, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service that leasing the station out to Russia for 25 years is a major tragedy for Azerbaijan. He also said that if the agreement does not take into consideration the local peoples' interests, they will stage mass actions of protest.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Problems Of National Minorities Discussed In Baku
The problems of national minorities are on the agenda in the north and south of Azerbaijan.The Adalat Party has held a roundtable meeting on the role of national minorities in building a law-based state. Eldar Gorin, Chairman of Sodruzhestvo Russian Society, referred to the pressure on the Russian language in Azerbaijan. He claimed that although the government insists that the state language should be learned, no conditions are created for Russian- speaking people. Eldar Gorin thinks it is urgent to give Russian the status of the second state language.

Ali Nasir, Deputy Chairman of the Talysh Cultural Society, claims that nowhere else in the world is the situation of national minorities comparable with the problems they face in Azerbaijan. However he expressed approval of the presidential decree issued by Azerbaijan's former president Abulfaz Elchibey, which granted priority rights to national minorities. When the journalists asked Ali Nasir to give concrete facts, he cited the non-registration of the cultural center which he heads. But the Adalat party, which represents no ethnic group, also has problems with registration.

(Natig Zeinalov)

Police Action Against Meeting Of Journalists
The Sebael District Police on 8 September disrupted a session of the Union of Caucasian Journalists held at the Media Club. According to Anver Burusoylu, Chairman of the session's organizing committee, Ali Glukhoiev, a Chechen journalist and Aghasi Hun, Department Head of the newspaper "Prognoz," were detained and taken to Police Department 9. Anver Burusoylu recalls that the Union of Caucasian Journalists was founded in 1998 in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. He said journalists from all Caucasian countries except Armenia were invited to the constituent assembly. They had paid to lease the Media Club and they hoped that they would not be faced with any problems. But the Baku police violated their hopes. Burusoylu said participants tried to explain to the police that Azerbaijan is a secular state and it is not necessary to get permission for such an issue. Nazim Nagiev, Head of the Sebael Police Department ordered an end to the session.

Burusoylu said the organization aims to create a unique information system in the Caucasus. It is not a secret to anybody that it is a region with national conflicts. Russia-based information channels spread one-sided and subversive information on these conflicts. But the new organization wants to convey the information to the world as it is. To this end, they don't rely on any grants or other promises of support.

(Babek Bekir)

Karabakh Liberation Organization Meets
The Karabakh Liberation Organization met on 8 September. In his opening remarks, Akif Naghi, who heads the organization, did not mention his arrest although he was set free only a day before. He called his 15-day arrest a minor incident in the fight for Karabakh. He drew attention to the situation in the country after the arrival of Nagorno Karabakh Armenians in Baku. Naghi said there are some forces in Azerbaijan which serve certain groups and they claim the situation in the country is very complicated. He said it is only propaganda for conceding Karabakh lands to Armenia. He said the Karabakh separatists continue their work to that end and think that everything has been settled in their favor. Naghi thinks that these events can be called anything except "people's diplomacy." He said the Armenians who came to Baku and the persons who met with them cannot be regarded as representatives of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities.

Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy describes as "a provocation" the Karabakh Armenians' arrival in Baku and their statement that "we are citizens of the independent Karabakh republic." "Now we need pro- Azerbaijani Armenians both in Armenia and Karabakh," she said. Yunus referred to some parties' dual attitude to such issues. She said there some parties which take a very severe position in Azerbaijan but speak of peace and concessions when they travel abroad.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Serdar Hamidov's Health Has Worsened
RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Servivce has already reported that Serdar Hemidov, former head of the Terter district who is now in jail in penal colony 17, suffers from tuberculosis. Some times ago, he was transferred to the institution for treatment of prisoners with tuberculosis. According to Zakir Mammadov, Serdar Hemidov's brother, his brother was only transferred to this institution after his state of health had deteriorated, and when his condition improved he was transferred back to the prison camp. Serdar Hemidov has recently been transferred to institution 3 for treatment of prisoners with tuberculosis.

Niyazi Mammadov, Head, Department of Chief Office for Execution of the Ministry of Justice Court Rulings says that he has no information about Hemidov's state of health. Lawyer Vugar Khasiev met with Serdar Hemidov a month and a half ago and he says that Hemidov's condition was very bad then. He said he has not received consent to meet with Hemidov again. Khasiev says they have appealed to the president of the country to pardon Serdar Hamidov, but have not yet received a positive response.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Bakhtiyar Tunjay, in his article "What did the Karabakh Armenians' visit to Baku give to Azerbaijan?" carried by the newspaper "525" tries to comment on the reaction of the Azerbaijani community to the visit to Baku by the Karabakh Armenian delegation. According to Tunjay, there is an interesting moral-psychological situation in the republic at present. If the military operations have not begun today and the limit of peace talks has not expired yet, then it seems that the period of romanticism is already behind and absolute pragmatism reigns in Azerbaijan's national conscience.Tunjay says the Karabakh Armenians' visit produced a positive effect in the community.The community's attention deviated after the recent incident with Iran and focused on the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict again.

Fuad Gahramanli, in his article "The succession plan will not be implemented" in the independent newspaper "Azadlig," writes that President Heydar Aliyev is looking for ways to neutralize a real and very dangerous force which can disrupt the "succession plan." Gahramanli writes that Ilham Aliev's leading the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party Chairman's team and his participation in political parties as the party chairman can be considered a test before coming to power. Why does Aliyev not want to allow his well-tested team to get closer to his successor? The author writes that the president sees quite clearly that the members of his team have serious financial resources. The team bosses who lead groups in the government do not regard the successor unequivocally. Therefore it is very risky for President Aliyev to allow the heir who has not enough governmental experience to fall into the responsibility of such wolves.

Kurshad Tekin, in his article "Will Azerbaijan be able to protect its sovereignty?" carried by the newspaper "Milletin Sesi" (The Voice of the Nation) writes that Azerbaijan has gradually lost its territories and the danger of that happening still exists today. According to the author, leaflets with photos of Gennadii Zuganov (Head of Russian Communist Party), Ayaz Mutallibov (Azerbaijan's former president) and the emblem of the former USSR are being spread among the population of the northeastern part of the country, in the districts bordering on Russia. Tekin writes that the same situation exists in the northwestern part of Azerbaijan. He says that unlike the Azerbaijani security service, the intelligence services of neighboring countries know very well where to distribute propaganda. The above-mentioned territories are densely populated by national minorities.

Vahid Imanov, in his article "Implementation of court rulings is mandatory for all" carried by the newspaper "Khalg Gazety," writes that dozens of recent court rulings and resolutions have not been implemented, which affects the courts' influence. For instance, when an employee is dismissed illegally and a court rules that he should be reinstated, the leadership of that office or enterprise does not comply with the court ruling and the citizen's rights are violated.

The newspaper "Hurriyet" continues to publish extracts from ex-speaker Rasul Guliev's book "Diktatorla uz-uza" (Facing the dictator). The ex-speaker refers to events he witnessed when he was parliament speaker. He says working in that environment had certain difficulties. The processes had apparent and secret factors as well. One of the factors was the realization of parliamentary and election reforms and achievement of real human reforms. Guliev argues that until the Azerbaijani people creates a social environment with free individuals and free will, it will not be able to achieve major democratic state building goals.

Referring to the succession issue in the newspaper "Yeni Musavat," Gabil Abbasoglu writes that Ilham Aliyev does not think as his father Heydar Aliyev does. Since the moment when the idea that he should succeed his father as president appeared, Ilham Aliyev has disagreed with it, but no one listens to his protest.The old politician and general Heydar Aliyev will not allow the future of himself, his family and tribe to remain undecided. Referring to the numerous problems in the country, the author points out that only the Karabakh problem places major responsibility on the government, and resolving that problem demands special talent and courage. Solving socioeconomic problems require no less skill, the determination to build a strong army and find a common language with the opposition requires great patience and a tolerant approach. The author questions at the end of the article whether Ilham Aliyev is right to oppose the idea of succeeding his father or not.

Ilhame writes in the newspaper "Tezadlar" that Azerbaijanis have not appreciated the Caspian up till now. One of the services of the government is that it raised the value of the Caspian in the region. According to the author, seeing the rise of foreign countries' suspicious interests in the Caspian, Russia has also brought its fleet to the sea. That is an indication that the Caspian will become a zone of disputes and conflicts in future.

Rashidoglu writes in "Zerkalo" that the socio-economic crisis in Armenia worsens from day to day and some 2 million people have already left the country. The opposition blames this crisis on President Kocharyan and his inability to settle the Karabakh conflict, and demands his resignation. But Kocharyan plans to run for a second term as president.