18 September 2001
NEWS BRIEFSAzerbaijan To Host NATO Exercises
Azerbaijan will host three weeks of NATO exercises in November, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on 17 September. The former Soviet republic has often expressed eagerness to join the alliance and has close ties with NATO-member Turkey. In 1999, Azerbaijan sent some peacekeepers to Kosovo as part of the Turkish contingent of the NATO-led forces. Defense Ministry spokesman Eivaz Dzhafarov said the November maneuvers will be the biggest-ever NATO exercises in the Caucasus region. He said they demonstrate Azerbaijan's continued desire to join NATO. "The recent events in the United States showed that we should unite efforts to preserve stability in the world and in the region as a whole," he said. Representatives from NATO countries were in the Azerbaijani capital on 17 September for discussions on the planned exercises. The maneuvers are part of the Partnership for Peace program, which allows former communist-bloc states to participate in NATO activities without becoming full members.
Russian President Visited Armenia
On 14-15 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Yerevan. President Putin held a number of official meetings and talks in Armenia. According to the mass media, the Russian president will meet with members of the Armenian parliament, professors and teaching staff of the State University as well as Catholicos of the Armenians. President Putin visited Azerbaijan last January. Some time ago, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan said that Russia has an objective attitude to the processes in the region.
Azerbaijani experts express different opinions regarding Putin's visit to Yerevan. Some experts are optimistic, saying that they do not believe Putin will propose economic cooperation with Armenia. Geyrat Guliev, Head of the Independent Politicians Movement, thinks that Putin's visit to Yerevan promises nothing. Armenia continues playing the role of Russian gendarme in the Caucasus. Guliev says that the document to be signed on sending Russian military experts to Armenia could prove dangerous for Azerbaijan. According to him, Russia will never concede the Caucasus and Armenia- Russian ties will strengthen in future.
New Opposition Organization Established In Azerbaijan
A new organization named The New Opposition Movement has recently been established in Azerbaijan. According to Nezirmemmed Garamanli, one of its members, the organization is against the expansion of Azerbaijan's ties with the West, and backs broadening relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as with Turkey. Garamanli says that Azerbaijan must create its national ideology and determine its internal and foreign policy in compliance with its national interests. He said it is necessary to establish cooperation with Iran and Turkey in the military sphere as well. He said Iran has no interests in entering a conflict with Azerbaijan taking into consideration its own interests.
Political scientist Vafa Guluzade thinks that unlike in past years, pro-Iranian forces have not yet become involved in serious activities in Azerbaijan in recent years. Referring to the New Opposition Movement, Vafa Guluzade said that intelligence bodies must keep under control the activity of such organizations. According to Guluzade, the establishment of a new opposition organization in Azerbaijan is impossible.
PACE Chairman Visited Azerbaijan
Lord Russell Johnston, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), paid a visit to Azerbaijan on 13-15 September. On 14 September, he met with Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev, Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, the Head of the Board of the Caucasian Moslems Allahshukur Pashazade and members of the Azerbaijani Parliament. On 15 September, Lord Russell Johnston met with Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev. In his meeting with Minister Guliev, Lord Russell Johnston expressed satisfaction with the high standard of Azerbaijan's work to comply with its CE commitments, and with democratic reforms in the country as well as protection of human rights. Referring to the peaceful regulation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, R. Johnston said he has no intention of interfering in the settlement of the conflict but hopes to contribute to the conflict resolution through the Venice Commission. Lord Russell Johnston also stressed that Nagorno Karabakh is de facto under occupation.
In the meeting at the Azerbaijan parliament, opposition deputies asked R.Johnston's opinion whether there are political prisoners in Azerbaijan or not. R. Johnston said there are no political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Lord Johnston also met with refugees and IDPs who have ocupied the unfinished administrative building of Sattarkhan machine-building plant. Ali Hasanov, Head of the State Refugee Committee, briefed Russell Johnston on the intolerable conditions in refugee camps where refugees and IDPs live.
Lord Russell Johnston also met with representatives of the Fund for Development of Democracy and Protection of Human Rights. Fund chairman Hajimurad Sadeddinov told RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service that they exchanged opinions on the state of human rights in Azerbaijan. The fund officials gave Russell Johnston a number of documents regarding the liberation of Azerbaijani captives in Armenia.
Referring to Azerbaijan's implementing its commitments to the Council of Europe, H. Sadeddinov said the shortest period for implementation of these commitments is one year and Azerbaijan has enough time till next January. According to Sadeddinov, some commitments are already being implemented. Referring to the issue of political prisoners, Sadeddinov said it is seen from the amnesty decree issued in August although few political prisoners were pardoned by that decree. Sadeddinov sid officials of PACE Monitoring Committee will visit Azerbaijan in early October, while the Monitoring Group of the CE Ministerial Committee will arrive in Baku later this year.
Azerbaijanis Comment On The Terrorist Acts On USA
The terrorist attacks on the USA on 11 September brought out strange tendencies in Azerbaijan as well. There appeared an emotional attitude to Moslems in USA and a number of Western countries and concern on the part of the population of Azerbaijan. Aydin Guliev, Secretary for Ideology of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party, says that the accusations and emotions after the terrorist attacks are understandable. Simply, the Moslem countries as well as Azerbaijan must explain that there are no religious elements behind such terror, which Azerbaijan too condemns. Guliev notes that no US official enabled the community to become against the Islamic world. According to Guliev, the government must not consider its work completed only by declaring mourning in the country and conveying condolences to foreign diplomats. It must pursue propaganda so as not to allow the country to fall under influence of foreign elements. Even minor solidarity with calls of Islamic countries would be an unforgivable mistake.
Chingiz Goyturk, Chairman of the United Azerbaijan Union, stresses that foreign pressure can be harmful. According to Goyturk, conditions in the country are such that foreign intelligence can make the local people accept any opinion. He pointed out the Islamic Republic of Iran in this context, saying that country has used Islam for its purposes for over twenty years. He said that Iran's solidarity with Armenia tells much to Azerbaijan. Exaggerating Christianity or the Moslem factor in these issues is a sign of malicious intent.
Lietenant Colonel of the reserve Ilham Ismail, a former National Security Ministry official, thinks that the events cannot be regarded without emotions. The West cannot separate Azerbaijanis from Islamic values and the Moslem countries cannot draw them to false solidarity with some Islamic countries, he said. Ismail sees no need for the mass media to exaggerate the intensification of relationships between the Islamic and the Christian world.
15 September Celebrated In Azerbaijan
On 15 September 1918, Turkish armies liberated Baku from the forces of pro-Russian "CentroKaspiy" (Central Caspian government and the capital of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic moved from Ganja to Baku.
According to Professor Musa Gasimov, the local people helped the Caucasian Islamic Army which could soon establish peace and stability in the city. Gasimov thinks that 15 September must be celebrated as a state holiday. According to historical documents, some 1100 of the soldiers who came to save Azerbaijan sacrificed their lives for this noble goal. The Turkish soldiers' graves are in the Martyrs' Alley in Baku.
At present, 15 September is celebrated as the Day of Liberation of Baku although not widely. On that day, some Azerbaijani opposition parties, state officials and Turkish Ambassador Gedri Ejvet Tezjan visited the Martyrs' Alley and laid flowers on the Turkish soldiers' graves.
Russian, Azerbaijani Presidents Discuss Response To Terrorist Threat
President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliyev discussed the coordination of efforts against international terrorism in a telephone conversation on September 17. According to the report issued by Press Service of the President's Office, they also discussed a peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Putin informed Aliyev about his talks with Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and noted the importance of continued direct dialogue between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to reach peace. Putin confirmed that Russia will support any agreement Azerbaijan and Armenia may reach. He stressed Russia's interest in ensuring peace and stability in the Caucasus and noted that this is one of the important conditions for the effective work of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Russia.
Aliyev also reassured Putin that Azerbaijan is committed to a peaceful settlement in Karabakh. Putin proposed holding the next CIS summit in Moscow on September 26. It was planned earlier that it would take place in Ashgabat. Putin explained the need to move the venue by the new situation after the terrorist acts in the United States. According to the Azerbaijani presidential press service, Aliyev agreed with the proposal, adding that it would be "expedient" to hold the CIS summit in Moscow.
PRESS REVIEWThe newspaper "Echo" writes in connection with the postponement of Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev's visit to Iran that the key reason for postponement of the visit is the terrorist acts in the USA. The newspaper writes that after the terror acts in USA, the visits of several heads of state were postponed and there is already information about those who patronize terrorists in Washington. The newspaper writes that Iran is regarded as a country backing terrorism. But Iran reduced its anti-Western rhetoric after the terror. According to the author, even if no terrorist act took place, the Azerbaijani President's visit to Iran would not have taken place because bilateral talks on the legal status of the Caspian have produced no results yet.
Elshad in his article "Russia takes possession of Armenia's military industrial complex" in the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that Yerevan, which once illegally obtained one billion dollars worth of weapons and military equipment from Russia, now gets legal support from its "big brother" and increases its military strength. Elshad writes that the creation of Armenian-Russian units began long ago. During Putin's visit, the process was skillfully introduced in legal way. According to Elshad, while America is engaged in eliminating the aftermath of the terrorist acts, Russia being the second superpower of the world has begun strengthening relationships with its allies.
An article "Terrorism is a disaster for all humanity" in the newspaper "Azerbaijan" points to dual standards regarding terror. The author writes that the West and the North think there is no Armenian terror. But in the 1970s and 1980s, members of ASALA, Gnchak and other Armenian terrorist organizations killed over 50 Turkish diplomats in the West . The West justified the massacre the Soviet army committed in Baku in January 1990. The author writes that such dual attitudes to terrorism do not contribute to resolving this problem. Not all states have the same attitude to military operations against the plotters of the terrorist act.
Sabir writes in his article "Beggars under patronage" in the pro-opposition newspaper "Hurriyyet" that beggars work according to a "schedule." He claims an army of professional beggars has been formed in the republic. There are beggars who have leased places in Baku illegally, without any documents. Sabir writes that begging is widely spread in countries with a decaying economy, corruption and bribery. The existing regime in Azerbaijan has created all conditions for existence of these factors. Sabir notes that as begging has become a profitable "job," it develops more under the patronage of certain groups.
Professor Elmira Huseinova discusses moral values in the newspaper "Khalg Gazety." She writes that there are two reasons for some Azerbaijanis becoming separated from Azerbaijanist, Turkish and Islamist principles. The first reason is the propaganda of atheism over a period of 70 years, efforts to consign Azerbaijanism to oblivion by creating the false idea of a Soviet people. The second reason is the appearance of foreign organizations in Azerbaijan after the collapse of the USSR, the arrival of different people in our country under the name of humanitarian assistance and charitable activity. According to Huseinova, foreign elements are flowing into Azerbaijan. Azerbaijanis are easily deceived by such elements, whether consciously or unconsciously, and forget that they lead to tragedy.
An article entitled "Russia hesitates" published in the newspaper "Azadlig" claims that President Putin's consultations with the Azerbaijani and Turkmen Presidents is connected with Baku and Washington's readiness to assist Washington in combating terrorists in Afghanistan. According to the author, Moscow has ruled out CIS countries' participation in USA and NATO operations against Afghanistan. But Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have nonetheless consented to assist the Americans. The author writes that although Russia has interests in eliminating terrorists, military experts in Moscow say the Kremlin will not allow USA and NATO forces to enter Central Asia. "Moscow fears that USA and NATO forces can stay in Central Asia for a long time," the article reads.
Elnur, in his article "Why does the world community indulge Armenian terrorism?" carried by the newspaper "Alternativ," writes that Armenia's acts against Azerbaijan are not limited only by military acts. Armenian terrorism is moral, cultural, political, economic and all-human terror. The author writes that thousands of Azerbaijanis live now in camps and it means that the Azerbaijan people is sentenced to moral terror. Elnur stresses that just as Ben Laden is persona non grata for the USA and Israel, Zori Balayan and Robert Kocharyan are to the same degree terrorists for the Azerbaijan people and state. According to Elnur, a favorable moment has arrived to demonstrate Armenian terror to the world and to prove Azerbaijan's fair position. If the USA, NATO and other military political blocs want to endanger the whole Arabic and the Moslem world, then why is the Armenian terror not remembered?
The newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" reports, referring to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, that Azerbaijan can take Armenia to an international court. The reason is that every year, Armenia discharges 300 million cubic meters of wastewater in the Araz river. The wastewater then runs into the Caspian and seriously damages the flora and fauna of the sea. Georgia also discharges some 265 million cubic meters of wastewater into the Kura. The article reads that although Azerbaijan has joined the convention on pollution of Trans-border waters, no measures have been taken against Armenia and Georgia.
Tekamul (Evolution) Party Chairman Mahir Javadov, who icurrently lives in exile in Iran, told the newspaper "Tezadlar" in connection with postponement of President Aliev's visit to Iran that Azerbaijan's location in a very complicated region from geopolitical standpoint and the Caspian status issue must be taken into consideration. Azerbaijan must pursue a policy that does not contradict its neighbors' interests. Azerbaijan must also not enable its neighbors to dispose enemy forces. According to Javadov, when Aliyev comes to Iran, he will be asked why Azerbaijan has allowed the deployment of forces against Iran on its territory. According to Javadov, Aliyev will not be able to answer this question.
Rahim in the newspaper "525-ji gazet" lists two alternative explanations for the postponement of President Aliev's visit to Iran. The first is the situation in the USA after the terrorist attacks on that country and the second focuses on possible US attacks on the terrorist bases in the Middle and Near East. Maharram Zulfugarli, a member of the Azerbaijan National Independence Party, said that Azerbaijan is an independent state and it must build its foreign interests on the basis of its own interests not those of some other country.
(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)