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Azerbaijan Report: October 9, 2001

9 October 2001
Afghan Refugees May Arrive In Azerbaijan
The chilling results of the terrorist acts in the U.S. are now felt in all of the Near Eastern countries as well as Azerbaijan. According to Elchin Guliev, Commander-in-Chief of the Azerbaijan border armies, the refugees from Afghanistan have gathered on the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Guliev said Azerbaijan's relevant structures are trying to prevent them from entering Azerbaijan. Afghans first started to settle in Baku over twenty years ago. In the early 1980s, Afghans mainly came to Baku to study. But in recent years, a great number of Afghans have come to Baku by different channels. According to non-official sources, the number of Afghan families in Baku is over sixty.

Khaleddin Ibrahimli, Head of the Caucasian Researches Center, said in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service that the arrival of the Afghan refugees will create problems for Azerbaijan and the neighboring countries even though Afghanistan is far from Azerbaijan, because Iran will play the role of transit country and will not allow the Afghan refugees to remain in its territory, but try to send them to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan must strengthen its borders with Iran. The border service with Iran must be especially vigilant, particularly in checking persons who come from Afghanistan.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azerbaijani Parliament Met In Tuesday Session
During the Tuesday session of the Azerbaijan parliament, deputies expressed their positions on the U.S. anti-terror strikes in Afghanistan. They once more condemned terrorism, expressing their support for combatting terrorism and the U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

The deputies then discussed the activity of media outlets. They expressed dissatisfaction that some media outlets abuse democracy and insult members of the government. They suggested making changes to the Law on the Mass Media.

The session also discussed the 10th anniversary of Azerbaijan's state independence to be celebrated on 18 October. Deputies proposed that the discussing the possibility of pardoning a group of prisoners.

Other issues on the agenda were the bill on the status of Azerbaijanis living abroad and dual citizenship.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Will Isgandar Hamidov Be Tried Again?
One of Azerbaijan�s commitments to the Council of Europe is to reconsider the case of three political prisoners: former Minister of Internal Affairs Isgandar Hamidov, former Defense Minister Rahim Gaziev, and Alikram Humbatov who in 1993 declared the independent Talysh Mughan Republic in southern Azerbaijan. Gulamhusein Aliev, a member of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said that Hamidov will soon face a new trial, but did not disclose his sources.

Yaver Husein, Hamidov�s lawyer, confirmed that prediction. He said he does not believe that the court will take be fair, bitis simply intended to satisfy the international community and naturally, the verdict will not be changed.

According to lawyer Saida Gojamanli, she has a letter sent by the Council of Europe to Azerbaijan�s law-defense organizations confirming the Azerbaijani government's consent to try Hamidov again. She said there is no need to try Hamidov again, and that he should be released from jail.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Azerbaijanis Deported From Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan is facing the danger of a new mass of refugees. Media have recently spread alarming news about the deportation of Azerbaijanis from Turkmenistan. The 6 October issue of the newspaper �Azadlig� claimed that the ferry �Nakhchivan� is bringing the first group of Azerbaijanis deported from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry explains the expulsions in terms of the visa regime between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Some Azerbaijanis who have lived and worked in Turkmenistan for decades are not affected by the visa regime. Reporters of RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service visited the Baku Port on 6 October and confirmed that a ferry which entered the port that morning carried some refugee Azerbaijanis. But police officials in the port were surprised by the correspondents' questions claiming that over the last five years, all ships arriving from Turkmenistan have brought some refugees.

The problem was raised in the Azerbaijani press some two years ago, when Azerbaijanis returning to Azerbajan claimed that the attitude towards them has changed in Turkmenistan.

Ilham Ismail, a Lieutenant Colonel of the reserve, thinks that it should not regarded as a conflict between peoples. Ismail claims that the presidents of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan do not have good relations and this fact has resulted in such dangerous developments According to Ismail, the Azerbaijani side bears great responsibility because it suffers from the conflict. Ilham Ismail thinks that Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev has always made concessions towards foreign countries and he must find a common language with Turkmenistan as well.

(Babek Bekir)

Journalists Protest Pressure On Azerbaijani Press
The committee for protection of press has decided to stage a meeting on 13 October in Baku. The committee met on 6 October and prepared a warning letter to the Baku municipal authorities. All the major opposition parties signed the letter expressing their wish to stage a meeting on 13 October under the slogan for protection of the freedom of expression. According to Leyla Yunus, Head of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, they continue meeting with foreign ambassadors to Azerbaijan. Yunus said the committee met last week with the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and England and informed them of the problems the Azerbaijani press is faced with. The committee will meet next week with the ambassadors of the U.S. and Germany.

Yunus said most influential world organizations have expressed concern about the danger for press in Azerbaijan. She said the Norway-based committee for freedom of expression has also spread statement of protest. Besides, during the discussion of U.S. relations with the OSCE, the Chairman of the Helsinki Commission and U.S. senator gave information about journalists arrested in Azerbaijan and newspapers which have been shut down.

(Natig Zeynalov)

Zahid Safaroglu, in an article "Act of Revenge or Anti-terror Operation?" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that the more the number of victims becomes, the more chances the terrorists will have to justify their actions and influence Moslems' consciousness. Then the operations must target the Talibs' stations and financial sources, as well as communication systems. As to the information war, the author writes that the coalition members led by the U.S. have major telecommunication opportunities. According to Safaroglu, the factor will cause the success of the military factor. The main force of the Talibs and Osama bin Laden is that they misuse the Islamic factor.

Faig Novruzov, in his article "A War the end of which is not seen or known" carried by the newspaper "Hurriyyet," writes that the U.S. goals in the anti-terror strikes are not known. According to Novruzov, as the concrete goal is not known, the operation planned to revenge on terrorists will become a U.S.-Afghan war. Referring to the discrepancy between the military potential of the U.S. and Afghanistan, the author writes that Afghans can gain success only in land operations.

Vafadar, in his article "The U.S. towards Central Asia, Russia towards Southern Caucasus" carried by the newspaper "Alternativ," writes that the U.S. wants to achieve its goal by political means, but Russia by military means. After the developments in Central Asia and Southern Caucasus, the author assumes that there is an impression that the U.S. and Russia are competing with each other in this region. The author claims that the U.S. wants to neutralize the terrorist number one of the world, Osama bin Laden, while Russia is trying to solve the Chechen problem and take control of Azerbaijan and Georgia, the South Caucasian republics which pursue a pro-Western policy. The Russians are countering the well- thought operation plan of the U.S. with a ruinous policy. The author notes in conclusion that U.S. success in the region would seriously weaken Russia.

Rasim Aghayev writes in the newspaper "Ekho" that the U.S., Pakistan, Iran and almost the whole Moslem world helped the Afghan patriots in the war with the Soviet army. But now, the Talibs are encircled on all the sides. The author writes that special purpose groups have always been used in combatting terrorists and anti-terrorist centers have been established to this end. According to Aghayev, the U.S. strikes aim at not arresting Bin Laden but diverting attention from him.

Zahid, in an article "There will not be World War III" in the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that it is absurd that those who cannot unite the Arabic world, will succeed in uniting the Islamic world. The author writes that there are no political-military factors of global significance or ideological terms for commencement of World War 3 because there are not two centers of force openly opposed to each other. He writes that if all the states determining the world policy are represented in the anti-terror coalition to a different extent, then how can we speak of a world war?

Colonel Adil Hagverdiyev, who fought in the Soviet army in Afghanistan, noted in an interview with the newspaper "525" that the war in Afghanistan will last for a minimum of six months. Hagverdiyev says that the mountainous territory makes an armed conflict there problematic. Hagverdiyev says that Afghans have underground shelters on the border with China, Herat, Kandahar and two more living stations and those shelters have conditions for a man to survive for 1-2 years. Hagverdiyev says that if land forces are not deployed, it will not be possible for the U.S. to gain a victory. The colonel notes that once, Iran, Russia, Great Britain even the U.S. helped the Talibs.

Vagif Jelaloglu, in an article "Terror yesterday and today" carried by the newspaper "Hurriyyet," refers to the terrorist acts that took place in Azerbaijan. The article covers the terrorist acts against Azerbaijanis committed by Dashnaksutyun in 1890, by the Armenian Secret Liberation Army, ASALA in 1975, by the Armenian Union in 1988, by avengers of the Armenian genocide in 1973, by the Armenian Liberation Movement in 1991, by the Armenian Liberation Front in 1979, by the Young Armenian Union in 1990, and a number of other terrorist organizations of Armenia at different times. The author notes that it is necessary to attract the international community's attention to these terrorist acts.

The newspaper "Khalg" (People) carries an article about Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev's tour of the streets of Baku. The article points out that the President met with representatives of different social groups and showed concerned about their problems. The president also had dinner with ordinary citizens in the cafe "Portofino". Then a woman claiming to be a refugee from the Zangilan district came up to the president in one of the nearby streets, told him about her problems and asked the President to settle them. The newspaper writes that the president's spending a rest day in the streets of Baku shows that the president tries to get acquainted with the people's problems and to settle them on the spot.

Azer Hesret in an article "Those who don't love Azerbaijan" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes about officials' attacks on journalists and citizens in general. Recalling officials' taking to court any person, the author writes that presidential administration officials make courts take rulings under the methods by which the president governs the country. Hesret claims that maybe officials and judges want to give the impression that Azerbaijan is a democratic country. The author writes that if the process continues, nobody will be spared.

"Ekho" carries an interview with Mahir Javadov, former Prosecutor of the Khatai district, who has established the Party of Evolution in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Javadov notes that his party has no contacts with Talibs. He thinks that it would be better if more democratic forces came to power in Afghanistan and settled people's problems. Javadov notes that when developments not in compliance with the U.S. interests take place, the superpowers intensify interests. But the superpowers must not forget others. He says favorable conditions have appeared for Azerbaijan to demand its rights.

An article "Gojayev's case in trial" carried by the newspaper "Alternativ" notes that a new sitting of the court will be held for Nizami Gojayev, former head of the investigation department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who has been sentenced to 10 years in jail. The paper writes that Gojayev appealed to the Supreme Court on 4 September. Supreme Curt judge Mammadov has been instructed to examine the appeal.

Azerbaijan's former Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov, in an interview with the newspaper "525," stated that the U.S. air strikes will not give the expected results, and that positive results can be achieved through deploying ground forces. Zulfugarov notes that it is high time to speak about the urgency of a balanced policy and to at the state levelraise the problem of Armenia's pursuing a terrorist policy.

Gulu Kengerly, correspondent of the newspaper "Azerbaijan" in Tashkent, has determined Uzbek President Islam Kerimov's position, as outlined at a press conference, regarding the developments in Afghanistan. Kerimov stated that Uzbekistan has given consent to the U.S. air forces to use its territory and to hold mutual exchange of information between the security bodies of the two countries. He said he will not allow the U.S. to launch land strikes against Afghanistan from Uzbekistan's territory. Kerimov says that it is in compliance with the international norms and Uzbekistan's interests.

Azerbaijan's former state advisor Vafa Guluzadeh, in an interview with Zabil Mugabiloglu, a correspondent of the newspaper "525," noted that the 11 September acts were a challenge to the U.S. Therefore the U.S. will observe and punish the terrorists till the end. Guluzade claims that the U.S. can change the type of strikes in a week. He hopes that the conflict will not turn into a religious one, noting that certain work must be done for the conflict not to become a Moslem-Christian war.

Rauf Mirgadirov writes in the newspaper "Zerkalo" that the war against the Talibs will last for some years. He writes that in the present conditions, Uzbekistan must consider the U.S. the stronghold for itself. He believes that if the Talibs conduct a conflict on the territory of Tajikistan, Russia will intervene. The U.S. will be the main stronghold for Uzbekistan. Pointing out the worst conditions in which Pakistan is, the author writes that General Perviz Musharraf must work in a number of directions at the same time. It is necessary to contain aggressive forces in the country, create conditions for military operations and ensure security for the people. Mirgadirov thinks that launching land operations in Afghanistan can result in social problems and great losses in the U.S. The author writes that Afghanistan has never faced direct war and partisan war can begin in a certain period of time.

Namig in an article "The Hesitating Parliament" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that the Azerbaijani parliament has not expressed its position regarding the U.S. anti-terror strikes. According to the author, Samad Seidov, Chairman of the parliament's standing commission on international relations, explained the delay by "some parliament members' desire to talk a lot." The author claims that the current position of the parliament has been co-ordinated with the Azerbaijani President. Heydar Aliyev issued a statement in support of the anti-terror coalition on the one hand and recommends the parliament not to hurry on the other. Namig writes that such an action of the president may be part of the balanced policy which he "loves".

Former Secretary of State Lale Shovkat Hajiyeva, in an interview with the newspaper "Zerkalo," accuses government officials of bribery, claiming that the officials are not satisfied with it and embezzle humanitarian assistance brought from abroad. Lale Shovkat notes that the terrorist acts in the U.S. are the result of the loss of an individual's confidence in the society. According to Shovkat, the same process, that is a man's isolation from society, is taking place in Azerbaijan as well and we can expect its results at any moment.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)