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Azerbaijan Report: October 16, 2001

16 October 2001
U.S. Aircraft Overflies Baku
According to the newspaper "Azadlig," at 13:00 on 14 October, a U.S. aitforce "Hercules" aircraft appeared in Baku's air space. The aircraft flew towards Bina airport from the north of the Absheron Peninsular, low enough for persons on the ground to read with binoculars the words "US AIR FORCE" on the side of the aircraft. Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev stated immediately after the 11 September terrorist acts in the U.S. that Azerbaijan is ready to render any assistance to the U.S. But government officials avoid commenting on any concrete assistance provided. Moreover, the Azerbaijani parliament has refused to release any statement unequivocally denouncing terrorist acts and supporting the anti-terror strikes. Then what is the reason for the appearance of a U.S. aircraft in Baku's skies? According to the Ministry of Defence Press Service, they have no information about the flight of the American aircraft over Azerbaijan's territory. AZAL State Concern also refused to comment.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Missionaries Work Illegally In Azerbaijan
The illegal activity of missionaries in Azerbaijan is being confirmed. Russia's NTV-channel reported on 15 October that an Azerbaijani citizen was among the fighters killed in Georgia's Kodor gorge. That group is reported to include Chechen patriots and Georgian partisans. A Russian reporter in that district, Dmitrii Pisarenko, identified the Azerbaijani as Javid Muftizadeh, born in 1982, and formerly resident in apartment 34, building 47 in Baku's Ruzbeh street.

The deceased's mother told ANS before leaving for Abkhazia that her son used to attend the Abu-Bekr mosque in Baku. There he fell under the influence of religious propaganda by missionary groups. She also said that a group of people try to use young people to attain their goals in the mosque. ANS learned that the law-enforcement bodies have instituted criminal proceedings against Muftizadeh, he is accused of participating in an illegal armed group.

The head of the Ministry of National Security Press Service, Araz Gurbanov, told ANS that to date, the ministry has suspended the activity of a number of structures working under the veil of religion in Azerbaijan and which have contacts with terrorist organisations. The representatives of those organisations have been expelled from the country. According to A.Gurbanov, there are still some people who are under the influence of such organisations.

The Abu- Bekr mosque is financed by Kuwait's Revival organisation which has worked in Azerbaijan for a long time, but it has recently been shut down for its relations with the international terrorist Osama bin Laden.

(Babek Bekir)

Azerbaijani Journalists Visited Armenia
A group of Azerbaijani journalists recently visited Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh on the OSCE's initiative. Andzrej Kasprzik, Special Envoy of the OSCE Chairman-in-office, accompanied them. In an interview with Turan's correspondent, Kasprzik said that Armenia and Azerbaijan must settle the hard problems existing between them by civil methods.

The journalists who shared their impressions with RFE/RL's Baku bureau said that the Nagorno Karabakh leadership is concerned about the anti-terrorism mood in Azerbaijan. Armenians are inclined to peace, according to Azerbaijani journalists. Naira Melkumyan, Foreign Minister of the so-called "Nagorno Karabakh Republic" even stated in a party that the Azerbaijani people are kind, courageous and hot-tempered.

According to Ferid Gahramanli, a member of the Azerbaijani delegation, Armenians want to suggest that we should live in kind neighborhood and are eager for peace provided that they do not have to make any concessions.

Kasprzik says they highly evaluate the patient behavior of the Azerbaijani journalists at an official and non-official level.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

The newspaper "Ekho" writes that the developments in Abkhazia impose a strain on Armenian-Georgian relations. According to the newspaper, an Azerbaijani called Javid Muftizade was killed in the Abkhaz-Chechen-Georgian battles. His mother said that before going to Abkhazia, her son frequently visited the Abu-Bekr mosque in Baku and fell under the influence of missionaries' religious propaganda there. The newspaper writes that the law-enforcement bodies have brought criminal proceedings against J.Muftizadeh on charges of participating in illegal armed groups.

The author notes that Armenians complained to the Azerbaijani journalists who recently visited Yerevan that the Georgians have no intention of contributing to resolving the issue, and that some parliament deputies aggravate the situation. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian in an interview with the newspaper "Ekho" said that Azerbaijan is also interested in stabilisation of situation in Georgia as much as Armenia is. When in Tiflis, the ordinary Georgian people complained that they are fed up with the Armenians' actions. The local people think that Armenians are instigating the developments at Russia's instruction.

Jabbar Jalil Baydilli in an article "What is the outcome of our independence?" carried by the newspaper "Hurriyyet" writes that the Azerbaijani president has given pleasing instructions to the members of his team in order to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Azerbaijan's independence. Referring to the fact that the president claimed ownership of mobile telephones in Azerbaijan is higher than in any other CIS country and said that is proof of Azerbaijanis' high living standards, the author writes that Heydar Aliyev is well aware of the situation in his country and that such statements are an insult to the population. The country belongs to one clan, the local people know it very well, but no one wants to undertake the responsibility and say anything harsh. The author concludes that the situation in Azerbaijan deprives Azerbaijanis of any grounds for celebrating their independence.

Boyukagha Aghayev describes in the newspaper "Azadlig" what he saw in Nagorno Karabakh. The author writes that the only opinion he heard from the Nagorno Karabakh officials, which coincided with the reality, regarded the restoration of some 60 percent of Khankendi. But according to the official information, the social-economic, as well as gas and water supply problems not only in Khankendi but the whole "Nagorno Karabakh Republic" have been settled. The author writes that the light did not go out during the two days they were in Khankendi. But local journalists said that it was not always so.

Azerbaijan's Minister for National Security Namig Abbasov told the newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" that the persons and organisations suspected of contacts with terrorists in Azerbaijan are under control. According to the minister, Azerbaijan is an open and transit country and thousands of people visit it every day. Therefore it is possible that some of those people have contacts with terrorist organisations. The minister noted that over the past seven years, dozens of foreign citizens were suspected of co-operation with terrorist organisations and expelled from Azerbaijan. The author claims that no state official can say that there is no person in his country having contacts with Khattab and Shamil Basayev. According to the minister, it is not a serious statement.

Rahim in an article entitled "The regime deployed troops for Isa Gambar" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" describes the Musavat Party leader's planned visit to Beylagan. The newspaper writes that two days ago, all the entrances to and exits from the district were closed. Army troops and military equipment were brought to Beylagan from the neighbouring districts. According to the author, all tea-rooms and social facilities have been shut down in the district centre. Because of this, the Musavat leader's visit to Beylagan was cancelled. According to the author, the soldiers then asked the head of the police department for permission to return to the military unit.

Gabil Abbasoglu in an article "Our targets" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that Azerbaijan's political circles and press continue discussing the terrorist acts in the U.S. The anti-terror strikes the U.S. has launched in Afghanistan have given Azerbaijan a chance to take steps in this direction, to make use of the existing situation and get back its lands. According to the author, Azerbaijan also has a right to conduct anti-terror operations. But the government thinks otherwise. They do not aim at settling the people's problems and strengthening the state. The key goal of the government-in-office is safeguarding the ruling clan's property.

Vusal Gasimov, in an article "Bitter economic results of political independence" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat," writes that food security is one of the main directions of economic independence. According to economic practice, if some 70 percent of people's demand for food is supplied by the domestic production, then that state's food security is ensured. The official rate is 80 percent for Azerbaijan because of the appropriate climatic conditions. The author claims that the real situation is not so. According to him, the rate is only 60 percent in Azerbaijan. Food security has become a pleasant dream as a result of the destructive policy directed at agriculture. On the eve of the tenth anniversary of Azerbaijan's independence, the number of its citizens whose salary amounts to only $1 has exceeded 80 percent. The author quotes the UNO reports that the number of people living below the poverty line is 90 percent.

Bakhtiyar Tunjay writes in the newspaper "525" that repeal of Section 907 to the Freedom Support Act which bans the U.S. governmental assistance to Azerbaijan is necessary for the U.S. as well. During the ten years of Azerbaijan's independence, efforts to have the section repealed have yielded no results. Now, certain conditions have appeared for repeal of the section. The author writes that the Azerbaijani press must also address the issue seriously. According to Tunjay, although there are both Christian and Moslem terrorist organisations, only Moslems have been targeted. It can be recognised in Azerbaijan not properly and the impresion can be created that the campaign is conducted against the Moslem world or a part of it. Failure to repeal Section 907 can be accepted as another form of pressure because Moslems make some 90 percent of the Azerbaijani people. For this reason, we must explain to the U.S. that repeal of "907" is necessary not only for Azerbaijan but also for them.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)