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Azerbaijan Report: November 13, 2001

13 November 2001
Opposition Demands Azerbaijani President's Resignation
The Azerbaijan Democratic Party staged an action of protest on 10 November to demand President Heydar Aliev's resignation. That demand once was on the agenda but it has been abandoned recently. It is not certain yet whether the demand will be long-term and the opposition parties will actively support it.

Musavat party secretary Arif Hajiyev thinks that Heydar Aliyev seized power without gaining votes and that his resignation therefore remains on the agenda. The Musavat party regards it as normal that the ADP has raised the issue. But Hajiyev doubts whether the opposition parties will take serious steps in the near future to renew their demand.

Mirmahmud Mirelioglu, Chairman of the classical wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, also voiced the same opinion, claiming that the opposition is now engaged in fighting for copyright of some idea. Mirelioglu, who is the leader of the supporters of Azerbaijan's late president Abulfaz Elchibey, stresses that if opposition forces take serious steps with regard to the issue then his party will also join it. According to Fettayev, they intend to launch a real fight against the government in the near future.

Ali Kerimov, Chairman of the reformist wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, thinks that it is necessary to take serious steps even before the new elections and the opposition must join forces to this end. According to Kerimov, the opposition must conduct serious work in society for it to achieve positive results, if it gains any. Kerimov says that only after that new elections can be held.

Maharram Zulfugarly, Deputy chairman of the Azerbaijan National Liberation Party, says the issue was brought on to the agenda after the presidential elections of 1998. According to him, the ADP has not raised a new issue by urgently demanding the president's resignation.

Vahdat party chairman Tahir Kerimli also recalled the document the parties signed after the presidential elections. He said they accepted positively ADP's demand for Aliev's resignation, but before demanding Aliev's resignation they must apologize to the people for creating conditions that enabled Armenians to occupy Azerbaijan's lands and Aliyev to seize power. According to Kerimli, the opposition needs to unite in order to force Aliyev to resign.

(Babek Bekir and Maarif Chingizoglu)

Does The Azerbaijani Constitution Work?
Constitution Day was celebrated in Azerbaijan on 12 November. Azerbaijan's Constitution was approved by a referendum held on 12 November 1995 simultaneously with the parliamentary elections. RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service asked government and opposition officials whether any out of the 158 provisions of the constitution has been violated so far. Sulheddin Akbar, deputy chairman of the Musavat party says that the Constitution is not remembered in Azerbaijan at present. According to Akbar, many provisions of the Constitution have been violated and it would take much time to list them. Akbar says that the Azerbaijani president does not abide by the authorities the Constitution has granted to him. One of Azerbaijan's main problems is that some 20 percent of its territories has been occupied. But the problem has not been resolved. Under the constitution, the president is obliged to resolve all the country's problems, but President Aliyev has not settled Azerbaijan's problems during his eight year rule. According to Akbar, Azerbaijan's main problem now is that it lacks legitimate power.

Mubariz Gurbanli from the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party claims that no provision of the Azerbaijani Constitution has been violated since it was adopted. Gurbanli does not rule out that separate provisions of the Constitution are violated in places, but these cases are rare. As for a serious violation of most of the Constitution's provisions, Gurbanli rejects that possibility as absurd.

Lawyer Isakhan Ashurov says that Article 109 of the Azerbaijani Constitution, which enumerates the Azerbaijani president's authorities, is seriously implemented by municipal authorities. Ashurov says that most articles of the constitution are violated.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Azerbaijan Democratic Party Staged Action Of Protest
Azerbaijan Democratic Party ideology secretary Aydin Guliev opened the action of protest the party staged on 10 November in front of the Galaba (Victory) Cinema in Baku expressing confidence that all these actions of protest will become a turning point in the ADP's gaining an absolute victory over Heydar Aliev's rule. Guliev stressed that there were more people in the action than in earlier ones and evaluated it as the development of struggle in the country. Supreme Council Chairman Nureddin Memmedli referred to the future tasks of the party using quite clear and brief slogans. According to him, the ADP's key goal is to come to power in the near future, using regular mass actions of protest to this end.

The party's youth organization chairman Jeyhun Ismailov made explicit accusations in his speech. Addressing his contemporaries, he said that we live in the 21st century and there should not be slaves in the 21st century.

The Geyret (Honor) Party Chairman Ashraf Mehdiyev spoke to the meeting referring to the Karabakh conflict. According to Mehdiyev, when speaking of the conflict, we should not think of not only our occupied lands but also the hundreds of thousands of people living in miserable conditions on those lands. Mehdiyev also referred to the repeal of allowances beginning 1 January 2002. He said that the government which has embezzled the healthy people's wealth now lays claim to the share of the vulnerable part of the society.

The meeting adopted a resolution which included quite strict accusations. It was pointed out in the resolution that none of the ADP's demands regarding Karabakh, political prisoners and social conditions has been met so far. Because of this, they have no other way than to demand Heydar Aliev's resignation. It was stressed in the conclusion of the resolution that the ADP intends to continue mass actions of protest together with the people in order to have these demands implemented.

(Babek Bekir)

Azerbaijan's Religious Leader Appealed To The Presidents Of The U.S., Russia And Azerbaijan On Afghanistan
A meeting of the all-Caucasian religious leaders was held in Baku last week. Sheykhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade, Head of the Religious Board of the Caucasian Moslems, adopted an appeal to the Russian President Putin, U.S. President Bush and the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with a request to halt the anti-terror strikes in Afghanistan on the eve of the Moslems' sacred Ramadan holiday. Allahshukur Pashazade told media representatives that Ramadan is one of the sacred holidays of Moslems and it is twice as reprehensible to bomb Moslems who ask god for happiness during that holiday.

Expert on religion Neriman Gasimoglu says that it would be better to halt the operations on the eve of the holiday. Gasimoglu says that there are many historical precedents for halting military operations on the eve of this holiday. According to Gasimoglu, as the U.S. is not a Moslem country, it is impossible that it can respect Ramadan and the operations will hardly be halted.

Lawyer Chingiz Ganizade thinks that the U.S. should regard the operations carefully. Referring to the positive attitude to the anti-terror operations, the lawyer says that hundreds of peaceful people die under the name of combating terrorism. According to Ganizade, taking into consideration some moments, one can say that the operations have been directed not against Talibs but the whole Afghan people.

Both stated that even though the military operations are not halted, the conflict will not become a Moslem-Christian confrontation.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

First World Congress Of Azerbaijanis Ended Its Work In Baku
The first World Congress of Azerbaijanis was held in Baku on 9-10 November. The congress discussed the rights and freedoms of Azerbaijanis living abroad as well as the role of the Azerbaijani Diaspora in propagating Azerbaijan's foreign policy. Congress participants made a proposal that special publications should be prepared in order to deliver the Azerbaijani truth to the world community, to provide international organizations with precise information about the Armenian aggression of the recent years and the Azerbaijani lands which have been occupied by Armenians for the past two centuries. There was also made a proposal that it would be expedient if the Azerbaijanis living abroad organized pickets in front of the international organizations and joined in one federation.

Azerbaijan's Minister for Culture Polad Bulbuloglu delivered a speech to the congress stressing the urgency of strengthening ties with UNESCO, regularly holding the Days of Azerbaijani Culture in foreign countries where Azerbaijanis are densely populated.

The congress confirmed the Coordination Council of the World Azerbaijanis. In the conclusion, the Baku forum of the World Azerbaijanis adopted an appeal to the world Azerbaijanis and the Azerbaijani President regarding the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Why Didn't Opposition Parties Take Part In First World Congress Of Azerbaijanis?
The opposition parties did not take part in the first World Congress of the Azerbaijanis held in Baku. It is interesting to know whether the opposition parties were not invited to the event or they did not wish to take part in it. Arif Hajiyev, Deputy Chairman of the Musavat party says that they were invited to the congress but they did not take pert in it, as it was contradictory to their traditions.

Azerbaijan Democrat Party Secretary General Serdar Jelaloglu says that the presidential office told them to come and collect their invitations. But they could not take part in the congress as they had much work to do in connection with the ADP meeting held on 10 November. According to Jelaloglu, the government's reproaching the opposition for not participating in the congress carries no sense for them.

Mirmahmud Fettayev, head of the classical wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, says that he was invited and elected a representative to the congress but he could not attend it for purely technical reasons. According to Fettayev, they agreed then not to take part in the congress, and sent a letter of congratulation.

Nazim Imanov, deputy chairman of the Azerbaijan National Liberation Party says they were not invited to the congress. According to Imanov, it is a negative case that ANLP was not invited to such an event. Imanov says that a country trying to bring together the world Azerbaijanis should first of all unite the political organizations in the country.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Elshad Pashasoy in an interview with the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" refers to the Musavat leader Isa Gambar's proposals for resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Recalling Isa Gambar's proposal to launch a government-opposition dialogue on Nagorno Karabakh, the author thinks that the Nagorno Karabakh issue is the only one that can bring together both camps. But it seems that the government has reacted negatively to the proposals. According to Pashasoy, it is surprising that the opposition members have not reacted to the proposals either, ans indicates that earlier opposition statements that "we are ready to join for all-national issues" were only promises. Pashasoy writes in the conclusion that the Armenian side will use these cases for its own ends. He says that if even one organization fears such discussions, it is a large figure.

Zahid in an article carried by the newspaper "525" comments that the world's Azerbaijanis have gathered together at last after prolonged discussions and conflicts. Now it is necessary to skillfully use this center of force for Azerbaijan's unification. First of all, it is necessary to have internal unity to this end. But the supporters of different ideas in Azerbaijan carry out different work in order to achieve their goals. According to the author, if personal interests are not given up and all the people do not join for one goal, then it is not right to expect anything from this congress.

Ali Rza in an article "Ilham Aliev's political type" published by the newspaper "Azadlig" provides clarification whether there are peculiarities distinguishing the successor from his father. The author writes that nobody has seen the fruits of the intellectual activity of the members of Ilham Aliev's team, for instance, AZAL Company President Jahangir Asgarov or the Taxes Minister Fazil Mammadov. Aliev's team includes many people of this type. Therefore it is not right to think that Ilham Aliyev will form a team differing from his father's. Moreover, the text of Ilham Aliev's speeches made during his visits to Azerbaijan's regions are reminiscent of his father's. The father and his son's speeches mainly include accusations directed at the opposition, false statements about the happy life of the population at large and forecasts that the occupied lands will be returned in the very near future. Moreover, Ilham Aliyev speaks so when he is not a political leader. The author thinks that it is not right to describe Ilham Aliyev as a new type of politician.

Subhan Ismailli writes in the newspaper "Hurriyyet" that everybody except for the opposition regards with irony the expression "X-day" (Aliev's demise), which has already become a political concept. The information about the deterioration in President Aliev's health has reached the level where it impactd the country's policy. Many people assumed that Heydar Aliyev was sitting calmly and expecting the day they waited for. But it is not so. Heydar Aliyev tries to take new political steps. The opposition that has become inert and the electorate whose confidence has been broken are not able to hinder this process.

Rahib Kazimli in an article "Massive decay" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party's preparations for its next congress signal new changes. According to the author, those who prepare the successor plan know very well that there is no alternative to Ilham Aliyev either in the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party or the mass media. Simply, introducing somebody as a rival to Ilham Aliyev means deceiving the society into believing that he has a rival. But society does not yet accept information which is at variance with reality. Because everybody knows that YAP will collapse when the present ruling team eparts the political scene.

Zohrab Ismail in an article "Our constitution" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that the government-in-office violates all the provisions of the Azerbaijan Constitution.These breaches of the constitution have increased since 1998. The author claims that Heydar Aliev's leadership has intensified attacks on the press and the provision on freedom of elections has been violated more than once. According to the author, comparable breaches and falsification have not been encountered even in the African jungles. As for the freedom of economic initiative and economic activity envisaged by the constitution, Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalibov alone has demolished over 30.000 kiosks and shops and violated the right of over 30.000 people. The author recalls that Azerbaijan celebrated the Day of Constitution. But the government officials celebrating this day deserve no congratulation.

Director of the Harvard University Caspian Studies Program Brenda Shaffer in an interview with the newspaper "525" noted that after the Key West talks, the hopes for a resolution of the problem have increased in the region. But nothing took place contradictory to expectations. According to Shaffer, the Armenians in Armenia know that Azerbaijan is an unsuccessful state. at the same time, it is not right to increase the military mood among the population. The situation in the world signals that the conflict will be settled fairly sooner or later.

Boyukagha Aghayev writes in the newspaper "Azadlig" that the first World congress of Azerbaijanis in Baku can be called the first congress of the world YAP members. The author writes that Heydar Aliev's being applauded continuously, nobody's recognizing the state anthem when it was played, was reminiscent of YAP sessions. The noise of the women who were sweeping the streets on the day the congress opened, the beggars' covering hastily the holes in streets made one feel shy.

Rustam in an article carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" comments on the Turkish President Sezer's Turkey- Azerbaijan-Georgia anti-terror agreement. The author writes that after Sezer's visits to Georgia, Tajikistan and Pakistan, the conclusion can be drawn that on the eve of anti-terror operations, Turkey is the only country to control the Caucasian region. Therefore Turkey's activity in the region increases from day to day. Because of this, the signing of a Turkey- Azerbaijan- Georgia anti-terror agreement is being discussed now. Ankara's becoming active in the region suggests that Turkey's position will be taken into consideration in the operations in Afghanistan.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)