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Azerbaijan Report: November 23, 2001

23 November 2001
Azerbaijani Youth Support U.S. Antiterror Campaign
An event in support of the U.S. antiterror operations in Afghanistan was held on 22 November in the Azerbaijani Youth Democratic Development Human Rights Resource Center. In opening remarks, Center head Matlab Salahov said that combating terrorism is one of the problems making the world think after the 11 September terror acts, pointing out the Azerbaijani youth's support for fighting terror without religious introduction. Salahov noted that they will establish a new committee which will include political figures, media representatives, and artists of the republic. Salahov said that by such a step they want to contribute to the international antiterror campaign.

The executive director of the resource center, Mehdi Mehdiev, said that he positively evaluates this step of the youth. Pointing to the 11 September terror acts, Mehdiev said that terrorists do not give preference to anybody while committing crimes. According to him, it is impossible for those who kill people under the veil of religion to call themselves human beings. Mehdiev said that the resource center is included in the committee, and they will undertake technical issues and inform foreign embassies in this regard.

In her remarks, Sheyda Nasibli, head of the Independent Journalists Research Center, stated that terror is a problem for the whole world. She said different countries have suffered from terrorism up to now, but their antiterror campaign did not yield any results. But the U.S. antiterror campaign enabled almost all countries to join this process.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Refugees Protest Abolition Of Allowances
The abolition of allowances will supposedly not refer to refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). It is possible to make this conclusion from Chairman of the State Refugee Committee Ali Hasanov's recent statement. Hasanov said that IDPs will not suffer from this decision of the parliament. According to him, President Aliyev has given a special task to this end. Gabil Abilov, in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, said the mechanism for execution of the issue is not ready yet. But one can conclude from his information that refugees and IDPs will be given preference in this regard. According to Abilov, the government can transfer a certain amount to the committee accounts instead of the abolished compensations. But it is doubtful whether the refugees will be satisfied with the sum.

A refugee from Azerbaijan's occupied Kalbajar district, Chingiz Aliev, said that the refugees from his district plan a protest action in the near future. According to him, they intend to stage actions in front of the hostel they have inhabited or the parliament building. Aliyev stressed that they are displeased with the compensations paid instead of the allowances. He says they can give up the idea of protest actions provided that the allowances are maintained.

(Babek Bekir)

Russia And Armenia Strengthen Military Cooperation
On 21 November, the Russian State Duma ratified the Armenian-Russian contract "On joint use of military force for ensuring mutual security." Under the contract, Russia and Armenia will form joint military units under one command in order to prevent any foreign aggression. When the document was under discussion in the Duma, the Russian deputy defense minister called on Duma members to vote for the contract, saying that Armenia was the only ally to Russia in the Caucasus. The contract term is five years, but the sides can extend it if necessary. The contract was signed by the Armenian and Russian presidents in September 2000 and the Armenian parliament ratified it in February.

Commenting on the issue, military expert Azad Isazade said that the contract's aim is maintaining Russia's hegemony in the Caucasus but it is also directed against Turkey and Azerbaijan. Isazade says that Russia fears that Azerbaijan, which pursues independent policy in the Southern Caucasus, can become more powerful but this is not in compliance with Russia's interests. According to him, even when there was not such an agreement, Russia illegally sold $1 billion in weapons to Armenia and should Azerbaijan launch military operations against Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia will continue its illegal assistance to Armenia.

Azerbaijan Social Democratic Party Co-chair Zardusht Alizadeh says the contract is not directed against Azerbaijan from a legal standpoint. According to him, by taking such a step, Russia strengthens its position in Armenia. According to Alizadeh, by taking such a step, Russia wants to be reinforced in Armenia.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

International Organizations Dissatisfied With The OSCE's Activity
The Council of Europe and the European Union on 20 November signed a joint communique which expressed dissatisfaction with the OSCE's activity for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijani political scientists consider this as understandable. According to them, Azerbaijan is located in Europe and the existing conflict affects European stability negatively. The conflict also hinders the realization of several economic projects. Parliament member Mubariz Gurbanli, in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, said that Azerbaijan and Armenia are members of the Council of Europe and these countries undertook commitments to increase efforts for resolution of the conflict when they entered the structure.

According to Caucasian Research Center head Khaleddin Ibrahimli, the dissatisfaction of the international structures which signed the communique is not for Azerbaijan's rights to be the priority in the resolution of the conflict, but they want settlement of the conflict as a whole. According to Ibrahimli, those organizations want stable peace in the Southern Caucasus. Ibrahimli says that if the issue is put to discussion in the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to be held in December, then the results to be obtained will positively impact the co-chairs' activity. Ibrahimli said that there are some proposals that the OSCE Minsk group should not handle the problem but it is an absolutely wrong opinion, because there is nobody else who knows the details of the issue as well as the Minsk group co-chairs do. Ibrahimli noted in conclusion that there is global work in the world for extinguishing centers of conflicts.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azerbaijani Government Abuses Opposition
Even though nothing extraordinary took place in the second congress of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party, it drew the media attention by the explicit accusations in the opposition's address. The Azerbaijani president's son Ilham Aliyev was promoted to the post of YAP first deputy chairman in the congress and in his remarks, he accused the opposition of "the activity against the state" and "obeying the pro-Armenian forces working in foreign countries." Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, who is also YAP chairman, set out tasks for his party members in his remarks. He accused the opposition of being aggressive, stating that they must be answered and revealed. Minister of Health Ali Insanov did not forget Musavat leader Isa Gambar: He called Gambar a genetic patient. The Musavat Party has brought legal proceedings against Insanov more than once for abuses of the same sort but Insanov has not come to court in any of them.

Azerbaijan Democrat Party Secretary-General Serdar Jelaloglu says that it is not right to regard the accusations as pure criticisms. According to Jelaloglu, both the men violated the Azerbaijani Constitution and called for violence. Jelaloglu says that neither the opposition nor the community will stand for the violent calls.

Azerbaijan Liberal Party Executive Chairman Avaz Teymurkhan says that the opposition is not as aggressive as Heidar Aliyev says. However, the government's attitude to the opposition and the people require it. Teymurkhan stressed that the Azerbaijani opposition will put aside loyalty in the near future, because the people demand it.

The chairman of the classical wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party thinks that it was not the second but the last congress of the YAP.

(Babek Bekir)

Parliament member Mubariz Gurbanli, deputy executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party in an interview with the newspaper "Azadlig" expressed his attitude to the accusations against the opposition expressed at his party's recent congress. He said that the statements about the opposition do not mean the commencement of some process and the government has not ordered an attack on the opposition. According to him, it is not right to state such things without getting closely acquainted with President Aliev's speech. As for the fact that some newspapers' reporters were not allowed to the congress hall, Gurbanli claimed there was insufficient space. According to Gurbanli, there is no need for any serious change in the party. As for the YAP's candidate in the next presidential elections, Gurbanli said that their candidate will be Heidar Aliev.

Azerbaijani Minister of Health Ali Insanov insulted Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar in his remarks to the second congress of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party. YAP First Deputy Chairman Ilham Aliyev accused the opposition of working for pro-Armenian forces. The newspaper "Yeni Musavat" carried an article in response to Aliev's accusations. It pointed out in the article that Minister of Health Insanov wrote a medical information booklet together with his Armenian counterpart A. Mkrtchian. The book has recently been on sale in Azerbaijan's medical centers even though the book is for free. The book includes information about medicines prepared by Armenian chemists, but there is no information about the work carried out by Azerbaijanis.

The newspaper "Azadlig" carries an interview with Azerbaijan National Liberation Party Chairman Etibar Mammadov, who thinks that the political atmosphere in Azerbaijan changed on the eve of the YAP second congress and because of this, the YAP leadership, Heidar Aliyev in particular, could not realize their plans. According to Mammadov, those in government do not recognize that it is possible to annihilate separate people and groupings, but the opposition cannot be eliminated as a whole. The attacks on the opposition can be increased after these statements but it will have counter-effects. Because it is impossible to establish one-party system in the country. The statements about Ilham Aliev's difference from his father are not right as well, because he has passed Heidar Aliyev school.

Gabil Abbasoglu, in an article "Those who have caught on history" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat," writes that an analysis of the early results of the YAP second congress shows that the government will not be able to complete its succession plan. The author writes that after being elected YAP first deputy chairman, now the issue of Ilham Aliyev becoming speaker is on the agenda. According to unofficial information from official sources, if the work progresses according to plan, then Ilham Aliyev will soon become speaker. According to the author, all the members of YAP are people caught on history. These people wish to remain in history as positive personalities. But everything can turn our differently.

Rasim Bayramov, in an article "The government's NATO fear" carried by the newspaper "Hurriyyet," writes that an unpleasant situation for Azerbaijan has formed in the region. The war on terror has stimulated hegemonic powers to build their policy on new tactics. The author claims that official Baku is somewhat concerned about the presence of the U.S. Air Force in Baku and the issue of cooperation with NATO. As there are no de facto results, the proposals can increase the neighboring states' pressure on Azerbaijan. According to the author, this is the reason why official Baku wishes to have deployment of NATO military forces in Azerbaijan in the near future.

YAP Executive Secretary Ali Ahmadov, in an interview with the newspaper "525," comments on the opinion that "YAP's lifetime in the political arena is as long as that of Heidar Aliev," noting that YAP is not a party of one or five days. Referring to the de facto removal of former Baku Mayor Rafael Allahverdiev from the YAP leadership, Ahmadov said that it is connected with the problem of Allahverdiev's health. According to Ahmadov, YAP is working around serious problems, as it is possible for some members of YAP to be offended in the formation of the YAP Political Council, but they are not expected to take any step to this end.

Heidar Oghuz in his article carried by the newspaper "Hurriyyet" writes that Azerbaijan's future will be settled in squares. Both the population at large and the intellectuals, as well as the country's politicians, suffer from the Heidar Aliyev regime. But this person has no intention of remaining under the yoke of the regime till the end. According to the author, intellectuals and politicians also have a share of responsibility for the current situation. They do not carry out their tasks to hinder the difficult situation. Azerbaijani intellectuals facing the dilemma "to be or not to be" must settle their mistakes and join the fight against the existing regime.

The newspaper "Echo" writes that the right- and left-wing opposition parties will commence protest actions for the abolition of social allowances. The Democratic Congress led by Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar, as well as the supporters of Azerbaijan's former President Ayaz Mutallibov, have expressed their final decision in this regard. Musavat Secretary Arif Hajiev told the paper that the government wants to pressure the people who are in a difficult situation and wants to extend the lifetime of the government. Sabir Hajiev, secretary-general of the Civil Unity Party led by Ayaz Mutallibov, says that the opposition can also stage a joint protest action. Sabir Hajiev stated in an interview with the newspaper "Echo" that if such an action is realized, it can have a great effect.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)