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Azerbaijan Weekly Update

Politics

AZERBAIJANI ELECTIONS FAIL INTERNATIONAL TEST (Article compiled from Agence France Presse reports) Elections in Azerbaijan pin up casino on January 7, 2001, failed to meet international standards despite government efforts to improve supervision, a neutral observer reported. Electors returned to vote in a partial poll in 11 of the country’s constituencies because of vote rigging in the November elections. “The…elections were better regulated than those of last November 5,” said Paul Kokkonen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). “But the poll did not meet international norms,” she commented. The new vote was widely seen as playing a key role in deciding whether the oil-rich ex-Soviet republic would be accepted as a member of the Council of Europe. The poll was a partial follow-up to a full parliamentary election in November. Results in the 11 disputed constituencies were declared invalid because of what the OSCE described as vote rigging, ballot stuffing and official intimidation. Thousands demonstrated in the ex-Soviet republic’s capital Baku after the November 5 election, demanding the resignation of President Heydar Aliyev. The OSCE official said the January 7, 2001, ballot had occurred “in an atmosphere of suspicion, with some opposition parties preferring to boycott the poll.” The Council of Europe invited Azerbaijan to become a member last November, but asked it first to deal with electoral fraud before membership could be confirmed. Some 200 OSCE observers monitored the vote.

1ST DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS CONDUCTS STRUCTURAL CHANGES (Article compiled from ANS News service) January 19, 2001 Structural changes have been made in the 1st Democratic Congress (DC). The changes were approved at the recent meeting of the DC’s Council of Chairmen. Musavat leader Isa Gambar was elected chairman of the 11-member DC governing body. Three members each will represent the Musavat and Popular Front (AXCP) Parties in the DC’s governing body, while other parties will have one representative each. Mirmahmud Fattayev will chair the DC’s Mejlis (Assembly). Also, AXCP and Musavat will have 14 general representatives each and other parties will have eight. Ogtay Gasimov will perform the duties of DC Secretary.

Geopolitics

AZERBAIJAN PLANS TO HOST NATO EXERCISES (Article compiled from BBC reports) January 17, 2001 Azerbaijan says that later this year it plans to host multi-national military exercises within NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. The partnership program is a military cooperation arrangement between NATO and the former Communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The announcement of the plan to hold the exercises came during a visit to Azerbaijan by NATO’s Secretary-General, George Robertson. At a meeting with the Azeri Defense Minister, Saphar Abiyev, Mr. Robertson said that military reform was very important for all NATO’s allies. He has also said that stability in the volatile Caucasus region was important for the security of NATO.

AZERI PRESIDENT ALIYEV TO VISIT TEHRAN (Article compiled from Agence France-Presse reports) January 18, 2001 Azeri President Heydar Aliyev will visit Tehran to strengthen political and economic ties between the two countries before Iran’s presidential election in June, Azeri Ambassador to Tehran Abbasali Hasanov said. He added, however, that the official visit, which had been planned for months, would take place later than initially expected. Iran has been holding talks with the rest of the Caspian countries – – Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan — to decide on a new legal status for the oil-rich land-locked sea and the sharing of its resources. Iran wants unanimity on any new status that would modify the current Soviet- Iranian accords. Asked about relations between Baku and Israel, Hasanov retorted that no Azeri official had ever gone on a visit to Israel and implicitly criticized Iran for having relations with Armenia. “Why does Iran have relations with Armenia, which occupies 20 percent of our territory (Nagorno-Karabakh), expelled one million Azeris and is not Muslim?” he said.

RUSSIA’S TOP SECURITY OFFICIAL VISITS BAKU (Article compiled from ANS News reports) January 22, 2001 The Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF) Sergei Ivanov held a three-hour-long meeting with Azeri President Heydar Aliyev in Baku. After the meeting, the Russian diplomat returned to Moscow right away. Despite the closed character of the meeting, it was announced to reporters that Azeri-Russian relations and the means of broadening them were discussed.

AZERBAIJAN EASES ITS WAY TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBERSHIP (Article compiled from ANS News service reports) January 22, 2001 January 25, 2001, is the date set by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for the ceremony marking the accession of Azerbaijan and Armenia to the Council of Europe, bringing the pan-European Organization’s membership to 43 member states. The ceremony will take place during the Parliamentary Assembly session, in the presence of President Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan and President Robert Kocharian of Armenia and their respective foreign ministers.

Economy

BLUE STREAM PIPELINE (Article compiled from AMBO News reports) January 16, 2001 The main welding work on the Blue Stream Pipeline’s Samsun-Ankara section has been completed. As a part of the Blue Stream Project (which foresees transferring Russian natural gas to Turkey via a pipeline constructed under the Black Sea), the 501-km section to be constructed on Turkish territory will be completed by April 2001. The pipeline will be 1,200 km length in total and cost $3.4 billion.

AZERBAIJAN TO REPAY ENERGY DEBTS TO IRAN (Article compiled from RFE/RL Newsline reports) January 18, 2001 President Heydar Aliyev on 17 January signed a decree obliging the state oil company to pay off Azerbaijan’s $44.3 million debt to Iran for electricity supplied to the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxcivan. The debt will be paid in quarterly installments of $2.768 million over a period of four years. Until 1998, Azerbaijan had paid for those energy supplies with shipments of heating oil. Iran had demanded that it be repaid in two years. Iran suspended energy supplies to Naxcivan last month because of Azerbaijan’s accumulated debts.

BAKU-CEYHAN AGREEMENT OF SECRECY SIGNED (Article compiled from AMBO News reports) January 16, 2001 The selection of providers for engineering services, which is the most important part of the pre-construction stage of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, is done. Six internatinal companies, including eight international investors, who are all sponsors of the Baku-Supsa-Ceyhan project, signed a secret agreement concerning the required detailed engineering services. The engineering work is to be completed by May 2001. The pipeline will be opened for service in 2005.