Saturday, March 25, 2006
Caspian oil to reach Ceyhan terminal in June
21 March 2006 [16:49] - Today.Az - "Pumping of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan MEP continues," AIOC's spokesman said. Moving another 75 km, the pumped oil has already passed the pumping station #2 (PST-2) in the territory of Turkey. Now, in whole, the BTC contains 6 million barrel of oil. Another 4 million barrel oil is needed to fill the remained 800 km of the pipeline, AzerTAg reports. Loading of the first tanker in Ceyhan port will take place in June, which is to be ceremonially marked.
US Ambassador Reno Harnish leaves Azerbaijan
03-25-2006 Today.AZ - US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish's completes his duties.Diplomatic sources told APA that Reno Harnish will leave Azerbaijan in April. It says that he will be appointed to a post in the US Ecology and Ministry and will be engaged in global problems as well as fight against bird flu. The new US Ambassador is expected to come to Azerbaijan in April, but his name is unknown so far. Azerbaijani Embassy in the US also confirmed the information and informed APA that Mr. Harnish was considered to return to his own country in spring months.
"Russia gives Azerbaijan and Armenia 'to the mercy' of the US" - Azeri press digest
03–23–2006 Regnum.ru – "Armenia's withdrawal from the occupied Azeri lands will improve our relations with that country," Azeri President Ilham Aliyev says Mar 15. "We want nothing extraordinary. We just want the Armenians to leave our lands. After that we will be able to live like neighbors," Aliyev says in a Mar 15 meeting with the Turkish delegates to the 2nd World Azeris Congress. (New Time) "Armenia will not be able to rival with Azerbaijan," Aliyev says at the 2nd World Azeris Congress in Baku Mar 16. He says that Azerbaijan is augmenting its military capacity annually and has a $600 mln military budget this year. "My task is to shortly make our military budget as big as the whole national budget of Armenia." "Armenia will never be able to rival with us. The sooner they realize that the better for them." Aliyev says that Azerbaijan will have to revise its participation in the Karabakh peace process if it sees that Armenia is wrecking the process by non-constructive attitude. "The peace talks have been ongoing for 12 years already, but with no result. And nobody knows for how much longer they will go on. We are for peace talks, but when we see how con-constructive and insincere Armenia is, we are losing patience. If we see that the peace process is just a fake, we will come out of it," says Aliyev. "Azerbaijan will not allow the seizure of Nagorno Karabakh in either 10 or 100 years." "Unless we agree on the return of displaced persons to their homes, we will reach no peace agreement at all," says Aliyev. (Zerkalo) Zerkalo daily reports: "Reliable diplomatic sources say that an unprecedented pressure was put on the Azeri leadership during the last visit of the US assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia to Baku. The Washington emissaries tried every means to get Ilham Aliyev to agree to the OSCE MG-proposed peace. They also urged Aliyev to agree to take part, if need be, in the US anti-Iranian coalition, otherwise, the US will use various levers of pressure: the human rights and democracy situation in Azerbaijan, especially after the last parliamentary elections, the problem of corruption in the government. "It was hardly coincidence that right after the failure in Rambouillet, the US "found" proofs that the well-known Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny continued bribing top Azeri officials after 1998. It seems that Washington has made "the Kozeny case" "a long-playing record" for playing it every time Baku tries to "defy" its plans in the region. Moreover, the same reliable diplomatic sources say that Baku will hardly get "support" from Russia, who wants to "freeze" the conflict most of all. This time, Russia has decided to give its "reliable ally," its "outpost" in the South Caucasus Armenia and its "strategic partner" Azerbaijan "to the mercy" of the US. Just one look is enough to see that Russia is actually doing that. "…The situation is not easy. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan has little inner capacity to resist the outer pressure in the Armenian-Azeri peace process. In his time Haydar Aliyev (Azeri president in 1993-2003 - REGNUM) left room for system opposition and could actively use them if offered unfavorable peace scenarios. The 'Azeri-way' parliamentary elections can become a 'Pyrrhic victory' for the Azeri elite. The point is that having crushed the opposition before, during and after the elections, the elite can hardly convince the international community now that it will not be able to cope with them if it agrees to the MG-proposed peace agreement. One can guess that this time the US may use the opposition to its own ends, but one can hardly imagine how. But one can't but notice that during his Baku visit Daniel Fried met with only one Azeri opposition leader – the baskan (leader - REGNUM) of Musavat party Isa Gambar…" The US will keep an intent eye on the May 2006 repeated parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Daniel Fried says in Baku. He says that they in the US are disappointed that the Nov 2005 parliamentary elections were not as free and fair as they expected. They urged the Azeri government to repeat voting in the districts with biggest violations. Democracy development in Azerbaijan is and will be a key goal of the US policy, says Fried and notes that a strong government should have a strong opposition. (Zerkalo) "To fight religious-extremist groups is one of the primary tasks of the Azeri special services," Azeri National Security Minister Eldar Mahmudov says in an interview to Interfax-Azerbaijan. "Now those groups are mostly engaged in terrorist activities to overthrow the present secular democratic regime and to force Azerbaijan to refuse from involvement in international anti-terror operations," says Mahmudov. "Their methods are to commit terrorist acts against vital strategic facilities, embassies, wherever foreign citizens work and live." "And to solve this problem we need not only administrative, legal or urgent measures, but also social work and instruction. The practice shows that the core of any extremist groups is basically religious young people from poor families, students majoring in theology or jobless youths. To prevent religious extremism we must timely keep Azeri youths from getting into its nets. This is a very hard job: despite our big experience and active work, we were really shocked to find out that Al-Qaeda was planning to recruit Azeri young girls as suicide bombers (shahids)," notes Mahmudov. The opposition Musavat party is planning mass actions for Apr, says the party's vice chairman Arif Gajily. They are planning rallies in the districts of repeated elections and also a republican rally in Baku. (Yeni Musavat) "The state financing of the Azeri political parties is impossible this year," says the executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party, MP Ali Ahmetov. The key reason is that the state budget has no relevant allocations. State financing is a good but also a hard thing. The public should first decide the criteria and mechanisms of such financing. "If everybody decides that the state should finance the parties, we will discuss this problem at a higher level. I hope that the Azeri authorities will soon decide that such financing is necessary and will take measures to this end," says Ahmedov. (Trend) "It is for the states themselves rather that for international organizations to ensure the transport security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline on their territories," Azeri Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov said at a news conference. He reminded the journalists of the repeated breaks of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline and noted that BTC may face the same danger. "Now that the pipe is not yet full with oil, we are not expecting such dangers, but they are still possible – not in Azerbaijan, but in the other BTC states," Sharifov said. (New Time) "A junior sergeant of the Azeri army has confessed his cooperation in captivity with the Armenian secret services," reports AzerTag. "Counter-intelligence into the case of junior sergeant of N military unit of the Azeri Defense Ministry Bekirov Ruslan Hagani Oglu, 1985, called up by the Shamkir military commissariat and held in captivity by the Armenians Feb 15-May 7 2005, has proved that he was in secret cooperation with the Armenian secret services. Misled by the Armenians, the commander of the N unit Ruslan Bekirov, together with his men Abdulayev Hayal Idris Oglu, 1986, and Tagiyev Hikmet Adem Oglu, 1983, deserted to the enemy Feb 15 2005, thereby betraying his Fatherland and causing detriment to the national security, sovereignty, territorial integrity and defense of the Azerbaijani Republic. Upon being brought back from captivity by ICRC, Bekirov admitted his cooperation with the Armenians. But counter-intelligence showed that Bekirov's first testimony was part of the Armenians' secret plan. As a result, Bekirov confessed that the Armenians persuaded him, Abdullayev and Tagiyev into secret cooperation. They met with Bekirov 7 times and, finally, got him to pledge secret cooperation on paper and video. They nicked him "Ramin" and told him how to keep contact. They promised him $3,000-4,000 for each mission. An Armenian secret agent, calling himself Rudik, told Bekirov to organize blasts on the route of the Azeri president, at BTC and in the territory of Haydar Aliyev Airport as well as to photograph various military-strategic facilities and to send the pictures to Armenia. All the above facts were proved. The Military Council of the AR Court on Grave Crimes ruled Oct 7 to imprison Bekirov and Abdullayev for 12 years - for high treason (article 274), desertion at war time or on duty (334.3), abuse of duty (338.1) and abuse of powers (341.3), while Tagiyev for 11 years - for high treason (274), desertion at war time or on duty (334.3) and abuse of duty (338.1). Mar 16 several members of the Organization for Karabakh Liberation (OKL) tried to prevent the participation of Armenian delegates in the OSCE Economic Forum preparatory conference in Baku, but were stopped by the police. 10 OKL members were arrested. In its following statement, the OKL says that by its actions the OSCE is trying to justify the "occupant" policy of Armenia, to force Azerbaijan to make it up with the enemy and to put up with the loss of its lands. The OKL qualifies the OSCE's actions as disrespect for the international law. The OIL also blames the Azeri government for allowing the Armenian delegates to come to Baku. The arrested OKL members are still in custody. (525th Daily) Iran. Diplomatic scandal In a Mar 14 Baku press-conference US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Daniel Fried said that he had discussed the problem of Iran's nuclear program with the Azeri leaders and noted that the US would discuss with Azerbaijan all its possible actions Iran. Fried said that the US did not want this to happen and hoped that the world community would convince Iran to stop its nuclear program. (525th Daily) "Whatever the further developments, we better be on the safe side of it and consider the possible outcomes of the US war against Iran. If one sunny morning we are suddenly waked up by a thunder of blowing up bombs in neighboring Iran, like it or not, but we will have to think: what to do?" says Zerkalo. "Not to get in is certainly the best way for us. But the question is if a small country like us will be able to stay 'weightless' so close from Iran. We are by far not Turkey yet to be able to keep relations with Iran and to oppose its strategic partner US in the matter. On the other hand, even if we manage to stay calm and aloof, we will have to manage the inevitable surge of Iranian refugees in our country…" Mar 17 the Iranian Embassy in Baku sent the Azeri FM a note of protest against some anti-Iranian statements made during the Mar 16 2nd World Azeris Congress. The note says: "We deeply regret to see some anti-Iranian elements taking part in the congress and strongly protest against their groundless and unfriendly statements about Iran's internal affairs. We also condemn the actions openly interfering in our domestic affairs and running counter to the internationally recognized norms and to the principles of friendly relations between two neighboring and brotherly states. This is also contrary to Azerbaijan's commitments under the agreement on friendship and cooperation signed by our former presidents in Tehran in May 2002. We are surprised to hear anti-Iranian statements during an event organized by the Azeri government as well as statements referring to the Turkmanchay Treaty and presenting Azerbaijan as a divided state." The note points out that now that Azerbaijan is facing a territorial problem itself, such statements damage its own interests and bilateral relations with Iran. "The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Baku strongly demands that the Azeri government stop such actions by anti-Iranian elements, calls for signing an agreement on friendship and asks to respect the principles of good neighborhood." (525th Daily) Azerbaijan-Armenia. Karabakh problem One cannot solve the Karabakh problem by such statements, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Daniel Fried said in Baku, while commenting on the statement of Armenian President Robert Kocharyan that Armenia will recognize Nagorno Karabakh's independence if the peace talks fail. (525th Daily) "Armenia has deployed vast loads of arms and military hardware," Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiyev said in a meeting with his Romanian counterpart Teodor Atanasiu. He said that Armenia has moved its vast arsenal to the "occupied" Azeri territories. (Trend) "They in Azerbaijan are displeased with the western scheme of the Karabakh conflict settlement," says Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "The West is actively taking over Russia's initiative in settling the frozen CIS conflicts. The German-US Marshall Fund has joined the EU and the US in this process." Recently The Washington Post published an article by Ana Palacio, the former foreign minister of Spain, and Daniel Twining, an Oxford-based consultant to the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The authors urge Europe and the US to jointly battle the "shadow empire" of Russia, who is trying to "retain political and military suzerainty over their weaker neighbors." As a counteraction the West should "require closure of the Russian bases on Armenian and Georgian territory, support Georgian calls to internationalize the Russian-dominated 'peacekeeping' force in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and offer a mini-Marshall Plan for the entire South Caucasus." The details of the plan are given in the paragraph about the Karabakh conflict. The authors say that "this barely frozen conflict threatens a hot war that would devastate the region." But "it is also the place where a breakthrough is perhaps most likely. Western governments could support a settlement there in which Armenia returned to Azerbaijan the occupied provinces surrounding the disputed territory and allowed Azerbaijani refugees to resettle there. Nagorno- Karabakh could enjoy full autonomy until its ultimate status was decided by democratic referendum at some future date." The Azeri authorities have not yet reacted to these recommendations. But the local media and most political experts strongly object to the idea of a Karabakh status referendum. Considering The Washington Post's close relations with the White House, they take the above article as the outlines of the US' Armenia-Azerbaijan reconciliation plan. "A plan Baku must not accept," says well-known Azeri political expert Rasim Musabekov. He says that "the Azeri leaders must in no way accept the idea of Karabakh status referendum." "The very acceptance of this norm will mean our renouncement of the principle of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and de facto recognition of the right of the Armenian community of Nagorno Karabakh to self-determination," Musabekov says to NG. Azeri experts say that the "new Marshall plan" is not a fantasy by retired western politicians but a joint concept by the West and the US to ensure control over the South Caucasus. It is for OSCE MG US Co-Chair Steven Mann to make this concept true. His abilities are not just hearsay in Azerbaijan: it was due to his efforts mostly that BTC is a reality. They in Baku assume that Mann may have already got the agreement of the Georgian and Armenian leaders by promising them hundreds of millions of US dollars in free Millennium Challenge assistance in exchange for their support of the new "Marshall plan." Baku experts say that this is hardly a bait for the self-sufficient Azerbaijan. At stake is Azerbaijan's territorial integrity – if Ilham Aliyev accepts the new "Marshall plan" he will lose Nagorno Karabakh. To get him to accept the plan and to agree with Robert Kocharyan one will probably need stronger arguments, says NG. In its "Armenia" section the official site of RAO UES calls Shusha – Shushi, Lachin – Kashadag, Nagorno Karabakh – Nagorno Karabakh Republic; with no Naxchivan mentioned as part of Azerbaijan in "Azerbaijan" section. In this connection, Azeri NGOs and media are going to launch a campaign against RAO UES, reports Real Azerbaijan. No Azeri soldiers will take part in any military exercises in the territory of Armenia, says the deputy spokesman of the Azeri Defense Ministry Ilgar Verdiyev. Earlier Armenian Deputy Defense Minister Artur Agabekyan said that in June 2006 Armenia will host NATO PfP Rescuer 2006 exercises. He said that attending the exercises will be representatives from 20 countries and probably from Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Azeri DM reacted by saying that this is impossible. "Armenia takes just a formal part in the NATO PfP program. They hold just one formal PfP event in a whole year," says Verdiyev and notes that even if the Azeri DM gets an official invitation to take part in any military event in Armenia, it will not accept it. (Trend)