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AZERBAIJAN

 


 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 6,090 5,600 5,300 102
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 710 650 600 145
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Azerbaijan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
86,600

Population
7,830,764

Principal ethnic
groups
Azeri 90%
Russian 2.5%
Armenian 2%
Dagestani 3.2%
other 2.3

Capital
Baku

Currency
Azeri Manat

President
Ilham Aliyev
 

 

Update No: 284- (27/08/04)

Armenia facing pressure on Nagorno-Karabakh issue
Armenian President Robert Kocharian's administration appears to be facing increasing pressure to soften its stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Reports suggesting that Armenia is willing to explore the return of Azerbaijani territory seized during the Karabakh conflict, are threatening to stir domestic political trouble for Kocharian. 
Both Armenian and Azerbaijani media have reported that the United States, in seeking to break the existing stalemate in Karabakh peace talks, is pressing Armenia to agree to the return of Azerbaijani regions captured during the 1991-94 conflict.. According to the reports, Armenia is being asked to return anywhere between three and six of the seven areas seized from Azerbaijan. The only area that reportedly has not come up in discussions is Lachin, the corridor of land that connects Karabakh with Armenia proper. Kocharian has adamantly opposed giving back what Armenians describe as "liberated territories" as a precondition to a comprehensive peace settlement. 
A recent article published by the Turkish newspaper Zaman quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as saying that Yerevan was prepared to discuss the return of the territories. Gul mentioned a meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, held on the sidelines of the June 28-29 NATO summit in Istanbul, saying that the Armenian participant, Vartan Oskanian, declared: "We [Armenia] can withdraw from all territories except Karabakh." Oskanian subsequently denied making any such statement during the meeting. 
Kocharian's ambiguous comments during a June 23 session of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) helped fuel speculation about a possible deal. Kocharian stated at one point that the question of what Azerbaijani insists are "occupied lands" could have been settled long ago if Baku had implemented the so-called Key West principles, which reportedly mandated that Armenia vacate captured Azerbaijani territory. He also emphasized that any potential handover would have to be part of overall Karabakh settlement. 
"We are ready for serious negotiations on a full-scale solution to the conflict," Armenia Today reported Kocharian as telling PACE. "That is exactly why we have accepted the last formula for resolution offered by international mediators which, unfortunately, [was] rejected by Azerbaijan." 
Some Armenian observers have speculated that Kocharian may have been seeking to prepare Armenian public opinion for a policy shift on the territory handover issue. Azerbaijan has denied that any bargain was struck during the Key West peace talks in 2001. 
The speculation swirling around the Karabakh issue comes at an awkward political moment for Kocharian. Though opposition coalition protests that roiled Yerevan this spring have been suspended, Kocharian critics remain committed to a six-month boycott of the Armenian parliament. Despite the coalition's relative weaknesses, any effort to return Azerbaijani territory could potentially give the opposition an issue with which it could inflict considerable damage on Kocharian's administration. 
Kocharian is no doubt mindful of the circumstances that led to his rise to the presidency. In 1998, the willingness of then-president Levon Ter-Petrosian to embrace a gradual approach to a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement sparked a chain of events that led to his forced resignation. 
A June 25 opinion poll, carried out by the Armenian Centre for National and International Studies, underscored the risks for Kocharian. It found that only 1 percent of the 1,950 respondents polled nationwide believed that the captured territories should be returned to Azerbaijan. By contrast, 45.5 percent wanted the lands to remain under Armenian control. Another 11.2 percent called for the regions to be equally divided between Armenia and Azerbaijan, while just under a third said that they should be made part of Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, only 2.5 percent of the survey's respondents expressed trust in the Armenian authorities to resolve the Karabakh stalemate. 
Meanwhile, there are signs coming out of Azerbaijan that Baku's Karabakh negotiating position is hardening. In July 16 talks with the OSCE Minsk Group, which oversees the Karabakh peace process, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Defense Minister Safar Abiyev maintained that Armenia must meet four 1993 UN resolutions that call for the country's unconditional withdrawal from land outside of Karabakh. During a public appearance July 20, Aliyev vowed that Azerbaijan "would liberate its occupied territories at any cost," the Turan news agency reported. 
The Minsk Group's US, French and Russian co-chairmen -- Steven Mann, Henri Jacolin and Yuri Merzlyakov -- cautioned that the two countries' failure to compromise could lead to a resumption of hostilities over Karabakh. Concerns about a renewed outbreak of fighting have risen in recent weeks. 

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Azeri leader, Greek tourism minister discuss cooperation

Prospects for cooperation in the field of tourism between Azerbaijan and Greece were discussed at a meeting between Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, and Greek Minister of Tourism, Dhimitrios Avramopoulos, on August18th. Aliyev noted the need to develop bilateral relations, in particular, in the field of tourism, Trend News Agency reported.
The minister said that Greek tourist companies were interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan. He said that the World Tourism Organization, on whose board Greece sits, also attached great importance to Azerbaijan.

Azeri leader, Greek pipeline construction company official discuss cooperation

Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, who was visiting Athens, received Najib Khoury, group vice-president (business development) of the Consolidated Contractors International Company of Greece (CCIC [Greek contractor in charge of the construction of the Azerbaijani section of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline]) on August16th, Assa-Irada reported.
According to information from the presidential press service, Khoury noted that all the conditions had been created in Azerbaijan for proper work and informed the president about the work the company had recently conducted in the country.
President Aliyev said that the government would continue rendering assistance to foreign companies and businessmen working in Azerbaijan. 
They exchanged views on issues related to the development of infrastructure in the oil sector.

Azerbaijan, Iran sign cooperation agreements

Ten agreements on cooperation between Azerbaijan and Iran in various spheres were signed in Baku on August 5th, Interfax News Agency reported 
An Interfax correspondent reported that Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, and Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, took part in the signing. 
The agreements include a deal on Iran presenting a US$75m credit to construct four substations for the Imisli-Ali-Bayramli-Astara power line, as well as an agreement on cooperation in the sphere of exchanging natural gas.
The sides signed a memorandum of mutual understanding between the two countries' ecology agencies, and an agreement on cultural cooperation, a protocol on cooperation in the transport sphere and a memorandum on the financing of the Baku-Astara road's reconstruction.
A memorandum on trade in regions near the border, an intergovernmental trade agreement and an intergovernmental agreement in the spheres of security and law-enforcement have also been signed. 

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FOREIGN LOANS & AID

Iran allocates US$75m loan for energy projects in southern Azerbaijan

The Export Development Bank of Iran has allocated a US$75m credit for the construction of the Imisli - Ali Bayramli - Astara [towns in Azerbaijan] power line and four substations, Bilik Dunyasi News Agency reported. 
Experts reckon that it will take between 20 to 24 months to complete the project. It is expected that in line with the Azerbaijani legislation Azarenerji [Azerbaijani energy] will soon hold a tender to determine the main subcontractor for the project. The tender's results will be known in September or October.
In the course of recent years, the Azarenerji joint-stock company has implemented a number of projects in tandem with its Iranian partners in order to increase the quality and reliability of electricity transmission. For instance, the project on increasing the technical capabilities for energy exchange between Iran and Azerbaijan from 200 to 700 MW requires fundamental reconstruction - which is equivalent to construction - of three major substations. These include a 330-kV substation in Imisli, a 330-kV substation in Ali Bayramli, and a 220-kV substation in Masalli, and the construction of a brand new powerful 220-kV substation in Salyan. 
This significant power grid construction will virtually double Iran's electricity supplies to the NAR [Naxcivan Autonomous Republic, Azerbaijan's exclave]. Some of the electricity transmitted in summer through these high-voltage power lines may be used in Azerbaijan during winter. That is, electricity supplies to Azerbaijan's southern districts, where some two million people live, will be improved.

Aliyev confirms deal with EBRD

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has confirmed a credit agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which will extend €41m for overhauling the Kazi-Magomed-Kyurdamir highway, the presidential administration as said on August 2nd, Interfax News Agency reported. 
Azerbaijan has been an EBRD member since 1992. The bank has extended the country a credit totalling more than €141m. The EBRD plans to allocate €350m in credits for Azerbaijan in 2004.

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TRANSPORT

Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey sign memo on railway construction

The Turkish, Azerbaijani and Georgian transport ministers signed a memorandum of intentions on the construction of the Kars - Akhalkalaki section of the Kars - Akhalkalaki - Baku railway recently in Ankara, Assa-Irada reported.
Azerbaijani Transport Minister, Ziya Mammadov, has said that the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki section will help establish a permanent railway link between Turkey and Azerbaijan through Georgia. He added that the sides would prepare a feasibility study of the railway in the near future and seek funds for the project that will cost about US$400m.
Of the 120-km-long Kars-Akhalkalaki railway, 90 km will pass through Turkey and 30 km through Georgia.

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