Books on Azerbaijan
Update No: 307- (27/07/06)
It is a great mistake for the world to ignore future
conflicts. The huge irony is that potential aggressors, for whatever reason,
usually declare their hand beforehand and are then ignored. One just has to
think of Hitler. He made it as plain as day what he intended - but nobody
Azerbaijan's Aliyev Says Karabakh Talks 'Hopeless'
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has described the efforts of international
mediators to resolve Azerbaijan's dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh as
"hopeless," RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service reported.
Aliyev made the comment during a graduation ceremony of cadets in Baku at
Azerbaijan's supreme military academy.
He said Azerbaijan was ready only to negotiate the restoration of its
sovereignty over the disputed Armenian-majority enclave.
The failure of international mediation, the Azerbaijani leader said, was forcing
him to change policy. He said Azerbaijan would retake Nagorno-Karabakh by
whatever means it takes.
Aliyev warned Armenia that he would use Azerbaijan's rapidly expanding oil
wealth to strengthen the armed forces.
This is rather obviously a moment when Western leaders should take note - but
will they? It should be notted that Russia has historically seen itself as
The launch of the BTC oil pipeline
The opening of the Baku, Tbilisi, Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline from Central Asia in
mid-July is certainly a major event.
The world's second longest oil pipeline, inaugurated on 13 July, is running
through dangerous and conflict-ridden territory in Central Asia and the
Caucasus. Security was always going to be a key concern.
The stakes are sizeable. Stretching 1,760 kilometres, with eight pumping
stations and 101 block valves, BTC is the second longest pipeline in the world.
The US$4 billion project, completed a year later than originally expected, is
projected to have a daily capacity of 1 million barrels.
The BTC runs through difficult and dangerous territory. Not only does the route
pass through forbidding mountains and remote locales, including over 14 seismic
faults, but it runs dangerously close to the region's frozen conflicts and
hotspots: Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, the North Caucasus, Abkhazia,
Armenian enclaves in southern Georgia and the restive Kurdish regions of
The wider Caucasian region has experienced an episode of sabotage as recently as
January, when suspicious explosions in North Ossetia cut off gas and electricity
supplies to Georgia. The pipeline also faces threats on the local level. Despite
reimbursement and reinstatement of the land from the British Petroleum-led BTC
consortium, locals staged frequent blockages during construction, and illegal
tapping attempts were found even before oil began to flow in May 2005.
Faced with a host of potential threats, the BTC consortium has implemented
stringent security measures. While there is substantial, tell-tale
infrastructure above ground, such as block valves, the pipeline itself is buried
at least a meter underground along virtually the entire route. Once the land
above is reinstated, the pipeline right-of-way should look the way it did before
construction, making it difficult for potential saboteurs to find its exact
location. Large, above-ground structures, such as pump stations, have elaborate
security measures, from concrete blast walls to closed-circuit cameras and armed
These measures may look impressive on paper, but their effectiveness is
questionable. A three-week research trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan by one
observer found that the rush to finish laying the pipeline had often resulted in
security systems that were either not well thought out or badly implemented.
In one instance, a pump station had been surrounded by security cameras, but the
flood lights supposed to complement them had been installed behind the cameras,
negating their purpose. Blast walls, although able to prevent truck bombs, are
useless against much more likely mortar or grenade attacks. Two layers of
reinforced gates are useful to protect the entrance to the facility, but only if
they are kept closed. In many cases, local staff flouts security procedures for
the sake of expediency. British Petroleum (BP) security personnel have had to
begin the re-installation of security measures after the pipeline's completion.
The pipeline route is also extensively monitored and patrolled. Sensors along
the entire length allow for any disruptions to be immediately spotted on a
constantly monitored digital map of the pipeline. In addition, a joint agreement
between the BTC consortium and the Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish governments
facilitates patrolling arrangements.
Azerbaijan has not signed a similar bilateral security agreement with BP to the
company's one with Georgia, but talks are continuing. Turkey has not indicated
that it is interested in such an agreement, preferring to let its armed forces
handle pipeline security.
Long hailed for its geopolitical significance, the BTC pipeline is likely to
take on additional prominence in 2007 when Kazakhstan begins transporting 3
million tons of oil a year via the conduit.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili at the launch discussed with Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan the prospect of buying an additional 2
billion cubic meters of gas from the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline "at
reduced prices," the Azerbaijani news agency Trend reported.
The following article is of great interest, both for its content and the
forthright views expressed by its authors, two brave dissidents, one of them in
Washington, but with family in Azerbaijan, and the other in Baku:-
Opposition poet's arrest raises media concerns
Shahin Abbasov and Khadija Ismailova
Journalists and human rights activists argue that the recent arrest of a
satirical poet for heroin possession is connected with political attacks against
The authorities state that Sakit Zakhidov, known by his pen name, Mirza Sakit, a
regular contributor to the pro-opposition newspaper Azadlig (Freedom), was
arrested on June 23 for carrying and selling 10 grams of heroin.
Zakhidov's colleagues and supporters, however, dismiss the charges as unfounded,
noting that they came just three days after a panel discussion on media freedom
organized by the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP). At the discussion, YAP
Executive Secretary Ali Akhmedov and Bakhtiyar Sadigov, editor of the
parliament-owned official Azerbaijan newspaper, had urged the government to take
measures against Mirza Sakit. "No government official or parliament member
has avoided his slanders. Someone should put an end to it," Akhmedov said
that the governing party had previously applied to the Press Council with a
complaint about newspapers' publication of Zakhidov's poems, according to news
Sakit Zakhidov's poems, laced with curse words, are written in the 19th century
"hajv" style, popular in the poet's native region of Shamakhy in
central Azerbaijan. Hajv couples strong criticism with rough language, and
follows the structure of Arabic "eruz" poetry.
One of Zakhidov's poems, "What If We Didn't Have Him?" is about the
personality cult surrounding the late President Heidar Aliyev. The poems' sharp
satire, however, could easily be interpreted as slanderous and a target for
lawsuit, commented Rauf Mirgadirov, an analyst for the pro-opposition Zerkalo
newspaper, in a recent column.
Some journalists argue that politics prompted Zakhidov's arrest and have signed
a petition to President Ilham Aliyev, Heidar's son, for his release. "It is
a political order … He was in opposition, he used to target his criticism at
people [in government] and he was very successful at what he was doing,"
commented Mehman Aliyev, director of Turan News Agency, an independent news
outlet sympathetic to the opposition. "That is why they [the authorities]
made up a fake drug case."
According to Emin Huseynov, head of the Committee for Protection of Mirza
Sakit's Rights, the poet's lawyers have not been given any evidence related to
the case, or given access to the video shot by police during Zakhidov's arrest.
"It is almost a month since Mirza Sakit was arrested and there are no
investigative actions," Huseynov said. "I call the investigator every
week and they still have not finished the analysis of the 'powder' [found on
Zakhidov] and [his] drug addiction test. For almost a week he has not seen his
In a June 20 meeting with Huseynov and several human rights activists, Interior
Minister Ramil Usubov refused to release Zakhidov from pre-trial detention, but
stated that the investigation would be conducted objectively and would be
completed shortly, a statement released by Huseynov's committee reports.
In a July 17 interview with the news site Day.az, Haji Efendiyev, the state
investigator for Zakhirov's case, stated that the investigation is nearing
completion. Examination of the powder allegedly found on the writer confirmed
that it was heroin, Efendiyev added.
Zakhidov's associates are unlikely to accept the findings. Little separates the
drug case against Zakhidov and the unsolved 2005 murder of editor and outspoken
government critic Elmar Huseynov, agued Rushana Huseynova, Huseynov's widow, at
a July 17 ceremony to mark her late husband's birthday. "It is just the
beginning, not the end. Since we did not make them accountable for one death,
there will be more," said Huseynova, whose newspapers, Bakinskiye Vedomosti
and Baki Bulvari, also published Zakhidov's poems.
In recent months, journalists working for Azadlig and other Baku-based
opposition publications have been the targets of violent attacks by unknown
assailants. In late May, Bakhaddin Khaziyev, the editor-in-chief of Bizim Yol,
was abducted and brutally beaten. The attack followed a similar incident in
March involving Azadlig reporter Fikret Huseinli, who was cut with a knife and
beaten after receiving threats related to his articles on bribe-taking and
criminal activities involving government officials and influential
A six-month review of media conditions recently released by the Ruh Committee
for the Protection of Journalists' Rights, a local non-governmental
organization, reported that at least one serious attack against journalists
occurs each month in Azerbaijan. Investigators have yet to find the perpetrators
of the attacks against Khaziyev and Huseinli.
Controversy also surrounds Zakhidov's health. Vugar Hasayev, the poet's lawyer,
told Turan on July 15 that the writer has developed strong chest pains and
shortness of breath. Zakhidov reportedly told Hasayev that he is being kept in
an overcrowded and stuffy prison cell that has damaged his health.
Efendiyev, the government investigator, dismissed reports about the poet's
declining health, telling Day.az that the writer had "never been taken to
the hospital because he never had health problems."
Both international and domestic human rights organizations, however, have
expressed concern over Zakhidov's arrest, as well as at a string of recent
attacks on Azerbaijani journalists, with some arguing that the writer is a
prisoner of conscience. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has
called on the government to release Zakhidov and to examine how police conducted
their investigation. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has
called on the Azerbaijani government to allow an independent investigation of
the case, while the American embassy to Baku has stated that it will be
following Zakhidov's case closely. Amnesty International has also expressed
concern, noting that in the past 18 months, "violent attacks, intimidation
and arbitrary arrests of opposition journalists have sharply increased in
Journalists sympathetic to Zakhidov have set July 22, Print Journalism Day, as
the deadline by which they hope the poet will be released. Calls have also been
made for the government to show progress in its investigations into the death of
Elmar Huseynov, and the attacks on Bakhaddin Haziyev and Fikret Huseinli.
SOCAR to attract credit to develop Shah Deniz
Azeri state oil company SOCAR plans to attract a credit to finance its share in
the project to develop the Shah Deniz field, SOCAR vice president for Investment
and Marketing Eduard Nasirov said on June29th, Interfax News Agency reported.
"The funds are being attracted to refuse a credit from the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development of 170 million Euro, granted to finance the
SOCAR share. We can attract a credit with better terms," Nasirov said.
He said talks are currently underway with a number of international financial
institutions and commercial banks. SOCAR has already received a credit of 750
million at LIBOR+1.75 per cent from a syndicate of Western banks to finance its
share in the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli project. SOCAR and the EBRD signed a credit
agreement in London on December 14, 2004. Of the total credit of 170 million
Euro, 110 Euro was to be used to finance the SOCAR share in the development of
the Shah Deniz field, and 60 million Euro - on building the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum
Shah Deniz holds an estimated 625 billion cubic metres of gas and 101 million
tonnes of condensate. Phase one development involves the production of 178
billion cubic metres of gas and 34 million tonnes of condensate. Production
under Phase one will peak at 8.4 billion cubic metres of gas and two million
tonnes of condensate a year. Production will increase to 16 billion cubic metres
a year in the later stages of the project.
Phase one also includes the construction of the 690-kilometres Baku - Tbilisi -Erzurum
pipeline - 442 kilometres of it in Azerbaijan and 248 kilometres in Georgia.
Turkey has ordered 6.3 billion cubic metres of gas per year, Azerbaijan up to
1.5 billion cubic metres annually and Georgia up to 0.8 billion cubic metres
annually of the Phase 1 gas. Participants in the Shah Deniz project are SOCAR -
10 per cent, BP - 25.5 per cent, Statoil - 25.5 per cent, TotalFinaElf - 10 per
cent, LUKoil Overseas Shah Deniz - 10 per cent, NICO - 10 per cent and TPAO -
nine per cent.
Baku to sell Georgia more gas at world prices
Azerbaijan intends to sell additional gas to Georgia at world prices,
Azerbaijani Industry and Energy Minister, Natik Aliyev, said recently.
"It's hard to talk about prices right now because we import gas from
Russia. We don't yet know how much the price of gas will be for us next year. So
it wouldn't be natural to buy gas at a higher price and sell it for less,"
Aliyev said, Interfax News Agency reported.
He said Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz field would produce around one billion cubic
metres of gas this year. "Azerbaijan plans to buy most of this itself, but
we'll can set some aside for Georgia if the possibility arises. The price of
that gas would depend on prices on the world markets. It would differ greatly
from the special price, which is US$55," Aliyev said.
Aliyev said Azerbaijan did not intend to re-export gas supplied by Russia to
Georgia. "The gas that Azerbaijan buys from Russia will not be sold to
Georgia as we buy it for our own needs," he said. Georgian Prime Minister
Zurab Noghaideli discussed buying additional gas to be transported via the
Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline with the Azerbaijani government in Baku on July
5th. Azerbaijan intends to start exporting gas via the pipeline in September.
According to a signed agreement between the two governments, Georgia will get
five percent of the gas transited via the pipeline and be entitled to buy
another five percent at a discounted price of US$55 per 1,000 cubic metres. The
price will increase by up to 1.5 per cent annually. In 2007-2008, the first
years of the pipeline's operation, Georgia will be able to receive just 200-250
million cubic metres of gas per year, rising to 300 million cubic metres and 800
million cubic metres in 2011, when the pipeline is operating at full capacity.
Oil, gas production to double in 2007
Azerbaijan is to double gas production to 11 billion cubic metres in 2007, Azeri
Industry and Energy Minister, Natik Aliyev, said at the 13th Caspian Oil and
Gas-2006 conference, Interfax News Agency reported.
"In 2005 production of gas in the country amounted to 5.7 bcm, this year we
plan to produce 7.3 billion cubic metres and in 2007 - 11 billion cubic metres.
We primarily expect the growth in production to come from the start of operation
of the large Shah Deniz gas condensate field," Aliyev said. He said this
would allow Azerbaijan to export its gas. "We have major ambitions
regarding supplies of gas not only to Azerbaijan, but also to export it first of
all to Turkey, and then to Europe. Thanks to the development of the Shah Deniz
field Azerbaijan will strengthen its energy security and for the first time in
its history will become an exporter of gas," Aliyev said. The minister said
that in 2007 oil production in the country would also be doubled. "In 2005
Azerbaijan produced 22.2 million tonnes of oil, which is a record for the past
64 years. This year oil production will reach 30.5 million tonnes, in 2007 - 47
million tonnes and in 2008 will exceed 50 million tonnes. Growth in production
is primarily due to the development of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field,"
MINERALS & METALS
Azerbaijan, Rusal to continue smelter construction talks
Azerbaijan's Economic Development Ministry and Russia's Rusal will continue
to discuss the construction of an aluminium smelter in the second half of June,
Economic Development Minister, Heydar Babayev, said at a press conference,
Interfax News Agency reported.
"We're in permanent contact with representatives of the Russian company and
we've invited them back to Baku after June 15 to continue the talks,"
Babayev said the smelter's location and the availability of electricity supplies
were being discussed right now. He said the smelter might be built in Ganja, 330
km west of Baku. "The Russian company is also interested in building a
gas-fired power station for the smelter," he said.