Books on Azerbaijan
Update No: 320 - (31/08/07)
Is War brewing?
There are belligerent noises out of Azerbaijan - and how.
It is clear that the president of the country is a chip off the old block - he
seems to be busting for a war forthwith, with Armenia. That at least is the
impression that is coming out of this Caspian state
Heydar Aliyev fought a popular war with the Armenians in the early 1990s, which,
however, he lost. The Armenians however, were helped militarily by Russia.
Unlike his father, Ilham Aliyev is the full recipient of a bounty of oil money.
In his father's day many of the oil revenues proceeded to Moscow, not to Baku.
Now they come homewards, in other words to him, family, and friends.
He has a grudge - so do the Azeris. The Armenians are occupying 20% of their
terrain. He has an obvious response.
Azerbaijani President: Azerbaijan Prepared to Liberate Occupied Lands Any
The Azerbaijani army is strengthening day and by day and is prepared to liberate
its lands occupied by the Armenian armed forces, Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev said on 23th August in a public meeting in Hajigabul District of
The conflict between the two countries of South Caucasus began in 1988 due to
territorial claims by Armenia against Azerbaijan. Armenia has occupied 20% of
the Azerbaijani land including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven
surrounding Districts. Since 1992, these territories have been under the
occupation of the Armenian Forces. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a
ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-chairs of
the OSCE Minsk Group (Russia, France and USA) are currently holding peaceful
"We take every measure to increase the military efficiency of our
Army," the President said. Defence expenditure increases in Azerbaijan and
currently the military budget of the country is equal to the public budget
alone, of Armenia. "At present it is impossible to imagine someone
attacking Azerbaijan," Aliyev stressed.
The head of state once more stated the position of Azerbaijan, which is keen on
a peaceable resolution of the Armenian -Azerbaijani conflict.
Hajigabul with the population of 63,000 people is located 113km from Baku. On
his arrival, the President participated in a ceremony by laying the first brick
for the Children's Medical Centre. Nearly 23,000 children live in the district.
According to the propaganda the centre will be supplied with modern equipment,
which will be unique in the district. The construction will be complete within a
year. Sounds good but this is one of the most corrupt nations on earth, so on
matters of 'good works,' it is advisable not to 'hold your breath.'
Ilham Aliyev's visit to the region of Azerbaijan began on the morning of 23
August. In Neftchala district, the President visited several social facilities
within the district.
There is another factor, however, that of Iran and the US.
US President George W Bush's nemesis, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
paid an official visit to neighbouring Azerbaijan on August 21, in a move that
some political pundits see as Tehran's effort to counter US influence in the
Following talks with Ahmadinejad in Baku, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was
quoted as saying, that energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Iran can
contribute to regional security. Both Baku and Tehran are considering the EU-backed
Nabucco project, which if completed will increase gas exports to Europe. The
Nabucco project is not only planned to export Azerbaijani gas, but it may also
include Central Asian, Iranian and Egyptian gas as well. "We support the
idea of the Nabucco project. The intention of other countries to participate in
this project is only in favour for this project. Iran is a country rich in oil
and gas," an Azeri diplomat told New Europe on August 23. He said the
participation of Iran in Nabucco would help the EU diversify its energy
Washington does not want Iran or Russia to become involved in Nabucco or any
other project for that matter that carries Caspian hydrocarbons to Europe.
"Understandably, the United States wants to alienate Iran and ostracise
Russia," Manouchehr Takin, senior analyst at the Centre for Global Energy
Studies in London, told New Europe on August 22, adding that Moscow is regaining
its influence over the former Soviet States. "This is a mini Cold War...
The United States wants to make sure these countries -- Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan,
Turkmenistan -- use the East-West corridor to Turkey, the Black Sea and to
Europe, and avoid Iran and the pipelines of the Russians.
"During Ahmadinejad's visit to Baku, Azerbaijan and Iran also agreed to
meet at a summit in Tehran in October with other Caspian states -- Russia,
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - to break the impasse over the division of access
to the sea's resources. The Azeri diplomat downplayed the connotations of
Ahmadinejad's visit, noting that Azerbaijan has close diplomatic and trade
relations with Iran, with which it shares strong historical and religious ties.
Northern Iran is also home to upwards of 16 million ethnic Azeris, according to
varying estimates, easily outnumbering the eight million in Azerbaijan itself.
"The visit of Mr Ahmadinejad is a bilateral visit to discuss bilateral
issues to develop our relations. I don't see any grounds to Azerbaijani and
Iranian relations from the point of third countries," the diplomat said.
"If Azerbaijan and Iran were not neighbours, there would be grounds for
some speculation. "But Baku is also a key US ally in the strategic Caucasus
region wedged between Iran and Russia. Oppenheimer & Co. energy analyst
Fadel Gheit told New Europe on August 22 it is unlikely that the Azeri
government would tinker with the projects in which foreign companies, especially
BP, are involved since they are working to their advantage. "I'm not sure
if Iran can actually impact decisions made by the Azeri government," Gheit
said. "Turkey is a different case because Turkey is trying to walk a very
tight rope. Turkey obviously needs oil and gas; it is an expanding economy so
they will cut a deal (with Iran) separately," he said, adding that Ankara
wants to reduce its reliance on Russia. Turkey has strengthened energy ties with
Iran in recent months, despite protests from the US. Turkey signed a deal with
Iran to import an annual three-six billion kilowatt hours of electricity from
the Islamic republic, Turkey Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said on August 20,
fresh from a trip to Iran. In July, Turkey signed a preliminary deal to use Iran
as a transit route for Turkmen gas. The deal would also allow the country to
develop Iran's South Pars gas field to transport gas to Europe. Meanwhile,
Azerbaijan's main priority is to export its hydrocarbons to Europe. Azerbaijan
plans to sign direct contracts to supply Azeri gas from Phase-2 of the massive
Shah Deniz field. Part of Phase-1 gas is sold to Turkey on the Georgian-Turkish
border. During Phase-2, exports will increase further, and Azerbaijan wants to
sell this gas to Europe itself, without any intermediaries. "Turkey will
not be able to buy all the gas. That is why Azerbaijan is also interested in
direct negotiations with Europe (including Greece and Italy)," the Azeri
diplomat said, "For us, the closest and the best market is Europe, which
has huge needs and is interested in our natural resources."