Books on Azerbaijan
Update No: 304- (28/04/06)
A voice in the wilderness
A digest of the Azeri press reveals a great deal of the fears and expectations
of the Azeri public. In his analysis of the internal political situation in
Azerbaijan in the Real Azerbaijan daily the well-known Azeri political expert,
Hikmet Gajizade, says: "One has to admit, with surprise and regret, that
the country's democratic potential has been highly overestimated by both local
and foreign experts since the 1990s. Many thought that democracy is as strong as
authoritarianism: democrats just have to get together behind proficient leaders
and, with the West behind them, they will be able to crush authoritarian forces.
But the reality has proved to be much sadder. The ratio of real capacity (rather
than of votes) is, to us, 1:50 to authoritarianism."
"Only last year 2005 did this fact begin to painfully get home to our
politicians and intellectuals, who used to previously show this mistake in most
of their words and tactical steps," he adds.
Gajizade believes, moreover, that "the total (real) number of members of
democratic parties in Azerbaijan is no more than 25,000, while the ruling party
has 400,000 members. Almost all budgetary employees have been enrolled into the
ruling Yeni Azerbaycan, with no special resistance shown on their part. During
the parliamentary elections 2005 each opposition candidate was opposed by 4
governmental and 8 independent candidates (which makes 1 against 12), with most
of those independent doing nothing but vowing eternal love for the regime and
cursing the democrats, but with little avail - the authorities left them all
holding the bag. I can't help being sarcastic but the preamble of Azadlyq bloc's
platform said: "In this country one can survive only by losing all of his
morality and becoming a humble creature, and sometimes this too is in
Gajizade says: "The FAR CENTRE nationwide public opinion poll 2005 has
shown that only 11% of the Azeris are worried that there is no democracy and
human rights in their country. 25% are advocates of the ruling regime and 25%
are advocates of its change - the rest are the silent majority that the
government and the opposition are each pulling to its side.
"We are still a state in transition, but our transition is not to democracy
but to monarchy. And obviously the problem is not in the Aliyevs and even not in
the Soviet heritage, but in the authoritarian traditions, unshaken by centuries,
of our western Asian society. To put it bluntly, in our country there are more
Haydar Aliyevs than Vaclav Havels.
"There has been no drastic rise in the democratic potential in the last 8
years. Even worse, they have begun to kill journalists. The core of the
democratic movement of the country is still "the generation of 1988."
No single governmental group, no single mogul, no single trade union (which are
almost inexistent) have to date shown any support for reforms, as they in
Georgia and Ukraine did. And so, opposing the efficient authoritarian and
corrupt system in the authorities and the mostly authoritarian mood in the
population are only 25,000 democratic activists (and a couple of thousands of
activists from NGOs, journalists and free intellectuals). Unfortunately, they
are growing old…"
Aliyev speaks out
In his speech at the February 17th conference on the 2nd anniversary of the
start of the State Programme on the Social-Economic Development of the Regions
(2004-2008), Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said that some 340,000 jobs have been
created since the onset of the programme.
In 2005 GDP grew by 26%, industry by 33.3%, popular incomes by 27%. "For
successful development Azerbaijan has both social-political stability and
political will. Many more people have got into business.
Some US$100m will be spent on business this year. Azerbaijan is developing
quickly, but this is not all it can." Almost 400 high schools were built in
Azerbaijan in 2005 as well as new hospitals and roads: "All this is vivid
proof that our key priorities are right. The key objective of the programme is
to eliminate unemployment and poverty in the country." AzerTag reported the
president as saying.
New opposition bloc forms
On February 17th four opposition parties of Azerbaijan - People's Front
Party (PFPA), Democratic Party (DPA), National Independence Party (NIPA) and
National Unity movement - agreed to establish a political bloc Azadlyq
(Freedom). After the signing of the agreement the leader of PFPA Ali Kerimli
said that the parties are going to jointly fight for democracy and human rights
protection in the country: "This bloc has been formed against the
government rather than any opposition party. We are aiming to change the
political regime. We do not want the opposition to think that this bloc is aimed
The leader of National Unity Lala Shovkat-Gajiyeva is sure that the bloc will be
a success. The bloc does not have any goals at the presidential election in
2008. Which of course begs the question, what then are they for?
"Wall of China" between Azerbaijan and Armenia
Echo reports that there is speculation in Azerbaijan about the possibility
of building a barrier between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The parliamentary
commissioner for defence and security Zahid Oruj opines; "Sooner or later
but we should raise a wall between Azerbaijan and Armenia to defend ourselves
from one more aggression by the malicious neighbour and not to let the Azeri
people and especially youths forget the criminal plans of Yerevan. Supporting
this project are public figures and MPs. They note that the wall will be of a
psychological rather than a defensive purpose."
Oruj says that the wall is necessary. He notes that a peace agreement may
resolve the conflict but would hardly change anything in psychology. "To
stop hatred and distrust between the nations right after they have signed the
agreement will be a hard job," warns Oruj.
He says that the Armenian aggression has been recurring throughout centuries and
each time it breaks out after a short-time friendship. "This time it will
be much harder to restore the former atmosphere of friendship," says Oruj.
This time it is necessary to reinforce distrust and vigilance by building a
graphic example - a strong wall between the nations. "It is excellent that
our society is beginning to talk about this," says Oruj. "We'll just
have to build the wall to keep fresh the memory of the hard past for our younger
generation," he says.
MP from the Hankendi (Stepanakert) electoral district Khava Mamedova commented:
"With or without the wall we are stronger than the Armenians and must
liberate our lands by any means!" she says. "This time we'll have a
short talk with the Armenians," says MP, Adalat daily editor Agil Abbas.
Today Armenia is surrounded by Turkic nations and "they will either get
wiser this time or there will be none of them here at all."
Bird flu blights the economy
Plummeting demand for chicken and eggs is hitting hard in the pockets of
Azeri businessmen, director of Shamkir agricultural firm Shamkhar Mamedov says
to Echo. He alone has 1m eggs and 50,000 chickens stored, with almost nobody
wanting them. "I can't imagine what we are going to do. People are showing
stereotyped fear for the bird flu," says Mamedov. As a result, many in the
regions are losing money and jobs. "We have no money to pay wages to our
employees, in fact, we have no jobs either since nobody wants to buy most of
what we produce," says Mamedov, noting that the authorities must urgently
put the poultry farming in order.
Meanwhile, poultry farmers are meeting to jointly find ways to solve this
problem. As soon as they decide something they will ask the government for help.
The epidemic rumours have dealt a slashing blow on chicken sales, and now
poultry farmers want to convince the people that their birds have no way to
catch the flu. The sales have been reduced, but the production cannot be since
lots of eggs have already been laid.
Bird flu monitoring is underway. Labs have found no virus among the poultry yet,
reports the deputy head of the State Veterinary Service Emin Shahbazov. At the
same time, they have found H5N1 among wild birds in Beylagan region. The
spokesman of the Health Care Ministry Semaye Mamedova says that there are no
reports of infected people. 36 men have attended hospital No 7 in recent days
but no bird flu was found in them.
February-March will be the most dangerous time since millions of wild birds will
fly from the south to the north then. Azerbaijan is one of the key transit zone,
and so the probability of bird flu in Azerbaijan is rising. Dozens of dead birds
along migration routes on the Caspian shore are a vivid proof that the situation
is very serious, says TURAN.
SOCAR to sign syndicated credit agreement
Azeri state oil company SOCAR and a syndicate of large world banks are to sign
an agreement for a syndicated credit of US$750m, State Oil Fund Executive
Director, Samir Sharifov, said, Interfax News Agency reported.
"All work on the syndicated credit has been completed, 15 banks have been
decided on. All the terms of the credit will be disclosed at the signing,"
Interfax quoted him as saying. It was reported earlier that SOCAR is to receive
a syndicated credit of US$750m at 1.75 per cent per year, which will be used to
repay debts to ExxonMobil and TPAO arising from the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli
project. BNP Paribas is the organiser of the credit. In 1994, when the ACG
contract was signed, SOCAR conceded the right to invest in the project equally
between ExxonMobill and TPAO (50 per cent of the 10 per cent share each). In
exchange these companies received SOCAR's share of the oil used to repay
investment, and also part of the profitable oil. In the intervening period
investment in the ACG project amounted to US$10bn, and investment paid by
ExxonMobil and TPAO on behalf of SOCAR amounted to US$1bn. Of this investment
about US$350m was repaid to the foreign companies with supplies of oil, and the
debt at the start of 2006 amounted to US$650m. After the completion of
procedures to receive the credit and return the debt, SOCAR will itself invest
funds and receive oil used to repay investment. This oil will be used to repay
the syndicated credit. The contract for the development of the Azeri, Chirag and
the deep water section of the Gunashli fields was signed on September 20th 1994
and came into effect on December 12th in the same year.
SOCAR oil production unchanged in Q1
Azeri state oil company SOCAR produced 2.22 million tonnes in January-March
2006, the same as in the first quarter 2005, the company said, Interfax News
SOCAR's oil and gas production department produced 1.96 million tonnes, down 0.1
per cent year-on-year, while onshore production by joint ventures and operating
companies increased 0.6 per cent to 259,000 tonnes. SOCAR oil production in
March amounted to 758,000 tonnes, of which the oil and gas production department
produced 665,400 tonnes, and joint ventures and operating companies - 92,600
tonnes. Azerbaijan has six operating companies producing gas at inland fields -
Salyan Oil Ltd (Kyursengi and Garabagly fields) Karasu Operating Company (Kyalameddin
and Mishovdag, Shirvanoil (North, Central, and South Gyurovdag), Gobustan
Operating Company (Southwest Gobustan), Binagadi Oil (Binagadi), and AzShengli (Pirsagat),
and two joint ventures - Azerbaijani-Malaysian-Turkish ANSHAD Petrol (Neftchala)
and Azerbaijani-German AzGerneft (Ramany).
Azerbaijan, Ukraine discuss economic cooperation
The Azerbaijani delegation led by the first deputy Prime Minister, Abbas Abbasov,
visited Kiev on March 8-14th to expand economic and commercial relations between
Azerbaijan and Ukraine, and to get prepared for the upcoming seventh meeting of
the Azerbaijan-Ukraine intergovernmental economic commission, said the second
secretary of the Azerbaijani embassy in Ukraine, Atesh Girkhiyev, Interfax News
The adviser to the Azerbaijani embassy in Ukraine, Sabuhi Temirov, told Interfax
that Abbasov continued bilateral meetings with Ukrainian officials in Kiev.
During his stay in Kiev, Abbasov had some bilateral meetings with Ukrainian
Prime Minister, Yury Yekhanurov, Ukrainian First Vice Prime Minister and
co-chair of the Azerbaijani-Ukrainian intergovernmental commission on economic
cooperation, Stanislav Stashevsky, and Secretary of the Ukrainian National
Security and Defence Council, Anatoly Kinakh.
Baku deems relations with Ankara important - Aliyev
Baku attaches special significance to the development of relations with Ankara,
Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, said at negotiations with his Turkish
counterpart, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, recently.
"We attach great significance to this visit. We have always deemed the
development of relations with Turkey, including regional interaction, to be of
special significance. Our countries have a very active political dialogue and
are developing economic ties and cooperation in the humanities," Aliyev
said. Energy cooperation between Baku and Ankara is of great importance to the
entire world, he said, Interfax News Agency reported.
The Turkish president pointed to a gradual increase in indicators of economic
cooperation. "Trade turnover was US$550 million in 2004 and US$795 in 2005,
and we hope it will reach US$ one billion this year," Sezer said. Turkish
businesses have invested US$2.2 billion in Azerbaijan's non-oil sector until
now, Sezer said. At the same time, the Turkish national petroleum company TPAO
intends to invest over US$4 billion in Azerbaijan's oil sector, he said.
Azerbaijan, Spain to boost trade
At a joint business forum in Baku, Confederation of Azerbaijani Entrepreneurs
(CAE) President, Alakbar Mammadov, said on March 23rd that the trade turnover
between Azerbaijan and Spain is below potential as figure reached 92 million
Euro which is 12 per cent of the overall commodities turnover in 2005, New
He noted that the trade turnover made up 1.4 million Euro in 1995 and added that
both countries are boosting relations. It was reported that 76 million Euro was
Azerbaijan's exports while the remaining 16 million Euro was earned by Spanish
imports to the country. The exports of Azerbaijan comprised oil products and
nuts while Spain exported construction materials, domestic appliances, furniture
and food to the country. The president of Spain's Decorative Lightning
Association, Marta Fabuel Esteve, noted that her country is represented at the
forum by eight companies operating in furniture production and decorative
lightning systems. Esteve pointed to opportunities for the activity of Spanish
entrepreneurs in this field in Azerbaijan and also stressed that the Azeri
construction sector is rapidly developing.