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Political monitoring


2017 April 15 ( Saturday )  11:27:53
Print version
Русский Azərbaycan

 

Chronicle of Events

01.03.17: The visit of the Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev to Pakistan, where he took part in the XIII Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), ended.

01.03.17: The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry denied the report of the Armenian side that during the monitoring at the contact line the Azerbaijani side did not let the OSCE mission to the forefront.

01.03.17: The Sumgait Court of Appeal quashed the verdict on the journalists Ikram Rahimov and Rahman Novruzov convicted on charges of defamation.

01.03.17: Azerbaijani Armed Forces attacked the strongpoint of Armenians in the southern sector of the front (Khojavend), the press service of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported. This attack was recorded using a drone.

02.03.17: The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) should suspend Azerbaijan's membership in this structure for failing to undertake key reforms. This is stated in a letter from a coalition of 21 international organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Article 19, and others.

02.03.17: On the night of March 2, the Armenian side tried to carry out a sabotage action on the Agdere-Terter route, but it was identified and defused by fire, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry's press service reported. No other details are reported.

02.03.17: On the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the murder of Elmar Huseynov, the editor-in-chief of the Monitor magazine, a memorial action was held at his grave with the participation of representatives of the democratic public of the country.

02.03.17: At the Aghdam direction of the front, Azerbaijan's anti-aircraft defense forces shot down an Armenian drone model X-55, the press service of the Defense Ministry said.

03.03.17: The Surakhani District Court sentenced a well-known blogger, head of the Institute of Reporters’ Freedom and Safety Mehman Huseynov to 2 years imprisonment on the suit of the Nasimi district police chief Musa Musayev. The court found a slander in Huseynov's statements that on January 9 he was abducted and tortured by police officers.

03.03.17: About 900 Azerbaijani citizens are involved in terrorist groups in various regions of the world. Such data was brought by the head of the State Security Service of Azerbaijan Madat Guliyev, speaking at the conference “The role of youth in the fight against terrorism, extremism and radicalism.”

03.03.17: At the Sadarak customs checkpoint on the border with Turkey since March 3, border crossing by residents of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) was restricted. Residents of Nakhchivan were allowed to travel to Turkey only once a month in a private car. Until then, such trips were allowed once a week. Turan IA reported this from Nakhchivan.

03.03.17: The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muznieks in his Twitter micro blog condemned the verdict on the blogger Mehman Huseynov, urging the authorities to stop repressions against critical votes and release the blogger.

03.03.17: 24 international organizations sharply condemned the authorities of Azerbaijan for the last steps to suppress freedom of speech and expression in the country. Their joint statement said the verdict on Mehman Huseynov was evidence of the authorities’ reluctance to respect freedom of speech and the intention to continue repressions against critical votes.

04.03.17: The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemned the verdict of the court on imprisonment of the head of this organization and blogger Mehman Huseynov, demanding his immediate release.

04.03.17: The Prosecutor General's Office of Azerbaijan opened a criminal case on illegal economic activity in the occupied territories of the country against a number of companies from Switzerland, Bulgaria, Uruguay, Argentina, Romania and other countries, the press service of the Prosecutor General's Office said.

05.03.17: The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made an official visit to Iran. Following the results of the talks in Tehran, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Iran, Ilham Aliyev and Hassan Rouhani, signed the documents.

06.03.17: President Ilham Aliyev received the Deputy Foreign Minister of Great Britain, the head of the diplomatic service of the United Kingdom, Simon McDonald. During the meeting, issues of development of bilateral relations, including expansion of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Great Britain in the non-oil sphere in the recent years, were discussed, the official statement said.

06.03.17: Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov was on an official visit to the Russian Federation on March 6-7. The program of the visit included negotiations with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, and the Vice Speaker of the Federation Council Ilyas Umakhanov. “Armenia and Azerbaijan are far from being able to agree on several key aspects of the settlement in Karabakh,” Lavrov said after the meeting.

06.03.17: Ali Hasanov, Presidential Aide for public and political affairs, considered the arrest of the well-known blogger, Director of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) Mehman Huseynov, legitimate. “Mehman Huseynov was arrested on the basis of a specific charge and during the trial the presence of crime in his deeds was confirmed,” Hasanov said, commenting on the criticism of international organizations for the persecution of the blogger.

06.03.17: The US Department of State released its traditional annual report on the state of human rights in the countries of the world. The extensive section on Azerbaijan (29 pages) reported on the facts of serious violations of citizens’ rights and freedoms, political arrests, corruption, etc.

06.03.17: Movsum Samedov, the leader of the Islamic Party, who serves a prison sentence in Prison No 12, was put in a punishment cell for five days. The reason for this was ‘the creation of unsanitary conditions and the commissioning of prayers in the dormitory of convicts,’ the jail administration told Yalchin Imanov, the lawyer.

07.03.17: Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Press, and George Link, head of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), condemned the verdict on the Azerbaijani blogger, the head of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, Mehman Huseynov, and urged official Baku to immediately release him.

07.03.17: The European Union condemned the verdict on Mehman Huseynov. “Mehman Huseynov is known for his efforts to expose corruption in Azerbaijan. Against this background, his deprivation of freedom for two years looks absolutely disproportionate to the crime attributed to him,” the European Union stated in a message received by Turan IA.

09.03.17: Under the chairmanship of First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva, a meeting was held on housing provision for refugees and IDPs settled in hostels in Baku and Sumgait.

09.03.17: A preliminary meeting on the case of the NIDA movement activist Elghiz Gahraman convicted for 5.5 years on charges of drug trafficking on a large scale began at the Baku Appeals Court under the chairmanship of Sahibkhan Mirzoyev.

09.03.17: The observer of the Zerkalo newspaper and political analyst Rauf Mirkadyrov was granted a political refugee status in Switzerland.

09.03.17: The International Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) issued a statement on the suspension of Azerbaijan's membership because of its inability to protect civil society.

10.03.17: President Ilham Aliyev received a delegation of the French Senate headed by the leader of the French-Caucasian friendship group, Andre Richard. Then Aliyev received the State Minister of Saudi Arabia on the Gulf Issues, Tamer Al-Sabhan.

10.03.17: Following the decision of the Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to suspend Azerbaijan's membership, the head of the government delegation, Shahmar Movsumov, issued a statement on the country's withdrawal from the EITI.

10.03.17: The US Permanent Mission to the OSCE issued a statement condemning the verdict on the Azerbaijani blogger Mehman Huseynov and his torture while in the Nasimi district police.

10.03.17: The Azerbaijani Parliament adopted amendments to the law “On labor pensions,” according to which the retirement age in the country was increased for men and women up to 65 years. Till that point the retirement age was 63 years for men and 60 for women. In the early 1990s, according to the Soviet tradition, women retired at 57 and men at 60.

11.03.17: The Head of State Ilham Aliyev received the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group Stephan Visconti, Igor Popov and Richard Hoagland and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk.

11.03.17: Two citizens of Azerbaijan, suspected of preparing armed crimes, were eliminated during the special operation of the State Security Service.

11.03.17: A private soldier of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan Hasanali Abbasov was killed as a result of shooting from the Armenian side, the press service of the Defense Ministry reported. Where exactly the incident occurred was not reported.

13.03.17: The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group held a very important meeting in Baku with the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, as well as detailed discussions with Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov. This was stated at a press conference by the American co-chairman Richard Hoagland.

12.03.17: The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrived in France on an official visit. The visit was held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

12.03.17: Protest actions were held in five European cities, Düsseldorf, Mainz and Nuremberg (Germany), Laval (France) and Stockholm (Sweden), demanding the release of Mehman Huseynov, a convict in Azerbaijan.

13.03.17: The NGO Coalition on Improving Transparency in the Extractive Industries issued a statement in connection with Azerbaijan's withdrawal from the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative). The Coalition expressed regret that after the decision of the International EITI Board to suspend the activities of Azerbaijan, the Chairman of the government commission announced the country's withdrawal from the EITI.

14.03.17: The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry announced the non-recognition of the so-called parliamentary elections in Abkhazia on March 12.

14.03.17: The religious situation in Azerbaijan is stable, the head of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Mubariz Gurbanli said in an interview with the Voice of America. Azerbaijan is an island of stability. However, we also face criminal activities and identify groups associated with terrorists.

14.03.17: The editors-in-chief of the websites riminal.az, Xeberinfo.com and Azpolitika.info were summoned to the General Prosecutor's Offic and warned in connection with the spread of ‘unconfirmed and unchecked information about the suicide of a soldier,’ the prosecutor's office said.

14.03.17: The French President Francois Hollande considered the status quo in the Karabakh conflict unacceptable. “We talked about this and noted that the existing status quo is unacceptable. There are risks, and we were convinced of this in April of last year, when the incident occurred,” Hollande said at a joint news conference with Ilham Aliyev after the end of their meeting in Paris. Hollande noted the need to resume negotiations on the Karabakh settlement.

14.03.17: In Paris, after the talks between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and France, bilateral documents were signed.

16.03.17: The 5th Global Forum on the Future of International Relations: Forces and Interests opened in the capital of Azerbaijan.

16.03.17: An activist of the movement Muslim Unity Elkhan Isgandarov by the decision of the Nasimi court of Baku was arrested for three months. He was brought to criminal responsibility for the Nardaran events of 2015, his lawyer Fariz Namazly said.

16.03.17: The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on pardoning 423 convicts on March 16. Among the 412 pardoned, political prisoners were almost none.

17.03.17: The Head of State Ilham Aliyev received the Iranian Communications Minister Mahmoud Vaazi. According to the official message, during the meeting issues of the project of creating the transport corridor North-South, which should connect the transport communications of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, were discussed.

17.03.17: The Ambassador of Greece to Azerbaijan Dimitrios Tsungas was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in connection with the visit to Greece of Karen Mirzoyan, the so-called Foreign Minister of the separatist regime of Nagorno-Karabakh.

 According to the statement of the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Hikmet Hajiyev, the Greek Ambassador was informed by the Azerbaijani side about this visit, which contradicted the Memorandum of 2014 between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries, which affirmed the commitment to sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.

17.03.17: The Azerbaijani Military Court handed down a verdict on the former Commander of the Navy of Azerbaijan, Vice Admiral Shahin Sultanov. The court found him guilty under articles 313 (forgery) and 179.3.2 (large-scale appropriation) and sentenced him to 8.5 years imprisonment. However, taking into account mitigating circumstances, the court appointed this punishment conditionally with a three-year trial period. Sultanov was released from custody during the trial.

17.03.17: Zeynal Bagirzadeh, activist of the Popular Front Party, convicted in Nakhchivan, was released early.

17.03.17: President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Azerbaijani people on the Novruz holiday. The statement included special messages to the military and compatriots abroad.

20.03.17: In connection with the Novruz holiday, the leaders of the US Helsinki Commission called on the Azerbaijani government to immediately release all political prisoners remaining in prisons and fulfill their obligations to the OSCE in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

24.03.17: Ilgar Mammadov, the leader of the REAL movement, was examined by doctors of the Medical Service of the Ministry of Justice. This was announced by the Executive Secretary of REAL, Natig Jafarli. According to him, the doctors diagnosed osteochondrosis at the prisoner.

24.03.17: The Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland sent a letter to PACE President Pedro Agramunt, urging him not to postpone the issue of establishing an independent external commission to investigate the facts of corruption among PACE deputies. At the January session of the PACE, a question was raised about the bribery of the Italian MP Luca Volonte by deputies from Azerbaijan. According to the materials of the Italian prosecutor's office, Volonte received 3.9 million euros for efforts to defect the report of the German deputy Christopher Strasser about political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

25.03.17: Paris is ready to organize a meeting for the talks between Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan in the framework of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Eyraud said.

27.03.17: For about 15 hours access to the website of the Azerbaijani service of Radio Liberty (http://www.azadliq.org/) was blocked. The access to the website was impossible only in the territory of Azerbaijan.

The staff of the service, which is based in Prague, did not make any statements on this matter.

27.03.17: The summit of the heads of government of the GUAM countries was held in Kiev. The heads of governments of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, Vladimir Groisman, Georgy Kvirikashvili and Pavel Filip, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Ismet Abbasov attended the meeting. The focus was on economic cooperation and development of transport communications.

28.03.17: The blocking of three websites criticizing the government of Azerbaijan resumed: Azadlig newspaper (azadliq.info), Internet channel Meydan TV (meydan.tv) and Azerbaijan service of Radio Liberty (azadliq.org).

28.03.17: Azerbaijan is an example for stability and civil consent worldwide, Ilham Aliyev said, speaking in the Saatli region.

28.03.17: US is interested in the soonest peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. He and the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov exchanged congratulatory messages on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

28.03.17: Bakhtiyar Amrahov, member of the Khachmaz district organization of the Musavat Party, was arrested for 10 days because of a bank debt. Turan was informed about this by the Deputy Chairman of Musavat, Elman Fattah.

28.03.17: The appeal of the Popular Front Party to the Ministry of Justice was considered at the Baku Court of Appeal. The complaint was connected with the refusal of the Ministry of Justice to register the decisions of the last Congress of the PFPA held in autumn 2015. The Ministry of Justice did not register the election of the Chairman and members of the Supreme Majlis of the party. The lawyer asked the court to oblige the Ministry of Justice to recognize the results of the PFPA Congress.

28.03.17: The Sabail Court of Baku finished considering the complaint of the convicted blogger Mehman Huseynov of torture in the police. The court rejected Mehman Huseynov's complaint of torture.

29.03.17: Issues of extending the terms of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field development project and the development of the Shahdeniz field and the shallow part of the Absheron field were discussed at the meeting of the head of state Ilham Aliyev with the Regional President of BP Harry Jones and the head of BP Mining Department Gordon Birrell.

29.03.17: Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group met with the leader of the Karabakh separatists Bako Sahakyan in Khankendi. As the Armenian media reported, following the meeting, the Russian co-chairman Igor Popov said the co-chairs informed Sahakyan about their talks with Aliyev and Sargsyan.

29.03.17: Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan, the former commander of the Armenian forces in Karabakh, not only supported the possible missile attack of Armenia on Azerbaijan , but also specified exactly where these blows will be made, after the Armenian President's loud statement that he was ready to give an order for a missile attack on Azerbaijan.

29.03.17: The Aliyev regime is the worst example of governance in the world, Isa Gambar, the former leader of the Musavat Party said, commenting on Ilham Aliyev's words that Azerbaijan set an example of good governance to the whole world.

29.03.17: The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group urged the sides to abandon aggressive rhetoric. The co-chairs (Igor Popov - Russia, Stefan Visconti - France and Richard Hoagland - USA), together with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Anzhei Kasprzyk visited Baku (March 11), Yerevan (March 27) and Nagorno-Karabakh (March 28).

29.03.17: In the district court of the Siyazan District, Judge Elman Ahmedov sentenced 11 residents of the district for participating in protests against the price increase in January 2016. All the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment from 4 to 6 years, Turan was told in the district court.

30.03.17: Ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Tofig Zulfugarov believes that the unprecedentedly aggressive rhetoric of Armenians is connected with the parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan should have an answer, he wrote on his Facebook page.

31.03.17: Ilham Aliyev considered the results of military operations on the Karabakh front in April of last year a ‘glorious victory’ of the Azerbaijani army.

31.03.17: The Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis was celebrated in Azerbaijan. On March 31, 1918 in Baku, the bandit formation of Dashnaktsutyun (Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun), with the support of the Bolshevik leadership of the Baku Commune, massacred the unarmed civilian population of the Turkic quarters under the pretext of fighting the counter-revolution.

 31.03.17: A group of influential American senators appealed to the FBI, the US Attorney General and the head of the Treasury to investigate the questionable operations of President Trump in Azerbaijan.

31.03.17: The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenia of evading negotiations on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

31.03.17: OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurtz made a statement on the eve of the anniversary of the fighting in Karabakh on April 2-4, 2016. He called the April clashes in Karabakh the worst ones in the past 20 years.                        

 

Neutralization of Blogger

03.03.17: The Surakhani District Court sentenced a well-known blogger, head of the Institute of Reporters’ Freedom and Safety Mehman Huseynov to 2 years imprisonment on the suit of the Nasimi district police chief Musa Musayev. The court found a slander in Huseynov's statements that on January 9 he was abducted and tortured by police officers.

03.03.17: The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muznieks in his Twitter micro blog condemned the verdict on the blogger Mehman Huseynov, urging the authorities to stop repressions against critical votes and release the blogger.

03.03.17: 24 international organizations sharply condemned the authorities of Azerbaijan for the last steps to suppress freedom of speech and expression in the country. Their joint statement said the verdict on Mehman Huseynov was evidence of the authorities’ reluctance to respect freedom of speech and the intention to continue repressions against critical votes.

04.03.17: The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemned the verdict of the court on imprisonment of the head of this organization and blogger Mehman Huseynov, demanding his immediate release.

Mehman Huseynov’s Arrest Is Not Solution

On March 3, Mehman Huseynov, the owner and the presenter of the popular site Sanchag (Pin), was sentenced to two years' imprisonment under the Article 147.2 (defamation of a serious crime) on the complaint of Musa Musayev, the chief of Nasimi District Police. The court passed with violations of the law, and found Huseynov’s statements on torture against him in the police after kidnapping him on 9 January in the daytime as a slander.

It was the first such decision to the applicant on the denial of torture in police custody. Previously, over the years there have been numerous allegations of torture of citizens, in particular the judicial process, but nobody was brought to justice. Thus, Huseynov's arrest on charges of defamation of torture has become an exception in the period prior to March 3, and it is unbelievable that it will be practice in the future.

Taking into account this exception, most   believe that Mehman Huseynov was arrested on the grounds that his actions before the arrest were regarded at the highest levels as a challenge, and the respond was irreversible in the classic sense.

Mainly a detonator for the decision to arrest became the video survey in the streets when he was asking men about the possibility of appointing their wives as their deputies in the companies, if any. It was a kind of enterprise on the appointment of the First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva as a vice president. In principle, it was a journalist harmless survey far from offending for a developed society. However, if to take into consideration excessive, but understandable heightened perception of the protection of honor and dignity of the first persons, it can be assumed, as it was in the case with the editor of "Choral" newspaper Avaz Zeynalli, the guardians of morality in the president’s entourage   exaggerated the subject, and decided to neutralize Huseynov. And there were enough number of people wishing it, because their villas were in the sight of the blogger. Moreover, it is known that in high circles, some people have tried to use "Sanchag" by Huseynov in their fight for power.

The arrest of the blogger became possible  thank to special efforts,  and the fact that  the trial which began on February 10 at the suit of the police was postponed, and did not take place on February 27 because the plaintiff did not appear, also confirm it. Furthermore, this arrest, we can say, has become the culmination of pressure on the blogosphere, which started in early February and particularly intensified during the previous day of the appointment of the first vice-president and in the subsequent decade. From this it can be concluded that the authors planning minimize the appointment of sharp criticism, have launched a long-proven method of preventive blocking activity of opponents to the authorities. In principle, this approach worked strengthened internal self-censorship in social networks and media, but only within certain limits.

Whether such a policy will protect Mehriban Aliyeva from harsh criticism in terms of her public importance is now as the second person in the country? But it is not the biggest problem. More problematic is the threat of unpleasant remarks and messages that may cause harm to image.

Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani information field, in terms of ethical standards, has long been turned into a kind of sludge, mostly thanks to the policy of the current regime, which in its good times in the past on television and newspapers used to organize black PR against opponents. The latter also were not politically correct, but had far less impact on the audience because of the limited information resources.

Today, in the era of rapid development of the Internet, which by its influence begins to exceed TV and media, the aspect ratio is equalized, and in the case of continuation of such policies, will lead to the final destruction of values, images - to the consequences which we cannot even imagine today, just like we could not imagine it at the beginning of this century. This is evidenced by the data a decade ago. In 2007-2009, a group of media organizations, and then for a very short time, the Press Council monitored the media on the topic of compliance with professional and ethical standards in order to minimize slander and insults; and of the total number of violations of professional and ethical code in the media only 11.7% were on defamation and insult, the rest were the violation of the principles of truthful coverage and respect to sources of information. It should also be noted that the global part of the infringements were committed by the government and pro-government media.  Currently there are not such studies, but are obvious widespread violations of ethics in a much more ugly form, especially in social networks, where users do not follow ethical principles.

Representatives of the classical school of independent journalism in the past consistently warned the authorities and urged to abandon this disastrous policy. However, the so-called strategists of the national PR did not want and could not do it because of their moral level and inability to see the consequences of this policy.

The arrest of Mehman Huseynov is not the solution of the problem of protection certain topics and persons from criticism. The decision should be different - the rejection of the exclusive right to criticism. However, the return of the Azerbaijani information field at least in some limits of decency will be even more difficult. This is a complicated path for all, and has no alternative.

 

Opaque Solution

09.03.17: The International Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) issued a statement on the suspension of Azerbaijan's membership because of its inability to protect civil society.

10.03.17: Following the decision of the Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to suspend Azerbaijan's membership, the head of the government delegation, Shahmar Movsumov, issued a statement on the country's withdrawal from the EITI.

13.03.17: The NGO Coalition on Improving Transparency in the Extractive Industries issued a statement in connection with Azerbaijan's withdrawal from the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative). The Coalition expressed regret that after the decision of the International EITI Board to suspend the activities of Azerbaijan, the Chairman of the government commission announced the country's withdrawal from the EITI.

Conscious Break with EITI

The expert community, politicians, and ordinary users of social networks continue discussing the decision of the Azerbaijani government to leave the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI.)

Most attention is focused on two aspects: the conditions for international loans will be tightened and 2) civil society has been deprived of some influence on the government in matters of transparency.

Neither one, nor the other particularly concerns the government that was interested in leaving the EITI, as it seems, for a completely different reason. About it you can say later. But before that, it would be worthwhile to build a brief history that preceded this event.

In 2003 Azerbaijan was among the first to join the EITI, which was then put forward by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Its essence was to ensure the transparency of data on the extraction of resources and income derived from them. On these indicators of reporting, the country was subsequently declared the leader. Azerbaijan became the first country to undergo the assessment process, confirming the full application of the principles and categories in this area by the countries that joined the EITI, and as a bonus in 2009 was awarded the Transparency Initiative Prize. This concludes all the achievements. Subsequently, the country began to sluggishly react to initiatives to expand the boundaries of transparency and increase pressure on civil society, which was an interested partner of the government in the EITI in expanding the boundaries of transparency. The open pressure on the NGO sector followed in 2012 and did not stop, which caused the expected EITI response.

The canvas of the events and relations between the EITI and Azerbaijan over the past five years shows that official Baku has deliberately been going to break with this initiative. In April 2015, the status of the country was lowered from a permanent member to the level of a candidate, and finally, on March 9 this year, its membership was suspended formally because three requirements were not met: to abolish state registration for foreign donors, to abolish the practice of registering grants and contracts, to abolish the provision rule Extracts from the registers of NGOs every two years. The Executive Director of the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan, Shahmar Movsumov, responded promptly to the withdrawal of the country from the EITI.

Naturally, the authorities could not and did not want to fulfill these demands, not because of their unwillingness to yield to international pressure and the whims of the Azerbaijani civil society.  The talk is about the issue more important for the Aliyev administration on transparent reporting in the extractive industry and its derivatives.

September 24-28, 2012 Cologne, Germany. EITI Seminar. Three topical issues were raised for EITI  participants to be raised at the forthcoming meeting of the EITI International Board in Lusaka, Zambia, and further at the EITI Global Conference in Sydney in 2013: transparency of contracts, aggregated or disaggregated reporting and conducting reassignments every 3 years instead of 5 years.

May 22, 2013. Sydney, Australia. 23rd meeting of the EITI Board. The meeting participants officially announced a number of strategic changes in the EITI. The goal is to make the EITI more comprehensive, reliable and easier to analyze. The reform will also require governments to provide citizens with basic information on the extractive sector in their countries, including what licenses and to whom are provided, how much is extracted, and what is the role of state companies in this sector. In addition, the EITI decided to encourage governments to voluntarily take another step and publicize their contracts with companies, as well as disclose information about the owners.

May 23-24 The 6th EITI Global Conference. Leaders of 24 countries made statements at the Forum  of the interested parties  at the EITI International Conference in Sydney. Many of them have committed themselves to improving transparency and strengthening the EITI in their country.

Thus, it can be stated that the pressure on civil society is only a formal cause of the artificial conflict between the EITI and the Azerbaijani government. The main objective should be considered the reluctance of the authorities to implement the new EITI recommendations. This conclusion also follows from the most closed nature of the regime in Azerbaijan. In the event, even if there was no conflict around the NGO sector, the government would come up with any other reason for withdrawing from the initiative at this opaque stage. And his further actions in the sphere of transparency will in no way be related to the creation of conditions for NGOs in accordance with international standards. This formal question is just a concomitant in the policy of the government to avoid the requirements of Sydney's decisions in a time interval as much as possible. Return to the EITI will be possible only after the government eliminates the "black holes" in the extractive industry and the distribution of its revenues, which will take several years. And then the establishment of partnerships with the NGO sector will be a signal to return to the EITI, but not its cause.

 

Karabakh Motif of Hollande

 

14.03.17: The French President Francois Hollande considered the status quo in the Karabakh conflict unacceptable. “We talked about this and noted that the existing status quo is unacceptable. There are risks, and we were convinced of this in April of last year, when the incident occurred,” Hollande said at a joint news conference with Ilham Aliyev after the end of their meeting in Paris. Hollande noted the need to resume negotiations on the Karabakh settlement.

Third Stage Visit to France 

The official visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to France can be called a landmark. For this there are grounds of chronological nature, which to some extent clarify not only the meaning of the visit itself, but the entire role of France in the history of the formation of Azerbaijani statehood after the collapse of the USSR.

France can be called a representative of European politics not only in Azerbaijan, but throughout the Southern Caucasus, which has clearly manifested itself in a number of global projects and crises, including energy, communication, the Karabakh conflict, and Russia's aggression against Georgia.

It is noteworthy that, paying tribute to this South Caucasian role of Paris, official Baku emphatically diplomatically built the vector of its European policy, recognizing France as the basic reference point for political dialogue at each stage of development. President Heydar Aliyev made his first foreign official visit after coming to power in June 1993 in France in December of the same year. Ilham Aliyev, as president, made his first foreign official visit to France in January 2004. And now Mehriban Aliyeva as the first vice-president, who is considered the real successor of her husband, makes her first visit to France as a vice president. It is also impossible not to notice that her vice-presidential appointment was preceded by the visit of the French Secretary of State for State Reform and Simplification Jean-Vincent Platz on February 9.

Particular attention at this stage is paid to strengthening and expanding the activity of the simplified ASAN access service to documents, which gradually, but consistently penetrates into all the pores of the state system of Azerbaijan, and becomes the main tool of combating corruption for the present at the domestic level. It is no coincidence that memorandums of understanding were signed during the visit between the ASAN State Agency and the Secretariat for State Reforms under the French Prime Minister; On cooperation between the Ministry of Transport, Communication and High Technologies of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Digital Technologies of France; The State Committee for Urban Development of the Ministry of Housing and Sustainable Development of France, which are in the curricula of Aliyeva.

It should also be noted that the Azerbaijani-French relations are initially based on European initiatives. For example, the "Charter of Paris", which is one of the main contracts of the CSCE (now the OSCE), which provides for the transition of the socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics to democracy and a market economy. The next ongoing initiative is the Eastern Partnership Program, which opens the stage of deeper integration of the post-Soviet countries into Europe. At the meeting, special attention was paid to this issue, and Paris got other assurances from Aliyev about the readiness to conclude the Agreement on Strategic Partnership in November this year.

In his turn, Aliyev also tried to enlist the support of Paris in the Karabakh issue, based on France's important role in the European security system and its direct participation in the Karabakh conflict settlement as a co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Of Aliyev's two speeches: at a dinner at the Elysee Palace and at a joint press conference of the presidents following the meeting, it was clear that he strongly reminded Paris of the need to observe European security principles, including the inviolability of borders and the humanitarian side of the issue. From the words of President Hollande it was clear that Paris was not ready at this stage to force a solution to the problem, primarily because the parties to the conflict and the mediators were not ready for a compromise.

From Aliyev's point of view it could be understood that he ignored the development of democracy and civil liberties, but Hollande’s obliviousness to the topic of human rights for Azerbaijan was somewhat uncharacteristic for the head of state - presenting himself as the cradle of European democracy. Only at the end of his welcoming speech did the French president speak about the need for an "exchange in the field of human rights", but from this it was not clear who to whom or to whom.

The reason for this is probably in the interests of Paris, which wants to maintain stability in Azerbaijan and the region in the period of the realization of the goals and tasks mentioned above. In the same part of Hollande’s drinking speech, the last chord was the invitation to "work together for a safe and stable future in the region." This topic, reinforced by the call to fight international terrorism, is more likely to determine the vector of bilateral relations in the near future.