Chronicle of events

01.01.24:  A criminal case has been opened into the suicide of lawyer Zaur Mamedov, the press service of the Prosecutor General's Office of Azerbaijan reported. On the evening of January 1, lawyer Zaur Mamedov burned himself in front of the Bar Association in Baku. This shocking incident caused a wave of outrage in the country's legal circles.

01.01.24:  A group of Azerbaijani scientists working at foreign universities appealed to President Ilham Aliyev asking to release of Professor of Economics, opposition politician Gubad Ibadoglu.

04.01.24: The head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan, Peter Mikhalko, met with Nigar Khazi, the daughter of arrested opposition activist Tofik Yagublu.

04.01.24:   The United States  added Azerbaijan to its Special Watchlist of countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom and require close monitoring, a classification that potentially opens the countries to sanctions from the U.S. government.

06.01.24: Candidates for the status of candidate in the early presidential elections held a protest rally in front of the CEC building, telling reporters about the deliberate unwillingness of the CEC to approve their candidacies. According to Namizad Safarov, the CEC ignores the demands for a meeting with him, Matlab Mutallimov and Sarvan Kerimov.

07.01.23: President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has appointed  Mukhtar Babayev, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of the country, a President of the 29th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP29), to be held in November 2024 in Baku.

08.01.24: The President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan, arrived in Baku on an official visit.

08.01.24: The pro-government media of Azerbaijan  reported the name of one of the "French spies" arrested in Baku. It turned out to be one of the heads of the private company “Merkorama,” Martin Ryan.

08.01.24: Four newborn babies died  in a fire at the Republican Perinatal Centre in Baku.  Three more people suffered smoke poisoning.

09.01.24: Police officers found and seized 29 kg of marijuana and 1 kg of opium in the city of Neftechala.

09.01.24: President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and head of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held today face-to-face talks as well as within the framework of expanded delegations in Baku today. Following the talks, a package of bilateral documents was signed. In particular, the parties signed a Memorandum on strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the UAE.

10.01.24:  As part of measures to combat drug trafficking, the police detained a resident of Baku, previously convicted Elchin Jafarov, born in 1988. During the inspection of his personal “Toyota Prius” car, 10 kg of heroin was seized, the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported.

10.01.24:  The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has rejected the statement of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs on the arbitrary detention of French citizen Martin Ryan. The French Foreign Ministry told Agence France-Presse that a French citizen was arbitrarily arrested in Azerbaijan and demanded his immediate release. Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aykhan Hajizadeh called Paris' claims "groundless" and accused Paris of "distorting reality and attempting to interfere in Azerbaijan's internal affairs."

11.01.24:  The top Biden administration official in charge of Europe and Eurasia said  that Washington supports a peace agreement, 'a durable and dignified peace' between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and would like to help more, TURAN's Washington correspondent. "We're very encouraged that [Azerbaijan and Armenia] continue to have a robust agenda bilaterally and address the issues that remain between them," Ambassador James O'Brien, assistant Secretary of State, told reporters during a State Department's Brussels Media Hub call.

11.01.24: The 6th meeting of the committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM, as well as the 18th meeting of the bureau and the 16th session of the organization were held via videoconference. As a result, the Communique of the 16th session of the GUAM PA was adopted. During the meeting, the chairmanship of the GUAM PA transferred from Ukraine to Azerbaijan.

11.01.24:  The International Organization for the Protection of Journalists "Reporters without Borders" condemned the continued detention of journalists: Ulvi Hasanli, Sevinj Vagifgizi, and Hafiz Babaly.

11.01.24:  During a police operation, 32 kg of drugs (26 kg of heroin and 6 kg of methamphetamine) were seized from two drug couriers, the  statement of the Interior Ministry. 

10.01.24:  External forces constantly interfere in Azerbaijan's internal affairs and the reason for this is the pro-Armenian position of Western countries. This opinion was expressed by head of state Ilham Aliyev in an interview to local TV channels.

10.01.24:  Negotiations on a peace treaty with Armenia were conducted and are being conducted against the background of pressure on Azerbaijan. This was stated by Head of state Ilham Aliyev in an interview with local TV channels. He further noted that Azerbaijan and Armenia should conclude a peace treaty without third countries.

10.01.24:  Certain forces in the world cannot digest Azerbaijan's victory in the Second Karabakh War. Pressures on Azerbaijan and negative attitude of these forces will continue and France plays a leading role in this. President Ilham Aliyev said this in an interview with local TV channels.

10.01.24:  The "Peaceful Crossroads" transport project is a PR action. President Ilham Aliyev said this in an interview with local TV channels. "Armenia has put forward this idea as an alternative to the 'Zangezur Corridor' and it is actually a PR action," Aliyev said. He said Armenia "should give us unimpeded passage from Zangilan to Ordubad and this is their obligation."

11.01.24: Nigar Hazi, daughter of arrested member of Musavat Party and National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) Tofig Yagublu, was received by German Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ralph Horlemann.

11.01.01.24: The United States continues to believe that a durable peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is possible, the State Department said, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports. "It’s something that the department will continue to work towards," Principal Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told a daily briefing in response to TURAN's questions about the current state of peace process following Special Advisor Louis Bono's talks in the region this week.

12.01.24: By order of the head of state dated, Lieutenant General, commander of Special Forces Hikmet Mirzoyev was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense, Commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan.

12.01.24: At the Baku Serious Crimes Court,  at the trial  in the case of Avaz Zeynally, the head of the “Khural TV” Internet resource, and Elnur Shukurov,  the head of the “Sada TV” YouTube channel, the state prosecutor asked  the court to find Zeynally guilty under  the Articles 311 (taking a bribe) and 312-1.1 (Illegal influence on the decision of an official (trading authority) of the Criminal Code and sentence him to 10 years in prison.

12.01.01.24: The authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan in their peace negotiations should focus on the protection of human rights and establish reliable guarantees of rights for all persons affected by the conflict, said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović. She published her observations following her visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan, including the Karabakh region, from October 16 to 23, 2023. For the first time in decades, a human rights mission of this kind visited the Karabakh region, the press service of the Council of Europe said.

12.01.01.24: Mirsultan Bagirov, a member of the Muslim Unity Movement (MUM), was detained in the Salyan region. According to local media, Bagirov was detained «as a part of an operation to identify Iran's spy network».

13.01.23: According to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the statements coming from Baku in recent days are a serious blow to the peace process.  As Armenpress reports, Pashinyan said this at a meeting with members of his "Civil Contract" party.

13.01.23: After questioning  at the Baku City Police Department, journalist Elnara Gasimova was detained as a suspect, lawyer Bahruz Bayramov told Turan. According to him, she was accused on Art. 206.3.2 (smugg committed by a group of persons by prior conspiracy) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. Gasimova was charged in the framework of the criminal case of Abzas Media journalists who were arrested before.

13.01.23: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed an order to establish an organising committee for the 29th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP29), the 19th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol and the 6th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.

13.01.23: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan has responded to the report of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic, who recently visited Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Ministry expressed dissatisfaction with the report, stating that it does not reflect the human rights situation of all those who suffered as a result of the conflict unleashed by Armenia.

13.01.23: “Azerbaijan supports the one China policy.” This is stated in the message of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry in connection with the elections held  in Taiwan. “Azerbaijan does not recognize the independence of Taiwan and condemns the elections. “Azerbaijan is against interference in China’s internal affairs,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry further noted in a commentary.

15.01.23:  Political observer of the regional publication JAMnews Shahin Rzayev was arrested. He left the house at about two o'clock in the afternoon  and after that he stopped communicating, his relatives said. Later it turned out that he was detained by the police and arrested for under Art.

15.01.23:  The Khatai district Court has chosen a preventive measure against Abzas Media journalist Elnara Gasimova in the form of arrest for a period of 2 months and 17 days.

15.01.23:  Pre–election campaigning for the early presidential elections began in Azerbaijan, and  will end at 08:00 on February 6, a day before the vote.

15.01.23:  The Azerbaijani Talysh Public Council (ATPC) has condemned the sentence of 4 years of imprisonment of activist Ruslan Vahabov in a drug case. The sentence was handed down on 12 January by the judiciary of the Baku Court of Grave Crimes.

15.01.23:  The State Security Service of Azerbaijan reports about detention of members of a transnational criminal group illegally fabricating Ukrainian passports for money.

16.01.23:  The head of the EU mission in Azerbaijan, Peter Mikhalkov, criticized the current pressure on journalists in Azerbaijan.

15.01.23:  Journalist Shahin Rzayev, who was administratively arrested  for 15 days on charges of “petty hooliganism,” was released this evening. The Baku Court of Appeal replaced his sentence with a fine of 50 manats (about $30), Rzayev himself told Turan.

15.01.23:  The European Parliament will not observe the early presidential elections in Azerbaijan, which will be held on February 7. This is stated in a joint statement issued by the co-chairs of the European Parliament's Group for Democracy Support and Election Coordination (DEG), deputies David McAllister and Thomas Tobe.

15.01.23:  As a result of an explosion in a furniture workshop in Baku, 9 people were killed and 24 others were injured to varying degrees.

16.01.23:  OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Press Teresa Riberio expressed concern about "the latest arrests of employees of “AbzasMedia” and “Channel 13,” as well as the persecution of their relatives.

16.01.23:  The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Maria Pejcinovic Buric, expressed her condolences in connection with the death of people as a result of an explosion in a furniture workshop in Baku.

17.01.23: British Ambassador to Azerbaijan Fregus Auld met with the daughter of opposition politician Tofig Yagublu Nigar Khazi, who is under arrest.

17.01.23:  The Baku serious Crimes Court read out the  verdict of former Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population Salim Muslimov, accused of accepting bribes, embezzlement,  and abuse of office. The prosecutor asked the court to sentence him to 13 years  of conditional imprisonment with a five-year probation period. The court sentenced him to 5 years of probation, with confiscation of property.

17.01.23:   Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov left for  a working visit to Uganda. The purpose of the Minister's visit to the African country is to participate in the 19th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement member countries.

17.01.23:  Mirsultan Bagirov, a member of the Muslim Unity Movement (MUM) detained in Salyan, has been charged in connection with drugs, Turan was informed about in the MUM. A preventive measure in the form of arrest for 4 months under Article 234.4.3 of the Criminal Code (illegal acquisition or possession of drugs for the purpose of large-scale sale) was taken against Bagirov.

17.01.23:  The International Association for the Protection of Human Rights has released a damning report, shedding light on the deteriorating state of media freedom in Azerbaijan throughout 2023. Titled "Media situation in Azerbaijan in 2023: Arrests and Harassment," the report outlines a bleak picture of political pressure, violence against journalists, and a systematic crackdown on independent media.

17.01.23:  The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry expressed outrage at the criticism of the EU Ambassador to Azerbaijan Peter Michalko in connection with the arrests of journalists in Baku."This statement is unfounded and irresponsible! It would be better if the Ambassador focused on the lack of justice and ill-treatment in the judicial systems of some EU countries. Interference in the judicial system of Azerbaijan, based on the best international practices, is unacceptable." Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Ayhan Hajizade wrote about this on his Twitter account.

17.01.23:  Two Pakistani citizens, Wali Noor Khan and Wahab Abdul Tauzeel, were detained 17 at about 2 a.m. by Azerbaijani border guards while attempting to illegally cross the state border in the direction of the Russian Federation, the message of the State Border Service of Azerbaijan.

18.01.23:  The United States said it welcomes the work towards peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urges the sides to conclude the peace agreement 'the sooner the better', TURAN's Washington correspondent reports. "We support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries. We hope they will sign a durable peace treaty that recognizes such sovereignty and territorial integrity the sooner the better," State Department's Spokesperson Matthew Miller told a daily briefing.

18.01.23: In Baku, at a meeting  held in Baku, the heads of military ministers of the two countries - Zakir Hasanov and Robert Kalinyak discussed  the issues of developing relations between Azerbaijan and Slovakia in the field of defense. The sides noted the importance of developing cooperation in military-technical, military-educational and other fields, the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan.

18.01.23:  Azerbaijan is ready to sign a peace treaty with Armenia on the territory of the Russian Federation, this is a fact, but Yerevan’s position is unclear. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated at a press conference in Moscow.

18.01.23:  An Azerbaijani delegation headed by deputy rector of the National Defence University, rector of the Scientific Research Military Institute General Arif Hasanov visited Iran at the invitation of Major General Ismail Ahmadi Mugaddemin, head of the Higher National Defence University. The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry reports that the delegation visited the Higher National Defence University of Iran and got acquainted with scientific and educational bases.

17.01.23:  The French Senate almost unanimously adopted a resolution demanding to impose sanctions against Azerbaijan.  The resolution also expresses support for the territorial integrity of Armenia and condemns Azerbaijan's "aggression" against Karabakh on September 19-20, 2023.  The document also demands the return of Armenians to Karabakh and guarantee their security.

18.01.23:   Head of State Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on amendments to the "Rules of State Control over Children's Rights". According to the decree, the Ministry of Internal Affairs must ensure the identification of persons involved in the involvement of children in pornography and take measures provided for by law. The powers of the Commissions for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of children have also been increased. From now on, they will be able to take measures to protect the rights and interests of children who are victims of sexual exploitation or sexual violence.

19.01.23:   In a symbolic ceremony, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov passed on the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The event took place on the first day of the 19th NAM Summit in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, which runs from January 15th to 20th.

19.01.23:   By order of the head of state, financial assistance has been allocated to religious denominations and structures of Azerbaijan from the reserve fund of the President of the country.

19.01.23:   Mehriban Rahimli, a consultant for Azerbaijan at the American Herman Marshall Fund (GMF), reported on the blocking of her personal bank accounts. In two banks where she has accounts, Rahimli was informed that this was done on the basis of a court decision. According to her, the accounts have been frozen in connection with the investigation into the case of the head of Kanal-13, Aziz Orujev.  However, as Rahimli noted in an interview with a Turan correspondent, she has nothing to do with this case.

20.01.23:  The ambassadors of the European Union and the US Ambassador visited the Alley of Martyrs and laid flowers on the graves of innocent victims on January 20, 1990.

20.01.23: The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) expressed alarm over the arrests of media representatives in Azerbaijan.

20.01.23: Marking the solemn occasion of the 34th anniversary of the tragic massacre perpetrated by the Soviet Empire in Baku, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited the Martyrs' Alley (Shehidlyar Khiyabany) on January 20, observed as the National Day of Mourning.

21.01.23: Faig Sayyad oglu Abyshev, a resident of the Agjabadi region, was injured  as a result of a mine explosion in the territories liberated from the Armenian occupation.

21.01.23: Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan George Deek visited the Alley of Martyrs and made a touching entry on X account in connection with the anniversary of the January 1990 tragedy.

22.01.23: "The recent territorial claims of President Aliyev are of great concern. Any violation of Armenia's territorial integrity is unacceptable and will have serious consequences for our relations with Azerbaijan.”

22.01.23:  Last year, criminal cases were filed in Azerbaijan on 20 cases of draft evasion for active military service, a joint statement by the Prosecutor General's Office and the State Service for Mobilization and Conscription.

22.01.23: The United States said  that working 'very hard' to get across the finish line to bring about peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports. "This is something that the United States and that the Secretary [Blinken] is interested in...  And this is something that we’re going to work very hard to get across the finish line in close coordination with Armenia and Azerbaijan and the others who are working on this issue, including Coordinator [Lou] Bono," State Department's Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told a daily briefing when responding to TURAN's questions on the matter.

23.01.23: A preparatory  trial in the case of Afiyaddin Mammadov, head of the independent confederation of trade Unions "Working Platform" began in the Baku Serious Crimes Court.

23.01.23: At the plenary session, the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommended not to approve the credentials of the Azerbaijani delegation.

23.01.23: President Ilham Aliyev received Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, co-chairman of the intergovernmental commission Alexey Overchuk.  According to the message on the President's website, during the conversation it was noted that the economic development of the two countries has broad plans and new directions in this area are being prepared. A 17.5% growth in trade turnover and a steady rise in freight and transit traffic were assessed as a good index of cooperation.

23.01.23: Baku has rejected European Union (EU) High Representative for International Relations and Security Policy Josep Borrel's suggestion that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev made "territorial claims" against Armenia in a recent interview. "We strongly reject the unfounded accusations made against Azerbaijan by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Relations and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrel during a press conference following the results of the Council on Foreign Relations on 22 January," said Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Ayhan Hajizadeh.

24.01.23: At the evening meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the deputies approved resolution 15898 on the deprivation of the right to vote of the Azerbaijani delegation until the January 2025 session of PACE. The Azerbaijani delegation to PACE condemned this decision.

24.01.23: The investigation of cases of crimes provided for in the new Articles of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan is attributed to the competence of the State Security Service (SSS) of the country. The corresponding decree was signed by President Ilham Aliyev. The talk is about  the Article 281-1, which provides for criminal liability for the manufacture, acquisition, storage, transportation or wearing, distribution of attributes or symbols that violate the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

25.01.23: By a court decision, the term of pre-trial detention of seven former leaders and other high-ranking representatives of the liquidated separatist regime in Karabakh has been extended for another 4 months.

25.01.23:  The Ganja Serious Crimes Court sentenced the editor of the website "Demokratik.az "Osman Narimanoglu (Rzayev), accused of extortion. The court sentenced the editor to 6.5 years. The defense intends to appeal. Osman Narimanoglu was arrested on July 5, 2022 on charges of extortion. After his arrest, he stated that the accusations were false, that he had been slandered by officials of the Melioration Department and doctors of the Goranboy and Goygol regions, about whose corruption the site published materials.

26.01.23:  A few days ago, blogger Arzu Sayadoglu disappeared, his family cannot contact him for the third day, human rights activist Rufat Safarov stated.

26.01.23:   Last year, 58 people were victims of mine explosions in Azerbaijan, Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev said at an expanded meeting of the department's board.

27.01.23:   An officer of the Azerbaijani army was killed, the country's Military Prosecutor's Office reported. In fact, the Fuzuli Prosecutor's Office of Azerbaijan has opened a criminal case under Art. 120.1 (intentional murder) of the Criminal Code. During the preliminary investigation, substantial suspicions arose that the murder of A. Abdullayev was committed by another officer, Abdullayev Nizami Eynulla oglu, “on the basis of a dispute that arose between them.”

27.01.23:    Azerbaijan will restore its Embassy in Iran while ensuring the completion of the investigation of the terrorist attack against the diplomatic mission and guaranteeing the safety of its functioning. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov told reporters.

27.01.23:    Azerbaijan will respond to Armenia's peace treaty proposals in the coming weeks, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov told journalists today.

27.01.23:    The first court hearing on the case of the person responsible for the terrorist attack at the Azerbaijani Embassy in Iran is due to take place.

27.01.23:   PACE called for the rehabilitation of all defendants in the "Terrorist case".

28.01.23:   Social activist and blogger Arzu Sayadoglu has been charged as a defendant in a criminal case. The Sabail District Court chose a preventive measure against him in the form of arrest.

28.01.23:   Azerbaijan has firmly denounced what it considers "unacceptable" and "irresponsible" remarks made by Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot, labeling them as a clear display of bias regarding post-conflict realities in the South Caucasus.

29.01.23:   The Chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin has called authorities of Azerbaijan to stop political repressions.

29.01.23:   The verdict of the Shiite theologian Haji Ali Behishti (Aliyev), accused of treason, was read out in the Baku Court of Serious Crimes on Monday. The court found him guilty under Article 274 (treason) of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

29.01.23:   Within the framework of COP 29, Germany wants to share its experience with countries such as Azerbaijan and try to find common solutions related to water resources management. Jennifer Morgan, Special Representative of the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs for International Climate Policy, told reporters in Baku.

29.01.23:   The delegation headed by Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Turkish Parliament, ex-Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was received by Head of State Ilham Aliyev. The parties noted the  importance of strengthening ties between parliamentarians of the Turkic countries at the level of relevant committees and holding joint meetings was noted.

30.01.23:   Russian Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov has arrived in Baku on a two-day working visit to discuss issues of cooperation between the emergency departments of the two countries with his Azerbaijani colleagues.

30.01.23:   Azerbaijan ranks the 154th place in the Transparency International corruption ranking.

30.01.23:  Two pro-government websites (Qafqazinfo.az, Oxu.az) published a second series of critical materials against the Internet resources "Abzas-Media", "Toplum.TV" and the "Baku School of Journalism".

31.01.23:   The sixth meeting of the commissions of Azerbaijan and Armenia on the delimitation of the border between the two countries took place. In official communications, the parties only state the fact of the meeting, without providing details of the discussions.

31.01.23:   The trial  in the case of Elvin Mustafayev, a member of the alternative Confederation of Trade Unions of Azerbaijan "Working Platform", ended in the Baku Serious Crimes Court. He was accused of drug trafficking. The court sentenced him to 3 years in prison.

31.01.23:   The opposition “Musavat” and “Popular Front” parties marched to the monument of one of the founders of the People's Republic of Azerbaijan, political and public figure Mammad Emin Rasulzade in the village of Novkhany on the occasion of his 140th birthday.

31.01.23:   The OSCE/ODIHR EOM has released an interim report on the snap presidential election in Azerbaijan, scheduled for 7 February. The report is replete with facts of violations of international obligations by the Government.

The President's political monologue

10.01.24:  External forces constantly interfere in Azerbaijan's internal affairs and the reason for this is the pro-Armenian position of Western countries. This opinion was expressed by head of state Ilham Aliyev in an interview to local TV channels.

10.01.24:  Negotiations on a peace treaty with Armenia were conducted and are being conducted against the background of pressure on Azerbaijan. This was stated by Head of state Ilham Aliyev in an interview with local TV channels. He further noted that Azerbaijan and Armenia should conclude a peace treaty without third countries.

10.01.24:  The "Peaceful Crossroads" transport project is a PR action. President Ilham Aliyev said this in an interview with local TV channels. "Armenia has put forward this idea as an alternative to the 'Zangezur Corridor' and it is actually a PR action," Aliyev said. He said Armenia "should give us unimpeded passage from Zangilan to Ordubad and this is their obligation."

10.01.24: "Our main national idea was the liberation of our territories... and we achieved this. Of course, I have my own thoughts about further development, and in many cases they will be decisive. However, I would like discussions on the issue of our basic national idea and ideas about our future development to take place in society — among politicians, political scientists, scientists, and intellectuals. That is, what should be the main national ideas in connection with our future development. This should be a topic of public discussion." This was stated by President Ilham Aliyev in an interview with local TV channels.

President Aliyev signals a new era in the history of Azerbaijan ahead of early elections

In a three-hour interview with local TV channels on January 10, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev strategically positioned himself ahead of the early presidential elections scheduled for February 7, hinting at a significant shift in the country's development trajectory.  The interview, perhaps strategically timed to coincide with the pre-election statement, outlined Aliyev's point of view on ending a 30-year era dedicated to restoring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. He stressed that the victory won in September last year was a historic milestone for the country.

The President identified three main reasons for calling early elections.

The main reason, as Aliyev stressed, was the full restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty. He described the end of the thirty-year occupation of Azerbaijani territories in September last year as an epochal event that marked an unprecedented victory in the country's centuries-old history. Aliyev argued that the beginning of a new era after the liberation of the occupied territories and the restoration of sovereignty requires new presidential elections.

The second reason cited by Aliyev was the unprecedented nationwide format of these elections, because for the first time since the country gained independence, elections will be held throughout the republic. Aliyev stressed the importance of the presidential elections, saying that they should precede the municipal elections in order to ensure proper consistency in the electoral process.

The third reason was Aliyev's 20th anniversary as president, a milestone he considered appropriate to sum up his two decades in office. Aliyev suggested that holding presidential elections two decades after his presidency would naturally provide an opportunity to assess and summarize the results of this chronological period.

The President outlined a vision for the next seven-year term, focusing on the development and implementation of a new national idea that corresponds to the changing global world order. While the liberation of territories served as the main national idea, Aliyev called for public discourse to form new goals for the nation in the face of changing realities.

Recognizing the need for new goals in a new era, Aliyev rejected the idea of constantly using historical victories. He called on the society to remain vigilant, emphasizing the potential of ongoing challenges to Azerbaijan.

It is noteworthy that the discussion lacked detailed information about the state and prospects of socio-economic policy, which is a major problem for post-war society. The decline in oil production, which is a fundamental element of the Azerbaijani economy, and the subsequent reduction in budget revenues have affected the quality of life of middle- and low-income segments of the population. Although Aliyev did not directly address this issue, the timing of the interview indicates recognition of the urgency of solving the problem of restructuring the management system and related issues.

Moving away from domestic issues, Aliyev criticized Western countries such as France and the United States during the interview. This criticism, a recurring theme, seems to be aimed at preemptively countering any attempts by Western countries to disrupt Azerbaijan's plans to ensure territorial integrity and internal stability, especially during the upcoming electoral process. This position is crucial for Aliyev, especially given the opposition's decision to refrain from participating in the election race. The interview serves as a strategic communication measure to maintain stability and ensure a smooth electoral process in the face of potential external pressure.

As Azerbaijan stands at the crossroads of a new era, the interview also sets the tone for the upcoming elections, emphasizing continuity, sustainability and commitment to shaping a future that meets the changing aspirations of the nation.

 

The French Resolution

10.01.24:  Certain forces in the world cannot digest Azerbaijan's victory in the Second Karabakh War. Pressures on Azerbaijan and negative attitude of these forces will continue and France plays a leading role in this. President Ilham Aliyev said this in an interview with local TV channels.

17.01.23:  The French Senate almost unanimously adopted a resolution demanding to impose sanctions against Azerbaijan.  The resolution also expresses support for the territorial integrity of Armenia and condemns Azerbaijan's "aggression" against Karabakh on September 19-20, 2023.  The document also demands the return of Armenians to Karabakh and guarantee their security.

"The tension is not just with France"

The French Senate adopted a resolution demanding the imposition of sanctions against Azerbaijan.

The resolution also expresses support for Armenia's territorial integrity and condemns Azerbaijan's operations in Karabakh on September 19-20, 2023. The document also demands the return of Armenians to Karabakh and a guarantee for their safety.

Furthermore, the resolution demands "the immediate withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the sovereign territory of Armenia", condemns the arrests of the political leaders of the so-called regime in Karabakh, and requests that the UNESCO mission be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh to prepare a report "on the state of cultural and religious heritage".

The resolution also calls for the strictest measures, including the confiscation of assets of Azerbaijani leaders and an embargo on gas and oil imports from Azerbaijan, as sanctions for Azerbaijan's "military aggression."

It should be noted that this is not the first such resolution of the French Senate. A similar resolution was adopted after Azerbaijan's victory in the Second Karabakh War in 2020.

In response to this, the Committee on International Relations and Interparliamentary Relations of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan called on the government to take measures. The calls include the imposition of sanctions against France, the freezing of any assets of French officials in Azerbaijan if discovered, the suspension of all economic relations with France, the removal of all French companies, including Total, from Azerbaijan, the prohibition of the participation of French companies in any project commissioned by the state of Azerbaijan, It is requested to instruct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take steps towards the recognition of the independence of Kanaky, Maohi Nui and Corsica.

Former diplomat Emin Shaig Ibrahimov spoke to ASTNA about what happened.

* * *

Question: Emin Bey, you must have read the resolution of the French Senate demanding the imposition of sanctions against Azerbaijan. How fair is this resolution of the French Senate?

Answer: I have seen the resolution adopted by the French Senate. The spirit of the document is not new. Both houses of the French Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, have passed resolutions in the past. In general, France's prejudice against Azerbaijan in the context of the conflict with Armenia is not a secret to anyone. Therefore, this type of one-sided position of the French parliament, which has not seen the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia for 30 years, definitely attracts attention. All these points are clear. However, the deterioration of relations with France, one of the leading countries of Europe and the European Union, does not serve our interests. The foreign policy strategy should take a comprehensive approach to the issues facing the country and avoid the line that generally strains relations with the West and increases dependence on Russia.

Question: Why does France generally take such steps? Why is Armenia interested in spoiling relations with Azerbaijan?

Answer: We must see that the tension is not only with France. In general, there is a growing tension between the Azerbaijani authorities and the collective West. Because the Azerbaijani government is on the side of Russia in the geopolitical competition between the West and Russia in the region. The West-Russia conflict also corresponds to the antagonism between democracy and authoritarianism in the region. From this point of view, it is understandable that the authorities of two authoritarian regimes - Azerbaijan and Russia - act together. Naturally, none of them want the West and democracy to strengthen in the region. Although there are many manipulations that blur the situation, it is becoming more and more obvious that Aliyev is acting together with Putin at the strategic level. Almost everyone knows that Armenia is on the Western side in this conflict. At such a moment, the West perceives Azerbaijan's pressure on Armenia together with Russia as a pressure on itself. That is, it is not an issue of Armenia in itself.

Question: You probably know about the spy scandal. How believable is France's deployment of spies in Azerbaijan and what could be the purpose here?

Answer: One of the main tasks of diplomats is to collect information about the country where they work, to establish contacts with various circles. At what point these activities and relationships cross the line of espionage is largely a subjective assessment. Without knowing the details of the matter, it is impossible to say something specific about the essence. But I am sure that all such activities have happened in the past too. Now the raising of these issues is parallel to the deteriorating relations. All these are also topics that feed the anti-Western propaganda of the authorities. This government's fear of democracy forces it to constantly have topics for anti-Western propaganda. The Azerbaijani authorities usually try to conduct anti-Western propaganda through France. The traditional pro-Armenian position of France in the Azerbaijani society is also useful in this regard. When the topic is France and Karabakh, it becomes easier for society to unite around the government.

All this, of course, does not mean that France is as pure as the driven snow. Or it cannot justify France's unfair position towards us. But our goal should not be to spoil all relations with the West, to make ourselves completely dependent on Russia, to block the path to democracy and progress. If you want to strain the relationship, you can always find "legitimate reasons" for it. The authoritarian nature of the government constantly pushes it to the wrong side in the Russia-West conflict in the region.

Question: The Committee on International Relations and Interparliamentary Relations of the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan called on the government to take measures. The main point of attention here is the suspension of all economic relations with France, the removal of all French companies, including Total, from Azerbaijan, and the prohibition of the participation of French companies in any project commissioned by the state of Azerbaijan. Especially the issue of Total. If Total and other French companies are removed from Azerbaijan, who will suffer more from this issue?

Answer: Such reciprocal steps that increase tension do not serve our interests. The goal should not be to find an excuse for this line of tension and escalate the tension. It is necessary to try to get out of this situation. However, I do not believe that this will happen during the term of this government. Specifically, as for Total and other French companies, of course, their exit from Azerbaijan cannot be considered a good development for us. It's not about measuring with a ruler who gets more damage. Continuing this line of tension is against our national interests. At this point, we can say that the national interests and the interests of the authoritarian regime are in conflict with each other.

Question: Why does all this happen in general?

Answer: In response to this question, I want to emphasize once again that the fundamental reason for all this is the geopolitical conflict in the region and, accordingly, the conflict between democracy and authoritarianism. Processes show that geopolitical competition will continue the trend of tension. As this competition intensifies, the Aliyev regime will inevitably be forced to seek refuge in Russia, the most reliable patron of authoritarianism in the region. This, in itself, will be accompanied by the strengthening of authoritarianism in the country. The recent increase in repression in the country is not accidental. It all happens in the context I mentioned. I think the trend of internal political deterioration will continue.

Question: What steps should both parties and third parties take to improve relations between France and Azerbaijan?

Answer: First, we need to look at what it means to have good bilateral relations. Traditionally, the Azerbaijani authorities have avoided institutional relations with the West, and have mainly been satisfied with business relations with the mercantile circles of the West. Although the Western countries also criticized the issues of human rights and democracy, relations were mainly in this format. But this model of good relations is not in our national interest. That is, when we say good relations with the West, we cannot ignore institutional relations and democratization. Otherwise, all cooperation serves only the interests of a handful of people. Let's not forget that France is also a politically leading member of the European Union. Without good relations with France, the development of this direction is also impossible. Therefore, in order to establish positive relations between Azerbaijan and the West in accordance with our interests, a sincere democratization process must take place in the country.

However, it seems that in the near future, relations will continue to worsen. As relations with the West worsen, it is highly likely that relations with France will show a particularly deteriorating dynamic. We also see that Georgia and Armenia have made some progress in the direction of relations with the West and democracy in the region. That's why the government needs topics that will camouflage the fact that it stands by Russia. From this point of view, the best and tried and tested topic is enmity with Armenia. In turn, as the enmity with Armenia continues, the West will inevitably come upon us, the pro-Armenian bias of the West becomes more pronounced, and the authorities use all this to discredit the line of rapprochement with the West. In fact, our goal should not be to prove that the West is against us and that it takes an unfair position towards us. This can be a topic for someone's propaganda. But it will not help to solve the deep systemic problems that the country is facing. On the contrary, this strategic line creates much deeper problems for us and blocks the horizons for the country's progress. For the authoritarian government, these are not problems. The main priority for them is to remove the threat of democracy from themselves as much as possible.

Deprived of the right to vote

24.01.23: At the evening meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the deputies approved resolution 15898 on the deprivation of the right to vote of the Azerbaijani delegation until the January 2025 session of PACE. The Azerbaijani delegation to PACE condemned this decision.

"Escape" from Europe

The PACE resolution on Azerbaijan became the main event of last week and will be in the spotlight for a long time. However, this unprecedented event has once again become the cause of political clowning, and not the subject of serious analysis. The society has not received clear answers to the question: what is the cause of the crisis around the Council of Europe?

Let us figure this out. So, Baku's official position is that the Council of Europe is a worthless organization, where unbearable racism, Azerbaijanophobia and Islamophobia reign, as Samad Seyidov put it. He also believes that "Political corruption, discrimination, ethnic and religious hatred, double standards, arrogance, chauvinism have become the prevailing practice in PACE."

Well, one can only wonder at the courage of Samad Seyidov and his team members, who have suffered in such unbearable conditions in Strasbourg for almost 20 years.

So, Thesis number 1): Political corruption

We all remember well the scandals about political corruption that rocked the Council of Europe after the publication of the 2012 European Stability Initiative report, better known as Caviar Diplomacy. "According to sources of the European Stability Initiative, Azerbaijan has a group of 10-12 friends in PACE and 3-4 people in the secretariat who regularly receive expensive gifts from Azerbaijan, including caviar, gold, carpets, etc. In response, these deputies sabotage the adoption of critical reports against the Azerbaijani authorities. In particular, the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan were held with gross violations and not a single opposition party entered parliament. However, the head of the PACE mission stated that the elections met international standards," the report said.

During the 2008 presidential elections, the head of the PACE observer group, Andreas Herkel, prepared a critical report, but it was blocked by "friends" of Baku in the person of Michael Hancock, Eduard Lintner, and Paul Villa. Herkel was forced to resign if the criticism was not included in the statement.

During the referendum, which lifted restrictions on the number of terms for Ilham Aliyev, four PACE deputies, Eduard Litner, Paul Ville, Haki Keskin, and Pedro Agramunt, assessed the referendum as the progress of democracy.

 On October 9, 2013, Ilham Aliyev was elected president of Azerbaijan for the third time. The  observers of ODIHE/OSCEOSCE, led by Tana de Zulueta, announced restrictions on freedom of speech in the elections, while representatives of the European Parliament, led by Pino Arlacchi, announced free and fair elections.

In January 2013, at PACE, Baku's friends were able to fail a report by German MP Christoph Strasser on political prisoners in Azerbaijan. In 2015, when discussing the resolution on political prisoners in the European Parliament, the text written by pro-Azerbaijani speakers initially contained almost no criticism, but eventually a resolution was adopted demanding that Azerbaijan stop repressions against human rights defenders, review the law on NGOs, not put pressure on journalists and the threat of sanctions was sounded. According to German MP Frank Schwab, this was a turning point for Azerbaijan's "caviar diplomacy".

On September 10, 2015, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning Azerbaijan for "unprecedented repression." The resolution also called on the European authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into corruption allegations.

In June 2016, Luca Volontè, the former head of the European People's Party faction  in PACE, was charged by the Milan Prosecutor's Office with corruption and money laundering. According to the prosecutor's office, Volontè received 2.39 million euros for the support of Azerbaijani officials.

According to the second ESI report "Caviar Diplomacy Part 2", published in December 2016, Volontè agreed to cooperate with the investigation and named many European politicians who selflessly lobbied for the interests of the Azerbaijani authorities. During interrogations, Volontè confirmed receiving 2.39 million euros for lobbying activities in favor of Azerbaijan. According to ESI, the money was used to bribe Italian and other parliamentarians who voted against PACE resolutions and reports condemning human rights violations in Azerbaijan. In a documentary shown on Italian television, Volontè also confirmed the receipt of 2.39 million euros, claiming that this money was received from members of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE.

Later, PACE deprived members of the Azerbaijani delegation Elkhan Suleymanov and Muslim Mammadov of the right to visit the Council of Europe and its structures for life.

In April 2017, the European Parliament formed a commission to investigate alleged corruption. During several subsequent hearings on the report (April 25, 2018, May 15, 2018 and June 27, 2018), 4 PACE members were deprived of certain rights, and 14 members accused of accepting bribes from the Azerbaijani government in 2013 were banned for life from the Assembly and the right to visit the Council of Europe.

On January 11, 2021, a Milan court sentenced Volontè  to 4 years in prison for bribing Azerbaijani representatives, for which he pledged to reject the PACE report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

In 2019-2021, the German Bundestag stripped the immunity of deputies Karin Strenz, Eduard Lintner and Axel Fischer for accepting bribes from Azerbaijan. According to the prosecutor's office, Lintner received about 4 million euros from Azerbaijan through fake British companies from 2008 to 2016. He gave some of this money to other PACE members to praise the elections in Azerbaijan.

As we can see, Seyidov's allegations of political corruption within the walls of PACE are founded.

Thesis number 2): PACE has done nothing to support Azerbaijan's just struggle for Karabakh.

On January 25, 2005, PACE adopted the resolution "The conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is being addressed by the OSCE Minsk Group" (N1416). This document, also named after its author, British MP Atkinson, confirmed the occupation of Azerbaijani territories.

Azerbaijan was recognized by the international community in 1991 within its borders with Nagorno-Karabakh, the resolution says. The document expresses concern about ethnic cleansing in Karabakh and the surrounding regions, calls for the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions NN 822, 853, 874 and 884 and the withdrawal of troops from the occupied territories.

The resolution confirms the right of internally displaced persons to return to their lands, and emphasizes the inadmissibility of occupation by one member of the Council of Europe of the territory of another member State.

On January 26, 2016, PACE adopted a resolution "Residents of the border regions of Azerbaijan are intentionally deprived of water" on the Sarsang reservoir in Karabakh.    It contains a demand for the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the specified region. The resolution calls the artificial water crisis an "environmental aggression" and at the same time confirms the occupation of part of the territories of Azerbaijan by Armenia.

The other day, a former oppositionist, the editor of a former opposition newspaper, ranted on this topic on AZTV. Foaming at the mouth, he argued about the worthlessness of Atkinson and his resolution, which gave nothing to Azerbaijan.  The same was said about the Council of Europe, which raised the issue of the illegal arrest of this very editor when he was in a Baku prison.

One can only guess what makes people change their position by 180 degrees, do not hesitate to call black and white and openly lie?

Thesis number 3): The Council of Europe has not justified Azerbaijan's hopes and is a worthless organization

Here we must return to the moment of Azerbaijan's accession to the Council of Europe in 2001. It is enough to quote the speech of the then President of the country, Heydar Aliyev, at the Council of Europe and recall what he promised and how he assessed European values and traditions, which are harshly criticized today.

"The Republic of Azerbaijan, which is an integral part of a united and indivisible Europe, has joined a reliable and authoritative European organization - the Council of Europe. On behalf of the entire Azerbaijani people, I express my gratitude to the members of the Parliamentary Assembly and, in general, to the member States of the Council of Europe for supporting the entry of the Republic of Azerbaijan into the organization. I take this opportunity to congratulate President Kocharian on the admission of Armenia to the Council of Europe."

"The Constitution of Azerbaijan guarantees the supremacy of international law. So far, we have joined 15 conventions of the Council of Europe. But even without being members of the organization, we considered the provisions and standards of the main documents of the Council of Europe. This primarily concerns the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols.

The laws adopted in our country are being developed with the direct participation of experts from the Council of Europe."

"As a result of legal reforms, everyone has gained guarantees of personal freedom and inviolability, fair and public hearing of his case by an independent and impartial court and provision of legal protection. The country has a multiparty system, ensures political pluralism, freedom of speech and religion, minority rights, equality before the law and the presumption of innocence."

"Over the past five years, on my initiative, an amnesty has been declared against 55 thousand people. I also pardoned about 2,500 prisoners, among whom were persons mentioned in the appeals of human rights organizations and PACE deputies.

On January 16 of this year, I sent another amnesty initiative to the Parliament of the Republic for about 9 thousand people.

We will continue to proceed from the commitment of the Azerbaijani people and the state to the ideals and principles of humanism and humanity, values based on democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

I declare with full responsibility that freedom of the media and unhindered development of NGOs are ensured in Azerbaijan. We intend to further improve legislation in these areas and improve the practice of its application."

"Today, the process of Azerbaijan's democratic development has become irreversible, and unshakable guarantees of freedom and the rule of law have been created. Azerbaijan's admission to the Council of Europe is not only recognition of it as an established independent, sovereign, democratic, secular state, it is the beginning of a new stage in the development of the Azerbaijani state as an equal member of the European family.

I declare that Azerbaijan is committed to its obligations to the Council of Europe." "The accession to the Council of Europe of our country, located at the crossroads of historical paths, is an extremely important event for both Azerbaijan and the organization. We are ready to replenish the pan-European baggage with new values that will contribute to strengthening democratic stability in Europe."

I wonder if Baku remembers this performance today?

Thesis number 4): "We are being expelled from the Council of Europe for liberating Karabakh"

Over 19 years, PACE and the European Parliament have adopted dozens of documents on Azerbaijan: Resolutions, reports and statements that spoke about human rights violations, political prisoners, inconsistency of adopted laws with European standards, corruption, unfair elections, violation of democracy – what the country promised to do when it was admitted to the Council of Europe in 2001 year.

The above-mentioned documents did not just criticize Baku, they stated something more important - Azerbaijan is moving in a different direction. At the same time, it was also a warning.

Today we are told that Azerbaijan has been deprived of its voice because we have cleared Karabakh of Armenians. If this were the case, sanctions would have been imposed last year, when PACE criticized the September operation in Karabakh, and even earlier the installation of a border checkpoint in Lachin. And if we did not agree with these decisions, why did not  we leave PACE then, and not now?

Was it worth reacting so violently?

Did Baku know about the upcoming troubles? If he did not know and did not guess, then those responsible for the country's foreign policy are eating their bread in vain. But most likely, Baku was aware of the mood in Strasbourg, but the slogan worked: "No one can talk to us in the language of threats."

An attempt to dictate conditions and impose their own rules where it is impossible. That is the reason for what happened.

The consequences of this crisis are image losses for the country as a whole. For citizens, this is a weakening of contacts with European structures and, above all, with the European Court of Human Rights, where they could find protection of their rights.

One can only hope that Baku will remember another slogan, said in 2001 by Heydar Aliyev on the day of admission to the Council of Europe:

“Dear deputies! We should all rely on the search for unity in difference, and not turn differences into contradictions. We are all different peoples, but we speak the same language - the language of a united Europe, the language of freedom, democracy and law. This is our strength.”

 

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