Protesters in Baku try to storm NATO conference

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From: “Katia M. Peltekian” <[email protected]>
Subject: Protesters in Baku try to storm NATO conference
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World News / Jang News, Pakistan
June 23 2004

Protesters in Baku try to storm NATO conference

BAKU: A NATO conference in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan
was disrupted on Tuesday when hardline nationalists tried to storm
the hotel where the meeting was taking place. Police arrested 12
demonstrators, who were protesting against the presence at the
conference of two servicemen from the neighbouring country of
Armenia. Azerbaijan and Armenia are officially in a state of war
after fighting in the early 1990s over the disputed enclave of

About 30 demonstrators broke through a police cordon outside the
venue for the meeting, a hotel in the Azeri capital, Baku, and
smashed the glass door of the conference hall, witnesses at the scene
told AFP. They were prevented from getting into the hall by the
hotel’s security guards and were later detained by police. The
meeting was suspended for five minutes as a result of the

Earlier, the protesters had marched through Baku carrying placards
with the slogans: “Armenians Out!” and “The Armenians criminals have
the blood of our people on their hands.” “We will continue this
protest action all day,” said Akif Nagi, who led the demonstration.
“Our aim is to force the Armenians to leave the conference.” The
conference is being held to prepare for a training exercise of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, called “Cooperative Best Effort,”
which is due to take place in Azerbaijan this fall.

The conference is being attended by delegates from 24 NATO member
states and partner countries, including the two Armenian officers.
They have been identified by Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry as Colonel
Murad Sakhanian and Senior Lieutenant Aram Hovannisian. Also on
Tuesday, there were complaints about the presence of the Armenian
officers from deputies in Azerbaijan’s parliament. Speaker Murtuz
Aleskerov said he “expressed his protest about this issue.”

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are members of NATO’s Partnership for
Peace programme, which is seen as a stepping-stone to full membership
of the military alliance. This is not the first time a NATO event has
brought clashes between the two countries. Earlier this year, an
Armenian officer studying English in the Hungarian capital, Budapest,
as part of a NATO-sponsored course, was beheaded as he slept in his
student dormitory. An Azeri officer, who had been studying on the
same course as the victim, has been arrested and charged with the

The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the early 1990s over
Nagorno-Karabakh left some 35,000 people dead and forced about a
million people on both sides to flee their homes. It ended with
Armenian forces in control of Karabakh, which is internationally
recognised as part of Azerbiajan.


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress