BAKU: Azeri diplomatic corps discusses its problems with cabinet

Ekho, Baku, in Russian
29 Jul 04 pp 1, 2

Azeri diplomatic corps discusses its problems with cabinet – paper

A recent meeting between Azerbaijani ambassadors and government
members noted the importance of intensifying the work of the
country’s diplomatic missions abroad, the Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho
has said. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov stated that
it was necessary to continue the “unrelenting struggle” against
Armenian propaganda and to intensify propaganda and information work
using modern information technologies, according to the newspaper. In
turn, other ministers touched on the problems that their departments
encounter in their international activities and drew the ambassadors’
attention to the need to increase control over budget expenditure at
the embassies. In reply, the ambassadors spoke about problems in
performing banking transactions with Azerbaijan and voiced many other
complaints. The following is the text of R. Orucov and N. Aliyev
report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho on 29 July headlined “The
Foreign Ministry decided not to wash its dirty linen in public” and
subheaded “Although, according to some reports, it did announce the
recall of ambassadors from a number of countries”. Subheadings have
been inserted editorially:

Diplomatic missions have to intensify work

The first joint session of the country’s diplomatic corps ended in
Baku yesterday. It emerged yesterday that President Ilham Aliyev
called on the Azerbaijani embassies abroad to work with the mass
media more closely. “Great attention should be paid to this sphere,”
Aliyev said. He said that a special post should be created in the
embassies for this purpose. At present, the embassies react to some
events or publications post factum in most cases. In Aliyev’s
opinion, the embassies should be proactive and should strive to get
the reports that are advantageous to Azerbaijan published (Turan news

Most of yesterday’s meeting was taken by speeches of government
members. According to the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign
Ministry, effectively all the main members of the cabinet took part
in the meeting yesterday. In his speech, Defence Minister Safar
Abiyev reminded the audience of the tasks that the head of state has
set for the diplomats. Then the floor was taken by Interior Minister
Ramil Usubov who spoke about the need to intensify the diplomatic
missions’ work in terms of combating crime and ensuring internal
security at the foreign relations level. In turn, National Security
Minister Eldar Mahmudov spoke about great similarities in the work of
the diplomats and staffers of the special services. He said that
close cooperation between all government structures to ensure
national security was very important.

It has to be noted that almost all the members of the Azerbaijani
government delivered their speeches yesterday. And they all spoke to
the ambassadors about the problems that their departments encounter
in their international activities.

Ambassadors raise problems

The ambassadors replied with their own questions and suggestions.
They identified as one of the major problems the issue of extending
the validity period of the passports of our countrymen abroad and
issuing them quickly. Incidentally, it was decided at the session to
send a high-level official from the Interior Ministry on a business
trip to the embassies in those countries where the problem exists
with the extension of the passport validity period in order to
elaborate jointly with the diplomats a plan of measures to resolve
this issue.

First Deputy Finance Minister Ilqar Fatizada drew the diplomats’
attention to the need to increase control over budget expenditure at
the embassies. He reminded them of the rules of using office cars and
of the need to elaborate normative documents to celebrate the
national holidays of Azerbaijan.

In reply, the ambassadors told the representatives of the ministries
of finance and taxation about big problems that the foreign missions
experience when performing banking transactions with the home
country. Complaints about many other issues were also voiced.

As diplomatic sources told Ekho, the concluding speech by the chief
of the Presidential Executive Staff, Ramiz Mehdiyev, proved to be
most interesting. Most of the speech was dedicated to describing
different flaws in the work of the embassies. Some reports about the
session also say that the fate of different diplomats was also
discussed, but no details have been disclosed yet.

Unrelenting struggle against Armenian propaganda

Incidentally, according to the Turan news agency, Foreign Minister
Elmar Mammadyarov said at the meeting that the Azerbaijani
ambassadors to the USA, Russia, France and Egypt would be recalled
soon. Touching on the main objectives of the Azerbaijani diplomatic
service, the minister noted that the unrelenting struggle should be
continued against Armenian propaganda which strives to “discredit”
Azerbaijan. Using modern information technologies, information and
propaganda work should be intensified both in Azerbaijan and abroad.
Activities directed at continuing the provision of aid to the
refugees and internally displaced persons should be carried out. The
foreign missions should closely follow the reports by the local mass
media about Azerbaijan, analyse them, and inform the Foreign Ministry
in time, Mammadyarov said. He pointed out the need to intensify
cooperation with the local and foreign mass media and to hold regular
news briefings. Mammadyarov also deems it important to broaden the
propaganda and information work using the Internet.

As one of the participants in the meeting noted in a conversation
with Ekho yesterday, “the event was very useful to all sides; I can
bring a visual example: yesterday some members of the diplomatic
corps saw one another for the first time in their lives.” He also
noted that some speeches touched on the financial activities of
ambassadors. But, he said, “nothing specific was said about recalling
some heads of missions,” although the source did not rule out the
possibility that the rotation of the ambassadors might take place.