BAKU: US in race for influence in South Caucasus

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
March 18 2004

US in race for influence in South Caucasus

Last week the United States sent three onsecutive ‘delegations of
landing troops’ to the capital. Emissaries of the Department of State
and military made up the majority of the members of the delegations.
The delegation of the U.S. college of Air Forces, which arrived in
Baku early last week,

was led by a top officer and also included Lynn Paskoe, Assistance
Secretary of State. However, leading the third U.S. delegation to
Baku was General Charles Wald, Deputy Commander of the U.S. European
Command. Admiral Gregory Johnson, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in
Europe and Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe,
was also among the delegates.

On March 11, a U.S. delegation led by Bruce Rogers, U.S. Deputy
Political Advisor of NATO’s mission, and Erik Schultz, the U.S. State
Department’s Deputy Director on security and political issues in
Europe, held important meetings in Baku. The aim of the three
delegations’ visits was to discuss political and military issues but
not economic ones, as the issues on economic relations including on
the financing of the BTC pipeline have already been settled. Today,
the United States is eager to solve some questions in Azerbaijan.
First, it is trying to direct the leadership of Azerbaijan towards
conducting economic and political reforms in the country. According
to a diplomatic source, the economic and political reforms were one
of the primary issues discussed at President Ilham Aliyev’s meeting
with Lynn Paskoe. During the unofficial meeting one of the U.S.
delegates even stated that Azerbaijan has to take real steps in this
respect, noting that the United States will wait only three more
months. The delegate stressed that if during this period no serious
steps were taken in the direction of reforms, the United States would
find it hard to believe that the leadership of Azerbaijan would
manage to integrate the country into the Euro-Atlantic structures.
The second problem that the United States wants to settle is not to
give the initiative in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus to the
European Union (EU) and Russia. The United States wants to see the
South Caucasus countries as ones pursuing the U.S. government’s
policy in the EU. Pointing to the EU’s increasing interest towards
Azerbaijan, Lynn Paskoe directly stated that the United States was
not willing to ‘lag behind’ in this rivalry. He also voiced his
desire to exchange views with President Ilham Aliyev on ‘great
changes’ in the region. However, Azerbaijan and Georgia should be
admitted to NATO soon so that the United States could achieve its
goals. For this purpose, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces should be
brought to NATO standards. Above all, it is necessary to settle the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Garabagh. Reno Harnish, the
U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, who also took part in the meeting of
Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev with Erik Schultz and Bruce
Rogers, stated that the United States and NATO are eager to cooperate
with the South Caucasus countries including Azerbaijan and establish
stability in the region. The U.S. government is waiting for Safar
Abiyev to visit Washington to define the ways for bilateral military
cooperation. Abiyev’s standpoint is that of the Azerbaijani state and
people. While receiving the delegation of the U.S. college of Air
Forces on March 9, the defense minister said, “Today, the primary
duty of the Azerbaijani Army is to liberate our lands from Armenian
occupation. It would be better if the Upper Garabagh conflict were
solved peacefully within Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and
international legal norms. If no peace is achieved, we will free our
lands by any means necessary.” A U.S. delegation led by General
Charles Wald, who visited Baku on March 12-13, concluded the ‘U.S.
week in Baku’.

The meetings
On Saturday President Ilham Aliyev received a U.S. delegation led by
General Charles “Chuck” Wald, Deputy Commander of the U.S. European
Command. A two-day visit by the Senior Advisory Group (SAG) of the
U.S. European Command started on Friday.

NATO to expand strategic cooperation
The U.S. delegation of senior government and military officials
included Admiral Gregory G. Johns, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in
Europe and Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe,
Ambassador Kenneth L. Brown, Ambassador Harriet Elam-Thomas,
Ambassador Lloyd Hand and Ambassador Robert Hunter. Noting that the
Azerbaijani-U.S. relations are developing successfully in all
spheres, President Aliyev said that bilateral cooperation was of
great importance to strengthen peace and security in the region.
Underlining that Azerbaijan plays a very important role in ensuring
security in the region, Aliyev underlined that he backed the peaceful
solution to conflicts within the international legal norms. Aliyev
stressed that Azerbaijan was an ally of the United States anti-terror
combat and this alliance would continue in the future. The
Azerbaijani President further voiced his confidence that his country
would continue to cooperate with the United States to ensure the
security of pipelines as part of the Caspian Energy Resources
Development program. Touching upon the fight against global
terrorism, General Wald stressed that the recent terror attack
committed in Spain once again showed the necessity for broad
cooperation in this field. Underlining that the Caspian border guard
program is continuing successfully, General Wald expressed the
necessity for close cooperation among the Caspian states in this
respect. He particularly stressed that Azerbaijan’s current foreign
policy suggested that there would be positive changes in the
settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Garabagh.
At the meeting with Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiyev on Saturday,
General Wald stressed that NATO intended to expand strategic
cooperation with Azerbaijan and assist in guarding this country’s
energy resources. He also expressed his gratitude to the leadership
of Azerbaijan for the country’s active role in fighting international
terrorism. Admiral Johnson said, “Azerbaijan has rich natural
resources in the Caspian Sea. The cooperation between the U.S. navy
and the Azerbaijani navy may ensure the security of these resources.
Joint activities in programs on non-proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction are also included in the sphere of this cooperation.”
Touching upon the Cooperative Best Effort-2004 desert training held
in Azerbaijan, Admiral Johnson stressed that “the high-level
organization of the training would reaffirm that Azerbaijan was a
leading country in the region.”
The U.S. delegation held a briefing at the International Press Center
on Saturday. General Charles Wald said that the aim of the visit was
to develop “strategic and military cooperation with Azerbaijan and to
discuss future cooperation in this sphere with President Ilham
Aliyev.” Underlining that the United States doesn’t intend to station
its military bases in the region, General Wald said military
relations would also be established with Russia. Noting that his
meeting with President Ilham Aliyev made a deep impression on him,
the General said, “Ilham Aliyev is a prominent person in this
region.” Admiral Johnson said that together with Azerbaijani Defense
Minister Safar Abiyev he observed the Azerbaijani Navy and Border
Service. Johnson underlined that during his meeting with Abiyev,
fighting international terrorism, joint activity in the
non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and on maintenance
of stability in the region were in focus. Further, Admiral Johnson
thanked the Azerbaijani government for assuming the organization of
NATO training to be arranged in Baku this April with participation of
seventeen countries as part of the NATO’s Partnership for Peace

BAKU: OSCE Chair Calls on Azerbaijan, Armenia to Continue NK Talks

16 March 2004


BAKU, 16 March 2004 – The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Bulgarian Foreign
Minister Solomon Passy, has called upon the sides involved in the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to continue dialogue without any preconditions.

Speaking in Baku, on Tuesday, the Chairman-in-Office said: “The key to the
solution is in direct dialogue.”

“The OSCE is always prepared to be a facilitator. We can offer many
scenarios on the resolution of the conflict but it will all be just
laboratory work until both Azerbaijan and Armenia reach an agreement at the
table. The only scenario that will work is the one which is negotiated
directly, with mutual compromises.”

Nagorno-Karabakh was one of the main topics in discussions which the OSCE
Chairman-in-Office held with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

During his visit to Baku, the Chairman-in-Office also met Prime Minister
Artur Rasi-Zade, the Speaker of Parliament, Murtuz Aleskerov, and Foreign
Minister Vilayat Guliyev, as well as opposition leaders and representatives
of non-governmental organizations.

Minister Passy said the OSCE Minsk Group was working very hard to help
achieve a solution to the conflict. “But the OSCE is not capable of miracles
and can’t impose a ready solution. History teaches us that with conflicts
time always works against us. The later a solution is found, the more
painful it may be for the people of the region.”

The Chairman-in-Office expressed hope that education, a priority of the
Bulgarian OSCE Chairmanship, would eventually play a role in resolving the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In particular, he noted the importance of having
accurate and objective history books.

“We must invest in the education of the next generation,” the Minister said.
“If we allow our children to be misled by propaganda, the next generation
will find it hard to be objective and walk away from old scars.”

Another topic in the discussions was the follow-up to the recommendations to
the report of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
on the conduct of the Presidential Election of 15 October last year.

“I believe we may now move on, utilizing the lessons learned and thereby
opening the way to free and fair municipal elections, scheduled for later
this year,” the Chairman-in-Office said. “I trust they may provide a
substantial platform for building public confidence across the political

Minister Passy also brought up the question of disturbances after the
October election and the arrest of a number of people who are now awaiting
trial. He said he had a positive reaction on this issue from President

“I am pleased to note that court proceedings are now underway. It is my
fervent hope that the process will be transparent and the judgements fair
and appropriate,” he said.

Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

ARKA News Agency – 03/15/2004

ARKA News Agency
March 15 2004

RA President Robert Kocharian congratulates RF President Vladimir
Putin with re-election

Boris Spasski: I did not expect such a negative reaction of Baku on
international tournament in Stepanakert

Delegation of Armenian Parliament to leave for Poland tomorrow

Karabakh NGO Center of Civil Initiatives continues monitoring of
penitentiary organizations

Three deputies of the Republica party not to participate in the RA NA



YEREVAN, March 15. /ARKA/. RA President Robert Kocharian
congratulated RF President Vladimir Putin with re-election,
President’s press office told ARKA. The letter of Kocharian says:
`Sincerely congratulate Your with confident victory at the elections
of the President of Russia Federation. On March 14, Russia made its
choice towards stability, democracy and prosperity’. Kocharian said
that in Putin, Russia sees the leader who can bring the country to
sustainable development, defending national interests. According to
Kocharian, Armenia highly estimates big personal contribution of
Vladimir Putin in deepening of Russian-Armenian friendly relations.
Armenian President assured his Russian colleague in readiness of
Armenian authorities to continue efforts on improvement and expanding
of cooperation between Armenia and Russia. L.D. –0–



STEPANAKERT, March 15. /ARKA/. `I did not expect such a negative
reaction of Baku on international chess tournament in Stepanakert’,
10th World Champion Boris Spasski told ARKA in Stepanakert.
Commenting the tournament Spasski said that the youth is very
talented and their game is of very high level.
Talking about perspectives of chess development in Nagorno Karabakh,
Boris Spasski noted very promising youth sector.
The idea of holding the International Chess Tournament in Nagorno
Karabakh occurred to the Armenian Chess Academy and the NKR
Government five months ago.
The International Chess Tournament is devoted to the 75th anniversary
since the birth of the 9th World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosyan.
Azeri MFA made a statement with discontent with conduction of
tournament in Nagorno Karabakh. L.D. -0 –



YEREVAN, March 15. /ARKA/. Delegation of Armenian Parliament, headed
with the Speaker Arthur Baghdasarian will leave for Poland tomorrow
on the invitation of Marshal of Poland Seym Marek Borovski, RA NA
told ARKA. During the visit, Armenian delegation will meet with the
President of Poland Alexander Kwasnevski, Marshal of Poland Seym
Marek Borovski, the chairmen of the commission on external relations
and European Commission of Seym Eji Yaskernia and Eji Chepulkovski,
Marshal of Senate Longin Pastushyak, Prime Minister Leshek Miller,
Foreign Minister Vlodzimej Chimoshevich. Besides, Armenian delegation
will meet with the head of Poland delegation to PACE, Deputy Director
ODIHR/OSCE and Rector of Chief Economic School of Warsaw. L.D. –0–



STEPANAKERT, March 15. /ARKA/. Karabakh NGO Center of Civil
Initiatives continues monitoring of penitentiary organizations,
Director of Organization Albert Voskanian told ARKA. According to
him, certain changes took place in the system this year. `First of
all, the name of Reformatory Establishment-1 (former Shushi prison)
has changed to Department of prosecution of criminal punishments of
NKR Police. Besides, all jalousies were removed from the windows of
hostels of the Department, which corresponds to international
standards’, he said.
NGO Center of Civil Initiatives was created in October 2002.
Organization deals also with search of missing and former prisoners
of war and hostages. L.D. –0–



YEREVAN, March 15. /ARKA/ Three deputies of the Republica party will
not participate in the RA NA work, according to the Chairman of the
Republica opposition party, the deputy of Justice bloc Albert
Bazeyan. He noted that he was speaking of himself, Aram Sargsyan, and
Smbat Aivazyan. `We will not participate in the Parliament’s work,
until the RA President retires and special elections be held’, he
said. According to the Chairman of Justice bloc, the present
Parliament cannot function normally and needs dismissing. `It’s to no
purpose to participate in the formal work of the Parliament, where
the majority of it votes by the President’s order’, Bazeyan thinks.
He noted that `mandates will be returned only in the case they can’t
be used for the further struggle’.
Justice and National Unity opposition Parliamentary factions
consisting of 23 deputies boycott the RA NA work because of the
refusal of the Parliamentary majority to include the bill on
amendments to be made in the law on referendum into the agenda. The
bill stipulates for conducting referendum of trust to the Government
of the country. A.H. –0–

Folk Vanguard in Live Performance

A1 Plus | 17:23:19 | 11-03-2004 | Culture |


On the initiative of Arto-Tunj Boyajyan Armenian Navy Band presents a music
club at Pushkin 3a on March 13. Journalists from European countries are

The Club will be closed on Mondays only. Eminent and worthy musicians will
play on the club stage. The prices for the tickets of concerts of foreign
and local musicians will be different. Music will sound in the club all day
long, and beginning from 8:00 PM groups will perform in live.

According to Arto-Tunj Boyajyan, they want to introduce the present sticking
to roots, so they have called their music folk vanguard.

Yerevan Press Club Weekly Newsletter – 03/11/2004


MARCH 5-11, 2004






On March 9, 2004 four public organizations of Armenia – Yerevan Press Club,
Helsinki Committee of Armenia, Civil Society Institute and Caucasian Center
of Peace Initiatives – disseminated a joint statement on the assassination
of Armenian officer Gurgen Margarian by his Azerbaijani colleague in

“We, similarly to all our compatriots, were greatly shattered by the
barbarous murder of Armenia officer Gurgen Margarian by Azerbaijani peer
Ramil Safarov. The tragic incident in Budapest provoke numerous thoughts:
about the hate incitement towards Armenian in Azerbaijan that forms the
moral and psychological ground for such crimes as well as about the
connivance of certain international structures to the destructive policy in
Baku, narrowing down the prospects of dialogue with Armenia.

At the same time the irresponsible statements by several Armenian political
and public figures, the publications in media during the recent days cannot
but cause our serious concern. In particular, the Chairman of the Standing
Committee of Foreign Affairs of the RA National Assembly Armen Rustamian,
during the commemoration action for victims of Sumgait pogroms and the head
of the Parliament faction of Republican Party Galust Sahakian during a
briefing at NA on March 4, speaking about the assassin of Gurgen Margarian,
indulged into unacceptable generalizations to the address of Azerbaijan
nation as such.

These statements by politicians of such a high rank, representing a
governing political coalition, are all the more unacceptable since they can
be qualified as an official position of ours state, can create new obstacles
for the negotiations on the peaceful resolution of Karabagh conflict and the
normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The artificial intensification of anti-Armenian sentiment in Azerbaijan and
its consequences are to be most strongly criticized, but they can in no way
become a justification for dissemination of racist and chauvinist ideas,
alien to our society.

However hard our experiences related to Budapest tragedy are, we call to
display political reticence and hope that common sense and democratic values
will remain guiding for our country”, the statement of the Armenian NGOs


On March 5 the expanded meeting of “Partnership for Open Society” coalition,
uniting over 30 non-governmental organizations, was held. It was devoted to
the draft law on amending the RA Law “On Freedom of Information”, approved
by the RA Government (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 20-26, 2004).

The RA National Assembly deputy, one of the authors of the Law Victor
Dallakian and a representative of “Democracy” NGO Vardan Poghosian noted
that the Law “On Freedom of Information” adopted on September 23 and
enforced since November 14, 2003 is quite progressive and is up to
international standards. Therefore, the amendments approved by the
Government on February 12, when the Law has not been actually applied, are
premature, particularly, since their majority reduced the democratic
potential of the acting legislation. The allusions of the amendment authors
to the controversies within the Law and its contradiction to the RA
Constitution, as quoted in the appropriate resolution of the Government, are

The initiative of the Government to introduce amendments to the Law “On
Freedom of Information” has already received broad negative response both in
Armenia and abroad. The calls to withdraw the governmental amendments were
already voiced by Freedom of Information Civic Initiate, “Article 19” Global
Campaign for Free Expression, Open Society Justice Initiative.

Common amazement is caused by the fact that despite the numerous requests,
neither the RA Ministry of Justice that authored the amendments, nor the
Government presented the official text of the draft approved to the public
organization, despite the numerous requests, thus seriously violating the
principles of freedom of information as such.

As a result of a discussion at an expanded session of the “Partnership for
Open Society” and upon the suggestion of the President of Yerevan Press Club
Boris Navasardian an address to the RA Government was passed, made up of
four main demands:

– To withdraw the draft law “On Introducing Amendments and Additions to the
RA Law “On Freedom of Information”;

– To ensure the application of the RA Law “On Freedom of Information”,
passed in September 23, including the speedy development and adoption of the
appropriate sublegislative acts, not to relate the possible need for the
improvement of the Law to its application;

– Should there be initiatives on amending the law, to broadly discuss them
with representatives of civil society;

– When initiating amendments to the Law, to supplement them by specific and
detailed justification.


On March 4 at the session of the RA Government the Model Procedure for
accrediting journalists in the state administration bodies was approved. The
procedure was developed by the RA Ministry of Justice in compliance with the
requirements of the RA Law “On Mass Communication”, passed in December,

As it has been reported, the discussion of the document with journalistic
associations was rather constructive (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, January
30 – February 5, 2004), however, we are induced to restate our amazement at
the official document being not provided, despite our numerous requests to
do so. This happens to the second legislative initiative of the Government,
related to media activities and cannot fail to alarm the journalistic

When reprinting or using the information above, reference to the Yerevan
Press Club is required.

You are welcome to send any comment and feedback about the Newsletter to:
[email protected]

Subscription for the Newsletter is free. To subscribe or unsubscribe from
this mailing list, please send a message to: [email protected]

Editor of YPC Newsletter – Elina POGHOSBEKIAN
Yerevan Press Club
9B, Ghazar Parpetsi str.
375007, Yerevan, Armenia
Tel.: (+ 374 1) 53 00 67; 53 35 41; 53 76 62
Fax: (+374 1) 53 56 61
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site: