Today.Az Covering Azerbaijan inside and outside Today.Az Azerbaijani-British political consultations held in UK Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 18:00:00 +0400 The political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom have been held in London.Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov headed Azerbaijani delegation, while the UK delegation was chaired by Minister of State for European Affairs David Lidington.The parties applauded level of political dialogue between Azerbaijan and Great Britain.Khalaf Khalafov said such format created an opportunity for exchanging views over various aspects of bilateral relations.The Deputy FM stressed the importance of arranging the high-level political contacts in terms of deepening the bilateral cooperation.Mr. Khalafov highlighted the current level of cooperation in humanitarian and cultural fields. The Deputy Minister also provided an insight into the causes and consequences of Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.David Lidington spoke about to the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and the United Kingdom said that his country attaches great importance to cooperation with Azerbaijan and stressed the existence of wide potential in terms of further expansion of dynamically developing bilateral cooperation.He said the United Kingdom would continue to strongly support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and emphasized the absence of any contact with the self-proclaimed regime.The Minister of State also applauded the contribution of Azerbaijan in fighting against the international terrorism.They also exchanged views on geopolitical processes undergoing in Southern Caucasus, Caspian and Central Asia regions./By Azertac/ US wants ‘strong UK staying in a strong EU’: Kerry World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 17:45:00 +0400 The United States strongly backs Britain staying in the European Union as it gears up for a referendum on its membership, US Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience in Germany on Saturday, AFP reported.“Obviously, the United States has a profound interest in your success, as we do in a very strong UK staying in a strong EU,” Kerry said at the Munich Security Conference.The British government is engaged in an intensive round of high-stakes diplomacy aimed at renegotiating the terms of Britain’s EU membership before holding an in-out referendum.Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to convince his 27 fellow EU leaders to back controversial reform proposals at a leaders’ summit in Brussels on February 18-19.“The truth is, in every decade since its founding, the EU has been tested by forces –- internal and external -– that benefited from a house divided,” Kerry said.“We know many Europeans feel overwhelmed by the latest round of challenges, including concerns about the UK’s potential exit from the EU.“I want to express the confidence of the United States… that –- as it has so many times before –- Europe is going to emerge stronger than ever, provided it stays united and builds common responses to these challenges.”/By Trend/ Serviceman of Azerbaijani armed forces killed Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 17:40:00 +0400 A junior sergeant of Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces, Elmir Zeynalov, was killed Feb. 12 as a result of the ceasefire violation on the contact line between the Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said Feb. 13.The ministry offered deepest condolences to friends and family of the killed serviceman.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations.Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts./By Trend/ International airport to be built in Ashgabat World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 17:37:00 +0400 A report on the progress of a new international airport's construction in Ashgabat was heard during a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, Altyn Asyr TV channel reported Feb. 13.The new airport includes 95 different facilities, 60 of which are large and 35 - small, according to the project.Currently, 31 objects are already commissioned and 31 objects are at the final stage of construction.“The Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov instructed to keep a strict control on all the work carried out in the important infrastructure facility of the strategic transport sector,” said the report. “The country pays special attention to the development of this infrastructure in the context to extend international cooperation and integration of Turkmenistan into the global system of world economic relations.”It was earlier reported that Turkmenistan's national air carrier (Turkmenistan Airlines) signed a contract with the Turkish Polimeks company on this project. The cost of this project is estimated at more than $2.2 billion./By Trend/ Azerbaijan`s Minister of Energy meets French Ambassador Business Sat, 13 Feb 2016 17:20:00 +0400 Azerbaijan`s Minister of Energy Natig Aliyev has met French Ambassador to the country Aurelia Bouchez.Mr. Aliyev praised relations between the two countries, stressed the importance of reciprocal visits of the heads of states in strengthening these ties. The Minister appreciated that as the indicator of mutual understanding. Mr. Aliyev said the French companies actively operate in Azerbaijan`s oil-gas and oil producing industry. “Cooperation with “Total” and “Gas de France” companies in “Absheron” field is contribution to the relations in energy sphere,” he added. The Minister noted there were comprehensive opportunities for developing cooperation with France in energy field.Ambassador Aurelia Bouchez applauded the role of energy in Azerbaijani-French ties, saying her country`s companies were interested in participation in construction works, oil refinery fields within the Southern Gas Corridor project. The Diplomat also stressed the necessity for defining the new energy fields./By Azertac/ UK invests $23B in Azerbaijan, minister says Business Sat, 13 Feb 2016 17:09:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaThe United Kingdom, the largest foreign direct investor in Azerbaijan, followed by the U.S. and Japan, has invested more than $23 billion in Azerbaijan's economy.This was announced by Azerbaijan's Economy and Industry Minister Shahin Mustafayev at the first meeting of the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and the UK in London on February 11.“Currently, there are 473 companies with British capital in Azerbaijan. UK’s companies act as contractors in the projects being implemented in Azerbaijan,” the minister said.Today, Azerbaijan and the UK successfully cooperate in various fields - banking, ICT, water supply, tourism, health care and other sectors.The two countries also cooperate in the humanitarian field, in particular through the cooperation of universities and exchange of students."Currently, 569 Azerbaijani students are studying in 38 universities in the UK, and talented British youth are trained in Azerbaijani universities," Mustafayev noted."The two countries enjoy great prospects for expanding relations and the established intergovernmental commission will play a significant role in developing economic ties and resolving the issues of common interest," he added.Later, the two countries signed a protocol of the first meeting of the Azerbaijan-UK intergovernmental commission, which envisages further cooperation of the two countries in the trade, economy, industry, tourism, energy, education and other fields.The document also says the UK does not recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh and supports the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by peaceful means.Azerbaijan and the UK have benefitted from close bilateral partnership and cooperation since 1992, in the framework of international organizations such as the United Nations, OSCE, Council of Europe, and NATO. The relations have covered a wide range of issues, from high-level political dialogue to growing trade and investment, as well as strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties.Trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the UK stood at $564 million in 2015, according to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee. Some $553.33 million of this figure accounted for import of UK products.Economic cooperation between the two countries, especially in the energy sector, is at the core of the relations between Azerbaijan and the UK.Azerbaijan cooperates with the UK in the exploration and transportation of oil and natural gas from the Azerbaijani part of the Caspian Sea.To date, the two countries have signed 24 documents. Youth enjoy new entrepreneurship opportunities Business Sat, 13 Feb 2016 16:35:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Fuad GuliyevAzerbaijan is exploring new ways to tackle the economic difficulties and all new ideas are welcome.Youth Inc. Business Incubation Center is a youth entrepreneurship program proposed by the youth of the nation to the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev during the meeting dedicated to the 20th Anniversary of the Youth Forum. It is founded by the Coca Cola, Ministry of Youth and Sports, as well as a public organization named Civil Society Debate.According to the program manager Mushvig Hasanov Youth Inc. has been active in this field since its foundation in 2013. Primary goal of the organization is to support the young entrepreneurs, new firms in high technology industries, boost start ups and enable technology transfer. This project is part of the “Youth of the Azerbaijan in 2011-2015” State Program. During last 3 years Youth Inc. trained well over 5,000 young entrepreneurs.President Ilham Aliyev appraised the activities of Youth Inc. and added that so far a large amount of long term loans, worth of 1.7 billion manats (around $1 billion) were lent to the entrepreneurs and another 250 million manats ($157 million) are planned to be lent. The president also added that such organization of young entrepreneurs is welcome and currently business incubators are being created in Baku and regions. Young entrepreneurs are essential part of the development of many different aspects of the economy of Azerbaijan.Further developing the idea, Farhad Hajiyev, the executive director of the Youth Fund, added that to this date Fund supported 2.333 business projects both in Baku and the regions.Youth entrepreneurship is especially important in the perspective of the need for stressing taxes as an important source of budget revenue in the period of shrinking oil and gas revenues. Baku holds dress rehearsal for opening ceremony of Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Sports Sat, 13 Feb 2016 16:30:00 +0400 A dress rehearsal for the opening and awarding ceremonies of the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup was held at the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku Feb. 13.FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup will be held at the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku on February 19-21. The competitions on six types of gymnastics were also held at the National Gymnastics Arena during the first Baku 2015 European Games in summer 2015.Some 45 men and 22 women will compete for the medals in the finals on apparatus. In total, some 19 countries will participate in the competitions.The qualifications will be held on the first and second days of the competition. The finals on apparatus will be held on the final day of the Cup.The various competitions will be held among spectators during the competitions. The entertainment flash mobs will be also organized.Oleg Stepko, the bronze medalist of the World Championship (parallel bars), the only Azerbaijani sportsman, awarded with five medals during the first Baku 2015 European Games, as well as his teammate Petro Pahnyuk, will be among the favorites for the World Cup.Together they won a bronze medal in the team competition.Among women Azerbaijan will be represented by Yulia Inshina, Marina Nekrasova and Maria Smirnova.Trend presents a photo report from the recent rehearsal./By Trend/ Azerbaijani president, German FM discuss Karabakh conflict Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 16:27:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Munich Feb. 13.The sides expressed satisfaction with the successful development of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Germany. They stressed the importance of such meetings and visits in terms of the further development of the bilateral ties. It was noted that despite the ongoing international financial crisis and falling oil prices, Azerbaijan paid attention to developing its economy, particularly non-oil sector, and ensured the implementation of social programs.During the meeting, they discussed cooperation between Azerbaijan and OSCE, which is chaired by Germany this year, and exchanged views over the current state of the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict./By Trend/ Azerbaijani president meets with EU Commissioner Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 16:24:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with EU Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn Feb. 13.Successful development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union was stressed during the meeting. The sides emphasized the importance of meetings and reciprocal visits in terms of intensifying the relations.They hailed successful development of Azerbaijan-EU energy cooperation, underlining the necessity of focusing efforts on this sector.They also exchanged views over other issues of mutual interest./By Trend/ Developing agriculture to minimize import dependence Business Sat, 13 Feb 2016 16:00:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Fuad GuliyevAzerbaijan is underlying agricultural products exports with ever increasing importance, and agriculture development is one of top priority sections in the State Program on 2014 2018 Socio-Economic Development.Recent changes in the political relations between many countries in the region, especially those neighboring Azerbaijan, greatly affected the economic ties as well.In contemporary situation the country can benefit new opportunities. For instance, sanctions on Russia enable to increase trade with the European Union and lifting sanctions on Iran allow increasing the exports to Iran. Kazakhstan, with an economy by low crude prices, is also interested in more trade with Azerbaijan. Lately the country constructed a large refrigerator on Russian border to store the export products which otherwise were spoiled due to long period of delays in border crossing.Government SupportGovernment support to agriculture is expected to push forward production in this very important field of economy. MP Eldar Ibrahimov, the chairman of the Agricultural Policy Committee, said $1.2 billion tax revenue concessions were made to the farmers over the past 10 years. Government also allocated more than $629.8 million paid to farmers in subsidy from 2007 to 2015 to cover the fuel costs, wheat and rice cultivation, pesticide and seed purchase expenses.More than 5,100 entrepreneurs received loans on favorable terms in amount of $8.1 million in 2015. Currently wheat is being grown by 29 large farms in 19 regions and 40,000 hectares of land with 58-60 centners of productivity obtained from each hectare.A total of $31.9 billion was spent on 2 socio-economic development programs, with $10.07 billion for the first and $21.8 billion for the second program. Further $464.4 million was allocated to the development of agriculture at the presidential decree.Increasing productionAzerbaijan, which enjoys better climatic conditions and productive soil, is able to meet its needs for the most of the agricultural products independently, including 64 percent of its demand for wheat, largely reducing the imported amount of the agricultural products from abroad.Ibrahimov said the government is keen to eliminate the dependence on imports absolutely and increase the exports of agricultural products. Last year non-oil exports of Azerbaijan amounted to $944.7 million, of which $380.4 million, or 41.3 percent, fell on agriculture products -- $10.7 million worth of tea, $13.1 million worth of potato, and $121.3 million worth of fruits.He eagerly gave an example of a 4,800 hectares big enterprise in Agjabadi, specializing not only in growing wheat but also breeding cattle with annual 6,000- 7,000 litres of milk supply.Among all agricultural products, cotton has peculiar place. Azerbaijan used to produce 1 million tons of cotton before. Last year $17 million worth of exports of cotton were made. MP also noted that 50 large enterprises are to be created to increase cotton production.Coming CooperativesIbrahimov especially stressed the need for cooperatives to increase the efficiency. Small farms with only a few hectares of land are not productive and there is a need for integrating large farms and various players in production chain to form scales of production. Such cooperatives will allow marketing the final product rather than just unprocessed raw materials. It will increase the revenue stream as well. Finally Ibrahimov told about the draft Law on Cooperatives to be discussed in the session of the National Assembly. Washington hosts Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish Wine Tasting Business Sat, 13 Feb 2016 15:34:00 +0400 On February 10, USACC in cooperation with America-Georgia Business Council and American Turkish Council with support of Embassies of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey hosted a Wine Tasting event for its members at renowned Georgetown University.The event was attended by the member-companies of organizing associations, officials of U.S. government, diplomatic corps, media representatives as well as experts and distributors of wine products in D.C. metro area.In her welcoming speech, Executive Director of USACC Susan Sadigova greeted the guests and informed them about the purpose of the event. Ms. Sadigova underlined Azerbaijan as a country with rich and old history and culture of winemaking. She also highlighted the growing importance of increasing Azerbaijani exports and the role USACC plays in promoting and bringing Azerbaijani products into U.S. market.Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the United States Elin Suleymanov stressed the importance of the event in the context of strong strategic partnership between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. The Ambassador emphasized that Azerbaijan is known for its abundant resources of oil and gas reserves. “However, one of the economic priorities of the country is to develop its non-oil sector by utilizing the revenues from the export of these resources. This event is significant in terms of stimulating and promotion of the export of non-oil products, in particular, Azerbaijani wines,” said Ambassador Suleymanov.Georgian Ambassador Archil Gegeshidze, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Turkey Tugay Tuncer, President of America-Georgia Business Council Dr. Mamuka Tsereteli and President of American-Turkish Council Howard Beasey also spoke about the friendship and cooperation the three countries share and enjoy, and praised the event as a good opportunity to promote Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish wines to the U.S. customers.The event attendees showed great interest to the Azerbaijani wines and praised them highly. Azerbaijani wines are now available for purchase at Potomac Wines & Spirits./By Azertac/ Heads of Azerbaijani, Turkish, Georgian transport bodies meet in Tbilisi Business Sat, 13 Feb 2016 15:15:00 +0400 The Georgian capital of Tbilisi has hosted a meeting of the Working Group of the trilateral Coordination Council on Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project.The meeting discussed progress of construction of the railway, current problems, railway transportation among Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, and cooperation prospects.Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia Dimitry Kumsishvili highlighted Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, Great Silk Road, as well as large-scale projects carried out in the region.He said these projects serve to strengthening relations, developing the tourism potential and enhancing the economic-trade turnover among the states and nations.Ziya Mammadov stressed the importance of the project. The Minister said this project would play an importance role in development of economic, socio-cultural relations among the three countries. He said Azerbaijan attached great importance to development of this project, which will unite Europe and Asia.Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication of Turkey Binali Yildirim said his country supported this project, saying Turkey would try its best for successful completion of railway.Following the meeting, the Ministers held a press conference./By Azertac/ Armenians violated ceasefire with Azerbaijan 128 times throughout the day Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 13:52:00 +0400 The situation on the contact line between Azerbaijan and Armenia has remained tense as the Armenian Armed Forces shattered ceasefire a total of 128 times throughout the day, Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry said.The ceasefire was violated in nameless hills in Gazakh, Gadabay regions, Kohnagishlag village in Agstafa region, Alibayli village in Tovuz region, Talish, Gulustan villages in Goranboy region, Goyarkh, Chilaburt, Chayli, Yarimja villages in Tartar region, Shikhlar, Bash Garvand, Novruzlu, Javahirli, Kangarli, Sarijali, Shuraabad, Namirli villages in Aghdam region, Kuropatkino village in Khojavand region, Horadiz, Garakhanbayli, Gorgan, Ashagi Seyidahmadli villages in Fuzuli region, Mehdili village of Jabrayil region, as well as nameless hills in Goygol, Goranboy, Khojavand, Fuzuli and Jabrayil regions.In view of the operational situation, Azerbaijani armed forces carried out 129 strikes on enemy positions./By Azertac/ Azerbaijan, Korea discuss cooperation in customs field Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 13:40:00 +0400 First Deputy Chairman of Azerbaijan`s State Customs Committee, Customs service Lieutenant-General Safar Mehdiyev has met newly-appointed Korean Ambassador to the country Kim Chang-gyu.Safar Mehdiyev highlighted current relations between Azerbaijan and Korea, adding there was great potential for boosting cooperation in various fields. He stressed the role of customs bodies in ensuring the economic security in the country.Mr. Mehdiyev stressed the importance mutual experience exchange in implementation of information communication technologies.Kim Chang-gyu, in turn, said the Korean government attached great importance to the cooperation with Azerbaijan, and highlighted the current state of ties between the two countries. The Ambassador stressed the importance of experience exchange and mutual activity for deepening the ties between the customs services of Azerbaijan and Korea. The diplomat said the customs service had crucial role in developing economic-trade bonds. The Ambassador expressed assurance that the bilateral bonds would further continue to develop between the relevant bodies of both countries./By Azertac/ Azerbaijani female wrestlers to vie for medals in Ukraine Sports Sat, 13 Feb 2016 13:29:00 +0400 Azerbaijani female wrestlers will compete in an international tournament to be held in Kiev, Ukraine on February 13-14.Azerbaijan`s hopes will be pinned on 9 wrestlers./By Azertac/ European Parliamentary delegation holds meetings in Azerbaijan Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 13:05:00 +0400 A delegation led by Vice-president of European Parliament Ryszard Czarnecki and President of Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists Jan Zahradil have held a number of meetings in Azerbaijan.The delegation met Parliament Speaker of Azerbaijan Ogtay Asadov who stressed the importance of boosting ties with the structures of European Union. The Speaker stressed the significance of this visit in terms of developing cooperation between European Parliament and Azerbaijan, adding, “Reciprocal visits of delegations serve to further deepening ties.”Jan Zahradil, in turn, said the European Parliament always attached great attention to the relations with Azerbaijan. He said they would give necessary efforts to strengthening these bonds.The European delegation has also met Azerbaijani President`s Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov.They discussed current state of relations among Azerbaijan, European Parliament and Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR).The sides also exchanged views on role of AECR in developing Azerbaijani-EU relations.They spoke about the security and energy issues, as well as intensifying relations between Azerbaijan and the European Institutions.The delegation thanked the President of Azerbaijan for his support in solving the current problems in Europe, especially in transnational and regional issues.Ryszard Czarnecki said they would further continue to support the activities with friendship group of Azerbaijan in solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict./By Azertac/ Azerbaijan to face Netherlands in Futsal World Cup play-off Sports Sat, 13 Feb 2016 12:36:00 +0400 The Azerbaijan national futsal team will meet the Netherlands for a place in the 2016 FIFA World Cup in Colombia after the play-off draw was made in Belgrade.The play-off matches will be held on March 22 and April 12./By Azertac/ Iran for foreign investors: future rewards outweigh risks? World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 12:12:00 +0400 Despite the risks that Iran’s business environment could create for investors, in the long-term, the outlook on the country’s energy sector is very positive, Emma Richards, an oil and gas analyst with BMI Research, which is a part of Fitch Group, believes.Richards told Trend that the re-opening of the economy will draw in a high level of investment, in particular from companies in Europe.“Iran remains a challenging operating environment, but the rewards more than outweigh the risks,” Richards said.“Contract revisions have been favourable, the country has huge oil and gas reserves and the cost base is very low. It will probably be one of the strongest growth stories over the next 10 years,” she said.On January 16, the International Atomic Energy Agency verified Tehran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), opening the way for Iran's return to the global energy market. The same day, the US and the European Union announced that they were lifting their sanctions against Iran.Free of sanctions, the country plans to increase its oil export by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd), and then raise the figure by another 500,000 to two million bpd within a six month period at the next step.Iran's return will add to the glut in the global oil market in the near-term, Richards said.“They've managed to increase their production by around 80,000 bpd over the past few weeks and they're also unwinding barrels from storage,” she said.Richards noted that BMI Research expects the country’s production to increase by 500,000 bpd by 2017 and the lion's share of that will go to exports.“Competition for buyers is intense, so we can assume there will be some competitive discounting, which will put further downward pressure on global oil prices,” Richards said.According to OPEC’s February Oil Market Report, Iran produced 2.925 million bpd in January 2016, about 38,000 barrels more than in the previous months.With regards of the prospects for the global oil market overall, Richards said that the first half of 2016 looks very volatile, both because the market is so oversupplied and because of the broader uncertainties around the health of the global economy.“Companies are making aggressive cutbacks in spending, which will help the market begin to re-balance in the second half,” she said adding that it's unlikely that oil prices will stabilise until that re-balancing gets underway./By Trend/ 31 cars of Ukrainian train to be sent from Baku to Turkmenbashi Business Sat, 13 Feb 2016 12:10:00 +0400 The second freight train from Ukraine consisting of 32 cars, which joined the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor, has arrived today morning at Baku International Sea Trade Port. According to Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company, the cargo consists of food and drugs. The train on route Ukraine - Georgia - Azerbaijan - Kazakhstan – China, officially known as Trans-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor or New Silk Road, left the Ukrainian port of Illichivsk on Jan. 15 and arrived in China on Jan. 31. One car from the Baku port will be sent to Aktau, and the rest 31 wagons will be sent to Turkmenbashi.On January 14, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia signed a protocol on the establishment of preferential tariffs for cargo transportation on this transport route./By Azertac/ Six parties to take part in Kazakh parliamentary election World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 11:42:00 +0400 Kazakhstan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) registered candidates from all six parties intending to take part in the parliamentary election.The country’s Birlik (Unity) party was the last party registered for the election, the CEC said Feb. 12.The Nur Otan Democratic People’s Party, the Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, the Aul Democratic People’s Patriotic Party, the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan, the Nationwide Social Democratic Party and the Birlik Party will participate in the election.In total, the candidate list includes 234 registered candidates.The previous parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan in 2012 was attended by the seven political parties, but only three of them overcame the seven percent barrier and entered the Parliament - the Nur Otan Democratic People’s Party, the Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan./By Trend/ Turkmenistan eyes possibilities of joining WTO World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 11:28:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Laman IsmayilovaTurkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredow has held a series of meetings with heads of international organizations, including director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Roberto Azevedo during his Geneva visit, the Turkmen government reported.During the meetings, a special attention was paid to implementation of initiatives of President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov aimed at strengthening global energy security, environmental protection, development of international transport infrastructure, regional trade, as well as addressing water problems.The EU proposed Turkmenistan to join WTO in January 2011. The move is expected to increase Turkmenistan's share in regional and global trade and have a positive impact on economic development, which is necessary for long-term prosperity and well-being of the country.Brussels announced that it is ready to help Ashgabat in joining the WTO, as it optimizes attracting foreign capital and facilitates creating new jobs.Fuel-energy complex, high-technological industrial spheres, transport, communications, banking and financial sector are among the promising areas of cooperation between Turkmenistan and the EU.At present, Ashgabat is negotiating with the EU and Azerbaijan on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline construction project.Brussels hopes to diversify the sources of gas consumption through Caspian resources, most of which is ensured by Russia. Mogherini to visit Iran in spring World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 11:15:00 +0400 EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said at the Munich Security Conference on Friday that she would be glad to visit Iran in spring 2016, Sputnik reported.According to Mogherini, during the visit she will be accompanied by the delegation of European Commission members for discussion of the bilateral EU-Iran relations, which have new perspectives following removal of sanctions from Tehran.In August 2015, Tehran and six international mediators, including Russia, reached a historic deal on Iranian nuclear program, which was set to ensure the peaceful nature of its nuclear program in exchange for the termination of anti-Iran sanctions, in particular in oil sector.In mid-January, the sanctions were removed after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement. The move makes it possible for Iran to develop relations in different spheres with the European Union. /By Trend/ Next Normandy format talks after Munich to be held in March - source World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 11:12:00 +0400 The ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany are planning to hold their next Normandy format talks in March following the Saturday meeting in Munich, a Western diplomatic source told Sputnik on Friday."After the meeting in Munich, the next one will be held in a month time, also on the sidelines of a big summit," the source said.The source added that the next rounds of Normandy format talks are likely to be held regularly every month, most likely in line with the schedule of big international events.The Normandy Four group was created in 2014 to secure a peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In February 2015, the quartet leaders' worked out a ceasefire deal in Minsk, Belarus, signed by representatives of the Kiev authorities and militias from the eastern Ukrainian Donbass region.On Saturday, the ministers will discuss the deal implementation on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference./By Trend/ Italy allocates $3.3 mln for Syria in view of recent Munich arrangements World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:38:00 +0400 Italy has allocated three million euros ($3.3 million at current exchange rates) for humanitarian aid in Syria in view of the agreements, reached during the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) session in Munich, Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday, Sputnik reported.The ISSG meeting, which started late on Thursday, lasted for several hours and saw the participation of Russia, the United States and over a dozen other states. The talks resulted in the adoption of a final communique that calls for humanitarian access to be provided swiftly to all besieged areas in Syria and sets a one-week deadline for measures to be implemented to end the hostilities in Syria.According to the statement, 2 million euros will be allocated to the World Food Programme, which will be able to ensure distribution of foodstuffs to over 30,000 refugees travelling toward the Turkish border from Syria.Another aid package of 1 million euros is expected to be allocated to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the statement reads.Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with the army loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting several opposition factions and militant organizations, including Islamic State, which is banned in Russia and a number of other countries. /By Trend/ FIFA bans former Secretary General Valcke for 12 years World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:25:00 +0400 Former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has been banned by the organization's Ethic Committee for 12 year, FIFA said in a statement on Friday, according to Sputnik."The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee chaired by Mr Hans Joachim Eckert has banned Mr Jerome Valcke, former Secretary General of FIFA, for 12 years from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) on a national and international level," the statement reads.According to the results of the internal investigation, Valcke encouraged the persons responsible for gaining "an undue advantage from the selling of FIFA World Cup tickets." Besides Valcke travelled at FIFA’s expense "purely for sightseeing reasons" choosing private over commercial flights."In doing so, Mr Valcke acted against FIFA’s best interests and caused considerable financial damage to FIFA, while his private and personal interests detracted him from his ability to properly perform his duties as the Secretary General of FIFA," the statement reads.The investigation also concluded that Valcke attempted to grant the TV and media rights for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups for undervalued fee and tried to obstruct ongoing FIFA investigation into the matters.He was found guilty of seven FIFA Code of Ethics' articles violation and fined 100,000 Swiss francs (over $102,000).Valcke was provisionally released from his duties as the secretary general on September 17, with formal adjudicatory proceedings opened against him on January 6. On January 13, he was dismissed from his job. /By Trend/ Two teen girls found shot dead at school in Phoenix suburb World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:21:00 +0400 Glendale police spokeswoman Tracey Breeden said it was too early to determine if the incident at Independence High involved a suicide. But police were not seeking a suspect in the shooting and the school and surrounding community faced no threat, she said.After a report of gunfire on Friday morning, police rushed to the school and found the two girls under a covered patio on the campus, Breeden said.Each girl had a single gunshot wound and both were declared dead at the scene, with the gun beside them, she said. Police did not immediately release the girls' names.The school was placed on lockdown after the shooting and the street in front of the campus was shut down. During the lockdown students issued updates on social media from their classrooms as dozens of anxious parents, who were barred from the campus, gathered in the parking lot of a nearby Wal-Mart store to await their children.Jasmine Molina, 15, was in English class when the lockdown was declared."I never thought it would happen here. This tells me that it could happen anywhere, at any school, even if it's a good school," said Molina, who was holding a stuffed bear her boyfriend had given her that morning for Valentine's Day.Ana Lisa Romero, whose son, Lalo, attends the school, said in a Facebook message to Reuters, "I am going crazy just thinking that could have been my son or nieces or nephews."Public officials expressed condolences over the shooting."Our hearts remain with the students, educators and families of Independence High School and the entire Glendale community," Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement.Independence High, which is just a couple miles outside Phoenix, has about 2,000 students, school district representative Sara Clawson said. /By Trend/ Pope, Russian church leader hold historic meeting in Cuba World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:15:00 +0400 Pope Francis arrived in Havana on Friday to meet the head of the Russian Orthodox Church nearly 1,000 years after Eastern Orthodoxy split with Rome, marking the first encounter in history between a Roman Catholic pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch.The two religious leaders, guests of a Communist government, will address the millennium-long rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, according to Reuters.Cuban President Raul Castro and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the church's highest representative in Cuba, greeted the pope as he got off the plane, minutes before Francis met Patriarch Kirill.Francis, dressed in white with a skullcap, and Kirill, wearing a tall, domed hat that dangled a white stole over black robes, joined arms and kissed on both cheeks when they met inside the terminal. They then sat down for a chat with aides on either side.They were expected to unite in an appeal for an end to persecution and killing of Christians in the Middle East.Their meeting, announced just a week ago, also carried political overtones, coming at a time of Russian disagreements with the West over Syria and Ukraine.The pope was scheduled to remain in Cuba for three and a half hours before continuing on to Mexico for a five-day visit.Kirill arrived in Havana on Thursday and was also greeted by Castro, an ally of Russia who also received Francis in Cuba just five months ago.The Argentine pontiff previously played a role in rapprochement between the United States and Cuba, which restored diplomatic relations last year after a 54-year break.Now the pope is seeking to repair a much longer rupture. Eastern Orthodoxy split with Rome in 1054, and today the Russian church counts some 165 million of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians.Kirill, on a longer stay, will also visit Cuba's small Russian Orthodox Church, built between 2004 to 2008 and attended by Russian holdovers from the decades of Soviet influence in Cuba.Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported the Russian church, which in turn has backed Kremlin foreign policy, most notably in Ukraine and the Middle East.Putin has also improved relations with Cuba, which were strained following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. /By Trend/ Merkel, Polish prime minister urge UK to stay in EU World news Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:09:00 +0400 German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo agreed Friday that Britain should stay in the European Union if it honors the bloc’s key principles, Sputnikreported.Speaking at a joint press conference, Merkel reiterated that the United Kingdom should remain part of the 28-nation bloc – but only in case of "maintaining all of the principles, for example the principle of freedom of movement."Szydlo, who was on her first official visit to neighboring Germany, added that "a strong Germany and a strong Poland mean a strong EU."UK Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to renegotiate UK’s relationship with Brussels. The nation’s EU membership will be put to vote no later than end 2017. Cameron said the government’s position was to campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union.Cameron has spent months going between London and Brussels in an effort to clinch a deal on better EU membership terms, including an exemption from the EU principle of an ever-closer union and curbs for EU immigrants.The European Council is scheduled to meet in Brussels on February 18-19 to discuss the UK plans for an in/out referendum based on a proposal tabled last week by Council’s President Donald Tusk./By Trend/ UK receives list of companies illegally operating on occupied territories of Azerbaijan Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:00:00 +0400 Azerbaijan has handed over to the UK a list of the companies engaged in illegal activity on the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh temporarily occupied by the Armenians.The list was handed over by Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev to the UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment Francis Maude within the framework of Azerbaijani-UK intergovernmental commission’s meeting, which took place in London Feb. 12.Mustafayev stressed inadmissibility of activity of the UK companies on the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh and said that the UK government should take measures to prevent such actions.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.It was noted in the protocol that the UK doesn’t recognize independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh and supports peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.It should be noted that following the intergovernmental commission’s meeting a protocol was signed, which provides for extension of cooperation between the two countries in economic, investment, trade, industrial, tourist, energy, education and cultural spheres./By Trend/ Ali Hasanov: Civil society institutions have broad capabilities to promote multicultural ideas Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 09:57:00 +0400 “Institutions of civil society, the mass media have broad opportunities to promote national values, multicultural ideas in Azerbaijan, and we are trying to gradually increase their role in this area,” the Azerbaijani President`s Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov said in an interview with AZERTAC.Ali Hasanov emphasized that the range of coverage of the mass media is gradually increasing in the country. “During the day, more than 75 percent of population watch television, browse online resources, read newspapers. Therefore, officials working in central and local executive bodies should make greater use of the capacity of civil society, including the media in the dissemination of multicultural ideas, enrichment of national values.”Touching upon the meetings in the regions, Ali Hasanov said that these meetings were held in accordance with the instructions of the head of state. According to Mr Hasanov, the new economic policy outlined by the President of Azerbaijan set important tasks for the central and local executive authorities, including communication with local people, coordination of the initiatives of the population, executive bodies and the overall civic initiatives in regions, creation of conditions for more intensive and effective reforms./By Azertac/ President Aliyev meets Kaspersky Lab CEO Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 09:23:00 +0400 President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with Chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab Eugene Kaspersky in Munich.The sides expressed satisfaction with the cooperation of Kaspersky Lab with relevant bodies in Azerbaijan. The sides noted that there was good potential for expanding the bilateral ties. The parties exchanged views over prospects for cooperation in the fight against cybercrime and other areas./By Trend/ President Aliyev meets chairman of Eastern Committee of German Economy Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 09:21:00 +0400 President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with chairman of the Eastern Committee of German Economy Wolfgang Buchele in Munich.The sides expressed satisfaction with the development of bilateral economic relations between Azerbaijan and Germany. It was noted that there is favorable environment in Azerbaijan for making investment.During the conversation, the sides stressed the importance of organizing reciprocal business trips of Azerbaijani and German businessmen, and exchanged views over cooperation prospects./By Trend/ President Aliyev meets Managing Director, CEO of Goetzpartners Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 09:20:00 +0400 President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev met with Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Goetzpartners Holding GmbH & CO. KG Stephan Goetz in Munich.Stephan Goetz said Goetzpartners, which is one of the 10 largest consulting firms in Germany and has 12 offices in nine countries, was interested in operating in Azerbaijan.The head of state said there was favorable environment for foreign companies in Azerbaijan, adding that all necessary conditions were created for their successful activities.President Ilham Aliyev invited Goetzpartners to operate in Azerbaijan.Stephan Goetz thanked the head of state for the invitation. The sides also discussed cooperation prospects./By Trend/ President Ilham Aliyev met with US Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Politics Sat, 13 Feb 2016 09:18:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met with US Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre in Munich.They hailed the successful development of bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and the US. The sides emphasized that the bilateral relations reached a level of partnership in a variety of fields. They noted that there were good prospects for cooperation in the fight against terrorism.They also exchanged views over the issues of mutual interest./By Azertac/ Baku to host gala night of "Robinson and nine Fridays" Film Arts & Entertainment Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:07:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Laman IsmayilovaNizami Cinema Center in Baku will host a gala night of an Azerbaijani-Georgian film "Robinson and nine Fridays" on February 23, Trend Life reports.The full-length adventure film was shot in Baku, Tbilisi and other cities.The project is carried out under the support of British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection and K-production.The film`s main stars are Famous Georgian actors and singers such as Vakhtang Kikabidze, Irakli Pirtskhalava, Keti Topuriya, Archil Mefaridze, Nani Bregvadze, Kakhi Kavsadze, Paata Guliashvili, Natia Tsitsilashvili, Salome Kokuashvili, Lika Korkia and Mariam Sanogo.Complementing them on screen are Azerbaijani stars Polad Bulbuloglu, Bahram Bagirzade and Manana Japaridze.Director of the film is Giorgi Kikaleishvili, the idea author and scripwriter -Nika Ramishvili, Giorgi Kikalishvili and Keti Mikanadze. The General producer of the film is Keti Mikanadze, photography director- Bakar Sharashenidze, the music - by Farhad Badalbeyli, Dato Hudzhadze.The storyline is about character who works for courier company. He is going through difficult life period and unbearable domestic situation: bad tempered wife, adult capricious child with defiant behavior, constant problems at work.Once upon a time, while going to sleep (the next day morning he should leave to Baku taking a parcel) he meets (whether in sleep or in reality) an old man (Buba Kikabidze) in white robe.Old man teaches him good sense, advises him to go to Baku and seek his happiness there.Then old man gives him a key saying that he will find happiness and peace by opening the proper door with that key. Our hero (Robinson) wakes up in the morning doubting whether it was all a dream or reality, but then finds a key (left by a strange old man) hanging on his chest. Anti-Azerbaijani resolution of European Parliament mistake – Latvian MEP Politics Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:00:00 +0400 Europe is open to cooperation with Azerbaijan and is ready to strengthen bilateral ties with the country, MEP from Latvia Iveta Grigule told Trend.Grigule, who visited Azerbaijan Feb. 11, said that she held negotiations in the parliament and the foreign ministry of the country.She said that one of the main topics of the talks was the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.“We discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” said the MEP. “Latvia is always ready to support Azerbaijan in this issue, as well as talk about this problem of the country in Brussels.”Grigule went on to add that during her visit, she also raised the issue of Azerbaijan’s return to Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.“The Euronest Parliamentary Assembly is discussing cooperation with Azerbaijan, and it means that Azerbaijan should participate in these discussions, and not remain on the sidelines,” she said, adding that it is necessary to talk about the problem the country has, and sooner or later, Azerbaijan’s voice will be heard.The MEP also touched upon anti-Azerbaijani resolution adopted by the European Parliament last year, calling it a mistake.“Azerbaijan and the EU should continue to work, despite such incidents,” said Grigule. “Latvia is a small country, too, and we are sometimes also criticized by the EU. We understand how it hurts, because we are also doing our best, as well as Azerbaijan is.”Regarding the forthcoming visit of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini to Azerbaijan, she noted that a number of bilateral documents, which should contribute to strengthening of relationship of the sides, will be discussed during the visit.Grigule also called the Eastern Partnership program important but underdeveloped, urging the parties to work harder within the framework of the program.The Eastern Partnership program envisages political association and economic integration of EU with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It does not envisage the EU membership.In turn, Latvian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Yuris Maklakovs told Trend that the Latvian Embassy will continue to contribute to strengthening of relations not only between Azerbaijan and Latvia, but also between Azerbaijan and the EU.“Azerbaijan and Latvia have great prospects for cooperation, especially in light of the economic partnership, and we will continue to work intensively to achieve even greater results,” said the diplomat./By Trend/ Iran, Russia confirm intent to strengthen co-op World news Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:37:00 +0400 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov confirmed mutual intent to further strengthening of the Russian-Iranian cooperation.The sides made remarks during the ministerial meeting, which was held in Munich on the sidelines of the next session of the Munich Security Conference, Russian Foreign Ministry reported, TASS news agency reported Feb. 12.“Actual issues on the development of the bilateral cooperation were discussed,” said the agency. “The sides exchanged views on a number of issues of international and regional policy.”/By Trend/ Azerbaijani Paralympic athletes to compete in Powerlifting World Cup Sports Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:20:00 +0400 Four Azerbaijani Paralympic athletes will vie for medals at the 7th Fazza 2016 IPC Powerlifting World Cup in Dubai, the UAE.The competition will have Paralympic Rankings approval results./By Azertac/ Defense Ministry: Azerbaijani armed forces have never fired on civilians and civilian facilities Politics Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:13:00 +0400 /By Azernews/"The Azerbaijani armed forces, unlike Armenians, have never fired on civilians and civil facilities in compliance with the principles and norms of the international humanitarian law," Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry has told AZERTAC in response to the Armenian side`s allegations that an Armenian civilian was shot down by a bullet fired from the Azerbaijani side."What is worth paying attention to in the Armenians` allegations is that the village they mention is very far from the contact line of troops," the Ministry said.“Armenia is again trying to accuse the Azerbaijani armed forces of firing on civilians. This is nothing but an attempt to hide tense internal criminal situation in Armenia.”"We firmly state that the Azerbaijani side has nothing to do with the dead of Akop Ambarsumyan,” the Ministry added. Azerbaijani chess players competing in Khazar Cup-2016 Sports Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:00:00 +0400 Azerbaijani chess players Azer Mirzayev and Loghman Guliyev are competing in the Khazar Cup-2016 in Iran.The tournament brings together 76 chess players, including 16 grandmasters from 13 countries.The Swiss system tournament features 9 rounds./By Azertac/ EU eyes intensive cooperation with Azerbaijan Politics Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:52:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaThe European Union, the main trade partner of Azerbaijan, has once again voiced interest in intensifying the cooperation with Baku.Malena Mard, EU ambassador to Azerbaijan, told reporters on February 12 that the priority areas of cooperation are the development of Azerbaijan’s districts, agriculture, and reforms in the field of justice.“The EU is the main trading partner and investor for Azerbaijan,” she noted. "The EU has delivered the grants worth €75-80 million to Azerbaijan for these areas."The European countries enjoy a great share in Azerbaijan's foreign trade. The State Customs Committee reported earlier that the share of European countries in Azerbaijan's foreign trade amounted to 46.8 percent in January-October 2015. Some 30.51 percent Azerbaijani import and 59.23 percent of the country's export account for the share of the EU countries.The agricultural sector is important in Azerbaijan not only to increase export potential, but also to ensure the country’s food security.Enjoying advantageous geographic location Azerbaijan has all possibilities to increase food production in the country and also export abroad.Earlier, Mard said the EU is a large market and Europe would be glad to see the products of Azerbaijan on its market. In this regard, Mard also expressed the readiness of the EU to continue to support the agrarian sector of the country.Mard went on to add that at present, the EU is working on signing of a strategic partnership agreement with Azerbaijan, which will cover such cooperation areas as economy, trade, human rights and democracy.Earlier, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev told Trend that Azerbaijan is awaiting a mandate from the EU to start talks on signing of a new strategic partnership agreement with the EU.“The Azerbaijani government presented a new draft agreement to the EU in May 2015 during the Eastern Partnership Riga Summit,” he added.Under the new agreement, it is planned to adjust the Azerbaijani legislation and procedures to EU’s most important trade norms and standards, meant to improve the delivery of Azerbaijani goods to the EU markets.Currently, the bilateral relations between the EU and Azerbaijan are regulated on the basis of a partnership and cooperation agreement, which was signed in 1996 and came into force in 1999. Azerbaijani banks buy $34M from central bank Feb. 12 Business Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:30:00 +0400 The Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) sold $33.6 million to 10 domestic banks through the auction Feb. 12, the CBA said Feb. 12.“CBA put up for sale $200 million, but the total demand of banks for foreign currency amounted to only $33.6 million and it was fully met,” the statement said.”CBA holds auctions three times a week - on Monday, Wednesday and Friday./By Trend/ Turkmenistan, IAEA strengthening co-op World news Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:23:00 +0400 Turkmenistan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have discussed the issues of strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations in various areas of mutual cooperation, the message of the Turkmen government said Feb. 12.Discussions were held during the working visit of deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredow to Vienna, where he held a number of meetings with heads of international organizations, including the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.Turkmenistan joined the IAEA in September 2015.The IAEA, headquartered in Vienna, was created in 1957 as an independent intergovernmental organization in the UN system. The goal of the IAEA is to develop cooperation in the sphere of peaceful use of nuclear energy./By Trend/ Bringing Russian and Iranian gas to the Georgian market: Challenges Analytics Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:21:00 +0400 By Bartosz Mendyk  Abstract  After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the three South Caucasus countries found themselves in a power vacuum, which led to various geopolitical events and even catastrophes (such as territorial conflicts and separatism)  However, this vacuum also enabled two of the newly independent South Caucasus countries – Azerbaijan and Georgia – to jointly implement major oil and gas projects, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, both of which bypassed Russia. Initially, the two states were dependent on Russia which was a key transit country for Azerbaijan and a major gas supplier to Georgia.  After August War in 2008, Georgia suspended its gas imports from Russia, except the volume received as a “transit fee” for the gas supplied to Armenia. Since 2007, Azerbaijan, by virtue of its vast energy resources, has been supplying the majority of Georgia oil and gas demand and almost completely met its strategic ally’s energy needs when the Russian supplies were cut down during 2008 war. However, a statement by Georgia`s Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze in September 2015 on the purchase of Russian and potentially Iranian gas by Georgia raised some questions.  This article will examine the extent to which the purchase of Russian gas is realistic and compatible with Georgia`s national interests and to what extent it poses the risk to its relations with Azerbaijan, as well as the feasibility of bringing the Iranian gas to Georgia given the technical shortcomings and political backlash displayed by Russia.  The authors` arguments are based on the reliability of Azerbaijan as both supplier and neighbor, as well as the technical difficulties and political repercussions respectively of bringing Iranian and Russian gas to Georgia.  Azerbaijan-Georgia Energy Relations  After gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, both Azerbaijan and Georgia launched their independent energy policies. The energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia through the realization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC), Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE), Baku-Supsa pipelines and other energy projects had a significant impact on the wider region.1 The BTC, BTE and Baku-Supsa are essential .  For the West, finding the alternative routes to bring Caspian oil and gas to Europe was crucial. The strategic vision of the government of Heydar Aliyev created the initial foundations of the East-West corridor, the development of which is proceeding smoothly today with new energy projects and initiatives.  Today, this strategy is led by President Ilham Aliyev, who has paved the way for the implementation of the TransAnatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). An additional potential gas project that will link Azerbaijan and Georgia is the socalled Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania-Interconnector (AGRI), which envisages bringing Azerbaijani gas to Georgian ports, converting it to LNG in liquefaction terminal and transferring it to Romania`s Constanta port in the Black Sea. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed back in September 14, 2010 between the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Romania in order to create a Joint Company to study the export possibilities from Azerbaijan and Georgia via Black Sea to Romania.  The Azerbaijani gas will be delivered from Azerbaijan via pipeline to the Georgian port of Kulevi, where it will be liquefied and delivered to Romania and re-gasified.3 The nationalist vision and territorial irredentism of Armenia means that Yerevan has been excluded from regional integration while Georgia and Azerbaijan have been developing their relations in many areas, especially in the energy sector. This pragmatic approach has deepened Georgian-Azerbaijani relations, while Armenia remains isolated due to its bellicose policy toward Azerbaijan and occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh region (including seven adjacent districts) of the latter. Thus far, Azerbaijan and Georgia have consolidated their bilateral energy relations through projects and investment initiatives by Azerbaijan`s State Oil Company (SOCAR) in Georgia. Georgia annually receives millions of dollars from the tariff payments for the BTC and BTE pipelines.  SOCAR Georgia Petroleum, a subsidiary of SOCAR, is one of the largest taxpayers in Georgia and a major investor in Georgia`s oil/gas terminals and warehouses, as well as the retail and wholesale of oil/gas and their products. SOCAR owns hundred gas stations, operates the natural gas distribution network, and owns and operates the Black Sea port of Kulevi.  It is currently Georgia’s main supplier of crude oil, oil products and natural gas. SOCAR has invested billions in the Georgian economy, including the development of the Kulevi terminal and port.5 Moreover, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey are in the process of realizing the BakuTbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project. The BTK will effectively open a new railway corridor from the Caspian Sea through the territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to Europe, eventually precluding the need for sea transportation, once the planned railway tunnel under the Bosporus Strait in Istanbul is complete. 6 Following the BTC and BTE pipelines, the BTK project will be third trilateral project between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey that isolates Armenia in terms of transport routes. It will also form part of the network of routes that connect Asia and Europe, known as the Iron Silk Road.  However, political transitions in Georgia in 2003 and 2012 have tested bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Georgia. Both of the previous governments of Georgia had very close relations with Azerbaijan. The power transition from the United National Movement to Georgian Dream coalition in 2012 led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili created an uneasy political environment in Georgia. Ivanishvili`s political inclinations and decisions, including request for a price discount on Azerbaijani gas imports, a statement on the alleged inefficiency of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, comments on the restoration of the transit railway system through Abkhazia to Armenia, 8 plus former Economy Minister George Kvirikashvili`s statement on the revision of oil and gas contracts with SOCAR, could harm Georgia`s national interests and bilateral relations with Azerbaijan. The possible opening of railway system through Abkhazia would only serve Armenian interests, and is not compatible with Azerbaijan`s ‘isolation policy’ towards Armenia, due to the latters occupation of Azerbaijan`s territories. Meanwhile, it would endanger Georgia`s preferred partner status in the region for Azerbaijan. In 2013, Ivanishvili visited Baku to repair the situation, and Baku was able to demonstrate a stronger position on the impossibility of opening Abkhaz railway, and did not make any compromise regarding the price of gas  You can read the full article at :,124610,2,0,0,0,0,0,bringing-russian-and-iranian-gas-to-the-georgian-market-technically-challenging-economically-unfeasible-and-politically-costly.html   Georgia to become gas exporter to Europe World news Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:10:00 +0400 Georgia will become a gas exporter in the next five years, said Steve Nicandros, chairman and chief executive officer of the International Oil and Gas Company Frontera Resources, which is engaged in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the Black Sea region.He made remarks at the Atlantic Council during the presentation of Ariel Cohen, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center & Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council.He said that Frontera Resources found major gas reserves in its licensed territory in Eastern Georgia, which, according to company’s estimates, are nearly five trillion cubic meters.“When you think about that volume that will be coming to the market over the next decade, it is a game changer for supply,” said Nicandros. “It provides additional diversification; it provides confidence in the construction of infrastructure through the region, to supply not only Turkish markets but Eastern European markets.”“The Kura Basin is a geologic province that has been known to contain hydrocarbons for a long time”, he noted.“We're seeing a renaissance of investment in the lower Kura valley, in Azerbaijan, and in the upper Kura valley in eastern Georgia,” he added.Today Georgia is a gas importer, which is supplied mainly from Azerbaijan. Some 10 percent of gas is supplied from Russia as payment for gas transit to Armenia.In Autumn of 2015, Frontera Resources Company stated that the Georgian gas resources’ volume may be 3.8 trillion cubic meters, but in February raised its forecast of up to five trillion cubic meters./By Trend/ Awarding ceremony of European Film Festival competition winners Arts & Entertainment Fri, 12 Feb 2016 17:00:00 +0400 EU Ambassador to Azerbaijan Malena Mard has awarded 3 winners of the European Film Festival Competition. The 2 winners Ms. Nigar Gurbanova and Mr. Seymur Mammadli received travel packages and 2 movie tickets to the Berlin International Film Festival "Berlinale" on 13-14 February 2016. The 3rd winner Ms. Nejla Ayvazi received a surprise gift: "Platinum Card" of Park Cinema Network in amount of 200 AZN to attend movie sessions of her choice. Ambassador Mard stated that the participation of the winners at the Berlin International Film Festival is also a small contribution to intensify the cultural exchange between the EU and AzerbaijanThe participants of the competition were supposed to submit their reviews of the movies being watched below their favourite film poster where they should have to explain why they voted in favour of this particular movie. EU Delegation to Azerbaijan announced competition winners on December 7, 2015!/By Trend/ India seeks to increase trade turnover with Azerbaijan Business Fri, 12 Feb 2016 16:35:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Amina NazarliIndia, one of the largest economies in the world, is interested in increasing the trade turnover with Azerbaijan.Indian ambassador to Baku Sanjay Rana made this statement during the opening of ‘Make in India’ event, organized jointly by the Azerbaijan National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organizations and Indian embassy in Baku on February 12.Saying that the trade turnover, which amounted to $815 million in 2015, is a low index for the two countries, the ambassador stressed the necessity to increase the trade turnover in the near future.“In particular, commissioning of the North-South transport corridor should contribute to this,” Rana said.The North-South railway project connecting northern Europe to the south-east Asia, serve as a bridge connecting the railways of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia with the capacity of 1.4 million passengers and 5-7 million metric tons of cargo per year.The volume of cargo transportation through the corridor will amount to 6 million metric tons at the initial stage and will reach 15-20 million metric tons in the future.Rana further noted that India is interested in cooperation in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and communications fields.The country is particularly interested in cooperation in agriculture, in which the country has accumulated a lot of experience, according to Rana.“I recently visited a tea plantation in Lankaran and Astara. We are extremely interested in the development of cooperation in this sector. India also has a great potential in the pharmaceutical industry and is interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan in this sphere too,” the ambassador concluded.Azerbaijan imports many goods from India including pharmaceuticals products, engineering goods, automobiles and spares, agricultural and meat products and IT services, while Indian companies’ regularly buy oil from Azerbaijan.Indian tea and Basmati rice are very popular in Azerbaijan. Some $778 million of the total trade turnover accounted for the import of Azerbaijani goods in 2015.President of the Azerbaijan National Confederation of Entrepreneurs Mammad Musayev, in turn, talked about the need to develop cooperation with India in the field of information technologies."India is a leading country in the field of information technologies,” he said. “Azerbaijani entrepreneurs should take advantage of opportunities for cooperation in this sphere."He voiced the importance of developing cooperation between the Indian and Azerbaijani entrepreneurs, hoping that cooperation between them may give impetus to the production of competitive products.India and Azerbaijan enjoy age-old historical relations and cultural affinity. Business exchange between the two countries have emerged an important aspect of bilateral relations between the two sides.Indian company ONGC-Videsh holds 2.72 percent share in the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field and Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan pipeline.Earlier, India’s Gas Authority of India limited and the State Oil Company SOCAR has signed a MoU to jointly pursue opportunities in LNG procurement and promotion.Indian businessmen also show interest in participating in major business and events, including 'Baku Build', Azerbaijan International Travel and Tourism Fair (AITF). Azeryol cruise to home win to get right edge in fight for CEV Cup semi-final spot Sports Fri, 12 Feb 2016 16:29:00 +0400 Azeryol BAKU got a step closer to qualifying for the semis of the 2016 CEV Volleyball Cup – Women following their 3-1 home win (25-19, 25-17, 23-25, 25-17) over Italy’s Igor Gorgonzola Novara, according to the website of the European Volleyball Confederation. The re-match will now follow in two weeks in Italy and determine which team makes it to the penultimate stage of Europe’s second most prestigious club competition.The first set was a close affair with Azeryol claiming an 8-6 lead at the first technical time-out as both teams seemed to struggle with their blocking system. However, the Italians did not show enough quality also in reception and as a result the first set ended in a fairly compelling 25-19 win for Azeryol.The second set followed a similar plot with Azeryol being even more dominant this time around as the hosts cruised to a 25-17 win to further cement their leadership in the match.However, the course of the game changed in the third set where NOVARA showed a far better performance than in the previous stages of the match. They fought for this set with everything they had and they eventually took it home by 25-23.The fourth set was fairly one-sided and following their 25-17 win, Azeryol could celebrate a well-deserved 3-1 home victory. Anna Stepaniuk paced Azeryol with 20 points as setter Mareen Apitz did well also from the service line and Yelena Parkhomenko stood out at blocking./By Azertac/ Azerbaijani president participates in round table on energy policy at Munich Security Conference Politics Fri, 12 Feb 2016 16:27:00 +0400 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is on a working visit to Germany, has taken part in the round table dedicated to energy policy in the conditions of falling oil prices held within the framework of the Munich Security Conference./By Trend/