Today.Az http://www.today.az Covering Azerbaijan inside and outside http://www.today.az/images/logo_small.gif Today.Az http://www.today.az Lawmaker Valeriu Strelet nominated as candidate for Moldova’s prime minister http://www.today.az/news/regions/142443.html World news Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:17:00 +0500 Valeriu Strelet, a lawmaker with Moldova’s Liberal Democratic Party, has been nominated as a candidate for Moldova’s prime minister, the party’s leader Vlad Filat told journalists.Strelet’s candidature has finally been agreed by the leaders of the three parties of the ruling Alliance for European Integration - Vlad Filat of the Liberal Democratic Party, Marian Lupu of the Democratic Party and Mihai Ghimpu of the Liberal Party./By AzerTac/ Azerbaijan investigates Russian bikers’ visit to Nagorno-Karabakh http://www.today.az/news/society/142442.html Society Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:58:00 +0500 On behalf of the Azerbaijani foreign ministry, the Azerbaijani embassy in Russia is investigating an issue connected with the possible visit of a group of Russian bikers to the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia, spokesman for the Azerbaijani foreign ministry Hikmet Hajiyev told Trend July 28.A group of Russian bikers intends to visit Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian media reported earlier.“The Azerbaijani foreign ministry reminds that the illegal visit to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan is the violation of the law on "State Border" and the Migration Code,” Hajiyev said.“Such actions are the disrespect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty, the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons who have been ethnically cleansed.”“The individuals who have made illegal visits to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan at the instigation of Armenia and the Armenian lobby must be aware of their political, legal and moral responsibility,” he said.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 the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions./By Trend/ Armed attack on military unit in Turkey http://www.today.az/news/regions/142441.html World news Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:45:00 +0500 A military unit in Turkey has come under an armed attack.Turkish television channel Kanal7 reported July 28 that unidentified persons fired at a military unit in the Izmir province in the country’s southwest.No one was injured in the incident. Those who were shooting fled the scene, and they are currently being searched for.Armed attacks on military units have become frequent in Turkey in recent days.Earlier, terrorists opened fire on the car of the chief of the Mus province’s gendarmerie, Major Aslan Kulaksiz.He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died from severe wounds./By Trend/ US recognizes Turkey’s right to self-defense against outlawed PKK http://www.today.az/news/regions/142440.html World news Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:29:00 +0500 The State Department on July 27 denied Turkey’s attacks on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were linked to a mutual understanding with Washington, after U.S.-led anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces were granted permission to use Turkish bases to conduct airstrikes, while also recognizing Turkey’s right to self-defense Hurriyet Daily News reported“I understand the coincidence of all of this, but it is just that,” spokesman John Kirby told reporters, adding Turkey’s most recent strikes were in retaliation to recent attacks by the PKK.“Turkey has continued to come under attack by PKK terrorists, and we recognize their right to defend themselves against those attacks,” he said.Following last week’s suicide bombing in the southeastern town of Suruç that killed 32 people, tensions have risen between the Turkish state and the PKK, with the latter stepping up attacks on police and troops while Turkish warplanes have targeted the group’s camps and anti-terror police have rounded up suspected supporters.On July 24 night and in the early hours of July 25, Turkish jets bombed PKK camps in northern Iraq for the first time in two-and-a-half years. The strikes were carried out in retaliation to a series of attacks blamed on the outlawed group.Turkish jets again on July 26 hit PKK targets inside and outside Turkey.The strikes came just days after Ankara agreed to allow the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition use bases inside Turkey, including the strategic ?ncirlik air base, to carry out airstrikes against ISIL.Kirby said he was not sure if the airstrikes against the PKK have concluded, referring questions to the Turkish government.“What we’re trying to focus on here is a coalition to go after ISIL,” he said. “I recognize that in some cases, the PKK has fought against ISIL, but they are a foreign terrorist organization [FTO]; we’ve designated them as an FTO.“And our fight against ISIL is not in cooperation with, coordination with or communication with the PKK,” he said.Regarding requests for a “no-fly zone” in northern Syria, Kirby said ongoing coalition efforts were “almost having the same effect as if there was one, because only coalition aircraft are occupying that airspace.“There is no opposition in the air, when coalition aircraft are flying in that part of Syria. The Assad regime is not challenging us; ISIL doesn’t have airplanes,” he said, in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad./By Trend/ Turkmenistan set to unveil new fields http://www.today.az/news/regions/142439.html World news Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:18:00 +0500 /By AzerNews/By Aynur KarimovaThe prospects for discovery of large hydrocarbon deposits in Turkmenistan are greatly increasing and getting acknowledged, local Turkmen media reported.The main method of finding hydrocarbons in deep horizons is seismic exploration. A separate uplift, dubbed the ‘Western Dome’, was first discovered at the Mydar oil and gas field, and within its boundaries an industrial flow of oil was subsequently obtained.A possibility of discovering the deposits in the southeast of Turkmenistan associated with reefs and other carbonate structures greatly improves the prospects of territory available for huge gas reserves and perhaps oil.A detailed mapping of the promising horizons has made it possible to detect a large number of new uplifts and tectonic faults.Among them the largest are Demirgazyk Minara, Gundogar Jujukly, Gunorta Shehitli, Ovlakkyr. The revealed uplands at the previously studied areas testify that the structural trap fund has not been exhausted.Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest proven gas reserves in the world, is actively implementing an energy strategy aimed at increasing exports of the blue fuel and diversifying its supply routes to the largest global markets, where the demand for energy resources is growing.Being one of the key players in the gas market of the Caspian Sea region and Central Asia, Turkmenistan produces about 70-80 billion cubic meters of gas a year. It possesses some 17 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, with some estimates placing that figure upwards of 25 or 26 trillion cubic meters. Anti-terrorist operation underway in Turkey’s Ankara http://www.today.az/news/regions/142438.html World news Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:02:00 +0500 By Rufiz Hafizoglu Turkey’s police are conducting an anti-terrorist operation in Ankara against the supporters of the “Islamic State”, the Turkish newspaper Milliyet reported July 28.Fifteen people have been already arrested, 11 of them are foreign nationals, according to the preliminary information.The report didn’t specify the detainees’ citizenship.A total of over 1,050 people have been detained as of now in the anti-terrorist operations in Turkey. They, as Milliyet said, are being suspected of having links with the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS), the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the terrorist group “Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front” (DHKP-C).Earlier, the head of the Turkish-wing of the IS, Halis Bayancuk, known as Abu Hanzalah, was arrested in Turkey.Bayancuk was actively involved in the recruitment of Turkish citizens for their departure to Syria and Iraq.Earlier, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country would continue special operations against illegal structures./By Trend/ Erdogan: Snap parliamentary election in Turkey not ruled out http://www.today.az/news/regions/142437.html World news Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:58:00 +0500 By Rufiz Hafizoglu With each passing day there remains less and less chance to form a coalition government in Turkey, the Kanal7 television channel quoted the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying July 28.Erdogan also said holding of snap parliamentary election in Turkey is not ruled out.Earlier, the deputy prime minister of Turkey, Yalcin Akdogan said that of all the parties having a right to be represented in the country’s parliament, the People’s Republican Party (CHP) is closer to creation of a coalition government.The prime minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu was earlier reported to say that the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) refused to form a coalition government of Turkey.Previously, in June, the People’s Republican Party (CHP) put forward terms for formation of a coalition government with the country’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).Under those terms, the CHP leader should head Turkey’s government for two years. Aside from that, under the terms, the Turkish parliament was to be led by one of the CHP members.The opposition was also demanding to appoint the parliament members representing the CHP as the ministers of justice, interior and education.On June 7, Turkey held parliamentary election, which involved 20 political parties.Over 53 million people cast their votes in the election.A coalition government should be formed in Turkey within 45 days after the announcement of the election results.During the parliamentary election, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party garnered 40.9 percent of the vote, while the People’s Republican Party (CHP) gained 25 percent.Aside from that the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) scored 16.3 percent, and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) garnered 13.1 percent of the vote./By Trend/ Tehran, Baku committed to expand economic ties http://www.today.az/news/business/142436.html Business Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:37:00 +0500 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaThe P5+1-Iran ‘historic’ nuclear deal and lifting of sanction from Tehran has also promised to expand the Islamic Republic’s relations, especially the economic and trade ties with its neighbor.Iran strives to enlarge the all-out ties with its northern neighbor Azerbaijan, which it has historic ties for centuries.Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohsen Pak Ayeen said the economic relations between Azerbaijan and Iran will expand in the near future.“After the West’s sanctions are lifted, Iran will continue developing rapidly as it was before their imposition,” he told Trend on July 27.He noted that in the near future the relations between Baku and Tehran will develop in the economic sphere.Pak Ayeen said the countries with strong economy are interested in the development of relations with Iran."The visit of German vice-chancellor with a delegation consisting of 100 people to Iran can be cited as an example. Removing of unnecessary barriers creates a basis for strengthening the relations among Iran and all world’s countries, especially with friendly and fraternal Azerbaijan," he said.He added that the UN Security Council’s recent resolution demonstrates the determination of the world’s countries to participate in the economic programs in Iran. “We consider this achievement as the success of all independent countries, in particular neighboring countries."Azerbaijan and Iran have had diplomatic relations since 1918. Iran recognized Azerbaijan's independence in 1991 and diplomatic relations between the two countries were reestablished in 1992.Currently, the two countries are focused on expanding their economic ties in various fields, including industry, agriculture, energy, alternative energy, and transportation.In a view of expanding the economic ties, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Energy Houshang Falahatian intends to pay a visit to Azerbaijan.Falahatian told Trend that the objectives of the upcoming visit are to complete the conducted work on the synchronization of energy systems of the two countries and to sign a new treaty in this area.“The setting of electricity tariffs will be discussed at the meetings to be held in Azerbaijan. Previously Iran and Azerbaijan have distributed all work on the synchronization of energy systems among themselves,” he said.Falahatian added that the power plants and transmission lines have been built.“The infrastructure is fully ready. We hope that a final agreement will be reached and an agreement on the synchronization of the energy systems will be signed during this visit," he said.Falahatian further said Iran informed the Azerbaijani side about its readiness to sign an agreement on the purchase of electric power in Azerbaijan after the synchronization of energy systems of the two countries.He also noted that Azerbaijan has expressed interest in investing in Iran’s renewable energy, including the construction of geothermal power plants and we welcome this.“Earlier, Iran officially announced the electricity tariffs, which will be generated at the new power plants. Moreover, the power plants guarantee the electricity provision for 20 years,” Falahatian said.He stressed that Iran invites Azerbaijani investors to invest in Iran.“By synchronizing their energy systems, Azerbaijan and Iran are creating the basis for the future electricity exchange with third countries, including Russia,” he said.Noting that the electric power can be transferred between Iran and Azerbaijan on the territory of Azerbaijan, Falahatian said after the synchronization of energy systems of the two countries, Iran will be able to share power with Russia, and Azerbaijan through Iran – with Afghanistan and Iraq.Earlier, Pak Ayeen said that the two countries agreed on the electricity transfer from Azerbaijan to Iraq and Afghanistan through Iran. Tehran in talks with foreign firms to revive oil industry http://www.today.az/news/regions/142435.html World news Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:25:00 +0500 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaThe nuclear deal with world powers has promised to bring new life to Iran’s sanctions-hit oil industry.Following the ‘historic’ deal, the Islamic Republic is engaged with foreign companies to revive its investment-hungry sector.Amir Hossein Zamani Nia, Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister for International and Commerce Affairs, said his organization is currently engaged in talks with several foreign oil companiesHe said oil contracts would not bear fruit overnight and require months of expert talks and technological work to commence; it will take quite a long time before ties with foreign oil companies are back to normal, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.Iranian official’s remarks came as high-ranking officials from several countries visited the country to restore relations with Tehran previously halted as a result of its nuclear energy program.Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s economy minister and deputy to Chancellor Angela Merkel, traveled to Iran on July 19 for high-level economic and trade talks with Iranian officials.Commenting on the latest series of discussions with foreign oil companies, Zamani Nia said there have been several instances, including one with German firms,which wereelaborated upon during the recent visit of the German delegation to Iran.He stressed that the situation in the country was gradually returning to normal, so it is quite natural for all foreign countries to seek involvement in Iranian oil projects.The official noted that the Iranian oil companies froze ties with foreign countries for quite a long time during the sanctions years, so they now need time to normalize their international relations.Iran has already outlined plans to rebuild its main industries and trade relationships following a nuclear agreement with world powers, saying it was targeting oil and gas projects worth $185 billion by 2020.Iran's Minister of Industries, Mines, and Trade Mohammadreza Nematzadeh earlier said the Islamic Republic would focus on oil and gas, metals, and car industries with an eye on exporting to Europe after sanctions have been lifted, rather than simply importing Western technology, Reuters reported.Many European companies have already shown interest in reestablishing business in Iran, with Germany sending its Economy Minister on the first top level government visit to Tehran in 13 years together with a delegation of leading business figures.Zamani Nia had already said Tehran had identified nearly 50 oil and gas projects worth $185 billion that it hoped to sign by 2020. OPEC-member Iran has the world's largest gas reserves and is fourth on the global list of top oil reserves holders.In preparation for negotiations with possible foreign partners, Zamani Nia said Iran had defined a new model contract which it calls integrated petroleum contract (IPC).He noted that this model contract addresses some of the deficiencies of the old buyback contract and it further aligns the short-and long-term interests of parties involved.The officialadded that the deals would last 20-25 years–much longer than the previously less popular buybacks that effectively were fee-paying deals with global oil players,such as France's Total–for services they performed on Iranian oilfields.He said Iran would introduce the projects it has identified and the new contract model within 2-3 months.The Islamic Republic has been under international sanctions for the several years over its nuclear energy program.The West has claimed Iran’s nuclear program aims to develop a nuclear weapon, however, Tehran has denied all accusations, saying its nuclear program is peaceful.After the long-lasting negotiations to solve the nuclear dispute, Iran and the P5+1 countries – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany – succeeded in reaching a final agreement in Vienna on July 14. SOCAR President meets Georgian Premier http://www.today.az/news/business/142432.html Business Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:13:00 +0500 President of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) Rovnag Abdullayev has met Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili as part of his visit to the country.They discussed economic relations, investment, joint projects and energy affairs.Garibashvili said Georgia hails SOCAR's activity, particularly its investment in Georgia./By AzerTac/ The perils of consuming undercooked meat http://www.today.az/news/interesting/142433.html Weird / Interesting Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:55:00 +0500 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliDespite recent global vegetarian trends, meat still remains a staple of many diets for its taste and nutritional value. Eating meat, such as fish and various types of seafood, can provide the body with essential nutrients like phosphorus that are not as easily found in a vegetarian diet.Raw or undercooked meat, in particular, is popular in many cuisines throughout the world. The French prefer their steak quite rare for example, while Asian cultures enjoy the taste of raw fish and seafood.In addition, “raw food” movements, which encourage eating undercooked or “pink” meat, have gained notoriety recently as a means to maintain the nutritional integrity of meat. Research shows that overcooking meat not only forces it to lose valuable vitamins and minerals, but frying adds unhealthy additional fat and cholesterol.Raw meat, however, should be consumed cautiously. Raw or undercooked meat could contain harmful bacteria that some researchers say are becoming more commonplace.When consuming raw meat, one also runs the risk of being infected with various parasites, such as the beef tapeworm, which could lead to serious illness and even death.Cases of salmonella poisoning, for example, are often found in those who consume undercooked meat. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, and extreme upset stomach.A 46-year old man from the UK nearly died after consuming undercooked pork, the Daily Mail reported. Darren Ashall spent for nearly five months in hospital due to a potentially lethal brain bug.He first fell ill after cooking two pork chops cooked on a caravan stove. A month later he went to hospital thinking he had a heart attack. There he was diagnosed him with a stroke, as his face began drooping on one side.The man had picked up the listeria bug, which attacked his immune system and left an abscess on his brain. Ashall was left completely paralyzed and was placed on a ventilator to help him breathe.Now, he has problems walking and communicating. Doctors told Ashall that he is lucky to be alive and said that if he had been a couple of years older, he likely wouldn't have made it.Thoroughly cooking meat removes up to 99 percent of bacteria, including listeria, and parasite larvae.The UK resident did survive the ordeal, but it is unlikely that he will ever consume raw or undercooked meat again.Sushi, containing raw fish and seafood, is another popular dish that may pose potential risks. Dangerous bacteria have been discovered residing in the Sea of Japan, as well as the South China and Philippine seas.In many cases, raw fish in sushi have been known to be infected with the Anisakis parasite.“This type does not develop in the human body, but after ingestion its larvae can lead to severe clinical problems,” a report presented at the 72nd Congress of the American College of Gastroenterology said.Meat dish tradition in AzerbaijanAzerbaijani cuisine, widely regarded as one of the world’s best, includes a variety beef, lamb, poultry, and fish dishes. It is often referred to as a “man’s cuisine” for its emphasis on high-calorie, yet nourishing foods.In comparison with other nations, there are no dishes prepared with raw or undercooked meat.Since ancient times, Azerbaijanis would skewer and grill their meat thoroughly. This culinary technique has survived and has been improved over thousands of years.Kebabs, such as lula kebab made from lamb, are perennial favorites of many Azerbaijanis who like to cook them on a barbecue, commonly referred to as “mangal” in Azerbaijan.Poultry and fish cooked in a tandir, an oven made of clay and used in cooking and baking, are quite popular in the country’s southern region. The tandir provides the meat with an unforgettable taste.The Caspian Sea, the Kura and Araz rivers, the Goy-Gol, Jeyranbatan, and Geycha lakes have all enriched Azerbaijani cuisine with amazing fish. Kebab made from sturgeon is probably the most popular. It is typically served with narsharab, a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce. SOCAR, DESFA, and the Greek crisis http://www.today.az/news/business/142434.html Business Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:44:00 +0500 /By AzerNews/Gulgiz DadashovaBankruptcy-threatened Greece and its creditors – the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission – have today launched talks on policies that Athens must implement over the next three years in return for loans worth as much as 86 billion euros.After five years, two bailouts, and the deepest recession in more than half a century, the Greek government agreed on July 13 to apply stricter reforms, one of which is to sell off 50 billion euros in state assets.Athens is trying to concentrate on the development of strategic projects that will bring dividends in the future.One such project could be the privatization of DESFA and subsequent investments from Azerbaijan’s SOCAR, which agreed to pay 400 million euros to buy a 66 percent stake in the company in the summer of 2013.The Greek natural gas transmission manager, DESFA, plays a crucial role in the realization of major pipeline projects including the Trans-Adriatic pipeline, Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector, and the newly proposed Turkish Stream.The agreement in 2013 to sell a majority stake in DESFA to the Azerbaijani company was stalled by a European Commission investigation in late 2014 over EU competition and energy security concerns.Later in early 2015, the new Greek government announced that it would sell only 49 percent to SOCAR, however, the Azerbaijani side countered that it sought to fulfill its original 66 percent stake.The Greek side must remember that the more shares it holds, the more it must invest into DESFA projects, which is highly improbable given the current climate in Greece. This would also make the project less profitable for SOCAR and it is doubtful that SOCAR will participate in the project on such terms. The company therefore refused to yield and change the existing arrangements.“SOCAR wants to buy two-thirds of Greek gas-grid co. DESFA as originally agreed,” the head of SOCAR investments department Vaqif Aliyev said in Baku in June. “The tender was for 66 percent of DESFA, and we won the tender.”The European Commission’s decision, along with the new Greek government’s objections have delayed the process whereby SOCAR had already provided a 40 million-euro down payment and had concluded the drafting of several investment projects with the Greek side.DESFA has put forward plans for the period of 2015-2025 that will require more than 2.2 billion euros for domestic projects both planned and ongoing, according to Euractiv.However, the obstacles for SOCAR’s acquisition of DESFA shares will nevertheless have a negative impact on its investment plans.Should SOCAR indeed drop its bid, DESFA will need to search for another foreign investor that would be able to guarantee its investment strategy since the Greek economy faced bankruptcy.Now, the Greek side should understand that the Baku-proposed energy projects would help it to realize its plans along with bringing stable revenues and creating new jobs.The more the decision on the DESFA drags on, the less SOCAR is interested in pursuing the purchase – since time is, indeed, money. Little worry over waste of to-be freed Iranian assets http://www.today.az/news/regions/142431.html World news Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:37:00 +0500 An economist says there is little worry over how Iran ’s freed assets will be managed.Recently, many papers and officials from the economic and banking area have expressed worry that freeing Iran ’s frozen assets by Western countries will lead to the import of a huge load of consumer goods.The assets are to be freed after Iran struck a deal with the group P5+1 (the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) on its nuclear program. The deal entails the removal of economic sanctions on Iran, whereby the country’s frozen assets will be freed.What these papers and officials say is not irrelevant, Dr. Mohammad Tabibian, economist and veteran faculty member told Trend July 27.However, he noted, there is not much resources to be freed to lead to anything like the spree we witnessed during the ninth and tenth Iranian presidential administrations.During the presidency of former Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadinejad (in office from 2005 to 2013), there were reports of large loads of not-so-necessary consumer goods that were imported legally but were actually a waste of public assets.The incumbent administration is more sophisticated and is well aware of the pitfalls and will take care not to waste resources, Tabibian stated.There is space for awareness rather than worry, he said.The expert concluded that the assets have to be fed into infrastructural projects that would improve production.Iran’s frozen assets abroad amount to $29 billion, Iranian Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif said earlier.He added that $23 billion of the Central Bank’s assets are blocked in Japan, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates, and $6 billion of the petrodollars are blocked in India./By Trend/ US dollar rate falls in Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/business/142430.html Business Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:31:00 +0500 The official rate of the US dollar and the euro to the Azerbaijani manat as of July 28 is set at 1.0488 manats and 1.1615 manats, respectively.Below are the manat rates against world currencies and precious metals according to the data from Azerbaijan’s Central Bank on Tuesday, July 28.Currencies and precious metalsJuly 27, 2015July 28, 20151 US dollar1 USD1.04921.04881 euro1 EUR1.15471.16151 Australian dollar1 AUD0.76480.76541 Argentine peso1 ARS0.11420.1141100 Belarusian rubles100 BYR0.00690.00691 Brazilian real1 BRL0.31240.31151 UAE dirham1 AED0.28560.28551 South African rand1 ZAR0.08330.0833100 South Korean won100 KRW0.08990.09011 Czech crown1 CZK0.04270.0431 Chilean peso1 CLP0.15870.15751 Chinese yuan1 CNY0.1690.16891 Danish krone1 DKK0.15470.15571 Georgian lari1 GEL0.46270.46241 Hong Kong dollar1 HKD0.13540.13531 Indian rupee1 INR0.01640.01641 British pound1 GBP1.6291.6319100 Indonesian rupiah100 IDR0.00780.0078100 Iranian rials100 IRR0.00360.00361 Swedish krona1 SEK0.12240.12311 Swiss franc1 CHF1.09241.09051 Israeli shekel1 ILS0.27490.27851 Canadian dollar1 CAD0.80540.80561 Kuwaiti dinar1 KWD3.46583.46441 Kazakh tenge1 KZT0.00560.00561 Kyrgyz som1 KGS0.01670.0167100 Lebanese pounds100 LBP0.06960.06951 Malaysian ringgit1 MYR0.27510.2751 Mexican peso1 MXP0.06460.06441 Moldavian leu1 MDL0.05540.05551 Egyptian pound1 EGP0.1340.13391 Norwegian krone1 NOK0.12810.1284100 Uzbek soums100 UZS0.04080.04081 Polish zloty1 PLN0.27850.28171 Russian ruble1 RUB0.0180.01761 Singapore dollar1 SGD0.76620.76781 Saudi riyal1 SAR0.27980.27971 SDR (IMF Special Drawing Rights)1 SDR1.46151.46671 Turkish lira1 TRY0.38270.37931 Taiwan dollar1 TWD0.03330.03331 Tajik somoni1 TJS0.16750.16741 New Turkmen manat1 TMM0.29990.29981 Ukrainian hryvnia1 UAH0.04770.0474100 Japanese yen100 JPY0.84980.84911 New Zealand dollar1 NZD0.69250.6962Gold (1 ounce)1 XAU1133.97541153.68Silver (1 ounce)1 XAG15.323615.2705Platinum (1 ounce)1 XPT1027.16681023.6288Palladium (1 ounce)1 XPD646.3072653.4024/By Trend/ Turkey attaching great importance to Azerbaijani defense industry’s development http://www.today.az/news/politics/142429.html Politics Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:52:00 +0500 The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains unsolved as recently tensions on the frontline of the Azerbaijani and Armenian armies have increased. The minister of national defense of Turkey Vecdi Gonul spoke to Trend on the pressing topic, as well as touched upon the Syrian crisis, fight against terrorism and other issues.- What are the main reasons for the delay in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? And based on what principles should the conflict be solved?- The time has come to put an end to the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and other Azerbaijani lands within the principles of international law, that will ensure stability in the region. The recent developments along the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops once again prove the need for an immediate settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is the main obstacle to the establishment of peace and stability in the South Caucasus.Stability and peace in the region are possible only in case of liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani territories and the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.After the end of the “Cold War”, the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia, and namely the Nagorno-Karabakh problem is one of the most important issues on international community’s agenda today.For Azerbaijan Turkey is an opportunity to reach the West, and for Turkey Azerbaijan is the opportunity to reach the Central Asia. This fact has even more strengthened the two countries’ fraternal and friendly relations, which are more than a century old, and for this reason exactly, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue has become as important for Turkey, as it is for Azerbaijan.Turkey is closely watching the processes related to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and supports the efforts to resolve it within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. At the multilateral platforms and during the dialogue with third countries, Turkey, as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, always raises the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is considered our problem as well.But there is a fact that the OSCE Minsk Group hasn’t been able to achieve serious progress throughout 20 years in the conflict’s settlement. Turkey fully supports Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the most important and priority issues in Ankara’s foreign policy. Turkey will continue to support the righteous fight of Azerbaijan and will always keep this issue on the agenda.- How do you assess Azerbaijani-Turkish relations in the defense industry sphere? Which joint projects are planned to promote these relations?- Alongside with developing political and economic relations, Ankara pays special attention to developing the relations in the defense industry sphere within the historic and brotherly relations with Azerbaijan.Turkey attaches great importance to the development of not only its own defense industry sphere, but also that of Azerbaijan and takes into account Azerbaijan’s demands in this sphere. In this regard, in order to ensure the state needs, Turkey speaks for cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries.Azerbaijan is the most important strategic partner for Turkey in the region and there are close relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey which produces military defense systems. I believe that both sides should make even more contribution in developing and strengthening the defense industry sphere.The sides can strengthen the relations in the defense industry sphere by creating a model of open technology transfer and exchange of experience in defense industry. In order to do this, the sides should pay special attention to creating and developing Tactical Area Communications System (TASMUS), creating air force management and control system, electronic military system, as well as armored military vehicles.Turkey and Azerbaijan can implement a number of projects to develop the defense industry sphere. I believe that the sides can cooperate in such spheres as construction of shipyards, creating service area for vessels, creating unmanned aircraft, optical and electro-optical products.- Islamic State (IS) terrorists’ activity intensifies in Syria and Iraq every day. Is this a threat for Turkey? Is it enough to conduct just military operations to neutralize terrorists?- Turkey takes the necessary measures to eliminate the danger imposed by the IS. Turkey cooperates with the countries united by a common goal. The country also supports the coalition forces by contributing to the fight against the IS.The Turkish parliament adopted a mandate in 2012. According to it, Ankara may take any measures to combat terrorism and other threats against the country, reflect the danger that may arise from the terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, protect the interests of the country before and after the crisis. And this gives Turkey the right to fight against any kind of danger that poses a threat to the Turkish state’s safety.Effective fight against the IS and ensuring the country’s security are among Turkey's priorities. Along with this, it is worth noting that the emergence and strengthening of the IS comes from the instability in Syria, which is supported by the Syrian regime.As long as the forces feeding the IS aren’t removed, it won’t be possible to destroy it. In short, the fight against the IS will also contribute to stability and security in Syria. And this is possible through realization of the Geneva agreements, which will ensure the requirements of the Syrian people.Political pressure must be put on the Syrian regime to achieve stability in that country and to start political negotiations. Only this way it is possible to achieve progress in this crisis, and after that a complete elimination of the IS will be possible. Along with this, it is needed to exchange intelligence data and to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. Iraq, which has made significant progress in the fight against the terrorism, can be an example.- How do you assess the relations between Turkic-speaking countries? Which steps should be taken to develop them?- Turkey speaks for developing the relations between Turkic-speaking countries. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, significant progress was achieved in developing the relations between Turkic-speaking states. However, on the other hand, currently, there are some structural problems between these countries due to geographic location and political principles.Water resources management, problems related to borders, ethnic problems make the ethnic rapprochement between Turkic-speaking countries difficult. But all this doesn’t hinder the continuation of cooperation within historical and ethnic values.Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan created the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States in 2010 as part of cooperation and developing the relations with Turkic-speaking countries and this is of special importance for developing the relations between the mentioned countries.The goal of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States headquartered in Istanbul, is to consolidate and strengthen the economic relations between these states. Moreover, one of the goals of the Council is to strengthen the cultural relations between the Turkic-speaking countries. The Council’s fifth summit to be held in Kazakhstan in September 2015 will focus on the issues related to communications and media technologies.In accordance with the status of neutrality, Turkmenistan is not a member of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States, but participates in some of its events. However, currently, Uzbekistan avoids ties with the Cooperation Council of the Turkic-speaking States.Turkey has always supported the Turkic-speaking countries after they gained independence and spoke for developing the bilateral relations. TURKSOY, which is considered the UNESCO of Turkic world, was created in 1993 in order to develop the relations between the Turkic-speaking countries./By Trend/ AZAL announces new air ticket prices (PRICE CHART) http://www.today.az/news/business/142428.html Business Mon, 27 Jul 2015 18:38:00 +0500 In accordance with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s instructions on reducing the air ticket prices, the relevant analysis was carried out and a decision was made to reduce the existing tariffs for economy class by 20-30 percent in all international directions from August 1.This affected the most popular routes of AZAL:- Baku-Moscow-Baku– from 406 euros to 321 euros (a decrease by 85 euros or 21 percent);- Baku-Istanbul-Baku – from 277 euros to 219 euros (a decrease by 58 euros or 21 percent);- Baku-Dubai-Baku – from 272 euros to 216 euros (a decrease by 56 euros or 21 percent).After reducing the air ticket prices, the discount will make 112 euros (22 percent) on Baku-Rome-Baku flight, 141 euros (30 percent) on Baku-Lvov-Baku flight, 116 euros (23 percent) on Baku-Beijing-Baku flight, 158 euros (21 percent) on Baku-New York-Baku flight and etc.The number of air tickets sold at the low tariff will be no less than 30 percent of the total seats, except for business class. The number of such seats can vary from 32 to 61 depending on the type of aircraft. In particular, while 32 seats will be sold at the lowest prices on routes from Baku to Tehran, Aktau, Kazan and others, this figure will increase up to 48 seats in the direction of Beijing, London, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Antalya, Bodrum, Izmir and Dalaman, up to 53 seats - in the direction of Istanbul, and 61 places - to New York and etc.At the same time, AZAL starts low-cost flights on four most popular routes:- Baku-Antalya-Baku - 3 times a week, starting from August 2015;- Baku-Istanbul-Baku - one flight every day, starting from September 2015;- Baku-Moscow-Baku - 2 flights every day, from October 2015;- Baku-Dubai-Baku - one flight every day, from October 2015.Different dates for starting the new flights are due to procedural matters such as concluding agreements with the airports for the service, as well as receiving slots (permission) at foreignairports.Unlike standard low-cost models, AZAL’s low-cost directions have a number of advantages: there is no additional registration fee and fee for choosing seats in the cabin.The flights will be carried out with Embraer aircraft. All the seats in the cabin of the aircraft are equally comfortable.Air tickets (including all dues) on these flights will have a fixed price of 99 euros one way. It means that passengers, who pay 99 euros, will get the right to fly with hand luggage in these directions. Passengers will pay not 50 manats as previously announced, but 25 euros for each luggage.It will be possible to book and buy tickets for all flights of AZAL online (www.azal.az ). It will allow passengers to obtain detailed information on availability of seats, tariffs and purchase tickets at lower prices without paying commission fees to agents.The sale of tickets for low-cost Baku-Antalya flights started on July 24 and all the tickets for the August 7 flight were sold within two days.Thus, taking into account all the novelties by AZAL, the passengers who want to use air transport services now have a choice.In addition, rival foreign airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Siberia, Flydubai, Ukraine International Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air Astana, British Airways, Lufthansa, Belavia, etc., carry out flights on most routes of Azerbaijan Airlines.Heydar Aliyev International Airport provides equal opportunities to all airlines, including low-cost airlines.Hungarian WizzAir company has been offered special and favorable conditions for 3 years to resume regular flights from 2015. Currently, the response of the Hungarian side is awaited.The detailed information about the new tariffs in AZAL’s international flights is available in the attached tables.Lowest tariffs of tickets for Azerbaijan Airlines flights:route,in both directionscurrentafter changesreduction, euroreduction, %1Antalya4363508620%2Bodrum4363508620%3Izmir4363508620%4Dalaman4363508620%5Ankara3662788824%6Istanbul2772195821%7Moscow4063218521%8Dubai2722165621%9Kyiv3522569627%10Rome50939711222%11Tbilisi1831473620%12Aktau2221725023%13Lviv47833714130%14Mineralnye Vody2391855423%15St.Peterburg4033079624%16London4643669821%17Milan50038811222%18Berlin47537110422%19Prague50338911423%20New York75559715821%21Beijing50538911623%22Tel Aviv44534310223%23Paris52541311221%24Tehran2361825423%25Rostov-on-Don3192477223%26Barcelona49438211223%27Bishkek3902969424%28Novosibirsk3772859224%29Krasnoyarsk3612758624%30Perm4013059624%31Nizhny Novgorod3812879425%32Kazan3162368025%33Yekaterinburg3112496220%34Minsk3722809225%Lowest tariffs account for 30 percent of economy class seatsLow-cost flights of Azerbaijan Airlines:route, to one directionprice, euroadditional payment for each luggage, eurototal number of seatsnumber of economy class seats1Antalya99251051052Istanbul99251051053Moscow99251051054Dubai9925105105In accordance with the instructions of the head of state, Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) CJSC together with the relevant state authorities analyzed the prices for air tickets and took appropriate measures to reduce them.Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev gave concrete instructions to revise and reduce the air ticket prices during the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on the results of the country’s socio-economic development in the first half of 2015.Appropriate work was done for this purpose and the primary information has been made public.At the same time, information centers of AZAL receive numerous appeals regarding the air ticket prices. Given the increased interest in the above-mentioned issue, AZAL once again informs the population about the changes in air ticket prices./Trend/ Azerbaijan's air defense forces show high readiness http://www.today.az/news/analytics/142427.html Analytics Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:52:00 +0500 By Sara RajabovaCombat readiness of Azerbaijan’s air defense forces was checked under an order by Defense Minister Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov.The Azerbaijani defense minister said on July 26 that the anti-aircraft Buk Missile Systems were tested in different modes to assess readiness to destroy enemy planes, helicopters, drones, and ballistic and cruise missiles.During the military task, the air defense forces traced and destroyed the air targets of a simulated enemy using missiles.The assigned tasks have been completed successfully and the Azerbaijani defense ministry has praised the combat readiness of the personnel.Azerbaijan is second after the United Kingdom in Europe in terms of arms spending after it increased its arms imports by 249 percent over the past ten years, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported.Standing strong against Armenia's unceasing operations along the line of contact, the Azerbaijani leadership has moved to formulate the necessary armament policy by adhering to international requirements.Azerbaijan's military build-up goes in line with the country's legal right of liberating its occupied lands by means of war, should it be necessary.Azerbaijan's internationally recognized Nagorno-Karabakh territory has become a conflict zone following Armenia's aggression in the early 1990s. As a result of Armenia's armed invasion, 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory fell under Armenia's occupation. Nonetheless, the OSCE has attempted to foster a peaceful resolution to this conflict amid Armenia's persistent derailment./By AzerNews/ Syndicated loan issued for Kazakh Railways http://www.today.az/news/regions/142426.html World news Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:13:00 +0500 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and a group of international commercial banks are providing a syndicated financing package of US$ 300 million in support of a comprehensive modernization and restructuring program of the Kazakhstani rail operator, Joint Stock Company National Company “Kazakhstan Temir Zholy” (KTZ).KTZ is a national railway company which manages railway infrastructure and operates freight and a large share of passenger train services.The EBRD will extend US$ 150 million of this amount for its own account and syndicate the remaining US$ 150 million to commercial banks. The syndicate comprises the following banks: Citibank, NA, London branch; Mizuho Bank, Ltd; Société Générale; Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation; and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.The signing ceremony took place in the EBRD headquarters in London, in the presence of representatives of the EBRD, KTZ and the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the UK.The proceeds of the loan will be used to refinance KTZ’s eurobonds.As part of the project, the EBRD will engage with KTZ on tariff system reform and the ongoing business transformation of the company. KTZ will also continue to implement sustainable energy technologies, which are a constant feature of its long-term cooperation with the EBRD.Natalia Khanjenkova, EBRD Managing Director for Turkey and Central Asia, said at the signing at the Bank’s Headquarters in London: “We are proud to further support railway sector reform in Kazakhstan with this syndicated financing package. International financiers’ interest in the project demonstrates investor confidence in KTZ and Kazakhstan.”Sholpan Omarbekova, KTZ Managing Director for Finance and Economics, added: “With this new transaction the EBRD will not only provide financing, but also assist KTZ with advancing the reform of the regulatory framework in the sector.”To date, the EBRD has invested over US$ 7 billion in various sectors of the country’s economy. The Bank is the largest investor in the non-oil and gas sectors of the Kazakhstani economy./By AzerNews/ Azerbaijan reaches record level of agricultural production http://www.today.az/news/business/142425.html Business Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:52:00 +0500 By Aynur KarimovaThe production of agricultural products has reached a record level in Azerbaijan, said Hamid Bagirov, the first Deputy Chairman of the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan, at a press conference last week.He noted that the production of agricultural goods increased by 7.3 percent in Azerbaijan in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year."This year an unprecedented level of growth has been achieved in this sector. We expect agricultural production to remain at the record level throughout the country to the end of the year," he added.Bagirov also said that this growth was achieved despite a decline in the total acreage of grain."In the first half of 2015, the total acreage of cereals was 48,000 hectares less than in January-June last year. However, in the reported period, the production of grain was 321 tons more compared to the first half of 2014. [In January-June 2015] Grain harvest per hectare was 8 quintals more [than in the same period of last year]. In other words, these results were achieved not by increasing the acreage, and by increasing productivity," Bagirov stressed.The volume of production of agricultural goods at current prices amounted to 2.65 billion manats in the country in January-June 2015 ($2.526 billion), a 7.3-percent increase compared to the same period last year.Production of livestock increased by 2.6 percent, and crop production by 14 percent, in January-June 2015.Agriculture is a meaningful component of Azerbaijan's non-oil economy and has significant potential for boosting the country’s export revenues, while attracting both local and foreign entrepreneurs. This sector is a key source of jobs, employing 38 percent of the population, and serves as a priority sector in the context of food security.As a result of agrarian reforms carried out in Azerbaijan, guarantees were made for the dynamic development of agriculture. Thus, the sector was reformed and the regulatory framework was improved.After restoration of state independence, the level of self-sufficiency for meat and dairy products stood at 30-35 percent in Azerbaijan. Currently, this figure has grown 92 percent and 76 percent, respectively.The total volume of production of agricultural goods has increased by 3.4 times in Azerbaijan over the past ten years.The official exchange rate on July 27 was 1.0492 AZN/USD./AzerNews/ IChO continues successfully in Baku http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/142422.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:46:00 +0500 By Nigar OrujovaThe 47th International Chemistry Olympiad, organized by Baku Branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University, continues in the Azerbaijani capital.This international competition has gathered 300 young chemists from 5 continents and 75 countries, as well as over 250 professional chemists, experts, professors, supervisors, and team leaders.To date, one experimental exam on July 23, and the theoretical exam on July 25 were conducted testing the participants’ level of knowledge in the classes and laboratories of Baku Branch of Moscow State University.Students attempted to solve the tasks in 5 hours. The teams worked on problems that required original and non-standard approaches.Moreover, the participants were given tours of Baku and the national museums of the capital city.The participants from around the world who came to Baku to take part in this great science competition enjoyed state-of-the-art facilities of the Baku Branch of Moscow State University, featuring laboratories equipped with the latest technology up to date equipment.The rules dictate that the theoretical exam is allotted 60 points, while 40 points are given for work in the lab.The international jury, comprised of two representatives of each participating country, discuss and evaluate the answers of the participants. The results will be announced at the closing ceremony of the Olympiad on July 28.The teaching staff at the University, under the President of the 47th Chemistry Olympiad and Rector of Baku Branch of Moscow State University Nargiz Pashayeva, are strictly monitoring and supervising this great and important event.The University has recently strengthened its scientific and educational base, and has been provided with the advanced chemical laboratories possessing the latest equipment. Currently, the chemistry faculty at the university is recognized as one of the leading in the country.The decision to hold the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad in Azerbaijan was made in 2012 in Washington. Azerbaijan is the second country in the CIS after Russia to host the International Chemistry Olympiad.Azerbaijan’s team includes Dilgam Ahmadli, a graduate of Istek Lyceum in 2015; Sergey Stepin, a graduate of the Lyceum named after academician Zarifa Aliyeva; Huseyn Babayev, who finished 10th grade at the Istek Lyceum in 2015; and Ruslan Mammadov, who finished 10th grade at the classical grammar school No. 160. The team is led by Mehman Bunyadov, a researcher at the Organic Chemistry Laboratory of Qafqaz University, who won a bronze medal at the 41st International Chemistry Olympiad in 2009 in the UK.The 47th Chemistry Olympiad is held with support from the Azerbaijani Education Ministry, Ministry of Youth and Sports, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), and the Heydar Aliyev Center./By AzerNews/ Iran to invest $6 bln in Kazakhstan http://www.today.az/news/business/142421.html Business Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:36:00 +0500 By Aynur KarimovaIran announced that it will invest $6 billion in Kazakhstan at the latest Kazakh-Iranian forum held in Almaty on July 22-24.The Islamic Republic also plans to establish a center for the exchange of technologies in Kazakhstan's special economic zone, the "Park of innovative technologies," where it will present the country's latest achievements in the mining and oil and gas industries, and the agriculture and healthcare sectors."Your country has great economic prospects. And we would like to join our efforts for dynamic development in the field of innovative technologies. This forum should be a first step in this work," Iranian Deputy Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Vahid Ahmadi said.Kazakhstan and Iran cooperate fruitfully in international and regional organizations, including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.The volume of trade turnover in 2014 amounted to $1 billion, 1.6 times more than in 2013.The business community of Iran is interested in the Kazakh market. The two countries plan to sign agreements on the establishment of 50 oil and gas projects worth $185 billion by 2020./By AzerNews/ Iran suffers $45 million loss http://www.today.az/news/business/142420.html Business Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:25:00 +0500 ran has suffered a loss of about $45 million for storing oil in a tanker at sea.Two years ago when two million barrels of the country’s oil were not sold, the top official in charge decided to store the oil at sea.So, a tanker was hired at $45 million, Fars news agency reported July 25.The report goes that the official_ mentioned by initials M.S._ then made the decision in coordination with current officials of the oil industry.The tanker kept the oil for about one year near Iran’s border with Oman.The point here is that the identity and ownership of the tanker are unknown.Iran could have bought a modern, fully equipped, ocean-going tanker with that money.The hiring of the tanker caused controversy two years ago, but Iran denied reports.The last time was June 17 when Iran again rejected a new report published by Reuters about storing as much as 40 million barrels of oil on supertankers at sea.Currently Iran has no crude oil stored on ships, Mohsen Ghamsari, director for international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company said.Back in March, Reuters report that Tehran is storing at least 30 million barrels of oil on its fleet of supertankers was rejected by Iran immediately.Iran's crude oil export was above 2.2 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2011, but the western sanctions imposed in mid-2012 have pushed Iranian oil export volume to around one mb/d in 2013./By Trend/ Gabala hosts grand opening of int'l music festival http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/142418.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:16:00 +0500 By Aynur KarimovaAzerbaijan's northern city of Gabala hosted the grand opening of International Music Festival on July 25.The seventh Gabala festival, supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, is an outstanding musical event.At the start of the opening ceremony, a congratulatory message from First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, was read out to the guests. In her message, the First Lady warmly greeted the participants of the seventh Gabala International Music Festival."This festival is an important event in the cultural life of the entire South Caucasus. This celebration of friendship and music with the participation of numerous artists from various world countries, contributes to the strengthening of intercultural dialogue, creating favorable conditions for dialogue and cooperation of musicians alongside maintaining the traditions of our cultural heritage. I am sure that this year's festival will become another holiday, giving us a great feeling of togetherness in the boundless world of music and competition," read the message.Culture and Tourism Minister Abulfas Garayev and the artistic director of the festival, Baku Music Academy Rector Farhad Badalbayli, then stressed the importance of the festival in terms of promoting Azerbaijan's culture and music. They praised the role of First Lady and Heydar Aliyev Foundation President Mehriban Aliyeva in organizing the festival.Azerbaijan has always been famous for its music culture. The traditional festival promotes the country’s musical glory around the globe.Annually during the festival, the stage in Gabala hosts great pieces by local and world-famous composers. The stage invites both young and seasoned artists to perform classic and chamber music, as well as Azerbaijani folk music Mugham.This year, the festival is organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.This year's edition of the festival brings together world-renowned musicians and music groups from Russia, Ukraine, Italy, Spain, Israel, Croatia, and Germany; including the Italian Symphonic Orchestra, the Virtuozy Moskvy Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Ensemble of the Austrian Weiner Academy, the Flamenco Ensemble, Dubrovnik Guitar Trio, Andrey Gavrilov, Oksana Yablonskaya, Giancarlo Pazolini, Janna Gandelman, Alexander Rozhdestvenski, Jeremy Menuhin, Paul Mayer, Alexander Ghindin, Taras Yagopud, and many others./By AzerNews/ Azerbaijani Army prevents Armenian sabotage http://www.today.az/news/politics/142419.html Politics Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:24:00 +0500 By Sara RajabovaWhile negotiations are underway to settle the long-standing Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Armenian side continues provocations on the contact line, ignoring all calls to solve the problem peacefully.Just days after the departure of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, whose aim is to mediate to settle the conflict peacefully, the Armenian military attempted sabotage on the frontline.The Azerbaijani Armed Forces prevented an attempted Armenian diversion along the line of contact and border areas, the Azerbaijani defense ministry reported.As a result, five Armenian servicemen and one Azerbaijani serviceman were killed.The Armenian armed attempted the incursion during the day and into the night on July 24 day by firing shells at Azerbaijani positions in the direction of the Goranboy, Aghdam, Terter and Fuzuli regions, as well as across the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border on the territory of the Gadabay region, the statement said.The opposing side was silenced by return fire. At least five Armenian servicemen were killed.While preventing the enemy's attempted sabotage, Azerbaijani soldier Eldar Fataliyev was killed.The Azerbaijani defense ministry expressed condolences to the relatives of the deceased soldier.The ministry also said the situation on the frontline is in full control by the Azerbaijani armed forces.Furthermore, the ministry rejected media reports which mentioned that allegedly 40 servicemen of Azerbaijani Armed Forces were encircled, and after a lengthy shootout, were able to break through with eight wounded soldiers.“This information is provocative. This news purposefully spread by the secret services and hackers of Armenia don’t correspond to reality, and unfortunately, some local media, having succumbing to this lie, are bringing false information to the public,” according to the ministry..The ministry said it once again requests that media outlets clear any reports about the contact line with the ministry itself before publishing speculative information.The Armenian armed forces have increased tensions along the contact line of troops, firing frequently at Azerbaijani positions and settlements.During the last two weeks, Armenian troops broke the ceasefire an average of 80 times a day using large-caliber machine guns and mortars.The Azerbaijani defense ministry, commenting on the situation, earlier reported that Azerbaijani armed forces, under instructions from the defense minister, control the actions of enemy units and are ready to prevent enemy action at any time.For over two decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict which emerged over Armenia's territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor.Since a war in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 1994, but long-standing efforts by U.S., Russian, and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far.Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on its pullout from the neighboring country's territories./By AzerNews/ Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup competitions due in Baku http://www.today.az/news/sports/142424.html Sports Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:44:00 +0500 Baku will host the third Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup competitions as International Federation of Gymnastics Executive Committee decided, Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation reported.An ordinary meeting of the Executive Committee of the FIG took place in Helsinki, Finland on July 15-17.The meeting defined the venues of the World Cup series in 2016 along with major decisions taken in gymnastics world.All 3 bids submitted by Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation for organization of World Cup series in Baku were confirmed and the members of the Presidential Commission entrusted the Federation to host the events.Thus, in 2016, Baku will receive the delegations of the World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics on February 19-21. The event in Artistic Gymnastics will be followed by the competitions of the world’s famous jumpers at the World Cup series in Trampoline Gymnastics on March 5 and 6.Baku will be the first to host the World Cup series in the above mentioned 2 gymnastics disciplines in 2016. Meanwhile, the World Cup series in Rhythmic Gymnastics will take place on the threshold of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, i.e. on July 22-24.Unlike Rhythmic Gymnastics, the similar competitions in which were held in Baku in 2003, 2004 and 2005, the FIG Artistic and Trampoline Gymnastics World Cup series will take place in our country for the first time./By AzerTac/ Car import from Georgia to Azerbaijan decreases http://www.today.az/news/business/142417.html Business Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:27:00 +0500 By Vusala AbbasovaSome 2,207 cars worth $41.4 million were exported from Georgia to Azerbaijan in January-June 2015 or 5.4 times less than in the same period of 2014, the Georgian National Statistics Service said in its foreign trade report as of January-June 2015.The share of this category of goods in the total volume of Georgia’s export to Azerbaijan hit 31.66 percent during the reporting period.Azerbaijan’s share in the total export of this category of goods from Georgia equaled 41.61 percent.The car export from Georgia to Azerbaijan decreased by 3.6 times in terms of value and 9,750 units in terms of quantity compared to the same period of 2014.For comparison, some 11,960 cars worth $147.48 million were exported from Georgia to Azerbaijan in January-June 2014.The decline in the volume of car exports to the country is the result of Azerbaijan's transition to Euro-4 ecological standard, the use of which began from April 1, 2014. The adoption of Euro-4 standard significantly restricts the import of used cars, which account for the major part of vehicles exported from Georgia to Azerbaijan. The cars are delivered to Georgia from abroad.The Euro-4 ecological standard have been applied to the imported and manufactured vehicles to reduce the emission of pollutants by vehicles and improve the environmental situation in the country./By AzerNews/ Azerbaijani chess player leads Pardubice Open tournament http://www.today.az/news/sports/142423.html Sports Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:07:00 +0500 Azerbaijani female chess player Gunay Mammadzade is leading the table at Pardubice Open A tournament with rating for FIDE in Czech Republic.She defeated Slovenia`s Primos Petek in the first round.The tournament will feature nine rounds./By AzerTac/ Azerbaijan can resume saffron cultivation, expert says http://www.today.az/news/business/142416.html Business Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:21:00 +0500 By Aynur KarimovaAzerbaijan with its favorable climatic conditions can resume the cultivation of saffron, says Nariman Agayev.The Chairman for Research on Sustainable Development Center told local media that the best and most favorable territories for the cultivation of saffron in Azerbaijan are Bilgah, Gobustan, and southern regions of the country, that is, in sandy areas."There was a farm in Azerbaijan engaged in the cultivation of saffron, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the facility was privatized and then completely fell into disrepair. Today, only small entrepreneurs cultivate saffron in Azerbaijan, but its amount is insufficient to meet the needs of the domestic market,” the expert noted.Today Azerbaijan purchases saffron, the king of spices and the spice of kings, from neighboring Iran."All saffron, being sold in the capital's supermarkets, is produced in Iran," he said. "However, its quality is significantly worse than the Azerbaijani saffron, no flavor, and weaker color. This is due to the fact that this plant is treated with fertilizers, chemicals in Iran, but we are cultivating a natural product."The expert believes that Azerbaijan can earn huge revenues from selling saffron. A ton of saffron would bring Azerbaijan about 10 million manats ($9.53 million).Saffron is the only spice, the price of which has not declined since the Middle Ages, when a pound of saffron could have been exchanged for the Arabian horse.The spice’s name in all languages derives from the Arabic word "za'faran" (yellow), indicating that saffron was primarily used as a dye. Although saffron has lost its former importance and is only used in cooking in the modern world, it is as valuable as gold. Every year only 300 tons of saffron is produced in the world.Mankind has known of saffron for over 4,000 years. Dyes created from saffron were used in Neolithic cave paintings. The first traces of its use in food were found in Mesopotamia, and the first written reference was observed in Sumerian civilization.Persians weaved saffron threads in fabric for sacrifices and made perfumes and aromatic oils from its leaves in the 10th century BC to use as a powerful aphrodisiac. The army of Alexander the Great used saffron to treat wounds. Saffron is also mentioned as an element of sacrifice, dye, and fragrance in the Old Testament.Saffron was referred to in ancient Chinese sources as a medicine. The color of saffron was the color of the clothes of Buddhist monks in the east, while in Europe, it was a sign of wealth and high social status. Roman nobility used saffron as a medicine, a dye for fabric and leather, and an aromatic spice.The Bourbons used saffron flowers in heraldry. There is a town called Saffron in the English county of Essex that was named after saffron fields, which brought considerable revenues to the treasury.Azerbaijan is one of the oldest producers of saffron (Crocus sativus) in the world. According to written accounts, saffron was cultivated in some regions of Azerbaijan more than a thousand years ago, the practice having been introduced from Asia Minor and Persia. Historians, however, have been unable to determine a more precise period for the appearance of saffron cultivation in Azerbaijan. Saffron sprouts have been found on the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountain range in Azerbaijan.Before 1917, some 150 acres had been allocated for the production of saffron and its export put Azerbaijan in a significant place in world markets.Today, the Azerbaijani government has embarked on measures to develop the production of saffron in the country."A scientific fund operates under the President of Azerbaijan," Agayev went on saying. "Last year, the fund allocated 100,000 manats ($95,310) to research aimed at developing and adapting new varieties of saffron. It shows that the government is interested in the restoration of industrial production of saffron in our country. Moreover, its production is very cost-effective. One gram of saffron is sold for 10 manats ($9.53) in the Azerbaijani market.Given the fact that saffron is widely used in Azerbaijani cuisine, there will not be any problem with demand in the domestic market, he noted."There is a great demand for Azerbaijani saffron in the Baltic countries and Italy," the expert added.Agayev believes that today, it is quite possible for Azerbaijan to produce 5-10 tons of saffron per year."I have offered a gram for 15 euros in Europe, and they agreed to that price," Agayev said. "Given the fact that 5-10 tons are equal to 5-10 million grams, Azerbaijan's industrial production of saffron can potentially fetch 75-150 million manats ($71.5-$143 million) a year."The Chairman of the Green Movement of Azerbaijan, Farida Huseynova, told local media that Azerbaijan's semi-desert areas are most suitable for cultivating saffron."For example, this plant can be cultivated in Imishli and Saatli, but adaptation of the plant and soil and climatic conditions should be taken into account. Despite the fact that Iran produces a lot of saffron, Azerbaijani saffron differs for its high quality," she added.Huseynova also said saffron can grow everywhere, but not all plants will produce the yellow stamens that are needed for high quality saffron./By AzerNews/ Economy ministry mulls airfare, medicine prices http://www.today.az/news/business/142415.html Business Fri, 24 Jul 2015 18:10:00 +0500 By Aynur Karimova - AzerNews The decrease in airfares and the regulation of the prices of medicinal drugs was high on the agenda of an extended board meeting of Azerbaijan's Economy and Industry Ministry held on July 23.The meeting was devoted to achieving the goals announced at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on the results of the country’s socio-economic development in the first half of 2015 and the objectives for the future, chaired by President Ilham Aliyev.Speaking at the meeting, Minister Shahin Mustafayev said that the Ministry is conducting an analysis of airfares, and measures to reduce prices have been implemented in accordance with instructions given by the President.Azerbaijan Airlines will establish its own low-cost passenger transportation line, as well as introduce new low-cost seating options on all existing flights. Its budget passenger transportation lines will operate round trip from Baku to Istanbul, Moscow, and Dubai.AZAL also decided to introduce a new tariff policy aimed at reducing costs for all current flights. This tariff policy will not apply to the new low-cost routes. Starting August 1 this year, AZAL will apply a 20-percent discount to its minimum existing tariffs on economy-class flights.As for drug costs, Mustafayev said a mechanism of price regulation has already been established. He added that price regulation by the government would significantly reduce the cost of medicines in the near future.It was also noted that in accordance with instructions given by President Aliyev, the government will continue measures aimed at improving the standard of public services, and the construction of hospitals, kindergartens, and schools.The Tariff Council of Azerbaijan has adopted a new mechanism for calculating the price of medicines. Using this new model, the Council determines wholesale and retail prices for medicines licensed by the state by referencing drug costs in partner countries.Experts believe that the state regulation of drug prices will also have a positive impact on health insurance rates, since the insurance payments depend on the cost of medicines.-- Southern Gas Corridor takes lead while Turkish Stream floats between obstacles http://www.today.az/news/analytics/142414.html Analytics Fri, 24 Jul 2015 18:10:00 +0500 By Gulgiz Dadashova - AzerNews The Southern Gas Corridor, designed to bring the Caspian gas to Europe, has taken the lead at a time when other projects are still waiting on concrete steps.Turkey, an ambitious player able to alter the energy landscape of the region, seeks to acquire a share in the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, which is a part to the SGC.The acquisition of shares in the TAP project, seen as Europe's alternative to its reliance on Russian gas, is a historical opportunity for Turkey, and Ankara does not seem to want to miss this chance, a source in Turkish government told Trend.The source added that currently, the issue is under consideration.Earlier, commenting on a possible interest from Iran, TAP Head of Communications Lisa Givert told Trend that the pipeline project is open to new shareholders, including Iran."TAP is open to new shareholders, which can add strategic value to the project," Givert told reporters in the Azeri capital Baku.Iran, which has recently reached a nuclear agreement with the P5+1, granting Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, has repeatedly expressed willingness to export its gas to Europe. Iran’s ambassador to Baku Mohsen Pak Ayeen had earlier said that the Islamic Republic may join TANAP, which as a part of the Southern Gas Corridor will connect to TAP at the Turkish-Greek border.Recently, Norway’s Statoil – which is a TAP partner alongside British BP, Azerbaijan’s SOCAR, Belgium’s Fluxys, Spain’s Enagás and the Swiss-based Axpo – announced its intention to sell its 20-percent stake in the project.The EU is eager to find new partners and associates. Brussels has long been trying to find new gas suppliers to quench its demand, but never before have officials been more intent on realizing an agreement on the ongoing Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project, which began to materialize as a series of pipelines that will carry Azerbaijani supplies to Europe after the proposed backbone of the corridor, Nabucco, failed.In view of Europe’s plan to reduce its reliance on Russian gas and secure more volumes, the EU has accelerated its search and positioned the SGC as one of the most feasible projects to carry new natural gas to Europe.“Azerbaijan is our reliable and strategic partner in the energy field, and we want to take this partnership further. One aim of the European energy union is to exclude the possibility of using gas as a threat. The conflict in Ukraine shows that such threats are still possible,” European Council President Donald Tusk said during his Baku visit this week.“This is why the EU is dedicated to diversifying our supplies. And Azerbaijan is a main partner in this endeavour. Today, we agreed to stand united on developing the Southern Gas Corridor – a project which is in our common strategic interest – and to make sure it is completed on time, whatever our competitors do.”In the wake of South Stream’s cancellation in late 2014 amid objections from the European Commission, Moscow and Ankara announced their intention to build Turkish Stream, which was referred to by some as the competitor to the SGC.However, there are a number of lingering issues that need to be resolved before this project can become a reality. First of all, there is a lack of infrastructure in the European territory of Turkey that would allow it to receive gas from an underwater pipeline and then to carry it to the Greek border.Although, no precise document has been signed so far between Ankara and Moscow.Russia expects to sign an intergovernmental agreement on the "Turkish Stream" after the formation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkey, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with the Radio and Television of Slovenia.However, the signing of any document seems to be prolonged as Turkey’s political parties have not yet come to any decision. The ruling Justice and Development Party needs to form the government by August 23 under the legislation, or it will go for new parliament elections. This in turn will affect any talk on the Turkish Stream.Additionally, the cost of the project is around $50-$60 billion, and this is too expensive given the economic crisis that the countries involved currently face. Also, a number of issues remain between Moscow and Brussels, being that Moscow also is keen on constructing this pipeline. No direct talks with the actual consumers have been held so far.It would take many years for Russia to complete the Turkish Stream project. In the meantime, the Azerbaijani gas from the TAP pipeline would take priority in finding clients long before eventual Russian gas arrives to the same pipe.Some 30 percent Southern Gas Corridor project has already been implemented, according to Rovnag Abdullayev, the head of Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR, German media outlets reported on July 21."Agreements with 162 suppliers from 23 countries totaling over 10 billion euros have already been signed. Currently, more than 9,500 people are working on the project. As part of the Shah Deniz-2 project, seven wells have been drilled while the construction of a compressor station in Georgia and pipe production is in full swing," he noted.The 3,500-kilometer Southern Gas Corridor which would finally end Europe’s dependence on a single pipeline was initially launched as part of the South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion, which will connect the Sangachal terminal with eastern Turkey through Georgia. It will link up with the SOCAR-led TANAP to be connected with a third pipeline TAP on the Turkish-Greek border. Kazakhstan to open direct flights to 6 major world business centers http://www.today.az/news/regions/142413.html World news Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:51:00 +0500 By Aynur Karimova -AzerNews Kazakhstan is planning to open direct flights from Astana to six major business centers in the world by the end of 2019, according to a statement by Kazakh Investment and Development Minister Asset Issekeshev at a press conference on July 23.Issekeshev said that this year, passengers will be given the opportunity to fly directly from Kazakhstan's capital Astana to Dubai."Air service to Hong Kong will be opened next year and to Tokyo in 2017. Flights to Singapore will be conducted in 2018, while to New York and Shanghai by the end of 2019," the minister noted.Kazakhstan also hopes to apply the European experience of flight control in its own domestic industry."The need to further improve the level of safety in civil aviation is separately mentioned in the Plan of the nation ‘100 concrete steps,’ voiced by the Head of State. The experience of the British Civil Aviation Agency and the EU Aviation Safety Agency will be applied to improve the effectiveness of state regulation of air transport," Issekeshev added.Negotiations with the world's leading aviation administrations have already begun and foreign specialists will start working with the relevant committee of the Ministry of Investment and Development next year.Kazakhstan has airports in Shimkent, Atbasar, Karaganda, Kyzyl-Orda, Balkhash, Burundai, Zaisan, Petropavlovsk, Semipalatinsk, Ust-kamenogorsk, Uralsk, Taldy-Kurgan, Kokshetau, Pavlodar, Zhezkazgan, Atyrau, Zhambyl, Zhairem, Ekibastuz, Almaty, Aktau, Kostanay, Aktyubinsk, Arkalyk, and Astana cities.Its existing airlines are Air Astana, Air Company MEGA, Avia Jaynar, Bek Air, Berkut Air, Euro-Asia Air, Excellent Glide, Irtysh-Air, SCAT, Semeyavia, Zhetysu, and Zhezkazgan Air, and Qazaq Air.Kazakhstan's airlines plan to increase coverage to new destinations, opening a range of new air transport routes to China.In 2014, Kazakhstan's Transport and Communications Ministry announced that it would add 75 international flights by 2020. ISIS bomb draws Turkey's ire http://www.today.az/news/analytics/142412.html Analytics Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:26:00 +0500 By Claude Salhani Expect the war against the so-called Islamic State to take a serious shift in the weeks to come if as expected, Turkey gets in the game. Two recent developments lead us to believe this is likely.First is the news reported by The New York Times that Turkey has green-lighted US warplanes the use of the strategically positioned Incirlik air base in southern Turkey. This is an air base used by NATO forces where the US has a number of fighter jets and bombers, It also places the planes much closer to the theater of operations.Being able to use the Incerlik facility will give the US Air Force an operating edge in the fight against the Islamists.One official in Washington called this a ”game changer”.This is a dramatic change of pace in the battle to defeat the jihadists, not only because of Ankara’s acquiescence to US pressure to allow American war places access to the air base, but perhaps more importantly is the fact that Turkey is now off the fence and squarely on NATO’s side once again.Strategically, operationally, as well as emotionally, this must be a huge setback for this Islamists.And second is the report from the previous week accusing the IS for the bombing that killed 31 people and left more than 100 wounded when a huge explosion took place in a Turkish town near the border with Syria. Ankara was quick to point an accusing finger at the jihadists.With relations between the two sides reaching rock bottom, things can only go from bad to worse. Until recently the IS (also called ISIS) enjoyed support from Turkey.But on Friday, Turkish antiterrorist police raided a number of safehouses in Istanbul and arrested about 250 people. This will of course raise the stakes and the fight with Islamists.Now Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself is a practicing Muslim, recognizes that there is no way that Turkey can survive as a modern nation and agree with the brutality and the uncivilized behavior practiced by the IS.The interesting question now is what concessions did Washington make to Turkey to have Erdogan come off the fence on the right side.One wild guess is that the ones who will come out with the short straw at the end of the day are the Kurds.This of course was all very predictable and it was only a matter of time before Turkey came to realize it too./By Trend/ OSCE MG welcomes presidents’ willingness to meet http://www.today.az/news/politics/142411.html Politics Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:26:00 +0500 By Sara Rajabova - AzerNews The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs has welcomed the willingness of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents to meet later this year, following a visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan aimed at facilitating the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.Co-Chairs Igor Popov of the Russia, James Warlick of the United States, and Pierre Andrieu of France traveled to Yerevan and Baku to meet Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk also participated in the meetings, the official site of OSCE reported."During our visit to Yerevan and Baku, we noted recent high-level meetings and discussed with each president current proposals to advance negotiations towards a lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We welcomed the readiness of the presidents to meet each other later this year, and they instructed their foreign ministers to continue their work with the co-chairs on an agenda for the presidential summit," the statement reads.The presidents repeated their commitment to exchange data on missing persons under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to report.The co-chairs also traveled to Vienna to brief the members of the Minsk Group.At a press conference in Baku on July 23, Warlick mentioned that the issue of continued respect for the ceasefire to prevent further violence was raised during the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs’ visits to the region.Warlick added that the possibility of a meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia later this year is currently being discussed.He further said the deployment of peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh has been under discussion for years, adding that it would need to be a part of any comprehensive settlement.The co-chair also said the past several months have been a period of relative quiet.“We want that period to continue as a base for trust and furthering a negotiated settlement,” Warlick added.He also voiced concern over Azerbaijani hostages in prison in Armenia, adding that the position of the U.S. government on the matter has not changed.Armenian special forces killed Azerbaijani citizen Hasan Hasanov and took Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Asgarov hostage in the Shaplar village in the occupied Kalbajar region in July 2014, while they were visiting the graves of their relatives. Following an expedited “judicial process," Dilgam Asgarov was sentenced to life imprisonment, and Shahbaz Guliyev to 22 years.In the meantime, Popov expressed hope that the negotiations process will be intensified.“We hope for next meetings. The date of the meetings isn’t known yet,” he said.The latest meeting between Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan took place in Paris, France last October through an initiative by the French president.The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict emerged in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. After a lengthy war in the early 1990s that displaced over one million Azerbaijanis, Armenian armed forces occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France, and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs dubbed the Madrid Principles. The negotiations have been largely fruitless so far.The UN Security Council's four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal have not been enforced to this day. SOFAZ reveals budget figures for Q1 2015 http://www.today.az/news/business/142410.html Business Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:58:00 +0500 By Aynur Karimova  - AzerNews Azerbaijan's state oil fund SOFAZ has revealed its budget figures for January-June 2015. The fund reported on July 23 that its revenues in the reported period reached 4.054 billion manats ($3.863 billion), as its expenditures stood at 4.042 billion manats ($3.852 billion).Oil and gas agreements contributed to 3.812 billion manats ($3.633 billion) worth of revenue, including 3.802 billion manats ($3.623 billion) profit from the sale of oil and gas, 5.7 million manats ($5.43 million) from transit payments, 2.1 million manats ($2 million) from bonus payments, and 2.2 million manats ($2.1 million) from acreage fees.The revenues acquired from the management of the fund’s assets from January to June 2015 amounted to 241.9 million manats ($231 million), while its extra-budgetary revenues after the revaluation of foreign exchange totaled over 8.013 billion manats ($7.636 billion).SOFAZ transferred around 3.562 billion manats ($3.394 billion) to the state budget per the 2015 budget.The fund's expenditures in the amount of 89.8 million manats ($85.6 million) were allocated to improving the socio-economic conditions of refugees and internally displaced persons; 46.5 million manats ($44.3 million) went to financing the reconstruction of the Samur-Absheron irrigation system; 17.2 manats ($16.4 million) to financing Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway construction; and 5.9 million manats ($5.62 million) to financing the state program on the education of Azerbaijani youth abroad for the period 2007-2015.Some 307.4 manats ($293 million) were directed to financing the Southern Gas Corridor project. The fund's administrative and operational expenses for the reporting period were 13.7 million manats ($13.1 million).As of July 1, 2015, SOFAZ’s assets have decreased by 3.56 percent, compared to the beginning of 2015, standing at over $35.783 billion.SOFAZ, which is engaged in the accumulation and management of oil and gas revenues, was established in 1999 with assets worth $271 million.The main purpose of the fund is to minimize negative impacts on the economy by directing capital at assets abroad, preventing so-called 'Dutch disease,' ensuring national savings for future generations, and maintaining the current social and economic standards in the country.SOFAZ assets are placed partly in securities and partly in money market instruments.According to SOFAZ's investment strategy, up to five percent of its investment portfolio may be placed in stocks, up to five percent in real estate, and up to five percent in gold.Funds in SOFAZ’s investment portfolio can be invested in securities that are denominated in the currencies of G7 countries (U.S., Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan), European Monetary Union member countries, Russia and Turkey, as well as the countries with long-term credit ratings of no less than “A” (Standard & Poors, Fitch) or “A2” (Moody’s). Occupied Azerbaijani lands larger than Israel http://www.today.az/news/politics/142408.html Politics Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:39:00 +0500 By Sara Rajabova - AzerNews The Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenia is bigger than the entire territory of Israel, said Lev Spivak, Director General of the International Association Azerbaijan-Israel (Aziz).Spivak made this remark at a meeting, in the newly elected Knesset (parliament) of Israel, on the establishment of inter-parliamentary friendship group Israel-Azerbaijan, the State Committee for Work with Diaspora of Azerbaijan reported on July 23.The meeting, chaired by former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Chairman of the "Our Home - Israel" Party and the head of the friendship group, was attended by members of various parties, Knesset political advisor Oded Ben Hur, as well as Israel's newly appointed ambassador to Azerbaijan, Daniel Steve.While discussing Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan, Spivak said the occupied Azerbaijani territories are larger than Israel.Armenia occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, after laying territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor and causing a brutal war in the early 1990s. Long-standing efforts by U.S, Russian, and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far.He noted that Azerbaijan is concerned about the debate in the Knesset related to the recognition of the so-called "Armenian genocide" and urged deputies to refrain from speaking on this topic.Liberman, in turn, gave a comprehensive overview of Israeli-Azerbaijani relations along with information about the geographical location and economic potential of Azerbaijan.He noted that Israel gets 65 percent of its oil from Azerbaijan.Liberman also added that for centuries, Jews in Azerbaijan have lived in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.Azerbaijan and Israel have engaged in intense cooperation since 1992.The strategic relationship included cooperation in trade and security matters, and cultural and educational exchanges.Azerbaijan and Israel are jointly focusing on many growth sectors, mainly telecommunications, agriculture, water supply, and medical technologies.Azerbaijan is home to some 12,000 Mountain Jews, residing primarily in Baku and G?rm?z? Gasaba settlement in the Guba region of Azerbaijan. Mountain Jews have been living in Azerbaijan for close to 1500 years. Agriculture bank creation postponed http://www.today.az/news/business/142407.html Business Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:19:00 +0500 By Gulgiz Dadashova - AzerNews The state-owned non-banking credit organization CJSC Aqrarkredit has put aside the goal of transforming into an agrarian bank for now, giving priority to overseeing the disserted assets of the International Bank of Azerbaijan.The NBCO told Trend that the management of problem loans transferred from the IBA – which will be privatized after undergoing a cleanup effort to get rid of distressed assets resulting from poor management – is a more important task for Aqrarkredit at this stage.Economists have repeatedly raised the issue of the need to create a bank specifically devoted to financing agricultural projects in the country. The need to establish an agrarian bank emerged with the growing strength of the country's agriculture sector, which employs over 40 percent of the population and is given significant assistance by the state.Earlier discussions were held on creating such a bank on the foundations of Aqrarkredit or a separate bank in Azerbaijan. The consultations were conducted with the World Bank, the IFC, EBRD, and other international financial institutions, but efforts have been fruitless thus far."Currently, we do not know exactly how much of the problem assets will be transferred to our management, but, given the scale of the bank [IBA], it is clear that this is a large enough portfolio," a source at Aqrarkredit said.President Ilham Aliyev ordered rehabilitation measures for the IBA, in a decree on July 15 that should be completed within the next six months. The president’s order also mentioned that the bank's privatization plan should be submitted to his office for review.Aqrarkredit has had prior experience in managing the troubled assets of banks. In the early 2000s, Aqrakredit oversaw the troubled loans and liabilities of Azerbaijan’s three largest banks – Sberbank, Industrial-Investment Bank, and Agro-Industrial Bank – during a consolidation process to form the United Universal Joint Stock Bank [now Kapital Bank].Aqrarkredit is the largest non-bank credit organization of the country and has been operating since 2001. Aqrarkredit’s main shareholder is the Finance Ministry, which owns 99.9 percent of shares in the credit organization, while the rest is divided equally between Azersigorta State Insurance Company and the Irrigation and Water Management Agency. President Ilham Aliyev received the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/politics/142409.html Politics Fri, 24 Jul 2015 15:04:00 +0500 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Israel to Azerbaijan Rafael Harfaz who is completing his diplomatic mission in the country.Praising Rafael Harfaz`s contribution to the development of Azerbaijani-Israeli relations during his tenure, the head of state wished him success in his future activities.The Ambassador thanked President Ilham Aliyev, saying Azerbaijan will be etched on his mind.They discussed various aspects of Azerbaijani-Israeli ties, and exchanged views over prospects for the bilateral relations./By AzerTac/ EU realizes importance of being friends with Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/politics/142406.html Politics Fri, 24 Jul 2015 14:59:00 +0500 The EU has realized that it is better to be friends with Azerbaijan and maintain partner relations following Baku’s reaction on anti-Azerbaijani resolutions and various forms of pressure on the country, Fikret Sadikhov, Azerbaijani political analyst, professor of Western University, told Trend July 24.Sadikhov was commenting on European Council President Donald Tusk’s visit to Azerbaijan.“One must not engage in moralizing and exerting pressure as part of the internal political events,” he said."Tusk's visit was aimed at hearing Baku, discussing some key topical issues of regional security and outlining the actions that would contribute to the improvement of relations with the EU,” he said. “Judging by the results of the visit, Tusk was doing everything necessary to restore the warm bilateral partnership. But Azerbaijan has reiterated that it does not intend to sign any agreements on associated partnership, as they contain a lot of demands and unreasonable conditions that do not meet the interests of the country. But we will cooperate on the basis of partnership.”Sadikhov expressed hope that Tusk will draw appropriate conclusions.The analyst added that the most important part of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s statement is related to his assessments about the ongoing developments in Armenia and about the absolutely primitive remarks recently made by this country’s president in Yerevan.The head of state decisively proved that these remarks are groundless and gave concrete examples of violation of democratic values and continuation of Armenia’s policy of occupation of Azerbaijani territories up to the present day, Sadikhov added.Furthermore, Sadikhov said he positively assesses Tusk’s visit in terms of continuing the bilateral cooperation.European Council’s president made no secret that he understands and appreciates Azerbaijan’s role, its significance in ensuring security in the region and in Europe, especially in the energy security, he added./By Trend/ Group of peacekeepers return Azerbaijan from Afghanistan http://www.today.az/news/politics/142396.html Politics Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:46:00 +0500 A group of 39 Azerbaijani soldiers serving within the NATO-led "Resolute Support" mission launched in Afghanistan in January 2015 returned Baku on a rotating basis.Currently, 94 servicemen, 2 medical officers and 2 sappers of Azerbaijani armed forces are involved in a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.Azerbaijani armed forces started their peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan on November 20, 2002./By AzerTac/ Azerbaijani PM awarded in Belarus http://www.today.az/news/society/142403.html Society Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:30:00 +0500 By Aynur Karimova - AzerNews Azerbaijan will make efforts to continue developing fraternal relations with Belarus, Prime Minister Artur Rasizade said at a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on July 23, according to Belarusian media.“The Azerbaijani people have always had a warm attitude towards Belarus. We will make every effort to keep the basis, friendly and brotherly relations between our countries and peoples that we have established, to develop it further,” he said.The Azerbaijani prime minister was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.The award was presented to Rasizade for his considerable personal contribution to the development and strengthening of trade, economic, and humanitarian ties between Belarus and Azerbaijan."Such awards usually have some political subtext. As for you, there are no political subtexts or advances here. You have done a lot for our relations. Perhaps no other citizen of Azerbaijan has done as much," Lukashenko said.The Belarusian president voiced belief that Rasizade will appreciate the prestigious award and will always be proud of it.The Belarus-Azerbaijan mutual trade totaled $330.8 million in 2014, according to the Belarusian government. The trade turnover between the two countries had increased by five times during last four years. Trade grew at a rate of 13.9 percent just in 2014.Belarus' main exports include wood-working products, foodstuffs, medications, ferrous metals, and glassware. Azerbaijan's exports comprise of oil products, hydrocarbons, juices, agricultural products, and aluminum goods.Currently the two countries are implementing a long-term social and economic cooperation program through 2015. Belarus has initiated projects in logistics, public catering, and trade, with over $20 million in investment from Azerbaijan. Minsk and Baku operate flights regularly. Inter Baki into UEFA Europa League 3rd qualifying round http://www.today.az/news/sports/142402.html Sports Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:16:00 +0500 Azerbaijan's Inter Baki have defeated Iceland`s FH Hafnarfjordur 4-3 on aggregate to advance to UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.The two teams drew 2-2 at Shafa stadium in Baku in the second match of the two-legged second qualifying round after the first game in Iceland saw Inter Baki outclass FH Hafnarfjordur 2-1.Inter Baki will next face Athletic Bilbao./By AzerTac/ Iran plans to establish 5 new gas storage facilities http://www.today.az/news/regions/142394.html World news Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:57:00 +0500 National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) plans to establish five new gas storage facilities with the goal of boosting the country’s gas storage capacity, said Abdolhossein Samari, the deputy director of NIGC.Currently, the Nasrabad and the Yurtsha projects are underway, he said, adding that the Qezeltappeh project is also on the agenda, Iran’s Shana news agency reported July 22.“The Qezeltappeh project is of special importance. So, we prefer cooperating with Khazar Oil Company, which had previously worked on the project,” he said.The country has two gas storage facilities, Shourijeh and Serajeh. Samari went on to say that 543 million cubic meters of gas was injected to the Sarajeh facility, and 477 million cubic meters of gas was injected to the Shourijeh facility, in spring this year.Iran injected about 15 million cubic meters of natural gas per day to these storage facilities in the last Iranian fiscal year, which ended on March 20, and has the capacity to increase the volume to 20 million cubic meters per day using the existing facilities, he noted.Winter’s high consumption rate in the housing sector creates gas shortages that force the country to cut gas delivery to power plants and industrial sector as well as re-injecting to old oil fields dramatically.Manouchehr Taheri, director of the dispatching center of the NIGC, says that during this summer some 1.7 billion cubic meters and 2.5 bcm of gas will be injected to Sarajeh and Shourijeh respectively. Iran increased gas re-extraction from these facilities by 17 percent last year, compared to the previous year./By Trend/ AZERNEWS releases another print issue http://www.today.az/news/society/142405.html Society Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:44:00 +0500 A new print edition of the AZERNEWS online newspaper was released on July 24.The new edition includes articles about Azerbaijan’s importance for Europe as reliable and strategic partner in energy field, IBA’s plans develop a new loan policy under the pre-privatization improvement measures, traditional Gabala International Music Festival, as well as second International Festival of National Sweets in Azerbaijan’s beautiful city of Sheki and etc.AZERNEWS is an associate member of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).The online newspaper is available at www.azernews.az. Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 105 times within 24 hours http://www.today.az/news/analytics/142404.html Analytics Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:39:00 +0500 Armenian armed forces have broken the ceasefire with Azerbaijan 105 times in numerous positions in the last 24 hours, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said July 24.Armenian armed forces located in the villages of Berkaber of Armenia’s Ijevan district, Shavarshavan, Doveh of Noyemberyan district opened fire at the positions of Azerbaijani armed forces located in the villages of Qizilhajili, Kemerli, Farakhli of the Gazakh district.Azerbaijani positions located in the village of Alibayli of the Tovuz district took fire from the positions located in the village of Aygepar of Armenia’s Berd district.Meanwhile, Azerbaijani positions located on the nameless heights of the Gadabay district underwent fire from the positions located on the nameless heights of Armenia’s Krasnoselsk district.Another ceasefire violation came from the positions located near the villages of Talysh, Tapqaraqoyunlu of the Goranboy district, Chileburt, Gizil Oba, Yarimja, Goyarkh of the Terter district, Bash Gervend, Shikhlar, Shirvanli, Garagashli, Sarijali, Javahirli, Merzili of the Aghdam district, Kuropatkino of the Khojavend district, Garakhanbeyli, Horadiz, Gorgan, Ashagi Abdurrakhmanli, Ashagi Seyidahmadli of the Fizuli district and Mehdili of the Jabrayil district.Moreover, Azerbaijani positions took fire from the positions located on the nameless heights of Goranboy, Khojavend, Fizuli, Goygol and Jabrayil districts.The opposing side was silenced with return fire.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 the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions./By Trend/ Azerbaijani female wrestlers to compete in Poland http://www.today.az/news/sports/142399.html Sports Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:16:00 +0500 Azerbaijani female wrestler will participate in the 19th Poland Open international tournament in Warsaw as part of the trainings for World Championship to be held in Las Vegas on September 7-12.The line-up for the tournament included Maria Stadnik weighing in at 48kg, Anjela Dorogan at 53kg, Natalia Sinishina at 55kg, Yulia Ratkevic at 58kg, Irina Netraba at 60kg, and Nadia Mushka at 69kg.Kamran Aliyev will represent Azerbaijan as a referee at the tournament./By AzerTac/ Baku to host 3rd annual Azerbaijan and Caspian Sea Oil and Gas Week http://www.today.az/news/business/142397.html Business Fri, 24 Jul 2015 11:56:00 +0500 Baku on September 28-30 will host the 3rd annual Azerbaijan and Caspian Sea Oil and Gas Week at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in Baku.The event will be organized by Oliver Kinross, an internationally renowned business research organization. The forum will bring together international exhibitors, more than 250 delegates and 30 top level expert speakers. The aim of the forum is to provide a platform in which oil & gas corporations, government officials, solution & service providers and global oil and gas experts who will be able to invest the abundance of new business opportunities in one of the world's most exciting markets.The event will feature post conference workshops, exhibition space showcasing the latest industry technologies and services etc.Note that AZERTAC is the media partner of the 3rd annual Azerbaijan and Caspian Sea Oil and Gas Week./By AzerTac/ Azerbaijan's insurance firms collect premiums worth $231 million http://www.today.az/news/business/142400.html Business Fri, 24 Jul 2015 11:39:00 +0500 By Aynur Karimova - AzerNews Some 27 insurance companies operating in Azerbaijan have collected premiums worth 242.4 million manats ($231 million) in the first half of 2015, which is 14.3 percent more than the same period of last year.This remark was made by Orkhan Bayramov, the head of the Association of Insurers of Azerbaijan, at a press conference on July 23."A revitalization of the corporate sector, compulsory insurance types, and life insurance play important roles in the growth of the market," he said.Bayramov also noted that the insurance business is gradually turning into an investment business in Azerbaijan, using the analogy of Western experience. "But life insurance continues to be the locomotive of the market."The companies pay out some 38 manats ($36.2) worth of insurance settlement for every 100 manats ($95.3) worth of insurance premiums. This ratio stood at 30.9 per 100 manats ($29.44) in the first half of 2014.Bayramov went on to add that AIA plans to create a call center to inform the public on insurance products."In this regard, it is scheduled to start discussions with the insurance companies in the second half of September," he said. "Representatives of the Bureau of Compulsory Insurance and the State Insurance Supervision Service under the Finance Ministry will be involved in the negotiations as well. First of all, we want to start with compulsory insurance types, and then expand the coverage."Bayramov also stressed that the experience of the ASAN service would be useful in the creation of the call center, and did not rule out the possibility of considering the experiences of other call centers, such as the Taxes Ministry.Bayramov also named three companies that were granted rights to sell life insurance products in Azerbaijan – PASHA Life, Ateshgah Life and Qala Life – and said that these companies alone collected 65.9 million manats ($62.79 million) in the first half of 2015 from all types of life insurance plans, representing a 17.5 percent increase when compared to the same period last year.The share of life insurance premiums in the total amount of fees collected by the 27 insurance companies amounted to 27.2 percent.The official exchange rate on July 23 was 1.0495 AZN/USD. Azerbaijani FM meets Chairperson of Interstate Aviation Committee http://www.today.az/news/business/142395.html Business Fri, 24 Jul 2015 11:20:00 +0500 Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov has met chairperson of the Interstate Aviation Committee Tatiana Anodina.Mr. Mammadyarov said an agreement signed between Government of Azerbaijan and Interstate Council of Plenipotentiary Representatives on Aviation and Air Space Usewas ratified by the National Parliament, saying the Council began its activity in Baku.Tatiana Anodina also highlighted the development of air transport infrastructure in Azerbaijan, as well as the state care to the relevant field.They exchanged views on cooperation with the Interstate Aviation Committee./By AzerTac/ US dollar falls, euro rises in Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/business/142401.html Business Fri, 24 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0500 The official rate of the US dollar and the euro to the Azerbaijani manat as of July 24 is set at 1.0494 manats and 1.1515 manats, respectively.Below are the manat rates against world currencies and precious metals on Friday, July 24, according to the data from Azerbaijan’s Central Bank.Currencies and precious metalsJuly 23, 2015July 24, 20151 US dollar1 USD1.04951.04941 euro1 EUR1.14871.15151 Australian dollar1 AUD0.77440.76511 Argentine peso1 ARS0.11450.1144100 Belarusian rubles100 BYR0.00690.00691 Brazilian real1 BRL0.32560.31921 UAE dirham1 AED0.28570.28571 South African rand1 ZAR0.08460.0839100 South Korean won100 KRW0.09030.08991 Czech crown1 CZK0.04250.04261 Chilean peso1 CLP0.16050.15961 Chinese yuan1 CNY0.1690.1691 Danish krone1 DKK0.15390.15431 Georgian lari1 GEL0.4640.46291 Hong Kong dollar1 HKD0.13540.13541 Indian rupee1 INR0.01650.01641 British pound1 GBP1.6391.6279100 Indonesian rupiah100 IDR0.00780.0078100 Iranian rials100 IRR0.00360.00361 Swedish krona1 SEK0.12230.12231 Swiss franc1 CHF1.09391.09191 Israeli shekel1 ILS0.27480.27441 Canadian dollar1 CAD0.8050.80561 Kuwaiti dinar1 KWD3.46373.4631 Kazakh tenge1 KZT0.00560.00561 Kyrgyz som1 KGS0.01670.0167100 Lebanese pounds100 LBP0.06960.06971 Malaysian ringgit1 MYR0.27570.27571 Mexican peso1 MXP0.06520.06471 Moldavian leu1 MDL0.05510.05521 Egyptian pound1 EGP0.1340.1341 Norwegian krone1 NOK0.12880.1279100 Uzbek soums100 UZS0.04080.04081 Polish zloty1 PLN0.27890.27961 Russian ruble1 RUB0.01830.01811 Singapore dollar1 SGD0.76750.76551 Saudi riyal1 SAR0.27980.27981 SDR (IMF Special Drawing Rights)1 SDR1.4621.46491 Turkish lira1 TRY0.38740.38321 Taiwan dollar1 TWD0.03360.03341 Tajik somoni1 TJS0.16750.16751 New Turkmen manat1 TMM0.30.31 Ukrainian hryvnia1 UAH0.04740.0469100 Japanese yen100 JPY0.84650.84691 New Zealand dollar1 NZD0.69580.6905Gold (1 ounce)1 XAU1142.48571151.6116Silver (1 ounce)1 XAG15.522115.3422Platinum (1 ounce)1 XPT1011.7181035.7578Palladium (1 ounce)1 XPD645.4425662.1714/By Trend/ NASA discovers most Earth-like planet yet http://www.today.az/news/interesting/142398.html Weird / Interesting Fri, 24 Jul 2015 10:45:00 +0500 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has spotted an Earth-like planet 1,400 light years away, PressTV reported."Today we are announcing the discovery of an exo-planet that, as far we can tell, is a pretty good close cousin to the Earth and our Sun," John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for Nasa's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said on Friday.NASA said the planet, Kepler 452b, is about 60 percent larger than Earth. It could have active volcanoes, oceans, sunshine similar to that seen on Earth, twice as much gravity, and a year that lasts 385 days, scientists said."This is about the closest so far," Grunsfeld added, describing the new space body as our "closest twin" or "Earth 2.0."The new world sits in its star's habitable zone, where life could exist because it is neither too hot nor too cold to support liquid water.NAS says the star that the new plant revolves around is estimated to be about six billion years old - some 1.5 billion years older than the Sun, and therefore raising the momentous possibility that life could have developed on its surface.The planet was detected by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which has been on a mission hunting for other worlds like ours since 2009.NASA added 521 new possible planets to the 4,175 already found by the telescope.Twelve of the new planet candidates have diameters between one to two times that of Earth and are in the habitable zone of their stars. /By Trend/