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 Amnesty for 30,000 convicts in Kazakhstan http://www.today.az/news/regions/156764.html World news Fri, 09 Dec 2016 11:20:00 +0400 By  TrendThe Kazakh Senate (Parliament's upper chamber) has approved a bill on an amnesty for about 30,000 convicts and people held in pretrial detention, Sputnik- Kazakhstan reported.Within the amnesty, 1,500 people behind the bars will be freed and the rest would have their prison terms shortened.The amnesty was proposed by President Nursultan Nazarbaev on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence.Earlier the bill was approved by Kazakh Mazhilis (Parliament's lower chamber). It is expected that it will signed into law by Nazarbaev before Independence Day on December 16. Turkmenistan becomes main supplier of natural gas to China http://www.today.az/news/regions/156763.html World news Fri, 09 Dec 2016 11:15:00 +0400 By  TrendTurkmenistan became the leader for volumes of gas supply to China in nine months of 2016, said China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC).During the period, Turkmenistan supplied 18.32 million tons of gas to China that is by 11.2 percent more than in nine months of 2015, according to GACC.Revenues from export decreased by 29 percent to $4.68 billion. Average value of gas, supplied from Turkmenistan to China, decreased by $145 and was $255 per ton.Uzbekistan delivered 2.73 million tons of gas to China during the period that is by 2.4 times more than in January-October 2015. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan supplied 229,140 tons of gas to China.China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) buys natural fuel from Central Asia since 2009, after the pipeline from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan was launched. Beijing plans to increase the volume of annual gas purchase up to 65 billion cubic meters. Azerbaijani's minister chairs GUAM Ministerial Meeting http://www.today.az/news/politics/156760.html Politics Fri, 09 Dec 2016 10:51:00 +0400 By AzernewsAzerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov  chaired the 28th GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development Ministerial Meeting in Hamburg on December 8, Azertac reported.Azerbaijan has assumed the chairmanship of GUAM organization on a rotational basis.The meeting discussed the ways of developing cooperation, including realizing projects in a variety of fields, developing interparliamentary relations and strengthening economic and trade relations between the member states.The ministers agreed to set up a working group in the field of youth and sport. The sides also stressed the necessity of expanding the cooperation within international organizations and with partner countries.Following the event, the next round of “GUAM-Japan” meeting was held.The GUAM format was created by the post-Soviet states in 1997 during the summit of heads of states of the European Union in Strasbourg. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the format and four years later withdrew. In 2006, Ukraine and Azerbaijan announced plans to further increase the GUAM member relations by renaming the organization as GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development and establishing its headquarters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Armenia again violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/politics/156762.html Politics Fri, 09 Dec 2016 10:31:00 +0400 By  TrendOver the past 24 hours, Armenia’s armed forces have 41 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry reported on December 9.Armenian army was using large-caliber machine guns.The Azerbaijani army positions located in the Aghdam and Kokhanabi villages of the Tovuz district of Azerbaijan underwent fire from the Armenian army positions located in the Mosesgekh village and on nameless heights of the Berd district of Armenia.Moreover, the Azerbaijani army positions were also shelled from the Armenian positions located near the Armenian-occupied Shikhlar, Yusifjanli, Javahirli villages of the Aghdam district, Kuropatkino village of the Khojavand district, Horadiz village of the Fuzuli district, as well as from the positions located on nameless heights of the Goranboy, Tartar, Khojavand, Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts.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 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Currency rates for December 9 http://www.today.az/news/business/156761.html Business Fri, 09 Dec 2016 10:18:00 +0400 By  TrendOfficial exchange rates of the US dollar and euro to Azerbaijani manat for December 9 were set at 1.7430 manats and 1.8487 manats, respectively.According to the currency exchange rate corridor, set by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA), currency exchange offices can’t buy US dollars from population at a rate less than 1.6733 manats per dollar or sell the US dollars at a rate exceeding 1.8127 manats per dollar.The exchange rates at banks should not be less than 1.7748 manats when buying euros from the population and should not exceed 1.9226 manats when selling them.Below are the rates of manat against world currencies and precious metals, according to the data from the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.Currencies and precious metalsDec. 9, 20161 US dollar1 USD1.74301 euro1 EUR1.84871 Australian dollar1 AUD1.29991 Argentine peso1 ARS0.109100 Belarusian rubles100 BYR0.88251 Brazilian real1 BRL0.51641 UAE dirham1 AED0.47451 South African rand1 ZAR0.1276100 South Korean won100 KRW0.14931 Czech koruna1 CZK0.06831 Chilean peso1 CLP0.26621 Chinese yuan1 CNY0.25261 Danish krone1 DKK0.24851 Georgian lari1 GEL0.67561 Hong Kong dollar1 HKD0.22471 Indian rupee1 INR0.02581 British pound1 GBP2.1929100 Indonesian rupiah100 IDR0.0131100 Iranian rials100 IRR0.00481 Swedish krona1 SEK0.19081 Swiss franc1 CHF1.71461 Israeli shekel1 ILS0.4571 Canadian dollar1 CAD1.32071 Kuwaiti dinar1 KWD5.71631 Kazakh tenge1 KZT0.00521 Kyrgyz som1 KGS0.0252100 Lebanese pounds100 LBP0.11561 Malaysian ringgit1 MYR0.39391 Mexican peso1 MXP0.08581 Moldovan leu1 MDL0.08651 Egyptian pound1 EGP0.09631 Norwegian krone1 NOK0.2066100 Uzbek soums100 UZS0.05491 Polish zloty1 PLN0.41651 Russian ruble1 RUB0.02751 Singapore dollar1 SGD1.22321 Saudi riyal1 SAR0.46471 SDR (IMF Special Drawing Rights)1 SDR2.37231 Turkish lira1 TRY0.5051 Taiwan dollar1 TWD0.05481 Tajik somoni1 TJS0.22121 New Turkmen manat1 TMM0.49971 Ukrainian hryvna1 UAH0.0678100 Japanese yen100 JPY1.52311 New Zealand dollar1 NZD1.2492Gold (1 ounce)1 XAU2041.1402Silver (1 ounce)1 XAG29.5526Platinum (1 ounce)1 XPT1638.42Palladium (1 ounce)1 XPD1263.675 Russians with children prefer Baku for New Year holidays http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/156759.html Arts & Entertainment Fri, 09 Dec 2016 10:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovBaku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is one of the most popular destinations for New Year holidays for Russian tourists travelling with their children.This data was provided by RoomGuru.ru, the Internet service for hotel search. It analyzed the data on searching and booking hotels and apartments for staying with children from this December 31 to January 8, 2017.Along with Baku, the top 10 cities also include Minsk, Tallinn, Prague, Budapest, Helsinki, Berlin, Riga, Vienna and Istanbul, Trend reported cityin the website. According to the Turstat agency, the number of trips Russian tourists make with children in neighboring countries in 2016 has increased by 15 percent compared to last year.Azerbaijan celebrates the New Year with colorful performances, concerts, contests, and parties. Huge and bright Christmas trees every year decorate Azerbaijan's capital, and bring a sense of delight for every citizen and guest of the city.According to the data of RoomGuru.ru, New Year holidays in Baku is planned for an average of 3.5 days. Accommodation in the capital during the New Year holidays will cost an average of 45 euros per day. Enjoying vacation in the ski resort Shahdag of Azerbaijan is also of great demand.The Shahdag winter and summer tourist complex is Azerbaijan’s first ski resort and it differs from similar facilities in the world for its uniqueness and diversity.Year by year the number of tourists discovering this beautiful resort increases. Despite Shahdag was opened only in December 2012, it could attract hundred thousands of people.The Shahdag complex located in 30 km north of the town of Gusar, stands 2,500 meters above sea level and serves as an outstanding getaway with its rich nature, fresh air, and wonderful climate, with temperatures ranging between minus 20-22 degrees Celsius in winter and 20 degrees in summer. President Aliyev extends condolences to Pakistani president http://www.today.az/news/politics/156758.html Politics Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:00:00 +0400 Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev expressed his condolences to Mamnoon Hussain, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on December 8. The message reads: “Dear Mr President, I was deeply saddened by the news of heavy casualties as a result of a plane crash in your country. On behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf, I extend my deep condolences to you, families and the loved ones of those who died, and the brotherly people of Pakistan. May Allah rest the souls of those who died in peace!” All 47 people on board the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight that crashed near Abbottabad on December 7 were killed. The airline said the plane crashed at 4:42pm local time in the Havelian area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, about 40 kilometres north of Islamabad. Chitral, where the flight originated, is a popular tourist destination in Pakistan. National designers storm Azerbaijan Fashion Week runway [PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/156757.html Arts & Entertainment Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:48:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaThe national designers took the shows of Azerbaijan Fashion Week by storm, which was held in late November.With their fiercely fresh looks, vivid colors and unique designs they captivated the audience during the whole Week.  Azerbaijan Fashion Week 2016 displayed the most magnificent pieces of Azerbaijani and foreign designers, along with some of their craziest styles.Truly one of the most diverse and colorful fashion shows featured seven national brands: EMILIE ATELIE, LIBAS COUTURE, BO by OKSANA BARKHATOVA, GUNAY MIRZA, DENT'ELLE COUTURE by SHABNAM, YES COUTURE, JAMILYA MELIKOVA.Spring-summer 2017 collection by Libas Couture featured flying dresses, sparkling organza and finesse laces.Zemfira Musayeva, inspired by the impressionist paintings of French artist Degas, has created a collection filled with light and ease. This collection will be appreciated by self-assured women, who love life and live with a smile. Designer Emina Amin, who presented kids fashion collection, demonstrated  fantastic women's and children's clothing line "Simplicity". New collection by Atelier Emilie is a perfect example of that the simplicity is the embodiment of elegance.The BO collection by Oksana Bakhatova "Spring-summer 2016/17" was created in a very short time. Therefore it reflects only part of the philosophy of brand from talented designer Oksana Bakhatova.Fashion collection by Gunay Mirza featured Turkish motifs. The models walked down the catwalk under a Turkish melody. Their hairstyles were decorated with traditional Turkish hats.Fashion collection DENT'ELLE COUTURE by designer SHABNAM featured not only evening gowns, but also casual outfits, interwoven with the elegance and beauty.Finally YES COUTURE presented collection of breathtaking evening dressesAzerbaijan Fashion Week is held twice a year in November and May. More than 60 designers from Azerbaijan, Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, France and Spain participated in last three seasons.The main purpose of the Week is to popularize growing fashion industry in Azerbaijan and give an opportunity to young and talented designers to show their work to the world. It's a place that gathers local and international buyers, press and fashion critics together. FM Mammadyarov: Status quo in Karabakh conflict unacceptable [UPDATE] http://www.today.az/news/politics/156756.html Politics Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:16:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Gunay CamalAzerbaijan is the most interested party in moving beyond the current status-quo in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.Mammadyarov made the remarks during the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Hamburg on December 8.The minister emphasized that the unlawful presence of the armed forces of Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan remains the main cause of escalation in the conflict zone and is the major impediment to political settlement of the conflict.Mammadyarov hailed the existence of almost a unanimous position within OSCE that the status-quo in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is unsustainable and must change, emphasizing that Azerbaijan is the most interested party in moving beyond the current status-quo.“In this context, we assess the high-level substantive discussions in Vienna and St. Petersburg as positive steps in the right direction and we are thankful to the Co-chair countries, particularly to President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Putin, for all his efforts in this regard. We must sustain the momentum and transform the understandings reached in those meetings into concrete actions without further delay,” he said noting that Baku the OSCE and its Minsk Group to play an instrumental role to this end.The minister went on to say that a step-by-step elimination of the consequences of the conflict, starting with withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, restoration of regional transportation and communication links and safe and dignified return of displaced persons to their places of origin, while addressing security concerns appropriately, will transform the conflict dynamics and significantly improve the overall security environment in the whole region.This approach is based on the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and affirmed in the decisions of the OSCE, notably in the Budapest Summit decision of 1994, according to the minister.“As confidence-building measures, agreement was reached to expand the Office of the Permanent Representative of the Chairman-in-Office, provided that this expansion is synchronized with substantive negotiations and does not change Office’s mandate and modus operandi. Azerbaijan submitted its proposal in this regard and we expect constructive talks to this end as we are speaking about activities of this mission on the sovereign and internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan,” he said.The minister further voiced regret over the position of Yerevan, saying :“Unfortunately, statements that we hear through the last few months from the Armenian side do not give a reason for optimism and indicate the apparent unwillingness of the Armenian side to engage constructively in result-oriented talks.”He noted that attempts to precondition the substantive negotiations undermine the Vienna and St. Petersburg agreements and pursue the obvious goal to derail the peace process. Continued efforts of Armenia to strengthen its military build-up in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, illegally change the demographic, cultural and physical character of these territories undermine trust and reveal true intentions of the Armenian side.“The months ahead will demonstrate if Armenia is a serious partner for peace, genuinely interested in engaging constructively in substantive negotiations to resolve the conflict or we will continue down the road of further instability and conflict,” 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 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. FutureShorts film festival returns to town [PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/156755.html Arts & Entertainment Thu, 08 Dec 2016 16:50:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaBaku will enjoy the winter season of the world's famous Future Shorts film festival on December 15-16.YARAT Contemporary Art Space invites everyone to the screening that will be organized as a part of YARAT FreeStyle Program, an open platform for everyone who looks to engage creatively with a broad and diverse audience.YARAT FreeStyle Program aims to set up a scene for creative groups and individuals and is open to actors, dancers, performance artists, musicians and other cultural practitioners. Anyone with a project or an idea can reach out to us.This festival covers 40 countries, 100 cities, 6 continents and offers 1,400 showings per year throughout the world.  The festival has gained the attention of movie fans over a huge territory from Finland to Mexico. The festival gives an opportunity for professionals and newcomers all over the world to become a part of an international cinematographic community. The Winter Season of Future Shorts includes eight films.You Could Sunbathe In This Storm dir. Alice Dunseath UK / Animation / 2014 / 6 minHow is the world around us shaped? Juxtaposing the natural and the unnatural, we explore ideas of patterns, form and sounds. Parking dir. Ivaylo MinovBulgaria / Drama / 2014 / 19 minIrina is torn between the man she loves and the man she cares for in this emotional drama. Coach dir. Ben AdlerUK / Drama / 2015 / 14 minsA father and son drive to France together to watch a football match, but the journey is not as they expected when their car breaks down and they have to hitch a lift. Ten Meter Tower dir. Axel Danielson & Maximilien Van AertryckSweden / Documentary / 2016 / 16 minsA ten-meter diving tower. A choice of jumping or climbing down. How does the instinctive fear of taking a leap weigh up against the humiliation of backing out?OY – Space Diaspora dir. Moritz Reichartz Germany / Music Video / 2016 / 3 minsA story depicting mankind’s prosperous future on a planet called Space Diaspora, on which humans finally develop the ability to learn from their mistakes. Bike Life dir. Dan EmmersonUK / Documentary / 2016 / 3 mins In a small town in Wales, Daniel Commander and his crew of cyclists find a purpose that keeps them from turning to crime and hard drugs, but the locals aren’t too happy.Hold On dir. Charlotte Scott WilsonThe Netherlands / Drama / 2016 / 20 minsA young cellist has to overcome her fears in order to keep her place in an orchestra.Mr Madila dir. Rory Waudby-Tolley UK / Animation / 2015 / 8 minsA string of conversations with a gifted spiritual healer. Exploring the inner mind, the fabric of the universe, and the nature of reality itself. The films will be shown in original languages with Russian subtitles.  The venue is YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, Multifunctional Room. The entrance is free. Azerbaijani models shine at Best Model of the World 2016 [PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/156754.html Arts & Entertainment Thu, 08 Dec 2016 16:37:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaIstanbul hosted the final of beauty pageant Best Model of the World 2016.With more than 30 models in attendance, the grand contest of beauty Onur Seyit Yaran (Turkey) and Joy Akpokinova from Nigeria as winners.Azerbaijani models also awarded honorably titles in the evening hosted by Ece Gursel.Zahra Garakhanova appeared in the final evening in national dress designed by Gulnara Khalilova, who is the head of the Center of National Costumes. Her elegance and grace thrilled international community, gaining her a recognition of the most charming model at the contest. Another national model, Yusif Jafarli became the winner in two categories: Best Catwalk and Best Press.At the contest, Azerbaijani models appeared in stunning gowns and suits by legendary national couturier  Yildirim Miruka.The jury included the President of the competition Erkan Ozerman, art and cultural figures including Emel Muftuoglu, Robert Hatemo, Tugba Yurt, Chaglayan Topaloglu, Omur Gedik as well as Azerbaijani model Gunay Musayeva and national designer Rufat Ismayil.The Best Model of the World has been held every year since 1955. OSCE Ministeril Council: Nagorno Karabakh talks need new wind http://www.today.az/news/politics/156753.html Politics Thu, 08 Dec 2016 16:28:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovThe Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is concerned over the recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the opening of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg.The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains dangerous and it is necessary to hold negotiations to find a solution to this conflict, said Steinmeier, who is also OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, adding that in April, there was an escalation in the conflict zone, which shows that there is a danger of re-ignition of the conflict.Noting the importance of the humanitarian aspects of the conflict’s resolution, Steinmeier added that the ceasefire must be consolidated in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and that there is need to start negotiations on a political solution.Over the past 20 years of unsuccessful peace talks between the aggressor country Armenia and its suffering neighbor country Azerbaijan was casting a shadow over the security of the region. Once again, the conflict emerged as the real and big danger to the security and development of the region in April 2016 – mainly because of the inactivity of the mediators and international community.The necessity of resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was also raised by OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, who stated that the conflict resolution depends on political will of the sides to the conflict."The aim of the OSCE is to provide opportunities for negotiations. However each of the parties should take advantage of these opportunities," Zannier said, stressing that the conflict parties need to make efforts to find a solution.Zannier further highlighted that he supports the position of Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the need to give new impetus to the work of the OSCE Minsk Group.The OSCE Minsk Group, the activities of which have become known as the Minsk Process, works to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for over two decades, but in vain.The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains a cause of concern for the OSCE member countries, US Secretary of State John Kerry said at the event.High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini also touched upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in her speech."EU hopes for progress in the negotiation process on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict following the previously reached agreements," she said at the Ministerial.Mogherini added that the sides to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should seek to establish a lasting peace in the region.France has previously proposed to hold a meeting in the format of 3+2 [three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group and Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers] on the sidelines of the Ministerial in Hamburg.Soon after that, the Azerbaijani side informed that it backs the proposal on the meeting. However, Armenia hasn’t confirmed its consent.Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a lengthy war that ended with the signing of a fragile ceasefire in 1994. Since the war, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.Armenia ignores four UN Security Council resolutions on immediate withdrawal from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan, thus keeping tension high in the region. Four medicine plants to operate in Azerbaijan by 2018 http://www.today.az/news/society/156752.html Society Thu, 08 Dec 2016 16:07:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Gulgiz MuradovaAzerbaijan’s pharmaceutical industry is taking a shape as plants on medicine production will appear in the country in the near future.Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev said that four new pharma plants will operate in the country by 2018, recalling that construction of the first plant has already been launched. “This month, we will also lay the foundation of a joint pharmaceutical plant with Iran. Moreover, we are now considering other two similar projects,” he noted.The Russian private hi-tech pharmaceutical company R-Pharm, Azerbaijan Investment Company and Vita-A LLC (Azerbaijan) signed a deal on the creation of Hayat Pharm Joint Venture on November 2 in Baku, thus founding the country’s first pharmacy plant.The Azerbaijani-Russian joint pharmaceutical plant will be built in the Pirallahi Industrial Park. It is planned to invest some $74 million into the project, which enable Azerbaijan to manufacture high-quality medicines within two years.The project envisages creation of a large logistics centre, covering an area of some 5,000 cubic meters in 2016-2018. The formation of the industrial complex, which is to consist of two stages, namely, the establishment of an enterprise for packing the official medicines and production of medications (tablets, capsules and pharmaceutical substances) will be realized in 2017-2020. A quality control laboratory will be established in the country in 2016-2020.Hayat Pharm’s share in the Azerbaijani pharmaceutical market is expected to be 6 percent by 2025. The local production will account for $70 million or 0.15 percent of GDP by 2025. This will allow saving budgetary funds worth $53.6 million thanks to import substitution in medications.The joint pharmaceutical plant with Iran will also be built in Pirallahi. The enterprise is designed to manufacture dozens of essential drugs for the treatment of heart diseases, contagious diseases, non-communicable diseases, as well as various types of antibiotics and painkillers.The necessary medicines will be imported from Iran to Azerbaijan within the first stage, while Iran will provide all necessary technology for the production of drugs in the second stage of the project, production of medicines will be launched at the third stage.Moreover, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey and some European countries seek to take advantage and enter the pharmaceutical sector of Azerbaijan.In late 2015, the government announced that Azerbaijan will create own enterprises that will manufacture medicines to cease dependence on imports. Today, the local market of medicines is heavily dependent on imports, while 57 percent of medicines registered in the country are produced in Europe, 26 percent in the CIS countries, including 12 percent made in Russia. The small proportion is produced in Asian countries. President Aliyev inagurates newly reconstructed highways in Baku's districts [PHOTO/UPDATE] http://www.today.az/news/politics/156742.html Politics Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:42:00 +0400 By  Azertac Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of the newly renovated Ramana-Mashtagha highway in Sabunchu district in Baku on December 8.Chairman of Azeravtoyol OJSC Saleh Mammadov informed the head of state of the renovation work. The 11km highway established a new road infrastructure in the area by linking Heydar Aliyev Avenue-Mardakan and Zabrat-Mashtagha roads.The width of the two-lane highway was expanded to 10 metres from 6-7 metres. All communication lines along the highway were renovated. The highway, which links three residential areas, will ease movement of more than 85,000 people.President Aliyev cut a ribbon symbolizing the opening of the road, and then spoke to builders.Later, the president attended the opening of a 5km long section of Zigh-Amirjan-Yeni Surakhani highway in Surakhani district, Baku, after renovation.Mammadov informed the head of state that the road is 10 metres in width. All underground communication lines along the road were renovated. Sidewalks were built along the road. The highway will ease movement of 63,000 people in three residential areas.President Aliyev cut a ribbon symbolizing the opening of the road. Over 713M manats paid to closed banks’ depositors http://www.today.az/news/business/156751.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:26:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijan Deposit Insurance Fund (ADIF) reported that it paid compensations worth more than 713.86 million manats to depositors of Dekabank, Kredobank, Zaminbank, Parabank, Caucasus Development Bank, AtraBank, Bank of Azerbaijan, Ganjabank, Texnikabank and Bank Standard.Below is the list of closed banks and the volume of paid compensations as of December 7:BanksPaid compensations (million manats)Share of paid compensations in total volume of insured deposits (%)Bank Standard426.9397%Zaminbank52.3872%Dekabank3.0296%Kredobank27.1997%Caucasus Development Bank1.9492%Atrabank14.2697%Bank of Azerbaijan24.1597%Ganjabank0.9894%Texnikabank120.1298%Parabank42.998%Acceptance of applications from insured depositors of Dekabank, Kredobank, Zaminbank and Parabank began Aug. 1, 2016 and the payment of compensations has been carried out since that day.Compensations to the insured depositors of Caucasus Development Bank and AtraBank are being paid starting from Aug. 23. Payment of compensations to insured depositors of Bank of Azerbaijan has been carried out since Jan. 29, 2016 at branches of Muganbank and Rabitabank, and since Sept. 8 at ADIF’s office.Clients of Ganjabank receive compensations since Feb. 4.Payment of compensations to insured depositors of Bank Standard started Oct. 11, 2016 at the bank’s main office and its branches in the regions of Azerbaijan and will continue for one year.Depositors of Texnikabank can receive compensations since Feb. 12 at ADIF’s office.The licenses of all the ten banks were cancelled during 2016 as the aggregate capital of these banks didn’t meet the minimum requirements [50 million manats]. In general, they haven’t fulfilled the regulator’s instructions.Some 32 banks are currently implementing their activities in the country. Turkmenistan committed to develop Galkynysh http://www.today.az/news/regions/156750.html World news Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:01:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovTurkmenistan is implementing large-scale projects to develop the country’s giant gas field Galkynysh. Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov announced about this in his message to participants of the international conference Oil and Gas of Turkmenistan (OGT 2016), which opened on December 7.Berdimuhamedov noted that construction of new plants for natural gas processing and production of goods highly demanded in global markets are also being carried out in the country.He said that great work has been done to extract, process, stably and reliably deliver the hydrocarbon resources to consumers.Moreover, extensive work is underway on diversification of routes for transportation of Turkmen natural gas to global markets.Implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project is an obvious proof of this work, according to the Turkmen president’s message."I am confident about special importance of this project from an economic point of view for neighboring and other states in the region," noted Berdimuhamedov.Galkynysh field will provide natural gas for TAPI. The main document for TAPI, called the Ashgabat Interstate Agreement, was signed in 2010. The groundbreaking ceremony for TAPI's Turkmen section was held in mid-December 2015. The project is expected to be completed in late 2019.he project's preliminary cost is estimated at $10 billion. The Turkmen government reported earlier that the state concern Turkmengaz would be the main investor for the TAPI project.Turkmenistan started construction of its section of TAPI pipeline in December 2015. The project is expected to be completed in late 2019.Being the sixth in the world for the volume of natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan produces about 70-80 billion cubic meters of gas a year, while most of its proven gas reserves are located in the Amu Darya basin in the south-east and in the Murgab South Caspian basins in the western part of the country.   Azerbaijan outlines proposals on output cuts for OPEC meeting http://www.today.az/news/eurovision/156747.html Eurovision Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:55:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Gulgiz MuradovaAzerbaijan, which earlier unilaterally refused from increasing oil production, will prepare "concrete proposals" for oil output cut talks to be held on December 10 in Vienna.Azerbaijan, the third-largest producer among ex-Soviet countries after Russia, plans to attend the meeting of the cartel with non-OPEC oil producers to finalize details of coordinated cuts.The list of the countries that have been invited and are expected to participate in the cuts include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brunei, Colombia, Russia, Mexico, Turkmenistan, Oman, Trinidad and Tobago, Egypt, the Republic of Congo, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. “Azerbaijan seeks to determine its oil production quota in accordance with the percentage of reduction referred to Russia and other countries outside of OPEC,” Reuters reported citing the country’s energy ministry.OPEC decided on November 30 to hold production at 32.5 million b/d starting January 1, 2017 -- the first coordinated cut since 2008 -- amounting to an approximate 1.2 million b/d cut from current output levels. The deal exempts Libya and Nigeria and is contingent on key non-OPEC producers also agreeing to cut 600,000 b/d in total. Non-member Russia will cut by as much as 300,000 barrels a day. The energy-rich Caspian country produces three grades of crude oil - Azeri BTC, Azeri Light, and Urals. Azerbaijan has been producing AZERI LT since 1997 and exports it via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa pipelines, as well as by rail to the Georgian port of Batumi.BP Azerbaijan earlier announced that the company is going to maintain production of Azeri Light oil in Azerbaijan in 2016 at the level of the previous year.In 2015, Azerbaijan produced 31.3 million tons of Azeri Light compared to 31.5 million tons extracted in 2014.The cartel of 14 major oil producers of the world has long insisted it wants non-OPEC producers to properly participate in global output cuts to support prices.Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has recently suggested holding of a summit of OPEC's 14 oil producing nations and oil-rich non-OPEC nations to set out a pricing strategy for the next decade. Malena Mard: Roadmaps provide good basis for diversification of economy http://www.today.az/news/business/156749.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:42:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliThe recently approved strategic roadmaps for the development of Azerbaijan’s national economy provide a good basis for reforms and economic diversification, said Malena Mard.  The head of the EU delegation in Baku noted that the Union always discusses the ways to support the diversification of the Azerbaijani economy."The EU wants to be a partner of Azerbaijan and support it in the diversification of the economy and reforms. And 12 road maps create very good foundation for this," Mard told Trend.President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on December 6 endorsing “Strategic road maps for the national economy and main economic sectors”, which will allow define the development goals and priorities and ensure their proper and timely implementation.The strategic road maps cover almost all sectors of the economy, including, development of the oil and gas industry, the manufacture and processing of agricultural products, the manufacture  of small and medium entrepreneurship-level consumer goods, development of heavy industry and machinery, tourism, logistics and trade, vocational education and training, financial services, communication and information technologies and utilities.Mard recalled the mandate issued for the negotiations between the EU and Azerbaijan on November 14 for the new legal framework of cooperation, which will include many areas."We look forward to the start of negotiations next year to be able to promote our trade and investment cooperation. Issuance of this mandate is a very positive step," she emphasized.The European Council has adopted a mandate for the European Commission and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy to negotiate, on behalf of the EU and its member states, a comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan.The new agreement should replace the 1996 partnership and cooperation agreement and should better take account of the shared objectives and challenges the EU and Azerbaijan face today. Leyla Aliyeva: Justice will prevail, territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be restored http://www.today.az/news/politics/156743.html Politics Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:23:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliThe 7th forum of Azerbaijani Youth Organization of Russia (AMOR) titled “AMOR’s generation: patriotism, creativity, success” kicked off in Moscow on December 6.Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Chairperson of AMOR Leyla Aliyeva attended the event.Supported by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Youth and Sport, the event brought together Azerbaijani and Russian officials, more than 500 delegates, as well as AMOR’s regional activists and members of youth organizations in Russia.AMOR is aimed to bring together the most active part of the Azerbaijani community in Russia into one large family to inculcate in young people the spirit of patriotism and encourage the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan.The organization's scope of activity covers culture, education, science and history of Azerbaijan, its realities and perspectives, outreach activities, sporting programs, and nurturing in young people a sense of responsibility for their future and the future of the whole world.Addressing the event Leyla Aliyeva thanked AMOR's activists, noting huge job done by the organization during the eight-year period."The main thing for us is to preserve ancient traditions, rich culture and history of Azerbaijan, as well as mutual help and support, respect for all peoples and religions, integration into the Russian society and worthy representation of Azerbaijan in Russia," she said."We try to carry out all our activities in the creative spirit and with love. One of our main achievements is that today AMOR has more than 60 regional offices throughout Russia. Our clubs regularly organize concerts and events."Leyla Aliyeva said that Azerbaijani youth very carefully refers to the history of Azerbaijan."Therefore, each year we hold events in many parts of the world dedicated to the memory of victims of Khojaly tragedy in the framework of the campaign "Justice for Khojaly". Next year will see the 25th anniversary of this terrible tragedy. It is important that the international community has given a legal assessment of this tragedy, so that similar crimes do not happen again anywhere else in the world," she emphasized.Leyla Aliyeva stressed that Azerbaijan will continue to work in this direction. "We believe that the justice will prevail, and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be restored and all the refugees and IDPs will return to their homes, to their native land," she said.Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation noted that Azerbaijan and Russia have a long history of friendship and good neighborliness."It is very valuable that our country fully preserved the study of the Russian language in schools. We have the Baku Slavic University and Russian Drama Theatre. We are very fond of the Great Russian culture, literature and art," she added.  Leyla Aliyeva also spoke about the environmental protection, recalling the International Dialogue for Environmental Action Public Union (IDEA) created five years ago.With the aim of protecting and increasing the number of wild nature, IDEA Public Association founded in 2011 makes every effort to protect the nature for future generations."During this time we have done a great job. Our main task is to protect animals at risk of extinction," she said.Speaking at the event, Azerbaijani Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said that relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are of a strategic partnership and are based on old traditions of friendship and good neighborliness, respect for each other's interests, and a common history.Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu noted that each member of AMOR is a kind of ambassador of Azerbaijan in such a large and important country like Russia.Then the young activists and experts took part at the meetings of the sections on the theme "Multiculturalism as a basis for inter-ethnic and inter-state relations", "2017 - Year of Ecology in Russia - the contribution of Azerbaijani youth", "The role of Amor in strengthening the Diaspora", "Youth in business: creating and developing start-ups. "The forum "AMOR’s generation: patriotism, creativity, success" finalized its work by holding a plenary session and summarizing the work of sections. Minister: IDB allocates nearly $1B for projects in Azerbaijan [UPDATE / PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/business/156748.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:18:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliThe International Investment Conference, aiming to present and showcase the recent opportunities and key challenges to do business in Azerbaijan was held in Baku on December 8 with participation of influential Arab investors.The conference with major focus on the first and the largest event of this kind in Azerbaijan brought together over 200 representatives and heads of government agencies, local and foreign companies from 24 countries.Organized by the Islamic Corporation for Development of the Private Sector (ICD), IDB Group Business Forum, Azerbaijan Investment Company and the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), the conference addressed topics of common interest to identify concrete ways and effective solutions to support investments and private sector development in Azerbaijan.Being part of the Islamic world and sharing the progressive heritage and spiritual values of Islamic civilization, Azerbaijan attaches great importance to developing relations with the Islamic countries, and the Gulf states in particular.Alongside with very strong political ties, these countries have numerous opportunities for expanding economic cooperation.Speaking at the event the country’s Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev said that IDB has allocated nearly $1 billion for the implementation of 18 projects in Azerbaijan.Mustafayev said that 14 of 18 projects have already been implemented in Azerbaijan, and four projects are in the process of implementation.Regarding activity of the ICD, which is part of the IDB Group in Azerbaijan, the minister noted that since the beginning of cooperation, the agency has invested about $130 million in projects implemented in Azerbaijan’s private sector.Mustafayev also urged businessmen to cooperate with the Caspian International Investment Company (CIIC), one of the shareholders of which is the ICD.He added that the company hasn’t fully used its capital and entrepreneurs can take advantage of this opportunity to submit their projects for funding to the CIIC.Currently, the company is implementing six projects, Mustafayev noted.During the meeting, Mustafayev also spoke about the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict -- one of the most tragic conflicts in the history of the 20th century that affected the destiny of millions.The minister thanked Islamic countries for support to Azerbaijan's fair position on the conflict, adding that they always demanded the occupier to leave the Azerbaijani lands.Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup in 1991. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and nearly 1 million were displaced as a result of the war.Large-scale hostilities ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire in 1994 but Armenia continued the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal.In turn, Director General of the ICD Khaled Al-Aboodi said that the Cooperation supports the economic reforms being implemented in Azerbaijan."We are ready to help the government increase investment in the country, to improve the quality of products produced in the country, to provide entrepreneurs access to new technologies and markets," he said, adding that they are also interested creating in joint ventures.The ICD is ready to share its experience with Azerbaijan in spheres such as capital markets, designing and providing exit businesses to financial resources, according to Al-Aboodi.In addition to our investment, we can also help attract foreign investors to Azerbaijan. The government is committed to improving the investment climate in the country, and these measures will help to develop the economy and make it more sustainable," he said.Al-Aboodi also proposed to hold a conference on an annual basis in order to attract more investors to Azerbaijan.During the event, the Baku International Sea Trade Port and the ICD signed a memorandum of understanding.The main goal of the memorandum is to study potential capacity of the port and the free trade zone (FTZ) in the Alat township, as well as the opportunities to attract private sector to the process of creating the free trade zone.ICD will be the second international organization engaged for consultations within the framework of a FTZ. Earlier, in September, Azerbaijan and Dubai Port World, one of the world's largest port operators, signed an agreement for the provision of consulting services for the creation of a FTZ.Measures on creation of a free trade zone type special economic area covering the territory of the Baku International Sea Trade Port in the Alat township of Baku’s Garadagh district were confirmed by a presidential decree on March 17, 2016.Creation of FTZ in Azerbaijan around the Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat settlement is a project with a great future, as it's good opportunity for attracting cargo traffic and investments to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani wrestlers head to Hungary http://www.today.az/news/sports/156746.html Sports Thu, 08 Dec 2016 13:32:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijani wrestlers will compete in World Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary on December 10-11.Azerbaijan pins much hope on six wrestlers, including two women.World championships in all 24 style and weight categories are held in non-Olympic years.The addition of an Olympic year world championship for weight classes not included at the Olympic Games will give participants of that weight an end-of-the-year title opportunity."We are pleased that the Hungarian Wrestling Federation has taken on the responsibility of this important championship," said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic."This tournament will give more wrestlers the chance to seek a world title, even in an Olympic year. Our athletes work hard year round for their sport and we are pleased to give them an opportunity for more medals," he added.The world championships will be competed in women's wrestling (55kg, 60kg), freestyle (61kg, 70kg) and Greco-Roman (71kg, 80kg).Wrestling remains the most popular sport in the county and is overseen by the National Wrestling Federation, which was established in 1993.The Rio Games opened a new page in wrestling for Azerbaijan. The country became one of only two nations ever to increase the number of medals achieved in five consecutive Games.Azerbaijan left Rio de Janeiro with a total of 18 medals, signifying the nation's most successful Olympic outcome in its independent history. Nine of these medals were distributed to the Azerbaijani team in wrestling, three in taekwondo for the first time, and two each in boxing, sprint canoeing, and judo. French new Interior Minister persona non-grata for Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/politics/156745.html Politics Thu, 08 Dec 2016 13:24:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovFrance’s new Minister of Internal Affairs Bruno Le Roux, who illegally visited the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia, remains in a list of undesirable persons compiled by the Foreign Ministry.The remarks were made by the spokesman for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry Hikmat Hajiyev, according to Report news agency.Le Roux visited the occupied lands in September 2015 in the status of a member of the French Parliament.Hajiyev said that regardless of the position of a person, the name of every foreigner who violate Azerbaijani laws, territorial integrity and sovereignty by illegally visiting the occupied Azerbaijani territories, are included in the list of undesirable persons.“The law applies to everyone,” he said.Le Roux is a member of the so-called French-Karabakh friendship circle. Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions of Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup in 1991. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and nearly one million were displaced as a result of the war. Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions are temporarily out of the control of Azerbaijan as a result of Armenia’s aggression.Unauthorized visits to Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied regions of Azerbaijan are considered illegal and individuals who pay such visits are included in the ministry’s “black list”.The list of persona non grata banned from visiting Azerbaijan includes MPs, media persons, businessmen, entertainers, and others, who violated Azerbaijan’s borders and showed disrespect to the sovereignty and territorial unity of the country. Deputy Prime Minister: $3.47 billion spent to solve IDPs' problems http://www.today.az/news/business/156744.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 13:10:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovAzerbaijan spent 6.1 billion manats ($3.47 billion) over the past 23 years for solution of problems of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).The remarks were made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs Ali Hasanov on December 7 at a meeting of the Milli Majlis (Parliament).He said the funds are allocated out of the state budget, State Oil Fund (SOFAZ) and humanitarian organizations.Hasanov noted that 350,000 more IDPs must be settled in new towns.Vice Premier also added that 115 buildings of IDPs in Baku are in poor condition. “The Ministry of Emergency Situations issued a conclusion on 51 buildings,” Hasanov said.Armenia broke out a lengthy war against Azerbaijan laying territorial claims on 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. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.Due to the ethnic cleansing policy carried out by Armenia and the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions of Azerbaijan, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons hit more than 1.2 million.With a population of over 9.6 million, Azerbaijan is among the countries carrying the highest IDP caseload in the world in per capita terms.The government does much to solve the problems of IDPs in the country. During the past 13 years, 161,000 able-bodied IDPs were provided with permanent job in budget organizations and in other areas, while 200,000 people were provided with temporary jobs. Snowstorm hits Baku [PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/society/156741.html Society Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:48:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaBaku woke up to freezing temperatures and heavy snows this morning. The temperature fell to minus 5 degrees Celsius last night in several regions of Azerbaijan, with sleet and intensive snow.The temperature is expected to be  -1+2 ?C in the afternoon in Absheron peninsula and 0-2 ?C in the afternoon in Baku.Relative humidity will be 80-90%.The weather will be rainy in some regions.Mild west wind will blow. The temperature will be -3+2?C at night, +3-7?C in the daytime, 8-13 degrees of frost in mountainous areas, 0-5 degrees of frost in the daytime.On December 9, occasionally strengthening mild south-west wind will waft. The minimum temperature will be 0-3 degrees of frost. Turkmenistan’s economic policy should be additionally adjusted http://www.today.az/news/regions/156739.html World news Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:34:00 +0400 By  TrendAn International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Martin Sommer visited Ashgabat December 1–6, 2016 to assess macroeconomic and financial developments and discuss economic challenges and policy priorities with senior government officials and the diplomatic community.The expectations for persistently lower oil and natural gas prices imply the need for additional policy adjustment in Turkmenistan, the IMF press-release said Dec. 7.According to IMF press-release, there is also scope for continued progress in increasing the efficiency of public spending, further improvements in banking regulation and supervision to prevent the build-up of risks, and additional steps to move to a more market-based real economy and financial sector.The authorities’ intention to accelerate development of the private sector is appropriate and should be based on market-based principles as much as possible, so as to support growth and living standards in a sustainable manner, IMF press-release said.“Turkmenistan continues to be impacted by an adverse external environment, similarly as the other Central Asian countries,” Martin Sommer, head of IMF mission, said. “Hydrocarbon prices remain low and trading partner growth is muted.”As a result of these external factors, Turkmenistan’s overall economic growth has slowed down, although domestic non-hydrocarbon growth has been supported by credit and structural policies in support of diversification, the press-release said.According to the press-release, the current account deficit is expected to widen significantly in 2016 as a result of lower energy revenues, and in spite of an active policy effort to substitute imports with domestic production, promote exports, and reduce public investment expenditures.The state budget is projected to record a small and better-than-planned deficit this year, the press-release said.“The Turkmen authorities have taken a number of pro-active measures to address these challenges,” the press-release said. “They devalued the manat in January 2015, cut investment spending and subsidies, and re-doubled their efforts to boost local production, both through new strategic investments in the hydrocarbon sector, as well as by providing cheap and ample financing to the local businesses.”The IMF stands ready to support the government’s reforms through policy advice and capacity building, including on macroeconomic statistics and forecasting, monetary policy operations, and fiscal policy, the press-release said. Kazakh banks up lending in tenge http://www.today.az/news/regions/156737.html World news Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:22:00 +0400 By  TrendKazakh banks increased issuing loans in tenge by 1.5 percent to 8.54 trillion tenges in Oct. 2016, Kazakh National Bank reported on December 7.The volume of loans in foreign currency decreased by 0.9 percent to 4.23 billion tenges in the reporting period.The share of loans in tenge increased from 66.4 percent to 66.9 percent in October.In total Kazakh banks issued 12.77 trillion tenges of loans in tenge and foreign currency in October, which is 0.7 percent more than in the previous month.Issuance of long-term loans increased by 0.6 percent to 10.54 trillion tenges, short-term loans – by 0.8 percent to 2.23 trillion tenges in the reporting period.Loans to legal entities increased by 1.1 percent to 8.72 trillion tenges, while loans to individuals decreased by 0.3 percent to 4.05 trillion tenges in October.Lending to small businesses increased by 3.6 percent to 2.9 trillion tenges in October, which is 22.7 percent of all loans to economy.As much as 21.3 percent of all the loans to the economy were provided to trade sector, 13.7 percent to industry, 8 percent to construction, 5.4 percent to agriculture and 4.2 percent to transport sector.(335.61 tenges = $1) Hungarian delegation head: Excellent conditions at National Gymnastics Arena [PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/sports/156736.html Sports Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:00:00 +0400 By  TrendHead of Technical Committee on Rhythmic Gymnastics of Hungarian Gymnastics Federation, Erika Deutsch-Lazsanyi, in her interview with Trend, expressed gratitude to Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation (AGF) for excellent conditions created for athletes.Deutsch-Lazsanyi said that the Hungarian delegation of 17 athletes and three coaches are in Baku for several days for training gatherings.“We have been to Baku for several times, but for the first time came here for training gatherings,” she noted. “We are just happy to be here and train in such a hall.”Deutsch-Lazsanyi recalled that the European Championship on Rhythmic Gymnastics will be held in Hungary in 2017.“Therefore, the next year is very important for us. Seventeen gymnasts, young and talented, who have come here, are preparing for the next year in order to adequately perform at the European Championship,” she noted.These gatherings are very important for the athletes, she said.“We chose Azerbaijan because all the conditions at the National Gymnastics Arena are excellent,” she added.Deutsch-Lazsanyi added that Hungary plans to take part in the World Cup on Rhythmic Gymnastics in Baku in April 2017.“Baku Gymnastics Arena is of particular importance for our girls, because here our gymnast Alexandra Kis, with clubs, reached the final of the European Championship 2014,” she added. Baku airport serves 3 mln passengers in January-November http://www.today.az/news/business/156735.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:47:00 +0400 By  TrendThe Heydar Aliyev International Airport served more than 231,000 passengers in November 2016, which is 23 percent more than in the same period of 2015, the airport’s press service said in a message on December 7.The airport served almost 3 million passengers in January-November 2016. Of them, 1.8 million passengers chose to fly with Azerbaijan’s national carrier, Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL).Some 500,000 passengers were transported via AZAL domestic flights to Nakhchivan and Ganja, which accounts for 16 percent of total passenger traffic of the airport.During the same period, 14,500 tons of cargo was transported through the airport’s cargo terminals.Istanbul, Moscow, Dubai and Kiev remain the most popular international destinations for the passengers flying from Baku. Some 1.38 million passengers flew to these cities in January-November 2016.In 2016, Iraq’s Fly Baghdad and Iraqi Airways, Iran’s ATA Airlines and Mahan Air, Egypt’s Air Cairo, and Russia’s Komiaviatrans and low-cost airline Pobeda began flights to Azerbaijan.The Heydar Aliyev International Airport was awarded the 4 Star Airline Rating by Skytrax, a British consulting company examining the quality of services provided by various airlines and airports worldwide. Cookery expert Stalik Khankishiyev’s books presented in Baku [PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/society/156740.html Society Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:35:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijani cookery expert, writer and photographer Stalik Khankishiyev has presented his  books “Kazan, kulinarniy samouchitel” and “Plov, kulinarnoye issledovaniye” in Baku.Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva attended the event that took place at “Art Garden” Exhibition Hall, with the organizational support of the Culture and Tourism Ministry. First, film director Shamil Najafzadeh’s documentary about the Azerbaijani cuisine was presented.Later, Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfas Garayev, chairperson of the Azerbaijan Ashygs Union Maharram Gasymly and People’s Writer Chingiz Abdullayev delivered a speech at the event. The presentation ceremony ended by a music programme.  Stalik Khankishiev is a celebrity chef, photographer, and cooking writer born in Uzbekistan. He was born in Fergana in the Uzbek SSR to an Azerbaijani father and a German mother.The success of Khankishiev's books has been attributed to their high production values and stylish design. Moreover, they have won praise for their depth, including not only recipes, but cultural and philosophical notes, as well as a large number of photos.His books "Kazan","Pilaf"  and "Bazar, Kazan and dastarkhan" are among the winners of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. SOCAR GPC set up in Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/business/156734.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:26:00 +0400 By  TrendSOCAR GPC LLC has undergone state registration in Azerbaijan, the Vergiler newspaper of the Azerbaijani Taxes Ministry reported on December 7.The company passed the state registration according to the “single window” system of the Ministry of Taxes on August 19.The company’s authorized capital is $1,000.Farid Jafarov is the SOCAR GPC official representative.The GPC project envisages construction of gas processing and petrochemical plants 15 km away from Baku by the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR.The cost of the project is around $4 billion. Azerbaijan Methanol Company reorganized http://www.today.az/news/business/156733.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:17:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan Methanol Company (AzMeCo) has announced its reorganization through a merger with the Froil LLC and Caspian Trading LLC, the Vergiler newspaper of Azerbaijan’s Taxes Ministry reported Dec. 7.AzMeCo has been registered in the “single window” system of the Taxes Ministry due to its reorganization.Currently, a process is underway to transfer AzMeCo to the ownership of Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR. It is expected that the process will be completed until the end of 2016.AzMeCo is one of the big investments in Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector. The plant started to sell its products in January 2014. Annual production capacity of the plant is 720,000 tons. Armenia continues breaking ceasefire with Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/politics/156732.html Politics Thu, 08 Dec 2016 10:43:00 +0400 By  TrendOver the past 24 hours, Armenia’s armed forces have 33 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry reported on December 8.The Azerbaijani army positions located in the Farahli and Gushchu Ayrim villages of the Gazakh district of Azerbaijan underwent fire from the Armenian army positions located in the Shavarshavan and Voskevan villages of the Noyemberyan district of Armenia.Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani army positions located in the Kokhanabi and Munjuglu villages of the Tovuz district of Azerbaijan were shelled from the Armenian army positions located on nameless heights of the Berd district of Armenia.Moreover, the Azerbaijani army positions also underwent fire from the Armenian positions located near the Armenian-occupied Shikhlar, Yusifjanli villages of the Aghdam district, Kuropatkino village of the Khojavand district, Garakhanbayli village of the Fuzuli district, as well as from the positions located on nameless heights of the Goranboy, Tartar, Khojavand, Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts.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 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Currency rates for December 8 http://www.today.az/news/business/156731.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 10:15:00 +0400 By  TrendOfficial exchange rates of the US dollar and euro to Azerbaijani manat for December 8 were set at 1.7369 manats and 1.8716 manats, respectively.According to the currency exchange rate corridor, set by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA), currency exchange offices can’t buy US dollars from population at a rate less than 1.6675 manats per dollar or sell the US dollars at a rate exceeding 1.8063 manats per dollar.The exchange rates at banks should not be less than 1.7968 manats when buying euros from the population and should not exceed 1.9464 manats when selling them.Below are the rates of manat against world currencies and precious metals, according to the data from the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.Currencies and precious metalsDec. 8, 20161 US dollar1 USD1.73691 euro1 EUR1.87161 Australian dollar1 AUD1.30221 Argentine peso1 ARS0.1086100 Belarusian rubles100 BYR0.87841 Brazilian real1 BRL0.51341 UAE dirham1 AED0.47291 South African rand1 ZAR0.1287100 South Korean won100 KRW0.151 Czech koruna1 CZK0.06921 Chilean peso1 CLP0.26521 Chinese yuan1 CNY0.25251 Danish krone1 DKK0.25161 Georgian lari1 GEL0.67721 Hong Kong dollar1 HKD0.22391 Indian rupee1 INR0.02571 British pound1 GBP2.1974100 Indonesian rupiah100 IDR0.0131100 Iranian rials100 IRR0.00481 Swedish krona1 SEK0.19171 Swiss franc1 CHF1.72631 Israeli shekel1 ILS0.45841 Canadian dollar1 CAD1.31431 Kuwaiti dinar1 KWD5.69851 Kazakh tenge1 KZT0.00521 Kyrgyz som1 KGS0.0251100 Lebanese pounds100 LBP0.11521 Malaysian ringgit1 MYR0.39221 Mexican peso1 MXP0.08551 Moldovan leu1 MDL0.08641 Egyptian pound1 EGP0.09581 Norwegian krone1 NOK0.2082100 Uzbek soums100 UZS0.05471 Polish zloty1 PLN0.42251 Russian ruble1 RUB0.02741 Singapore dollar1 SGD1.22621 Saudi riyal1 SAR0.46321 SDR (IMF Special Drawing Rights)1 SDR2.35731 Turkish lira1 TRY0.51341 Taiwan dollar1 TWD0.05481 Tajik somoni1 TJS0.22051 New Turkmen manat1 TMM0.4981 Ukrainian hryvna1 UAH0.0673100 Japanese yen100 JPY1.53231 New Zealand dollar1 NZD1.2514Gold (1 ounce)1 XAU2045.4603Silver (1 ounce)1 XAG29.8226Platinum (1 ounce)1 XPT1639.6336Palladium (1 ounce)1 XPD1274.8846 MPs: Strategic road maps to descent economic development http://www.today.az/news/business/156730.html Business Thu, 08 Dec 2016 10:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliAzerbaijan has taken serious steps to keep the economic growth rates, create new jobs and diversify the economy to mitigate the adverse impact of a crash in oil prices.The country is seriously engaged in diversification of the economy, to bring the dependence on oil and gas to the lowest level, and is carrying out major reforms to support doing business in the country.And a recent decree endorsing “Strategic road maps for the national economy and main economic sectors” signed by President Ilham Aliyev will allow to define the development goals and priorities and ensure their proper and timely implementation.The strategic road maps cover almost all sectors of the economy, including, development of the oil and gas industry, the manufacture and processing of agricultural products, the manufacture  of small and medium entrepreneurship-level consumer goods, development of heavy industry and machinery, tourism, logistics and trade, vocational education and training, financial services, communication and information technologies and utilities.MP Musa Guliyev, commenting on the presidential decree, expressed confidence that it will serve for the development of non-oil sector of the economy.   "Revenues and expenditures of the state budget decreased, although they were well-balanced. Of course, to ensure a more prosperous life in the future we will have to think about a budget increase," he said, addressing the plenary session of the Parliament for discussions over the draft state budget for 2017 on December 7."I believe that, in this context, it is necessary to pay special attention to the development of agriculture, transport, tourism, ICT, and light industry."In turn, MP Rufat Guliyev believes that the strategy will ensure am equal and dynamic development of the economy.Most importantly, according to Guliyev, the "road maps" cover the development of small and medium businesses.The MP said that many countries pay great attention to the development of SME (small and medium enterprises)."In this regard, it is important that long-term economic development strategy places special emphasis on SMEs," he said.MP Govhar Bakhshaliyeva, for her part, said that the "strategic road maps" will contribute to the creation of new jobs and improving the well-being of the population in the future.Realization of the strategic road map for development of information and communication technologies (ICT) contributes to even better development of the internet community in the country, Sarkhan Hashimov, head of Microsoft Azerbaijan, told Trend.“We believe that preparation of a road map in this direction will allow Azerbaijan to integrate even more to the global innovation area. Digital revolution is already happening, and developing a road map has once again proved that Azerbaijan declares its willingness to move in this direction,” he said. Iran-Russia energy committee to convene in Tehran http://www.today.az/news/regions/156725.html World news Wed, 07 Dec 2016 18:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Gunay HasanovaMoscow and Tehran have discussed arrangement s to hold the next meeting of the two countries’ joint economic commission, as Iran's Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei met with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in Moscow.The two sides explored avenues for promoting economic relations and exchanged views on ways to derive the maximum benefit from the 13th meeting of the joint economic commission meeting scheduled for December 11-13, Tasnim reported.Sanaei and Novak also agreed that the two countries sign a document to construct and operate four thermal power plants in the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas within the framework of the joint economic commission.Within the same framework, Iran and Russia would establish a joint energy commission.Earlier, Iran’s Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanai said a 300-member Russian delegation, headed by Energy Minister Alexander Novak, will visit Tehran on December 13.During the visit, construction of four thermal power plants in Bandar Abbas worth 1.289 billion euros will be discussed as well.Earlier, a 28-member delegation, including some Russian giants as Lukoil, Gazprom, Zarubezhneft, Tatneft and Stroy Trans Gas, visited Iran Nov. 17 to become familiar with the country’s newly designed contract model, called the Iran Petroleum Contract or IPC.Iran and Russia have ramped up efforts in recent months to boost trade following the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany). The JCPOA, which went into effect on January 16, terminated all nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic.The Iran-Russia annual trade plunged from $4 billion in 2011 to $1 billion in 2013 due to the sanctions on Iran, but rose to $1.7 billion in 2014. The report says the figure increased by 30 percent in 2015, and during 9 months of 2016, the trade turnover between Iran and Russia increased by 70 percent year-on-year. Nuclear deal not to fail due to sanctions extension http://www.today.az/news/regions/156723.html World news Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:45:00 +0400 By  TrendAn extension of the Iran Sanctions Act by the US does not, in itself, cause the nuclear deal to fail and will not cause Iran to pull out of the deal, Kenneth Katzman, senior analyst at the Congressional Research Service, which conducts research and analysis for the US Congress believes.“The sanctions of the Act are still in a state of “waiver,” which means that there is no change in the actual application of sanctions if Mr. Obama signs the extension into law,” Katzman told Trend.Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, UK, US plus Germany) reached a nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in July, 2015. Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from US, EU, and UN Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.Last week the US Senate voted to extend the president’s authority to impose sanctions on Iran for another decade, which was first introduced in 1996 to punish investments in Iran's energy industry based on accusations that Tehran was pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. The measure should be signed by outgoing President Barack Obama to come into force.Katzman noted that analysts are still waiting for a clear decision from the new Administration about what its stance on the sanctions and the nuclear deal will be.“As long as the sanctions remain “waived,” the Iranian economy would not be affected,” he said. Work on TAP’s eastern segment to start in 2017 http://www.today.az/news/business/156729.html Business Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:34:00 +0400 By  TrendThe work on the eastern segment of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will start in 2017.TAP started the transport of some 4,900 steel line pipes, mostly 18 meters long, from the main marshalling yard in Durres towards the Korca region, Albania, said the message on TAP’s website.“This will enable TAP to begin 2017 construction activities on the eastern segment of the pipeline, approximately 86.5 km long, or 40 percent of TAP’s 215 km onshore section in Albania,” said the message.The completion of the first access roads and bridges rehabilitation phase in Korca in November 2016 boosted safety conditions for the transportation of line pipes, said TAP.To date, approximately 65 percent of the 13,000 pipes used for the onshore section of the TAP pipeline in Albania have arrived. Approximately 4,000 pipes have been transported to the Fier area, 300 to the Berat area and 300 towards the Korca area.TAP’s contractor Spiecapag and its selected partner and subcontractor, Albanian company Diamant shpk, are undertaking this process.TAP is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor which is one of the priority energy projects for the EU.TAP project envisages transportation of gas from the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas and condensate field to the EU countries.The 870-kilometer pipeline will be connected to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) on the Turkish-Greek border, run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Italy's south.TAP’s route through Albania will be approximately 215 km onshore and 37 km offshore in the Albanian section of the Adriatic Sea. It starts at Bilisht Qender in the Korca region at the Albanian border with Greece, and arrives at the Adriatic coast 17 km north-west of Fier, 400 meters inland from the shoreline. Iran encourages foreigners to invest in free trade zones http://www.today.az/news/regions/156722.html World news Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:32:00 +0400 By  TrendIranian Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia has encouraged foreigners to invest in developing the Islamic Republic’s free trade, industrial and special economic zones.The minister has said that those who are involved in economic activities in the free trade, industrial and special economic zones will be exempt from paying tax for 20 years.He made the remarks addressing the 20th General Meeting of Asia-Pacific Central Securities Depository Group (ACG) in Tehran, Trend correspondent reported from the event.Tayebnia also said there are no restrictions regarding the volume of foreign investment in the special economic zones.The country will ease visa requirements for those investors doing business in the special economic zones, he added.Twenty-one countries attended the 20th General Meeting and Conference of Asia-Pacific Central Securities Depository Group (ACG) opened in Tehran on Dec. 6. Join "Green Ride" in Baku http://www.today.az/news/society/156727.html Society Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:30:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaBaku will host a bicycle tour Green Ride, organized by Green ASAN, ASAN volunteers and Azerbaijan Cycling Federation.To be held under the motto" Call for a healthy future!", the projects aims at protection of the environment, as well as promotion of healthy lifestyle among youth.Everyone can join "Green Ride" scheduled for December 11. The route will start near Hilton Baku Hotel.The project will also be implemented in country’s regions. The event begins at 10:00. Hurry up to send your application until December 8.Click on the link below link to pass the registration:goo.gl/dhkGQyBicycle route : https://goo.gl/xYMvuWASAN Volunteers was established in 2009. The main mission of the organization is to support young generation and create opportunities for volunteers to improve their self- development.Seeing voluntary work as a culture of movement, service develops opportunities for learning, inspiration and action to induce social change.Media partners of the event are Trend.az, Day.az, Milli.az and  Azernews.az. OSCE to monitor Azerbaijani, Armenian troops’ contact line http://www.today.az/news/politics/156721.html Politics Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:24:00 +0400 By  TrendThe OSCE is expected to monitor the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops Dec. 8, said Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry Dec. 7.The monitoring will be held under the mandate of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative along the line of contact in the direction of Azerbaijan’s Aghdam district, said the ministry.On the Azerbaijani side, the monitoring will be held by field assistants of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative Jiri Aberle, Peter Svedberg and Simon Tiller.On the Azerbaijani territories occupied and controlled by Armenian armed forces, the monitoring will be carried out by field assistants of the OSCE chairperson-in-office personal representative Gennady Petrica and Hristo Hristov.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 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. GUAM to keep promoting draft resolution on protracted conflicts http://www.today.az/news/politics/156728.html Politics Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:21:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovGUAM, the organization for democracy and economic development, which includes Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, will continue promoting at the UN General Assembly a draft resolution “Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their implications for international peace, security and development”. The organization’s secretariat told Trend that its Council of National Coordinators instructed the diplomatic missions of the GUAM member states to continue their efforts to mobilize support for the draft resolution.The decision was made at the meeting of the council, which summed up Azerbaijan’s chairmanship in GUAM for 2016.The council also considered the issues of political cooperation in the GUAM format. In particular, the council welcomed adoption of the resolution “Cooperation between the UN and GUAM.”The presiding country gave information on preparations for the next meetings of the GUAM Parliamentary Assembly (PA) committees, GUAM PA Bureau and the forthcoming meeting of GUAM PA  scheduled for December 14-15 in Baku.The council also heard report about the preparations for the meeting of heads of governments of the GUAM member states and the business forum, which were postponed till early 2017.The council noted the need to accelerate internal procedures for harmonization of documents planned to be adopted at this meeting.The council also discussed a range of GUAM sectoral cooperation issues. Proposals of the GUAM member states regarding the candidacies of the countries coordinating sectoral working groups for 2017-2018, as well as issues of cooperation with other states and international organizations were discussed.The documents of the forthcoming 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council scheduled for December 8-9 meeting were harmonized and the information regarding the organizational and financial issues was also considered at the meeting of GUAM’s Council of National Coordinators.The GUAM format was created by the post-Soviet states in 1997 during the summit of heads of states of the EU in Strasbourg. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the format and four years later withdrew. In 2006, Ukraine and Azerbaijan announced plans to further increase the GUAM member relations and established its headquarters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.Azerbaijan assumed the chairmanship in GUAM on January 1, 2016. New ferry complex built in Kazakhstan http://www.today.az/news/regions/156720.html World news Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:19:00 +0400 By  TrendA new ferry complex has been built in the Kuryk port on the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy national company reported.The official launch of the first stage of the complex took place on Dec. 6.Kuryk port is an important section of the Trans-Caspian international transport corridor and now its railway and port infrastructure is ready to transship cargo."Kuryk - is our way to the Caucasus and Europe," Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said at the opening ceremony.Earlier, ferry transportation from Kazakhstan to other Caspian littoral states was possible only through the port of Aktau. However, the ferry terminal in this port has been working to its capacity over the recent years.It is expected that the ferry complex in Kuryk will make it possible to triple the existing ferry transport capacities of Kazakhstan and strengthen the Kazakh section of the China-Europe transport corridor.Kazakhstan plans to increase transit transportation from the current 18 million tons of cargo to 33 million tons in 2020 and to 50 million tons in 2030. Baku named top Asia destination for 2017 http://www.today.az/news/business/156724.html Business Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:17:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovTripAdvisor, the travel planning and booking site, announced the Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations on the Rise, with Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, taking the top spot for Asia.Baku, or the City of Winds as it’s called here, was ranked the 5th in the list of top destinations for travelers in 2017. The list also includes San Jose del Cabo (Mexico), Whistler (Canada), Jericoacoara (Brazil), Kihei (Hawaii), as well as the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi.The criteria to determine the best destinations for tourists included positive feedback from travelers, number of attractions and venues for entertainment, as well as the quality of service.“These destinations are fast gaining interest and popularity amongst our community of travelers all over the world,” said Ms Janice Lee Fang, communications director for TripAdvisor, Asia Pacific. “We hope these winning lists will inspire those planning trips in 2017 to consider booking their holidays with some of these rising destinations, be it Baku, Da Lat or Kuching”. “We were very excited to see Baku top the list in Asia – Azerbaijan has a fascinating cultural history that straddles the East and West and given that almost 65% of Asian travelers surveyed said that their main travel motivation is to experience and learn about new cultures, we are hopeful this win will encourage even more travel and discovery to Baku in 2017,” she saidSituated along the Caspian Sea, Baku is a heady mix of Asian and Western cultures, of the old and new, all of which is best reflected in the city’s sights and landmarks.Travelers can explore the famed medieval Old City, hailed as a “must-visit”, which houses the UNESCO-listed Shirvanshah’s Palace, and Maiden Tower. Admire the city’s contemporary buildings such as the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Flame Towers – a trio of skyscrapers covered with LEDs and displaying the mesmerizing movement of a flame.Over the past 10 years, the number of tourists visiting Azerbaijan increased by five times. Today, 4.5 percent of the total gross domestic product falls for income from tourism.Currently, Azerbaijan has about 300 tourist companies and more than 570 placements. The country hosts a series of luxury hotels – Jumeirah, Excelsior, Hilton, Four Seasons, Fairmont, JW Marriott, Kempinski, as well as many budget hotels for cost-conscious travelers. Soon the country plans to increase the number of two- and three-star hotels of economy class for the development of both inbound and domestic tourism.Moreover, the decree on facilitation of e-visas issuance and establishment of ASAN Visa system will make life easier for many travelers wishing to visit Baku and the whole country. EIA ups forecasts for oil prices http://www.today.az/news/business/156719.html Business Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:00:00 +0400 By  TrendBrent crude oil prices are expected to average $43.46 per barrel in 2016 and $51.66 per barrel in 2017, the US Energy Information Administration said in its December Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).This is while in its November STEO, it forecasted average Brent oil prices at $43.30 per barrel in 2016 and $50.91 per barrel in 2017.At the same time, EIA has revised upward its forecast for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil. According to December STEO, the WTI prices for 2016 and 2017 are expected to stand at $43.07 per barrel and $50.66 per barrel, respectively.In EIA’s November report, the prices for WTI were forecasted at $42.84 per barrel in 2016 and $49.91 per barrel in 2017.If OPEC agreement contributes to prices rising above $50 per barrel in the coming months, it could encourage a return to supply growth in US tight oil more quickly than currently expected, according to the report.“Crude oil prices near $50 per barrel have led to increased investment by some US production companies, particularly in the Permian Basin,” said EIA. “A price recovery above $50 per barrel could contribute to supply growth in other US tight oil regions and in other non-OPEC producing countries that do not participate in the OPEC-led supply reductions.” Azerbaijani tourism sector wants to lure Japanese tourists http://www.today.az/news/business/156718.html Business Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:44:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliJapanese are found of travelling. Sometimes it feels like Japanese tourists are everywhere. They have a passion for travel and every country will be very pleased to welcome them, as Japanese are known as very polite travelers.As Japan is ranked just behind China in terms of the number of outbound travelers, Azerbaijan, which works hard to develop its tourism sector, now targets on attracting Japanese tourists.  Azerbaijan or Land of Fire, has appeared not so long ago on the tourism map of world. The country with its favorable geographical location, rich natural landscape and numerous objects of historical and cultural heritage is a good place for the development of tourism.After attracting thousands of tourists from Persian Gulf countries this year, now Azerbaijan is keen to "beckon" tourists from Eastern Asia.  Azerbaijan Tourism Association Chairman Nahid Bagirov said that in order to attract Japanese tourists to Azerbaijan representatives of the major Japan tourism association with more than 10,000 members visited Baku."We take part in mutual tourism exhibitions. Japanese are considered as very efficient and profitable tourists. As they are not traveling alone and usually attract other Japanese tourists," he said.The main issue, according to Bagirov is a huge distance between the two countries.Although, the AzTa chairman said that Japanese like to visit not only Azerbaijan, but also the Caucasus region.After choosing development of its non-oil sector as the priority in improving the country's economy, Azerbaijan makes everything possible to use its natural advantages to develop the tourism sector of the country, implementing various projects and programs for attracting tourists to the Land of Fire.These efforts gave fruit and in a short period of time the country was able to raise the quality level of its tourism sector. Today, Azerbaijan is a favorite destination for over 2.5 million tourists visiting the country every year. Eyyub Guliyev performs with Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra [PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/156717.html Arts & Entertainment Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:35:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaThe 17th International Television Contest for Young Musicians 'The Nutcracker' solemnly ended in Moscow.Eyyub Guliyev, a conductor of Azerbaijan's State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater and a winner of international competitions, performed together with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in the final of the contest.Guliyev graduated from the Baku Music Academy in 2005. In 2005-2008, he studied at the Saint Petersburg State Conservatoire and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Guliyev is the son of People's Artist, tar (stringed musical instrument) player Ramiz Guliyev.The 32-years-old Guliyev is the winner of several competitions, including the International Conducting Competition after B. Lyutoslavckiy in Belostok in 2006 and the International Conducting Competition after D. Mitropoulos in Athens in 2008. In 2010, Guliyev won the top award, the Giuseppe Sinopoli prize, at the International Conducting Competition named after Arturo Toscanini in Parma.The Nutcracker, International Television Contest for Young Musicians is an annual music competition, organized by "Russia K" (Rossia-Kultura) state TV channel, branch of the VGTRK.Established in 2000 the contest became a recognized and significant event in the Russian music world. Multimillion audience follows with interest the competition of the participants day after day, and "Russia K" TV channel transmits the Gala Closing concert live.Each year the contest discovers new and exciting talents from all over the world and provides young performers with opportunity to showcase their skills on a professional level, as well as exchange experiential knowledge and receive the judgment of eminent professionals.The contestants perform in front of many millions of viewers, as the auditions are both televised and streamed live on the channel’s website. Maduro offers summit of OPEC, non-OPEC producers to fix prices http://www.today.az/news/business/156716.html Business Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:27:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Gulgiz MuradovaVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has suggested holding of a summit of OPEC's 14 oil producing nations  and oil-rich non-OPEC nations to set out a pricing strategy for the next decade.The proposed meeting should be held in the first quarter of 2017, Sputnik reported citing Maduro."I plan to propose in writing that we should hold a summit of heads of state and government from the OPEC and non-OPEC member states in the first quarter of 2017 to discuss how to stabilize the oil market and protect fair prices in the next 10 years," Maduro said.Maduro, whose recession-hit South American nation heavily depends on oil incomes, earlier held talks with OPEC and non-OPEC states, including Azerbaijan, to convince them in necessity of joint effort to stabilize the oil market.Meanwhile, oil prices fell on December 7 on persistent doubts in a planned crude production cut led by the Cartel and Russia would be deep enough to end the glut in the market.International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were trading at $53.69 per barrel at 0131 GMT, down 24 cents, or 0.45 percent, from their last close.U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down 19 cents, or 0.37 percent, at 50.74 per barrel, Reuters reported."With both Russia and OPEC producing at record amounts, the market is scratching its head about how both blocs will manage to comply with the Vienna production cut targets. The point is valid, as the more OPEC and Russia produce, the higher the starting point will be to have to cut from," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at brokerage OANDA in Singapore.The OPEC deal, that pushed the prices by almost 13 percent, was reached on November 30 despite huge political hurdles. OPEC agreed its first oil output cuts since 2008 on November 30 after the major rivals within the cartel - Iran and Saudi Arabia - set aside differences to forge the cartel's first deal with non-OPEC Russia in 15 years.Saudi Arabia accepted "a big hit" on its output and Iraq, OPEC's second-largest producer also agreed to curtail its booming output, while non-OPEC countries are also expected to cut the output.The OPEC deal aims to reduce production by 1.2 million barrels a day, or about 1 percent of global output. Russia has also agreed to trim production - by about 300,000 barrels a day, while non-OPEC producers are expected to agree to add an output cut of 600,000 bpd in Vienna on December 10.  Russia: Hamburg meeting on Karabakh conflict not yet agreed upon http://www.today.az/news/politics/156708.html Politics Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:16:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovThe possibility of holding a meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Hamburg was discussed, but there is still no final agreement, said Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Mariya Zakharova at a briefing on December 7."No final agreement on the meeting has been reached yet," said Zakharova.Paris has previously proposed to hold a meeting in the format of 3+2 [three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group and Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers] on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg.Meeting of the OSCE countries Foreign Ministerial Council will take place in Hamburg on December 8- 9. Azerbaijan`s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will attend the event.However, Armenia hasn’t confirmed its consent yet for the 3+2 format meeting, while Baku has voiced its readiness to any contacts with Armenia, in any format. Minister Mammadyarov previously said that Baku backs the proposal on the meeting.Zakharova further added that there is no ultimate confidence about the possibility of a bilateral meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Azerbaijani counterpart.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. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.Armenia still controls fifth part of Azerbaijan's territory and rejects implementing four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts. Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan one of region’s leading countries with respect to ICT development [VIDEO] http://www.today.az/news/politics/156703.html Politics Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:50:00 +0400 By  TrendIn the coming years the economy will grow not because of oil and gas and not because oil and gas prices went down but because other sectors of the economy are growing – industry, tourism, services, agriculture and of course the ICT sector, said President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.He made the remarks in an interview with Euronews at the BakuTel 2016, the 22nd Azerbaijan International Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunications and Information Technologies.“And today’s exhibition, which is traditional, BakuTel, once again shows that Azerbaijan, in the region, is one of the leading countries with respect to the ICT development,” added Ilham Aliyev.The Euronews story about the BakuTel 2016 said that President Ilham Aliyev welcomed the guests, participants and organizers of the event.“For more than 20 years Baku has hosted the Bakutel exhibition, bringing together in Azerbaijan the leading players in the telecommunications market,” said Euronews, reminding that this year also marks the 135th anniversary of the first telephone line installed in the Caucasus region by the Nobel brothers, marking the birth of telecommunications in the country.“This is the 22nd edition of our annual Bakutel Exhibition. This year more than 200 companies from 18 countries participated and we have seven national groups from different countries. This is the biggest event in this region in this field which showcases the latest technologies to visitors,” Euronews quoted Farid Mammadov, director of Iteca Caspian, as saying.This year the exhibition brought together over 200 companies from 18 countries, said Euronews, adding that for four days young specialists and new startups have had opportunities to meet potential investors in discussing new inventions, programs and services.</p> </body> </html> Top official: Without justice in int’l relations, other values can’t be universal http://www.today.az/news/politics/156704.html Politics Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:17:00 +0400 By  TrendOther values cannot be universal without justice in the world (international relations) because then the very “values’' are used as means of pressure, Novruz Mammadov, deputy head of Azerbaijani presidential administration, chief of the administration's foreign relations department, tweeted on December  7.“It was obvious that ideas of certain ideologists of the late last century about the unipolar world order were groundless,” he added. “Analyses and observations demonstrate that era referred to as unipolar world order is in fact a period of transition to bipolar or multipolar world order.”“In order to be enduring, the unipolar world order requires justice as primary value in the international relations,” Mammadov tweeted.