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 Sheki solemnly marks title of Cultural Capital of Turkic World http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/150265.html Arts & Entertainment Fri, 29 Apr 2016 18:20:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Laman IsmayilovaA solemn ceremony dedicated to selection of Azerbaijan’s Sheki city as the Cultural Capital of the Turkic World in 2016 took place at the Yukhari Bash Historical-Architectural Reserve, the historical part of Sheki on April 28.The opening ceremony was attended by UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Secretary General of TURKSOY Dusein Kaseinov, Azerbaijan`s Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfaz Garayev, famous Kazakh poet Olzhas Suleimenov , members of the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking countries, Azerbaijani MPs and others.Firstly, the participants visited the monument to national leader Heydar Aliyev in Sheki and laid a wreath at the tomb of the national leader.Later, they joined the festivities organized in the city. Girls in national costumes greeted the guests with sherbet, a frozen sweet dessert made from fruit or fruit juices, in front of the Palace of Shaki Khans, the pearl of Azerbaijani architecture. The guests watched here the ancient national game chovgan, a sport played on horseback with a history going back 2,400 years.Then, the participants entered the courtyard of the Khan's Palace. Here the guests were met by a symbolic Khan, who was accompanied with his viziers, courtiers. The guests saw the rooms of the palace and enjoyed vivid images, reminiscent of the Khan's times.The guests also walked through the Oriental bazaar, got acquainted with the works of craftsmen, saw performances of tightrope walkers and national wrestlers, listened to performances of folklore and music groups and enjoyed delicious meals of the Sheki cuisine.The guests also visited the historical-architectural monument of the XVIII century - Yukhari Karvansaray hotel complex, watched performances of dance groups and ensemble of ancient musical instruments, as well as visited the exhibition-fair of Sheki craftsmen.Addressing the official ceremony, Head of Sheki City Executive Power Elkhan Usubov said that the decision to select the city as the Cultural Capital of the Turkic World in 2016 was declared at the 33rd meeting of the Permanent Council of Culture Ministers of TURKSOY.He reminded that in 2012, the city was chosen as the Capital of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Also, 2012 year was declared as the year of Mirza Fatali Akhundzade, an author and activist, who was born in Sheki.In 2014, Sheki hosted the exhibition, as well as the fashion show of national costumes of Turkic-speaking countries.Usubov, on behalf of Shaki citizens, thanked President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva for a great attention attached to the preservation of cultural heritage in the country as well as the promotion of the rich culture of Azerbaijani people."The event taking place in Sheki unites the culture of the Turkic World. It is hard to imagine the Turkic culture without Azerbaijan, especially without Sheki city. Today, there is a festive atmosphere in Sheki. The city of Shaki is recognized globally as a cultural center," Abulfaz Garayev said while addressing the event.Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, in turn, stressed that such events serve to further strengthening friendly relations between the peoples. “Strong economical and cultural ties give impetus to the further development,” he said adding that the main aim of the UN Alliance of Civilizations is to expand ties, build bridges among peoples.The TURKSOY Secretary General, for his part, said that Shaki is the fifth city, which was declared a cultural capital of the Turkic world.“The city is the birthplace of many cultural figures. Sheki is famous in the world for ancient historic monuments, tasty sweet treats and humor. All of these factors played an important role in the election of Sheki as the Cultural Capital of the Turkic World", he added.Then, media representatives of Azerbaijan and other Turkic countries have been awarded TURKSOY prize for the activities.The ceremony continued with a gala concert, where musicians from Azerbaijan and other Turkic-speaking countries presented an interesting concert program. The concert started with the dance "Yalli" performed by the State Dance Ensemble "Jangi", dance collectives of Turkey, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as well as dance groups of Shusha music school.The attendees watched performances of famous Azerbaijani ashugs and mugham performers, dance groups and singers, who came from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Turkey, soloists from Kyrgyzstan, Bashkortostan, Gagauzia as well as Baku Chamber Orchestra. The ceremony ended with fireworks.Sheki, located on the descriptive hillsides of the Caucasus Mountains in the background of snowy peaks is among Azerbaijan’s main tourist destinations, hosting hundred thousands of tourists every year.The city is a real natural wonder with its beautiful landscapes, mineral water springs, forests and rivers.Sheki’s CaravanseraiSince ancient times, Sheki has been famous as a city of artists, artisans and merchants. The city hosted the traders from all over the Great Silk Road, due to which the construction of caravanserai was very important. Between the 18th and 19th centuries some five large caravanserais were operating in the city, and today only two of them namely Upper and Lower survived.Sights of attractionThe must-see place in Sheki is the local Old Fortress. There are 11 historical bathhouses here, and one of them built in 19th century, is still in operation. Most of the historical monuments from different periods are located in this part of the town, including the 5th century Albanian temple and barracks built in the time of Tsar.Juma Mosque, built in the18th century is another tourist attraction in Sheki, which is protected by the state as an important historical monuments.The majestic Palace of Sheki Khans, located in the city fortress, takes a special place with its magnificent wall paintings and colorful windows' mosaic.The palace is a two-story brick masonry structure elongated on the north-south axis and covered with a wooden hipped roof with long eaves. The layout of both floors is identical; three rectangular rooms are placed in a row, separated by narrow, south-facing balconies that provide access to the rooms.The summer residence is renowned for the lavish decoration of its exterior and interior. The facades are covered in tiles with floral and geometrical motives. The interior walls of the residence are covered with frescoes painted during the eighteenth century. Many of the frescoes feature flowers in vases, while a series of paintings on the first floor halls depict hunting and battle scenes. Signatures on frescoes list the names of artists Ali Kuli, Kurban Kuli and Mizra Jafar from Shemaha, Usta Gambar from Shusha, and Abbas Kuli, who may also have been the architect of the summer residence.The palace was the residence of Sheki khans back in 1762. The interior design of the palace reflects the best traditions of Azerbaijani architecture. The palace is considered as one of the most beautiful architectural monuments of medieval Azerbaijan.Samples of Sheki cuisineFamous local dish is Piti. No one could resist the flavor of this Piti, which is cooked in special earthenware pots in eight-nine hours.Piti is traditionally a workers’ dish, local people say. There is even a belief that one portion of piti is enough to see a worker through the whole day; it is a very satisfying and, at the same time, inexpensive lunch. The main ingredient is lamb, rich in proteins and fat. The use of only fresh meat and the fat from the distinctive tails of Azerbaijani sheep give the dish its special flavour.Sheki is also famous for its own sweet pakhlava made of rice flour, nuts, and sugar-honey syrup. Anyone visiting Sheki will not be able to resist the temptation of its famous Pakhlava. Armenia's vicious plan to undermine energy security of Europe http://www.today.az/news/politics/150266.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 18:00:00 +0400 /By Azernews/April provocation of Armenia in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan is yet a topic of hot political discussions on the level of experts.Armenia decided to break the armistice after 20 years of gradual silence on the contact line with Azerbaijani troops. They targeted both military positions and civilians in the nearby regions of Azerbaijan.Why now and why civilians?While discussing the real motives of such scaly violation of truce the experts drew attention to a number of evident goals that the aggressor had. They in particular mentioned Armenia's intention to continue occupation, to provoke the Azerbaijani army on the other side of the frontline, and to spread misinformation in an effort to conceal the true development of processes. However, it is worth to pay much more attention to the hidden objective of Sargsyan regime's maneuvers.Indeed, Armenia has never concealed that its targets are not only military facilities. Separatists and Armenian armed forces intensively fire at civilian objects, in particular individual houses and schools, in the frontal zone. What is attracting in the last skirmishes the directions they choose for active operations -- the severest shelling was fixed in the Terter direction. Because this is the very shortest way to Armenia's next criminal plan, which really threatens to undermine the situation not only in the region, but in Europe in whole.Azerbaijani pipelines designed to bring oil and gas to the world markets through Georgia and Turkey are the major artery for economic activity in the region. These pipelines are running not far from the contact line and they are the true target that the Armenian army attempted to achieve by staging the April provocation.Large aggression against Azerbaijan indeed blocked the way for Armenia to join the scaly economic and different regional projects, in fact leading to the formation of the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey strategic alliance. The fact really disturbs Yerevan, making it take more radical steps.Armenian armed forces have intensified the shelling of the civilians in the frontline areas in an effort to raise panic. They expect to repeat the scenario realized exactly 25 years ago and displace the local population to leave their lands. That would facilitate their attacking the Azerbaijani pipelines in line with the plan they mentioned in their statements few years ago.One can suppose the results of such adventure for the entire continent and energy security of Europe. Sargsyan and his sidekicks, immersed in hatred toward Azerbaijan, do not even realize that such an attack on Azerbaijan will mean an attack on the major part of Europe, whilst the result of this energy terror will be suicidal in all respects for Sargsyan and his country.The last retaliation of the Azerbaijan army to Armenian provocations of course showed that this plan is doomed to failure. Utter defeat, loss of strategic heights and huge human losses should make the occupant cool and think deeply about the consequences of such vicious plan.That should urge one not to be on a passive position in this matter: Armenia and terrorists on the state power of this country are the major threats to peace and stability in the European scale. Azerbaijan, Malta mull existing ties, future cooperation http://www.today.az/news/politics/150264.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:39:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaCaspian’s energy-rich Azerbaijan and Mediterranean’s tiny island country Malta have discussed the existing relations in various fields, as well as future prospects of the bilateral cooperation.The discussions were held during Maltese Foreign Minister Minister George Vella's visit to Azerbaijan on April 29.President Ilham Aliyev received the minister on April 29. During the meeting, President Aliyev said that the two countries enjoy active partner relations, and stressed the importance of boosting these ties.President Aliyev highly appreciated participation of Maltese President Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca in the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, which was held in Baku on April 25-27.The head of state said that during the visit of the Maltese president, the two countries discussed development of cooperation in political, economic, energy, investment making and other fields.President Aliyev said Malta is actively involved in Azerbaijan-European Union cooperation.The head of state recalled the last year visit of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to the country, and described the trip of the Maltese Foreign Minister to Baku as a sign of dynamic continuation of cooperation.Vella, in turn, said Malta is interested in further expanding ties with Azerbaijan, adding that there is good potential for strengthening bilateral relations not only in energy sector but also in several other fields to the benefit of both sides.Vella also stressed the importance of exploring the opportunities in this regard.Malta supports AzerbaijanAs part of the visit to Baku, Vella also met his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov and the two top diplomats discussed the future cooperation matters, including the prospects for cooperation in energy sphere.Later, speaking at the press conference, Mammadyarov said that Azerbaijan and Malta signed documents on cooperation in customs sphere, youth policy and an agreement on consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries.Vella, in turn, announced that a new stage of relations will start in the Azerbaijani-Maltese relations."There are many promising areas for cooperation that could be mutually beneficial for both countries," he said, adding that Malta is an appropriate country for cooperation in the economic field.He also invited Azerbaijan's entrepreneurs to set cooperation with Malta.Vella went on to add that Malta supports the peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."We are concerned over the escalation of the situation on the line of contact and support the continuation of the peace talks," he said, adding that the military operations should be stopped.Malta supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group in the conflict's settlement, Vella added.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.Diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Malta was established in January 1995.Trade turnover between Malta and Azerbaijan amounted to $142 million in 2015, and almost the entire amount accounted for the exports to Malta, according to Azerbaijan's State Customs Committee.Azerbaijan's trade turnover with Malta totaled almost $13.3 million in the first quarter of 2016, which is almost twice more than in January-March 2015. American gas to compete with Azerbaijan's blue fuel in Europe, expert says http://www.today.az/news/business/150263.html Business Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:16:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaEurope is interested in supplying the U.S. natural gas, but this gas will have a lot of competitors, including Azerbaijan's Southern Gas Corridor project.This was stated by Valeriy Nesterov, the senior analyst of the Russian Sberbank CIB, who was commenting on the decision of the World Bank to allocate $1 billion to the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP)."There is no doubt that the Southern Gas Corridor project will be implemented consistently. The production capacity is sufficient - the second stage of development of the Shah Deniz field. There is a pipe expansion project. There is economic, political and strategic interest of the transit countries, first of all of Turkey," he told Moscow-Baku portal.The expert further stated that TANAP is enjoying and will continue to enjoy the support of all participating states and the EU."We know what efforts are made - not only for economic reasons - to limit the share of Gazprom in the European market. Therefore, the World Bank's decision was expected. I think the project will be implemented in accordance with the schedule," he added.TANAP is designed to transport Azerbaijani gas to the European markets as part of the Southern Gas Corridor. The TANAP pipeline project envisages transporting Azerbaijani Shah Deniz gas from the Georgian-Turkish border to the western border of Turkey.Shah Deniz gas will be supplied to Turkey in 2018, and after the completion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, the Azerbaijani gas will be transported to Europe roughly at the beginning of 2020.SOCAR owns 58 percent stake in TANAP project while Botas and BP have 30 and 12 percent stakes, respectively.Nesterov believes that today, the importance of the project is increasing."On the other side, Western Europe understands that there is a need for new sources of supply besides Russia, Algeria, Qatar and Norway. Today, the EU wishes to receive the U.S. gas. Most importantly, it is clear that not only the Azerbaijani gas becomes the rival for it. A lot of efforts are being made to ensure the supply of gas from Turkmenistan and now Iran to southern Europe," he said, adding that the number of potential sources of gas supply is increasing.In this regard, he believes, the capacity of TANAP can be boosted in the future.The Southern Gas Corridor project, aiming to bring the Caspian gas to Europe, is one of the biggest construction projects of our time.This project envisages the transportation of the gas extracted at the giant Shah Deniz field in the Azerbaijani section of the Caspian Sea. Shah Deniz Stage 2 gas will make a 3,500 kilometer journey from the Caspian Sea into Europe. This requires upgrading the existing infrastructure and the development of a chain of new pipelines.The existing South Caucasus Pipeline will be expanded with a new parallel pipeline across Azerbaijan and Georgia, while TANAP will transport Shah Deniz gas across Turkey to join the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, which will take gas through Greece and Albania into Italy.The first gas supplies through the corridor to Georgia and Turkey are given a target date of late 2018. Gas deliveries to Europe are expected just over a year after the first gas is produced offshore in Azerbaijan.Fitch Ratings predicted that the Southern Gas Corridor project’s net financial needs for operations and capex will be close to $8.4 billion in 2016-2019. American companies invited to invest in Baku FTZ http://www.today.az/news/business/150262.html Business Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:36:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaAzerbaijan has invited U.S. companies to invest in the Free Trade Zone to be established in the country and open permanent representative offices in the FTZ.Such a proposal was made by Taleh Ziyadov, Director General of the Baku International Sea Trade Port, during a forum titled "The Trans-Caspian East-West trade and transit corridor" held in Washington on April 28-29.The forum was organized by the embassies of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Turkey in the U.S. and the Silk Road studies of the Central Asia-Caucasus University of the U.S.Addressing the event, Ziyadov informed the event participants about the FTZ, which will be established under a decree of President Ilham Aliyev.He said that transport and logistics infrastructure, petrochemical and pharmaceutical clusters will be established in the area of the FTZ.A wide range of products will be produced there. Also, packaging, labeling operations will be carried out in the area of the FTZ.President Aliyev signed a decree on March 17 on measures to establish a special economic area in the Alat settlement, which will also include the territory of the new Baku International Sea Trade Port.This document on establishment of the FTZ type special economic area in the Alat settlement of Baku’s Garadagh district represents a milestone of Azerbaijan's policy to strengthen the country's position as a regional logistics and transportation hub.Once established, the FTZ will bring huge revenues to Azerbaijan's state budget. The profitability of FTZ has many examples in the world; FTZ in Hong Kong or in Dubai turned both cities into a center of attraction for investors from all around the world, and paved the way for inflow of huge funds to the countries.The establishment of FTZ will also bring a large amount of foreign investment into Azerbaijan, as well as open the country's doors to new investors. This free trade zone is expected to attract up to $1 billion just in the first few years.This will become possible thanks to the special tax and customs policy, which will be pursued in the territory of the FTZ. The privileges can cover the income tax, VAT, tax of profit and property tax.Azerbaijan is also building a new state-of-the-art port complex. Located at the strategic crossroads of Europe and Asia and near sizeable markets like China, Turkey, Iran and Russia, the new Port of Baku is poised to become the leading trade and logistics hub of Eurasia.Earlier, Baku International Sea Trade Port and Singapore’s SMRT International and Ectivise Solutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding on technical cooperation, aimed at enhancing the operational effectiveness of the Baku Port.The two Singapore-based companies will provide support to Azerbaijan in its efforts to introduce new technologies and innovative solutions in the port and free trade zone operations.Thus, Singapore will advise Baku in adoption of such technologies as Group Rapid Transit (GRT) System, Integrated Operation Control Centre (OCC), Auto Warehousing Storage and Retrieval System and other security systems.Thanks to this cooperation the Baku International Sea Trade Port will be the first in the region to introduce driverless transportation – smart cars. New resident of Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park revealed http://www.today.az/news/business/150261.html Business Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:17:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Amina NazarliSumgayit Chemical Industrial Park (SCIP) continues to attract new players, and Azerbaijan's MST Engineering LLC has entered the list of the park’s residents.The company to produce hydraulic trunks and fittings has become the 7th resident of the Park.Deputy CEO of SCIP Zaur Mammadov said that the products, which the company will manufacture, are widely used in oil and gas, engineering, food and other industries.He made the remarks during the presentation of the park's new resident MST Engineering.He noted that about 40 new jobs will be opened in this regard, adding that the products produced by MST Engineering will be exported to neighboring countries in the future.“Currently, Azerbaijan imports the above-mentioned products and in the future the country will be able to provide both the domestic market, and to export them to neighboring countries,” said Mammadov.At the initial stage, raw material for the production of trunks and fittings will be imported, but after commissioning SOCAR Polymer Plant, it will also be produced within the country.Deputy Economy Minister Niyazi Safarov, for his part, stated that the number of residents of the Park will increase soon.The work on attracting residents to the Chemical Industrial Park continues and several more companies will receive the status of resident in the near future, according to the deputy minister.The Park established in 2011 covers an area of 167.66 hectares and resides nearby Sumgayit city that is 32.5 km away from Baku. The Park is able to accommodate 35-40 companies, which provides the opening of 10,000 new jobs.The appropriate external and internal infrastructure (electricity, heating, water supply, communication and other systems) with offices, training centers, offices, laboratory, etc. were established within the Park to enable profitable activity and development of entrepreneurs and produce competitive products and render services through the application of modern technologies.To make the Park more attractive for investors its residents are exempt from paying income, land and property taxes for seven years. Moreover, equipment and technology used in the park are also exempt from value-added tax.Overall, the Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park now includes the following residents: Azertexnolayn, SOCAR Polymer, Azerfloat, Azerbaijan Fibro Cement, SIKA company, and Baku Non-Ferrous Metals & Ferroalloys Company. FM Mammadyarov: Azerbaijan never renounced negotiation process http://www.today.az/news/politics/150260.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:00:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Nazrin GadimovaAzerbaijan has never renounced the negotiation process for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister made the remark during the briefing following the talks with his Maltese counterpart George William Vella in Baku.Commenting on the remarks made by Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan about the conditions for resuming the negotiations, the foreign minister said that it is impossible to achieve peace by putting forward conditions."If anyone in Yerevan believes that it will be possible to continue the negotiation process and maintain the status-quo by putting forward conditions, he is mistaken," he added.Mammadyarov believes that with its actions, Armenia puts under threat the ceasefire agreement reached in 1994 and 1995.“Armenians should understand that it is impossible to resolve the conflict by military means. But it does not mean that the talks can continue eternally,” the FM said.Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts 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.Peace talks over the long-lasting Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that emerged over Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles. However, as Armenia continues to follow non-constructive position, the negotiations have been largely fruitless so far despite the efforts of the co-chair countries over 20 years.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.Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister further stressed that Baku firmly adheres to its position."The UN Security Council’s resolutions should be fulfilled unconditionally. First of all, Armenian armed forces should be withdrawn from the occupied territories," he said. "Only after this, the negotiations can start on other remaining issues, such as the return of the IDPs [to their homes], restoration of communications and so on," he said.Mammadyarov also said that the meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group is expected.“We plan to meet with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in one of European cities, likely in Brussels, next month,” Mammadyarov said, adding that the exact date and time will be determined later.Last time Azerbaijan’s Mammadyarov met the OSCE MG in late 2015, as part of 70th Session of the UN General Assembly. The sides discussed the negotiations process to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Azerbaijan example of tolerance for world - National Assembly of France member http://www.today.az/news/politics/150258.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:36:00 +0400 Azerbaijan is an example of tolerance for the whole world, Jean-Francois Mancel, member of the National Assembly of France, president of Azerbaijan's association of friends in the country told Trend."Unfortunately, nowadays there are transnational, inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts in various regions of the world," Jean-Francois Mancel said.Speaking about the conflicts in the today's world, Mancel mentioned the VII Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations as one of the forums of global importance dedicated to tolerance and peaceful settlement of such conflicts.The VII Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations was held in Baku April 25-27."Holding the VII Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Baku is of crucial importance," Mancel said. "Carrying out an event of such a scale in current conditions namely in Azerbaijan is a bright example of the fact that the international community considers Baku the center of tolerance. I don't know any other country where people of different nationalities and religions would peacefully coexist for centuries."He went on to add that Baku's election as the venue for holding the regular Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations itself shows the recognition of the Azerbaijan's prestige in the world."The realities of Azerbaijan must be brought to the attention of the international community, and that's namely the purpose of the association headed by me," Mancel said."All our efforts are aimed at promoting Azerbaijan in France, and we still have a lot to do in this direction," he said. "Azerbaijan and France have a lot in common: both countries cherish their independence. Azerbaijan is an original country known worldwide for its tolerance and peacefulness. These qualities are of particular importance in today's world."Mancel said that the association carries out wide activities to acquaint the French public with the realities of Azerbaijan, regularly holds colloquia, international conferences with the participation of politicians and public figures from both countries, familiarizes French society with the social and political life of the country, the priorities of its foreign policy.Of course, the main topic of these meetings is the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which Azerbaijan has faced, its consequences, said the head of the association.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.The Association of Friends of Azerbaijan in France has set a task for itself to influence the policy of France in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in order for a faithful and fair way for its settlement to be found in accordance with the norms and principles of international law, Mancel said.The association will continue making efforts to attract the French public's attention to this problem, Jean-Francois Mancel said."I would like to express my special gratitude to the first lady of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva for the support of our mission to raise awareness about Azerbaijan among the French public," said Jean-Francois Mancel."Azerbaijan is a country with rich traditions, and my fellow citizens show great interest in its culture and history," said the president of the association."Azerbaijani music touches the soul of the French, no matter whether it's mugham, jazz or ethnic music, etc.," he said, adding that recently, the performance of a dance group was organized in France at the association's invitation, and the audience loved it."The association also held events on the occasion of the Novruz holiday in three cities of France," he said. "Thus, we try to acquaint the French with rich culture and art of Azerbaijan."Jean-Francois Mancel also mentioned the project "Azerbaijani Village", which has been implemented jointly with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for the past two years."The main purpose of organizing the village is that Azerbaijan become more popular abroad, particularly in France and the country's capital," said the president of the association."Throughout all the time of its activity, the "Azerbaijani Village" is transformed into a space that reflects the culture, history, art, music, cuisine, traditions, the past and present of Azerbaijan. Both inhabitants of Paris and tourists get complete information about Azerbaijan."Mancel said that the implementation of the project "Azerbaijani Village" has already become a tradition. In 2014, first such village was created on Saint-Sulpice Square in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, and the public met it with great interest. Last year, such village was opened in the 1st arrondissement of Paris on the famous Parisian Palais Royal Square in front of the Louvre Museum."The aim of all these projects implemented with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is to bring our peoples closer, strengthen friendly relations and bring the truth about Azerbaijan to the French public," said Jean-Francois Mancel./By Trend/ President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of Mughanli-Yevlakh section of ... http://www.today.az/news/politics/150259.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:35:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the inauguration of the newly-reconstructed Mughanli-Yevlakh part of the Baku-Shamakhi-Yevlakh highway.The head of state was informed that the total length of the two-lane road section was 115.15 kilometers. The overall width of the road is 12.5 meters, while the lane width is 7.5 meters.Six bridges were reconstructed, a number of facilities and electrical poles were installed along the road. Thirty-nine bus stops were built here.The reconstruction of the highway started in March 2010 under the relevant order of President Ilham Aliyev.The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the road.Then a picture was taken./By Azertac/ Iran, Turkey eye using national currencies in trade, minister says http://www.today.az/news/regions/150256.html World news Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:17:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaIran and Turkey are interested in using their national currencies - the rial and the lira - for mutual payments in the bilateral trade, Mustafa Elitas believes.The Turkish Economy Minister told Trend on April 28 that this is necessary for avoiding the dependence on fluctuations in the foreign exchange rate."Iran and Turkey agreed in April to develop the mutual payments using national currencies," he said, adding that Turkish companies prefer to use the Turkish lira in trade with Iran.The minister also noted that during the talks with his Iranian counterpart, he repeatedly emphasized the importance of using the national currencies in mutual payments between the two countries."We see that the Iranian side also wants to use the national currencies in the bilateral trade," Elitas added.Turkey has been trying to develop its economic relations with Iran after the removal of international sanctions from the Islamic Republic on January 16, 2016.The trade turnover between Turkey and Iran stood at $9.76 billion in 2015, as compared to $13.719 billion in 2014, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. However, Ankara and Tehran intend to increase the trade turnover to $30 billion.Elitas believes that one of the important factors for achieving this goal is to develop the preferential trade between the two countries.Ankara and Tehran make every effort in this regard, he added."The relevant structures of Iran and Turkey are holding talks in order to expand the list of goods in the preferential trade," he stressed.In early April, Turkey's Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz said that one third of trade between Turkey and Iran is now conducted in the Turkish lira or the Iranian rial.Experts believe that the background behind using the Turkish lira and the Iranian rial may be seen in the context of the increased volatility of the lira visa-a-vis the USD and the euro, exacerbated by political and social challenges which have increased country specific risk.They say that these risks have lead to a serious fall in Turkey's earnings in key currencies such as the U.S. dollar and the euro.Mehrdad Emadi, the consultant at the UK-based Betamatrix International Consultancy believes that the reference of the Turkish minister to the use of the national currencies carries a hidden message."The message may be that Ankara is prepared to move away from Washington and get closer to Tehran if the economic gains of growing its trade and investment relationship with Iran outweigh the political and foreign aid cost of moving even further from Washington," he told Trend earlier.Closer economic ties between Tehran and Ankara based on the use of the lira and rial will not only create a deeper bind between the economies of the two countries, but also become a new step in gradually reducing the reliance on the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency.The experts believe that if the use of the national currencies in trade its reliability in terms of facilitating bilateral trade, this experience can be applied in near future between Iran and India, among Russia, Iran and China, as well as Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan and even perhaps between Turkey and India.Emadi said that for Turkey, being able to use the lira to pay for at least one third of its imports from Iran will not only partially alleviate the shortage of the dollar and the euro, but also be a meaningful message to the EU that Turkey has other policy options to develop its economy and trade and the EU is not the only show in town.However, according to the expert, such a move carries additional risks with it, some of which may be quite costly if Tehran and Ankara do not follow the basic rules in managing their trade most notably avoiding competitive devaluation. Iran drafts investment package to develop tourism http://www.today.az/news/regions/150255.html World news Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:12:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaIran, which plans to attract 20 million tourists to the country over the next 10 years, has drafted an investment package for developing tourism sector, which includes 1,500 projects worth $30 billion.This was announced by the head of Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, Massoud Soltanifar on April 26.He told Trend that the plan envisages $25-$30 billion in revenue per year.The Iranian government is interested in cooperation with the domestic and international investors for developing the country's tourism sector, according to him In this regard, the government has taken several measures to draw the attention of tourists to the country. In particular, visa regime has been facilitated, and projects for the construction of new hotels have been launched."Several projects for constructing hotels in historical and religious cities are underway," Soltanifar said, further calling on Azerbaijani entrepreneurs to invest in Iran.Tourism is undoubtedly one of the industries with the most promising growth prospects in Iran. Being one of the largest countries in the Middle East and one of the top 20 largest economies in the world, Iran is expected to see significant tourism growth following the lifting of sanctions that previously have restricted foreign investment since 2006.Currently, the Islamic Republic's share in the world tourism stands at 0.24 percent and such a result does not meet the country’s interest.Today, the country is in focus of American and European tourists, who are planning to beat a path to the long-isolated country’s door to explore whatever is beyond it.The World Bank reported that 4.96 million tourists arrived in Iran in 2014. The World Bank statistics indicate 1.175 billion inbound tourists across the globe in 2014 with an expenditure of $1.426 trillion.Iran's Tehran and other locations around the Caspian Sea are key tourism destinations that will be of great interest to tourists.Currently, there are about 1,100 hotels throughout Iran, but only 29 of them are listed as five-star and 75 as four-star hotels. This will require the development of additional hotel capacity, estimated at least 150 hotels to cater to the increased demand.Taking this requirement into account, the country plans to triple the number of hotels.Statistics show that Iran has earned at least $6.1 billion from tourism during the past year and Tehran intends to achieve the development of its tourism industry in a short term.The Islamic Republic needs to lure 20 million visitors a year to generate $30 billion in revenue. Apparently with its plan to draw the attention of tourists, Tehran is going to compete with regional tourism spots, such as Turkey and UAE. Iran asks U.N. chief to intervene with U.S. after court ruling http://www.today.az/news/regions/150254.html World news Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:05:00 +0400 Iran says it will take "every lawful measure" against a court ruling that authorizes the seizure of around $2 billion of its frozen assets in the United States.On Thursday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, saying Tehran reserves the right to take countermeasures in response to the decision made by the US Supreme Court, Press TV reported April 28.On April 20, the court ruled that the money had to be turned over to the American families of the victims of a 1983 bombing in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and other attacks blamed on Iran. The Islamic Republic has denied any role in the attacks.The money confiscated through the verdict belongs to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). The assets have been blocked under US sanctions."The Islamic Republic of Iran holds the United States government responsible for this outrageous robbery, disguised under a court order, and is determined to take every lawful measure to restore the stolen property and the interest accrued to it from the date it was blocked by the United States," wrote the top Iranian diplomat."The entire court proceedings, which led to the recent ruling, has been fake and phony and a travesty of justice in every sense of law, jurisdiction, merit, fact, and process. This clearly constitutes an international wrongful act and entails international responsibility for the government of the United States, for which it will be held accountable," he asserted.Zarif further urged the UN chief to press Washington to release all frozen Iranian assets in US banks in line with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the six global powers in Vienna in July 2015.Under the agreement, all nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran by the European Union, the UN Security Council and the US would be lifted. Iran has, in return, put some limitations on its nuclear activities./By Trend/ President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of a new building of Aghsu District Central Hospital http://www.today.az/news/politics/150253.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:57:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the opening of a new building of Aghsu District Central Hospital.President Ilham Aliyev cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the building.Minister of Health Ogtay Shiraliyev informed the head of state that the construction of the 160-bed hospital started in 2012 and was completed late in 2015. The hospital occupies a total area of three hectares. The hospital consists of the main building, a 15-bed tuberculosis prophylaxis center and an infectious diseases block. There are surgery, pediatrics, anesthesiology and intensive care departments in the hospital, which is supplied with modern medical equipment.President Ilham Aliyev met with local residents.Then a picture was taken./By Azertac/ Kazakhstan establishes diplomatic relations with Liberia http://www.today.az/news/regions/150252.html World news Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:52:00 +0400 Kazakhstan has established diplomatic relations with Liberia, Kazakh Foreign Ministry's press service said Apr. 29.A joint communiqué on establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries was signed on Apr. 27 in New York by Kazakhstan's Permanent Representative to the UN Kairat Abdrakhmanov and Charge d'Affaires of the Republic of Liberia, Ambassador George Patten.During the signing ceremony the two sides exchanged views on prospects of cooperation and relevant issues on the UN agenda of mutual interest for Kazakhstan and Liberia. Realization of sustainable development goals, environmental protection, health, peace-building and post-conflict development were among them.The parties expressed mutual interest for creation of an intergovernmental commission for strengthening bilateral cooperation.Republic of Liberia is a country on the West African coast with a population of more than four million people. The country has large mineral (ore, gold, diamonds), agricultural, forestry, hydropower resources. Liberia's main export products are coffee, cocoa and diamonds./By Trend/ Azerbaijan controlling operational situation on frontline – defense ministry http://www.today.az/news/politics/150251.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:46:00 +0400 The situation on the frontline of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops is currently stable, head of the press service of the Azerbaijani defense ministry Vagif Dargahli told reporters Apr. 29, Trend's special correspondent said.Dargahli, who is currently in the country's Aghdam district, added that Azerbaijani armed forces are controlling the operational situation on the frontline./By Trend/ President Ilham Aliyev arrived in Aghsu district for a visit http://www.today.az/news/politics/150249.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:44:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has today arrived in Aghsu district for a visit.The head of state laid flowers at a monument to national leader Heydar Aliyev in the city center.Head of Aghsu district Executive Authority Anvar Seyidaliyev informed the head of state of extensive landscaping work carried out in the Heydar Aliyev Park./By Azertac/ President Ilham Aliyev received Maltese Minister of Foreign Affairs http://www.today.az/news/politics/150250.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:39:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta George Vella.President Ilham Aliyev highly appreciated participation of President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca in the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Baku.The head of state said that during the visit of the Maltese President the two countries discussed development of cooperation in political, economic, energy, investment making and other fields, as well as Azerbaijani-EU relations. President Ilham Aliyev said Malta was actively involved in Azerbaijan-European Union cooperation. The head of state recalled the last year visit of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to the country, and described the trip of the Maltese FM to Baku as a sign of dynamic continuation of cooperation.The head of state said Azerbaijan and Malta enjoyed active partner relations, and stressed the importance of boosting these ties. President Ilham Aliyev expressed hope that the Maltese FM`s visit would contribute to the strengthening of the current cooperation format.George Vella conveyed the greetings of President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to the head of state.He said the Maltese President expressed satisfaction with her Baku trip and meetings. The FM said Malta was interested in further expanding ties with Azerbaijan, adding there was good potential for strengthening bilateral relations not only in energy sector but also in several other fields to the benefit of both sides. George Vella stressed the importance of exploring the opportunities in this regard.President Ilham Aliyev expressed his gratitude for the greetings of President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and askedGeorge Vella to extend his greetings to the President and Prime Minister of Malta./By Azertac/ Academician Arif Pashayev re-elected vice-president of International Academy of Engineering http://www.today.az/news/politics/150244.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:30:00 +0400 President of Azerbaijan Engineering Academy, academician Arif Pashayev has been re-elected vice-president of the International Academy of Engineering as it held a general meeting on the results of its activities in 2011-2015.The meeting brought together some 623 members of the Academy from 12 countries.President of the International Engineering Academy, academician Boris Gusev delivered a speech at the meeting.The participants were handed Arif Pashayev's article headlined "Focusing on practice questions". The participants highly appreciated the article.Vice-President of Azerbaijan Engineering Academy, academician Ahad Janahmadov was elected chairperson of the meeting.He briefed the participants on the results of the Academy's activities in 2011-2015.The meeting then featured the election of the president, vice-president, new full and associate members of the Academy.Academician Boris Gusev was re-elected president of the Academy.Three Azerbaijani scientists were elected full and associate members of the International Engineering Academy./By Azertac/ Azerbaijan, Malta mull future co-op – FM http://www.today.az/news/politics/150239.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 14:00:00 +0400 Azerbaijan and Malta have discussed the future cooperation matters, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said Apr.29.Mammadyarov made the remarks during the briefing following the talks with his Maltese counterpart George William Vella in Baku.Azerbaijan and Malta signed documents on cooperation in customs sphere, youth policy and an agreement on consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries, said the minister.The parties also discussed the prospects for cooperation in energy sphere./By Trend/ May outlook: Slightly warmer than average http://www.today.az/news/society/150247.html Society Fri, 29 Apr 2016 13:35:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Laman IsmayilovaThe last month of meteorological spring will kick of tomorrow, though the month of April ended up muggy and warm. So how will May itself fare?Meteorologists’ estimate is for slightly warmer than normal temperatures .It will feel warmer than April on the whole, above average and slightly above normal precipitation.The average monthly temperature in Baku and the Absheron Peninsula is predicted to be 18-20 C (11-16 C at nights, sometimes 20-25 C during daytimes, and sometimes even 28-30 C), the National Department for Hydrometeorology at the Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry reported.Average monthly precipitation will be close to the climatic norm (18-21mm) and a little above the norm in some places.In Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, average monthly temperature is predicted to be +16-20?C.At nights the temperature will be +11-16?C. In the afternoons the temperature will be +22-27?C, but will rise up to +30-35?C in some days. Monthly rainfall is expected to be close to the climatic norm (norm 33-62 mm).Average monthly temperature predicted to be +11-15?C in Upper Karabakh: Khankandi, Shusha, Khojali, Khocavand; Gubadli, Zangilan, Lachin, Kalbajar and Dashkasan, Gadabay regions, which is nigh to the climatic norm.At nights the temperature will be +8-13?C,while in the afternoons temperature will be +13-18?C, and will be +22-27?C in some days.Monthly rainfall is expected to be close to the climatic norm (norm 68-122 mm) and a little above the norm in some places.In Gazakh-Ganja, Goranboy, Tar-Tar-Agdam-Agjabadi-Fuzuli-Jabrail regions, average monthly temperature is predicted to be +17-20?C which is close to the climatic norm.At nights the temperature will be+12-17?C. In the afternoons the temperature will be +20-25?C, will be +28-33?C in some days.Monthly rainfall is expected to be close to the climatic norm (norm 31-54 mm) and a little above the norm in some places.As for Balakan, Zagatala, Qakh, Sheki, Oguz, Gabala, ?smailly, Agsu, Shamakhy, Siyazan, Shabran, Khizi, Guba, Khachmaz, Gusar regions, average monthly temperature is predicted to be +15-19?C which is close to the climatic norm.In the afternoons temperature will be from +18-23?C, will be+27-32?C in some days, while at nights the temperature will be +12-17?C, +5-10 ?C in some days.Monthly rainfall is expected to be close to the climatic norm (norm 26-166mm) and a little above the norm in some places.Average monthly temperature is predicted to be +19-22?Cin Central-Aran: Agdash, Mingachevir, Yevlakh, Kurdamir, ?mishli, Beylagan, Sabirabad, Bilasuvar, Saatli, Shirvan, Haj?gabul, Salyan, Neftchala regions.At nights the temperature will be +13-18?C. In the afternoons the temperature will be from +22-27?C, will be +30-34?C in some days. Monthly rainfall is expected to be close to the climatic norm (norm 26-62mm) and a little above the norm in some places.In Masall?-Lankaran-Astara-Lerik, Yardimli regions average monthly temperature is predicted to be +15-19?C which is close to the climatic norm.In the afternoons the temperature will be from +19-24?C, will rise up to +27-32?C in some days, while at nights the temperature will be +10-15?C.Monthly rainfall is expected to be close to the climatic norm (norm 41-72 mm). Croatia simplifies entry regulations for Azerbaijani citizens http://www.today.az/news/business/150246.html Business Fri, 29 Apr 2016 13:22:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Amina NazarliAzerbaijani citizens will get access to Croatia, a colorful Mediterranean country of Southeastern Europe, easier, since the country has simplified the rules of entry into the country for Azerbaijanis.Under the new rules, Azerbaijani citizens holding a double or a multiple entry Schengen visa, will now be able to enter Croatia without visiting the country that issued the Schengen visa.Thus, the citizens of Azerbaijan, receiving the Schengen visa, for example, in the embassies of Lithuania, Latvia or France, may visit Croatia without having to enter the country that issued the visa, as it was before.Croatia is one of the countries that attract Azerbaijani tourists with magnificent nature and captivating culture.Before entering the European Union, Croatia used to abolish the visa regime with a number of countries including Azerbaijan for a tourism season. Azerbaijanis could enjoy the country without a visa for up to 90 days then.After the country entered the EU in July 2013, a visit to Croatia for Azerbaijanis became not so convenient.Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Croatia in recent years has intensified. The relations between the two countries develop dynamically in various areas, especially in the political sphere. Romanian-Azerbaijani partnership hailed http://www.today.az/news/politics/150245.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 13:18:00 +0400 Romanian State Secretary for Global Affairs Daniela Gîtman attended the 7th Alliance of Civilizations Forum, held in Baku between 26 and 27 April 2016.The visit agenda also included political consultations with her Azerbaijani counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov on issues of bilateral and multilateral interest.The two officials hailed the very good level of Romanian-Azerbaijani political relations provided for in the Strategic Partnership and strengthened by its associated Action Plan.The meeting occasioned an exchange of views on how to enhance cooperation between Romania and Azerbaijan within the UN on topical issues on the international agenda and related to mutual support for the candidacies of the two countries to the UN system.The interlocutors also tackled important files such as the conflict in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in the light of armed tensions along the line of contact beginning with early April, the developments in the Middle East and in North Africa, migration, regional energy and transport projects.Gîtman reiterated Romania's support for the development of Azerbaijan-NATO partnership relations, also reflected by the fact that during 2015-2016 the embassy of Romania to Azerbaijan holds the fourth consecutive term as NATO Contact Point Embassy (CPE).Azerbaijan and Romania have a long history of relations dating back to the 15th century.While the two sides enjoy good cooperation in multiple areas, the main focus has been on trade and energy links.Romania also has been a strong advocate of Azerbaijan's future membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), pointing out the strategic importance of the country for trade and shipping, particularly with a view towards Afghanistan. Int’l energy conference ends in Baku http://www.today.az/news/business/150243.html Business Fri, 29 Apr 2016 13:06:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Fatma BabayevaThe closing ceremony of international conference titled ‘Caspian Basin and Central Asia: Trade, Logistics, Refining and Petrochemicals’ was held in Baku.The conference dedicated to the 93rd anniversary of former president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev was realized with the support of the state owned energy company SOCAR and the joint organization of Baku Higher Oil School and British company Confidence Capital.The conference aimed to promote the success of oil strategy, to attract the attention of professionals to the developments of Azerbaijan, to establish relations between representatives of different countries and to ensure mutual exchange of information between SOCAR and international partners.The event was attended by government officials, MPs, representatives of SOCAR, as well as, the heads of various sub-structures of SOCAR, representatives of various companies of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Georgia and experts invited from different countries.On the closing day of the conference, several reports were presented. Sarvar Agayev, the Deputy Executive Director of the Azerkimya production association submitted a report on Azerkimya and its projects on modernization and restructuration, while Rauf Nagiyev, the Deputy Director of the oil refining and petrochemical complex of SOCAR presented innovative approach to the creation of oil and gas processing and petrochemical complexes.In addition, Mehman Huseynov, the director of Hazar Oil submitted overview of refining capacity of Turkmenistan and other participants.In general, 70 specialists and experts from 19 countries came to Baku in order to participate in the international conference. More than 150 participants attended the event including 23 specialists and experts from Azerbaijan.The conference lasted for three days, and 9 sessions were carried on various topics.In addition, visits to SOCAR’s production facilities were organized for foreign experts.The latest progress with the Shah Deniz-2 and Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli fields was discussed during the conference as well. Azerbaijan's insurance companies can undertake risk reinsurance for Iranian companies, expert says http://www.today.az/news/business/150242.html Business Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:42:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaAzerbaijan's insurance companies can take upon the reinsurance of risks of Iranian insurance companies, expert in the field of insurance Khayal Mammadkhanli believes.The President of Training and Consulting Center Consultant told Trend that Azerbaijan's insurance companies are not so big to take a rightful place in the Iranian market and to collect a large portfolio in a short time."Azerbaijani companies can also insure the cargo transportation and the growing goods' turnover between the two countries," he said, adding that several Azerbaijani insurance companies have already showed interest in the cooperation with Iranian companies."I know that the representatives of several insurance companies of Azerbaijan have visited Iran and suggested the Iranian insurance companies their reinsurance services, both in the face of the insurance companies and brokers," the expert noted.Mammadkhanli believes that another opportunity for the development of relations between the Azerbaijani and Iranian insurance companies is the fact that the Iranian companies lack international connections due to the long lasting international sanctions."Currently, a large part of the Iranian market accounts for four large insurance companies. Despite the fact that Iran's domestic insurance market is very developed, Iran's companies have no relations with the world's major insurance and reinsurance companies because of the different sanctions and embargo. This is a very good opportunity for expansion of relations between the insurance companies of the two countries," he stressed.There are 27 insurance and 2 reinsurance companies in Iran. Some 25 insurance and one reinsurance company operate in the insurance market of Azerbaijan.Previously, a joint Azerbaijani-Iranian Insurance Company Azer-Asia operated in Iran, but it was closed in 2008 due to the refusal of the Ministry of Finance of Azerbaijan to extend its license. The company operated on the Azerbaijani insurance market since 1997.Today, 164 foreign insurance and reinsurance companies and 80 insurance brokers are working with Azerbaijani insurance companies, through which the country's companies carry out insurance, reinsurance and brokerage operations.Commenting on the possibility of entering of Iranian insurance companies to the Azerbaijani market, Mammadkhanli said that this is not a pressing issue.He said despite the reality of such a possibility and interest of the Iranian companies in the Azerbaijani market, it will not bring a significant growth to the market.Noting the steps of the Azerbaijani government taken for improving the investment climate in the country and encouraging the establishment of joint ventures, Mammadkhanli said that establishment of joint Azerbaijani-Iranian insurance companies could help Azerbaijan's insurance market only in financial terms."Direct access of the Iranian insurance companies to the Azerbaijani market will not bring any new technologies or significant growth," the expert noted.Mammadkhanli believes that Iranian insurance companies' entering the Azerbaijani market will be useful in terms of making Iranian investments in this sector."The emergence of Iranian insurance companies on Azerbaijani insurance market will be helpful in terms of making Iranian investments in the sector, as well create opportunities for the activities of Azerbaijani insurance companies in Iran," he said earlier.He also noted that there are several insurance companies in Azerbaijan that are in a difficult situation. It would be great if the Iranian insurance companies that want to start operating in Azerbaijan acquired these companies and invested in them. Armenia continues violating ceasefire, two civilians die http://www.today.az/news/politics/150241.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:27:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Nazrin GadimovaThe situation on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops has remained tense as the Armenian Armed Forces shattered ceasefire a total of 116 times throughout the day.Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry reported that the enemy shelled Azerbaijani positions using 60, 82 and 120-millimeter mortars, grenades and large caliber guns.The Armenian military units fired at the Azerbaijani positions located in the villages of Gizilhajili and Gushchu Ayrim (Gazakh region), villages of Alibeyli and Kokhanebi (Tovuz region), as well as the nameless heights of Gadabay region.Given the operational situation, Azerbaijani Armed Forces inflicted 122 strikes upon Armenian positions.Armenia breached a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement on April 24. Over the next five days, Armenian military forces breached truce and shelled both Azerbaijani positions and villages neighboring the frontline by using heavy artillery and prohibited weapons.One resident of Azerbaijan’s Agdam region, which is adjacent to the front-line area, was killed, while eight injured on April 28.Ragub Mammadov, the head of executive authority of the region, has today informed that one of those eight wounded – a resident of the Chamanli village, Ali Huseynov, died in the hospital as a result of his injuries. Health state of the second wounded, Elnur Mammadov, is also critical.Mammadov added that health state of the rest wounded is serious, but stable, as doctors say that there is no threat to their lives.The Armenian militaries also destroyed dozens of houses, a secondary school and other social facilities, while private farms and property of the population were seriously damaged in the mentioned settlements, as well as in the villages of Gapanli, Hasangaya, Gaziyan and Gaynag of Azerbaijan's Terter region.The prosecutor’s offices in the Agdam and Terter regions have initiated criminal cases upon the abovementioned facts.Considering the situation, Azerbaijan’s State Commission on Prisoners of War has informed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of these acts that are contrary to the norms of international law and rules of war, and called on the Armenian side to avoid doing these actions.Moreover, Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry has sent letters to the UN and OSCE urging the heads of international organizations to strongly condemn Armenia for violating the ceasefire agreement and to demand Armenia’s complying with the undertaken commitments and withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, in turn, said that in case Armenia continues shelling Azerbaijani settlements, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces will inflict retaliatory strikes on Armenia’s military facilities located in residential areas.Armenia captured 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories as a result of 1992-94 war. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations and signing of another agreement on truce in 1995. However, Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Azerbaijani civilians seriously wounded by Armenians http://www.today.az/news/politics/150240.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:11:00 +0400 Armenian armed forces constantly shell Azerbaijani settlements, a resident of the Garadaghli village of Azerbaijan's Aghdam district, Elgiz Garayev told reporters Apr.29.Garayev was seriously injured as a result of the shelling by Armenians on the night of Apr.28.He said that Armenians are targeting the settlements located along the frontline."Armenians shelled our village by using multiple launch rocket systems, guns, mortars and rocket launchers," said Garayev, adding that the civilians are constantly shelled by Armenians."Armenians never adhere to the ceasefire," he said. "Civilians have been targeted by Armenian servicemen. It should be stopped."/By Trend/ UN Global Forum ends with renewed commitment to create inclusive societies http://www.today.az/news/politics/150248.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:00:00 +0400 A global conference convened by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) concluded today, with delegations, who gathered in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, making a renewed commitment to creating inclusive societies.Among the major outcomes from the Global Forum Baku 2016 was the adoption by consensus of the Baku Declaration, a political document that will guide future efforts towards achieving the goals of UNAOC - a body mandated to promote harmony among nations.The Forum, which kicked off yesterday, brought together more than 4,300 participants, including Heads of State and Government, political officials, civil society representatives, religious and youth leaders, who exchanged their perspectives under the main theme on 'Living Together in Inclusive Societies: A Challenge and A Goal.'The Baku Declaration calls for the implementation of the commitments made there so that Governments, with the support of the civil society, can overcome challenges and move forward towards the goals of living together in inclusive societies for sustainable development."Through the Baku Declaration, the Group of Friends reaffirmed its support to UNAOC and expressed its conviction that UNAOC plays an important role as a global platform for sharing good practices for living together in inclusive societies," UNAOC High Representative Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said at the closing session.The outcome document condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audiovisual or electronic media or any other means.It also stresses the importance of implementing UNAOC's goals at the national level and supports the High Representative in his efforts, including the advancement of UNAOC programming as an instrument to address conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism.Advisory Council to provide recommendations to UNAOCAfter presenting brief summaries of plenary sessions and other events, Mr. Al-Nasser announced several new initiatives, including the launch of the advisory council composed of leaders from politics, religion, civil society and academia, which will provide guidance and recommendations to him and the Alliance.In an interview with the UN Radio, Mr. Al-Nasser said that the dimensions and causes of violent extremism and measures to prevent such a scourge in the future were examined in plenary and breakout sessions, stressing that this Forum was of "great importance" to the Alliance, particularly because UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had mandated UNAOC to contribute to the implementation of his plan of action to prevent violent extremism.He also noted the 'breakout sessions' held during the Forum addressing the issue of women in peacebuilding in conflict zones and creative storytelling about migrants, and paid tribute to the youth participants who gathered in Baku to create their narratives of tomorrow."I would like to note that our theme this year, 'Living together in inclusive societies: a challenge and a goal' converges with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," he said, adding that inclusivity is addressed directly in Sustainable Development Goal 16.Also speaking in the closing session was Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and Chairman of the National Organizing Committee for the UNAOC 7th Global Forum, who said that the more than 4,300 people representing 147 countries registered for the conference, during which 40 discussions and panels were conducted./By Trend/ Grand Slam judo tournament Organizing Committee holds meeting http://www.today.az/news/sports/150238.html Sports Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:00:00 +0400 The Organizing Committee of the Grand Slam international judo tournament has today held its meeting in Baku.The meeting was attended by Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov, President of Azerbaijan Judo federation Rovnag Abdullayev, as well as members of the committee.The committee heard reports on the preparations for the tournament.Vice-President of Azerbaijan Judo Federation Sadig Sadigov said the tournament would bring together 552 fighters from 86 countries.The Grand Slam tournament will be held in Baku on May 6-8./By Azertac/ Two years pass from Azerbaijan`s signing agreement with Formula One http://www.today.az/news/sports/150237.html Sports Fri, 29 Apr 2016 11:48:00 +0400 April 28, 2016 marks the 2nd anniversary of when the government of Azerbaijan and Formula One Management reached agreement to bring a round of the Formula 1 World Championship to the country’s capital city of Baku.Speaking on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary, Arif Rahimov, Baku City Circuit’s Executive Director said: “Two years ago we signed the contract confirming we would host the inaugural F1 Grand Prix in Baku. Our team has been working tirelessly to deliver this historic sporting event for our country and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone whose input and organization has contributed to making this dream become a reality. We are confident that Baku City Circuit will prove equal to the motto of the 2016 FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF EUROPE: “The speed is higher in the Land of Fire!”The spectacular location of F1’s newest street circuit in a city that blends the old with the new in breath-taking fashion, including its stunning Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificent Flame Towers as well as its delightful seaside promenade, make Baku an ideal location for an F1 race weekend.Formula One's newest addition, the Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan, will be the fastest street track in the world, according to the track’s designer Hermann Tilke."Baku City Circuit stands out due to many factors," Tilke told the circuit's official website. "Baku, of course, is not comparable with any of the permanent circuits, because it is a city circuit - but even when compared to city circuits, Baku is unique. Baku City Circuit is expected be the fastest street circuit on the F1 calendar. The track loop around the city's historical centre will create a unique and remarkable atmosphere for fans watching in the grandstands and at home - this is exactly what makes it so appealing. There is no track like Baku City Circuit - it will be one of the most exciting ones on the calendar.”A memorable weekend in Baku will be made even more so via a series of high energy shows by three of the biggest stars in world music - Chris Brown, Enrique Iglesias and Pharrell Williams. Beginning on the evening of Friday 17th June, each of these three global superstars will respectively take to the specially constructed Main Stage of the newest street circuit in F1 on a nightly basis to entertain thousands of F1 fans.To see what drivers and fans can expect in Baku this June 17-19, check out a video highlighting both the city and the new street circuit: https://www.bakucitycircuit.com/media/video./By Azertac/ Azerbaijan initiates criminal cases over shelling of its settlements by Armenia http://www.today.az/news/politics/150236.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 11:36:00 +0400 Armenian armed units, stationed in Azerbaijan's occupied lands, continued the aggression and once again shelled the territories populated by civilians and the positions of the Azerbaijani armed forces along the frontline, thereby grossly violating the international humanitarian law, reads a message from the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office, issued Apr. 28.Armenian armed forces shelled the Aghdam and Terter districts from Azerbaijan's occupied territories on Apr. 27-28 using artillery and large-caliber weapons, and staged a provocation to deliberately kill civilians and destroy the property owned by citizens.As a result, Famil Mustafayev, a resident of Chamanli village of the Aghdam district was killed, while 6 residents of the Chamanli, Garadaghli and Afetli villages were wounded.The health condition of one of the wounded is critical.Dozens of houses, a secondary school and other social facilities were destroyed, while private farms and property of the population were seriously damaged in the mentioned settlements, as well as in the villages of Gapanli, Hasangaya, Gaziyan and Gaynag of Azerbaijan's Terter district.The prosecutor's offices in the Aghdam and Terter districts have initiated criminal cases upon the abovementioned facts.An investigation is underway.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./By Trend/ Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 116 times http://www.today.az/news/politics/150235.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 11:17:00 +0400 Armenian armed forces have 116 times violated the ceasefire with Azerbaijan on the line of contact during the past 24 hours, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said Apr.29.Armenian military was using 60, 82 and 120-millimeter mortars, grenades and large caliber guns.Armenian armed forces located in the village of Berkaber of Armenia's Ijevan district and in the village of Voskevan of Noyemberyan district, opened fire at Azerbaijani positions located in the villages of Gizilhajili and Gushchu Ayrim of Gazakh district.Azerbaijani positions located in the villages of Alibeyli and Kokhanebi of Tovuz district were shelled from the positions located in the villages of Mosesgeh and Chinari of Armenia's Berd district.Meanwhile, Azerbaijani positions located on the nameless heights of Gadabay district, took fire from the positions located on the nameless heights of Armenia's Krasnoselskiy district.Armenian army also opened fire from positions near the villages of Chileburt, Yarimja, Goyarkh of Terter district, Shikhlar, Javahirli, Sarijali, Kengerli, Novruzlu, Shuraabad, Garagashli, Merzili, Yusifjanli of Aghdam district, Kuropatkino of Khojavend,Garakhanbeyli, Horadiz, Gorgan, Ashagi Seyidahmadli of Fizuli district and Mehdili of Jabrayil district.Azerbaijani positions also took fire from the positions located on the nameless heights of Goygol, Goranboy, Khojavend, Fizuli and Jabrayil districts.Azerbaijani armed forces inflicted 122 strikes upon Armenian positions.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./By Trend/ Anglo-Azerbaijani Society organizes lecture on Dunsterforce Allied military force at British ... http://www.today.az/news/politics/150234.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 10:40:00 +0400 The Anglo-Azerbaijani Society has organized a lecture on Dunsterforce allied military force at the British Parliament.The event was attended by Professor Nargiz Pashayeva, co-chair of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society on behalf of Azerbaijan, Lord German, member of House of Lords, co-chairman of the society on behalf of the UK, members of the Executive Committee of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society, Azerbaijani and British public figures.Lord German said that as Anglo-Azerbaijani Society we are most concerned to hear of the loss of life, distress and injury caused by recent actions in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone. We very much hope that there will be a speedy peaceful resolution of this conflict in order that your people can live a life free of fear, he said. Lord German highlighted the military operations of Dunsterforce allied military force, saying these operations had a special place in the Azerbaijani and British history.The lecture was given by lawyer and historian Alum Bati, who told of the role of Dunsterforce British division in the South Caucasus. This unit was created in 1917 and got its name thanks to Major General Lionel Charles Dunsterville. Dunsterville was a British general, who led the so-called Dunsterforce across present-day Iraq and Iran towards Caucasus and oil-rich Baku.Professor Nargiz Pashayeva and Lord German expressed gratitude to the historian for the lecture.  /By Azertac/ President Ilham Aliyev received Secretary General of the Socialist International http://www.today.az/news/politics/150233.html Politics Fri, 29 Apr 2016 10:30:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received Secretary General of the Socialist International Luis Ayala.Secretary General of the Socialist International Luis Ayala said he was visiting Azerbaijan to inspect preparations for the meeting of the organization`s Committee for the CIS, the Caucasus and the Black Sea that would be held in Baku. He highlighted recent activities of the Socialist International.They exchanged views over the current status of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and also discussed prospects for cooperation between the Socialist International and Azerbaijan, and international cooperation.After the meeting they posed for photographs.  /By Azertac/ Azerbaijani currency rate as of April 29 http://www.today.az/news/business/150257.html Business Fri, 29 Apr 2016 10:03:00 +0400 Official exchange rate of the US dollar and euro to Azerbaijani manat was set at 1.5072 manats and 1.7174 manats respectively on April 29.According to the currency exchange rate corridor set by the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, currency exchange offices can't buy US dollars from population at a rate less than 1.4454 manats per dollar or sell the US dollars at a rate exceeding 1.5658 manats per dollar.The exchange rate of the banks won't be able to buy euros from the population at a rate less than 1.6385 manats per euro, and sell them at a rate more than 1.7749 manats per euro.Below is the exchange rate of Azerbaijani manat against those currencies on April 29, according to the Central Bank.Currencies and precious metalsApril 29, 20161 US dollar1 USD1.50721 euro1 EUR1.71741 Australian dollar1 AUD1.15421 Argentine peso1 ARS0.1052100 Belarusian rubles100 BYR0.00781 Brazilian real1 BRL0.43241 UAE dirham1 AED0.41031 South African rand1 ZAR0.1057100 South Korean won100 KRW0.13181 Czech crown1 CZK0.06351 Chilean peso1 CLP0.22771 Chinese yuan1 CNY0.23281 Danish krone1 DKK0.23071 Georgian lari1 GEL0.67531 Hong Kong dollar1 HKD0.19431 Indian rupee1 INR0.02271 British pound1 GBP2.2083100 Indonesian rupiah100 IDR0.0114100 Iranian rials100 IRR0.0051 Swedish krona1 SEK0.18751 Swiss franc1 CHF1.56461 Israeli shekel1 ILS0.40131 Canadian dollar1 CAD1.20361 Kuwaiti dinar1 KWD5.0041 Kazakh tenge1 KZT0.00461 Kyrgyz som1 KGS0.0221100 Lebanese pounds100 LBP0.11 Malaysian ringgit1 MYR0.38551 Mexican peso1 MXP0.08741 Moldavian leu1 MDL0.07641 Egyptian pound1 EGP0.16971 Norwegian krone1 NOK0.1858100 Uzbek soums100 UZS0.0521 Polish zloty1 PLN0.391 Russian ruble1 RUB0.02331 Singapore dollar1 SGD1.1211 Saudi riyal1 SAR0.40191 SDR (IMF Special Drawing Rights )1 SDR2.09431 Turkish lira1 TRY0.53631 Taiwan dollar1 TWD0.04671 Tajik somoni1 TJS0.19151 New Turkmen manat1 TMM0.44551 Ukrainian hryvnia1 UAH0.0598100 Japanese yen100 JPY1.40621 New Zealand dollar1 NZD1.0516Gold (1 ounce)1 XAU1893.0432Silver (1 ounce)1 XAG26.8131Platinum (1 ounce)1 XPT1567.488Palladium (1 ounce)1 XPD929.9424/By Trend/ Eros Ramazzotti mesmerizes Bakuians with amazing musical and visual show http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/150232.html Arts & Entertainment Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:00:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Laman IsmayilovaA long-awaited concert of Italian star Eros Ramazzotti took place at Baku Crystal Hall on April 27, Trend life reports. The Italian star sang for the Azerbaijani audience within The Perfetto World Tour.The concert aroused great interest not only among the country's citizens but also among city guests.Ramazzotti presented songs from his new album called Perfetto, which tops the charts in 60 countries worldwide. This record marks a great return for Eros."When you finish the work on a project, you simply add the finishing touches and say: "Perfetto!" ("Perfect!"). And this phrase is clear to everyone", - says the singer while talking about the title of his album and concert.He also performed his most popular hits, including: Terra Promessa, Più Che Puoi, Cose Della Vita, Più Bella Cosa, Adesso Tu, Se Bastasse Una Canzone etc.The audience watched a grand show, which was opened with 3-D animation created for this show by young and talented graphic artists and video makers.Eros’s mask is a sort of icon and the show starts in this very way with images vaguely inspired by the world of Chaplin’s silhouettes: on the notes of L’ombra del gigante “ numerous Eros icons” for the first time show his frivolous side, and reveal an ironic nature that few people know.During the show, the guests saw him dance on stage and amazed by his perfect performance on piano. Eros welcomed the Azerbaijani audience, saying “Salam Baku. Men size sevirem!” (Hello Baku. I love you!)Eros the musician is given free rein in the guitar solo part of Stella Gemella, alone at the piano in Tra vent’anni and, in the finale, with the acoustic guitar version of Un angelo disteso al sole.For Esodi, one of the most significant moments: on the screen, an enormous television and the sunny and smiley face of a child, playing, who wraps himself in a large flag of Europe and who, waving to Eros, offers a message of positivity, for L’Aurora, the sign language of a dancer offers the entire lyrics of the track, and becomes the special frame for this thrilling scenic picture. Top official: Int’l organizations making every effort to ensure security of separatists in ... http://www.today.az/news/politics/150231.html Politics Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:46:00 +0400 Ali Hasanov, the Azerbaijani president's aide for public and political affairs, expressed regret regarding idleness of international organizations in connection with the latest developments on the contact line of the country's and Armenian troops.The OSCE Minsk Group, which is directly involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict's settlement, as well as this group's member states didn't express any attitude regarding the heavy shelling of Azerbaijani settlements by Armenian armed forces and the civilians killed as a result of it, Hasanov told Trend Apr. 28.Starting from April 27 evening until 04:00 (GMT + 4 hours) on April 28, Armenian armed forces opened fire at settlements, as well as Azerbaijani army's positions in the country's Terter and Aghdam districts. Armenian military was using 60, 82 and 120-millimeter mortars, as well as 122-millimeter D-30 howitzers.One resident of Azerbaijan's Aghdam district was killed, and eight people got injured as a result of shelling.An adequate response of the Azerbaijani armed forces on consistent provocations of the Armenian army in early April and as a result of this, the liberation of some territories under occupation, caused a rapid response of most international organizations and individual countries, Hasanov said.On the night of April 2, 2016, all the frontier positions of Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy fire from the Armenian side, which used large-caliber weapons, mortars and grenade launchers. The armed clashes resulted in deaths and injuries among the Azerbaijani population. Azerbaijan responded with a counter-attack, which led to liberation of several strategic heights and settlements.Military operations were stopped on the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian armies on Apr. 5 at 12:00 (UTC/GMT + 4 hours) with the consent of the sides, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry earlier said. Ignoring the agreement, the Armenian side again started violating the ceasefire.There were calls to suspend military operations and restore the ceasefire in all appeals and statements, said Hasanov.The silence of these structures in the current situation gives grounds to say that the international organizations, especially the OSCE Minsk Group, directed all efforts at ensuring the safety of the separatist regime in Azerbaijan's occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region and war criminals who are this regime's leaders, as well as preserving the status quo in the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Hasanov said."I think that double standards are applied against Azerbaijan in the most blatant form," he said. "Disrespect is demonstrated to the people of Azerbaijan, international law and the principles of justice."Hasanov went on to add that the international community, the OSCE and other organizations should take decisive measures in order to put an end to these actions by Armenia against Azerbaijani civilians.Azerbaijan isn't going to tolerate regular provocations by Armenian leadership and the armed forces of this country, as well as the destruction of settlements, killing of civilians, said Hasanov.If the international community continues to remain silent, Azerbaijan will have to take decisive measures to protect the civilian population and put an end to provocations, he said. From now on, the responsibility for this situation will lie directly on Armenia and those who turn a blind eye to its provocations, Hasanov 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./By Trend/ Zarifa Aliyeva: prominent scholar and careful mother http://www.today.az/news/society/150230.html Society Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:17:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Amina NazarliApril 28 sees 93rd birthday of Zarifa Aliyeva, an outstanding scientist, spouse of national leader Heydar Aliyev, and mother to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.A prominent ophthalmologist and academician Aliyeva, was born in a beautiful and ancient corner of Azerbaijan - Nakhchivan, in 1923.Born and raised in a family of prominent statesman Aziz Aliyev, Zarifa Aliyeva absorbed all the rich values of her family.Aiming to devote herself to the medicine Aliyeva entered in 1942 the Treatment and Prophylaxis Faculty of the Azerbaijan State Medical Institute that she graduated with excellent marks.It is in these years that she met Heydar Aliyev, a young promising officer, who would soon rise through the ranks to become the head of department at the State Security Committee (KGB) and later lead Azerbaijan.Zarifa and Heydar Aliyevs led an exemplary family life. They had two children -- Sevil and Ilham. Zarifa was a great women, who could balance in between her family and her career.She was a prominent scholar, beautiful woman and careful mother.Zarifa Aliyeva could gain love of millions of her compatriots with her intelligence, beauty, and grace. With a deep sense of devotion to her family and country, she dedicated herself to raising her children.PhD in medicine Nubar Hashimova, who is also a doctor at the children's department of the National Center of Ophthalmology, shared her memories about Zarifa Aliyeva in an interview with Day.Az.“Zarifa Aliyeva treated her patients by her intellect, urged by strength of character and supported by kindness. The harmonic combination of these important qualities was her power as a doctor,” Hashimova said, adding that patients were always pleased with the results of her treatment.Hashimova recalled huge merits of Zarifa Aliyeva in the development of national ophthalmology.“Zarifa Aliyeva was not just dreaming about the development of the national ophthalmology, but was quite active to realize this vision,” she believes.In those years, the country had very few national ophthalmic specialists. Exactly that time, in 1960s, trachoma, accompanied by inflammation swollen eyes and blindness, caused a lot of suffering to the people in Azerbaijan.“I myself was a witness of this historical event," she remembers. "In the session of the All-Union Ophthalmological society, Zarifa Aliyeva raised the issue of occupational diseases of vision organs for the first time. Prior to that, no scientist was engaged in it in the USSR.”Zarifa Aliyeva was in the forefront of science and despite many difficulties, she made great strides in a very short time. She applied antibiotic treatment methods developed by herself to treat patients and her efforts were rewarded by highest prize in the field of ophthalmology – Academician M.I.Averbakh Prize. Aliyeva became the first female doctor in the Soviet Union to win the prize.Collecting a wealth of factual materials on the prevention of trachoma, Aliyeva without fear of contacting the disease herself traveled huge distances to examine patients.Aliyeva is an author of a number of valuable research papers, 12 monographs, textbooks and manuals, about 150 scientific works, one invention and 12 rationalization proposals.She is one of the authors of a fundamental book ‘Therapeutic ophthalmology’, which is regarded as a handbook for every ophthalmologist.Zarifa Aliyeva is also one of the scientists having studied development of diagnostics of disease in new direction (change in iris, iridodiagnostics) for the first time and written some scientific articles on this subject. She is one of the authors of unique scientific work ‘Fundamentals of iridodiagnostics’ that is invaluable scientific device to doctors.She was a very intelligent woman with many talents. Zarifa Aliyeva loved music and was highly skilled on playing the piano. She paid great attention and respect for the arts and was a connoisseur of national and world classic music, inveterate theater-goer, and an art connoisseur.Unfortunately, Zarifa Aliyeva could not see the present days of our independent Azerbaijan. She died in the 62nd year of her life. French tourists killing Turkey’s tourism sphere http://www.today.az/news/regions/150229.html World news Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:01:00 +0400 French tourists stopped visiting Turkey that caused serious damage to the country's tourism sphere, Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Mahir Unal said, Turkish Haber7 newspaper reported Apr. 28.France's President Francois Hollande said earlier that an armed confrontation may begin between Turkey and Russia, Unal noted adding that this statement contributed to the fact that the number of foreign tourists arriving in Turkey has decreased.Relations between Russia and Turkey deteriorated after the incident with Russian SU-24 bomber. Following the incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to take measures for ensuring the national security and special economic measures against Turkey.The number of hotel reservations in Turkey has dropped by 13.4 percent in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015, said the message from the country's Touristic Hotels and Investors Association (TUROB).A total of 57.6 percent of hotels were reserved in Turkey in the first quarter of 2015.The country's revenues from tourism totaled $31.5 billion in 2015, or 8.3 percent less than in 2014./By Trend/ 15 detained in connection with Bursa blast http://www.today.az/news/regions/150228.html World news Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:43:00 +0400 A total of 15 suspects were detained as part of nationwide police operation after a deadly blast in Turkey's northwest, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said, according to Anadolu Agency.The detentions came a day after a suicide attack at the entrance of a historic bazaar in Bursa in northwestern Turkey that killed one person."There are strong signs of an organization. [...] There are findings. When the organization is finalized, I will explain, 15 people are in detention. I cannot say which provinces at the moment," Ala told reporters in Ankara ahead of a meeting.Earlier, local police sources said 12 suspects were detained in operation in Bursa, Istanbul, western Afyonkarahisar and southeastern Sanliurfa provinces.The suicide blast injured 20 people at the entrance of a historic bazaar in Bursa, Turkey’s fourth-largest city, on Wednesday afternoon.The Bursa Governor's Office said a female suicide bomber was involved in the attack./By Azertac/ Asia's March Iran oil imports surge 50% http://www.today.az/news/regions/150227.html World news Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:34:00 +0400 Asian imports of Iranian oil in March jumped 50 percent from a year earlier as shipments into India and South Korea have climbed since international sanctions were lifted on Iran's disputed nuclear program, Reuters reported on April 28.The strong exports point to Iran's success in regaining market share in Asia after the sanctions were eased in January.Before 2012, Iran exported around 2 million bpd, with more than half going to Asia, mainly China, South Korea, India and Japan. Tehran has been banned from selling oil to the United States for decades.Iran's oil flows to Europe have also begun to pick up after a slow start though the country has struggled to increase oil exports because many of its tankers are tied up storing crude,some are not seaworthy, and foreign ship owners remain reluctant to carry its cargoes.Imports by Iran's top four buyers - China, India, Japan and South Korea - came to 1.56 million bpd in March, up 49.9 percent from a year ago, government and tanker-tracking data shows.NationMar-16Mar-15 yr/yr pctChina590,830638,600India506,100-Japan198,355266,144Korea264,452135,935Total1,559,7371,040,679India's imports last month totalled 506,100 bpd, the highest in five years, the data showed. The nation's imports from Iran are set to surge to a seven-year high during the fiscal year of 2016/17, industry sources said.South Korea's imports in March fell slightly from a two-year high in February to 264,452 bpd but were still 94.5 percent higher than a year ago. Imports by China and Japan fell from a year ago.The following tables show Asia's Iran crude imports in bpd for last month and the year to date.NationJan-Mar 2016Jan-Mar 2015China511,757547,110India299,200126,000Japan209,871227,990Korea251,088113,911Total1,271,9161,015,011/By Trend/ Azerbaijan sustained itself as icon of tolerance, coexistence – expert http://www.today.az/news/politics/150226.html Politics Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:21:00 +0400 The 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is a very important event and it is important that this event was held in Baku, said Tamerlan Vahabov, a politics and international relations expert, speaking at the discussions held by the Baku International Policy and Security Network think tank."Baku has always been a famous and important part of multiculturalism, of tolerance. We can actually say that being a Muslim country and in this politically hard and difficult region, Azerbaijan has been able to sustain itself as an icon of tolerance and coexistence among cultures and different religions," said Vahabov.He noted that many countries sent their high-ranking representatives to the 7th UNAOC Global Forum and this bolsters Azerbaijan's image as a place for peace."It is very important thing to hold it [the Forum] especially here, in a Muslim country. It can be a great example for other Muslim countries," added Vahabov.He said it is now a very good and great moment to show the world that a Muslim country can be tolerant, can embrace the principles and values of coexistence, and Azerbaijan has been able to demonstrate this by holding such an important event - the 7th UNAOC Global Forum."Azerbaijan has a lot to demonstrate to the world," he said, adding that being a Muslim country, Azerbaijan has a Jewish community represented in the country's parliament, the Russian orthodox church, Catholics, and Protestants."You can see them not only in Baku. You can go to Guba and see the Red Sloboda - the largest Jewish settlement outside Israel in the world. This is an important milestone to show Azerbaijan's multicultural heritage and to share it with the world," he noted.Vahabov added that the Azerbaijani identity is multicultural.He said Azerbaijan is one of the rarest former Soviet republics where Russian language is still preserved."You can still hear it [Russian] in Baku, in the northern parts of Azerbaijan, in Ganja, in the biggest cities of Azerbaijan. And speaking Russian does not necessarily mean something else. I mean people still preserve their heritage, their Azerbaijani identity, they are proud of it. But at the same time they speak Russian," Vahabov said."And this is not just about the people who identify themselves as ethnic Turks, like indigenous people of Azerbaijan, but also [about] the Russians who have lived in Azerbaijan for several generations. They speak their own language - Russian, but at the same time they speak Azerbaijani," he said."And they are Azerbaijanis, I mean these are people coming from different cultural backgrounds, but still sharing the same values. And speaking a language is just the issue of convenience. This is another manifestation of tolerance - it is not only religious, it is linguistic, cultural," added Vahabov./By Trend/ Methanol plant can be transferred to SOCAR http://www.today.az/news/business/150225.html Business Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:58:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Fatma BabayevaSpecialized companies are in the final stage of evaluating the assets of Azerbaijan’s methanol plant AzMeCo, which is necessary for transferring the facility to Azerbaijan’s state state-owned energy company SOCAR in accordance with the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers.Depending on the results of the evaluation, the assets can be handed over to SOCAR, said Suleyman Gasimov, the vice president of SOCAR on economic issues.The need to transfer AzMeCo to the state company SOCAR arose due to the debt the enterprise had to state bank - the International Bank of Azerbaijan.By this means, the government plans to cover the debt in the amount of 344 million manats ($229 million), which the national energy operator Azerenergy owes to SOCAR.Gasimov clarified that the debt of Azerenergy to SOCAR equaled to 416 million manats ($277 million) as of January 2015. However, the state covered this debt with the help of subsidies. Nevertheless, Azerenergy’s new debt in the amount of 314 million manats ($209 million) emerged during 2015. In addition, 30 million manats ($20 million) was added to this debt during the first quarter of 2016.The methanol plant’s transfer to SOCAR will lead to a unified chain of production, which will increase the efficiency of the enterprise, believes Gasimov. The plant will also operate on SOCAR’s gas.AzMeCo is one of the largest investments made in the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan. The enterprise produced methanol from natural gas for the first time in Azerbaijan.The only methanol producing plant in the South Caucasus and Central Asian region, AzMeCo was commissioned in January 2014.The main buyer of the methanol produced at the plant is BP. The produced methanol is mainly sold via Georgian Kulevi port.Currently, methanol is exported to Turkey, Romania, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Belgium.Annual methanol production capacity of the plant amounts to 720,000 tons. The total cost of the project stands at 350 million manats ($233 million).AzMeCo is a part of the PNN companies group which combines oil, gas and petrochemical assets, as well as, a number of retail businesses in Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Turkey. Azerbaijan shares its unique experience of multiculturalism at UN Global Forum in Baku http://www.today.az/news/politics/150224.html Politics Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:30:00 +0400 /By Azernews/By Aynur KarimovaThe 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), which was held in Baku on April 25-27, was of significant importance for Azerbaijan. This event gave Azerbaijan an opportunity to show the world its tolerance and multiculturalism experience gained for many centuries.This event also showed that Azerbaijan, being a Muslim country, is a successful model of peaceful coexistence of different religions and ethnic groups. The Forum also was a very good moment to show the world that a Muslim country can be tolerant and embrace the principles and values of coexistence.Given that 2016 was announced the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan, multiculturalism is a state policy in the country, what has made Baku an ideal place for holding the 7th UNAOC Global Forum.The Forum was attended by over 2,500 guests from 120 countries, including UN member states, political leaders, the representatives of international and regional organizations, donor organizations and funds, private sector, as well as media representatives and academicians.In these three days, the attendees of the Forum on the theme “Living Together in Inclusive Societies: A Challenge and A Goal” discussed the most challenging issues of the today's global world. The Forum has sent a very important message to the world about stopping conflicts, violence and terror, as well as to live in a world without wars, conflicts and intolerance.Experts believe that the Forum gives an opportunity to discuss global issues, to find solutions, as well as to get acquainted with Azerbaijan's realities.Being a Muslim majority country, Azerbaijan is a home to a big Jewish community, to Catholics, Protestants and members of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is a unique example of peaceful coexistence of peoples and it explains why Baku was chosen as the venue for the Global Forum.The Forum has become a very important event, bringing together many cultures, many civilizations, many countries came in Baku, the pearl of the Caspian Sea. It demonstrated once again that tolerance is the symbol of Azerbaijan.The milestone of the Forum was adoption of the Baku Declaration by the group of friends of the Alliance of Civilizations, which envisions peaceful initiatives.According to UN Radio, among the major outcomes from the Global Forum Baku 2016 was the unanimous adoption of the Baku Declaration, a political document that will guide future efforts towards achieving the goals of UNAOC - a body mandated to promote harmony among nations.The Baku Declaration calls for the implementation of the commitments made there so that the governments, with the support of the civil society, can overcome challenges and move forward towards the goals of living together in inclusive societies for sustainable development.“Through the Baku Declaration, the Group of Friends reaffirmed its support to UNAOC and expressed its conviction that UNAOC plays an important role as a global platform for sharing good practices for living together in inclusive societies,” UNAOC High Representative Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said at the closing session.The outcome document condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audiovisual or electronic media or any other means.It also stresses the importance of implementing UNAOC's goals at the national level and supports the High Representative in his efforts, including the advancement of UNAOC programming as an instrument to address conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism.Maltese President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca believes that in order to achieve progress in the world, peoples should live in solidarity, in a society where human rights and freedoms are protected and respected."People are concerned about the growing inequalities. Fear is sowing the seeds of discord. We should keep social inclusion in our hands as a flag. Baku Declaration will promote the principles of justice and equality," she noted.Azerbaijan's main message to the participants of the event was clear: Baku is ready to share its experience of tolerance collected for many decades.Azerbaijan for many years has been a good place where the representatives of various religions, cultures and civilizations coexisted. President Ilham Aliyev said in his speech at the opening of the forum, Azerbaijan is not only a geographic bridge between East and West, but it is a cultural bridge as well.Azerbaijan is a unique land where tolerance and multiculturalism is a main direction in the foreign and domestic policy. Today, Azerbaijan is a multiethnic and multiconfessional country, where the members of all religions and ethnicities live in dignity and peace."This is one of our biggest assets," President Aliyev said. "And we're proud of our history. We are proud of our historical monuments, which reflect the creation of representatives of different cultures."In 2008, Azerbaijan initiated the Baku Process, which further became the broad platform for international dialogue. Azerbaijan is one of the few countries, which is the member of the Islamic Cooperation Organization and the Council of Europe.Next year, in 2009, Azerbaijan hosted the ministerial meeting of the ministers of cultures of the Islamic Cooperation Organization in Baku and invited the ministers of culture of Council of Europe. This was named the Baku Process.Experts believe that this Forum once again approved the increasing prestige of Azerbaijan, its hospitality, its tolerance and multiculturalism experience. By holding this Forum, Azerbaijan once again confirmed its unofficial status of "diplomatic capital of the region" and an important center of intercultural and intercivilizational dialogue. Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) signs global marketing agreement with Dubai based ... http://www.today.az/news/sports/150223.html Sports Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:11:00 +0400 Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) has signed an historic global marketing agreement with Dubai based Events Lab & MMC Sportz.Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) announces the hosting of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games from 12-22 May 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan and the appointment of the Dubai based sports marketing and event management company Events Lab and its joint venture partner MMC Sportz as its exclusive marketing partners.The 4th ISG, scheduled to take place from 12-22 May 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan following the signature of the host city agreement between the ISSF and Azerbaijan in March 2015, expects to have more than 5,000 athletes from all 57 member associations participate in the Games.HE Mr. Faisal Al-Nassar, General Secretary of the ISSF expressed his sincere gratitude to the NOC of Azerbaijan when he stated in his opening remarks that: "We are proud to confirm the readiness for the Games in 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan and we are proud to have such a strong host city for our 4th ISG. Baku has gained tremendous experiences from staging the successful 1st European Games in 2015 and we are sure the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG) will be organized at least on a similar level. We are expecting for the first time more than 5,000 athletes from all of our 57 member associations to compete for medals and honors in 22 distinct sports including of football, handball, basketball, athletics, swimming plus two para sports." More updates will be released following the "1 Year Count Down" in Baku on 12 May 2016.For the 5th ISG in 2021, the planning's have already started and the ISSF has taken a proactive approach by appointing Events Lab and MMC sports as its exclusive sports marketing partners. The Dubai based companies are specialized in sports marketing and events management and will be looking after developing and managing all commercial assets of the ISSF."We have a packed international events schedule for all sports and it is important that the ISSF is looking at the way it has organized the Games in the past to ensure that the concept is still relevant and fulfills its social and sporting objectives," added Al-Nassar. "But with our marketing partnership with Events Lab in place, we are now in a position to actively assist Azerbaijan in the preparations of the 2017 ISG, especially from a marketing and media rights perspective. We have created a new process by establishing pre-selection criteria to invite potential future host city candidates to enter the bidding process with keeping in mind the value that staging the Solidarity Games brings to a city and a country.""For us, the partnership with the ISSF is very prestigious since the ISSF is one of the largest sporting governing bodies in the world and we are honored to sign this ground breaking agreement today," stated Samir Tabbah, Group CEO of Events Lab. "To ensure the project received the highest attention, we have entered into a joint venture with MMC Sportz, which brings a wealth of expertise in dealings with governing bodies and managing commercial marketing and media rights.We have committed to a long term partnership and we are happy to put our resources and expertise forward to help strengthen the cooperation between the ISSF members and to promote the Olympic movement within the Islamic World. The Islamic Solidarity Games are one the key pillar of the ISSF and we are committed to assist in the development of the Games by spreading the general awareness across the globe and by creating a meaningful value platform for all partners and stakeholders and to transform the ISG into one of the leading multi sporting events in the world."A first step of action under this agreement was already taken by the ISSF when it announced the formation of the ISSF Marketing & Broadcasting Commission, a joint commission which is tasked to provide hand-on support to the ISG 2017 organizing committee in Baku and to manage the 2021 ISG Host City Bidding Process."We are excited about Azerbaijan hosting the 2017 ISG as they have proven to be able to stage world class events such as the 2015 European Games but for the Islamic Solidarity Games we suggested a different marketing approach since we are not only dealing with just an international multi-sports event but also with "Islam", explains Eric Gottschalk, CEO of MMC Sportz. "When we presented the commercial framework for the 2017 Games to the organizing committee last month, it was well received since it was budget sensitive, highlighted the on the sensitive task related to "Islam" and outlined several new benefits for the host city in regards to the commercial and media rights approach like the announcement of proposing a presenting partnership category within the sponsorship program and budget sensitive sports specific TV production guidelines" added Gottschalk."Our next big milestone for the ISSF is the launch of the official 2021 Host City Candidate Bidding Process to capitalize on the strong interest to stage the next Games from several countries following the announcement of the ISG in Baku in 2017. The ISG might have a short history compared to other major sporting events but with 57 member federations supporting there is very little doubt in our minds about the potential of any future Games."The ISSF has been in discussion with other marketing companies but decided on the Events Lab / MMC Sportz partnership since it felt that it was important to work with a company that has the credibility and track record to deliver on the long term vision of the federation and also understands its "local" culture. The 2017 ISG in Baku will be the 4th Games organized by the ISSF following the inaugural event in KSA in 2005, followed by Iran in 2009 and Malaysia in 2013./By Azertac/ Breakout Session “Save the Dream: Sports for Peace, Sustainable and Inclusive Development” http://www.today.az/news/sports/150222.html Sports Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:09:00 +0400 The main objective of the session was to raise awareness about the role of sport in intercultural dialogue and to develop the untapped potential of sport for promoting sustainability and inclusiveness. Through their experiences, people from different cultural, social, and religious backgrounds explained how they use sport to empower youth and actively contribute to sustainable and inclusive development. The participants explored how sportmen, athletes, and sport organisations contribute to social inclusion and development through sports, but also how novices found in sport the best tool for education, empowerment and reconciliation. The session also offered concrete opportunities for cooperation on sport related activities amongst the participants of the 7th Global Forum of UNAOC.The session was moderated by Evelyn Watta, Journalist, AIPS.Key questions raised at the session were How can sport be of support to migrants and refugees?; What are the good examples of such experiences? Would it be possible to share good practices on how sport served as a tool for social inclusion and development?; How can we promote the values and dreams imparted by sport to counter the narratives of hatred and mistrust?; How to transfer the values of respect, ethics and social responsibility vehicled by sport to other social activities?Speakers included Elkhan Mammadov, General Secretary of the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA), Christian Karembeu, International Footballer, Honey Thaljieh, co-founder of women’s football in Palestine and the first captain of the Palestinian national team, Ossamah Al Abed Almohsen, Football Coach, Nelsa Curbelo Cora, Municipality of Guayaquil, Ecuador./By Azertac/ More funds can be directed for boosting Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector http://www.today.az/news/business/150221.html Business Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:00:00 +0400 /By Azernews/ By Fatma BabayevaThe Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector will commence allocation of new financial sources to Muslim countries, including Azerbaijan by late 2016 via new Food and Agribusiness Fund.The Fund made a relevant presentation on April 27 within the framework of the inaugural session of the General Assembly of the Islamic Organization for Food Security and VII Conference of the Ministers of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on food security and agricultural development, Trend reported.The ICD mission will visit Azerbaijan in May 2016 with a view to discuss the financing of potential projects in the agricultural sector via the Food and Agribusiness Fund.The authorized capital of the Fund will amount to $600 million. So far, $305 million have been attracted from ICD and three other leading investment institutions of the Islamic world. The remaining part is planned to be obtained by the middle of 2016. Negotiations with financial institutions are being held in this direction.The Fund will fully finance food supply chain and value chain in various agricultural fields such as production of resources needed for the given sector, for example: various chemicals and fertilizers, as well as, infrastructure, services, trade, logistics and others.The Fund will generally focus on optimizing production of the companies operating in the agricultural sector, reduction of waste and inefficiency in logistics.While investing, the Fund will consider several aspects in the targeted country such as investment climate, food and agricultural potentials.The Fund will assist commercial and agro-industrial companies to increase profits and promote the development of the food industry and the agricultural sector.It is worth to mentioning that the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector functions in Azerbaijan since 2003. It mainly finances small and medium-sized enterprises in the country.The corporation is the founder of Azerbaijan leasing company Ansar Leasing and co-founder of the Caspian International Investment Company.What’s more, agrarian sector is of great significance to Azerbaijan for reducing dependence on petrodollars.Developing agricultural sector is one of the main tools for Azerbaijan to diversify its national economy, to boost food security of the population and to increase country’s export potential.Previously, 2015 was declared as a year of agriculture by Azerbaijan’s government, and an action plan was adopted which provided stimulus for the development and modernization of agricultural sector.Agrarian reforms and e-agriculture system has been applied to improve the efficiency and transparency of the sector.The state has set a number of benefits for farmers as well. The producers of agricultural products were exempt from taxes other than for land.Farmers and entrepreneurs have an opportunity to receive loans and seeds on favorable terms.They also can receive fertilizers, equipment and breeding cattle through Agroleasing on favorable terms. Azerbaijan reveals another lie from Armenia http://www.today.az/news/politics/150220.html Politics Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:42:00 +0400 Azerbaijan's foreign ministry has revealed another false statement from Armenia regarding confrontations on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops.Hikmat Hajiyev, spokesman for the Azerbaijani foreign ministry, told Trend April 28 that Yerevan's official statement on damaged done to the civilian population and facilities in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan under Armenia's control, is a lie."There are no civilians in these areas," Hajiyev said./By Trend/ Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 117 times in 24 hours http://www.today.az/news/politics/150219.html Politics Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:20:00 +0400 During the past 24 hours, Armenian armed forces 117 times violated ceasefire on various directions of the contact line between the troops of Azerbaijan and Armenia, said Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry Apr. 28.Armenian military was using 60, 82 and 120-millimeter mortars.Azerbaijani positions located in the village of Gizilhajili and the nameless heights of the Gazakh district, Kohneqishlaq village of the Agstafa district were shelled from the Armenian positions located in Paravakar, Berkaber villages and the nameless heights of Armenia's Ijevan district, Dovekh village of Armenia's Noyemberyan district.Azerbaijani positions located in the villages of Alibayli, Agbulag, Aghdam of the Tovuz district were fired at by Armenians stationed in the villages of Chinari, Mosesgeh of Armenia's Berd district.Azerbaijani army positions located on nameless heights in Azerbaijan's Gadabay district were fired at by the Armenian military stationed on nameless heights in Armenia's Krasnoselsk district.Armenian army also opened fire from positions near Chilaburt, Yarimja villages of the Terter district, Shikhlar, Bash Gervend, Kangarli, Novruzlu, Nemirli, Garagashli, Marzili and Yusifjanli villages of the Aghdam district, Kuropatkino village of the Khojavand district, Garakhanbeyli, Horadiz, Gorgan, Ashagi Seyidahmadli villages of the Fizuli district and Mehdili village of the Jabrayil district.Armenians also opened fire upon the Azerbaijani army positions from nameless heights in the Goygol, Goranboy, Khojavand, Fizuli and Jabrayil districts.Azerbaijani armed forces inflicted 121 strikes upon Armenian positions.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./By Trend/ US, Azerbaijan cooperate as part of socio-economic development project http://www.today.az/news/society/150218.html Society Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:13:00 +0400 Residents of the Ashaghi-Atuj community of Guba district gathered to celebrate the completion of a project to improve the heating system at the local school. They were joined by the representatives of the local Executive Committee and municipality, officials from the Ministry of Economy, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project was implemented by the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) under the Socio-Economic Development Activity (SEDA) co-financed by the governments of the United States and Azerbaijan.The school was built in 1990 and has relied on outdated heating systems, including electric ovens and wood stoves for years, exposing children to toxic fumes and fire hazards. This affected the students' health, their attentiveness to lessons, and their winter attendance.With support from EWMI/SEDA, the community residents worked with their local and regional governments to construct a separate boiler room and install 37 radiators, which now provide a safe and warm classroom environment to 340 children and nearly 40 teachers.To date, EWMI/SEDA has provided more than $1.4 million in funding for 69 projects in 61 communities benefiting more than 94,000 people around Azerbaijan. EWMI/SEDA promotes fuller participation of citizens, civil society organizations and local and central government officials to advance socio-economic development. The project is funded by USAID and implemented with support from the Ministry of Economy and the Council for State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations and with assistance from a local non-governmental organization, UMID./By Trend/ SOCAR ends 2015 without losses http://www.today.az/news/business/150217.html Business Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:00:00 +0400 /By Azernews/ By Fatma BabayevaAzerbaijan’s state owned energy company SOCAR has finalized the year of 2015 without any losses, although the situation was unfavorable for oil producers in the global market.Losses of SOCAR due to the low oil prices could amount to 1 billion manats ($662 million) but the company was able to maintain break-even-budget thanks to its assets in U.S. dollars.The statement was made by Suleyman Gasimov, the company's vice president on economic issues on April 27.The losses were offset, the company’s expenditures were equal to its incomes, Gasimov added.That was achieved through the difference in exchange rates, as the company receives its revenues in foreign currency.The government decided to pass to a floating rate of national currency late 2015, which resulted in the devaluation of manat with regard to major currencies.SOCAR produces oil and gas in Azerbaijan both at the expense of its own funds and together with the foreign partners.The vice president further added that SOCAR is optimizing its business and restructuring its management systems in order to reduce costs. More than 750 actions are implemented in nine departments of SOCAR together with the audit firm Ernst &Young in order to achieve more effective management and to reduce costs. These measures will help the company to save 350-400 million manats ($231- 265 million) in the next one or two years.Currently, the number of SOCAR employees exceeds 52,000 people. As much as 30 percent of its employees are engineers and managerial staff and 70 percent are workers. During the last year, the average salary of the employees of the state-owned companies amounted to 857 manats ($568). So, the salary fund of SOCAR accounts for approximately 20 percent of its costs, he added.Gasimov also said that SOCAR's consolidated debt totaled $6.3 billion. This amount includes company’s domestic debt as well.The debt of the state-owned companies is a sensitive issue and managed by the company in a professional manner, Gasimov said.The vice president emphasized that the amount SOCAR needs to pay off this year is not so much. The main part of this debt are represented in loans allocated for 5, 10 and 15 years.This debt also includes loans from the State Oil Fund which was used for the purchase of share in Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field and construction of the Baku Shipyard and other small loans.In addition, the company received some loans from the International Bank of Azerbaijan.Part of the loans will be covered at the expense of internal funds of SOCAR, and the remaining part by the government, said Gasimov.SOCAR repaid more than $1 billion on loans for the projects in Turkey, said Gasimov adding that additional $400 million of the company's debt were repaid on eurobonds in the beginning of 2016.The vice president on economic issues emphasized that the debt of the company is controlled and managed regularly and does not create any problems to activities in the company.Moreover, SOCAR estimated its income and expenditures at $50 per barrel on average for 2016, Gasimov said adding that oil prices are not only affected by the economic but political factors as well. Azerbaijan has a modest impact on balancing supply and demand in the global market.After the gathering of the top oil producers in Doha, it was expected that oil prices would fall. However, it was not the case.The oil prices is projected to reach the level of $50- $60 in 2016. If it happens, it will be very beneficial for SOCAR, said Gasimov.According to the latest developments in the global oil market, prices of crude oil continues to experience a slight increase.In NYMEX, the cost of the WTI increased by $1.81 to $44.53 on April 27 while the price of the Brent crude raised by $1.70 to $46.33 at the London ICE.The price of Azeri Light crude oil per barrel increased by $0.43 to $46.05 on the global oil market.