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 Journey from the Caspian in Mingachevir http://www.today.az/news/sports/160502.html Sports Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:55:00 +0400 The Journey from the Caspian taking place nationwide in the lead up to Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games arrived at Mingachevir after Shemkir. The event started with the token water from the Kur river in Mingachevir, Baku 2017 reported.During the  Water Ceremony swimming enthusiast Isfandiyar Karimov, World Sambo Wrestling Championship Silver Medal Winner Ayaz Umidaliyev and Republican Greco-Roman Wrestling  Champion among Adolescents Javanshir Qasimov filled a special vessel with the water from the river, which were presented in the Water Festival later in the evening. It should be noted that the Journey from the Caspian launched in Baku will be finalised as a part of the Opening Ceremony of the Islamic Solidarity Games to be held in Baku Olympic Stadium on May 12.Another spectacular project - “Sport Joys – Regional Sport Event” was implemented in Kura Olympic Complex of Mingachevir city within the “Domestic Grassroots” program, late afternoon. Various sport contests were organized to promote  Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games and encourage youth to take up sports. Athlete Ambassador of Baku 2017 IV Islamic Solidarity Games Rasul Ju+nayev was also among the guests.The ceremony continued with the Water Festival held in the Heydar Aliyev Park in the evening hours. With free access to the event, the residents enjoyed the performances of Mirvari Dance Group, Mingachevir Group and Elsevar Mammadov, spectacular water effects and fireworks.“Journey from the Caspian” encompassing the entire Azerbaijan will reach its next destination on April 25 in Gakh town. Second cycling contest held within Baku-2017 http://www.today.az/news/sports/160493.html Sports Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:18:00 +0400 On April 23, 2017 the second cycling contest arranged by Azerbaijan Islamic Solidarity Games Operations Committee (AISGOC) was held among Baku-2017 volunteers.As the first cycling contest attracted large attention, shortly after that it was decided to hold the second one which this time involved 130 volunteers.Enthusiastic Baku-2017 volunteers demonstrated a highly competitive show. Three contestants who finished first in the final phase were proclaimed winners of the competition held nearby Baku Crystal Hall. Volunteer victors Abdurahmanova Aygul, Bakhtiyarov Islam, v? Jumshudov Mirzaagha were rewarded bicycles at the award ceremony.The purpose of the contest was to promote healthy lifestyle, encourage youth’s interest in sports as well as arrange active leisure time for Baku-2017 volunteers. Next winners of "Youth Cup" named http://www.today.az/news/sports/160499.html Sports Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaNext winners of the "Youth Cup", organized by  the ‘IRELI' Public Union and the Youth and Sports Ministry, and devoted to the Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games, were named.The project aims to promote sports, healthy lifestyle, fruitful leisure among youth, as well as to support the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku.More than thousands young people compete in football, basketball, volleyball, chess,  athletics, table tennis, swimming, cycling and other competitions."Texno" team gained the victory in chess tournament. The team "Dangerous" was second, while "Nightmare" ranked third.The team “Dangerous” became first in tennis.  The second place went to “Universal”, while team " Iqtisadçi" ranked third.In volleyball games, teams “Texno” and  “Rixos”  got further on. In basketball, teams “Boomerang” and “?sland” advanced to the next round. In football games, teams “Dangerous” and  “Universal” got further on.A number of competitions within the Cup are broadcasted through radio IR?LI Radio (Iradio.az).For more information, please visit:  www.youthcup.azPartners of the Youth Cup are the Operating Committee, the Youth Fund under the President of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan State Academy of Physical Culture and Sport, Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan Shooting Federation, Azerbaijan Table Tennis Federation, Azerbaijan Orienteering Federation, CJSC "Baku metro".Media partners of the event are Trend.az, Day.az, Milli.az, Azernews.azThe Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games is an exciting multi-sport event uniting the Islamic world, which will take place from 12 – 22 May 2017.Athletes from Islamic countries around the world will be representing their nations over 10 days of competition across 20 different sports which include 23 disciplines (Athletics and Para Athletics, Aquatics – Diving, Aquatics – Swimming, Aquatics – Water Polo, Basketball 3x3, Football, Gymnastics – Artistic, Gymnastics – Rhythmic, Wushu, Table Tennis, Handball, Judo and Blind Judo, Wrestling – Greco, Wrestling – Freestyle, Shooting, Tennis, Volleyball, Boxing, Zurkhaneh, Karate, Taekwondo and Weightlifting) in 16 world-class sporting venues in Baku.Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku was awarded the Games at the General Assembly of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) in Jeddah in July 2013. Baku: The Independent’s anti-Azerbaijani article causes regret http://www.today.az/news/politics/160501.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:42:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Hikmat Hajiyev has commented on an anti-Azerbaijani article published in the UK’s Independent online newspaper Apr. 20.Speaking to Trend on the matter, Hajiyev said that Robert O’Connor, the author of the anti-Azerbaijani article, illegally visited the occupied Azerbaijani territories without the consent and permission of the country.“During his illegal visit, Robert O’Connor by politicizing football and sports in general is trying to promote the regime created in the occupied Azerbaijani territories,” Hajiyev noted. “The article openly demonstrates the one-sided and biased position of the author. It is clear that the author prepared his article for the order of Armenian lobbyists.”The Azerbaijani side, using the right of reply, sent an article reflecting the country’s point of view to the editorial staff of the Independent newspaper April 20, but this article hasn’t been published yet, Hajiyev said.Such behavior contradicts journalism ethics and principles of objectivity, he noted, adding that nevertheless, the Azerbaijani side expressed its stance in a comment posted below O’Connor’s article.Regarding the author’s attempt to politicize sports, Hajiyev said that such international football governing bodies as FIFA and UEFA in their activities are guided by the norms and principles of international law and respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states.In this regard, the Qarabag football club is the legitimate football club representing the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, he noted.It is regrettable that The Independent newspaper published such an article of propaganda nature, he added.The author of the article will be added to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s list of undesirable persons, Hajiyev 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. Baku-2017,Kapital Bank ink Official Partnership Agreement http://www.today.az/news/sports/160500.html Sports Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:42:00 +0400 Baku-2017 Islamic Solidarity Games has signed another Official Partnership Agreement - this time with Kapital Bank - shortly ahead of the Games.Kapital Bank will provide retail banking services during the Games. The Bank will install its ATMs and currency exchange terminals at the Athletes Village to serve spectators, media staff and athletes during Baku-2017 Islamic Solidarity Games.Kapital Bank, serving millions of clients, will largely contribute to 4th Islamic Solidarity Games promotion and widely communicate news to sports fans through its services.Elchin Safarov, Corporate Director of Baku-2017 Operations Committee said: "Kapital Bank is one of the renowned and reliable banks in Azerbaijan. We are delighted that Kapital Bank has joined our team as an Official Partner. We believe that Kapital Bank will make invaluable contribution in promoting news about Baku-2017 4th Islamic Solidarity Games through its clients to all regions of Azerbaijan. Because our goal is to attract maximum possible audience to the Games."   Rovshan Allahverdiyev, Chairman of Kapital Bank's Management Board said: "Recently, a number of international events and remarkable sports tournaments have been held in Azerbaijan. IV Islamic Solidarity Games to be held in Baku later this year is another such event. Kapital Bank feels proud of supporting such a tremendous event. We are confident that Islamic Solidarity Games will be held in the country at the highest level like the First European Games were, and will leave good memories among guests and athletes."Kapital Bank has become the seventh Official Partner of Baku-2017 Islamic Solidarity Games along with AZAL, BP, Microplus, SOCAR, Coca-Cola and Nar Mobile.   The Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games is an exciting multi-sport event uniting the Islamic world, which will take place from 12 – 22 May 2017.Athletes from Islamic countries around the world will be representing their nations over 10 days of competition across 20 different sports which include 23 disciplines (Athletics and Para Athletics, Aquatics – Diving, Aquatics – Swimming, Aquatics – Water Polo, Basketball 3x3, Football, Gymnastics – Artistic, Gymnastics – Rhythmic, Wushu, Table Tennis, Handball, Judo and Blind Judo, Wrestling – Greco, Wrestling – Freestyle, Shooting, Tennis, Volleyball, Boxing, Zurkhaneh, Karate, Taekwondo and Weightlifting) in 16 world-class sporting venues in Baku.Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku was awarded the Games at the General Assembly of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) in Jeddah in July 2013. Baku, Kiev to cooperate in military sphere http://www.today.az/news/politics/160498.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:35:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliAzerbaijan and Ukraine have considered the intensifying of cooperation in the military sphere, as First Deputy to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleg Hladkovski visited the country.During his Baku visit, Hladkovski met with First Deputy Prime Minister Yagub Eyyubov, with whom he mulled the issues of the military cooperation, the Ukrainian ministry reported.“Azerbaijan is an important and promising partner of Ukraine in the field of military-technical cooperation. I am confident that the potential of our countries in the field of military-technical cooperation allows us to strengthen existing cooperation and work towards its development and prospects, especially in the field of aircraft construction,” said Hladkovski.He added that the two countries have considerable experience in developing joint defense developments for the domestic consumer and for foreign markets.Azerbaijan domestically produces various types of small arms and melee weapons, artillery, armored vehicles, various aerial bombs, unmanned aerial vehicles, various types of ammunition for small arms, including small-caliber automatic pistols, optical devices and others.Twenty-eight military factories of Azerbaijan’s Defense Industry Ministry have manufactured 1,160 kinds of defense products so far. Azerbaijan`s defense products are exported to more than 10 countries.Azerbaijan and Ukraine enjoy sustainable prospects of bilateral relations in political, economic, energy, transport and humanitarian fields.  German professor: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved ASAP http://www.today.az/news/politics/160497.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:26:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovThe Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved as soon as possible, the head of the Department of Azerbaijani History at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Professor Eva Maria Auch said as she met with Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs Fuad Huseynov in Baku.Auch hailed the work done by the Azerbaijani Government to solve the problems of refugees and internally displaced persons.Huseynov, in turn, highlighted root causes of the conflict and the current state of the peace talks, refugee and IDP problem in the country, and the successful state policy towards tackling the problems.They also exchanged views on a number of other issues of mutual interest, and emphasized the significance of the activities of the Department of Azerbaijani History at the Humboldt University of Berlin.Books "President's care for refugees and IDPs" and "Khojaly genocide" published by the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs were presented to the guest.Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a lengthy war that ended with signing of a fragile ceasefire in 1994. Since the war, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.While the OSCE Minsk Group acted as the only mediator in resolution of the conflict, the occupation of the territory of the sovereign state with its internationally recognized boundaries has been left out of due attention of the international community for years.Armenia ignores four UN Security Council resolutions on immediate withdrawal from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan, thus keeping tension high in the region. Iran abolishes death penalty for drug trafficking http://www.today.az/news/regions/160496.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:17:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaIran's Parliament has abolished the death penalty for dealers, distributors and traffickers of narcotic drugs, replacing this punishment with lifelong imprisonment.Representative of the Judicial Commission of the Parliament (Majlis) of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Nourozi announced about this while talking to journalists on April 23.Under the changes, the death penalty for non-band drug traffickers and smugglers who were unarmed and had no previous execution or life imprisonment convictions will be converted to 25 to 30 years of imprisonment.In November 2016, Nourozi indicated that there were about 5,000 prisoners between 20 and 30 years old on death row in Iran. Most of these individuals were first-time drug offenders.The Islamic Republic has long been criticized by international community for its death penalties against drug traffickers. Iran executed hundreds of prisoners during 2016, the majority for drugs offences.But, there has been a considerable drop in the number of executions in Iran in recent years. Earlier, the international human rights organization Amnesty International reported that the total number of executions carried out in Iran in 2016 decreased by 42 percent (at least from 977 to 567) compared to the previous year.Even though the death penalty has not been shown to be an effective deterrent for drug-related offences, there has been no progress toward the adoption of a bill to amend mandatory death penalty sentences for these crimes.The UN human rights mechanisms have repeatedly and consistently expressed their great concern at this persistent trend, along with urging the Iranian government to end executions and institute a moratorium on the death penalty altogether. Baku to host pre-party of "Miss Top Model Azerbaijan-2017" http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/160495.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:54:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaBaku`s Legend Karaoke & Lounge will host pre-party of the national beauty contest "Miss Top Model Azerbaijan-2017".The party will be hosted by MC Kez. Guests will enjoy a colorful and vivid concert with participation of saxophonist Farid Aghayev.Baku will host the final of "Miss Top Model Azerbaijan-2017" in mid-May.An online voting has already started on the website of Miss Top Model Azerbaijan.Vote for your favorite contestant here http://www.misstopmodel.az/vote and bring her one step closer to the finale.The finalists include Fidan Aliyeva, Bade Aghayeva, Jeyhuna Aliyeva, Aziza Karimova, Aygun Turkmenova, Bahar Akhmedova, Roya Ibrahimova, Seljan Mirzazadeh.Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/misstopmodel.azInstagram: https://instagram.com/misstopmodel.azMedia partners of the event are Trend.az, Day.az, Milli.az, Azernews.az Total, Iran to ink gas deal as Trump agrees with nuclear pact http://www.today.az/news/regions/160492.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:48:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaIran is going to sign a deal on South Pars gas field’s Phase 11 with Total which will most likely happen in less than a month, Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs and Trade Amir Hossein Zamaninia said.The news comes a few days after U.S. President Donald Trump extended a halt to the implementation of a set of sanctions on Iran, easing concerns by Total that their deal with Iran would be stalled if Trump implemented the sanctions.U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified on April 18 that Iran is complying with the terms of former President Barack Obama's historic deal to roll back its nuclear program. The certification, made to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), extended sanctions relief to Iran.Total was waiting for the settlement of some changes in Washington, which now have happened and the company is continuing the talks, Zamaninia mentioned in an interview with ISNA news agency April 23.Earlier in February, Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Ali Kardor said that Total had launched the planning to build the first pillar of the platform at South Pars Phase 11."A team from Total recently visited Iran…. They have stressed that they will continue their cooperation with Iran," Kardor said.French oil major Total earlier signed a preliminary agreement to help develop the massive field (South Pars Phase 11 (SP11)), becoming the first Western energy investment in Iran since international sanctions were lifted following the JCPOA. The overall cost of the project is estimated to reach $4.8 billion.The company was also involved in the development of Phases 2 and 3 of the project in 2000.Iran plans to increase the gas production level at South Pars, the world's largest gas field, to 530 mcm/d by March 2017, while total gas output of the country is planned to reach about 830 mcm/d.South Pars covers an area of nearly 9,700 square kilometers, with 3,700 square kilometers falling to a share of Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The remaining 6,000 square kilometers are situated in Qatar’s territorial waters.South Pars, divided into 29 development phases, holds 40 tcm of natural gas, or 21 percent of world’s total gas reserves, and 50 billion barrels of condensate.In July 2015, Iran and global powers reached what has been described as a nuke deal, where Iran agreed it would scale down its nuclear program, in return for the crippling economic sanctions being eased and eventually lifted against the oil and gas rich Islamic Republic.After lifting the sanctions, Iran got new possibilities and access to foreign resources which were inaccessible due to the sanctions. Mehriban Aliyeva’s becoming First VP great symbol of women empowerment: OIC http://www.today.az/news/politics/160494.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:32:00 +0400 By  TrendAppointment of first lady Mehriban Aliyeva as the first vice-president of Azerbaijan is a major step forward and a great symbol in promoting the empowerment of women, Yusuf bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said in an exclusive interview with Trend.Empowerment of women is a fundamental objective of the OIC, as stipulated by its Ten-Year Program of Action, according to him.The OIC secretary general said the program represents a model for involving women in the decision-making process in OIC member states.“I wrote the first lady a congratulatory message immediately after her appointment as the first vice-president,” he added. Winners of second Booktrailer festival named http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/160491.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:24:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaThe International Mugham Center has hosted the awarding ceremony of the second Booktrailer Festival in Azerbaijan.Booktrailers are short videos that promote a book or an author, providing a good illustration of the book content.  The project aims at promoting books, supporting and developing creative forms of reading, searching talented young people in cinematography and promoting bookrailers as a part of art and business.The festival, which took place under the slogan "Promote a book, get promoted with a book!" was organized by actor Ruslan Sabirli with support of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Culture and Tourism.The festival was timed to the World Book Day or World Book and Copyright Day, held annually on April 23.“Book is the best friend. How often do we hear these words? In modern life there are a huge number of various sources of information, but nothing can replace a book, a priceless gift to mankind. It's a storehouse of knowledge, a great thoughts and good advice, source of wisdom and conscience.” This was the keynote speech delivered by Ruslan Sabirli.In their speeches, First Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan Vagif Aliyev, MP Ganira Pashayeva, honored art workers Mushfiq Hatamov, Ayaz Salayev and Kanan Mammadov, actress Senuber Iskenderli stressed the importance of the project and wished young people further creative achievements.Later the winners were named.Booktrailers were assessed by each member of the jury individually. In the end, the Organizing Committee summarized the assessment of each jury member.Director of the film Studio "Azerbaijanfilm", honored art worker Mushfiq Hatamov, poet, Secretary for creative affairs at Azerbaijan's Union of Writers Ilgar Fahmi, film director, screenwriter, the founder of the production center “Cinema Evi” Elchin Musaoglu, film critic, writer, film maker Ayaz Salayev, cameraman, honored artist Kanan Mamedov chose the winner of the festival.Thus, the first place went to Elnur Rzayev, who created book trailer on the book by Ramiz Rovshan "Breath". The second place was shared by Emin Hasankhanzadeh (Mushfiq Khan, “O 2”) and Orkhan Adigezalov (Agshin Yenisey, "I Write you a letter").The third place was shared by Galib Mirzaliyev (Azer Elshadoglu, "Night man"), Javidan Alizadeh (Tarana Valid ,"Suicide,) and Veli Mammadov (Sahila Ibrahimova, "Coup").The first place got a prize in the amount of 1000 manats ($ 558), while the winners of the second and third places 800 manats ($446) and 500 manats ($279), respectively.The festival's participants expressed gratitude to the event organizers.The gala evening was hosted actress and radio host Aygun Akif, who appeared in a gorgeous dress from the fashion house  of Gulnara Khalilova.Media partners of the event are Trend.az, Day.az, Milli.az, Azernews.az "Armenian genocide: real history or historical lie" conference kicks off in Baku http://www.today.az/news/politics/160490.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:18:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovA scientific and practical conference "Armenian genocide: real history or historical lie" kicked off in Baku on April 24.Representatives of various state structures, MPs and foreign participants attended the conference organized by the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons.In his remarks at the event, Secretary of the State Commission on Ismayil Akhundov highlighted the goal of the conference and the issues to be discussed at the event.Chairman of Turkey's Talat Pasa Committee Ali Erdinc, addressing the event, delivered a lecture on "What actually happened on April 24, 1915" Response to Armenian lies, and the importance of Azerbaijan-Turkey relations in this regard".He said that the committee aims to reveal the groundless Armenian claims and increase the world community`s awareness of realities in order to ensure territorial integrity and national security of Turkey and Azerbaijan.“We must fight against Armenian lies, hindering the development of Turkey and Azerbaijan, otherwise it will increase,” he said.Erdinc reminded that during 1915-1918 Armenians killed tens of thousands of innocent people in Van, Istanbul, Erzurum and other cities of Turkey, as well as in Baku and other Azerbaijani territories.“We need to inform the world community about these atrocities of the Armenians and not give them the opportunity to deceive the world community by hiding their criminal acts,” he noted.The Armenians committed genocide of the Azerbaijanis in the beginning of the 20th century. This genocide was carried out with extreme violence in Baku, Shamakhi and Guba counties, as well as in Karabakh, Zangezur, Nakhchivan, Lankaran and other regions of Azerbaijan. Armenians killed many civilians in these areas, burned and razed to the ground villages and destroyed Azerbaijani monuments of national culture.Azerbaijani MP Isa Habibbayli, in turn, noted that Azerbaijan has always fought and continues to fight against Armenian lies. “The basis of work in this direction was laid by national leader Heydar Aliyev, and today it is continued by President Ilham Aliyev,” he said.Habibbayli noted that today Armenians continue to spread lies and it is necessary to strengthen work on the fight against Armenian lies.The Armenians falsify history and include a part of Anatolia and other territories in the map of ‘Great Armenia’. “Therefore, we, Azerbaijani and Turkish scientists, should jointly fight against falsifications of the Armenians,” the MP said.Former Ombudsman of Moldova Aurelia Grigoriu, in turn, noted that Armenia is a mono-ethnic state and it does not want to see representatives of other nations in the country.“Therefore, the topic discussed today is important not only for Azerbaijan, Turkey and the Turkic peoples, but is also relevant for all peoples of the world. Armenians actively use foreign media for spreading false propaganda,” she said.Head of Department of the Presidential Library, PhD in History Nazim Mustafa, senior research fellow of the Center for Strategic Studies Araz Gurbanov, Professor of the Institute of Oriental Studies, PhD in History Solmaz Rustamova-Tohidi and others also addressed the conference.Many historians, scholars, experts announced that the hundred-year-old lie, the so-called ‘Armenian genocide’ contradicts historical facts. Ever since Armenia came out shouting ‘genocide’, no real investigation into such allegations has ever been carried out although Turkey proposed Armenia to open its military archives and investigate the issue. Moreover, there have been many accounts which actually disproof Armenia' stance. Tax amnesty covers roughly 70,000 taxpayers http://www.today.az/news/business/160488.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:54:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Sara IsrafilbayovaTax debts of 69,329 taxpayers in the amount of 728 million manats were unconditionally written off in the first quarter of 2017 in accordance with the bill "On regulation of tax debts of taxpayers on January 1, 2017".The Taxes Ministry reported that the volume of tax debt to the state budget of Azerbaijan decreased by 393 million manats in the first quarter of 2017.The total volume of debt of 39.880 taxpayers was 1.5 billion manats as of January 1, 2017, but the figure decreased to 1 billion manats [of 41.352 taxpayers] as of April 1, the ministry said.In the first quarter of the year, 35.542 taxpayers had new debts amounting to 251 million manats, and 34.070 taxpayers had forgiven debts equaled to 644 million manats.Financial sanctions in the amount of 13.761 million manats were written off for 4.428 taxpayers in exchange for the payments amounting to 8 million manats made in January-March 2017.The bill "On regulation of tax debts of taxpayers on January 1, 2017" was developed on the initiative of the president and approved by the parliament.The bill covered two types of tax debts: the first article of the bill envisages cancellation of all interest accrued for non-payment of debt, and the second article - writing-off of the financial sanctions.Under the document, in case of repayment of one third of the financial sanctions during January 2017, remaining 70 percent would be written off. In case of repayment of half of tax sanctions during January-February, other 50 percent would be written off, while if 70 percent of financial sanctions during repaid in January-March, remaining 30 percent would be written off. Professor: Azerbaijan enjoys strong potential in non- oil sector http://www.today.az/news/business/160489.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:27:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Sara IsrafilbayovaThe diversification of the energy-based economy is a key condition for oil producing nations, and energy-rich Azerbaijan has achieved tangible results its intentions to abandon the energy sector as the main driver of economy. The ongoing global economic crisis affected Azerbaijan’s economy, decreasing income and leading to a 10.1% devaluation of the national currency during the past year.To ensure more sustainable development and achieve diversification, the state approved strategic road maps, while comprehensive structural, institutional, monetary, financial reforms have continued and tax and customs management has improved.The non-oil industrial production in the country increased by 5 percent in 2016.  In the first three months of 2017, the non-oil sector of the economy increased by 2.4 per cent. Growth in the non-oil industry has been at the level of 2 per cent, agriculture has increased by 3.5 per cent.Now almost 70 percent of the GDP comes from outside of the oil industry.A Professor of the University of Siegen Petra Moog, who was in Baku,  said that she got closely acquainted with most manufacturers performing in Azerbaijan and obtained detailed information about the country’s economy within her trip to Azerbaijan.She said Azerbaijan has a strong economy and non-oil export is being developed in the country rapidly.Overall, average annual growth of non-oil industry of Azerbaijan in 2017-2020 years is expected at 7.4%.The growth of the non-oil sector in the future and economic diversification allows to reduce not only Azerbaijan’s dependence on the oil sector, but also its resulting vulnerability to adverse international oil price fluctuations. WIPO: Azerbaijan needs comprehensive measures to combat software piracy http://www.today.az/news/business/160487.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:13:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovAzerbaijan needs to take comprehensive measures to combat piracy in the software market, Deputy Director of the Copyright Infrastructure Division of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Dimiter Gantchev told Trend on April 23.He said that the mere adoption of legislative acts is not enough for the regulation of this problem. First and foremost, there is a need to carry out much educational work with end-users of software solutions for them to have an idea about the issue of copyright protection, Gantchev noted.“That is, this information should go to the masses, to all sectors of society. Secondly, there is a need for an active policy on legislative regulation and accordingly the coordination of the activities of legislature and law enforcement. Thirdly, in my opinion, it is necessary to have information, that is there should be statistics to have evidence,” said Gantchev.The piracy level in the software market of Azerbaijan amounted to 84 percent in 2015, according to the study by BSA (Business Software Alliance) - Global Software Survey 2016. However, there has been a steady improvement of the situation in recent years. In 2009, the piracy rate in the country was 88 percent, in 2011 – 87 percent, and 85 percent in 2013.Gantchev said that the system of intellectual property protection is developing in Azerbaijan, and the country, being an active member of the WIPO, takes an active part in the elaboration of new international norms.“I see progress in all directions in Azerbaijan and we take this into account. It’s always nice to see that the country takes seriously the aspects of international law and applies them at the national level. I believe that Azerbaijan has achieved very good results in this matter, and this success can be proud of,” Gantchev said.He added that WIPO assists its members in developing the national strategy and its implementation.“Azerbaijan can count on the help of WIPO, which is ready to assist in this, being confident that the country really wants to turn this into a strategic direction,” Gantchev noted.Azerbaijan is now on route to increase sales of licensed software, which will inevitably lead to changes in consumer behavior. The Center for Intellectual Property Rights under the Azerbaijan's Copyright Agency regulates the issuance of control marks for the objects subject to copyright.Overall, the fight against piracy in the software industry is expected to truly influence the business environment of Azerbaijan in the future.  State Commission: Azerbaijanis hostages in Karabakh have health problems http://www.today.az/news/politics/160486.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovDilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, two Azerbaijanis who are kept hostages by Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, are experiencing health problems, said Eldar Samadov, the deputy head of the working group of Azerbaijan's State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons.Samadov said that the State Commission discussed the issue [health state of the hostages] in detail with the international organizations."Representatives of the organizations noted that they will conduct the necessary monitoring on this issue, and even invite international doctors, who will check the health condition of the hostages," Samadov told Trend.Samadov further said that the State Commission continues to work towards the release of the hostages.Asgarov and Guliyev were detained by the Armenian armed forces in July 2014 while visiting their native places and graves of loved ones in the occupied Azerbaijani Kalbajar region. Moreover, Armenian forces killed the third Azerbaijani citizen Hasan Hasanov.Later, Guliyev and Asgarov were judged illegally by the unrecognized courts of a separatist regime in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Following an expedited “judicial process” in December 2015, Asgarov was sentenced to life imprisonment and Guliyev to 22 years. Attempts of Azerbaijan to provide justice and to free its citizens are still unsuccessful.Meanwhile, Shahbaz Guliyev’s brother Ilham told Azvision that the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will visit Dilgam and Shahbaz in the near future.He added that Shahbaz’s family has sent a letter to him with the help of the ICRC some days ago.“They said that the letter will be handed over to him at the meeting and they will also deliver his letter to us. Since then, we have received no information about my brother,” Guliyev said.Azerbaijan’s State Committee on Affairs of Refugees and IDPs, the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons and other agencies have repeatedly urged international organizations, including the ICRC, to assist in release of Guliyev and Asgarov, whilst the problem remains topical yet.Azerbaijan, whose over 4,000 citizens were taken captive, hostage, or went missing as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, has repeatedly declared its readiness to begin negotiations with Armenia to free the captives and resolve the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.However, the Armenian side keeps ignoring all attempts of Azerbaijan and international organizations, thereby disrespecting the international law and hindering the settlement of the conflict. Francophonie Weeks end with presentation of gastronomic delights http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/160485.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:45:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliThe closing ceremony of the Francophonie Weeks, presenting cultural creativity and diversity of Francophone countries, took place in Baku on April 22.The event featuring gastronomic delights of Francophone countries was attended by famous cultural and art figures, representatives of diplomatic missions accredited in the country.French Ambassador to Azerbaijan Aurelia Bouchez, addressing the event, expressed gratitude to all the guests of the event and all the partners for the assistance and support.She noted that about 30 events were organized during the three weeks of the Francophonie Weeks in Baku. The program included screening of films, exhibitions and other events that aroused great interest of the public.The closing ceremony also announced winners of various contests and quizzes, organized within the framework of the Francophonia Weeks, who were also awarded.The evening continued with a gastronomic program. Guests tasted various dishes, which allowed get familiarize and learn about the gastronomic traditions of the French-speaking countries. The music program, performed at the event gave a special atmosphere to the evening.Between April 1 and 22, the Embassies of Belgium, France, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Morocco, Mexico, Romania and Switzerland jointly celebrated French language and Francophonie holiday.Overall, the days of French language and culture are annual spring event in Azerbaijan that brings French-speaking people together.The International Organisation of La Francophonie was created in 1970. Its mission is to embody the active solidarity between its 80 member states and governments (57 members and 23 observers), which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of over 890 million people, including 220 million French speakers. Azerbaijan’s national dresses on show in Tashkent http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/160484.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:38:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijan’s national clothing, inherent to the Karabakh region, has been shown in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.The fashion show was held as part of the traditional exhibition of fine arts opened in the Academy of Arts, Trend Life reported.The event was co-organized by Azerbaijan Cultural Centre and the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Tashkent.Students of Tashkent State Institute of Arts and Design presented to the audience a collection of colorful outfits.Uzbek models showed stunning wedding, ceremonial and other dresses of the 17th-19th centuries, clothes of Azerbaijani noblewomen from the Karabakh khanate, while mugham "Karabakh Shikastasi" sounded at the background.A dance ensemble "Azerbaijani girls" performed a scene from the operetta "The Cloth Peddler" by composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. During the performance, ladies wore beautiful national silk headscarfs- kelaghayi.The Azerbaijani cultural center named after Heydar Aliyev and the Azerbaijani Embassy in Uzbekistan regularly implements projects to popularize the Azerbaijani applied art, national clothes, carpets and kitchens, including inherent to Karabakh, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan. ADB OKs $80M loan for Uzbek railway electrification http://www.today.az/news/regions/160483.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:23:00 +0400 By  TrendThe Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an $80 million loan for the electrification of 145 kilometers (km) of railway in Uzbekistan, linking the cities of Pap, Namangan, and Andijan.The Bank reported that the electrified track is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor 2, a critical transport link in the region.The project will facilitate direct and efficient operation of both freight and passenger train services linking major cities in the Fergana Valley - home to nearly a third of Uzbekistan’s population - with Tashkent, the country’s capital, the message said.The project will help improve transport connectivity and encourage growth and job creation in the Fergana Valley.The total project cost is estimated at $177.45 million, with O’zbekiston Temir Yo’llari (UTY) - the public railway company - and the Uzbek government contributing $97.45 million.ADB’s investment will finance supervision consultants, procurement of plant, procurement of maintenance equipment and machinery, and procurement of materials for external power supply.Uzbekistan joined the ADB in 1995. Crude prices recover lost ground http://www.today.az/news/business/160482.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:04:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Gunay CamalCrude prices recovered lost ground on April 24 following big losses last week, driven by expectations that OPEC will extend a pledge to cut output to cover all of 2017, although a relentless rise in U.S. drilling capped gains.U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures added 32 cents, or 0.64 percent, by 0649 GMT, but were still just below the $50 mark pierced on Friday at $49.84 a barrel, Reuters reported. Brent crude futures rose 35 cents, or 0.67 percent, to $52.31 per barrel.The price of OPEC’s basket of 13 crudes stood at $49.99 a barrel on Apr. 21, compared to $50.48 on April 20, the cartel said in a message on its website.The oil prices fell on the back of stubbornly high crude supplies, despite a pledge by the OPEC and some other producers to cut production by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) for six months from January 1 to support the market.The fall was also supported by the report of the US Baker Hughes company about the growing number of drilling rigs in the country. The number of drilling rigs in the U.S. has increased by 1.18 percent and stood at 857 over the working week ending on April 21. This figure has increased by 98.8 percent per annum.Baker Hughes estimates that during the reporting period, the US saw a 0.73 percent increase in the number of oil drilling rigs, while the number of gas drilling rigs has increased by 3.08 percent.Meanwhile, with a view to halt a further decline in prices, some OPEC states and other allied producers has recommended an extension of output cuts by another six months from June. Expanding cooperation in business between UAE, Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/business/160479.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:46:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliAzerbaijan’s Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev has visited Dubai, as business leaders from Azerbaijan and the UAE gathered in the financial capital to discuss opportunities to invest in Azerbaijan and boost business relations between the two countries.The business delegation led by Mustafayev attended the 6th meeting of the Azerbaijan-UAE intergovernmental commission for trade, economic and technical cooperation in Dubai on April 21.Mustafayev, addressing the event, said that Azerbaijan is ready to open a trading house in the UAE and appoint a trade representative there.The minister noted that Azerbaijan can supply a number of agricultural products to the UAE – hazelnuts, tomatoes, persimmons, apples, sour and sweet cherries, cucumbers, tobacco, chocolate, grapes and others – as well as industrial products – aluminum plates, pipes and other goods.Sectors in Azerbaijan, which presented opportunities for foreign investment included agriculture, ICT, trade, education and other areas.Mustafayev said that there is great potential to develop cooperation effectively using the existing opportunities.The United Arab Emirates has invested $778.1 million in the Azerbaijani economy so far, the minister said adding that Azerbaijan has invested $284.4 million in the UAE. Over 255 UAE companies operate in Azerbaijan.The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the UAE declined by 3 percent over the year. Nevertheless, exports from Azerbaijan to the UAE increased by over twofold in the same period.Mustafayev recalled that the Baku-Dubai and Baku-Sharjah flights are currently being operated, while there is also a plan to launch the Baku-Abu Dhabi flight.The minister stressed that after simplifying the visa regime and introducing the ASAN Visa system, the number of tourists from the UAE visiting Azerbaijan in the past two years increased by 30 times.In turn, UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori supported the idea of exporting Azerbaijani products to his country and noted that he would also support the opening of Azerbaijan’s trading house in the UAE and the appointment of a trade representative.The minister added that the UAE attaches special importance to cooperation with Azerbaijan.After the meeting, the two sides signed a protocol that provides for expansion of cooperation in communications and high technologies, alternative energy, industry, culture, tourism, transportation, trade, investments, agriculture, environment and other areas.Within the framework of visit, a delegation of Azerbaijani entrepreneurs led by Mustafayev also had a meeting with the management of DP World Company in Dubai, said the Azerbaijani Economy Ministry.The Azerbaijani delegation was informed about the work carried out by the DP World Group in the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in the Alat township of Baku’s Garadagh district. The sides discussed the general plan on construction of industrial and logistics infrastructure, development concept of the free trade zone and other issues.Measures on creation of a free trade zone type special economic area covering the territory of the Baku International Sea Trade Port in the Alat township of Baku’s Garadagh district was inked by a presidential decree on March 17, 2016.In September 2016, the Azerbaijani government and Dubai Port World (DP World), one of the world’s major port operators, signed an agreement on provision of consulting services for the creation of the FTZ.During the visit, the Azerbaijani delegation also met with the management of VPS Healthcare Company.Mustafayev recalled that currently, two medicine plants are being built in Azerbaijan’s Pirallahi Industrial Park, which specializes in pharmaceutics.The minister noted that negotiations are also underway with other medicine producers.Recalling that the Azerbaijan Investment Company (AIC) and VPS Healthcare signed a memorandum of understanding in February, Mustafayev said that the groundbreaking ceremony of a joint pharmaceutical plant will be held in the near future.Moreover, a business forum, which was attended by entrepreneurs of Azerbaijan and the UAE operating in the spheres of industry, agriculture, construction, finance, tourism and others, was also held in Dubai. The Azerbaijani delegation invited the UAE businessmen to invest in priority spheres of the Azerbaijani economy, such as industry, agriculture, IT and tourism.Then the Azerbaijani delegation visited the Lulu supermarket chain and met with the company’s management. Participants of the meeting discussed the issues of cooperation and sale of Azerbaijani products in the company’s trade facilities located in the UAE and Gulf countries. It was noted that Azerbaijani products are in great demand in the UAE and some Azerbaijani goods, are already sold in Lulu supermarkets.Azerbaijani entrepreneurs also visited the Union Coop chain of supermarkets and met with its management. During the meeting, the possibility of selling Azerbaijani products, especially fruits and vegetables, in Union Coop supermarkets was discussed. Representatives of the company noted that certain Azerbaijani products, which are in great demand in the UAE, are already sold in these supermarkets. Belarusian envoy: Lapshin has no relation with Armenia http://www.today.az/news/politics/160481.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:32:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovFears abound in Armenia that the Lapshin case may serve as an example for others and obstacle their plans to organize future visits to the Armenia-occupied territories of Azerbaijan.Alexander Lapshin will stand trial in Baku for his illegal visits to the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. He was arrested in Minsk in late 2016 and transferred to Baku in February 2017.The detention of the blogger and his extradition to Azerbaijan were the subject of heated debate and protests in Armenia.Belarusian Ambassador to Armenia Igor Nazaruk, talking to Armenian correspondent on April 23, once again stated that blogger Lapshin has no relation with Armenia. “You continue to persistently ask about the man who has no relation with Armenia. He is a citizen of several states, but he doesn’t have the citizenship of Armenia," Nazaruk told the reporter.The diplomat added that therefore he “cannot discuss one of the 7.5-billion population and pay him such attention.”Nazaruk then didn’t want to continue the conversation with the reporter and went away.Earlier, at the meeting with Armenia's Ambassador to Belarus Armen Khachatryan, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated that the issue of detention and extradition of Lapshin is none of Armenia's business.The blogger, who owns citizenship of Russia and Israel, illegally visited Azerbaijan`s Armenia-occupied lands and now is charged under the articles 281.2 (appeals directed against state) and 318.2 (illegal border crossing) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. He violated Azerbaijani laws on state border in April 2011 and October 2012.Helped by his accomplices in the occupied territories, Lapshin paid a number of visits to Azerbaijan`s occupied lands, where he voiced support for "independence" of the illegal regime, and made public calls against Azerbaijan`s internationally recognized territorial integrity on April 6 and June 29, 2016. BSE in talks with companies over first IPO http://www.today.az/news/business/160477.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:23:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaCurrently a large number of companies in Azerbaijan are physically ready for holding an initial public offering (IPO), and the Baku Stock Exchange is working with them.Acting Chairman of BSE Management Board Vugar Namazov made the remark in an interview with Trend."But at present, our companies have wrong attitude towards an IPO. For them, this is a sale of property to which one can resort only at the last moment," he said.Namazov reminded that getting listed on a stock exchange is not only about raising funds – it also greatly promotes a company. “I know there are companies that understand this," Namazov added.He said the Baku Stock Exchange is actively working with a number of companies that are going to enter the debt instruments market and that there are those interested in issuing shares."I believe it is not long before this happens, as a stable legal and technical basis has been formed for holding an IPO in Azerbaijan," he noted.An IPO is the first time that the stock of a private company is offered to the public. IPOs are often issued by smaller, younger companies seeking capital to expand, but they can also be done by large privately owned companies looking to become publicly traded.Earlier Namazov said that the first IPO in Azerbaijan can be completed in the near future.The IPO of five strategically important companies of the country is envisaged in one of the "Strategic Road Maps" approved in late 2016.Public placement of shares in Azerbaijan at different times was considered by such companies as Embawood and GoldenPay. Azersun Holding recently announced about such plans as well. FM Mammadyarov leaves for Lithuania http://www.today.az/news/politics/160476.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:15:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has left for an official visit to Lithuania, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported on April 24.Within the framework of the visit, Mammadyarov will meet with his Lithuanian counterpart Linas Linkevicius and other government officials.During the talks, the sides will discuss prospects of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Lithuania. FM: Cooperation within Azerbaijan-Turkey-Russia format to strengthen stability in region http://www.today.az/news/politics/160475.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:00:00 +0400 By  TrendThe cooperation within the trilateral Azerbaijan-Turkey-Russia format can strengthen the stability in South Caucasus region, said Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.The minister’s remarks came as a response to the question of Elkhan Alasgarov, PhD, head of the expert council of the Baku International Policy and Security Network (Baku Network), Deputy Director General of Trend news agency on the sidelines of the Russian Press Council Conference that is underway in Alanya Apr. 23-26.Cavusoglu noted that Turkey has high level relations with Azerbaijan and good relationship with Russia.He expressed confidence that the trilateral Azerbaijan-Turkey-Russia format will be a positive example of cooperation between the three countries.Currently, there are a number of trilateral formats in the region: Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Iran and Azerbaijan-Turkey-Turkmenistan.Earlier, during the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia could form a trilateral mechanism of cooperation, adding that there is quite a positive attitude to this both in Moscow and Ankara. Azerbaijani judo fighter crowned European champion http://www.today.az/news/sports/160480.html Sports Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:47:00 +0400 By  Azertac Azerbaijan`s Elkhan Mammadov has claimed gold in the men`s 100kg weight category at the European Judo Championships in Warsaw, Poland.Azerbaijan ranked second in the overall table with two gold and three bronze medals. Turkish FM to visit Uzbekistan http://www.today.az/news/regions/160473.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:41:00 +0400 By  TrendTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will pay an official visit to Uzbekistan on April 25, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry reported .Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is expected to receive the Turkish foreign minister.In addition, the Turkish delegation will hold talks in the Senate (the upper house) of the Uzbek Parliament, the ministries of foreign affairs and foreign trade. Turkey ups visa-free stay for Russians to 90 Days http://www.today.az/news/regions/160470.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:34:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has announced the possibility of extending the term of visa-free stay for Russian citizens in Turkey."The period of visa-free stay for Russians in Turkey will be increased from 60 to 90 days," Cavusoglu said at a conference of the Russian Press Council held in Alanya, Anadolu reported.Previously, Cavusoglu announced that Ankara had begun negotiations with Russia regarding passport-free travel, saying that Turkey will be installing devices in airports with capabilities to read the identification cards of Russian citizens.Russia has been the second largest source of foreign tourists visiting Turkey, but the number of Russian tourists began to decline after a diplomatic crisis between the two countries in late 2015.Russia had imposed a number of economic sanctions, including the suspension of visa-free travel, on Turkey at the beginning of last year in response to the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber.Relations were normalized this June and July through a letter and subsequent telephone calls between the countries’ leaders. Since then, increasingly Turkey and Russia relations have become normalized.This year, Turkish tourism sector expects to receive about five million tourists from Russia.In March 2017, a number of documents in the sphere of tourism were signed in Moscow following the talks between Turkish Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Huseyin Yayman and Head of the Federal Agency for Tourism of Russia (Rosturizm) Oleg Safonov. SOFAZ invests more in shares http://www.today.az/news/business/160469.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:23:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Sara IsrafilbayovaThe total volume of Azerbaijan’s oil fund SOFAZ investment portfolio amounted to $33.2 billion as of April 1, 2017, or 99.98 percent of total assets.In the first quarter of 2017, 12.9 percent of the investment portfolio of SOFAZ was invested in shares, while last year this figure was 12.2 percent.SOFAZ said that some 88 percent of the investment portfolio was invested in financial instruments for a period of up to five years, of which 39.1 percent of the fund’s investment portfolio was placed for a period of up to one year, 28.8 percent from - one to three years, 20.1 percent - from three to five years, 12 percent - more than five years, and 21.1 percent of are invested in real estate, stocks and gold.Currently, about 3.6 percent of the investment portfolio is invested in gold, 4.6 percent – in real estate, 12.9 percent – in shares.The geography of the SOFAZ assets allocation is as follows: 41.8 percent - in European countries, 24.2 - percent in North America, 3.5 percent - in Australia, 26.9 percent - in the Pacific Rim, 0.1 - percent in the Middle East, 0.1 percent - in South America, 3.4 percent - in international financial organizations.SOFAZ assets increased by 0.18 percent compared to the beginning of the year, and amounted to $ 33.207 billion as of April 1, 2017.SOFAZ was established under the Presidential Decree, dated December 29, 1999, "On Establishment of the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan". The main purpose of the establishment of the Fund was to preserve and multiply the income derived from oil, create an excellent economic base, taking into account social needs, the requirements of economic progress and development of the country.There are several funds in the world similar to SOFAZ. Experience of those funds was used as the reference point alongside with local peculiarities and present needs when the Fund was established. A single model equally accommodating the point of accumulation of oil revenues for future generations and utilization of revenues for the solution of the problems of present generation was selected. Self-development for a happy life http://www.today.az/news/interesting/160466.html Weird / Interesting Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:09:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Sara IsrafilbayovaSelf-development is an integral aspect of the harmonious and full-fledged improvement and formation of a personality. Self-development is relevant at any age and in any way of life.People who spend enough time to work on self-enhancement better understand themselves and others, clearly understand their goals and know how to reach them. Growing personally you move forward, discover new horizons, feel happier. However, not always the path of personal growth is associated with joy and pleasant.People get used to their way of life, for this reason they are not capable as if by magic, rebuild it and begin to change for the better. The transition to new habits and new order requires such qualities as willpower, character, determination, focus on goals, ability to make decisions and bear responsibility for them.Thinking about self-development, you have already taken the first step towards improving yourself.But it is not enough.Taking the path of self-development, you must first understand yourself and understand which side you should move to.On your journey to a better you, recognize that self-improvement begins with self-awareness. Knowing yourself, your habits, your motives and your values will make it easier to transform your problem areas. Taking a good look at yourself from within will help you to realize who you truly are.To live successfully, be endlessly curious about all the possibilities your future holds. Curiosity inspires you to push through the unusually painful trials in life, business and relationships leading you through uncertainty. It is through these times you become a deeper, stronger person. This type of resiliency is an acquired self-discipline. It teaches you to cast fears aside, bringing you into the fullest experiences that life can bring.Curiosity creates a longing to know more, do more and be more. It inspires that energy which makes it possible to see all situations as opportunities for advancement. Without a sense of curiosity it is impossible to grow.Most likely you know that thoughts are material. So, begin thinking in the right and positive way. Better yet, if you think of something as an already accomplished fact. For example, if you dream of a house, imagine that you already look out of the window of your new house.It often happens that a person realizing the necessity to perform specific important cases, ignores this necessity and deflects his attention to everyday trivia or entertainment. Each of us at least once in life did so. But we even have no idea how much it leads us away from our goals. STOP PROCRASTINATING!In order to alleviate the situation you can draw up a personal development plan. It is a process that consists of defining what is important to you, what you want to achieve, what strengthens you and which unfulfilled dreams you have and now ready to accomplish. Define your goals, develop new skills, take action!Exercises like this can help you to get more clarity about goals that are the most important to you and to create realistic strategies for how you will achieve them.Follow your dreams, be the better version of yourself everyday and remember Benjamin Disraeli’s words: “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.” Azerbaijani and Italian classical music to sound in Baku http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/160471.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:05:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijan’s State Philharmonic Hall will host concert of Azerbaijani and Italian classical music.The concert, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries will take place on April 28, Report.az reported.Soprano Farida Mammadova, baritone and counter-tenor Ilham Nazarov, tenor Adil Akhundov will perform classical works by G.Puccini, G.Verdi, C.Monteverdi, K.Alizade and others.The State Symphonic Orchestra will be conducted by Pierluigi Destro.The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on May 8, 1992. The first embassy of Italy among the Southern Caucasian republics was opened in Azerbaijan in 1997 and the embassy of Azerbaijan to Italy has been functioning since 2003.Azerbaijan is an important economic partner of Italy. Italian companies operate successfully in Azerbaijan, particularly, in the energy sector.In 2016, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Italy amounted to $1.89 billion decreasing by 33.5 percent as compared to 2015. Italy, which has been ranking first among major trade partners of Azerbaijan during eight years, was the third in late 2016.However, in early 2017, Italy again became the leader among Azerbaijan’s trade partners. According to Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee, the two countries’ trade turnover amounted to $461.5 million in January-March 2017, increasing by 41.4 percent as compared to the 1Q2016. Mstislav Rostropovich Festival opens in Baku http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/160467.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:50:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaThe 9th International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival has solemnly opened in Baku.The festival is co-organized by Azerbaijan`s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in accordance with the Azerbaijani President's executive order on celebration of the 90th anniversary of the world-renowned cellist.Prominent art and public figures, representatives of diplomatic missions attended the opening ceremony, Trend Life reported.Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfaz Garayev, addressing the event, said that the festival, which is traditionally held with the participation of world-famous musicians, conductors and ensembles, is an important event in the cultural life of the country.The eldest daughter of the maestro, festival's artistic director Olga Rostropovich expressed her gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev, First Vice-President of Azerbaijan, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva and the Culture and Tourism Ministry for their support in organizing the festival."Baku is one of my favorite cities. Every time I come here, I fall in love with this city. The festivals, dedicated to the 90th anniversary of Mstislav Rostropovich have been held in Russia, USA, France, and today this significant event kicks off in Azerbaijan. The legacy of Mstislav Rostropovich unites hearts, people and countries", said Olga Rostropovich.Further, Azerbaijan’s State Symphony Orchestra, conducted by People's Artist Rauf Abdullayev performed on the stage.People's artist of Azerbaijan Murad Adigezalzade and laureate of international competitions, violinist Umida Abbasova thrilled spectators with beautiful music pieces."Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 1" by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, "Force of Destiny" by Giuseppe Verdi, "Symphony No. 3" by Khayyam Mirzazade, symphonic poem "Pines of Rome" by Ottorino Respighi sounded on the Baku stage.Acclaimed musicians and ensembles from Russia, Austria, and Germany, including  the Saint Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by of Yuri Temirkanov, Staatskapelle Dresden Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra Vienna – Berlin as well as Rainer Honeck, Omer Meir Wellber, Keith Armstrong and others pleased spectators with their amazing performances. Azerbaijan, Arab countries establish association to deepen ties [PHOTO] http://www.today.az/news/business/160468.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:37:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Amina NazarliA newly created “Cooperation of Azerbaijan and Arab Countries” Public Association was presented to public in Baku on April 22.The aim of establishing the Association, in which, along with Azerbaijani businessmen, entrepreneurs from Arab countries will also be represented, is the strengthening of economic partnership between Azerbaijan and Arab countries through the promotion of mutual trade and investment, development of friendly relations between the states.Association’s Chairman Elshan Rahimov, addressing the ceremony, noted that high-level reciprocal visits in recent years between Azerbaijan and Arab countries, expansion of cooperation between businesses, increasing tourist flow to Azerbaijan create favorable conditions for the development of the relations.He emphasized that the decision to create the “Cooperation of Azerbaijan and Arab Countries” Public Association and its state registration are timed to President Ilham Aliyev’s initiative on announcing 2017 the Year of Islamic Solidarity in Azerbaijan, and Baku’s hosting the Islamic Solidarity Games in May.“The Association intends to use various methods, including: ensuring dialogue between potential business partners, analyzing and informing about investment prospects, preparing business projects, assessing the business environment, organizing educational work among businessmen on advantages and benefits, organizing specialized exhibitions, business forums, business events, reciprocal visits, to achieve its goal,” he said.The “Cooperation of Azerbaijan and Arab countries” Public Association by establishing close cooperation with similar organizations, especially with the Turkish-Arab Association for Economic and Strategic Cooperation, will provide its members with an even wider range of services, Rahimov added.Rahimov stressed that the current economic conditions increase competition between the countries in terms of attracting investments and expanding trade ties.He noted that from this point of view, the goals set by the Azerbaijani president are taken as a basis in attracting investments to the country, adding that the newly created organization will make efforts to become a party to this process.Close contacts will be established with representatives of business circles of Arab countries that have rich financial resources, and the organization will play the role of a business platform.In the end, Rahimov invited entrepreneurs and representatives of business circles to join the “Cooperation of Azerbaijan and Arab Countries” Public Association.“We will build our activities on the principles of high professionalism and justify the trust of the members of the association,” he said.Then, the Chairman of the Turkish-Arab Association for Economic and Strategic Cooperation Muhammed Al Adil said that Azerbaijan, being a brotherly country, is a very important part of the Turkic world.He noted that the time has come to build new bridges between Azerbaijan and the Arab world.“We intend to promote all the opportunities of Azerbaijan, in particular its business, investment, tourism opportunities in the Arab countries,” he said. “I therefore congratulate you on the creation of the “Cooperation of Azerbaijan and Arab Countries” Public Association. This will be a very important and strategic cooperation for us.”He went to add that Azerbaijan causes interest in the Arab world, first of all, that is due to the existence of common history and culture.“Secondly, during the Soviet period, Azerbaijan was kept away from the Arab countries, we lived in complete estrangement,” he said. “Now we must strive to further expand the ties between our peoples. From this point of view, the creation of the “Cooperation of Azerbaijan and Arab Countries” Public Association will be a great start.”A memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the “Cooperation of Azerbaijan and Arab Countries” Public Association and Turkish-Arab Association for Economic and Strategic Cooperation was also signed at the event.Rahimov further said that a mission of Azerbaijani businessmen will visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in July to establish business ties.He said that the  visits, which will be organized by the Public Association, will not be limited to these three countries, and it is also planned to visit other Arab countries in the future.“We have no plans to hold forums within the framework of these visits,” Rahimov said. “In this case, our task is to organize meetings with representatives of chambers of commerce and business circles of Arab countries.”“In general, we want not only to attract the attention of Arab investors to Azerbaijan, but also to ensure our entrepreneurs’ access to the Arab countries,” he added. “At the state level, good relations have been established between Azerbaijan and the Arab countries, but our task is to establish direct contacts with the businessmen of these countries.”In addition, in October Baku will host the first Azerbaijani-Arab business forum, with participation of more than 300 entrepreneurs from Arab countries, according to Rahimov, who added that the Association plans to hold such events annually.Attraction of investments and expansion of trade in the current economic situation contributes to increased competition between states, he said.Rahimov noted that guided by certain goals of the head of state on attracting foreign investments, the new organization will make efforts to become a part of this process, establish close contacts with businesses of Arab countries that have big financial resources. US, Japanese leaders support containment of North Korea's 'provocative actions' http://www.today.az/news/regions/160465.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:25:00 +0400 By  TrendUS President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to take steps necessary to contain "provocative actions" of North Korea, Sputnik reported citing local media.The two politicians held a phone conversation earlier in the day, the Kyodo news agency reported citing Abe. Emanuel Macron forges ahead after first round of French presidential election http://www.today.az/news/regions/160464.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:11:00 +0400 By  Trend French presidential candidate Emanuel Macron took the first place in first round of French presidential election, French Interior Ministry final data reveal, Sputnik reported.Emanuel Macron secured his lead from his main rival far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, gaining 23.75 percent of votes, while Le Pen has the support of 21.53 percent of French voters.At the same time center-right Francois Fillon has 19.91 percent, while left-wing Jean-Luc Melenchon has 19.64 percent.02:54 (GMT+4) French presidential candidate Emanuel Macron leads in French presidential election after 90 percent of votes counted, according to Interior Ministry data, Sputnik reported.After 90% of votes counted, French presidential candidate Emanuel Macron maintains his lead with 23.72 percent of votes, while his main rival far-right candidate Marine Le Pen gained the support of 21.90 percent of French voters.The figures added that The Republicans' party nominee Francois Fillon was backed by 19.92 percent of the French voters, while far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon was supported by 19.24 percent.At 7 p.m. local time (17:00 GMT) the voting ended as the polling stations across France closed. Extension until 18:00 GMT is possible in some big cities. French media were prohibited by the law from publishing any preliminary results until the last polling stations were closed.01:53 (GMT+4) Marine Le Pen is tailing Emmanuel Macron in French presidential election, Interior Ministry said.Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is tailing her rival Emmanuel Macron in French presidential election, according to data by Interior Ministry.According to the ministry's figures revealed at 10 p.m. local time (21:00 GMT), Macron leads with 23.40 percent of votes, while far-right candidate Marine Le Pen gained the support of 22.62 percent of French voters.At the same time center-right Francois Fillon has 19.81 percent, while left-wing Jean-Luc Melenchon has 18.62 percent.00:07 (GMT+4) French far-right presidential candidate and National Front leader Marine Le Pen is leading in the election with 24.10 percent of votes, according to Interior Ministry's preliminary data as over 50 percent of votes have been counted, Sputnik reported.Independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron has gained 22.44 percent as of the data up to date.The Republicans' candidate Francois Fillon has already received 19.57 percent of French citizens' votes in his favor, according to the preliminary data.Macron and Le Pen apparently make it into the second round of the presidential vote.22:36 (GMT+4) French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is leading in the vote with 24.15 percent of votes, according to the Interior Ministry's first preliminary data. Independent candidate Emmunuel Macron gains 21.43 percent.The Republicans' candidate Francois Fillon got 20.34 percent of French citizens' votes, according to the first preliminary data after 3.76 million votes were counted. Left-wing Jean-Luc Melenchon got 17.96 percent of the votes, according to the data.Meanwhile, the French TF1 broadcaster reported that both Macron and Le Pen gain 23 percent of votes in the first round of the French pelection, thus, make it into the second round of voting. The media outlet also suggested that Melenchon and Fillon would both get 19 percent.Exit polls conducted by a Belgian broadcaster have showed earlier in the day that Le Pen and Macron run neck-and-neck with the latest showing that the independent candidate may get some 26 percent of votes, white 23 percent of French citizens support the National Front leader.At 7 p.m. local time (17:00 GMT) the voting ended as the polling stations across France closed. Extension until 18:00 GMT is possible in some big cities. French media were prohibited by the law from publishing any preliminary results until the last polling stations were closed.The French residents chose from 11 candidates in the first round, but only two of them will make it to the second round on May 7, which will be held if nobody gets support of more than half of voters. Baku 2017 releases promotional film [VIDEO] http://www.today.az/news/sports/160474.html Sports Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:08:00 +0400 The Azerbaijan Islamic Solidarity Games Operations Committee (AISGOC) has released an inspiring short promotional film that will be broadcast in over 50 countries, across four continents, in the lead up to the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games to be held in Bakuon May 12-22 2017.With a television audience of millions, this short promotional film, builds on the anticipation for an International multi-sport event, that is a respectful celebration of excellence in mind and body, unity in Islam and the heritage and culture of the Azerbaijan and its people.Filmed around some of the capital cities most celebrated new and modern architecture; The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, The Flame Towers and the beautiful Heydar Mosque. The film also draws inspiration from Azerbaijan’s heritage; the prehistoric petroglyphs of Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Further homage to Azerbaijani heritage is found in the soundtrack. The melody is derived from a traditional chain dance; Yalli and from the percussion instrument used, the Gaval Dash, based on a pre-historic instrument found in the Gobustan region. Armenian troops keep high tension on contact line of troops http://www.today.az/news/politics/160472.html Politics Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:54:00 +0400 Armenia’s armed forces have 113 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops during the day, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported on April 24.Armenians were using 60-millimeter mortars.The Azerbaijani army positions in Bala Jafarli, Qaymaqli, Farakhli, Qushchu Ayrim, Kamarli villages of the Gazakh district underwent fire from the Armenian army positions located on the nameless heights of the Ijevan district, as well as in Voskevan, Shavarshavan and Dovekh villages of the Noyemberyan district of Armenia.Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani army positions in Munjuglu and Kokhanabi villages of the Tovuz district were shelled from the Armenian army positions located in Aygedzor, Chinari villages of the Berd district of Armenia.Moreover, the Azerbaijani army positions were shelled from the Armenian positions located near the Armenian-occupied Chilaburt village of the Tartar district, Marzili, Yusifjanli and Javakhirli villages of the Aghdam district, Kuropatkino village of the Khojavand district, Gorgan, Horadiz, Ashagi Veyselli villages of the Fuzuli district, as well as from the positions located on the nameless heights in the Goranboy, Tartar, Khojavand, Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts of Azerbaijan.For more than two decades Armenia and Azerbaijan are in a state of war following Yerevan’s aggression, ethnic cleansing policy and illegal territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenia keeps under control over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions in a brutal war in the early 1990s.Despite a fragile ceasefire agreement signed in 1994, Armenia keeps violating armistice with Azerbaijan. Zarif confers with Chinese counterpart http://www.today.az/news/regions/160463.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:42:00 +0400 By  TrendForeign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif conferred with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the first International Forum on Ancient Civilizations in Athens, Greece, on Sunday, IRNA reported.During the meeting, both officials discussed bilateral ties, regional and international issues.Zarif arrived in the Greek capital Sunday morning for a two-day visit to participate in the international forum.While in Athens, Zarif is also expected to meet his counterparts from other participating countries.The two-day forum of ancient civilizations kicked off on Sunday. It is attended by foreign ministers from Iran, China, India, Italy and Egypt, among other participating states. Currency rates for April 24 http://www.today.az/news/business/160478.html Business Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:21:00 +0400 By  TrendOfficial exchange rate of the US dollar and euro to Azerbaijani manat for April 24 was set at 1.7022 manats and 1.8484 manats, respectively.Below are the rates of manat against world currencies and precious metals, according to the data from the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.Currencies and precious metalsApr. 24, 20171 US dollar1 USD1.70221 euro1 EUR1.84841 Australian dollar1 AUD1.28671 Argentine peso1 ARS0.11100 Belarusian rubles100 BYR0.90761 Brazilian real1 BRL0.54071 UAE dirham1 AED0.46341 South African rand1 ZAR0.1309100 South Korean won100 KRW0.15031 Czech koruna1 CZK0.06871 Chilean peso1 CLP0.26051 Chinese yuan1 CNY0.24721 Danish krone1 DKK0.24861 Georgian lari1 GEL0.70561 Hong Kong dollar1 HKD0.21891 Indian rupee1 INR0.02641 British pound1 GBP2.1791100 Indonesian rupiah100 IDR0.0128100 Iranian rials100 IRR0.00471 Swedish krona1 SEK0.19231 Swiss franc1 CHF1.70831 Israeli shekel1 ILS0.4671 Canadian dollar1 CAD1.26331 Kuwaiti dinar1 KWD5.58831 Kazakh tenge1 KZT0.00551 Kyrgyz som1 KGS0.0255100 Lebanese pounds100 LBP0.11281 Malaysian ringgit1 MYR0.3871 Mexican peso1 MXP0.09141 Moldovan leu1 MDL0.08821 Egyptian pound1 EGP0.0941 Norwegian krone1 NOK0.1986100 Uzbek soums100 UZS0.04631 Polish zloty1 PLN0.43551 Russian ruble1 RUB0.03041 Singapore dollar1 SGD1.22051 Saudi riyal1 SAR0.45391 SDR (IMF Special Drawing Rights)1 SDR2.32031 Turkish lira1 TRY0.47181 Taiwan dollar1 TWD0.05621 Tajik somoni1 TJS0.1931 New Turkmen manat1 TMM0.4871 Ukrainian hryvna1 UAH0.0637100 Japanese yen100 JPY1.54651 New Zealand dollar1 NZD1.1975Gold (1 ounce)1 XAU2181.9651Silver (1 ounce)1 XAG30.3332Platinum (1 ounce)1 XPT1666.4538Palladium (1 ounce)1 XPD1366.8666 Rouhani: Ill-wishers trying to prevent Iran’s path of success http://www.today.az/news/regions/160462.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:17:00 +0400 By  TrendPresident Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Iran is now paving the path of success and progress as ill-wishers are trying to create obstacles to hinder such advances, IRNA reported.President Rouhani made the remarks duing inaugural ceremony of a number of industrial projects via video conference on Sunday.'We should take advantage of the sound atmosphere created mainly after the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to boost the country's economy and industry in the province,' he said.Trade exchanges have been eased and big ships have now berthed at the Iranian ports to load and unload commodities which mean grounds for export of our products are well-prepared, Rouhani said.Referring to the upcoming presidential elections, President Rouhani said it is 'our duty to encourage people to go to the ballot boxes and we hope to witness another epic' much greater than the former round of presidential election campaign. Turnout in French presidential vote 1st round 69.42% http://www.today.az/news/regions/160461.html World news Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:00:00 +0400 By  Trend The turnout in the first round of the French presidential election was 69.42 percent at 5 p.m. local time (15:00 GMT), the French Interior Ministry's data showed Sunday, Sputnik reported.According to the data, the turnout for the first round of the presidential election in 2012 at the same hour was 70.59 percent, while in 2007 it was 73.87 percent and in 2002 — 58.45 percent. Baku hosts AURA open championship in rhythmic gymnastics http://www.today.az/news/sports/160458.html Sports Sun, 23 Apr 2017 15:48:00 +0400 By  TrendThe AURA open championship in rhythmic gymnastics was held in the START sports and entertainment complex in Baku April 23.Azerbaijan’s national anthem was played in the beginning of the championship.Sixty gymnasts from the country’s Serhedci Olympic Sports Complex, the Republican complex sports school, the Sports Society of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Gomrukchu Sports Club, Kurdamir district, participated in the competitions.The gymnasts performed with a ball, ribbon, hoop and clubs and without an object in A, B and C groups. The gymnasts were also involved in group exercises.The competition winners were awarded in the end of the competition. China, Germany to participate in Iran’s electric railway project http://www.today.az/news/regions/160460.html World news Sun, 23 Apr 2017 14:44:00 +0400 By  TrendChina and Germany will take part in a project of electrifying the railroad linking Tehran to the holy northeastern city of Mashhad, Iran, the Iranian deputy minister of transportation, Saeed Mohammadzadeh, said.Mohammadzadeh, who heads Iranian Railways company, said that China has agreed to provide $2 billion in loans for the project, Mehr news agency reported Apr. 23.He further said that talks are underway with the Chinese side regarding the issue, expressing hope that the talks will be concluded within one week.Iran is expected to receive the Chinese finance for the project in May, he added.Mohammadzadeh also said that Germany’s Siemens will provide the electric locomotives for project.The technical issues regarding the contract have been finalized between the Iranian and German sides, he added.The Iranian counterpart of Siemens for locomotive manufacturing is Mapna group.The electrification project is planned to be implemented in less than four years.The project, headed by a consortium which sees MAPNA Group at its head, aims to electrify the 926 km railway from Tehran to the city of Mashhad, Iran’s primary pilgrimage site which attracts tens of millions of visitors each year.The project envisages reforms and construction of the current Tehran-Mashhad railroad for trains with 200km/h speed, electric railroad for trains with 250km/h speed and purchase of 70 electric locomotives. Hollande cast vote in first round of French presidential election http://www.today.az/news/regions/160459.html World news Sun, 23 Apr 2017 14:26:00 +0400 By  TrendIncumbent French President Francois Hollande has cast his vote in the first round of the country's presidential elections in the south-western town of Tulle, Sputnik reported.Hollande was the mayor of Tulle from 2001 to 2008.The president has talked with electorate and reporters at the polling station.?On Sunday, polling stations opened across France at 8 a.m. local time (06:00 GMT) for the first round of the presidential election. The first results are expected at around 8 p.m. local time later on Sunday, when the polls close.In order to cast a ballot in France a citizen must be over 18 years old, not legally banned from voting and registered on the electoral list.The same rules are applied to presidential candidates. They must also show a sense of "moral dignity," which is a loose term without a clear legal definition. a presidential hopeful must also collect 500 signatures of support from elected representatives. Anyone who is able to fulfill this criteria becomes eligible to run for the first round. If nobody wins the first round with the absolute majority, the two highest scoring candidates face each other in a runoff. Journey from the Caspian in Shamkir http://www.today.az/news/sports/160457.html Sports Sun, 23 Apr 2017 13:00:00 +0400 The Baku 2017 Journey from the Caspian reached Shamkir yesterday. This tour that will include 15 regions of Azerbaijan will bring the spirit of a celebration of sports, as well as the feelings of solidarity and joy to the people.Yesterday morning an event was held near Shamkir’s water reservoir. Shamkirchay River enters the mighty Kura River. This new reservoir was put into operation in 2014 to provide the region with drinking and irrigation water.The water festival was hosted by chess and wrestling enthusiast Murad Namazov, merited boxing coach of Azerbaijan Republic Ramiz Yusifov and Olympic and European wrestling medalist Elchin Hasanov, as they poured water from the river into the vessel. This water vessel was later presented during the Water Festival. The vessel, which began its journey from Baku, will be a part of the Opening Ceremony in Baku Olympic Stadium on May 12.Afterwards, during the day another great project - “Sport joys - Regional sporting event” - took place in Shamkir Olympic Sport Complex as part of the Domestic Grassroots program. This event, held in order to promote Baku 2014 4th Islamic Solidarity Games and awaken interest towards sports among the youth, included several sporting competitions. The event rewarded its participants with happy and colorful memories.The ceremony continued in the evening at the Flag Square with the Water Festival. The festival with free admission allowed the visitors to enjoy performances by Mirvari dance group, Vugar Valiyev and Khayal Gasimov, as well as magnificent water effects.At the same time, footage of President of Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev giving a vessel full of water from the Caspian to inhabitants of Shamkir during the first water festival was presented to the public.Merited boxing coach of Azerbaijan Republic Ramiz Yusufov commented on how the water festival adds more color to the celebration of sports: “The sharing of joy brought by victories and sadness brought by defeats and support of each other isn’t just a show of culture, but also a priceless value.”The next stop on the Journey from the Caspian, spanning all of Azerbaijan, is Mingachevir, which will be visited on April 23. This journey that started from Caspian Sea will go on for 37 days and cover more than 3000 km, paying visits to 15 regions of the country. Azerbaijani Savalan wines to be presented in Kazakhstan http://www.today.az/news/business/160455.html Business Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:41:00 +0400 By  Azertac “Savalan wines will be presented during an export mission to Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan, on April 23-26,” said Jahangir Shafizade, deputy director for economic issues of ASPI AQRO Ltd. “Presently our company exports Savalan wines to Russia, Turkey, Netherlands and China. The main customers of our products are Russia and European countries,” he said.A total of 21 Azerbaijani wine making companies presented their products to potential buyers in China during export missions to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, resulting in the signing of an agreement under which Savalan wine is now being exported to China.Savalan Syrah wine brand won a golden medal during the export mission to Guangzhou. Russian export center to open Azerbaijan office http://www.today.az/news/business/160456.html Business Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:34:00 +0400 By  Azertac The Russian Export Center (REC) plans to open three new representative offices: in India, Indonesia and Azerbaijan, Alexey Tyupanov, Executive Director of REC group, said.“We opened six representative offices in 2016. The plan for 2017 is to open representative offices in India, Indonesia and Azerbaijan, where we see great potential for the development of Russian exports,” he noted.According to Azerbaijan`s State Customs Committee, Russia remain the main trade and economic partner of Azerbaijan.Russian-Azerbaijani trade amounted to 2.05 billion US dollars (second place among all countries), while Azerbaijani exports made 410 million US dollars (eighth place in the total export volume) and imports made 1.64 billion US dollars (first place in the total volume of imports). The main share of Azerbaijan's exports has traditionally come from agricultural products, vegetables and fruits, canned products, while the country imports machines and equipment, food products, ferrous metals, pharmaceuticals, timber from Russia. UAE to assist Azerbaijan in opening trading house http://www.today.az/news/business/160454.html Business Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:26:00 +0400 By  Azertac "The United Arab Emirates will assist Azerbaijan in opening a trading house in the country," said Minister of Economy of the UAE Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri as he met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Shahin Mustafayev on the sidelines of the 6th session of the joint intergovernmental commission on economic, trade and technical cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United Arab Emirates.Al Mansouri noted that his country attaches special importance to cooperation with Azerbaijan. He noted that the UAE's position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains unchanged, adding that the UAE supports and will continue to support Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.Minister Mustafayev hailed the excellent Azerbaijan-UAE political relations, saying they are based on the principles of friendship and mutual respect. He noted that the political will of the two countries' heads of state plays an important role in the development of bilateral cooperation. The minister noted the importance of reciprocal high-level visits in terms of expanding bilateral ties between the two countries, hailing relations in a number of areas, including agriculture, ICT, energy, trade, investment and education. Minister Mustafayev hailed great potential for developing bilateral cooperation.The meeting then featured the signing of a protocol on the results of the 6th session of the joint intergovernmental commission on economic, trade and technical cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United Arab Emirates. The document was signed by co-chairs of the intergovernmental commission, Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev and the UAE's Economy Minister Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri. The protocol envisages boosting cooperation between the two countries in a number of areas, including industry, energy, renewable energy, agriculture, communications and high-tech, transport, trade, investment, environment, tourism and culture. New irrigation network to be installed in Kangarli district http://www.today.az/news/politics/160453.html Politics Sun, 23 Apr 2017 12:13:00 +0400 By  Azertac A new closed irrigation network will be installed in the fields of Boyukduz village, Kangarli district, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.Chairman of the Supreme Assembly of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Vasif Talibov viewed the closed irrigation network project and the construction site.Chairman of Nakhchivan State Amelioration and Water Management Committee Asgar Asgarov gave information about the project.Chairman of the Supreme Assembly Vasif Talibov expressed his confidence that the seed farm will become an exemplary one in the country in this area.Vasif Talibov then viewed the grain sowing areas.