Today.Az Covering Azerbaijan inside and outside Today.Az Improvement of ties with Iran, Turkey – economically beneficial for Uzbekistan World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:53:00 +0400 By  TrendUzbekistan, one the richest Central Asian countries, has recently began to expand its interaction with its regional neighbors- Iran and Turkey.Uzbekistan signed package of agreements with both of them in a wide range of areas, including trade, agriculture and transport. The historic milestone was visit of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Turkey, following which the sides signed trade agreements worth more than $3.5 billion."The improvement in relations fueled partly by changes in Uzbekistan’s policies, China’s Belt and Road initiative, the inauguration of the Indian backed port of Chabahar in Iran, as well as transportation links in the Caucasus like Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail line," political analyst, senior fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University James M. Dorsey told Trend.The Chabahar sea port will serve as a new trade link between Iran and its Central Asian partners, according to expert.As for the ties with Turkey, Dorsey stressed that the Baku – Tbilisi – Kars rail road will allow Uzbekistan, as well as other Central Asian countries to take advantage of new economic opportunities, including short and cheaper way of goods transportation to Turkey and further."It will allow them to figure more prominently in the various infrastructure and transport schemes given the centrality of Central Asia in Eurasia. The trick will be to ensure that pursuing economic growth and development does not involve falling into debt traps and/or losing control of key assets," said Dorsey. NATO sounds alarm on banned Russian missile system World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:34:00 +0400 By  TrendNATO allies on Friday publicly raised concern about a Russian cruise missile system that the alliance says may break a Cold War-era pact banning such weapons, in a show of support for Washington, Reuters reports.The United States believes Russia is developing a ground-launched cruise missile system with a range that is prohibited by a 1987 treaty, which could give Russia the ability to launch a nuclear strike on Europe on short notice.“Allies have identified a Russian missile system that raises serious concerns,” the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said in a statement. “NATO urges Russia to address these concerns in a substantial and transparent way, and actively engage in a technical dialogue with the United States.”In a separate statement, the U.S. envoy to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said: “Russia’s behavior raises serious concerns.”U.S.-led NATO’s concerns are likely to further strain relations between Moscow and the West that are already at a low over Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea, Western sanctions on the Russian economy and U.S. accusations that Moscow used computer hackers to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.Moscow denies that it interfered in the election.The NATO statement follows a meeting between Russia and the United States in Geneva this week to mark the 30th anniversary of the treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union.According to an April U.S. State Department report, Washington determined in 2016 that Russia was in violation of its treaty obligations “not to possess, produce, or flight-test” a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km (310-3,417 miles), “or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.”Last week, the State Department said it is reviewing military options, including new intermediate-range cruise missile systems, the first response by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to the U.S. charges.The Russian foreign ministry said last week it was ready for talks with the United States to try to preserve the treaty and would comply with its obligations if the United States did.In a statement marking the 30th anniversary of the IMF treaty last week, the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow considered “the language of ultimatums” and sanctions unacceptable. Turkey not transit country for migrants - PM World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:11:00 +0400 By  TrendTurkey is not a transit country for migrants, the country’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, the Turkish media reported on December 15.Turkey has already become an asylum for migrants, and they are not seeking refuge anywhere else, he said.The prime minister noted that unlike European countries, Turkey perceives the problem of migrants and refugees as a humanitarian issue.Yildirim also noted that Turkey created all the necessary conditions for the living of Syrian refugees.More than three million Syrian refugees live in Turkey, and the country spent about $30 billion on their upkeep.Syria has been suffering from an armed conflict since March 2011, which, according to the UN, has claimed more than 500,000 lives.Militants from various armed groups are confronting the Syrian government troops. The “Islamic State”, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) are the most active terrorist groups in Syria. Russia ready to form joint projects with Kyrgyzstan in the field of digital technologies World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:00:00 +0400 By  TrendRussia is ready in the coming months to form joint projects with Kyrgyzstan in the field of digital technologies, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Government Arkady Dvorkovich at the 6th Kyrgyz-Russian Interregional Conference "Eurasian Integration as the Basis for the Development of Kyrgyz-Russian Foreign Economic Relations.", Kabar News Agency reports.He said that, Russia adopted a program of digital economy. Now we plan the creation of a legal framework, infrastructure, training and implementation of specific projects."We have already adopted such projects as digital healthcare, digital education, smart cities. This also means ensuring cybersecurity. We are ready to do this together. We are ready to form joint projects in the coming months," he said.Dvorkovich said that it is important in this regard to develop common standards of action."If we do not come to common on general common standards in the development of digital technologies, we will not be able to connect our countries. And trade and logistics in the coming years will be different. Only by creating such technologies, we can continue cooperation," he said and added that the Russian side is counting on Kyrgyzstan. Violations revealed in ADIF’s work Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:47:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan’s Chamber of Accounts revealed violations when checking the process of compensation payments by the country’s Deposit Insurance Fund (ADIF) to clients of two liquidated banks, Vugar Gulmammadov, chairman of the Chamber of Accounts, told reporters in Baku on December 15.“We have finished checking the process of compensation payments regarding two banks,” Gulmammadov noted. “As a result of the inspections, financial and legal violations were revealed. It was decided to file the relevant documents to law enforcement agencies.”He said that at present, the audit of ADIF's work continues.Eleven banks were announced bankrupt in Azerbaijan last year. The clients of these banks were paid compensations worth 750 million manats, according to the ADIF.(1.7001 manats = 1 USD on December 15) Azerbaijani president: Tobacco factory has great significance Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:43:00 +0400 By  TrendThe foundation of the tobacco factory has been laid today and the factory has also great significance, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said at the meeting with the staff of the Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park on December 15."The foundation of the tobacco factory has been laid today,” President Aliyev said. “This factory has also great significance. At present, we depend on cigarette imports. Of course, we all want the consumption of cigarettes to decrease in Azerbaijan and people to abandon this bad habit. But so far it is not happening."“Of course, domestic production must replace foreign production,” the president said. “The products to be produced at this factory will cover 50 percent of total domestic demand. I am sure that in the future we will fully cover domestic demand and at the same time, we will export cigarettes to the world markets."President Aliyev said that today tobacco growing is developing in Azerbaijan very rapidly."Of course, the production of cigarettes, which are the end product of tobacco growing, is also being established in Azerbaijan," the president said. OPEC daily basket price down Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:35:00 +0400 By  TrendThe price of OPEC basket of fourteen crudes stood at $60.87 a barrel on Dec. 14, which is $0.63 less than on December 13, the cartel told Trend on December 15.The OPEC Reference Basket of Crudes (ORB) is made up of the following: Saharan Blend (Algeria), Girassol (Angola), Oriente (Ecuador), Zafiro (Equatorial Guinea), Rabi Light (Gabon), Iran Heavy (Islamic Republic of Iran), Basra Light (Iraq), Kuwait Export (Kuwait), Es Sider (Libya), Bonny Light (Nigeria), Qatar Marine (Qatar), Arab Light (Saudi Arabia), Murban (UAE) and Merey (Venezuela).The price for February futures of the North Sea Brent oil mix grew 0.02 percent to $63.32 per barrel, while the price for January futures of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil increased by 0.35 percent to $57.24 per barrel as of December 15. Azerbaijan to strengthen cybersecurity in financial markets Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:25:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FIMSA) will strengthen measures to ensure information and cyber security, combat cybercrime and raise the level of knowledge of employees engaged in the sphere of information security of financial markets, the FIMSA said in a message on December 15.This is stipulated by the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the FIMSA and the State Agency for Special Communications and Information Security of Special State Protection Service of Azerbaijan.The document was signed by FIMSA Executive Director Ibrahim Alishov and Deputy Head of the State Agency Azer Ahadov.As part of the cooperation, the State Agency will provide the FIMSA with technical assistance in the field of ensuring information security, formation of internal policy on information security, holding training in this direction and other issues.Thanks to the mentioned measures, participants of financial markets will be able to receive permanent protection against possible threats and as a result, security of services rendered to citizens will be ensured, Alishov added. Azerbaijan’s Central Bank to raise 200M manats at auction Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:22:00 +0400 By  TrendThe Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) will hold a deposit auction on December 18 to raise 200 million Azerbaijani manats, the CBA said on December 15.The auction will be held on the Bloomberg trading platform. The funds will be placed for a period of 14 days. The interest rate on deposits will vary from 10.01 percent to 14.99 percent.CBA began to hold deposit auctions in mid-June 2016. Thirty-one banks, including two state-owned ones, operate in Azerbaijan.(1.7001 AZN = $1 on December 15) Divan Acoustic ensemble captivates music lovers Arts & Entertainment Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:15:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaA concert by "Divan Acoustic" ensemble was held in German-Azerbaijan Cultural Society "Kapellhaus" on December 13.Marvelous show was organized as part of Silk Road Music Festival  held by Goethe-Zentrum Baku on December 5-14, Day.Az reported.Divan Acoustic is a special musical project developed for the festival by the Divan der Kontinente orchestra.Six orchestra musicians performed on the stage, presenting free improvisations based on mimesises, dialogues and the appropriation of musical compositions and sounds. Their unique improvisation caused great interest of spectators.The audience gave them a round of applause. With an incredible lineup, the festival ended with another fascinating concert.Divan der Kontinente orchestra mesmerized music lovers in the Church of the Saviou the same day.Its music reflects on questions about communality and about new soundscapes evolving out of transcultural encounter in spaces of diversity. Formed by the singer Cymin Samawatie and the drummer Ketan Bhatti, who both studied jazz at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK), Divan of the Continents brings together musicians of various musical backgrounds and traditions with the intention of creating a new sound out of the energy of diversity. All the musicians play traditional instruments: these include the oud and ney from the Middle East, European orchestral and jazz instruments as well as electronics.Notably, Goethe-Zentrum Baku is a branch of the Goethe Institute, a cultural institution of the Federal Republic of Germany, whose branches operate in many countries of the world. The organization aims at popularizing the German language abroad and expanding international cooperation in the field of culture.Honored artist of Azerbaijan, musician and composer Rain Sultanov was the organizer and curator of the festival`s  musical part. The curator of the artistic part was  the initiator of cultural projects Asli Samadova.Photos: Arkady Mitnik  EBRD to allocate money for modernization of railways in Tajikistan World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaThe European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will allocate $26 million to Tajikistan for the modernization of railways.This was stated by the bank’s spokesman Anton Usov who added that the final decision on this will be taken by the bank's management in February 2018.The funds will be allocated for the purchase of new wagons, diesel locomotives and rolling stock of the new generation, as well as repair kits, spare parts and other products by the State Unitary Enterprise Tajikistan Railways.The Tajik government approved a program for the complete modernization of the country's railways, for which $109 million is needed."Within the framework of the railway modernization program, Tajikistan will acquire 2,000 new wagons and 40 diesel locomotives of the new generation. As it is a state program, Tajikistan also allocates money for its implementation. As far as I know, the government has already purchased 900 freight wagons and 8 diesel locomotives for Tajikistan Railways SUE,” Usov said.Over the past nine months, according to the company, more than 100,000 people have used its services, which is three times more than in the past three years.Tajikistan depends on rail transport for the movement of most commodities into the country and for exports, mainly aluminum. Rail transport in Tajikistan is limited, as the railroad system totals only 680 kilometers of non-electrified, single-track railway.  U.S. to support Uzbekistan in its accession to WTO World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:46:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaThe United States will assist Uzbekistan in its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Trade reported.A meeting with the assistant to the U.S. Trade Representative for Central and South Asia, Mark Linscott, was held at the ministry, during which the parties discussed issues of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO.In addition, the issues related to Uzbekistan's membership in the general system of U.S. tariff preferences and legal protection of intellectual property was considered in detail.“Agreements on the assistance of the American side, including the technical one, in the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO were reached. In order to promote these issues in practice, permanent contacts between the responsible officials of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the office of the U.S. trade mission will be established,” the ministry noted.During his recent trip to South Korea, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev announced that Uzbekistan is renewing its work on WTO accession.A memorandum and a road map have been signed between the governments of the two countries on Korea’s assistance to Uzbekistan in the matters of joining this organization, including by assessing the consequences of entry, examination of national legislation in accordance with the requirements of WTO agreements, as well as technical, consultative and expert support to the ministries and departments concerned.There are 164 members of the World Trade Organization. That's 84 percent of the 196 countries in the world.They enjoy the privileges that other member-countries give to them and the security that the trading rules provide. In return, they had to make commitments to open their markets and to abide by the rules — those commitments were the result of the membership (or “accession”) negotiations. Ilham Aliyev: Speedy industrialization process in Azerbaijan based on our policy, trust Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:41:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan's policy and investor confidence in the country stand in core of the speedy industrialization process in Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev said at a meeting with the staff of the Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park after attending a groundbreaking ceremony for new facilities.“That’s because investments are attracted only to stable countries,” he said. “Azerbaijan is one of the countries with excellent international reputation. Azerbaijan is successfully developing from an economic point of view.”Ilham Aliyev added that Azerbaijan ranked 35th in the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018 published by the World Economic Forum (WEF).“The beginning of operation of seven facilities in Sumgait city today, on Dec. 15, as well as the launch of substations supplying electricity to these facilities, once again demonstrates our successful policy, and we are successfully completing the year 2017,” he said. British government supports Southern Gas Corridor's completion Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:39:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovThe British government supports the early completion of the Southern Gas Corridor project, which involves the transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe, said Baroness Rona Fairhead, UK Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion who is on a visit to Baku. The baroness, who is also the co-chairman of the Azerbaijani-British intergovernmental commission, made the remarks at a meeting with Azerbaijani Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov on December 15.The sides discussed the energy vector of the relations between the two countries as well as prospects for cooperation not only in the oil and gas sphere, but also in the field of renewable energy.Shahbazov noted the long-standing leading positions of the oil and gas sector in the Azerbaijan’s economy and said that reforms are currently under way to diversify the economy and develop the non-oil sector.The minister highly appreciated the activity of Great Britain as a partner of Azerbaijan and the main investor in its energy sector from the first years of the country’s independence, and noted the model of successful cooperation on the example of BP company.“The implementation of the Shah Deniz-2 project and the signing of a new agreement on the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli block will ensure the interests of both countries in the long term,” Shahbazov said.Baroness Fairhead, in turn, assured that the British government supports the energy projects of Azerbaijan implemented with the participation of BP as well as the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor project.The Southern Gas Corridor, worth $41.5 billion, is one of the priority projects for the EU and provides for the transportation of 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian region through Georgia and Turkey to Europe.At the initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects. Other sources can also connect to this project at a later stage.As part of the Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz development, the gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).Baroness Fairhead has earlier met with President Ilham Aliyev, First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva and signed with Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev a protocol following the second joint meeting of the Azerbaijan-UK intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation. In the protocol, the sides agreed to further expand cooperation in economy, trade, investments, industry, tourism, energy, education, culture and other spheres. Ilham Aliyev attends opening ceremony of reconstructed Sumgait Tube Rolling Plant Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:38:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening ceremony of the Sumgait Tube Rolling Plant of Baku Steel Company LLC after the reconstruction on December 15.Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Baku Steel Company LLC Rasim Mammadov informed the president about the work done there.President Aliyev launched the plant. Large-scale installation presented in Baku Arts & Entertainment Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:25:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAn installation of national artist Faig Ahmad  was presented in German-Azerbaijan Cultural Society "Kapellhaus" on December 13.The event is organized within Silk Road Music Festival held by Goethe-Zentrum Baku on December 5-14, Day.Az reported.The festival brought  together talented singers and artists from Germany, Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.Azerbaijan's famous artist Faig Ahmad conceptualized carpets, expanding traditional carpet weaving with new meaning. However, despite innovative forms and artistic solutions, his work creation  process is quite traditional: for centuries, little has changed in the creation of hand-made carpets.A sculptor by education Faig Ahmad refers to carpets as two-dimensional (2D) sculptures.Artist who made use of digital technology distorts and rearranges the traditional eastern carpet patterns and creates contemporary art pieces. He also experiments with complex multidimensional fluid forms, challenging the weaving technologies and the imagination of spectators.The large-scale carpet installation of Faig Ahmad "10 (-35)" is considered his one of the most ambitious art works. Stretching for more than 15 meters, it refers to the theme of the origin of carpet weaving. Fringe, hidden behind the carpet knots, warp threads, became the central part of the installation.In this installation as well as in traditional carpet weaving, the stretching of yarns plays an important role: if they are stretched unevenly on the loom, this leads to an inevitable and irreparable deformation process of the carpet.In installation, the stability of the entire structure is achieved by the uniform stretching of the threads.Masters of carpet weaving moved to the geometric patterns of the carpet Faig Ahmad design, created under the influence of planck length (equal to 1.616229 (38) × 10-35 meters shortest length with three main variables).By the way,  the installation and a documentary about the artist, shot in the spring by the Museum of Textile Boras in Sweden was shown in Baku for the first time.The exhibition will last until January 31, 2018 and is open for visits from 15:00 to 20:00 every day, except on Sundays and public holidays. Before the close of the exhibition, Faig Ahmad will hold a meeting-lecture with fans of his art. Details will be announced on artist's page in Facebook.Further, music lovers  enjoyed a concert by "Divan Acoustic" ensemble in the same venue.Notably, Goethe-Zentrum Baku is a branch of the Goethe Institute, a cultural institution of the Federal Republic of Germany, whose branches operate in many countries of the world. The organization aims at popularizing the German language abroad and expanding international cooperation in the field of culture.Honored artist of Azerbaijan, musician and composer Rain Sultanov was the organizer and curator of the festival`s  musical part. The curator of the artistic part was  the initiator of cultural projects Asli Samadova.Photos: Arkady Mitnik  Saxo Bank: 2018 to become year of change for financial markets Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:17:00 +0400 By  TrendSteen Jakobsen, chief economist, CIO at Saxo Bank, delivered an economic forecast of how top trending issues, including China, electrification, cryptocurrencies, recession and politics will shape financial markets in 2018.Jakobsen outlined China’s growing influence and position on the global stage and how it will impact market prices and commodities against the US dollar.“With China controlling 50% of growth and credit in the world, it remains the most important country in terms of its credit impulse and trending behaviours,” said Jakobsen.Jakobsen predicts that China will be the main driver of one of the most significant innovations the world has witnessed – electrification - and, specifically, electric vehicles.With pollution standing out as China’s biggest national issue, electric transportation will form a vital part of the country’s ambitions for world leadership and the move towards electrification has gained in significance – courtesy of Volvo’s 2020 plans to electrify its entire model line-up, while leading Chinese car manufacturer BYD expects all cars to be fully electrified by 2030, he noted.Jakobsen also pointed to the monopoly-like condition in the technology sector as something that could be on the radar in 2018.“Leading tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Apple all operate under monopoly-like status and with little to no competition, which explains their massive profitability,” he added. “These high profits are due to a lack of market regulation that allows big players to keep a monopoly pricing structure on their consumers leading to negative economic consequences on the future of productivity, investment, and research and development.”Cryptocurrencies and bitcoin were also discussed.“Bitcoin is supposed to be a decentralised, anti-government and anti-establishment cryptocurrency but all the players are on the internet, which is the most regulated place in the world,” he said. “Soon enough we will have an anti-government coin being regulated by governments. To some extent, this is a great irony.”Jakobsen explains that the future market of bitcoin is difficult to predict as, while cryptocurrency is popular because it trades like a one-way street - when there are bigger futures exchanges, such as CME and CBOE listing bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, it will facilitate a two-way market where shorting will be easier.Jakobsen also anticipates that 2018 will be the ‘make or break’ year for the US fixed income. “We are either going to hit a 0% or 3% interest rate – if we break the 30-year down trend, it will be one of the biggest trend changes in my lifetime and lead to 80% probability of a US recession next year,” said Jakobsen. “However, he expects the trend to remain intact with a potential for zero interest rates by 2019.”In the Middle East, events such as last year’s fixed income issuance, the Saudi bond issuance, and capital markets being deeper in liquidity, all resulted in a positive year but Jakobsen forecasts a different regional pattern for 2018, adding that the geopolitical risk the region has seen this year will make foreign investors cautious and most of them have hit the pause button.This is going to have some negative impact on growth for the GCC, which Jakobsen expects to hit one percent for 2018.Looking further forward, Jakobsen believes SMEs will have a bigger role to play in GCC economies.“In order to strengthen the economy, the SME sector needs to be a much larger part of GCC countries and their economies,” he said. “The strongest economies in the world all have strong SME sectors and engaging SMEs is crucial for creating long-term growth through broadening the credit and productivity to a wider, more flexible private sector.” Ilham Aliyev: 30 carpet factories planned to be created in Azerbaijan Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:16:00 +0400 By  TrendIt is planned to create 30 carpet factories in Azerbaijan, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said.The president made the remarks at a meeting with the staff of the Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park after attending a groundbreaking ceremony for new enterprises.The head of the state noted that a great attention is paid to the development of carpet weaving in recent years, and ten carpet factories opened in a short period of time."Ten more factories will be opened next year and we plan to create thirty carpet factories. Of course, local raw materials needed for successful activity of these factories and the foundation of the spinning and dyeing factory has been laid. This enterprise will be created through public investment. So, we will provide all carpet weavers, who work at these factories, as well as individually working carpet masters with raw material," the president said. Azerbaijan, Georgia discuss issue of goods shipment across border Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:04:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Sara IsrafilbayovaAzerbaijan and Georgia discussed the issue of carrying goods across the customs border without any obstacles, during the 131st session of the Customs Cooperation Council on December 14 in Brussels, Belgium.During the session, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation Javad Gasimov and Deputy Finance Minister of Georgia Vakhtang Lashkaradze held a meeting.The sides stressed that relations between the two countries are based on the principles of strategic partnership and these relations are developing.It also was noted that mutual cooperation in the customs sphere is at a high level.The parties exchanged views on the timely elimination of density, which can result from excessive traffic of people at border points between the two countries because of holidays.Earlier, Aydin Aliyev, the head of the State Customs Committee said that Georgia and Azerbaijan with the support of the European Union (EU) are working to improve the customs checkpoint Red Bridge on the Georgian-Azerbaijani border.The project has started in March 2017 and will be completed by the end of 2017. The project costs Azerbaijan $1.3 million. The total cost of the project is 3 million euro.The total length of the Georgian-Azerbaijani border is 480 kilometers. In addition to the Red Bridge, Georgia and Azerbaijan are connected with the customs checkpoints Gardabani, Mtkvari, Lagodekhi and Samtatskaro.Diplomatic ties between Azerbaijan and Georgia were established on November 18, 1992.The two countries broadly cooperate in regional energy development, transportation and economic partnership projects such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway, the TRACECA, the BSEC.Georgian exports to Azerbaijan include cement, locomotives and other railway vehicles, mineral and chemical fertilizers, mineral waters, strong drinks, glass and glass wares, and pharmaceuticals, among other things.Azerbaijani mainly exports to Georgia oil and petroleum products, natural gas, plastic wares, furniture and building constructions.The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Georgia amounted to $7.56 billion in January-September 2017. Azerbaijan to enter world flower oil market Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:42:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Aygul SalmanovaMany of you have probably encountered pleasant roses with pleasing appearance in the gardens. Nevertheless, it is not widely known that roses, from which various delicacies such as jams, rose water, sweets and other products are prepared, can be a good source of income thanks to the aromatic and healthy oil that is extracted from them.Over the past two years, the areas of rose cultivation have increased in different regions of Azerbaijan, especially in Zagatala and Balakan. Even during the Soviet times, these regions were famous for floral fragrance production.The Rose Lubricant Production Plant of AzRose LLC, which is under construction in the down-town Tala village, will begin its production next year. Based on the recommendations of experts invited from Turkey and Bulgaria in October-November last year to meet the demand for raw materials of the enterprise, flowering plants of “Damascus rose” (82 hectares) and “Lavanda” rose (25 hectares) were established in the Lower Tala village of the region.More than 10 hectares of Lavanda rose plant in this area have already begun to function and flower planting has already been completed. In the next few days, the construction of the Damascus Flower Plant will begin in the additional 68 hectares.The agronomist of the enterprise Metin Sokmen, a specialist from Turkey, said that the next year, the plant is planning to collect 100 tons of rose petals  from the “Damascus Rosalium” bushes planted last year. From these petals production of 30-35 liters of rose oil is projected.In addition, ten tons of rose petals are expected to be harvested from the Lavender rose plant established last year, from which some 200 liters of rosewater are planned to be produced. Rose oils produced at the enterprise will be exported to foreign markets under the name "AzRose".It is worth mentioning that in 2016, the price of 1 liter of rose oil in the world market was $12,000-$14,000, and the price of one liter of “Lavender” oil was $118-$153.Rose oil is widely used in various perfumery, detergents, household and food industries.The annual production of ten essential oils the most expensive of which is the rose oil worldwide is over 100,000 tons.It should be noted that about three tons of rose oil is produced in the world, 50 percent of which is manufactured in Turkey, 40 percent is in Bulgaria and 10 percent in other countries.Some 125 liters of rose oil, to be produced in Azerbaijani company AzRose at the first stage, will make up 5 percent of world production.The company's products will be exported to the world market in 2018. In the future, the production of essential oils of other plant species will also be possible. There was a time when Azerbaijan could have locally sourced its own flowers. During the Soviet era, the republic was a major flower producer and the leading supplier of flowers to Russia.Today, though, Azerbaijan’s floriculture industry has shrunk to a fraction of its former size. The country’s main export markets are Georgia and Russia, and last year it earned a mere $13,700 on the export of 42,000 cut roses to Georgia, and $13,400 on the export of 268,000 carnations to Russia.  President Ilham Aliyev visits Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park [UPDATE] Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:38:00 +0400 By  TrendPresident of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev visited Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park where he viewed work done and attended groundbreaking and opening ceremonies of new facilities on December 15.Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev informed the president of the work done in the park. The project was implemented in accordance with President Aliyev`s decree signed in 2011. Sumgait Chemical Industrial Park occupies a total area of 505.64 hectares.Facilities in the park include a number of STP LLC-owned plants, Alco Lubricant Company, MST Engineering Services LLC, Baku Non Ferrous and Foundry LLC, Azerbaijan Fibro Cement LLC, and others.President Aliyev laid a foundation stone for a float glass factory of AzerFloat CJSC. The factory will be supplied with German HORN Glass Industries AG company’s latest equipment. The facility will have an annual production capacity of 8 million square meters of a wide range of glass sheets. The factory will create 180 jobs.President Aliyev then laid a foundation stone for a spinning and dyeing factory of Azerkhalcha OJSC. The facility will create 100 jobs.The president then attended the launch of the first phase of Aqrokimya Azerbaycan LLC pesticide plant owned by Gilan Industrial Group. The plant occupies a total area of 18.3 hectares. It will have an annual production capacity of 57,000 tons of liquid pesticide and 1,000 tons of powdered pesticide. The plant created 100 jobs.The president launched the facility.President Aliyev then attended the inauguration of Data Processing, Registration and Transmission Center of STDC LLC. The center created 100 jobs.The president met with staff of the center, and posed for photographs together with them. Turkmenistan, US mull prospects for business partnership World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:24:00 +0400 By  TrendAshgabat hosted a regular meeting of the US-Turkmenistan Business Council, Turkmenistan State News Agency reported on December 15.Representatives of such US companies as Westport Trading Europe Limited, Oxbow Sulfur, General Electric, Elizarov Consulting Group, CNH Industrial N.V., John Deere, Boeing took part in the meeting.Fuel and energy sector was one of the main topics of the meeting. For Turkmenistan, diversification of transport infrastructure that can ensure delivery of energy resources through the creation of a branched network of a multivariate pipeline system is the strategic priority of ensuring energy security, according to the report.“Participants of the meeting were informed on projects being implemented in this direction and prospects for business partnership,” said the report.Representatives of the US business circles stressed readiness to offer their solutions for implementing joint projects in strategic spheres.At the meeting, the parties also exchanged views on the transport and communication sector. Turkmenistan is striving to form modern logistics centers and optimize transport flows in the Eurasian space.Particular attention was paid to partnership in the financial and banking sector, chemical industry, construction, energy, agriculture, food industry. Holding of OIC summit - not response to US decision on Jerusalem, Turkey says World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:11:00 +0400 By  TrendHolding of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during which it was decided to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, shouldn’t be perceived as a response to the US decision on Jerusalem, Ibrahim Kalin, special adviser and spokesperson of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on December 15, the country’s media outlets reported.Kalin noted that most Muslim countries, including Turkey, recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.He noted that the Consulate General of Turkey also operates in East Jerusalem.On December 13, East Jerusalem was declared the capital of Palestine in a resolution adopted following the OIC emergency summit in Istanbul.The OIC also urged all countries to condemn the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.Previously, US President Donald Trump proclaimed that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.Israel proclaimed Jerusalem its capital after the end of the War of Independence in 1949. In 1967, after the Six Days War, it seized East Jerusalem and united it with the West Jerusalem, but the UN did not recognize this. Embassies of countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel are located mainly in Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Ramat Gan. Nigar Narimanbayova's “Fantasy” to be exhibited in Paris Arts & Entertainment Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:59:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijan’s world-famous artist Nigar Narimanbayova will display her work in Paris.The artist will present her painting "Fantasy" at "Art en Capital" expo on February 14-18, 2018, Trend Life reported."My painting has been carefully selected by a competent jury members, which includes well-known artists - academics and gold medal holders of the Academy of Fine Arts of France. I am incredibly happy and proud that the painting by Azerbaijani artist will be presented at legendary Paris Salon. It's a great honor and my creative victory, " said Narimanbayova.Famous for her brilliant works, Nigar Narimanbayova lives and works in Baku and Paris. She graduated from Azerbaijan State Art school named after Azimzade and All-Union state Institute of cinematography. S. A. Gerasimov in Moscow.Her famous painting ‘Marionette’, which enters the artist's series of paintings ‘Love Toys’, won the main prize of the Salon of independent artists - TOILE D'OR 2016. The painting ‘Adagio’ received the prize of the Salon of independent artists - TOILE D'OR 2016.Nigar Narimanbayova’s five paintings including ‘The Puppet’, ‘Kiss of a Nymph’, ‘Magic of the Night’, ‘Broken Wings’ and ‘Confession of a Mermaid’ were also displayed at the largest international exhibition of contemporary art Salon Business Art Fair 2017.She was awarded with an honorary diploma signed by the commissioner of the salon Georges Levy and art magazine La Gazette Des Arts, with inscription “For the creation of a magical unique world filled with fairy tales and magic”Narimanbayova is a member of the Union of Artists of Azerbaijan and the International Association of Art. Her paintings are displayed in the exhibition halls of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism, National Museum of Art of Azerbaijan as well as in private collections."Art en capital" is one of the most important and expected events in the artistic life of Europe and the world. The exhibition consists of four largest salons - the Salon of French Artists, the Salon of Independent Artists, the Salon of Watercolors and the Salon of Komarezon. The exposition will feature works by 650 talented artists, sculptors, mosaicists from around the world.Since 2006, the fair brings together artists from all different backgrounds and has become a reference point for the promotion of the current art scene. The "Art en Capital" strengthens links between the general public, the artists and the galleries.The Paris Salon is one of France's most prestigious art exhibitions, the official regular display of the Paris Academy of Fine Arts. Founded by a decree of Louis XIV in 1667, the Paris Salon played a key role in the artistic life of the capital for two whole centuries. Gold, silver extraction increases in Azerbaijan Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:37:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Sara IsrafilbayovaAzerbaijan, one of the richest in precious metals deposits country in Eurasia, has increased gold and silver mining.The country produced 5,669 kg of gold in January-November, which is 3.2 times more than the indicator of the corresponding period of 2016.The State Statistics Committee reported that the extraction of silver increased by 67.9 percent, amounting to 566.800 kg.The stocks of finished goods, as of December 1, amounted to 63.5 kg of gold and 73.5 kg of silver.Gold mostly is produced in Dashkasan (AzerGold CJSC) and in Gadabay (Anglo-Asian Mining, Britain).The state-owned company AzerGold was established on February 11, 2015. The company uses new technologies in exploration, development and management of non-ferrous metal deposits, modernization of the material and technical sources and their effective use, as well as other work for developing this sphere.The first gold and silver export of AzerGold CJSC was carried out in May 2017, selling 66 gold alloys, 16,000 of which were gold, 24,000 ounces - silver. The first export batch brought the country's income in the amount of $20.1 million.Overall, Anglo Asian Mining PLC has the right to develop six fields in south-west of Azerbaijan: Gadabay, Ordubad, Gosha Bulag, Gizil Bulag, Vejnali and Soyutlu, in accordance with the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) signed between RV Investment Group Services and the government of Azerbaijan.The share of Azerbaijan in the contract is 51 percent, of the Anglo Asian Mining Plc. – 49 percent.As a whole, it is planned to extract 400 tons of gold from these six deposits, in accordance with the contract.The gold and silver produced there are sent to Switzerland for refining, and gold bars are delivered to the country and preserved by the government.The extraction of the first gold began in 2009 from the Gadabay field, the extraction of silver-in 2010.About 900 fields were registered in Azerbaijan's state and territorial balance of reserves of mineral resources. The Ministry for Ecology and Natural Recourses estimates that the country is able to produce about 10-15 tons of gold per year.As much as 2.1 tons of gold, 5.3 tons of silver and 1.94 tons of copper concentrate were produced at the Gadabay field in Azerbaijan in 2016. Ilham Aliyev reviews overhauled Ludwigshafen Park in Sumgait Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:24:00 +0400 By  TrendPresident of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has viewed conditions created at the Ludwigshafen Park in the city of Sumgayit after major overhaul.The head of state was informed of the renovation work carried out in the area of the park, which saw extensive landscaping, creation of green areas and installation of benches.The park was constructed in honor of the German city of Ludwigshafen, with which Sumgayit are sister cities.There is a similar park named Sumgayit in Ludwigshafen, which was built in 1997 to mark the 20th anniversary of sistership relations between the two cities. Azerbaijani actors named best in Turkey Arts & Entertainment Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:20:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijani actors Hikmat Rahimov and Ilakha Asadova have won in "Best Actor" and "Best Actress" nominations at the 5th Antakya Film Festival in Turkey.Hikmat played the main role in the feature film "Man of the third day" by Babek Shirinsifet, Trend Life reported.The film tells the story of a man, who after serving several years in prison, discovers that his family has perished, and his native region was occupied by Armenians.He crosses the line of contact together with his compatriot, and reaches his village in Kalbajar, eventually reaching out to his dreams - to visit his parents' grave ...The scripter writer of the film is Maksud Garaysha, director-producer Babek Shirintifet, production operator- Rafig Guliyev, designers Rafig Nasirov, Arif Niftiyev, composer Firudin Allahverdi. Project executors are Tarlan Babayev, Arif Safarov, producer Mushfig Hatamov.The cast includes Hikmat Rahimov, Rasim Jafarov, Kamran Aghabalayev, Nijat Habibov, Vidadi Aliyev, Mehriban Zaki, Matanat Abbasova, Halida Guliyeva, Zarina Gurbanova, Mammad Safa and Ayshad Mammadov.Ilakha Asadova played the main role in the movie "Pomegranate Orchard" by Ilgar Najaf.The film features a story about an old man, who lives along with his grandson and daughter-in-law in the decrepit house amidst of the huge pomegranate garden. Sudden comeback of his wayward son has changed a gentle rhythm of their peaceful existence. Forgotten bitter memories have come back and even more, new challenges are in store for them.Scriptwriters are Asif Rustamov, Ilgar Najaf and Roelof Jan Minneboo (The Netherlands). Operator-director is Aykhan Salar (Germany), animation director is Rafig Nasirov, executive producer Akif Aliyev, and producer Mushfig Hatamov.The cast includes Gurban Ismayilov, Anar Hasanov, Samimi Farhadov and Hasan Agayev.Notably, the movie is also included in the long list of applicants for the Oscar 2017 in the nomination "The best film in a foreign language". ADB upgrades Kazakhstan's GDP growth forecast for 2017-2018 World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:09:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaThe Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised the forecast for growth of Kazakhstan's gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017 from 2.7 to 3.7 percent and for 2018 - from 3 to 3.3 percent in its December report.The forecast, published by ADB, takes into account double-digit growth in the extractive industries of Kazakhstan. In this regard, GDP growth is now expected at 3.7 percent in 2017, which is significantly higher than the previously projected 2.7 percent.“Assuming higher oil prices in 2018 and further recovery in domestic demand, growth is likely to slow only a little in 2018, despite the higher base in 2017,” ADB analysts believe.At the same time, the growth forecast for 2018 for Kazakhstan is increased to 3.3 percent compared with the previously forecasted 3 percent. According to ADB, Kazakhstan, which is an exporter of hydrocarbons, will benefit from the recent increase in oil prices.Kazakhstan enjoyed a strong economic upswing in the year to September, with GDP growth at 4.3 percent backed by solid expansion in industry and transport services, according to the report.“At the same time, growth drivers started to weaken somewhat in the third quarter of 2017. During the first nine months of 2017, the biggest driver of growth was industry, which expanded by 8.3 percent, with extractive industries growing at 11.3 percent on double-digit growth in coal, crude oil, and metals. Manufacturing expanded by 5.7 percent. Agriculture, services, and construction grew moderately,” the bank analysts said.In general, the economic outlook for Central Asia in 2017 has further improved with recovery in several countries driven by domestic and external factors alike, the bank noted.ADB assumes that the overall GDP growth of countries in this region will reach 3.6 percent in 2017, compared with 3.3 percent in the previous forecast. The forecast for Central Asia for 2018 did not change and amounted to 3.9 percent.The Asian Development Bank was founded in 1966. The mission of the bank is to reduce poverty in the Asia-Pacific region (APR) through inclusive economic and environmentally sustainable growth, as well as regional integration. The head office of ADB is located in the capital of the Philippines - the city of Manila. The bank's shareholders are 67 countries, 48 of which are located in the Asia-Pacific region. Rebellion confirms LMP1 move for 2018/19 WEC season Sports Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:00:00 +0400 By  Azertac Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class for the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship super season, according to week, Porsche LMP1 refugees Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani will form part of the Swiss squad's driver line-up on its return to the top flight after one season in LMP2.Current drivers Bruno Senna and Mathias Beche will remain with the team, with Gustavo Menezes and Thomas Laurent joining from Signatech Alpine and Jackie Chan DC Racing respectively to complete the line-up.Rebellion has yet to confirm what car it will use, but it's expected it will continue its title-winning partnership with French constructor Oreca, with a Gibson the likely choice of power unit.A return to the R-One it used in 2016 prior to dropping down to LMP2 has already been ruled out by team boss Bart Hayden."I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago," said Jani, who raced with Rebellion in WEC before joining the factory Porsche squad in 2014."Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion."With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the superseason of WEC.” Pipes along 62% of TAP route in Greece, Albania back-filled Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 13:43:00 +0400 By  TrendPipes along over 62 percent of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) route in Greece and Albania have been lowered in and back-filled, according to a message from TAP AG consortium.It accounts for 475km out of 765km TAP route in the two countries.Progress is achieved in the implementation of the TAP project every day, according to the consortium.TAP is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which is one of the priority energy projects for the European Union. The project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz Stage 2 to the EU countries.The pipeline will connect to the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) on the Turkish-Greek border, run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Italy’s south.TAP will be 878 kilometers in length (Greece 550 kilometers, Albania 215 kilometers, Adriatic Sea 105 kilometers, and Italy 8 kilometers).TAP’s shareholding is comprised of BP (20 percent), SOCAR (20 percent), Snam S.p.A. (20 percent), Fluxys (19 percent), Enagás (16 percent) and Axpo (5 percent). Ilham Aliyev reviews overhauled Kimyachi Culture Palace in Sumgait Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 13:33:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reviewed the conditions created after overhaul at the Kimyachi Culture Palace of the Azerikimya Production Union of the State Oil Company (SOCAR) in Sumgait on December 15.President Aliyev got acquainted with the handicrafts of Sumgait craftsmen. Azerbaijan, Qatar have special relations: ambassador Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 13:11:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan and Qatar have special relations which are rapidly developing in all spheres, Qatar's ambassador to Azerbaijan Yousef bin Hassan Al-Saai said.The ambassador made the remarks in Baku on December 14 at an event dedicated to Qatar National Day."The relations have been developing well this year,” the diplomat said. “The first meeting of the joint commission on economy, trade and technical cooperation has been held this year on January 31."He said agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed between the two countries in economy, trade and agriculture.Addressing the event, Azerbaijani Minister of Emergency Situations Kamaladdin Heydarov said that Qatar and Azerbaijan successfully cooperate within international organizations.The minister appreciated Qatar’s support to Azerbaijan’s fair position over the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Ilham Aliyev attends opening of building of Sumgait city organization of New Azerbaijan Party Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 13:08:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has today attended the opening of the office building of the Sumgait city organization of the New Azerbaijan Party.The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the building. Azerbaijan’s taekwondo fighters top WTF Olympic Ranking Sports Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:53:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijani fighters Radik Isayev (+80kg) and Milad Beigi Harchegani (80kg) have topped the latest edition of Olympic ranking of the World Taekwondo Federation.Taekwondo fighters dominate their weight categories with 435,66 and 469,86 points respectively, Azertac reported.Aykhan Taghizadeh placed on the seventh place. He scored 207,15 points.All points are accumulated in the competitions organized by the World Taekwondo Federation. According to taekwondo rules, top six athletes will get a direct license to the Summer Olympic Games 2020.The games are planned to be held from July 24 to August 9, 2020 in Tokyo.Summer Olympic Games 2020 will feature 339 events in 33 sports. Alongside the five new sports that will be introduced in Tokyo, there will be 15 new events within existing sports, including 3-on-3 basketball, freestyle BMX and Madison cycling, and new mixed events in several sports.Radik Isaev has punched his way into the history books as he became the first Azerbaijani to win an Olympic taekwondo gold at the Rio Games 2016.He secured the gold medal thanks to a victory over Nigerien Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga in the final.Milad Beigi Harchegani won a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics, while Aykhan Tagizadeh is the winner of Baku-2015 First European Games.Taekwondo is one of the most popular sports in Azerbaijan.The National Taekwondo Federation has trained many prominent athletes since its founding in 1992. Many of those athletes now enjoy international recognition.The Federation’s training facility houses new, state-of-the-art training equipment and has a proud history of bringing up more than 500 black belt recipients and athletes. ICRC visits Azerbaijani hostages detained during Karabakh conflict Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:38:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovRepresentatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have once again visited Azerbaijani hostages, who were detained during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, spokeswoman for the ICRC Baku office Ilaha Huseynova said on December 14.She said the Committee representatives visited the Azerbaijani hostages in December.“During the visit, the conditions of detention and treatment of detainees were monitored,” Huseynova added.Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz 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 captivated Azerbaijani, 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 the hostages are still unsuccessful.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.Moreover, Armenian armed forces took hostage an Azerbaijani citizen Elnur Huseynzade under unknown circumstances in the direction of Talysh village in February this year.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. Iran could create its own “energy coin” World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:18:00 +0400 By  TrendIran could release crypto currencies backed by oil and gas, instead of using bitcoin, Sam Barden, Director of SBI Markets, an international commodity trading and advisory company, told Trend.The expert believes that there is absolutely no point in Iran pursuing any policy which relies on the use of US dollar."Bitcoin would be secure, have intrinsic value, unlike the USD, and create direct trade between partners without the need for third party settlement. This would also drastically reduce the cost per transaction, making a more efficient, modern, peaceful, real time trading market," said Barden, adding that however, use of bitcoin is also inexpedient for Iran."I think the first thing to note is that the crypto currency bitcoin is in a huge speculative bubble right now, which means it is very volatile. I do not think bitcoin would be suitable or good for Iran to settle oil trades. However, blockchain, the technology which underlies bitcoin, would be good. Iran could create its own crypto currency, linked to energy," said the expert.Barden pointed out that rather than have a totally speculative instrument such as bitcoin, Iran could release crypto currencies backed by oil and gas."It could be called "energy coin" for example, and each coin could be related to a barrel of oil or mmtu of gas. Coins could trade on an exchange, such as the Iran Oil Bourse on Kish Island, and Iran could settle all their energy trades in "energy coin". Iran could then use "energy coins" for international trade with its partners," said the expert.Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system. It is the first decentralized digital currency, as the system works without a central bank or single administrator. The network is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly through the use of cryptography, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in an immutable public distributed ledger called a blockchain. President Aliyev attends opening of Flag Museum in Sumgayit Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:05:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has today attended the opening of the Flag Museum in Sumgayit.President Aliyev cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the Museum.The head of state familiarized with the Museum. He was informed that the construction of the building began in February 2017 and the construction work was completed in September.The Flag Museum is located on the territory of the Sumgayit Boulevard. Azerbaijan gains importance as new commercial transportation corridor, says U.S. envoy Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovAzerbaijan gains importance as a new commercial transportation corridor, the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta said at the Fifth Frankfurt Gas Forum on December 14.The ambassador noted Azerbaijan is developing into an increasingly important transit hub, which makes it key to a global venture – the New Silk Road.Cekuta reminded that in late October, the Azerbaijani and Turkish Presidents, along with top figures from Georgia and a number of Central Asian countries officially inaugurated the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad.“This new modern rail link, along with the new port of Alat south of Baku on the Caspian, will provide a surface route connecting East and South Asia with Western Europe. Rather than taking 35 days to move goods by ship between Shanghai and Hamburg, these new rail and ferry links could enable goods to travel this same distance in 11 to 14 days,” the envoy said.He added that these new surface connections augment the air corridor already used through Azerbaijan’s airspace, in addition to the new, modern air cargo facilities.The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was constructed on the basis of the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey intergovernmental agreement. The main purpose of the project is to improve economic relations between the three countries and gain foreign direct investment by connecting Europe and Asia.The project implementation began in 2007 and construction began in 2008. The line is intended to transport one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of freight at the first stage. This capacity will then reach 3 million passengers and 17 million tons of cargo.During his speech, Cekuta also said that the discovery and development of the Shah Deniz 2 gas deposit makes Azerbaijan an important contributor to European – and thus global – energy security.“The technology being developed in Azerbaijan to extract gas from the Shah Deniz 2 field will be used elsewhere, including to get at hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico,” the ambassador noted.Reminding that the Shah Deniz 2 gas will be a source for the Southern Gas Corridor Project, the envoy said that the project with a budget in excess of $40 billion, and a 3,500 kilometer pipeline crossing six countries, going from below sea level to elevations of more than 2,500 meters, provides a new source of natural gas to millions in Europe, boosting energy security globally.“Looking at the four chief components, the development of the giant Shah Deniz 2 gas field itself is 97 percent complete. The expansion of the massive Sangachal terminal south of Baku is 99.8 percent complete, and construction of the pipeline across Azerbaijan and Georgia is 98 percent complete. Construction of the Trans Anatolian Pipeline or TANAP is 93 percent finished and work on the Southern Gas Corridor project’s fourth component, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline TAP, which will initially bring 10 bcma [billion cubic meters per annum] of gas to Italy, is 57 percent complete,” Cekuta said.Shah Deniz 2 is a giant project that will add a further 16 billion cubic meters per year (bcma) of gas production to the approximately 9 bcma produced by Shah Deniz 1. Being one of the largest gas developments in the world, the project will help increase European energy security by bringing Caspian gas resources to markets in Europe. President Ilham Aliyev arrives in Sumgayit Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:00:00 +0400 By  TrendPresident of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has arrived in the city of Sumgayit for a visit.The head of state first laid flowers at a statue of the national leader in the Heydar Aliyev Park in the center of the city of Sumgayit.Head of Sumgayit District Executive Authority Zakir Farajov informed President Aliyev of the work carried out in the park and in the city. Transneft reveals volukme of oil pumping to Uzbekistan in December World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 11:39:00 +0400 By  TrendRussia's Transneft plans to pump 50,000 tons of Russian oil in the direction of Uzbekistan in December 2017, RNS reports.The plan for December is 50,000 tons, the company’s official representative Igor Demin told reporters.He said that the volume of oil transportation in November amounted to 30,000, adding that the matter is test deliveries.In April 2017, during the visit of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyev to Moscow, a bilateral memorandum was signed on the delivery of 500,000 tons of Russian oil to Uzbekistan.Russia's Transneft has launched pumping oil in the direction of Uzbekistan through Kazakhstan via the Omsk-Pavlodar-Shymkent pipeline in mid November. Further, the raw materials are planned to be transported by rail. According to the approved schedule, the volumes will amount to 30,000 tons per month, but may be increased to 2,000 tons per day (that is, about 60,000 tons per month) on demand. More actions and fewer words needed from European Union leadership, says Peter Tase Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 11:15:00 +0400 By  TrendMore actions and fewer words are needed from the European Union leadership to guarantee the complete territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, said Peter Tase, a political analyst and international relations expert at the Milwaukee-based Marquette University.Tase made the remark when commenting on the newly-approved "EU foreign and security policy", which for the first time reaffirmed EU's commitments to support the territorial integrity of all Eastern Partnership countries within their internationally recognized borders.The expert said that this is one of many official documents approved by the European Parliament member countries in support of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan.“Despite the fact that European Parliament's recent action is an important step forward, it is critical to have the European Union institutions and leadership to show political and tangible support towards Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven districts, and denounce the Armenian economic blockade imposed against the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan for almost thirty years,” he said.Indeed, Tase continued, he expected detailed information on the destruction committed by the Armenian government and its Armed Forces in the territory of the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts, that are part of the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan.“The European Parliament’s leadership must be aware of the daily suffering and infinite hardships that Azerbaijani IDPs and citizens of Nakhchivan are going through, due to the belligerent attitude of Armenian fascist government and invasion by the Armenian Armed Forces for almost three decades. The European Parliament leadership must take real actions and impose political - economic pressure upon Yerevan until the latter has withdrawn its Armed Forces from every inch of Azerbaijani sovereign territory, as well as lifted the cruel economic blockade against Nakhchivan,” he said.Emphasizing that Europe has paid an ambiguous attention towards resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict, he said that more actions and fewer words are needed from the European Union leadership in order to guarantee the complete territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.Tase stressed that members of the European Parliament must become more engaged and active towards solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “This conflict is a bleeding wound for Europe and the world, it deeply affects the regional security in the Caucasus and harms economic development in South East Europe and beyond,” he concluded. Azerbaijani MP: EU supports countries’ territorial integrity only after facing threat to it Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 11:00:00 +0400 By  TrendEurope is now realizing the importance of expressing a decisive support for territorial integrity after it has faced the threat to territorial integrity, Deputy Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament Bahar Muradova said.Muradova made the remarks commenting on the EU Resolution on Foreign Policy and Security in Baku on December 14."Unfortunately, the importance of stance for territorial integrity is being realized now,” she said. “Of course, the reason is that the number of separatist attempts aimed at violating territorial integrity is gradually increasing in different countries.”The European Parliament adopted the EU Resolution on Foreign and Security Policy, which for the first time confirms the EU’s adherence to its commitments of supporting the territorial integrity of the Eastern Partnership countries within their internationally recognized borders. This document is of fundamental importance in terms of expressing the EU's attitude to the conflicts related to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.“Today, the EU, other European organizations think it necessary to make official statements in connection with this issue based on the principles of international law," Muradova said. "For many years Azerbaijan has been doing everything for this issue to be the number one issue on the international agenda. But, unfortunately, Europe started to express its attitude to this problem only after it itself faced this threat.”“But I think such statements are very important for eliminating conflict hotbeds,” Muradova said. “Not only statements must be made; we expect the EU and other international organizations to take concrete actions.” Iran's plan for lower oil income in budget bill explained World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:45:00 +0400 By  TrendThe fact that in its proposed budget bill for the next fiscal year the Iranian government has put oil incomes at a lower level than last years is because of mega-policy to wean the country from oil, a senior official with the Management and Planning Organization told Trend on December 12.The official also said such policy was decided upon the levels above the government.While in the budget bill for the current fiscal year (March 2017-March 2018) oil revenues were put at 1.14 quadrillion rials ($1 - 42,000 rials), this has dropped to 1.01 quadrillion in the next years, he noted.He said that besides this fact, the bill envisions ways for the government to use other financial sources for developmental projects instead of petrodollars.The government decision to put the next year’s oil revenues lower than the one of the current year, has been the subject of curiosity because while last year the oil price was put at $50 per barrel, this year it was put at $55.In the meantime, the country’s oil output remains at the same level as last year’s, while the price of Iranian crude has gained almost $10 per barrel, now standing at above $60.According to the official, Iran’s oil revenues in rial will be significantly more than last year’s, since the government has also put the US dollar rate higher than last year’s.While this year’s budget bill put the USD at 33,500 rials, next year’s budget bill has put it at 35,000 rials. Turkmenistan globally recognized as major producer of energy resources: president World news Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:36:00 +0400 By  TrendTurkmenistan is globally recognized as a major producer of energy resources, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said in an address on occasion of the professional holiday of workers of the oil and gas industry and geology.Turkmenistan’s recognition as a major producer of energy resources is clearly demonstrated by major projects implemented in the oil and gas sector, as well as targeted programs, reads the address.“Implementation of new projects to lay gas pipelines will remain a priority of our state policy,” Berdimuhamedov noted. “That is why we pay special attention to development of the oil and gas sector, which is one of the leading sectors of the economy.”According to BP, Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world in terms of natural gas reserves.Turkmenistan sells gas through pipelines to China and Iran. Currency rates for December 15 Business Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:22:00 +0400 By  TrendThe official exchange rate of US dollar and euro to Azerbaijani manat for December 15 was set at 1.7001 manats and 2.0032 manats, respectively.Below are the rates of Azerbaijani manat against world currencies, according to the data from the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.CurrenciesDec. 15, 20171 US dollar1 USD1.70011 euro1 EUR2.0032 Armenia 128 times breaks ceasefire with Azerbaijan in 24 hours Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:11:00 +0400 By  TrendOver the past 24 hours, Armenia’s armed forces have 128 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on December 15.Armenians were using large-caliber machine guns.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. NATO hails support from Azerbaijan to its objective of bringing peace to Afghanistan Politics Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovNATO has hailed the strengthened support from Azerbaijan, which is serving within Turkey's contingent in the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.“We strongly welcome the strengthened support from all Allies and partners including from Azerbaijan," a NATO official told Azernews on December 14. "This remains critical to our progress, and to our objective of bringing peace to Afghanistan.”NATO thanked Azerbaijan for continued commitment to the Resolute Support Mission with troops, transit and financial support.Last month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference that NATO is grateful for Azerbaijan’s decision to increase its troop contribution to the Resolute Support Mission next year.Speaking about the current situation in Afghanistan the NATO official praised the propgress made afghan forces.“Afghan forces are making progress, even though the situation remains challenging. Afghan Special Forces have conducted 80 percent of their operations independently, using their own assets and the Afghan Air Force has conducted 500 more air missions this year than last year,” he added.More than 13,000 troops from 39 countries now serve in the Resolute Support Mission. The U.S. is increasing its troop contribution and twenty-seven other nations are also committed to increase troop numbers in the coming months.“NATO remains fully committed to Afghanistan. There is no end-date to our Resolute Support Mission,” the official noted, adding NATO remains focused on its implementation.Resolute Support is a NATO-led training, advisory, assistance, and counter-terror mission in Afghanistan, which began in January 2015. It is a follow-on mission to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which was completed in December 2014.The peacekeeping contingent of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces has been serving in Afghanistan since November 20, 2002. Currently, 90 servicemen, two medical officers and two engineer sappers of Azerbaijani Armed Forces are participating in the mission.Azerbaijan has several times made substantial donations to the Afghan National Army (ANA) Trust Fund. Moreover, Azerbaijan supports Afghanistan on its path of reforms towards integrating into regional and global economy. Furthermore, Azerbaijan allowed the NATO planes carrying non-combat loads for a mission in Afghanistan to fly through Azerbaijan’s airspace and to use the country’s airports. About 40 percent of all cargo destined for the NATO mission in Afghanistan pass through Baku.With reagrds to the increasing terror threats in Afghanistan the NATO official said "NATO takes it very seriously".“The Afghan security forces have proven that they can deal with this challenge,” the message says.The interlocutor added that Afghan security forces are continuing their fight against terror, by taking decisive action and applying relentless pressure.“We are now increasing our commitment to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan by stepping up our train, advise and assist efforts in support to the Afghan security forces and institutions,” NATO official noted, adding that a special focus is put on the further development of combat capabilities so that Afghanistan does not become again a safe haven for terrorist attacks against our countries. EBRD assists Tajikistan in Promoting safe roads World news Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:00:00 +0400 By  TrendThe European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) assists Tajikistan in promoting the road safety, the bank reported.Together with the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST) and the Young Generation of Tajikistan (YGT), the Bank is running a road safety media and public awareness campaign in Dushanbe to promote the use of seat belts and highlight the benefits of eco-driving."Posters, leaflets and billboards now inundate the city’s streets, illustrating the benefits of wearing a seat belt as well as saving fuel and protecting the environment through eco-driving. Striking video messages are now playing on Tajik television as part of the campaign, showing the fatal consequences of not wearing a seat belt even on short journeys and at low speeds," the bank reported.The country’s traffic police is also committed to the initiative and announced that new sanctions and enforcement regimes are being introduced for non-use of seat belts.Final results will be assessed at the end of the campaign in 2018 to determine whether attitudes to seat belts and wearing rates have changed. But the transformation is already underway.The public awareness campaign is being organised in close collaboration with the local authorities and civil society partners in Dushanbe dedicated to the ‘Year of Youth’ in Tajikistan.The EBRD is supporting the road safety and eco-drive project in Tajikistan as part of its overall commitment to safe and sustainable transport in alignment with the UN “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020”, and in collaboration with the ADB (Asian Development Bank) and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Programme (CAREC). Bitcoin fever exposes crypto-market frailties World news Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:48:00 +0400 By  TrendAs bitcoin raced to another record high on Tuesday, one of the biggest providers of digital currency wallets, Coinbase, went down under the weight of traffic, leaving many of its more than 10 million customers unable to access their funds, Reuters reports.At the same time, Bitfinex, the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange by trading volume, said it was under a heavy denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, meaning its servers had been intentionally flooded with junk online requests, taking down its website and crippling its services.The latest outages show how the market infrastructure for an immature and volatile instrument that millions of investors have piled into may be ill-equipped to cope with sudden shifts in demand, which is worrying some investors.During a particularly volatile period of trading on December 7, bitcoin surged from below $16,000 to $19,500 in less than an hour on Coinbase's exchange GDAX, while it was changing hands at less than $16,000 on another, Bitstamp. BTC=BTSPAs trading volume surged, GDAX and Coinbase went down at least 10 times because of “record-high traffic”, Coinbase said. Stunning works of Italian artist shown in Baku Arts & Entertainment Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:32:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaThe exhibition titled "Caravaggio - Opera Omnia" displaying 37 digital art reproductions of famous Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio opened at Heydar Aliyev Center on December 13. The event is organized with the support of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Italian Embassy in Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev Center and the Italian TV company RA?.The exhibition aroused great interest among art lovers. Many public figures, representatives of art, culture and science, heads of diplomatic missions and foreign guests attended the event.In his speech, Assistant to Azerbaijan's First Vice-President, Director of the Heydar Aliyev Center Anar Alakbarov stressed that the exhibition is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Italy.“The relations between Azerbaijan and Italy are at a high level, cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres is constantly expanding. On the initiative of Azerbaijan's First Vice-President and the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva, Azerbaijani art and culture were repeatedly presented in various Italian cities. With the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the opera “Siberia” by Italian composer Umberto Giordano was presented at the Heydar Aliyev Center, fashion exhibition by Italian fashion designer Renato Balestra, featuring the Azerbaijani ornaments, a number of concerts were also organized,” said Alakbarov.“With the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Azerbaijan has successfully participated in the International Exhibition of Arts - the Venice Biennale for six years. After these exhibitions our sculptors and artists won recognition, successfully presented their works at other international events. As you know, the Heydar Aliyev Center is a unique architectural creation of the world famous architect Zaha Hadid. And it is significant that the presentation of this exhibition has a symbolic character, as the Heydar Aliyev Foundation presented the exhibition of contemporary Azerbaijani art “Fly to Baku” in the Roman National Museum of Modern Art MAXXI, which is also the creation of Zaha Hadid,” he added.Italian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Augusto Massari expressed gratitude to Mehriban Aliyeva for assistance in organizing the exhibition “Caravaggio - Opera Omnia” in Heydar Aliyev Center.“The holding of this exhibition in the Heydar Aliyev Center is a significant event in the cultural life of our countries, the next bridge of friendship and cooperation. The greatness and beauty of the Heydar Aliyev Center will help to better see the stunning works of art by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The exhibition, organized with the support of the Italian Foreign ministry was represented in a many countries. One of the Italian architects who worked on the organization of the exhibition “Caravaggio - Opera Omnia” in the Heydar Aliyev Center, told me that he was in many countries of the world, but  he has never seen such high professionalism in the preparation of the exhibition as in Azerbaijan,” said the ambassador.“It is a great honor and pride for us to present here the works of the Italian master of the brush, and we hope for further fruitful cooperation. This exhibition is the triumph of cultural diplomacy that will further bring together our peoples and countries,” he added.Then, guests got acquainted with the exhibition.The viewers were amazed by the works of Italian artist, whose artistic style contributed to the revolutionary changes in painting.The exhibition “Caravaggio - Opera Omnia” combines the art of Caravaggio with technological innovations. Reproductions of high quality, prepared using digital technologies, correspond to the real dimensions of the works.Michelangelo Caravaggio, whose paintings feature at all works on the art history of the 17th century, had a huge impact on the development of painting. He masterfully used contrast of light and darkness in his works.Italian artist was a bold innovator, who challenged the main artistic trends of that era - mannerism and academicism, contrasting them with harsh realism and the democracy of his art. A lot more could be said about his art, but it's better to see it once than to hear about it a thousand times.The exhibition will last until January 24, 2018.