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 Armenian authorities responsible for Gyumri tragedy http://www.today.az/news/analytics/138437.html Analytics Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:38:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevThe inactive Armenian authorities are responsible for the recent bloody tragedy in Gyumri, said a member of an international organization.Arthur Sakunts, Head of the Vanadzor Office of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, claimed that the law enforcement bodies in Armenia directly depend on the authorities, which, in turn, rely on their Russian instructors."The main blunder of the Armenian side was its failure in terms of Valery Permyakov's handover to the local law enforcers," Sakunts said.Sakunts believes that the Armenian authorities bear a political responsibility for the accident in Gyumri."The authorities are passive. Prosecutor General Gevorg Kostanyan is still trying to write a letter to the Russian side to demand for the handover of Permyakov, a killer of 7 people," he added.Sakunts claimed that Kostanyan's reluctance is related to President Serzh Sargsyan, saying: "Sargaysan doesn't allow Kostanyan to write a letter, because he is thinking of his own security."He went on to say that even the Kremlin and Russian President Valdimir Putin are now losing their trust in Sargsyan, as he has already failed to regain his prestige among the Armenian people."A very interesting coup d'etat model is taking shape in Armenia: it will be not the Armenian people, but the Kremlin which will calling for the government's overthrow," Sakunts said.The authorities have fabricated two myths following the aggression triggered by the bloodbath in Gyumri, said Sakunts."The first myth is that the Russian 102nd base is allegedly serving to protect Armenia's national security, while the second myth tells that the authorities are protecting Armenia's interests. The people hope that the president will shield their rights at least in extreme cases. But it didn't happen," he noted.Sakunts called on the people to abandon the opinion that the authorities are safeguarding their interests."The president, who treats his people badly, could not protect the interests of his own government," he added.The fact that Permyakov is now under control of the Russians show the authorities' subjection to Russia, claimed Sakunts."Obviously, not the Armenian constitution, but the Russian laws are in force in Armenia's territory," he said.Meantime, Hayk Marutyan, an Armenian actor, called on the authorities to decide whether they are Armenian citizens or just tourists visiting the country given their stance on the tragedy in Gyumri.Gyumri incident has turned into a complicated riddle for the rulers of Armenia. Russia is decisive to keep Armenia far from prosecuting Permyakov. Even the military experts, including Pavel Felgenhauer said there was no sense of expecting Russia to handover its soldier to Armenia.Investigators from the South Caucasus country have managed to interrogate Permyakov only after 10 days since the incident on January 22, when Alexander Bastrikin, Head of Russia's Investigative Committee, visited Armenia.Now, the local media claims that Bastrikin's urgent visit to Armenia raised some suspicions over Russia's permissive gesture to the Armenian law enforcers to question the conscript after a persistent refusal.It is widely believed that Russia is demanding something from Armenia as an exchange for interrogating Permyakov, according to 1in.am, a local media outlet. Tehran says lifting of sanctions helpful for oil prices’ recovery http://www.today.az/news/regions/138438.html World news Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:30:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaIran says the removal of economic sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear program can help oil prices rebound to a logical level.“With the removal of sanctions against Iran, the global oil price will become rational,” Mehr news agency quoted Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, Iranian Petroleum Minister as saying on January 23.Zanganeh added that the lifting of economic embargoes against Iran could shore up global oil prices.He also said falling oil prices would not have an impact on the construction of mini liquefied natural gas refineries in South Pars oil and gas field.“The plummeting global oil price has no impact on the economic justification for building the LNG refineries. So the construction of these refineries will be carried out accordingly,” he said.Zangeneh also went on to say that there is no red line for cutting oil output level in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.His remarks come as oil prices surged following the news of the death of Saudi Arabia's king on January 23. Uncertainty, however, still lingers in the energy markets as investors are waiting to see if the kingdom will change its oil production policy amid plunging prices.However, King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s new ruler said on Saudi national television that he will maintain the policies of his predecessor, Bloomberg reported.Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, rose to $49.71 a barrel in London on January 23. West Texas Intermediate rallied as much as 3.1 percent.Saudi Arabia is a key member of the OPEC body. The kingdom’s decision in late November not to slash output levels led to further falling prices.Oil prices started to fall over increased supplies by certain countries such as Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the OPEC and a lackluster global economic growth.OPEC, which pumps out about 40 percent of the world’s oil, has so far refrained from cutting its production to balance the market due to opposition from Saudi Arabia.Iran has criticized Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, for its lack of cooperation in preventing the fall in oil prices. However, Riyadh has said OPEC will not cut oil production even if oil prices fall to $ 20 a barrel. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan to connect East and West http://www.today.az/news/politics/138436.html Politics Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:34:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Aynur KarimovaGiven the increasing flow of Chinese products to different parts of the world, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan would form transport-logistics centers in their territories for transportation of goods from Europe to Far East.The two countries can achieve the goal by investing in the development of appropriate infrastructure, Azerbaijani expert Rovshan Ibrahimov said at a round table on ‘Time for Global Test: New Challenges’ in Astana.“Azerbaijan has a state program called ‘Vision into the future-2020’ with the emphasis on the development of infrastructure projects, as well as non-oil sector of economy. A similar program exists in Kazakhstan as well, which is called ‘Nurly Jol’. These state programs are our response to the crisis. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan can play the role of transport corridors between East and West by creating infrastructure,” he noted.Touching upon the statement of Saudi Arabia about the possibility of oil price decline to $25 per barrel, Ibrahimov said such a statement is of a political nature.“It is important for economies of our countries to recognize the challenges to adopt preventive measures,” the expert added.Azerbaijanis and Kazakhs are both Turkic-speaking nations and share close historical, religious, and cultural ties. Both countries are among the littoral states of the Caspian Sea and possess a common maritime border.About 130,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis live in Kazakhstan.The trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $371 million in 2013. Some 52 Kazakh companies operate in Azerbaijan, while 723 companies with the Azerbaijani investment are registered in Kazakhstan.Kazakhstan invested $5.2 million in Azerbaijan in fixed assets in 2002-2013, while only in the last two years Azerbaijan invested $132.8 million of direct investment in Kazakh economy. Get ready for Baku Fashion Week! http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/138435.html Arts & Entertainment Fri, 23 Jan 2015 16:05:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliGood news for fashion lovers. A large -scale event Baku Fashion Week bringing together famous designers throughout the world will be held in Azerbaijan's capital.The fashion show will be held on May 1-3.This would put Baku's name for the second time in a row with the biggest fashion capitals such as Paris, Milan, Moscow, and others.Hafiz Agaev's Production Center reported that designers from Azerbaijan, U.S., Europe, Asia and CIS countries will take part at the event."We do not want to put our all cards on the table. But, we tell it as a secret that Georgian designer Avtondil Tskvitinidze, famous and loved by everyone in our country will also attend the event. In addition, we are going to hold presentations and lectures by Darya Yadernaya with the support of "Natavan" gallery," the organizers said.The event will be held at the Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel, where project director Nina Drako will offer the guests great and unforgettable surprises.The first Baku Fashion Week was held in Azerbaijan in November 2014. The founder of the event was Hafiz Aghayev. In 2010, Hafiz presented Azerbaijan at the "Mister World" contest. Armenian terror threatens worldwide http://www.today.az/news/regions/138434.html World news Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:44:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevTerror does not discriminate. It does not differentiate between nationality and politics. Armenian terror is not different in this context.When it comes to terrorism many Armenians speak out against it, but when it has to do with Armenian-driven terrorism they seem to be of a different mind. Looking back through Armenia's recent history reveals an insidious organization that has targeted to establish "greater Armenia" through violence.One of the notorious Armenian terror organizations, Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, marks the 40th year of its establishment this year since its first bloodshed in Beirut, Lebanon, in January 1975.ASALA was established by immigrant Armenian youth headed by Agop Agopyan who turned to violence and armed struggle as a means of achieving his two "sacred" goals: to urge Turkey to confess the "genocide" against Armenians in 1915 and to annex the lands in eastern Turkey into "greater Armenia."ASALA's numerous terror actions committed between 1970 and 1980 around the world against Turkish diplomats resulted in the deaths of more than 40 Turkish diplomats.Broken promises from European countries to help Armenians attain their dream of creating a "greater Armenia" has brought ASALA back to the forefront of its struggle after stepping into the shadows for extended periods of time.ASALA committed four consecutive terror acts in Switzerland in July 1981, targeting the federal parliament, Zurich Airport, a Lausanne department store and a Geneva bus station, killing one and injuring 31.The U.S. Department of State included ASALA in its list of terrorist organizations in the 1980s. The National Counterterrorism Center of the U.S. said ASALA committed 84 terror attacks, 46 killings and 299 injures worldwide.In early the 1990s ASALA officially announced it would disband.Another report by Armenia Today, a media outlet in Armenia, said ASALA has organized over 400 terror acts all over the world through the years of its existence. Sislyan, member of the organization, has even boasted over the bloody actions, saying their plans reached the main goal, in other words, ASALA managed to kill, blast, injure.Armenian terror organizations arranged 373 terror actions against Azerbaijan in the first years of independence. They killed and injured thousands of Azerbaijanis as a result of bloody Khojaly genocide, Azer Salimov, teacher of the National Security Ministry's Academy after Heydar Aliyev, has said at the event dedicated to the Armenian terror in November.Sadval, an Armenian terrorist group organized two deadly blasts in the Baku metro in 1994, killing 27 and injuring 107.The very recent threats from ASALA Fighters, successor of ASALA, have been delivered to Azerbaijan's embassy in Hungary in September, 2012, warning they would kill Azerbaijani diplomats, students studying abroad, businessmen, activists in the Diaspora organizations and etc.ASALA Fighters named Turkey, Azerbaijan and Zionists as the main enemies of the Armenian people.ASALA, Sadval, Orly, Armenian Unity, Apostle, Geqaron, Dashnaksutyun and other numerous terror groups have brought ill-fame to Armenia.The whole world is fighting against terrorism in our days. The big powers of the planet calls on everyone to take a stand against terrorism. But, the Armenian terror, a part of global terrorism, still poses a threat to the peace and stability, both in the world and in the region. It would better for the Armenian authorities to eradicate the Armenia-rooted terror groups, instead of calling for a recognition of the so-called and unproven "Armenian genocide." President Ilham Aliyev met Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili http://www.today.az/news/politics/138433.html Politics Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:40:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev  met Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Davos.The parties expressed satisfaction with the successful development of the bilateral ties in various areas, including political, economic and energy ones. The importance of global energy projects implemented by the two countries was emphasized.The sides noted that there were good opportunities for expanding Azerbaijani-Georgian economic cooperation, and discussed the bilateral ties and other matters of mutual interest./By AzerTAc/ SOCAR to open new filling station in Baku http://www.today.az/news/business/138432.html Business Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:38:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Aynur KarimovaAzerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR continues searching areas for the construction of new filling stations in the regions, a source in the company told Trend on January 21.The source noted SOCAR’s plans on construction of new filling stations remain in force. “However, the main issue is the search of appropriate land areas, and works in this direction are underway,” the source said.Currently, SOCAR’s 16 filling stations operate in the Azerbaijani territory, two of which are located in the north of the country and the remaining-in Baku.The source noted SOCAR has already made a decision on the area for construction of its new filling station in Baku. The filling station will be constructed in Ziya Bunyadov Avenue and launched in 2015.Azerbaijan's energy giant SOCAR, the only producer of oil products in the country includes Azneft Production Association, which runs a number of onshore and offshore oil producing companies, Azerkimya Production Association, and Azerigas Production Association.SOCAR, which is keen on expanding operations in the retail oil products market abroad, is involved in exploring oil and gas fields, producing, processing, and transporting oil, gas, and gas condensate, marketing petroleum and petrochemical products in the domestic and international markets, and supplying natural gas to industry and the public in Azerbaijan.Currently, the company owns gas stations in Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Georgia and Ukraine. It has representative offices in Georgia, Turkey, Romania, Austria, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Britain, Iran, Germany and Ukraine, and trading companies in Switzerland, Singapore, Vietnam, Nigeria, and other countries. Armenian sabotage groups attack Azerbaijani positions, suffer losses http://www.today.az/news/politics/138431.html Politics Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:35:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaArmenian sabotage and reconnaissance groups tried to cross the contact line between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops last night, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said.The Ministry said after suffering losses during an intense exchange of fire, the Armenians were forced to retreat.Lieutenant Karen Galstyan and Artak Sargsyan were killed according to the preliminary data, Armenian media reported on January 23.Armenian armed forces have aggravated the tensions on the contact line between two sides over the past several days. The ceasefire violations by the Armenian troops reached 87 times over past 24 hours.The Ministry stressed that the Azerbaijani armed forces suffered no losses and Azerbaijani servicemen are now in full control of situation along the contact line.Earlier, the Ministry accused Armenian media of spreading false information. The Ministry rejected as baseless Armenian media reports on January 22 clashes.“Azerbaijani armed forces have not suffered any losses. Azerbaijani soldiers bravely crushed the enemy and now in full control of the operational situation on the contact line of troops,” the Ministry’s statement reads.The Armenian side is trying to hide its provocative actions on the contact line of Armenian-Azerbaijani troops by periodically spreading such false reports.Despite calls by the international community to abide by the ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan, Armenia continues its provocations on the frontline.Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup in 1991. The bloody war, which flared up due to Armenia's territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor, left without home over a million of civilians of Nagorno-Karabakh and the regions adjoining it, as well as the regions bordering with Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.They are temporarily settled in more than 1,600 settlements across 62 cities and regions of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijanis who were displaced from their homes as result of the brutal war were forced to live in refugee camps, tents and wagons in very difficult conditions.Moreover, thousands of Azerbaijanis have been expelled from Armenia and become refugees due to Armenia's ethnic cleansing policy after the emergence of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan. As a result of the military aggression of Armenia, over 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, 4,866 are reported missing and almost 100,000 were injured, and 50,000 were disabled. Azerbaijan decreases import from Georgia http://www.today.az/news/analytics/138430.html Analytics Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:46:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaAzerbaijan received 19 percent of Georgian export in January-December 2014, the National Statistical Service of Georgia reported.The report shows that goods worth $ 544.4 million were exported from Georgia to Azerbaijan in this period.The last year marked a 23.3 percent decline in Georgia’s export to Azerbaijan in comparison with the same period of 2013. In January-December 2013, Georgia exported goods to Azerbaijan worth $ 709.9 million.Despite this fact, Azerbaijan ranks first in the list of countries Georgia exports its products to, followed by Armenia ($ 288.24 million), Russia ($ 274.96 million), Turkey ($ 239.3 million) and the U.S. ($ 207.58 million).The main items of Georgian exports to Azerbaijan are cars, cattle, medicines, cement, steel reinforcement and other products.Cars export from Georgia to Azerbaijan decreased this year after introduction of Euro-4 ecological standard in Azerbaijan.In 2014, 17,550 cars totaling $ 267.96 million were exported from Georgia to Azerbaijan, the report said.The share of this category in the total volume of Georgian exports to Azerbaijan in this period amounted to 49.22 percent.The export of cars in this period decreased by 33.19 percent or by 133,110 vehicles in comparison with 2013, when 44,460 cars amounting $ 401.07 million were brought to Azerbaijan.Azerbaijan imported 1,933 trucks in the amount of $15.79 million in this period, which is 39.4 percent lower than the index of 2013. Georgia exported 4,000 trucks to Azerbaijan for $ 26.05 million in 2013.In January-December, 92,480 tons of cattle in live weight for $ 57.26 million were brought from Georgia to Azerbaijan.The report shows that the share of this category in the total volume of Georgian exports to Azerbaijan for the reporting period amounted to 10.5 percent.Exports of cattle from Georgia to Azerbaijan compared to the same period of 2013, increased by 41.4 percent, and in quantitative terms - by 28,000 tons in January-December 2014.In 2013, Georgia exported to Azerbaijan 64,470 tons of cattle in live weight in the amount of $ 40.49 million.Trade turnover between Georgia and Azerbaijan in January-December 2014 amounted to $1.18 billion, which is 10.3 percent of total foreign trade of Georgia. The last year’s turnover is 13 percent less than the same period in 2013. The trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $1.36 billion in 2013.Georgian import from AzerbaijanOn its part, Georgia imported $637.59 million worth of products from Azerbaijan in 2014, the statistics said. The volume of Azerbaijan’s export to Georgia decreased by 2.4 percent over the past year. Georgia imported $652.9 million worth of Azerbaijani goods in January-December 2013.Azerbaijan ranks third among the countries from which Georgia imports products. The share of Azerbaijani export in the total volume of goods imported to Georgia is 7.4 percent.Georgia imports most part of goods from Turkey. The volume of Georgian import from Turkey stood at $1.7 billion or 20.1 percent of the total volume of import in 2014. China ranks second with $732.96 million and with 8.5-percent share in the total volume of Georgian import.Georgia mainly imports gas, petroleum products and electricity from Azerbaijan. Flying carpets to return to Shahdag http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/138427.html Arts & Entertainment Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:29:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaRed Bull will organize another fun event in Azerbaijan. For the second consecutive year, Red Bull will hold Shakh Carpet event which will gather together the most joyful and quick-witted young people from across Azerbaijan.Popular ski resort Shahdag will be the place where people will fly, jump and ride their handmade “carpets” on February 8.The competition presupposes that the costumed participants, equipped with any attachments for descending the mountain will move down a slope length of 80 meters up a small trampoline of 80 cm height ending in a swimming pool with cold water!The most interesting part of the contest is to create the main element: The carpet.People who want to attend the contest should focus on concept of their team: To build a device to slip by a carpet. Twenty of the most talented teams will be selected to participate in the contest.At the moment, 15 teams have already registered. Last year, the competition gathered 23 teams.Each team should consist of 2-3 people, who can show their performance in five minutes.The funniest carpet jumpers will be selected by a jury based on three criteria: the best jump, the creativity of the costumes and performances and the audience sympathy.All the safety precautions will be taken into account during the event.Shahdag complex located 30 km north of the town of Gusar, 2,500 meters above sea level, is outstanding because of its rich nature, crystal-clear air, and favorable climate with a temperatures ranging between minus 20-22 degrees in winter and 20 degrees in summer. All these provide the modern tourism complex with high standards.For accreditation and transportation, please contact: Natia Amiridze Tel .: +995 5 77 55 00 33, Natia.amiridze@ge.redbull.com Tesla shocks Baku with Model S http://www.today.az/news/society/138428.html Society Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:17:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaBaku may soon turn into the city of fresh smogless air as environment friendly car Tesla is now put on sale in the country.Azerbaijan’s Automobile Federation reports that Tesla cars are already available for purchase in the center of electric vehicles GreenCar.GreenCar with the support of the Automobile Federation and the International Dialogue for Environmental Action Public Association has started the implementation of the country's large-scale innovative environmental projects.One of the main aims of the project is to bring to Azerbaijan the latest technological innovations.Implementation of this project is aimed at protecting the environment and supporting environmental initiatives for living in a healthy environment, preventing from negatively affects on the environment, as well as improving the environment.Today, when Baku is overcrowded with old and environmental hostile cars, meeting the need to electric vehicles is a high prirotiy.Tesla Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan, is the first Tesla cars which have been brought in the Azerbaijani capital. The model is now presented at the GreenCar center in Port Baku Mall.Electric cars presented at the center contribute to environmental innovative methods and reduce the pollution to its minimum level.Tesla Motors, founded in 2003 to prove that electric cars could surpass gasoline-powered cars, accelerates the world’s transition to sustainable transport.As a technology and design company focusing on energy innovation, Tesla produces its vehicles at its factory in Fremont, California.Inspired by inventor and electrical engineer Nicola Tesla, Tesla’s engineers first designed a powertrain. In 2012, the company launched Model S that redefined the very concept of a four-door car with room for 7 passengers and more than 64 cubic feet of storage.However, Model S is not only a comfortable family sedan, but also a vehichl which gains the acceleration of a sports car from 0 to 27 m/s in about five seconds.Model S was named Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year and achieved a 5-star safety rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Tesla Model S 85 and 85D are further steps in improvement of the car, that features a high efficiency motor at the front and rear, giving the car unparalleled control of traction in all conditions.Today, there are more than 50,000 Teslas on the road worldwide. The company now is preparing to launch Model X, a crossover vehicle that enters volume production in 2015.GreenCar prices for Model S starts from 79,200 manats for Tesla Model S 60 kWh, 88,200 manats for Tesla Model S 85 kWh, and 110,300 manats for Tesla Model S 85D Performance.Rates on different models and technical characteristics of cars can be found in the GreenCar center.The rates for these cars are not the lowest for Baku, however, the car should earn its keep on the road. While the gasoline prices are not permanent in Azerbaijan, the country plans to develop its gas resources because it is the main raw material, which makes 92 percent, of production of electricity in the country.Thus, the fuel of the ecologically safe cars will not be a problem in Azerbaijan. Moreover, establishing charging stations for electric cars is also expected in the country. Georgia deepens partnership with Lithuania, Netherlands http://www.today.az/news/regions/138426.html World news Fri, 23 Jan 2015 12:44:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevThe Georgian and Lithuanian top officials applauded the close bilateral relations between the two countries, in Davos, on January 22.Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite have mainly mulled the European Union visa liberalization issues, implementation of the provisions of association and free trade agreements, as well as preparations for the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit in Riga this May.The two high-ranking officials have also discussed the regional security issues alongside the progress that Georgia achieved during implementation of the European reforms."Lithuania supports the European choice of the Georgian people and stands ready to offer expert assistance on issues of implementation of reforms,” Grybauskaite said.She also positively assessed the policy pursued by the Georgian government in regard to Russia.Meanwhile, a trade mission from Netherlands will visit Georgia this year, as Garibashvili shook hands with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte to strengthen mutual relations with Netherlands.The two top diplomats discussed the opportunities for strengthening the cooperation in the fields of economy, culture and education.Trade turnover between Georgia and the Netherlands increased by 21.5 percent in 2014, up to $158,110 to make Netherlands one of the major countries investing in Georgia.Garibashvili thanked Rutte for supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the Dutch observers’ participation in the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia. Championships in Aerobics due in Baku http://www.today.az/news/sports/138425.html Sports Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:48:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliThe National Gymnastics Arena will host the Baku Championships in Aerobics on February 7.This is the first time that Azerbaijan is holding such a competition. The gymnasts will attend in individual, mixed pairs and group categories.The competition will bring together gymnasts born in 2004-2006 and 2001-2003, as well as seniors – national team members.The competition will start at 15.00 at the Auxiliary hall of the National Gymnastics Arena. The address of the event is Heydar Aliyev Avenue, 108 near the "Koroglu" metro station.Entrance is free for public.As a gymnastic discipline, aerobics was established under the leadership of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), in Azerbaijan in 1995. Last year, the government took major steps to develop it further.Earlier, the national representatives successfully passed some tests organized by the federation in Austria. The aerobics team attended the World Cup for the first time held in the Bulgarian city of Borovets and took the third place. European Games drive Baku towards safer roads http://www.today.az/news/sports/138424.html Sports Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:38:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaMore than 2,000 of Baku’s drivers will benefit from intensive training courses to be held ahead of this year’s inaugural European Games.A new fleet of coaches, minibuses and sedans will transport athletes, officials and national delegation members during the games that will open in Baku on June 12.The Baku 2015 European Games Operations Committee, together with the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transportation and Baku Bus Company, the government agency responsible for upgrading the city’s bus network, is working to ensure that drivers have the skills they need to operate safely and efficiently.A total of 2,100 participants, including 800 coach drivers, will complete a three-part course over the coming months, covering theory classes, a practical introduction to the new vehicles, and Baku 2015 Games route and venue familiarisation.It is estimated that drivers will have a total of 15 days of special training before beginning work on official routes during the Games.Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, said: “Training the city’s drivers will help a smooth functioning of transport services during the European Games, as well as making a lasting improvement in people’s day-to-day lives.”Many of Baku’s professional drivers are highly experienced and have worked during major events such as the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years.Panos Protopsaltis, Director of Transport at Baku 2015, said: “This initiative is the biggest driver training programme in the history of major sporting events, and is part of Baku 2015’s commitment to leaving a human and physical legacy to Baku and Azerbaijan in transport terms.“The new training centre, built to the highest international standards, will foster awareness of safety and best practices on Baku’s roads,” he added.The training course is an opportunity for the drivers to increase their skills and play an important role in operations during the European Games. It will also form the basis of a Centre of Excellence for professional drivers in Azerbaijan.Baku bus driver Mubariz Ibrahimov, who has just started the course, said: “I have experience of working at large events such as the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, and this training will help me get used to the new vehicles and learn the skills which will be useful during and after the European Games.”The biggest sporting event in Azerbaijan's history Baku 2015 European Games will attract more than 6,000 athletes to represent their nations during the 17 days of competition. There will be a total of 20 sports at Baku 2015: 16 Olympic sports and three non-Olympic sports.Baku 2015 venues are subdivided into four clusters and include brand new facilities such as Baku Olympic Stadium, National Gymnastics Arena, Baku Aquatics Center, renovated sport venues and temporary arenas. Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/politics/138423.html Politics Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:35:00 +0400 Over the past 24 hours, Armenian military 87 times violated the ceasefire on various parts of the contact line between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan said Jan. 23.Armenians stationed in the villages of Berkaber and the nameless heights of the Ijevan district, Voskepar, Voskevan of the Noyemberyan district of Armenia opened fire on the Azerbaijani armed forces’ positions located in the villages of Ashagi Askipara, Qushchu Ayrim, Qizilhajili and the nameless heights of the Qazakh district.Armenians stationed in the villages of Chinari and Aygepar and the nameless heights of Armenia’s Berd district opened fire on the Azerbaijani armed forces’ positions located in the villages of Alibayli, Kohanebi and Munjuqlu of the Tovuz district.Armenians stationed in the nameless heights of Armenia’s Krasnoselsk district opened fire on the Azerbaijani armed forces’ positions located in the nameless heights of the Qadabay district.Azerbaijani armed forces were also fired at from the positions near the villages of Goyarkh, Chilyaburt of the Terter district, Tapqaraqoyunlu of the Goranboy district, Shikhlar, Yusifjanli, Sarijali, Shuraabad, Marzili, Javakhirli, Novruzlu of the Aghdam district, Horadiz, Ashagi Seyidahmadli, Qarakhanbayli, Qorgan of the Fizuli district, Kuropatkino of the Khojavand district.Moreover, the Azerbaijani soldiers came under the Armenians’ fire from the positions on the nameless heights in the Goygol, Goranboy, Fizuli and Khojavend districts.The opposing side was silenced with return fire.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan.As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations.Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions./By Trend/ President Ilham Aliyev met the BP Group Chief Executive http://www.today.az/news/politics/138422.html Politics Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:32:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met BP Group Chief Executive Robert Dudley in Davos.During the meeting, the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor in ensuring the European energy security and Azerbaijan`s role in this area were highly appreciated.The parties expressed confidence that successful cooperation between BP and Azerbaijan would be continued.President Ilham Aliyev met the BP Group Chief Executive/By AzerTAc/ Exchange rate of AZN compared to world currencies on Jan. 23 http://www.today.az/news/business/138421.html Business Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:15:00 +0400 The exchange rate of AZN compared to the world currencies and precious metals on Jan. 23, according to the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.Currencies and precious metalsJan. 22, 2015Jan. 23, 20151 US dollar1 USD0.78440.78441 euro1 EUR0.90970.88971 Australian dollar1 AUD0.6330.62691 ArgentinianPeso1 ARS0.09110.091100 Belarusian Rubles100 BYR0.00520.00521 Brazilian Real1 BRL0.30160.30471 UAE dirham1 AED0.21360.21361 South African Rand1 ZAR0.06810.0687100 South Korean Won100 KRW0.07220.07241 Czech koruna1 CZK0.03250.03191 Chilean Peso1 CLP0.12490.12561 Chinse Yuan1 CNY0.12630.1261 Danish Krone1 DKK0.12230.11951 Georgian Lari1 GEL0.39920.39271 Hong Kong Dollar1 HKD0.10120.10121 Indian Rupee1 INR0.01270.01281 British pound sterling1 GBP1.18721.1761100 Indonesian rupiah100 IDR0.00630.0063100 Iranian rials100 IRR0.00290.00291 Swedish Krona1 SEK0.09590.09521 Swiss Franc1 CHF0.90730.89951 Israeli Shekel1 ILS0.1990.19831 Canadian Dollar1 CAD0.63450.63291 Kuwaiti Dinar1 KWD2.66852.65541 Kazakhstan Tenge1 KZT0.00430.00431 Kyrgyz Som1 KGS0.01310.01311 Lithuanian Litas100 LBP0.05190.0519100 Lebanese pounds1 MYR0.21740.21761 Malaysian ringgit1 MXP0.05310.05361 Mexican Peso1 MDL0.04580.04591 Moldovan Leu1 EGP0.10670.1061 Egyptian Pound1 NOK0.10330.10261 Norwegian krone100 UZS0.03230.0323100 Uzbek soums1 PLN0.21160.20931 Polish Zloty1 RUR0.0120.01221 Russian ruble1 SGD0.5880.58561 Singapore Dollar1 SAR0.20880.20881 Saudi Riyal1 SDR1.11421.11631 SDR (IMF Special Drawing Rights)1 TRY0.33390.33691 Turkish lira1 TWD0.02490.02511 Taiwanese Dollar1 TJS0.14260.14181 Tajik Somoni1 TMM0.22030.22031 New Turkmen manat1 UAH0.04960.04961 Ukrainian hryvnia100 JPY0.6640.6615100 Japanese yen1 NZD0.5910.58791 New Zealand dollar1 XAU1014.62141016.3863Gold (1 ounce)1 XAG14.249714.3624Silver (1 ounce)1 XPT1007.9541003.2476Platinum (1 ounce)1 XPD610.2632600.8504 /By Trend/ President Ilham Aliyev attended “Regions in transformation: Eurasia” session of the World ... http://www.today.az/news/politics/138420.html Politics Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:11:00 +0400 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended “Regions in transformation: Eurasia” session of the World Economic Forum in Davos.The head of state made a speech at the session, and then responded to questions from the audience./By AzerTAc/ Keep your bank cards safe and sound http://www.today.az/news/business/138419.html Business Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:41:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaNon-cash payment is gaining popularity in Azerbaijan. It is pleasant indeed to have all your money with you in a small piece of plastic.However, the bankcards are vulnerable around the world and in the country. For this reason, one must know how to protect his/her money against the criminals.It is sad to notice but the number of people wishing to rob our cards is on the rise. Moreover, these cybercriminals are improving their technical methods day by day.In Azerbaijan, several cases have been registered where fraudsters set skimmers in ATMs to read your bankcards’ data.In 2014, the number of ATMs in Azerbaijan exceeded 2,500 units, growing by 7 percent in comparison with December 2013. Most of the ATMs are concentrated in Baku, which scales up risks.One of the most notable frauds in this sphere took place last year, when four China citizens penetrated into the systems of the ATMs of the International Bank of Azerbaijan with special tools, chips, video devices, memory cards and other means.They read out PIN codes belonging to clients of cards. The group was also able to register credit cards of 3,634 clients, and read out and set the PIN code of 21 cards, before their arrest.The detainees confessed their plan to read the entire information from the card, to go back to China to easily assign money from these cards.In October 2014, other robbers, inspired by gangster films, blew up the International Bank ATM and steal money.Nevertheless, such cases are more exception than rule in Azerbaijan. However, the population should be aware about the dangers.It is a common situation in Baku that others gather together when someone uses services of the ATM.In Azerbaijan, retired people get their pension benefits by bank cards, and in many cases these old people give their cards to strangers to take out money. These cases have increased the crime.Every holder of a bankcard should know some easy steps to protect his or her money while using ATM.Use ATMs are mainly installed in public institutions, departments of banks, major shopping malls, hotels, airports. So, using ATMs located on the streets, exercise maximum caution.Look around before using the ATM, inspect people who are standing next to you and in case of a growing suspicion, look for another ATM.Examine the keyboard before typing the PIN code, as well as a slot for receiving a credit card. Any additional equipment on the ATM may mean that your actions are under surveillance.Cover the keyboard with a hand while entering the PIN.In case of feeling an unusual behavior of the ATM, just call off the current activity.Do not leave a receipt at the ATM, as many people do in Baku because it contains important information. You should even keep the bank receipt, as its validity period is 6 months.Count the money at the ATM.If you do not understand something while working with the ATM, ask a consultant, but not the strangers in the queue.These single actions will help you protect your nerves and money. Protest action held in Tehran Stock Exchange http://www.today.az/news/regions/138418.html World news Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:53:00 +0400 The protest action led to confrontation where the glass of the board indicating the indexes of the stock exchange was broken and other office materials were damaged.Police officers have been sent to the scene, according to the website.Some protestors said that there is a manipulation of the share prices. They said that when the share prices dropped by 40 percent, the indices decreased slightly, which proves that there is manipulation of the share prices.Director of the Tehran Stock Exchange Hassan Ghalibaf met with the protestors on Jan.21 and said that the problems in the stock exchange are related to the decrease in oil prices in the world market below $50 and budget deficit.Ghalibaf reassured the protestors that the situation in the stock exchange will be normalized. He added that the increase or decrease in the share prices is related to demand and supply.The stock index was 82,028 in January 2014, while this figure is currently equal to 65,028, according to the official statistics of Tehran Stock Exchange./By Trend/ EBRD annuls economic growth rate for Armenia http://www.today.az/news/regions/138417.html World news Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:14:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevThe European Bank for Development and Reconstruction has downgraded its forecast for the economic growth in Armenia, according to Haykanak Zhamanak, a local newspaper.The EBRD predicted a zero economic growth in Armenia, saying the economy of the post-Soviet nation is now expected to stagnate in 2015.The European bank claims that the depreciation of the ruble has increased pressures on the currencies of economies with strong trade, investment and remittances ties to Russia, particularly with a sharpest decline in Armenia, along with Belarus and Turkmenistan.Armenia has drawn the poorest outlook from the EBRD, remaining considerably far behind its regional neighbors Azerbaijan and Georgia. Given the possible impact of the sharp fall in oil prices, Azerbaijan, an energy exporter, will also see the negative effects on its economy, according to the EBRD. Thus, the bank forecasts 1.5 percent economic growth in Azerbaijan, while the figure is 4.2 percent for Georgia.For now, the EBRD forecast is the worst prognosis by an international financial organization related to Armenia's economic growth for this year.Just three months ago, the European bank announced a 3.5 percent raise for Armenia's economy in 2015, according to 1in.am, local media outlet.The EBRD experts downgraded the growth rate based on the correlation of Armenia's economy with the deepening economic hassle in Russia, which, in turn, is linked to the fall in oil prices.Strong subjection to Russia's economy has seriously affected the public opinion about Armenia's free economy. The country deepened its dependence on Russia by joining the Eurasian Economic Union, a trade bloc of the post Soviet nations.Armenia's strong reliance on the migrant money sent from Russia was also among the decisive factors behind the most recent Moody's outlook for Armenia, which featured a downgrade to negative from stable.Meantime, the National Statistics Service announced the latest report on poverty rate in Armenia. Nearly 32 percent or 967,000 of the overall population live on a poverty threshold, as the average monthly income of one third of the population is under $82, according to NSS.Armenia needs $176 million annually to eradicate the poverty in the country. Iran's FM to join World Economic Forum http://www.today.az/news/regions/138416.html World news Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:03:00 +0400 Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian foreign minister has left Tehran on January 22 for Davos, Switzerland to take part in the 45th annual summit of World Economic Forum (WEF), IRNA news agency reported.Zarif is scheduled to meet with his US counterpart John Kerry on the sidelines of the forum to continue negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear program.He met Kerry twice in mid-January in Geneva and Paris as the two sides seek to speed up the negotiations to reach a comprehensive agreement on Iran 's nuclear program.World leaders from political, social and business backgrounds would attend the annual meeting of the WEF. The focal theme for this year's annual meeting is “The New Global Context”.The meeting would discuss all aspects including those of security, stability, need for increased cooperation, innovation and related aspects.The forum kicked will continue until January 24.- - - /By Trend/ ICRC representatives visit Azerbaijani hostages http://www.today.az/news/politics/138415.html Politics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:55:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaRepresentatives of the mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross have visited the Azerbaijani hostages held in captivity by Armenians in the occupied territories.ICRC representatives visited Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, who unlawfully convicted by the separatist regime in Azerbaijan’s occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region, Armenian media reported on January 21 citing Zara Amatuni, head of communications programs of the ICRC delegation in Yerevan.The visit, which was the eighth by turn, took place on January 16.During the visit of the ICRC representatives, there was an exchange of messages by the Red Cross.Armenian special forces killed Azerbaijani citizen Hasan Hasanov and took hostage Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Asgarov in the Shaplar village of the occupied Kelbajar region on July 11. The civilians were visiting the graves of their relatives.Following the so-called “judicial process" Dilgam Asgarov was sentenced to life imprisonment, and Shahbaz Guliyev - to 22 years in prison.Recently, Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister has said Moscow will discuss with Yerevan issue of holding hostage of Dilgam Asgarov, who is a Russian citizen.Despite repeated calls by the international organizations and foreign countries on Armenia to return the captives back to their country, nothing has been made in this regard so far. Azerbaijan to attend opening ceremony of “Mary-2015 cultural capital of Turkish world” http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/138414.html Arts & Entertainment Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:27:00 +0400 Head of Department at the Azerbaijani ministry of culture and tourism Fikrat Babayev, a group of musicians will attend the opening ceremony of “Mary-2015 cultural capital of Turkish world”.The ceremony will be held at Mary, Turkmenistan on January 27.Mary city of Turkmenistan has been declared “The Cultural Capital of Turkish World” in 2015 at the 32nd meeting of International Turkish Culture Organization (TURKSOY) held in Kazan city of Russia.The ceremony will feature photo exhibition and folk concerts./By AzerTAc/ OIC countries show principled stance on recognition of Khojaly genocide http://www.today.az/news/politics/138413.html Politics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:18:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaParliaments of the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have once again demonstrated a principled position on recognition of the Khojaly tragedy as genocide.Elshad Isgandarov, Chairman of the OIC Youth Forum and Mahmud Erol Kilic, Secretary General of the Parliamentary Union of OIC signed a protocol on cooperation between the two bodies at the 10th session of the Conference in Istanbul.The document envisages cooperation on "Justice for Khojaly" campaign, alongside with an extensive cooperation in a number of areas, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reportedThe "Justice for Khojaly" International Awareness Campaign was initiated in 2008 by Leyla Aliyeva, General Coordinator of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation.The Campaign is aimed at raising international civil awareness by creative photos and images depicting people who have suffered during the Karabakh conflict, particularly the Khojaly massacre. They also try to reach out the world via media, Internet, and live events.OIC member states’ parliaments once again showed their stance on recognition of Khojaly genocide with a resolution on "Cooperation between the International Forum and the Parliamentary Union of the OIC" adopted during a 10th session of the Conference of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC.The participation of the OIC member countries in the "Justice for Khojaly" campaign and cooperation between them in this area at an international level plays an important role in the recognition of Khojaly genocide in the world, the Ministry said.In 1992, the town of Khojaly, the second largest town in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, came under intense fire from the towns of Khankendi and Askeran already occupied by the Armenian armed forces.613 civilians mostly women and children were killed in the massacre, and a total of 1,000 people were disabled. Eight families were exterminated, 25 children lost both parents, and 130 children lost one parent. Moreover, 1,275 innocent people were taken hostage, and the fate of 150 of them remains unknown.The legislative bodies of many countries have already adopted resolutions recognizing the crime committed by Armenians against the peaceful people in Khojaly as genocide.The parliaments of Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Jordan, as well as legislative bodies of about 20 states of the Unites States, including Texas, New-Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Western Virginia, New-Jersey and Tennessee are adopted relevant documents.The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) adopted a final Cairo Communiqué in February 2013, during a summit held in Egypt's capital, calling the Khojaly tragedy as genocide against humanity. The Communiqué calls on the international community to recognize the tragedy as genocide. AZAL to launch direct flights to Berlin http://www.today.az/news/business/138412.html Business Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:55:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliAzerbaijan Airlines, Azerbaijan's biggest airline and national flag carrier will carry out direct flights en route Baku-Berlin-Baku.Maharram Safarli, Spokesperson of AZAL said that the flights will start from May 2."The flights on this route will be performed two times in a week via Airbus 319," he said.The ticket prizes are not known.As a regional and CIS leader in terms of the number of new aircrafts, AZAL offers its passenger flights to European countries, the CIS, Middle East, Asia and the United States.Currently, AZAL's fleet consists of Boeing 757-200, Boeing 767-300, Airbus 319, Airbus A320, Airbus A340-500, Embraer ERJ 170-100LR and Embraer ERJ 190-100. The company cooperates with about 60 airlines to provide its passengers with an opportunity to travel leisurely around the world.In 2015-2016 Azerbaijani cargo airline Silk Way Cargo - a subsidiary of Silk Way Airlines plans to buy 3 airliners Boeing 747-8. Azerbaijan, Jordan strengthening bilateral ties http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/138411.html Arts & Entertainment Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:50:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliAzerbaijan and Jordan mulled the cooperation issues as Sabir Aghabeyov, Azerbaijan`s Ambassador to Amman has met Lana Mamkegh, Jordanian Minister of Culture.Speaking on the fraternal relations between the two countries Mamkegh noted that the personal friendship between the heads of states played an important role in strengthening the bilateral ties, AzerTag state news agency reported.“The high level of existing bilateral political ties makes contribution to expansion of cultural cooperation,” she underlined.The minister hailed the organization of the Jordanian Cultural Days in Baku in 2009 and the Azerbaijani Cultural Days in Jordan in 2010.She praised the services of the Embassy in organization of Baku trips for winners of the essay competition “What do I know about Azerbaijan” among Jordanian students and students of the Philadelphia University, the participants of the “Univision” Student Song Contest.The minister said Jordan was keen on close cooperation with Azerbaijan, and stressed the importance of expanding fraternal and cooperative relations in the field of culture.Aghabeyov, for his turn, stressed the Azerbaijani side was always ready for cooperation with Jordan.The ambassador also informed the Jordanian side on the Bloody January events, committed against Azerbaijani people. He added despite all efforts of the former Soviet leadership, Azerbaijani people managed to restore their independence after 20 months from the January 20 events.He also touched upon the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying more than a million of Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs.He noted that Armenians destroyed hundreds of cultural and art objects in the occupied Azerbaijani territories.The Jordan Kingdom relates to Azerbaijan as reliable economic and political ally. Jordan repeatedly voiced intention to activate ties with Azerbaijan, which is the leading country in South Caucasus and to invest heavily in economy of the country.Amman and Baku also have ambitious plans to expand their cooperation in education, culture and other fields to serve the interests of their peoples.Azerbaijani Embassy was opened in Jordan in 2006. In 2007, Jordan Embassy was established in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, Chuvashia to establish intl. cultural center http://www.today.az/news/politics/138410.html Politics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:45:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliHead of the Chuvashia Republic and the leadership of the All-Russian Azerbaijani Congress discussed expansion of cooperation between the two sides, Trend Life reports quoting Russian media as saying.Mikhail Ignatyev, Chuvashia’ Head and Ilgar Hajiyev, Executive Director of the Congress as well as Aziz Badirov, Chairman of the regional branch met on January 21.The sides called construction of the International “Azerbaijan-Chuvashia” cultural and exhibition center as one of the spectra of mutually beneficial cooperation.They also praised establishment of the Chuvashia producers permanent trade office in Azerbaijan, implementation of joint projects on cultivation of poultry-based Agrofirms "Turunovskaya" as well as construction of agricultural logistics center in Cheboksary as positive opportunities in creation mutual relations.Ignatyev underlined that Chuvashia is ready to cooperate in the field of culture and economy with Azerbaijan.He added that creation of an enabling environment for the development of joint business projects will benefit peoples of both republics.Chuvashia’s head invited Azerbaijani Diaspora to take part in the Russian festival of folk art "Springs of Russia”. It is a bright and spectacular song and dance festive, dedicated to Republic Day celebrations. All Muslim countries should keep in focus Nagorno-Karabakh conflict http://www.today.az/news/politics/138409.html Politics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:31:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaTurkish official has called on the Muslim countries to pay more attention to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.Cemil Cicek, Speaker of Turkish Parliament said all Muslim countries should focus on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict emerged in 1988 over Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan, Turkish media reported.Cicek said Turkey has supported and will always support Azerbaijan.Noting that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the problems in the South Caucasus that should be resolved, Cicek blamed the international community for indifference in this issue.The precarious cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia was reached after a lengthy war that displaced over a million Azerbaijanis and has been in place between the two South Caucasus countries since 1994. Since the hostilities, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenia's withdrawal from the Azerbaijani territory, but they have not been enforced to this day.Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles. The negotiations have been largely fruitless so far. Troubled waters of the Caspian Sea http://www.today.az/news/analytics/138408.html Analytics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:17:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaThe heart of the region, the Caspian Sea is in constant motion with its level changing from year to year. Both increase and decrease of the sea’s water level are creating challenges for the littoral states.The Caspian Sea is a closed water reservoir, so there are periodic fluctuations in its level, the Azerbaijan Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry said.“Climate changes in the areas of the river basins of the Volga, Ural, Samur, Kura, Terek, Sefidrud and others, whose water forms about 80 percent of the total water balance of the Caspian Sea, make a significant effect on the sea’s level fluctuations,” the Ministry said.Recently, the level of the Caspian Sea reached the mark of 28 meters below the global ocean level. Scientists believe that the main reason for lowering level is the climate change.Earlier, the Geography Institute at the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences predicted that the Caspian Sea level will rise by up to two meters after 2020. The Caspian Sea level has relatively stabilized since 1995. This period will last until 2020, the Azerbaijani scientists believe.The Caspian Sea level reached its lowest level ever recorded in 1977 and was marked at minus 29 meters on the Baltic system of heights.In the last seven years, the level of the Caspian Sea dropped by nearly 0.56 meters, while the average annual rate over the past year amounted to minus 27.43 meters on the Baltic system of heights, the Ecology Ministry said.In addition to long-term fluctuations of the sea level, intra-annual fluctuations are also observed in the sea, which are associated with the seasons.The rising sea level causes floods on the coastal areas, while its reduction hampers the works of the ports.In the 1980s, the Caspian Sea level rose and floated some infrastructure on the coast. Moreover, a part of the Seaside Boulevard in Baku turned into a swamp.Decrease and increase of the water level damage shipping industry, as well as underwater environment. The Caspian Sea, a home to about 141 fish species, is rich with natural resources.The fall of the level in the north and middle of the Caspian Sea will lead fish to the Iranian part, where the depth reaches 1,200 meters. This will create problem for fisheries of the other four Caspian states.Moreover, even one-meter fall in the level at the south of Azerbaijan may cause problem for Qizil Agac state reserve, the place for protection and reproduction of wintering and migratory waterfowl and steppe birds.Constructions underway on the currently dry area of the Caspian Sea are also endangered, as they all may stay under seawaters in the near future.The cleanness of the Caspian Sea also depends on the water level. The lower the level of sea water, the more its pollution, as the sea self-cleaning process slows. Today, pollution is one of the pressing problems of the Sea.Experts believe that some of the causes of pollution in the sea include development of hydrocarbon reserves in the sea and its surrounding areas, high density of population and industry in the adjacent areas, intensive agricultural development in valleys and the rivers flowing into them, and its closed ecosystem.The uncertainty of the legal status of the Caspian Sea hampers effort to effectively help this fateful water reservoir. Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/politics/138407.html Politics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:03:00 +0400 Over the past 24 hours, Armenian military 106 times violated the ceasefire on various parts of the contact line between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan said Jan. 22.Armenians stationed in the villages of Berkaber, Azatamut, Paravakar of the Ijevan district, Shavarshavan of the Noyemberyan district of Armenia opened fire on the Azerbaijani armed forces’ positions located in the villages of Farakhli, Qizilhajili, Jafarli of the Qazakh district, Kohneqishlaq of the Aqstafa district.Armenians stationed in the villages of Chinari and Aygepar of Armenia’s Berd district opened fire on the Azerbaijani armed forces’ positions located in the villages of Agbulag, Hajialili and the nameless heights of the Tovuz district.Azerbaijani armed forces were also fired at from the positions near the villages of Goyarkh, Chilyaburt, Chayli of the Terter district, Tapqaraqoyunlu of the Goranboy district, Shikhlar, Yusifjanli, Sarijali, Shuraabad, Marzili, Javakhirli, Novruzlu, Bash Gervend of the Aghdam district, Horadiz, Ashagi Seyidahmadli, Ashagi Veyselli, Ashagi Abdurrakhmanli, Qarakhanbayli, Qorgan of the Fizuli district, Kuropatkino of the Khojavand district and Mehdili of the Jabrayil district.Moreover, the Azerbaijani soldiers came under the Armenians’ fire from the positions on the nameless heights in the Goygol, Goranboy, Fizuli and Khojavend districts.The opposing side was silenced with return fire.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan.As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations.Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions./By Trend/ Armenia, absent from Davos Forum http://www.today.az/news/business/138406.html Business Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:40:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevDavos, the world’s most prestigious economic meeting that brings together annually the planet’s top brains in politics, economics and journalism kicked off this year minus one country: Armenia. The 2015 edition of the annual Economic Forum began on January 21 where Armenia will not have a seat at this 45th global forum.Davos traditionally draws participants such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, billionaire economist Warren Buffet, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well US and European heads of states and governments. Davos Forum will host about 2,500 representatives from the world's 150 countries this year.Why there will be no delegation from Armenia this year amid the high fliers of the business and finance world? Is it because of lack of official invitation from the forum organizers or are there other reasons behind Armenia's absence? The Armenian authorities avoided to officially respond, said Lragir.am, a local media outlet in Armenia.Vaahn Khachartyan, an Armenian economist, believes that Armenia doesn't attend the forum, just because the government has nothing to address."The people, who have something to say and who want to listen to others, visit Davos to join the forum. But, Armenia has nothing to say and is reluctant to listen. That's why our country has not been represented at the event for several years in a row. Moreover, Davos is a field for new contacts, new investment opportunities. It seems that the Armenian government is unaware of it," Khachartyan said.Davos is not only a platform for talks over economic issues, but also a venue for political and economic elite of the world," said Khachatryan, adding that it seems that Armenia has nothing to contribute or to gain.Hayk Gevogryan, an economic columnist, said Armenia's participation at the Davos forum would be an insignificant waste of money."The experience shows that participation at the global business event will not affect Armenia's economy," he added.He also noted that going to Davos is not an option to attract investments, while Armenia needs to create a free market atmosphere to achieve this goal.Vahid Ahmadov, Member of the Azerbaijani Parliament's Economic Commission, said Armenia's current economic condition prevented it from attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting."As a colony of Russia, Armenia has nothing to say at the business forum. Even the country's president has nothing to say. Compared to regional neighbors, it has no chance to put its impact on the international processes. Economy of the country is under severe circumstances, while it is considerably controlled by the Russian oligarchs. The ruble's ongoing crisis, in fact, tells a lot about the existing situation in Armenia today," Ahmadov noted.Focusing on global politics, economics, and social issues will be the key topics to be discussed by the international business and political leaders at the 2015 World Economic Forum annual meeting.This year’s forum is expected to attract a record number of participants. Yay Gallery to host Margret Eicher's exhibition http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/138405.html Arts & Entertainment Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:20:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaMargret Eicher’s solo exhibition will be the first exhibition to be held at the YAY Gallery in 2015.Eicher is a German conceptual artist specialized in tapestry. She is famous for her enormous tapestries, in which she combines baroque imagery with well-known and familiar images of our information society.The central motifs of her tapestries relate to current images of photojournalism and advertising from print and digital media. The icons of our modern information society are reproduced in a conceptually well-founded piracy of images, taken from a wide range of sources.Her art is a kind of symbiosis, a synthesis and a blend of classical traditions and modernity. This quality makes her tapestries extremely relevant today, the Gallery informs.Her artistic position is not that of a creator, but a creative recipient. Through a selective use of imagery, the artist reproduces a cultural or political statement. ‘Borrowing’ as a cultural and artistic act dates back to the twentieth century with the emergence of collages and montages. In Margret's works, this takes on a critical and political stance.In her tapestries, the artist adheres to the predominant pillars of tapestry manufacture. Preserving the frame of the central composition, created according to the historical and traditional functional symbols and semantics, Eicher introduces hints of modernity in a canonized form (with stencil).Margret Eicher's media-tapestries are high-tech industrial products and inexpensive handiworks. In Flanders, the birthplace of court tapestries, the textile industry is very active manufacturing copies of old images to sell as souvenirs on the international markets.The artist deliberately chooses to replace traditional and expensive tapestries because this falsification of traditions is an example of typical amusement of our time, based on the collective use of intellectual property.The opening night of the exhibition will be held on January 27 at 7 p.m. It would be open for visitors until March 19.For further information please contact Farah Alekperli: farah.a@yaygallery.com +994 55 490 09 26 Russia intends to include Tajikistan into EEU http://www.today.az/news/regions/138403.html World news Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:21:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Aynur KarimovaThe majority of Central Asian countries depend on remittances from labour migrants working in Russia, which pave the way for Moscow to involve them into the Russia-backed Eurasian Economic Union.Tajikistan, whose 72 percent of labour force is seeking employment in Russia, is believed to be next goal for Moscow to be joined to EEU. Some 1.23 million out of 8-million population of Tajikistan worked in Russia in 2013, according to the data released by the Federal Migration Service of Russia. Remittances from Tajik workers living abroad stood at $3.587 billion in 2013, which accounts for 50 percent of the country’s GDP.Some experts believe that Russia tries to use the labour migration issue against Central Asian countries, in particular Tajikistan, to involve into the economic integration. As an example, in 2014, Russian Federal Migration Service deported over 200,000 Tajik citizens who worked without proper permission or committed administrative violations.Russian officials have repeatedly stated that Tajikistan should join the EEU. Tajik officials, for their part, said they are studying the issue of EEU membership as well.However, economic slowdown in Russia threatens to slow the expansion of the EEU. This slowdown has already caused a significant reduction in the volume of remittances sent by migrant workers to their countries.The Tajik government does too little to create new working places in the country. So, Tajik migrants are in a deadlock in making a certain decision whether to stay in Russia or return home to unemployment. Azerbaijan Cycling Federation announces media call http://www.today.az/news/sports/138404.html Sports Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:15:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliThe 2015 cycling season has started and Azerbaijan Cycling Federation is already full of plans for the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan.Federation announced that it wants to give the media the opportunity to join the event that will run from May 6 to 10.“During the Tour we can also give you an insight in the European Games, the country and the new structured cycling federation. If you are interested in attending the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan 2015, please fill out the application form found here,” the report reads.There are limited spots available so the interested should apply March 1.The race and its sponsors are providing airfare (flights from airports served by the Azal Airlines, such as Milan, Rome, Paris, Prague, Istanbul, Vienna, Frankfurt, etc.) and hotel rooms, transportation during the race and daily meals. The journalists are guaranteed access to the riders and teams.“The Tour runs from May 6 to 10, and we will fly you in on May 5. If you are attending the Tour of Turkey, we will fly you from Turkey to Baku on May 5. Flights home are on May 11,” the report reads.Tour d'AzerbaïdjanThe Tour d’Azerbaïdjan is a UCI 2.1 five-day stage race. This will be the fourth edition of the event, which started in 2012 as the Heydar Aliyev Anniversary Tour (U23) and was held in 2013 and 2014 under its current name, the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan.European GamesIn June, Baku will host the first ever European Games, which will feature road cycling, mountain biking and BMX. While at the Tour, you can check out the new facilities that have been prepared for these debut games.Cycling Federation of AzerbaijanFederation is also looking forward to sharing impression on the structure the Cycling Federation of Azerbaijan has built since they started the cycling project in 2011, and sharing plans for the future.AzerbaijanThe Tour covers all seven regions of Azerbaijan in five stages, starting and ending in the capital city of Baku. This Caucasus nation contains 9 of 11 climate zones, with mountains, ridges and plateaus covering more than half of the land. On its eastern side, Baku sits on the beautiful Caspian Sea. Azerbaijani teachers to visit Massachusetts http://www.today.az/news/society/138402.html Society Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:15:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliSome 14 Azerbaijani teachers dealing with children with disabilities will visit the U.S.’s Massachusetts state to take part in a training project.The U.S. Institute for Training and Development has won a grant to conduct a project supporting young people with disabilities. The project is financed jointly by Sports United, the U.S. State Department for Educational and Cultural Affairs and the US Embassy in Azerbaijan.The participants will learn and discuss issues connected with the physical development of young people with disabilities.An American delegation including six people will also visit Azerbaijan on this issue.As part of the project, the participants will prepare an action plan, which should be implemented upon returning home.These projects aim to promote access of youth with disabilities to sport. They are expected to raise public awareness about the abilities of children with disabilities. FEZ Co-op Council to develop Caspian countries’ trade ties http://www.today.az/news/politics/138401.html Politics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:00:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Aynur KarimovaIran has proposed the Caspian-littoral countries to establish a new joint center to be called the Cooperation Council of Free Economic Zones, Director General of Anzali free economic zone Reza Masroor told Trend Agency on January 21.He said the establishment of this council would contribute to the development of economic relations between the five Caspian-littoral countries.Currently, five Caspian-littoral countries-Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan-have not yet agreed on preferential trade regime, Masroor said.“Preferential trade will be possible between the mentioned countries after signing such an agreement,” he emphasized. “We hope that the relevant bodies of the five countries will discuss this proposal.”Masroor went on adding that the signing of the agreement on preferential trade between the free economic zones can be a pilot project and later, this agreement can be applied to the Caspian-littoral countries in general.“Signing of such an agreement will give an impetus to the development of trade, expansion of export and import between the Caspian Sea countries,” he said.Masroor also emphasized the importance of expansion of cooperation between the ports on the coast of the Caspian Sea.“Goods are mainly imported to Iran through the Shahid Rajai port, however, studies showed that the cargo transportation will be cheaper if the China-Kazakhstan (Aktau)-Iran (Anzali) corridor is used for these purposes,” he added.Masroor said he intends to pay a visit to Azerbaijan in the second half of February 2015.“The purpose of the visit is the development of economic and trade relations between Iran and Azerbaijan,” he said. “A number of businessmen from Gilan province will visit Azerbaijan together with me.”The status of the Caspian Sea is one of theunresolved issues in the world. Caspian littoral states signed a framework convention for the protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea in November 2003.In July 1998, Russia and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on the delimitation of the northern part of the Caspian Sea to implement sovereign rights for subsoil use. The protocol of this agreement was signed May 2002. Agreements on the delimitation of the Caspian Sea between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and the related protocol were signed on November 29, 2001 and February 27, 2003 respectively.Also, an agreement on the delimitation of adjacent sections of the Caspian Sea was signed by Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia May 14, 2003. Weak Russian ruble threatens Georgia's economy http://www.today.az/news/analytics/138400.html Analytics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:36:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevThe Russian ruble's recent crisis poses a threat to nine countries in terms of remittances including Georgia, according to one of the influential British newspapers.Nine countries including Georgia, which rely heavily on cash transferred from Russia amid their economic buoyancy, could collectively lose more than $10 billion in 2015 due to the weakening Russian currency, reported the Guardian based on World Bank figures.Twelve percent of Georgia’s economy rely on private transfers from Russia, while the figure is 21 percent for Armenia’s, 31.5 percent for Kyrgyzstan, 25 percent for Moldova, 42 percent for Tajikistan, 5.5 percent for Ukraine, 4.5 percent for Lithuania, 12 percent for Uzbekistan and 2.5 percent for Azerbaijan, according to the World Bank data.Money sent by emigrants in Russia comprises a significant portion of total inflows in these countries. For instance, about 40 percent of the overall remittances to Georgia, Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine are from Russia, while the number jumps to 79 percent for Kyrgyzstan.Drop in ruble's value not is only decimating the amount of money transfers to the Caucasus and Central Asia, but could also lead to a political unrest, believes the Guardian.The tendency could be problematic for Russia either, which is expected to count considerably on immigrant labor for the formidable building projects, as the country is in a preparation to host the 2018 World Cup. Azerbaijan-initiated projects change Europe’s energy map http://www.today.az/news/politics/138399.html Politics Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:28:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaAzerbaijan and Germany have discussed the prospects for the development of bilateral ties during President Ilham Aliyev’s working visit to Berlin.President Aliyev met Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel in Berlin on January 21, the Azerbaijani presidential administration reported.Highlighting the importance of president Aliyev’s visit, Chancellor Merkel said Germany was interested in expanding cooperation with Azerbaijan. She noted that Azerbaijan is playing a profound role in the diversification of European energy supply routes, execution of large-scaled projects such as TAP and TANAP, and the Eastern Partnership initiative.Merkel said more German companies were interested in participating in the diversification of Azerbaijan`s economy and implementation of infrastructure projects.Noting that Azerbaijani-German relations were successfully developing, President Aliyev said his visit created good opportunities for discussing the development of the bilateral ties.President Aliyev further noted with satisfaction active participation of many German companies in the diversification of Azerbaijan`s economy, adding that there was good potential for enhancing the cooperation.He also touched upon Azerbaijan-EU relations, saying they were successfully developing. Regional, international and other issues of mutual interest were discussed at the meeting.Following the meeting, President Aliyev and Merkel have given a press conference.“The political relations have a positive impact on all other areas. Naturally, today the economic cooperation is also on agenda. Many German companies operate in Azerbaijan. We support their activities,” President Aliyev said.He noted that in the future, the German companies will be able to do in Azerbaijan even more, both as contractors and investors.“Given the dynamic development of Azerbaijan’s economy, the realization of numerous infrastructure projects, then, of course, successful activities of German companies in Azerbaijan will continue,” he said.Nagorno-Karabakh conflict great source of threat for regionTouching upon the issues of regional security, President Aliyev said the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a priority for Azerbaijan, stressing that this is a great source of threat, both for Azerbaijan and the region.“As is known, the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan have been under occupation of Armenian army for many years. Some 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands are under the occupation, over one million Azerbaijanis suffer from the occupation and have become refugees and internally displaced persons,” President Aliyev said.He noted that the UN Security Council adopted four resolutions on the settlement of the conflict, which demand the unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories.“Unfortunately, Armenia ignores them, willing to keep the status quo. This conflict must be settled on the basis of principles and norms of international law within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. As in all other conflicts, there should be a single approach,” he said.Chancellor Merkel said conflicts, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be solved peacefully.She regretted the frequent violations of the ceasefire along the line of contact between the Armenian and Azerbaijani troops, noting that Armenia and Russia adhere to certain common stance on this issue.Merkel also said Germany supports the work of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is tasked to broker peace talks over settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.She further praised the role of Azerbaijan in energy security of Europe and expressed support for the ‘Southern Gas Corridor’ project.As Merkel noted, the negotiations also focused on the issues of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU, and expansion of relations within the Eastern Partnership.Projects, initiated by Azerbaijan changes Europe’s energy mapPresident Aliyev further said the energy security was among the main topics of the talks, adding that the projects, initiated by the Azerbaijani side, change the energy map of Europe, the energy security of which will be further secured with help of Azerbaijan as well.“The TANAP project started in 2012 and the TAP project was selected in 2013 as a main export route, and late last year the foundation for the Southern Gas Corridor was laid. Azerbaijan is the initiator of all these projects. At the same time, Azerbaijan undertakes large financial commitments for the implementation of these projects,” President Aliyev said.The president expressed confidence that all the work will be done in a timely manner.“The TANAP project will be realized in 2018, and TAP a year after it. In order to achieve this, of course, it is needed to have closer cooperation in this area between Azerbaijan and the EU,” he said.President Aliyev noted that next month Azerbaijani capital of Baku will host the first Advisory Council of the Southern Gas Corridor at Azerbaijan’s initiative, and expressed confidence that it will discuss all the issues.“Once again I would like to say that I greatly assess my visit today. The relations between Azerbaijan and Germany have great potential. The decisions made today, the negotiations held, will greatly contribute to the development of relations,” President Aliyev further said.All freedoms secured in AzerbaijanWhile responding to the questions of journalists on human rights issue, President Aliyev noted that all the freedoms are secured in Azerbaijan.He said Azerbaijan has, in the last 11 years, been one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world in terms of economy.“According to surveys held in Azerbaijan, my rating stands at about 90 percent,” he further said, adding that this is related to the reforms that have been in recent years conducted in Azerbaijan.“The economy has grown by over three times, the unemployment and poverty stand at the level of five percent. In terms of competitiveness, Azerbaijan’s economy ranked 38th in the assessment of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Naturally, with such results the rating of any leader should be high,” President Aliyev said.Speaking about the freedom of speech, Azerbaijani president said that it is provided in the country by 100 percent.“Hundreds of media outlets operate in Azerbaijan,” he said, adding, “At the same time, no restriction is put on the internet in the country. The internet is free, there is no censorship.”President Aliyev also noted that the number of the internet users is about 75 percent.“The freedom of press is provided in full,” he said, noting that the same can be said about the freedom of assembly.President Aliyev noted that in recent years there has been great progress in Azerbaijan regarding the development of democracy.“It is of course very important for us. I am sure the political reforms should be carried out simultaneously with the economic reforms. Only this way the sustainability of reforms can be ensured,” he said.President Aliyev further spoke about the cooperation with the Council of Europe, saying the country has been a member of the CoE since 2001 and has been timely and properly fulfilling its commitments to the organization.He said Azerbaijan has adopted many laws that meet the European standards. He also underscored that human rights in Azerbaijan are secured.“These issues are being discussed within international organizations. There are problems in every country, including in Azerbaijan. The main thing is how they are solved and what the government’s intentions are,” the president said.President Aliyev also stressed that the representatives of all religions, all ethnic groups live in Azerbaijan as one family, adding there is no confrontation and misunderstanding.“I believe our achievement is that religious freedom is fully secured in Azerbaijan. The values of multiculturalism are protected in the country at a high level,” President Aliyev added.He also said Azerbaijan’s experience in this context is being explored by other countries. He went on to say that Azerbaijan has consciously chosen this path and the country is true to universal values.President Aliyev expressed confidence that the discussion of these issues in the future will bring even greater contribution to the work in this area, additional steps will be taken in this direction, and reforms will be deepened.“I would like to once again note that political reforms are being complemented by economic reforms,” the president said.He added that a modern state is being built in Azerbaijan, which marks the 24th anniversary of its independence.President Aliyev wrapped up his two-day working visit to Germany on January 21.Following the visit to Germany, President Aliyev paid a working visit Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos. Azerbaijani films join Varesh Film Festival http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/138398.html Arts & Entertainment Thu, 22 Jan 2015 10:47:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Amina NazarliAzerbaijani films were screened in the eighth Varesh International Film Festival, which was held in Iran on January 19-22.The festival included such documentary films of "Azanfilm" studio as "Melting Island", "Interihange", "Lahic" as well as the animated film "Old Watch". The short feature film "Lighthouse" was also screened during the festival.The screenwriter of "Melting Island" and "Lighthouse" is Esmira Eyyub. The films' director is Fariz Ahmadov. "Lahic"'s screenwriter and film director is Tofig Shahverdiyev, producer is Fariz Ahmadov. Screenwriter and film director of "Old Watch" is Javid Ahadov, producer - Fariz Ahmadov.From 1,278 films sent to the festival, 168 were included in the festival's competition program. Some 58 of them are works of Iranian filmmakers and 110 of foreigners.The festival aims to promote cultural heritage of several Caspian nations and ethnic groups. It also helps identification of young and talented filmmakers as well as development of creative links between them."Azanfilm" studio was established in 1993 by the Azerbaijani Culture and Tourism Ministry as one of the state film studios. As the only professional animation studio in Baku, "Azanfilm" studio is also engaged in production of films and video productions. Over 20 years, dozens of successful animation films, documentary and feature films production have been accomplished in the audiovisual field.Azanfilm's mission is to play an active role in the development of Azerbaijani cinematography through training human resources in the film-making sphere, along with the production of national documentary and feature films, their promotion in local and foreign markets, and the provision of legal support for film production projects. General director of studio is Fariz Ahmedov. Azerbaijani govt keeping focus on non-oil sector http://www.today.az/news/business/138397.html Business Thu, 22 Jan 2015 09:44:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Gulgiz DadashovaBaku is not afraid of lowering oil prices, the government assured the Azerbaijani nation amid concerns over decline in crude oil price in the global market, now hovering around $50 a barrel.The government of the energy-rich Azerbaijan has long been speaking about the risk of the energy depending economy. It has been searching for alternatives to petrodollars received from the oil and gas export since long time ago.The government is paying special attention to diversification, as a result of which Azerbaijan’s non-oil economic sectors have grown by 10 to 15 percent over the last two to three years. Relevant programs were adopted at the state level on the development of non-oil sector, which covers mainly agriculture, industry and IT sectors.Speaking about the development of the non-oil sector, Expert Ogtay Hagverdiyev said it is possible to note some positive aspects, in particular, industrial parks created in Sumgait, shipyard construction, seaport, etc. Such large-scale projects bear fruits and can be an alternative.“Today, however, there is a need to create high-tech projects that could be beneficial for the whole world,” he told local media.He noted that the country enjoys huge potential which needs to be implemented as quickly as possible, especially since there are financial opportunities.Despite the fact that the share of the non-oil sector in Azerbaijan’s GDP already exceeds 55 percent, most of the export potential is linked to oil and gas. Oil, oil products and gas occupy lion’s share in Azerbaijan’s exports, making up 92 percent of the total figure."Even in the 90s of the last century, when oil was produced in smaller quantities, the figures were almost the same. Yet we have exported and export metal, aluminum, plastic granules. However, this is not the finished product, but only a semi-finished products and raw materials. We manufacture these products, but do not develop them. For example, with the aluminum we can manufacture the final product and then export it. It is possible to produce aluminum sheets and sell them to someone else. Therefore, today we can begin to engage in knowledge-intensive manufacturing and selling abroad,” Hagverdiyev said.2014 was declared the Year of Industry and a number of measures associated with the development of industry were taken. In 2015, the government expects to set up a large metallurgical complex. Thus, Azerbaijan will have new products to export, and this will give a further impetus to the economic diversification and development of the non-oil sector.In the meantime, 2015 was declared the Year of Agriculture in the country, which is expected to give a new stimulus to the development and modernization of agriculture, ensuring a complex and systematic approach to settlement of problems in the agrarian field, involving the government`s administrative and financial resources in this sector, and promoting the country`s agrarian potential.Azerbaijan plans to export products worth $26.8 billion in 2015, some $2.7 billion of which will be goods of non-oil sector.“In early 2014, we set the goal of achieving growth in both the gross domestic product and the non-oil sector. These two main objectives have been met. Our economy has grown by about 3 per cent. This is an excellent indicator in today's world. Some countries have not experienced any growth. In fact, they are registering a decline. In the countries registering growth it constitutes about 1 per cent,” President Ilham Aliyev said at the recent Cabinet meeting.“Despite the fact that oil prices plummeted at the end of last year, the economy of Azerbaijan has increased by almost 3 percent. It is very delightful that our non-oil sector has increased by 7 per cent. This is a good example of the works carried out in the last few years and a manifestation of our policy. In the future, the non-oil sector will provide chances for even greater economic development of Azerbaijan. The development of the non-oil sector will enable us to achieve a diversified development of the economy and ensure its sustainable development,” he notedAzerbaijan’s economy, which led the world as the top reformer in 2007/08, with improvements of seven out of 10 indicators of regulatory reform, has increased by about 27 percent and the non-oil sector by 55 percent since 2008 global financial crisis.The revenues of Azerbaijan's state budget for 2015 are forecasted at 19.438 billion manats (32.5 percent of GDP). This comes as estimations put the expenditures at 21.1 billion manats (35.3 percent of GDP).The share of non-oil sector in Azerbaijan's GDP in 2015 is predicted at 65.1 percent, which is 5.5 percent higher than the forecasts for 2014 and 8.5 percent higher than in 2013. The share of oil sector in GDP for 2015 is predicted at 34.9 percent versus 40.4 percent in 2014.The real growth of the national economy is expected at the level of 4.4 percent in 2015, and the volume of GDP in market prices will amount to 59.8 billion manats ($76,364 billion). SOFAZ investment portfolio hits 28 bln manats http://www.today.az/news/business/138396.html Business Wed, 21 Jan 2015 18:14:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Aynur KarimovaThe predicted cost of the investment portfolio of Azerbaijan’s state oil fund SOFAZ was set at 28.2 billion manats for 2015.On January 19, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev issued a decree approving the main directions (programs) on use of SOFAZ funds for 2015.Forecasts for 2014 were set at the level of 27 billion manats, 25.2 billion manats in 2013, and 23 billion manats in 2012.“In 2015, SOFAZ will implement an investment policy, which allows obtaining the maximum yield at a low risk of loss of main capital,” the fund said.The main directions of expenditures of SOFAZ funds in 2015 will be financing some measures related to the accommodation and improvement of the social and living conditions of refugees and internally displaced persons; transfers to the state budget of 2015; financing a project on reconstruction of the Samur-Absheron irrigation system; financing construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line; financing the State Program on Education of Azerbaijani youth abroad in 2007-2015; and financing Azerbaijan's share in the Southern Gas Corridor project.Currency structure remains unchangedSOFAZ has not changed currency structure of its investment portfolio for 2015. Thus, 50 percent of its assets can be placed in U.S. dollar, 35 percent in euro, five percent in British pound, and the remaining 10 percent in other currencies.Also, 80 percent of the total value of investment portfolio of the fund is set at the expense of money market instruments and debt market. In 2015, some 10 percent of the fund’s investment portfolio may be invested in stock exchange, up to five percent in real estate, and up to five percent in gold.As in previous years, SOFAZ will hold over $100 million to support the liquidity of its funds at a level sufficient to timely and fully ensure money and other transfers in 2015.These funds will be saved in short-term high-liquid tools of the money markets.SOFAZ, an entity that accumulates and manages Azerbaijan's oil and gas revenues, was established in 1999 with an asset worth $271 million.The main goals of the fund include accumulation of revenues, investment of assets abroad to minimize negative impacts on economy, prevention of the 'Dutch disease', ensuring savings for future generations, and maintaining the current social and economic standards in the country. Azerbaijan, LG to produce LEDs http://www.today.az/news/business/138395.html Business Wed, 21 Jan 2015 17:11:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaAzerbaijan aims to develop light-emitting diodes production in the country.The State Fund for Development of Information Technologies will finance the deployment of the country's LED production in 2015, the fund reported.The use of LED technologies is primarily envisaged for street lighting in the capital. LED lighting system is expected to be used for decorative and general lighting of architectural buildings, streets, parks and main roads in the capital.Solid-state lighting is energy efficient and environmentally friendly, as opposed to ordinary incandescent bulbs. This type of lightening allows saving up to 80 percent of consumed energy.The commercial project will be implemented by the Azerbaijani Research Center for High Technologies and South Korea’s LG Company.After meeting the needs of the country, the technologies will be exported to international markets.The LED mass production is expected to be deployed at the Hi-Tech Park. Currently, the country uses the LED production technology, the Research Center told earlier.Earlier, Azerbaijan had expressed willingness to develop its own technology of chip production.To this end, the country plans to allocate over $7 million for working on the technology of developing chips based on thin layers.Launching chip production in Azerbaijan will allow local producers to use them in the electronics industry.The chips which are planned to be produced can be used in LED light sources, telephone handsets, micro and nano-electronic devices, biological systems, defense, and other areas. Obama calls on Congress refrain from imposing new sanctions on Iran http://www.today.az/news/politics/138394.html Politics Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:03:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Sara RajabovaU.S. president warned he would veto any new sanctions on Iran, saying it will threatens progress in negotiation on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.Barack Obama has called on the U.S. Congress not to rush into new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program."New sanctions passed by this Congress before the talks are completed will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress," Obama said during a speech on January 20 before a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate, Press TV reported.Several U.S. Senators are set to reintroduce a new bill seeking to impose tougher sanctions against Iran in case the negotiating sides fail to achieve the desirable results. It is expected that the new Republican majority in the Senate, led by their leader Mitch McConnell, as well as some Democrats will work over the legislation to expand the sanctions package against Iran and its nuclear program.However, the White House has repeatedly stated that additional U.S. sanctions against Iran would "blow up the negotiations" on Tehran's nuclear program."Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material,” Obama said.He said Iran and the P5+1 group - the U.S, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany - have a chance to reach a comprehensive agreement by this spring, however, warning that "there are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed" and vowed to "keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran."Obama also warned that any new hostile move against Iran would "alienate" the United States from its allies and ensure that "Iran starts up its nuclear program again."The comments came as the White House and Congress remained divided over Iran, with a bipartisan group of senators pushing a new round of sanctions against Tehran.Earlier, Iran warned off new sanctions against the country saying it can harm the ongoing nuclear talks over its disputed nuclear energy program.Iran and six world powers are in talks to work out a final deal aimed at ending the longstanding standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.Political directors of Iran and the P5+1countries wrapped up their talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 18. This was the second round of discussions since Tehran and the six world powers failed to work out a permanent nuclear deal by last November’s deadline despite making some progress.The recent talks haven’t yielded tangible progress in negotiations. The two sides are now seeking to reach a high-level political agreement by March 1 and to confirm the full technical details of the agreement by July 1.Iran and P5+1 group have decided to extend their talks for seven more months until July 1, with the interim deal they had signed in Geneva in November 2013 remaining in place.The scale of Iran’s uranium enrichment and the timetable for the lifting of anti-Iran sanctions are seen as major sticking points in the ongoing negotiations. Armenia grappling with poverty, corruption despite European aids http://www.today.az/news/analytics/138393.html Analytics Wed, 21 Jan 2015 15:30:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevArmenia is still grappling with poverty, corruption and growing prices despite receiving packages of financial aid from western countries.The European Union has recently adopted a decision to allocate 77.5 million euros to Armenia, which Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan called a step of vital importance for Armenia.According to Armenianreport.com, a local media outlet, nearly 25 million euros out of the total fund is allocated to agricultural field with an ultimate aim to cut the poverty. Meanwhile, 21 million euros will go to strengthening of anti-corruption measures and reforms in the civil services. The rest of the money is planned to be invested in various fields including the migration, employment, as well as the Yerevan metro.The Armenian authorities are very happy that the mentioned allocation is not a loan, but grant. As the external debt of the post-Soviet country has increased by 3.4 times since 2005 reaching $5 billion, happy smile on the face of Armenian elite is not surprising.But what is going on in Armenia's front for combating the poverty and corruption amid receiving of a multi-million financial aid?About 528 cases of corruption have been registered in Armenia over the last year, which twice surpasses the same number over the same period in 2005, said Armenianreport.com.The recent corruption cases are called just the tip of an iceberg which covers only the lower-ranking public officers. Corruption in Armenia is likened to a multi-headed monster, as the people say a new head grows replacing the cut one. In other words, there is no end in corruption in the South Caucasus country.The index of freedom from corruption in Armenia is 26.7 which is under the world average, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. It shows that bribery is deeply rooted in Armenian society and none of the adopted anti-corruption measures can tackle it.Moreover, Phil Duncombe, Representative of the OECD SIGMA Program, has earlier said the luxurious mansions and expensive cars of the civil servants were the main indicators of corruption in Armenia.The same trend is also observed in combat against the poverty in Armenia, as the World Bank-based preventive measures to cut poverty gave no results to tackle the large-scale poverty. The latest report about the poverty rate was 32 percent, according to the National Statistics Service.Armenia has received $177 million for its agriculture industry under the Millennium Challenge Program. It would be better not to remind the massive financial inflows to Armenia from other international organizations. But what about the results? The official data claims that there was a 1.9 percent increase in the overall agricultural production. It means that the retail prices of agro products on the domestic markets should be subsequently lowered. But everything has gone vice versa to end up in an overwhelming price hike observed at 3 percent average increase in last December, according to NSS.According to a survey conducted by 1in.am before the recent New Year holiday in Armenia, poor financial conditions, fear of applying bank loans and skyrocketing food prices were the main reasons urging Armenians to have an empty holiday table. EBRD revises Azerbaijan’s GDP growth rate http://www.today.az/news/business/138392.html Business Wed, 21 Jan 2015 15:20:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Aynur KarimovaAzerbaijan’s GDP growth rate is forecasted at 1.5 percent in 2015, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s report on regional economic prospects, published on January 19, said.In its September report, EBRD predicted the country’s economic growth at 3 percent in the current year.“Huge stocks of foreign exchange reserves at the Central Bank and the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan will mitigate the impact of potential external shocks, however the growth of non-oil sector alone is unlikely to lead to the overall growth rate stability,” EBRD noted.Meanwhile, the GDP growth rate of Azerbaijan is one of the highest ones in the Eastern Europe and Caucasus. For example, GDP growth rate of Armenia and Moldova is forecasted at zero percent, Belarus-1.5 percent, and Russia-4.8 percent.Georgia, the economy of which has less dependence on Russia, will see economic growth rate at the level of 4.2 percent.EBRD also predicts that 2015 will become a hard year for Eastern Europe and Caucasus region.“The situation in the region countries will depend on the overall impact of the predicted negative economic growth in Russia, the geopolitical tensions in the region, structural constraints and recent currency fluctuations that will negatively affect the dynamics of trade operations and the dollarization of the banking sector and so on,” EBRD stressed.The growth in the Eastern Europe and Caucasus region (excluding Ukraine) and Central Asia will slow down due to close economic ties with Russia.“Stagnation is expected in Armenia and Moldova, and recession in Belarus. Decrease of prices for commodity will have a negative impact on the economy of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan,” the bank’s experts believe.The Asian Development Bank predicts Azerbaijan’s GDP growth at 3.5 percent, the International Monetary Fund-at 4.3 percent and the World Bank-at 4.1 percent in 2015.Azerbaijan's Social-Economic Development Concept, developed by Economy and Industry Ministry, said the real GDP growth in the country will be 5.2 percent. This figure is predicted to reach 59.4 billion manats in 2015. Armenians, outlander in Caucasus, proves lie detector http://www.today.az/news/analytics/138391.html Analytics Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:58:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevThe lie detector, a technology developed by the Caucasian History Center to unmask the Armenian falsifications, is a main "gravedigger" for the Armenian historiography, said a high-level Azerbaijani official.Fuad Akhundov, Head of the Lie Detector Project, Deputy Department Head of the Presidential Administration, said the survey based on that technology has proved the absence of any tie of the words "Lavash" and "Duduk" with the Armenian culture and heritage."The word "Lavash" can be traced back in Turkic chronicles in VII-XIII centuries but it is not seen at all even in the Armenian dictionaries of the XVII- XIX centuries. The word "Lavash" emerged in the Armenian culture only hundred years after their move to the Caucasus, when they began their efforts to armenize the territory in early XX century. This fact clearly shows who is a local of the Caucasus and who is an outlander," Akhundov said in his interview with Interfax Azerbaijan.Akhundov noted that none of the 18 Armenian dictionaries, which were published between the years of 1698 and 1906, contains the word "Lavash" and even nothing about the "Armenian Duduk.""It once more proves that the Armenians have adopted the Lavash, Duduk and other examples of the cultural and spiritual heritage from the Turkic people much later. The mentioned 18 dictionaries bear the characteristics not only of the linguistic, but also historical documents," Akhundov added.Our technology destroys the postulates of Armenians about their autochthony in the Caucasus and belonging of all the surrounding things, even including the lands, which we know in regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, said AkhundovAkhundov added that the next survey will be co-conducted with the Georgian scientists to investigate the Georgian words also claimed by the Armenians."Collaboration with the Georgian colleagues is particularly topical given the recent claims of Armenians for 450 Georgian churches, similar to their appetite for tens of the ancient Albanian churches in the territory of Azerbaijan. I'm sure that the outcomes of the joint tests will inflict the same blows on the Armenian falsifiers," Akhundov said.Our ethno-linguistic method will again and again prove the alienage of the Armenians to our region, and at the same will unmask their ungrounded claims not only for the historical, religious and cultural values of the indigenous nations, but also the lands, including the Nagorno Karabakh.Akhundov claimed that no one can disprove the new technology as long as this linguistic detector provides and will provide the results with absolute precision."We will keep on refuting the all older and possible claims of the Armenians for the history and culture of the neighboring nations," Akhundov said.Armenia has recently appealed to the UNESCO in an effort to present Lavash as a typical example of its cuisine. However, the UNSECO passed a resolution to acknowledge it as a common heritage of several regional countries, after reconsidering the issue based on Azerbaijan's appeal.Revealing the original root of Lavash, Kamran Imanov, Director of Azerbaijan’s Copyright Agency, said the word Lavash comes from the word “ash" that means to cook and etymologically belongs to Turkic world. Cars import downs, production ups in Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/business/138389.html Business Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:16:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Nigar OrujovaLast year was marked with cars import decrease and car production increase in Azerbaijan.Cars import decreased as a result of Euro-4 ecological standard that was introduced in the country in April 2014. At present, only cars produced in the EU since 2005, in the U.S. since in 2004, in China and Japan since 2011, in Korea since 2006, and in Turkey since 2009 can be imported to the country.The experts predicted some 20 percent decrease in import for the last year.However, the figures showed 40 percent fall of car import in the year-end. Azerbaijan imported 63,368 vehicles in 2014 against 104,385 vehicles imported in 2013, the State Customs Committee reported.The report said 57,615 vehicles of the total number imported last year accounted for cars and motor vehicles, while in 2013 the country imported 94,879 cars and motor vehicles.In addition, the country imported 5,054 trucks in 2014, which is also less than the number of truck brought to Azerbaijan in 2013 (7,823 trucks).The Euro-4 standard is applied in Azerbaijan to reduce the emission of vehicle pollutants into the atmosphere and improve the environmental situation in the country. And the 40 percent decrease shows the good results of this decision.The restriction on import of old cars has already affected the cost of cars in the domestic market and the rise is still to come with the change of taxes on imported cars.Depending on the amount of motor, the amount of taxes on all cars imported into the country varies. This change will insufficiently influence prices of small cars with motors less than 2,000 cubic centimeters, but will be noticeable for expensive large cars owners. Experts expect some 5,000 manats rise in the prices for new cars.The price rise of large cars may also decrease the number of such vehicles on the road of the country, which will be only favorable for the environment.Car production increaseToday, Azerbaijan is developing its car manufacturing industry. The country manufactured 1,861 cars in 2014, which is 4.4 times more than in the same period of 2013, the State Statistics Committee said.Introduction of the Euro-4 is a chance to enlarge the car production in the country. There are two plants for the production of motor vehicles in Azerbaijan located in Nakhchivan and Ganja.Around 284 trucks were produced in Azerbaijan in 2014, which is 15.4 percent more than in the same period of 2013, according to the report.The country also produced 1,265 tractors in 2014, which is 71.2 percent more than in the same period of 2013.This year’s increase in car production follows a decrease of the production in 2013, when the country produced 424 cars, which was 21.8 percent less than in 2012.However, overall a two-time increase has been recorded in comparison with 2005.The government forecasts, the volume of truck production in the country will reach 250 units in 2015, in 2016 and 2017 is expected to stay on 300 units' production. Armenia should cut dependence on Russia's economy http://www.today.az/news/analytics/138388.html Analytics Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:51:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevArmenia has no room to expect any improvement in its sovereign credit rating, as long as the negative economic trend is reigning in Russia, said an influential Armenian economic expert."Sovereign credit rating of Armenia has been downgraded by Moody's due to the country's internal vulnerability, its extremely high-level dependence on Russia, particularly in terms of the remittances and export. At the same time, lack of further prospects because of the economic comedown in Russia has accelerated the decline in rating for Armenia," Ashot Egiazaryan, an economic expert, said in his interview with Lragir.am, a local Armenian media outlet.Egiazaryan added that the sovereign credit rating of Russia was also decreasing, which means that Armenia's only way to escape from a deeper crisis is to leave the Eurasian Economic Union."Leaving the EEU, which has Russia as its member, is the only opportunity and chance for Armenia," he noted.Problems in Russia subsequently cause similar challenges in Armenia and eventually the Armenian people became insolvent, said Yegiazaryan."In these circumstances, Armenia needs to create development prospects by building tight relations with the western countries. It is very vital to actualize the Association Agreement with the European Union and to strengthen the economic ties with neighboring Iran," he added.However, the economist did not exclude some possible obstacles on Armenia's way towards west."The main impediment is Russia's base in Armenia, which allows the northern giant to put a severe pressure on the country and keep it within its zone of influence. The military base is now the main problem impeding Armenia's new economic policy and progress," Yegiazaryan said."Moscow tries to resolve several problems and hold some political regimes under its control in the post-Soviet countries," Yegiazaryan noted. "The army base in foreign countries is a tool of severe influence for Moscow to take advantage of the regimes in the countries for Russia's interests."Going on with his comments about Armenia's current situation, Yegiazaryan said if a country concedes its security and independence, no one would dare to invest in that country."There are no investors in Armenia today. At the same time, existence of a Russian military base in its territory bears some political risks. By downgrading the ratings, the international agencies, including the Moody's, take into account not only the economic, but also the political risks," he said.Military bases of Russia abroad, a country which is suffering from an international isolation, pose serious geopolitical risks for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran alongside Armenia, said Yegiazaryan.Russian military base in Armenia has become a hot topic of discussions following the recent murder of an Armenian family by a Russian conscript serving at the 102nd Russian base in Gyumri region. The killer of seven members of the same family, including Seryozha Avetisyan, a six-month-old baby who died at the hospital on January 19, caused a great uproar in Armenia sparking harsh reactions. Many are now calling for his execution on one hand and Russian base's withdrawal on the other hand. Armenia most inflated among CIS states http://www.today.az/news/regions/138387.html World news Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:41:00 +0400 /By AzerNews/By Mushvig MehdiyevArmenia's economy in 2014 ended up in a significant inflation, mostly characterized by an increase in consumer goods prices during the last two months, according to the National Statistic Service.Gurgen Martirosyan, Department Head of the NSS, said a 4.6 percent inflation was caused by 6.2 percent increase in prices of consumer goods, adding that the inflation matched the range of 4+/-1.5 percent, which the Central Bank expected.Vegetables and fruits, sugar, coffee and tea, fish, oil and bread products became more expensive on markets in November and December, said Martirosyan.“Price hike hit 331 out of 470 consumer goods in December compared to November in 2014,” Martirosyan noted, saying that inflation was recorded throughout the whole December.Martirosyan focused on the seasonal increase in prices of agricultural producst as a main factor to trigger the inflation, but also didn't exclude the role of the dram's devaluation, as well.The annual index of inflation has not included the darm-based drastic hike in prices of some goods, which was observed on domestic markets for several days in December, since the NSS was out of conducting the schedule monitoring.“We could not include it in the general index given its short-term duration for several days,” Martirosyan said.Armenia was ranked first along with Ukraine among the CIS countries for the rate of inflation in December. The index of inflation was lower in neighboring Azerbaijan and Georgia, being 1.4 percent and 2 percent respectively, according to Trading Economics, an online source which provides accurate information for 232 countries in terms of the economic indicators, exchange rates, stock market indexes, government bond yields and commodity prices.Armenia's crippled economy marked the end of 2014 with the currency market in turmoil, as the dram lost ground to the influential international currencies. Continuous price hikes over the last year have seriously taken its tolls on the country's economy and social life.Moody's has very recently downgraded Armenia's bond rating to Ba3 from Ba2 changing its outlook to negative from stable.Armenia's increased external vulnerability due to falling remittances from Russia, uncertain outlook for foreign direct investment, as well as elevated susceptibility to exchange rate volatility and expected pressure on foreign exchange reserves were the main factors to affect the changes, according to Moody's.Meanwhile, a number of experts, including Bagrat Asatryan, former Head of the Armenian Central Bank, expect a deeper economic crisis similar to that of 2009 to hit Armenia in 2015 given the lack of the internal and external sources, solutions in the modern Armenia to regulate the unresolved crisis on the markets.