NATO's South Caucasus envoy to visit Georgia
The NATO secretary general's special representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia will pay an official visit to Georgia next week, a Georgian government spokesman said on Friday. The visit is set for April 7-8. While in Georgia, James Appathurai will meet not only with representatives of the ruling power but with opposition activists as well. "Initially, [Appathurai's] visit was set for the end of March, but the events in Libya [where the western coalition forces are currently holding a military operation] postponed the visit. If nothing changes, the meeting with Georgia's minister [for European and Euro-Atlantic integration] will be held on April 7," the minister's spokesperson said. (RIA Novosti)
Terrorists leader, two group members killed in Dagestan
The leader of a group of terrorists and two members of the group were killed in a special operation in Dagestan, National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) Information Centre spokesman Nikolai Sintsov told Itar-Tass. "On Friday, at 21:30 Moscow time, law enforcement officers during a raid to neutralise members of the bandit underground at the 7th km of the Makhachkala-Buinaksk road in the Kumtorkala district of Dagestan attempted to stop a Lada Priora car, in which there were bandits. Fire was opened on the law enforcement officers. The gunmen were killed in the return fire," the NAC official said. The bodies of Yahya Aslanov, the leader of the "Karabudakhkent" subversive and terrorist group, and two members of the same group - Batrutdin Salimov and federal-search-wanted Rustam Batyrov were in the car. "According to intelligence information, they are involved in numerous terrorist crimes and also money extorting from businessmen of the villages of Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi,” Nikolai Sintsov said. In particular, they participated in the terrorist act committed by Vitali Razdobudko and his common-law wife Maria Khorosheva in the village of Gubden, the Karabudakhkent district, on February 14. According to law enforcement authorities’ information, they participated in shooting attacks against policemen. Besides, according to the NAC, they were involved in robbery and banditry on roads under the guise of law enforcement officers, the murder of hunters near Gubden and the explosion in a grocery store in Buinaksk.
"Today as well Aslanov’s brother is detained, who also provided complicity assistance. A laptop, in which, according to security officials, there is information important for operative work, is seized from him," the NAC spokesman said. The explosions near the village police station in Gubden in February this year killed three people and injured 26. The first explosion was committed by a young woman stopped by a serviceman of the Russian Interior Ministry's troops. Later, when investigators were working on the scene, a Lada Priora attempted to run through a police post, and when the car was stopped for identity checking, there was a second blast equivalent to up to 40 kg of TNT. Immediately after that, the post was fired on from the forest. (Itar-Tass)
Nazarbayev won Kazakhstan's election with 95.5 percent of votes
The Central Election Commission declared the results of the early presidential election of Kazakhstan. Nursultan Nazarbayev has won Kazakhstan's election, taken place on April 3, with 95.5 percent of votes, Kazakhstan Today reports. According to the Central Election Commission, Zhambyl Akhmetbekov, head of the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan, received 1.36 percent of the vote, pro-government Senator Gani Kasymov of the Party of Patriots 1.94 percent and environmentalist Mels Yeleusizov picked up 1.15 percent. As informed earlier, the registered electorate is around 9.1 million in a nation with a population of 16.4 million. The candidate who wins over 50 percent of the votes will become the new president. The turnout in Sunday's vote is estimated at nearly 90 percent. Nazarbayev, 70, has been president of Kazakhstan since 1991 when the country gained independence after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. (Kazakhstan Today)
Pensioner in Georgia cuts Armenia off from internet
An elderly woman in Georgia is facing a prison sentence after reportedly causing internet services in neighbouring Armenia to crash. The country found itself offline for hours on 28 March after cables linking Georgia to Armenia were damaged. A Georgian interior ministry spokesman said a 75-year-old woman had admitted damaging fibre-optic cables while scavenging for copper. She has been charged and reportedly faces up to three years in prison.
"Taking into account her advancing years, she has been released pending the end of the investigation and subsequent trial," spokesman Zura Gvenetadze told AFP news agency. She had been searching for copper in the Georgian village of Ksani. The cables, owned by the Georgian Railway Telecom company, serve eastern Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. All three wholesale internet providers in Armenia - ArmenTel, FiberNet Communication and GNC-Alfa - were unable to provide their usual service on the evening of 28 March, Armenia's Arka news agency reported.
Services were eventually restored after midnight. (BBC)
Dagestan official survives assassination attempt
Dagestan's Deputy Agriculture Minister Bilal Omarov, 36, wounded in the assassination attempt earlier on Wednesday, is in stable "medium severity" condition, doctors at the surgery department of the 2nd republican hospital told Itar-Tass. "The victim has a penetrating wound in the back of the head; he has been operated on and is now in a remand ward. He is in the condition of stable medium severity; nothing threatens his life," the doctors said.
Senior aide to the director of the regional department of the Investigation Committee (SK) Alkhas Amirkhanov told Itar-Tass "as the official was leaving his apartment house 14A, Irchi Kazak Street at 08:30, Moscow time, an unidentified man shot him in the back of the head with a pistol." Criminal proceedings were opened over attempted murder and illegal turnover of weapons and ammunition. Bilal Omarov has been working at Dagestan's Agriculture Ministry since 2006. He is in charge of fisheries and food industry. (Itar-Tass)
Tajikistan extends power rationing season
Tajikistan has extended severe seasonal electricity rationing across the country as the main hydropower reservoir hovers at dangerously low levels. Households across most of the mountainous ex-Soviet nation are being provided with only two hours of electricity per day. In the capital, Dushanbe, electricity is being cut off from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Extensive rolling blackouts are regularly imposed over the winter months, but are normally lifted as rivers begin to swell in the spring. Barki Tajik power company spokesman Nozirdzhon Yodgorov said Thursday that the Vakhsh River is flowing into the Nurek reservoir at levels significantly lower than last year. Tajikistan relies almost completely on hydropower for its electricity needs. (AP)
Kyrgyzstan marks one-year anniversary of bloody uprising with solemn ceremonies for victims
Memorial ceremonies were held across Kyrgyzstan on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of a bloody uprising that led to the ouster of the Central Asian nation’s authoritarian leader. President Roza Otunbayeva and other senior government representatives laid wreaths at the Ata-Beit cemetery in the capital of Bishkek, where many of the 87 people killed in last year’s clashes are buried. While officials have played up the heroism of the dozens that died during the revolt, some remain uneasy at the lack of noticeable improvements and bemoan a growing ethnic nationalism. Protests erupted last year amid anger over stagnating living standards and perceived corruption under then-President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was blamed for the ex-Soviet nation’s relentless descent into authoritarianism. After a memorial prayer at the cemetery, Otunbayeva spoke in praise “of compatriots who laid down their lives for freedom, for democracy, and the future of their country.” Meanwhile, a crowd gathered in the capital’s Ala-Too square, where government opponents were gunned down by troops during street protests, to observe a minute’s silence. Several thousand people walked from the headquarters of Prime Minister Almaz Atambayev’s Social Democratic Party to a government building in the center, retracing the route taken by demonstrators last year. “In the future, April 7 should become a great holiday,” Atambayev said in an address to the procession. “But we must recognize that the revolution has not achieved its goals.” Those mixed feelings are widely reflected among mainly Muslim Kyrgyzstan’s 5 million-strong population. The economy has continued to struggle and the ruling coalition government is riven by internal disputes. “Over this year, not much has changed. The main thing is that they have lowered tariffs for electricity and heating, and they have promised to increase pensions,” said retiree Ryksybay Duyshenbiyev. Early attempts by a hastily assembled interim government to restore order were dashed by a wave of ethnic violence in June. More than 400 people were killed in clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks in the southern Osh and Jalal-Abad regions. Businesswoman Olga Fedotova said the country’s resurgent ethnic Kyrgyz nationalism over the past twelve months has alarmed many minorities, like her own ethnic Russian community. “Half of my friends have left the country. Nationalism is strong, and it has become difficult for us Russian-speakers to live here,” Fedotova said. (AP)
Kazakhstan eyeing two-party system?
Kazakh authorities are apparently no longer happy with their one-party system, and would like to see more political groups entering the parliament – at least according to the country's highest-ranking officials. "The next parliament will be multi-party," said Nursultan Nazarbaev, who was sworn for his fourth term in office in a ceremony in Astana today. "We need at least a two-party parliament," presidential adviser Ermukhamed Ertysbaev told RFE/RL’s Kazakh service earlier this week. Prime Minister Karim Masimov has also mentioned what he called the "necessity" of having representatives of opposition parties in parliament. Currently, Nazarbaev's Nur Otan party occupies all parliamentary seats. Even before any election, Ertysbaev seems to have a pretty clear idea about which parties should enter the next parliament. "It could be possible to establish a new political party based on the Atameken business union," Ertysbaev told local media. Atameken is a nongovernmental union that brings together dozens of major business companies. "Nur Otan would be positioned as a party representing the government and the political elite, state officials, scientific and academic circle -- basically, a classic centrist party," Ertysbaev suggested. Ertysbaev said it might take some five years to fully establish a two-party system in Kazakhstan, just "like Republicans and Democrats in the United States or Conservatives and Labour Party lawmakers in Britain." As for all other Kazakh political parties, Nazarbaev's adviser suggested that they should either join Nur Otan or enter a future Atameken party. Kazakhstan's opposition leaders, however, don't seem to have high hopes. The authorities need an opposition that "does everything they are told," says Vladimir Kozlov, the leader of an unregistered Alga party. "Obviously, they wouldn’t let real opposition into parliament," Kozlov told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service. In the meantime, Kazakh officials aren't ruling out early parliamentary elections. Almost immediately after announcing the presidential election results, Nazarbaev's political adviser mentioned the possibility of dissolving parliament and having a snap poll later this year. The vote is currently scheduled for August 2012. (RFE/RL)
Turkish MFA: Bagapsh's Visit 'Not Official'
Ankara reaffirmed its support to Georgia's territorial integrity and said on April 7, that Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh's visit to Turkey was not an official one. "The visit of Mr. Sergey Bagapsh to Turkey will take place purely on medical grounds upon the invitation by the civil society associations founded by Turkish citizens under their sole responsibility. The visit has by no means an official character," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. "Turkey attaches the utmost importance to her strategic partnership with Georgia based on traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation in all fields," it said. "Turkey perfectly shares the sensitivity of Georgia concerning her territorial integrity. In that respect, Turkey respects and supports the territorial integrity of Georgia within her internationally recognized borders, a policy that remains a fundamental position." "Turkey reconfirms its commitment to deepening the strategic relations between Turkey and Georgia to the benefit of our peoples and the region at large," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Bagapsh arrived in Ankara on April 7 upon the invitation of the Ankara-based Federation of Caucasian Associations (KAFFED) and Federation of Abkhaz Association. During the visit, which also includes trips to Istanbul and Adapazar?, a city in northwestern Turkey, Bagapsh plans series of meetings with the Abkhaz diaspora and business circles, his spokesman said on April 7. Bagapsh in his capacity of de facto president of Abkhazia was first intending to visit Turkey in 2007; but the trip was canceled after Ankara refused to issue entry visa. Bagapsh visited Turkey more than ten years ago to meet with the Abkhaz diaspora when he served as the breakaway region’s Prime Minister in 1999-2000. Sergey Shamba, who is now the breakaway region's Prime Minister, was in Turkey in June, 2008 when he was a foreign minister for a private visit upon the invitation of the Caucasus-Abkhazia Solidarity Committee. (Civil Georgia)
Thousands rally against Armenia government
Up to 10,000 anti-government protesters rallied in the capital of ex-Soviet Armenia on Friday and occupied a central square after riot police withdrew to prevent clashes. Calling for the government's resignation and early elections, they held a short rally and then marched through the city to Freedom Square, which had been cordoned off by riot officers with batons and shields. But the police pulled back, allowing the demonstrators to continue their protest in the square, which was the scene of mass rallies after disputed presidential polls in 2008 that ended in clashes leaving 10 people dead. The leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress, former president Levon Ter-Petrosian, warned the government that more radical protests could follow if it does not to comply with his demands before the next rally later this month. "We are not speaking with the authorities in the language of ultimatums yet, but the people's patience has limits," Ter-Petrosian said. Another senior Armenian National Congress official, Levon Zurabian, called on activists to prepare for a campaign of civil disobedience. "We are entering a new stage in our struggle," Zurabian said. Opposition supporters are angry about poor social conditions and the continued imprisonment of activists allegedly involved in the violence in 2008. They claimed that the authorities had disrupted public transport heading to Yerevan from the provinces in an attempt to thwart the demonstration. After Ter-Petrosian's speech, some of the protesters were in a celebratory mood and danced to Armenian music in the square, where demonstrations had been prohibited until a large rally last month also forced riot police to abandon their cordon. The Armenian National Congress has predicted a bloodless "velvet revolution", hoping to emulate mass uprisings in the Arab world. But the governing Republican Party led by President Serzh Sarkisian says that it has no intention of holding polls before a parliamentary election due next year and is working to improve social conditions in the impoverished country of three million people. "Stability and stable development is very important for the country," governing party lawmaker Eduard Sharmazanov told AFP, warning against political "shocks" which could damage Armenia. The country has gone through political and military turmoil since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, with a series of disputed elections and a war with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorny Karabakh. Since the Karabakh war in the 1990s, Armenia has suffered economically because of closed borders with Azerbaijan and another neighbour Turkey, which strongly objects to Yerevan's campaign to have the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire recognised as genocide. (AFP)
Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev sworn in for new term
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has been sworn in for a new five-year term after a landslide election win criticised by international observers. Thousands waved flags, greeting him at the inauguration ceremony in Astana.
The 70-year-old, entering his third decade as ruler, said his victory was a vote for stability and prosperity, after gaining 95.5% of ballots cast. But the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe says Sunday's elections lacked transparency. News agency AP quoted President Nazarbayev as saying: "We have to find the optimal way of empowering parliament, increasing the government's responsibility and improving the electoral process." Kazakhstan's cabinet offered its resignation after Friday's inauguration, in line with the constitution. The president is expected to re-appoint or replace ministers over the next few days. Kazakhstan is yet to hold elections that are deemed to be fully free and fair by international observers. (BBC)
Russian insurgent leader hints at more attacks
The leader of Chechnya's Islamist insurgency said he is alive and well after Russian forces said they may have killed him and he hinted he would prove it by organizing more attacks, Radio Free Europe said. A man purporting to be Doku Umarov phoned Radio Free Europe late on Thursday to deny reports citing officials as saying he might have been killed in a March 28 assault on an insurgent base in the North Caucasus province of Ingushetia. "They carried out a special operation. Several of our mujahedeen died. They are saying that I died, but this is not true," he said, according to a Reuters translation from Chechen. "They'll get an answer soon. They will hear news." Umarov styles himself the emir of the Caucasus and leads a persistent Islamist insurgency that followed two devastating wars Russia fought against separatists in Chechnya following the 1991 Soviet collapse. He has claimed responsibility for major attacks in the mostly Muslim provinces along Russia's southern rim and in Russia's heartland, including a suicide bombing that killed 37 people at Moscow's busiest airport in January. Umarov has been erroneously reported dead several times in the past. He told Radio Free Europe he was "perfectly healthy." Russian authorities said 17 militants were killed in the March 28 operation in Ingushetia and that Umarov might have been killed, but that it would not be clear without DNA test results. Islamist websites confirmed that a top lieutenant of Umarov, Supyan Abdullayev, was among the dead. The proximity of the North Caucasus to the Black Sea coastal resort city of Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, is of particular concern for the Kremlin, which has vowed to beef up security for the event. (Reuters)
Prominent imam killed in Russia's Dagestan
A prominent imam who discouraged youth from joining Islamic militants has been shot dead in his home in the strife-torn southern Russian republic of Dagestan, news reports said Saturday. Magomed Saiputdinov was slain by automatic gunfire in a nighttime attack near the Chechen-border town of Kizlyar, agencies quoted a spokesman for the local interior ministry as saying. "He was widely known for his uncompromising stand against any forms of violence, condemning the murder of innocent people and other atrocities of the Chechen underground," Interfax quoted a police statement as saying. Saiputdinov was the sixth Muslim religious leader to be killed in the republic in the past year, with the previous fatal attack occurring on November 1, 2010, RIA Novosti quoted the National Anti-Terror Committee as saying. Dagestan has experienced some of the most deadly violence in Russia's mostly Muslim southern periphery since peace was largely restored in neighbouring Chechnya just under a decade ago. The Caspian Sea republic experiences almost daily shootings and bombings that officials blame on local criminals and Islamists with links to Chechnya. Fuelled by endemic poverty and corruption, the militants are seeking to establish an independent Islamic state across the North Caucasus. (AFP)
Turkmen officials learning English in U.S. program
A group of 46 Turkmen officials have begun English-language classes in a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports. Bradley McGuire, information officer at the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan, told RFE/RL on April 8 that the seven-month-long program is one of many the State Department has organized to help law enforcement personnel around the world learn English. He said a knowledge of English helps law enforcers "to communicate more fluently and efficiently with one another" and improves their access to relevant resources in countries where English is the primary language. The participants in the program, most of whom have no previous knowledge of English, are from Turkmenistan's Customs Service, Border Service, Interior Ministry, Migration Service, Counternarcotics Agency, and Foreign Affairs Ministry. The course initially focuses on basic language skills. At a later stage, participants acquire technical vocabulary according to their professional specialization. More than 70 Turkmen law enforcement personnel have graduated from such English-language programs since their launch in Turkmenistan in 2007. Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said recently at a meeting in Ashgabat with leaders from the country's education, health care, tourism, and sports spheres that citizens should be able to speak three languages. (RFE/RL)
Kyrgyzstan to join customs union
The Kyrgyz government on Monday approved a plan to join a post-Soviet customs union and common economic space. An interagency commission was set up to open negotiations on the republic's admission to the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Customs Union countries account for 44.9% of Kyrgyzstan's foreign trade. "Membership in this organization will strengthen the republic's borders and improve the living and working conditions of about half a million Kyrgyz nationals working in Russia and Kazakhstan," Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev said. "God willing, we will be part of the Common Economic Space from January 1." He stressed, however, that Kyrgyzstan will remain a WTO member. The Customs Union materialized in early July 2010, when the countries ratified the Customs Code. Customs borders are to be scrapped on July 1, 2011. The creation of a common economic space with the free movement of goods, services and labor is billed as the next stage of their integration. (RIA Novosti)
Malaysian university to open branch in Tashkent
The Malaysian Taylor University is a leading university in Southeast Asia. The institution trains specialists in tourism. It plans to open a branch in Tashkent, the Uzbektourism National Company told Trend.
Vice President Charles Cheu said Taylor is interested in opening a branch in Tashkent, as highly qualified specialists are needed in Uzbekistan to develop the country as a tourist destination. A Malaysian delegation visited the country and took part in talks with the Singapore Institute of Management Development’s Tashkent branch, Tashkent State Economic University, Samarkand Institute of Economics and Service, and several other educational institutions.
Issues of technical support in training personnel for the tourism industry were also discussed. (Trend)
India's PM to visit Kazakhstan
The Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh will visit to Kazakhstan on April 15-16, Kazakhstan Today reports.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will pay an official visit to Kazakhstan on April 15-16 at the invitation of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Monday, DailyIndia reported. "This would be the Prime Minister's first visit to Kazakhstan and his second to Central Asia after his visit to Uzbekistan in 2006. President Nazarbayev is a long standing friend of India. He last visited India as the Chief Guest at our Republic Day celebrations in 2009. He had previously visited India three times in 1992, 1996 and 2002," MEA Secretary (East) Sanjay Singh said. "Apart from bilateral visits, the two leaders have met on several occasions on the margins of multilateral events. In recent times, they met on the sidelines of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Summit in Yekaterinburg in June 2009, and on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit exactly one year ago on April 11, 2010, in Washington," he added. On April 16, Dr. Singh will attend an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, where he will have a restricted meeting with President Nazarbayev followed by delegation-level interaction. The two leaders will then interact with the media before attending an official luncheon. Dr. Singh will also meet Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim K. Massimov. "Some agreements are expected to be signed. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by the National Security Advisor and other senior officials," Sanjay Singh said. The two countries are eager to advance their civil nuclear cooperation with the intergovernmental framework pact on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported on Sunday, CentralAsiaNewswire reports. Kazakhstan has supplied India with uranium for the South Asian country's reactors under a deal signed in early 2009 between Kazakh nuclear holding corporation Kazatomprom and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). The new agreement will broaden the base of cooperation to include exploration and research of uranium. The two sides will sign at least six accords including the nuclear agreement, as part of initiatives to solidify strategic ties. One of those to be signed by Kazakh state-run energy company KazMunaiGas will give India's national oil company ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) exploration and production rights to the Satpayev block in the Caspian Sea. OVL will invest $400 million into the project for a 25 percent stake in the block, which is estimated to hold around 1.75 billion barrels of crude. (Kazakhstan Today)
Afghanistan urges Tajik officials to rethink transit fee increase
The Afghan Foreign Ministry and the country's Chamber of Commerce and Industry have asked Tajikistan to reconsider its increase in transit tariffs for cargo bound for Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports. Umar Sahroy, an official representative at the Afghan Embassy in Tajikistan, told RFE/RL on April 11 that a unilateral and unexpected rise in the fee by Tajikistan's state railroad company has created problems for the transit of goods from Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet states to Afghanistan. Sahroy said Afghanistan has been paying $12.45 for every ton of cargo transited through the 132 kilometers of Tajik railroad lines but that Tajikistan is now asking for $20 per ton. He said that according to an interstate agreement between the two countries, Tajikistan had agreed to transit 2 million tons of cargo to Afghanistan at the lower price. Tajik railroad officials have refused to comment on the issue. Tajik economist Hojimuhammad Umarov told RFE/RL that only Afghanistan uses Tajik railroads for transit and if Tajikistan continues to raise its transport fees it will lose its business with Afghanistan.
He added that Afghanistan could use alternative railroad lines in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. (RFE/RL)
U.S. Soldiers Reportedly Killed in First-Ever Friendly Fire Drone Incident
U.S. military officials say a missile fired by a drone appears to have killed two U.S. soldiers during fighting in the southern Afghan province of Helmand last week. The military has launched a probe into the incident, which -- if confirmed -- would be the first instance U.S. soldiers have been killed in a "friendly fire" incident involving an unmanned aircraft. The incident first reported by U.S. media appears to have been caused by confusion on the battlefield near the town of Sangin where U.S. forces were fighting insurgents. The U.S. Defense Department has not officially commented on the reports saying only they are being investigated. (RFE/RL)
Armenia Ratifies Russia Base
Armenia's parliament has approved an agreement to host a Russian military base on Armenian soil through 2046.
Parliament voted 80-1 on Tuesday to approve the deal signed during President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Armenia last August. As part of the deal, Moscow also pledged to protect Armenia's security and provide modern weapons for its military. Last year's agreement extended the original Russian 25-year lease on the base under a 1995 deal. (AP)
Sokhumi hails European Parliament resolution
Being part of Europe, Abkhazia considers close cooperation with the EU as on of its foreign policy priorities, the breakaway region’s foreign ministry said in a statement on April 13, the Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported.The statement was made in response to a resolution “on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy - Eastern Dimension” passed by the European Parliament on April 7. The resolution, among other things, calls on EU's diplomatic service, the European External Action Service (EEAS), “to develop more confidence-building measures and programmes, including the launching of new missions and public communication strategies and the consideration of pragmatic initiatives and innovative approaches such as informal contacts and consultations with the societies of the breakaway territories, while conserving the EU's non-recognition policy, in order to support civic culture and community dialogue.” The breakaway region’s foreign ministry welcomed the resolution and said it would contribute to “de-isolation” of Abkhazia and establishment of direct contacts with the EU. It said that the resolution“has a significant importance for planning of future cooperation of the Republic of Abkhazia with various EU institutions.” It said that the Abkhaz side viewed positively messages in the resolution, which were “based on a measured pragmatic policy of good neighborhood in favor of establishing a dialogue and closer cooperation.”
The breakaway region’s foreign ministry said that diversification of external relations and boosting direct contacts “is the only rational” approach, which would help “removing long-standing political and economic isolation of Abkhazia.” “Establishment of direct contacts in the fields of culture, education and business will strengthen the authority of European institutions in the Abkhaz society, which has been considerably undermined during last years,” the statement reads. “Moreover, de-isolation of Abkhazia and direct cooperation with the European Union will contribute to the development of democratic civil society in Abkhazia, and will create favorable conditions for peaceful settlement of the conflict,” it said. (Civil Georgia)
FM: Turkey will continue efforts to liberate Azerbaijan's occupied territories
Turkey has always made an effort to maintain active diplomatic relations over the question of Azerbaijan’s occupied territories and will continue to do so, said Ahmet Davutoglu, Chairman of the CoE Committee of Ministers and Turkish Foreign Minister, on the second day of the PACE spring session in response to questions by member of the Azerbaijani delegation Ganira Pashayeva. Pashayeva touched upon the murder of a nine-year old Azerbaijani child by Armenian armed forces and Armenia’s construction of an airport in Nagorno-Karabakh. "A 9-year-old Fariz Badalov was killed on March 8 as a result of a ceasefire violation by the troops. He was shot in the head while playing in his yard. In addition, Armenia builds an airport in Nagorno-Karabakh - in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, which contradicts the resolutions of the CoE and PACE. We would like to know your opinion as the Chairman of the CoE Committee of Ministers. What does the Committee plan to do to suppress Armenia’s steps that cause a blow to talks on the conflict resolution and are aimed at creating tension in the region? " she asked.
Davutoglu expressed regret that the international community does not pay enough attention to the realities of the occupation, the issue of refugees and IDPs, as well as the situation in the region. "Regarding the activity of the CoE Comiteee of Ministers, I can say that the Council of Europe has a definite position over the Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories. Here I would like to respond as the Turkish Foreign Minister. Turkey has always been against the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and other Azerbaijani territories. We tried to inform the world about the human tragedies that occurred as a result of the occupation. Unfortunately, the international community did not pay enough attention to the occupation, the issue of refugees and IDPs, as well as the situation in the region. Turkey has always persisted in its active diplomatic efforts of establishing lasting peace in the South Caucasus, and will continue to do so, including on the issue of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan," he stressed. The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions. (Trend)
SCO and CIS's intelligence and law enforcement agencies representatives to meet in Tashkent
Representatives of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will discuss security issues in counter-terrorism and anti-subversive protection of facilities of major importance -- security facilities, as well as military infrastructure facilities in Tashkent. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, a source in the Uzbek government said. The professional discussions were initiated by the SCO Regional anti-terrorist structure (RATS).
As was previously reported, at the sixteenth meeting of the SCO RATS held in Tashkent on April 2010, a decision was made to hold regular meetings for representatives of competent bodies of the SCO member states to exchange operational information on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism in order to deepen cooperation in the fight against these dangers. At the March meeting joint measures were developed to ensure the security for a Council of SCO heads of states meeting scheduled for June 15 in Astana, the holding of the 26th Summer Universiad in the Shenzhen city and the first fair "China-Eurasia" in the Urumchi city (China), to be held in 2011.
The SCO includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.The headquarters of the RATS Executive Committee is located in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. (Trend)