Crisis in the Caucasus - 2008
Russian / Georgian Crisis and its Impact on Azerbaijan

Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec

November 2008
 Pale purple color designates events directly related to Azerbaijan

 Nov 1





















BBC, VOA and RL to be shut down in Azerbaijan
Continued Dec 1

Authorities in Azerbaijan say they plan to halt local broadcasts by foreign stations by the end of the year.

This would specifically target BBC, VOA and RFE/RL. "At the end of this year all foreign radio stations will lose the frequencies through which they broadcast in Azerbaijan. Foreign radio stations will broadcast via satellite, internet and cable network," said Nushiravan Maharramli, Chairman of the Azerbaijan National Television and Radio Council, said.

"If the U.S. radio stations have permission to be aired through the national frequencies of Azerbaijan, then such a right should be offered to the radio stations of Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well. To prevent this, the Council will solve this issue once and for all."

Terry Davidson, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Baku, says it will be seeking clarification of the issue from the Azerbaijani government.

Sign here - International petition against closure

Eurasianet: Azerbaijan: Foreign Radio Broadcasts Fight to Survive
Following a resounding re-election triumph in Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev's administration is courting controversy with the United States and Britain by pressing for changes in the country's broadcasting regulatory framework that would greatly hamper, or even halt the local operations of foreign radio stations by 2009. International media freedom activists have warned Baku that it would be making a "strategic mistake" if it followed through on its announced intentions.

Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter to President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev appealing to him to intervene after the National Broadcasting Council announced it planned to take three foreign radios stations off the FM band by 2009. They are the BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America.

News: Trend in Azerbaijan

RADIO Dxing Shortwave Listening Blog

Blog: Radioactivity

News on Feeds

Media Network

About Radio Azadlig (Radio Liberty)
Broadcasting from Baku, RFE/RL's Radio Azadliq broadcasts 10 hours a day or orignal programming, offering listeners up-to-the minute news and information and a rich menu of live, interactive, call-in shows on local, social and political issues. Among the most popular programs are the daily one-hour "Dear Baku" and two-hour, prime time "After Work" shows. They have stimulated vigorous public debate about corruption, infant mortality, the state of national health care, and other issues.

US State Department Concerned about Media Closure in Azerbaijan
The U.S. State Department has issued a statement expressing deep concern about Azerbaijan's announcement that they will discontinue local radio broadcasts of international media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Voice of America (VOA) and the BBC. The United States believes that international broadcasters such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the BBC have enriched public debate in Azerbaijan and contribute to Azerbaijan's democratic development. Discontinuing such broadcasts would send a disturbing message. We are seeking clarification from the Government of Azerbaijan.

US Ambassador Anne Derse Supports Radio Azadlig
We will be working with Azerbaijan to address any questions that may arise in order to find a way to ensure that the Azerbaijani people still have an access to these important sources of independent news. Some of the solutions that had been put forward, like satellite or Internet, are not really viable solution at this time because the emerging and evolving nature of Azerbaijan's communication infrastructure.

The United States believes strongly that the culture of informed citizenry is critical part of any democracy and independent, objective, professional, ethical media is a critical element in ensuring and inform citizenry.

Azerbaijan: Foreign Radio Under Threat
"The government's proposal to rebroadcast on the Internet is not realistic, as most listeners in Azerbaijan don't have access to the Internet," said Kenan Aliev, director of Radio Liberty's Azeri service. "If we lost their local frequency and had to rely on the Internet and other means of broadcasting, it would be a serious blow."

"These radio stations are popular in society as fierce critics of the authorities," said Mehman Aliev, director of the independent Turan news agency. "That's why the authorities don't want them to be accessible to the larger public and why they are attacking them."

"Andreas Herkel, co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said these plans were part of a disturbing trend for the media in general in Azerbaijan. "The media is the most difficult area for the government," said Herkel. "In all international reports it is being reported that freedom of speech in Azerbaijan is being restricted."

Council of Europe Concerned About Azerbaijan Radio Plan
A top Council of Europe official has about Council Secretary General Terry Davis of the Council of Europe expressed concern that the Azerbaijani government must honor freedom of expression. Azerbaijan's government said a long-standing law bans local stations from broadcasting foreign programs. It said all such broadcasts - including VOA, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and the British Broadcasting Corporation - will stop on January 1.

  Nov 1

Nagorno Karabakh Discussions
Azerbaijan: Co-chairs mediating in the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict gather in Moscow, Russia.

OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs mediating in the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict Bernard Fassier (France), Matthew Bryza (USA) and special representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk arrived in Moscow on Friday October 31.

Diplomatic sources told foreign ministers of Russia (Sergei Lavrov), Azerbaijan (Elmar Mammadyarov) and Armenia (Edward Nalbandyan) that they would meet at the Russian Foreign Ministry in a few hours for preparation to the tripartite meeting of the presidents of Russia (Dmitriy Medvedev), Azerbaijan (Ilham Aliyev) and Armenia (Serzh Sargsyan) on November 2 for settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

The initiative of the Presidents' meeting was put forward by the Russian President in Yerevan, Armenia, on October 21, 2008

The leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia meant to discuss the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Not much seems to have changed. They agreed to continue discussion.

North-South Tilt?
Paul Goble suggests that the talks offer a subtle hint that a tilt has occurred and that the diplomatic landscape in the Caucasus is changing.
Tehran - with Moscow's Backing - Seeks to Expand its Role in the Caucasus

Nov 1

Russia is interested in gas swaps with Iran, Iran's Oil Ministry reported, in a fresh sign of efforts to deepen ties between two states who together account for 40 percent of world reserves.

Nov 2 

Discussion to Resolve Nagorno-Karabakh ­ Russia / Azerbaijan / Armenian
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow to discuss resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. Nagorno-Karabakh is official in the territory of Azerbaijan but has been under occupation by Armenians since 1992.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Talks ­ Azerbaijanis Back Home
Russia is hailing the November 2 summit meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a historic milestone, but, back in Azerbaijan, many analysts see the summit as having been more about stagecraft than about achieving breakthroughs.

According to Vafa Guluzade, former advisor to three of Azerbaijan's Presidents, "Russia did not want to end the visit with nothing. So it had the presidents sign this declaration that has no importance. The declaration does not have any binding authority. It lays no responsibility [on anyone for anything]."

  Moscow Brings Pressure to Bear on Baku
Baku's most sensitive pressure point is clearly the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, and, not surprisingly, that is where Russia is exerting the most force.

 Nov 3

Iran Marks Seizure of U.S. Embassy
In Tehran, thousands of Iranians demonstrated Monday to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy by militant students. Crowds gathered outside the former embassy building to demonstrate on a day that was declared a school holiday so that children could be bused into the capital to take part.

In 1979, militant Iranian students who accused the U.S. Embassy of plotting against Tehran seized 52 Americans and held them for 444 days. The United States severed diplomatic ties in 1980, and the two countries have not had formal relations since.
Washington has said that it might consider opening a U.S. interests section in Tehran.

  Kazakh Oil Begins through BTC Pipeline
The first shipment of Kazakh oil has been pumped through a strategic pipeline that originates in Baku and bypasses Russia on its way to Western markets. Oil from Tengiz, one of the world's largest oil fields in Kazakhstan, entered the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline last week after being shipped across the Caspian Sea. Approximately, 100,000 barrels of Kazakh oil a day could ultimately be sent through the 1,100-mile pipeline.

 Nov 4

Barack Obama Elected President of US
Democrat Barack Obama won the election to become President of the United States. For the first time in history, a Black American was elected to the highest office in the United States. Polls taken throughout the world highly favored Obama above the Republican candidate John McCain.

What does it mean for the world?
Paul Goble: A Revolutionary Reaffirmation

  Central Azeri Oil Rig resumes normal work
Central Azeri and West Azeri at Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) group of fields in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea have resumed normal schedule of works, according to State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). On September 17, two of its five offshore platforms on the ACG fields were shut down following a gas leak. About 100 workers are employed on Central Azeri.

The connection between West Azeri and East Azeri has been repaired. These two platforms have normal work flow now and produce 80,000 tons of oil a day.

The Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oilfields are the main source of oil for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which takes crude oil from Azerbaijan to the Turkish Port of Ceyhan for world markets. Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli participating interests are: BP (operator ­ 34.1%), Chevron (10.2%), SOCAR (10%), INPEX (10%), StatoilHydro (8.6%), ExxonMobil (8%), TPAO (6.8%), Devon (5.6%), ITOCHU (3.9%), Hess (2.7%).

Azeri Oil Production (ACG)
Production from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field complex in the Caspian Sea is up to nearly 560,000 barrels per day. Earlier production was 840,000 barrels.

 Nov 5

Russia Threatens to Set up Missiles in Kaliningrad
The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that his country would place missiles in the Baltic region of Kaliningrad in response to US missile defense plans. The short-range Iskander missile would be deployed in the enclave, between two EU states, Lithuania and Poland, after Russia's warnings that the US plans for a defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic were a threat to Russia's security. Russia would also station equipment that would electronically hamper the proposed defence systems.
  War Analysis: Georgia Fired More Cluster Bombs Than Thought, Killing Civilians, Report Finds
Georgian military forces fired more cluster munitions during their war with Russia in August than originally thought, and some of the weapons may have malfunctioned, causing civilian casualties when they fell short of military targets and hit Georgian villages, according to new research by Human Rights Watch.
  Azerbaijani President meets with President of Turkey
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev makes his first official visit to Turkey after his re-election to meet with the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul to discuss the new situaton in the Caucasus.

 Nov 7

War Analysis: Who Started the War?
Georgia Version about Russia Questioned by Observers

NY Times - Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression. Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia's inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.
  Nov 14 Update ­ RFE/RL
Eyewitness Accounts Confirm Shelling Of Georgian Villages

The fighting in South Ossetia began days before the world even noticed that a war was going on. Pro-Moscow separatist forces had been shelling his hometown of Avnevi, an ethnic-Georgian village inside the breakaway region, pretty much nonstop since the beginning of August until Georgian troops entered the enclave around midnight on August 7-8.

Georgians Demonstrate against President Saakashvili
AFP - More than 10,000 opponents of President Mikheil Saakashvili rallied in Tbilisi in the first major show of discontent since Georgia's crushing defeat in an August war with Russia. Organizers vowed the rally, held on the anniversary of a crackdown on anti-government demonstrators last year, would be the first of many to demand Saakashvili's resignation and early elections.

Georgian Opposition Seeks 'Peaceful' Ouster of Saakashvili But Faces Uphill Fight

 Nov 13

New excuses for mosque closure
Police in the capital Baku have put forward new claims as to why the Abu-Bakr Mosque cannot be reopened.
The latest police claims, for which no evidence has been produced, are that there is a threat of terrorist attack, that local people object to the mosque, and that it was built illegally. A nationwide "temporary" ban on praying outside mosques also remains in force.
  Prospects for Ukraine in NATO Remain Dim in Tallinn
Defense ministers from NATO states and Ukraine met in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to discuss Kyiv's prospects for eventual membership in the alliance. While the meeting left little doubt that NATO still wants Ukraine within the Atlantic alliance, it also made it clear that Russia's opposition to Ukraine's membership remains a strong reason for NATO to maintain its current go-slow approach.

Nov 14 

4th Energy Summit opens in Baku, Azerbaijan
The following Presidents have confirmed that they will be present in Baku on November 14 for the Energy Summit: Turkey (President Abdullah Gul), Poland (President Lech Kaczynski), Ukraine (President Victor Yushchenko), Lithuania (President Valdas Adamkus), Estonia (President Thomas-Hendrik), Latvia (President Valdis Zatlers), Romania (President Trajan Basesku).

Delegations also came from Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, the United States, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, representatives of the European Commission.

The First Energy Summit took place in Krakow, Poland (May 2006); the second in Vilnius, Lithuania (November 2007), and the third in Kiev, Ukraine (May 2008).

Azerbaijan to withdraw troops from Iraq
Azerbaijan's parliament approved a decision by President Ilham Aliyev to pull out Azerbaijan's troops from Iraq. Azerbaijan's 151-strong military contingent has been deployed in Iraq since 2003.

The basis for Aliyev's action was a strict legal interpretation of the December 18, 2007, UN Security Council Resolution 1790, which extended the Multi-National Force -Iraq (MNF-I) mandate until December 31. www.iamb.info/pdf/unscr1790.pdf

The other unspoken concern in Azerbaijan is the new geo-strategic landscape in the Caucasus after the August military confrontation between Russia and Georgia. The conflict proved, as if any reminder were needed, that Moscow retains a keen interest in the issues of Caspian energy and its transport through the Caucasus.


Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan Sign Agreement on Establishment of Caspian Oil Transportation System
Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on the establishment of Caspian Oil Transportation System.

The system will be able to transport 500,000 barrels of oil a day. The capacity will reach 750,000-1,200,000 barrels in future. The system is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012.

 Nov 22

Holodomor Tragedy in Ukraine
The presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Poland and Baltic states will attend an international forum on the 75th anniversary of Holodomor in Ukraine. The Holodomor is the famine that took place in Soviet Ukraine during the 1932-1933 agricultural season. The Holodomor ravaged the rural population of the Ukrainian SSR, and is considered one of the greatest national catastrophes to affect the Ukrainian nation in modern history.

 Nov 25

Former Georgian Ambassador to Moscow Disputes His Account
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, the founder of the Rustavi-2 television center who recently resigned as Georgia's ambassador to the Russian Federation, said that Saakashvili planned invading Abkhazia last spring, was behind the actions that led Russia to intervene in South Ossetia in August, and must bear full responsibility for Georgia's losses as a result http://www.apsny.ge/articles/1227679651.php
European Commission to Investigate Causes of Georgian War
Heidi Talyavini, a Swiss expert who has worked in the Caucasus since 1995 for the OSCE, the United Nations and the European Union, will head the international commission investigating who caused the war in Georgia

Most observers expect that she and the commission will conclude that both Moscow and Tbilisi bear some responsibility for the conflict.

 Nov 26

No to Georgia and Ukraine's Quest for NATO Membership
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice backed off plans to offer Georgia and Ukraine a formal roadmap for joining NATO. President George W. Bush pushed unsuccessfully for a membership plan for Georgia and Ukraine at the alliance's April 2008 summit in Bucharest, but faced opposition within the alliance from France and German [who depend upon Russia for oil and gas].

That resistance has increased since the Georgian military moved in August to crack down on separatist militants in South Ossetia, prompted a large scale Russian invasion.

Russia has strongly opposed NATO membership for any former Soviet states and has been threatened by the expansion of the alliance closer to its borders.

 Nov 27


Saakashvili Defends His Record at Hearing
For five hours on November 27, President Mikhail Saakashvili defended his actions to a parliamentary commission looking into the Russian-Georgian war. He said that Putin had seemed to be "threatening" Georgia with war as early as February 2008, that he had told Western governments that Tbilisi would respond militarily if Russian forces engaged in "targeting our civilians," that he had asked Western governments to intervene with Moscow, and that he had not demanded that the Russian peacekeepers be withdrawn because the West would have viewed that as "a provocative act." In other comments, he said that Georgia has not yet been defeated, and he said that former Georgian ambassador to Moscow Erosi Kitsmarishvili's statements should be dismissed as complete inventions. Asked why he had appointed him to Moscow, Saakashvili responded "We all make mistakes."

 Nov 28
Caspian energy export deal
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan agreed a common energy export strategy that could help unlock new pipeline routes from the Caspian region, easing European dependence on Russian supplies. Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, President of Turkmenistan, met with Ilham Aliev, the leader of Azerbaijan, in Turkmenbashi. Nabucco but is under pressure to increase gas exports to Russia, the main market for Turkmen gas. He has also contracted to supply gas to China through a new pipeline now being built to the east.

Russia to Build Bases
Russian bases in breakaway states to be extremely expensive. Moscow officials say that it will cost 10 to 12 billion rubles (400 to 480 million U.S. dollars) to build the bases it has announced it will open or expand in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and that construction will take several years once it begins in 2009.

Meanwhile, Russian soldiers stationed there are living in tents and complaining about it.

 Nov 29

Ex-Border Police Chief Accuses Georgian Leadership of Starting War
Saakashvili started the war according to former Georgian BORDER GUARDS CHIEF. Badri Bitsadze, the former head of the Georgian border police and husband of former Parliament head Nino Burjanadze, said Saakashvili had made the decision to send forces into South Ossetia without receiving any "green light from any foreign country" because at that time the Georgian president "was listening only to those people who agreed with him," a Georgian newspaper reported on November 29.
Trilateral meeting of Presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Turkmenistan
Trilateral meeting of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, President Abdulah Gul of Turkey and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov of Turkmenistan was held on 29 November in Turkmenbashi.

Emergency Situations Ministries of Russia and Azerbaijan sign complex cooperation plan for 2009-2011

Russian Minister of Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu and Azerbaijani Minister of Emergency Situations Kamaladdin Heydarov signed the document.

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