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Customs arrests, increased food prices, and ECHR admissions

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The week of 17-21 May saw detained officers, an increase in food prices, and ECHR’s admission of legal complaints related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan’s failure in fighting corruption.

Detained officers

At the beginning of this week, the Prosecutor General`s office conducted an operation at the state customs committee in Baku. A number of officials were reportedly detained.

The spokesman of the Prosecutor General’s Office told Meydan TV that officials were caught accepting bribes. While this cannot be further verified, many corruption-related arrests have been taking place in lower-level state agencies. While corruption is rampant in the country, whether or not these arrests are indeed due to bribery or are political in nature is unclear.

Food prices in Azerbaijan have increased.

Food prices in Azerbaijan have increased.

Source: https://ekonews.az/

Increase in food prices

In the first quarter of 2021, the Producer Price Index (PPI) in Azerbaijan increased the most among the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. According to the State Statistics Committee of Azerbaijan (SSC), inflation between January and April 2021 was 4% higher than between January and April 2020, and food prices rose by 4.7% percent.

Economist Gubad Ibadoglu links the increase to the price rise for gasoline and water at the beginning of the year. He also believes that a hike in prices of imported goods, transportation costs and custom duties also played a big role in the situation. According to Ibadoglu, this means that prices will continue to rise.

ECHR admits legal complaints on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

ECHR admits legal complaints on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Source: ECHR

ECHR’s admits legal complaints on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia is now moving to the legal level. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that complaints submitted by Azerbaijan and Armenia against each other are admissible.

Azerbaijan appealed to the ECHR in January, charging Armenia for its human rights violations during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. Azerbaijan submitted its complaints in three different sections. On the other hand, the Armenian government also filed a complaint against Azerbaijan in February, claiming that Azerbaijan violated the right to life, the right to freedom, as well as a number of other conventional rights. After mutual complaints, the ECHR reviewed them and decided to pursue further proceedings.

The ECHR believes that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh has led to serious violations of the The European Convention on Human Rights. The court called on Azerbaijan and Armenia to refrain from taking any action, including military operations that violate the rights of civilians. The court also called on the countries involved in the conflict, including Turkey, to fulfill their obligations under the Convention.

It is expected that the ECHR will not make any decisions on territorial issues in order to prevent the court from becoming an arena for ideological struggles between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In general, the ECHR’s actions should be seen as a reminder to both parties to honor their international human rights obligations, even in times of conflict.

GRECO

GRECO

Source: GRECO

GRECO’s Report

According to the report published by Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO this week on Wednesday, Azerbaijan failed to fulfill recommendations to fight corruption.

The report stated that, “only a modest progress can be noted in the implementation of the recommendations addressed to Azerbaijan within the Fourth Evaluation Round. Fourteen out of twenty-one recommendations have been implemented satisfactorily, four recommendations have been partly implemented and three recommendations remain not implemented”.

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Permanent solution in Karabakh could make Russian military presence unnecessary – Expert

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US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasia Affairs George Kent made a speech at an online seminar hosted by Turkish Heritage Organization in Washington.

In his speech, he talked about the current situation around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

He said Russia was trying to keep the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh, and not to settle it.

He expects the Azerbaijani government to increase dissatisfaction with the presence of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh.

George Kent also quoted the Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia: “This is the situation that happened in Georgia in 1998. Azerbaijan will be in the situation that Georgia faced in 2008. Then it will come to the current situation emerging in our country.”

It means that Georgian scenario  could happen in Nagorno-Karabakh in the near future.

It should be noted that when Georgia, in the year of 2008,  was involved in the military confrontation  with Russian forces in its sovereign territories – South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it brought about severe and sturdy consequences. As a result, Russia occupied South Ossetia and Abhhazia. 

Kent added that Russia is trying to take advantage of the Karabakh conflict by manipulating it and preventing Azerbaijan and Armenia from moving forward.

Speaking to Eurasia Diary, Patrick Walsh, Irish historian and political expert, commented on general thoughts about the role of Russia in the future settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As well, in his comments he touched upon the US and Turkey cooperation in ensuring peace and stability in the South Caucasus.

Irish historian Patrick Walsh: Karabakh has never been part of an Armenian  state

According to him, the domination of the South Caucasus region is a one of the priorities in the geopolitical interests of Russia.

“Moscow is mainly concerned over the stability of this region and is no longer able to dominate it, like it did in Soviet and Tsarist times. Like all Great Powers it has geopolitical interests and will exert them in any way it can,” he said.  

Walsh pointed out that Azerbaijan now has the task of managing the Russian presence in order to utilise it as a positive force in holding Yerevan to the settlement.

 “President Aliyev has demonstrated great understanding and skill in doing this so far. He has not underestimated Russia in the same way as the Armenians did. Handling Russia is a big challenge but there is nobody better qualified to do it,” he stressed.

According to some experts and politicians, the possibility of Georgian scenario could occur in Nagorno-Karabakh in the near future.

However, Walsh rejected all these claims and said it is impossible for Georgian scenario to happen in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

“Georgia is a different case. The Rose Revolution ruptured Russia-Georgian relations. The focus of Saakashvili was Georgia’s admission to NATO and it received US military assistance. Moscow saw this as a US foothold in the South Caucasus and used the conflict in South Ossetia to warn the Georgians off. Azerbaijan’s relationship with Russia is entirely different. It is based upon being a strong independent nation having good relations with a neighbour. Two qualities that Moscow respects,” he stressed.

In addition, touching upon the cases of Russian threat in Nagorno-Karabakh, Irish expert noted that the only positive development in the region could persuade Russia to leave.

“Russia cannot be defeated militarily so the task is to ensure that it is persuaded to leave Karabakh when its positive work is done. This can only be achieved politically by the development of a permanent solution in the region that makes a future Russian military presence unnecessary,” expert said.

When it comes to the role of the US and Turkey in the South Caucasus, Irish expert stressed that the US-Turkey cooperation could contribute to peace and stability in the region.

It should be noted that a number of US generals appreciated Turkey’s role in the Second Karabakh War and the ceasefire process. In their opinion, the United States and Turkey could cooperate in the process of stabilization in the region of the South Caucasus. 

“ The US and Turkey could play a positive role and could contribute to peace in the region. However, US/Turkish relations are not good at present and the Armenian Diaspora is a poisonous element that disables the US in exerting influence in the Turkic world. The US has much to gain in re-establishing good relations with Turkey and a more positive US economic contribution to peace and prosperity in the region is long overdue,” he added. 

by Yunis Abdullayev 

Read original article here

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Turkey may suspend ties with UAE over Israel deal, Erdogan says

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Turkey is considering suspending diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates and withdrawing its ambassador over the Gulf state’s accord to normalize ties with Israel, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.The Turkish foreign ministry said history would never forgive the UAE’s “hypocritical behavior” in agreeing such a deal, which recasts the order of Middle East politics.Under the U.S.-brokered deal – the first between Israel and a Gulf Arab state – the Jewish state agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank which Palestinian leaders have denounced as a “stab in the back” to their cause.”The move against Palestine is not a step that can be stomached,” Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers.”Now, Palestine is either closing or withdrawing its embassy. The same thing is valid for us now,” he said, stating that he’d given orders to his foreign minister.”I told him we may also take a step in the direction of suspending diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi leadership or pulling back our ambassador,” he added. Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics The Turkish Foreign Ministry had earlier said Palestinians were right to reject the deal in which the UAE betrayed their cause.”History and the conscience of the region’s peoples will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behavior,” it said. “It is extremely worrying that the UAE should, with a unilateral action, try and do away with the (2002) Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab League.”Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years.In 2010 Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.The deal makes the UAE the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
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After Hagia Sophia, Turkey’s Erdogan turns another former church into mosque

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday ordered another ancient Orthodox church that became a mosque and then a popular Istanbul museum to be turned back into a place of Muslim worship.

The decision to transform the Kariye Museum into a mosque came just a month after a similarly controversial conversion for the UNESCO World Heritage-recognised Hagia Sophia.Both changes reflect Erdogan’s efforts to galvanise his more conservative and nationalist supporters at a time when Turkey is suffering a new spell of inflation and economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.But the moves have added to Turkey’s problems with prelates in both the Orthodox and Catholic worlds.The Greek foreign ministry called the decision “yet another provocation against religious persons everywhere” by the Turkish government.’Steeped in history’               The 1,000-year-old Kariye building’s history closely mirrors that of the Hagia Sophia — its bigger and more famous neighbour on the western bank of the Golden Horn estuary on the European side of Istanbul.The Holy Saviour in Chora was a Byzantine church decorated with 14th-century frescoes of the Last Judgement that remain treasured in Christendom.It was originally converted into the Kariye Mosque half a century after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks.It became the Kariye Museum after World War II as Turkey pushed ahead with the creation of a more secular new republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.A group of American art historians then helped restore the original church’s mosaics and opened them up for public display in 1958.But Erdogan is placing an ever greater political emphasis on the battles that resulted in the defeat of Byzantium by the Ottomans.Turkey’s top administrative court approved the museum’s conversion into a mosque in November.”It’s a place steeped in history which holds a lot of symbolism for a lot of different people,” said 48-year-old French tourist Frederic Sicard outside the building.”For me, (these conversions) are a little difficult to understand and to follow. But we would visit if it were a mosque. We might just have to arrange visits around prayer times.”‘Shame for our country’The sand-coloured structure visible today replaced a building created as a part of a monastery when Constantinople became the new capital of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.It features a minaret in one corner and small cascading domes similar to those of other grand mosques whose calls to prayer echo across the hills of Istanbul.But inside it is filled with magnificent frescoes and mosaics that represent some of the finest examples of Byzantine art in the Christian world.Turkey’s tumultuous efforts to reconcile these two histories form the underpinnings of the country’s contemporary politics and social life.Opposition HDP party lawmaker Garo Paylan called the transformation “a shame for our country”.”One of the symbols of our country’s deep, multicultural identity and multi-religious history has been sacrificed,” he tweeted.Ottoman Empire historian Zeynep Turkyilmaz called the conversion “destruction” because the building’s walls are lined with Christian art that would have to be either covered up or plastered over — as it was by the Ottomans.”It is impossible to hide the frescoes and mosaics because they decorate the entire building,” the historian told AFP.Yet some locals fully supported the change.”There are dozens, hundreds of churches, synagogues in Istanbul and only a few of them have been opened to prayer as mosques,” said Yucel Sahin as he strolled by the building after the morning rain.”There is a lot of tolerance in our culture.”(AFP)

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