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 New sugar plant to appear in Uzbekistan http://www.today.az/news/regions/167017.html World news Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:23:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaUzbekistan plans to start construction of a new sugar plant in the near future.Russian investors will act as partners in this project, according to a source in the Uzbekzokovaktholding.A new industrial facility will be located in one of the free economic or small industrial zones in the Tashkent region.The plant will work on raw materials supplied from Russia. Part of its products are planned to be exported to neighboring countries. The total cost of the facility may exceed $100 million.Uzbekistan has already started to receive beet sugar from Russia in order to close the emerging demand in the market.Before the end of the year the country will need to import at least 120,000-150,000 tons of this product, according to experts’ estimates.Russia and Uzbekistan reached an agreement on the export of sugar by Russian producers during the visit of the Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev to the republic in September 2017. At the time, the agreement on deliveries between the Union of sugar producers of Russia and Uzbekzokovaktholding was signed.This rapprochement was stimulated by the zeroing of the rates of duties and excises on the import of sugar and its derivatives into the country since September 15, 2017. Prior to that, for more than 15 years, a 30 percent rate operated in the country.About 700,000 tons of sugar are produced in Uzbekistan annually. There are two factories in the country - Khoresm-Shakar (Khoresm Sugar Factory) and Angren Shakar, launched in 1998. It was planned that these two enterprises had to practically close the needs of the domestic market. However, due to the high cost of supplies of raw materials, the factories are not currently operating at full capacity. Azerbaijan’s ASAN service can be useful example for European countries http://www.today.az/news/business/167006.html Business Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:16:00 +0400 By  TrendASAN service, which is the state agency for government services to citizens of Azerbaijan, can be a useful example for European countries, Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, president of the Supreme Audit Office of Poland, said at a press-conference in Baku Nov. 20.He said that the transparency of this structure is very big and many European countries could use ASAN experience."The ASAN service impressed me with its transparency and functionality,” he said. “This is a very important structure and I intend to share my observations in Poland. I think the experience of this service can be very useful for Poland and other European countries." Ilham Aliyev changes composition of Azerbaijan-Uzbekistan Intergovernmental Commission http://www.today.az/news/politics/167005.html Politics Tue, 21 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has signed a decree making changes to the "Decree on Approval of New Composition of the Azerbaijan-Uzbekistan Intergovernmental Joint Commission for Cooperation from the Azerbaijani Side", dated November 22, 2007.According to the changes, the words "Iltimas Mammadov - Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies" and "Ilgar Fatizade - First Deputy Minister of Finance" are excluded from the order.Moreover, the words "Rovnag Abdullayev - President of Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company SOCAR", "Javid Gurbanov - Chairman of the Azerbaijan Railways CJSC and “Taleh Ziyadov - Director General of Baku International Sea Commercial Port" are added after the words "Adalat Valiyev - Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism".According to the changes, the words "Kamal Ismayilzade - Head of the Department of CIS Economic Relations of the Office of Cabinet of Ministers (the commission's senior secretary)" are replaced with the words "Aghadai Aghayev - Head of the Department of International Relations of the Cabinet of Ministers".Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry has been tasked to notify the Uzbek side about the changes. Azerbaijan's Armed Forces hold combat firing during Command-Staff War Games http://www.today.az/news/politics/167004.html Politics Tue, 21 Nov 2017 11:47:00 +0400 By  TrendPerformance of Azerbaijan's troops in air, in sea and on land, accompanied by combat firing, was checked during the Command-Staff War Games, the press service of Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said in a message Nov. 20.During the main stage of the exercises, consisting of several parts, the interoperability, logistics, as well as command and control of troops during offensive operations were provided. Other tactical actions were also carried out during this stage.Azerbaijan’s minister of defense, Colonel General Zakir Hasanov has highly appreciated the professionalism of the military personnel involved in the Command-Staff War Games and successful implementation of all the assigned tasks. Azerbaijan invited for OPEC + meeting in Vienna http://www.today.az/news/business/167003.html Business Tue, 21 Nov 2017 11:36:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan has received an official invitation for the 173rd meeting of the Council of Ministers of OPEC to be held late November in Vienna, Zamina Aliyeva, spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Energy, told Trend on November 20.Aliyeva added that Azerbaijan intends to consider the invitation and coordinate its participation in the meeting.Implementation of the OPEC + deal on oil production reduction, increasing production quotas and extension of the OPEC + deal are planned to be discussed at the meeting. The meeting will be held in Vienna on November 30.In December 2016 in Vienna, 11 non-OPEC countries, including Azerbaijan, agreed to curtail oil output jointly by 558,000 barrels per day. The agreement was signed for the first half of 2017, and on May 25 it was extended by late 1Q18. Azerbaijani, who rescued children in Russia, awarded posthumously http://www.today.az/news/society/167002.html Society Tue, 21 Nov 2017 11:14:00 +0400 By  TrendBaku hosted a ceremony on presentation of a medal of the Ministry for Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation to the father of Salamaddin Nagiyev, who tragically died while saving two children who were drowning in Pekhorka River in Lyuberetsk district of Moscow.The medal was presented in the presence of foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Russia, Elmar Mammadyarov and Sergey Lavrov.In July 2013, 21-year-old Salamaddin Nagiyev died tragically in the river while saving local children. Nagiyev came to Moscow from Azerbaijan to visit his father. The incident occurred when he was walking around the river in the afternoon, where he saw three girls. They called for help and Nagiyev without hesitation rushed to the aid of the girls. He helped them to get ashore, but, unfortunately, he could not escape the death. Minister: Azerbaijan ready to export agricultural products to Italy http://www.today.az/news/business/167001.html Business Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:52:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan is ready to export agricultural products, including hazelnuts, vegetables and fruits, to Italy, Azerbaijani Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev said.Mustafayev made the remarks at a meeting with Italian ambassador to Azerbaijan Augusto Massari in Baku, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Economy said Nov. 20.The minister said that both countries have great potential for expansion of cooperation in such areas as industry, trade, agriculture, textiles, winemaking, pharmaceutics, transit, tourism and others.Mustafayev added that Italy could use the infrastructure and transit opportunities of Azerbaijan and create joint ventures in this sphere.The minister also touched upon the cooperation in the energy sector, stressing that the South Gas Corridor project is being successfully implemented.Mustafayev stressed the importance of the Italian government's support for the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, which is part of the Southern Gas Corridor.According to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Italy exceeded $2.3 billion in January-October 2017, of which $2.07 billion accounted for the export to Italy. Armenia continues breaking ceasefire with Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/politics/166999.html Politics Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:33:00 +0400 By  TrendOver the past 24 hours, Armenia’s armed forces have 131 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on November 21.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Currency rates for November 21 http://www.today.az/news/business/167000.html Business Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:15:00 +0400 By  TrendThe official exchange rate of US dollar and euro to Azerbaijani manat for November 21 was set at 1.7002 manats and 1.9959 manats, respectively.Below are the rates of Azerbaijani manat against those currencies, according to the data from the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.CurrenciesNov. 21, 20171 US dollar1 USD1.70021 euro1 EUR1.9959 Albania expects all deadlines for TAP to be met – deputy energy minister http://www.today.az/news/business/166998.html Business Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:00:00 +0400 By  TrendAlbania believes that all deadlines set for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, which envisages transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Europe, will be met, Enis Aliko, deputy minister of Infrastructure and Energy of Albania, told Trend."TAP project has progressed quite well in Albania. TAP is approved as the Project of National Importance, it is also approved as part of the National Sectorial Plan for the gas sector, and was also granted the Complex Development Permit," said the deputy minister.He pointed out that all licenses and permits are in place and most private property issues have been resolved, or are in the process of being resolved, with the support of the government."The construction is at a good point: 62 percent of the pipeline has been welded, 52 percent of it has been laid in the ground and in 40 percent of its length, the land is already returned to the original status. We remain optimistic that all deadlines will be met," added Aliko.The deputy minister went on to add that the Southern Gas Corridor, of which TAP is an essential part, is extremely important to Albania because Albania is looking forward to the diversification of its energy supply, and gas is one of the alternative energy sources identified by the Albanian government.He noted that currently Albania has some natural gas production, which is only sufficient for some local needs.TAP is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, which is one of the priority energy projects for the European Union. The project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz Stage 2 to the EU countries.The pipeline will connect to the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) on the Turkish-Greek border, run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Italy’s south.TAP will be 878 kilometers in length (Greece 550 kilometers, Albania 215 kilometers, Adriatic Sea 105 kilometers, and Italy 8 kilometers).TAP’s shareholding is comprised of BP (20 percent), SOCAR (20 percent), Snam S.p.A. (20 percent), Fluxys (19 percent), Enagás (16 percent) and Axpo (5 percent).The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority energy projects for the EU. It envisages the transportation of gas from the Caspian region to the European countries through Georgia and Turkey.At the initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects. Other sources can also connect to this project at a later stage.As part of the Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz development, the gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline and Trans Adriatic Pipeline. Ilham Aliyev receives FIFA president, secretary general http://www.today.az/news/politics/166997.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 19:55:00 +0400 By  TrendPresident of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Secretary General Fatma Samoura on November 20.Gianni Infantino presented memorable gifts of FIFA to the head of state. Light oil output down in Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/business/166992.html Business Mon, 20 Nov 2017 18:00:00 +0400 By  TrendAzerbaijan produced 22 million tons of light oil in January-September 2017 as compared to 24 million tons in the same period last year, BP Azerbaijan said Nov. 20 in a report on its activity in the country for January-September 2017.BP Azerbaijan operates the development of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) block of oil and gas fields, where the Azeri Light oil is produced.The report says that total ACG production in January-September 2017 averaged about 585,000 barrels per day, including 52,000 barrels from the Chirag platform, 133,000 barrels from the Central Azeri, 120,000 barrels from the West Azeri, 80,000 barrels from East Azeri, 119,000 barrels from the Deepwater Gunashli and 81,000 barrels from the West Chirag platforms.Azerbaijan produced over 31.1 million tons of Azeri Light oil in 2016, as compared to 31.3 million tons in 2015.Operating expenditures on the project totaled over $339 million, while capital expenditures were around $890 million in January-September 2017.A contract for development of ACG block of oil and gas fields was signed in 1994. A ceremony to sign a new contract on development of the ACG block of oil and gas fields was held in Baku Sept. 14, 2017.The new ACG participating interests are as follows: BP - 30.37 percent; AzACG (SOCAR) - 25 percent; Chevron - 9.57 percent; INPEX - 9.31 percent; Statoil - 7.27 percent; ExxonMobil - 6.79 percent; TP - 5.73 percent; ITOCHU - 3.65 percent; ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) - 2.31 percent. Latvia always supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity: envoy http://www.today.az/news/politics/166993.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:53:00 +0400 By  TrendLatvia has always supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, Latvian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Juris Maklakovs said at an event dedicated to the 99th anniversary of Latvia’s independence held in the International Press Center in Baku.“53 out of 100 Latvian MPs adopted a statement on the Khojaly genocide,” the ambassador added. Armenian soldier put in slavish position http://www.today.az/news/regions/166991.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:42:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovFor many years the social and economic situation in Armenia has been sorrowful, but the life of Armenian soldiers has been even worse than the life of ordinary citizens. Bullying, violence, hazing and constant humiliation of human dignity – all these are common for the Armenian army.Soldiers get killed in the Armenian army, their cases are being stifled, innocent soldiers are condemned for imperfect crimes, and real criminals go unpunished – everyone knows this, says Ruben Martirosyan, Armenian human rights activist who deals with army problems.“We cannot solve the problem at the root. Serzh Sargsyan said “Do whatever you want.” As a result, those who do destroy the army and have to take such wrong steps such as restricting the right to deferment,” the activist said in his interview with 1in.am.Last week, the Armenian Parliament passed the bill that restricts Armenian students’ right to defer their military service. Under the new legislation, if a male student wants to continue his education and delay serving in the army, he will have to sign a contract with the Defense Ministry in order to get a draft deferment. In this case, the person will have to serve three instead of usual two years in the military after completing his studies at the location chosen by the ministry. Moreover, during his study period the student will have to undergo military training.Martirosyan said the restriction of the right to deferment is a wrong step impeding the development of the state. “The Defense Ministry took this step because today no one wants to serve in the army due to the morals reigning there, and officials take out their children,” he added.The hazing of army conscripts has a strikingly violent form in Armenian army. Soldiers who have undergone more than six-month service bully new conscripts, while those in their last six months are ‘senior’ soldiers who enjoy various privileges and higher states, including immunity from such treatment.Moreover, these senior soldiers collect ‘taxes’ from other soldiers of a military unit with subsequent transfer of the collected money to the unit authorities. Those who do not want to comply with this rule become the subject of bullying and violence. Sometimes that ends with murder of such soldiers.“I have information that when Serzh Sargsyan’s co-father-in-law was the head of the Central Medical Commission, corruption in the army distributed widely,” says Martirosyan. “Healthy conscripts were released from military service, and guys with health problems were called up instead of them. Everything was done to earn money. Now there is the same situation with some differences.”The human rights activist noted that forced military service will lead to consequences both in the army itself and in the development of the country.“Service in the army by force is fraught with many negative consequences – tension, conflict situations. Whereas everything should have been done the other way around. Everything had to be done so that young people would go to serve in the army willingly, at their own volition,” he noted.Martirosyan pointed out that for this, it is necessary to eradicate mayhem in the army, to introduce statutory relations, since today the Armenian soldier is in a slavish position, and all rights of soldiers are violated. “Only after this situation is eliminated, it will be possible to discuss some issues,” the activist said.In this regard, it is silly to think that the Armenian government will achieve its goal to strengthen the army through adopting controversial laws. As a result, many of Armenian young men will intensify their efforts to move abroad in order not to suffer from hazing in the Armenian army, as well as to continue their education. This, in turn, will trigger even faster depopulation of the country. Domestic Alien expo opens in Baku http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/166996.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:39:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAn exhibition of British artists Franz Ackermann, El Anatsui, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Richard Wilson opened in Gazelli Art House on November 17.Domestic Alien is a show that explores and challenges a diverse range of present-day themes and issues, Day.Az reported.Underlined by the concept of displacement, it encourages a dialogue on differences in societal and cultural values, notions of domesticity, and the impact of globalisation.Franz Ackermann’s whimsical landscapes lead viewers in a world full of colour and abstraction.Ackerman's last works "Chess Me" and "Direction Away" (2016) has been widely recognised as critical political commentary on the contemporary issues of tourism and globalisation.A labyrinth of biotic generalisations, what seems to be unstructured, compositions work in paradoxical harmony to provide a common ground. One of the most influential contemporary artists of his generation, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s pioneering approach serves to reconfigure the relationship between art and life.Pistoletto elaborates on the use of reflective surfaces to "create a place by bringing about a passage between the photograph and the mirror". Engrossed within the interactive setting recreated on the surface, the viewer sees at once both a familiar and distorted reality. Richard Wilson, one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors, is well-known for his interventions within architectural spaces. Inspired by the worlds of engineering and construction, Wilson offers a new perspective on everyday spaces and objects.The distortion and upturn of otherwise recognisable objects, such as in Blocka Flats (2017) where he borrows from the form of a chest of drawers, prompt a re-assessment of accepted pre-conceptions of reality.Following the success of the launch of the re-designed space in Baku this year, Gazelli Art House is excited to welcome a truly impressive assemblage of universally celebrated international artists in Azerbaijan.The exhibition will last until February 23, 2018.Gazelli Art House supports a wide range of international artists, presenting a broad and dynamic programme to a diverse audience through global public projects and exhibition spaces in London and Baku.Contemporary gallery was founded in 2003 in Baku, Azerbaijan where it held exhibitions with Azeri artists. Time to reconsider Turkey's membership in NATO http://www.today.az/news/regions/166990.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:25:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) may no longer be considered as a reliable ally for Turkey.The distance between Turkey and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is becoming irresistible on the background of the recent events related to the military exercises held in Norway.It is not difficult to imagine that the forthcoming period will be full of even more serious tests for Turkey, the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, Turkish media outlets reported on November 20.He noted that what happened during the NATO exercises held in Norway was directed not only against his personality, but also against Turkey as a whole.“Given this, Turkey is prepared for anything,” the Turkish leader said.Meanwhile, Turkish presidential aide Yalchin Topcu stated that it's time to reconsider the issue of Turkey's membership in NATO.The Turkish parliament must consider Ankara's membership in this organization as soon as possible, he said.NATO is the culprit of the fact that Turkey in the defense sphere depends on other countries, according to Topcu."NATO, unfortunately, is hostile to Turkey," he said.Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen have apologized to Turkey over the incident.Turkey withdrew its forty servicemen participating in drills at NATO’s joint warfare centre in Stavanger, Norway, due to the fact that photos of Turkey’s incumbent president, as well as first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk were placed as conditional enemy images on the shooting range as part of the military exercises.Erdogan previously said that such behavior does not correspond to the spirit of cooperation and alliance between Turkey and NATO.The joint warfare centre is a multinational NATO unit based in Stavanger, 300km south-west of Oslo. It has a staff of 250 made up of civilians from 11 NATO member states, including Turkey.In March, the Norwegian government caused fury in Turkey by granting political asylum to five Turkish officers based in Norway who had refused to return home after the failed July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.  Zagatala gathers for first Hazelnut Festival http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/166989.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:10:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Aygul SalmanovaTraditional melodies, national costumes and walnut mountains: the first hazelnut festival of Azerbaijan, where the main thing required was to have time to try these delicious nuts, attracted hundreds of visitors - tourists and local residents.The festival was held in Zagatala region on November 18, with its diverse and rich nature where hazelnuts have been grown for a long time.Hazelnut is not only a delicious treat but also a unique gift of nature that helps to maintain health and prevent the development of many diseases.A wide range of hazelnut products were exhibited and various competitions were organized at the festival. The handicrafts were interestingly appreciated by the festival participants.Representatives of embassies of foreign countries operating in the country, including the Ambassador of Japan to Azerbaijan Teruyuki Katori, officials of the organizational bodies, prime ministers, as well as hazelnut producers and exporters, residents of the region participated in the festival organized by the regional executive authority and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.The main purpose of the festival was to demonstrate the economic, cultural and tourism potential of the country, as well as the Zagatala region.At the festival held at Dede Gorgud Square, guests tasted honey syrup and nutty bread.Head of Zagatala District Executive Power Mubariz Ahmadzadeh congratulated the residents of the region on the occasion of the remarkable day. It was noted that Zagatala is one of the fastest growing regions of Azerbaijan today, which has a great potential for hazelnut production in the region.It was noted that hazelnut production has become one of the traditional areas in the agricultural sector of the region since the middle of last century. In 1929 the first hazelnut plant in the former Soviet Union was launched in Zagatala. Nuts and canned products produced in the factory were exported to all USSR republics, as well as to some European countries.Currently, hazelnut pursues one of the leading roles in the economy of Zagatala region. In order to ensure the implementation of the presidential orders on the development of nutrient products, Zagatala continues to work on the establishment of new hazelnut orchards in recent years.Over the last two years, the total area of hazelnut groves has been expanded from 9,575 hectares to 17,000 hectares. Last year, the enterprises of the region exported some 91 million manats ($53 million) of hazelnut products. In the current year, hazelnut exports are expected to reach 120 million manats ($70 million). During the first 10 months of 2017, some 95 million manats worth hazelnut products was sent to foreign countries.Head of the Tourism Department of the Culture and Tourism Ministry Aydin Ismiyev said that such festivals held in different regions of the country play an important role in promoting the tourism potential of the regions.Then the participants of the festival got acquainted with the exhibition of a wide range of hazelnut products on the square with amazing decorations.Participants of the event watched the process of fueling the oven with hazelnut shells, the rules for keeping chestnuts, the process of burning hazelnut sticks in the oven.Currently, Azerbaijan is one of the five leading producers and exporters of hazelnuts along with Turkey, Georgia, Italy and the U.SRelying on its amazingly rich and variable nature, Azerbaijan plans to expand the exports of hazelnuts. About 35,000 tons of hazelnuts are produced in the country annually, 90 percent of which are exported.In Azerbaijan, the hazelnut production fetch one of the biggest revenue among agricultural production, therefore, the country pays attention to this area. Mammadyarov: Azerbaijan-Russia-Kazakhstan coopertation format – optimal option http://www.today.az/news/politics/166986.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:01:00 +0400 By  TrendThe Azerbaijan-Russia-Kazakhstan format is an optimal option of the trilateral format, said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Baku on November 20. Baku well-liked destination among Kazan people for New Year http://www.today.az/news/business/166984.html Business Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:59:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Aygul SalmanovaAzerbaijan, with its century-old history and beautiful nature, is among the most desired destination for the foreign tourists.Today tourism is developing with high speed in Azerbaijan, with a contribution of 4.5 percent to the national GDP and the number of tourists heading to Azerbaijan is growing from year to year.The popular travel service OneTwoTrip has revealed the most popular tourist destinations among the people of Kazan (the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia) for the New Year holidays.The rankings are based on the analysis of the purchase of tickets for the period starting from December 27 to January 11.Baku and Paris are the most well-liked cities for New Year holidays for the country’s population, Tatar-Inform reported on November 17.On average, one person can fly to the capital of Azerbaijan and back for 12,900 rubles ($218) and to Paris for 16,300 rubles ($275). In third place in demand is Geneva with an average cost of travel of 15,400 rubles ($260). Prague ($338) and Milan ($232) in the top five most relevant destinations for the New Year celebrationThe most popular domestic destination was Moscow with an average price of a two-way flight of 7,100 rubles ($119). In second place was St. Petersburg by 9,200 rubles ($155), and Sochi was in the third place by 10,200 rubles ($173).A total of 1.51 million overseas tourists visited Azerbaijan, also known as the Land of Fire, in the seven months of 2017. Arab tourists account for the largest part of foreign tourists visiting Azerbaijan, followed by Russian neighbors.According to the results of January-October 2017, about 730,000 Russian tourists visited Azerbaijan. This is reported by the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, transfers tonkosti.ru.In total, 2.27 million foreign tourists visited Azerbaijan during the reporting period, which is 20 percent more than in the same period last year, where Russians are the leaders.The greatest increase in tourist traffic, besides Russians, was demonstrated by tourists from Iran and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, Azerbaijan is actively visited by citizens of Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine.On the eve of the New Year holidays the country is expected to welcome a great number of tourists.Azerbaijan is celebrating the New Year with colorful performances, concerts, contests, and parties that last through the night. The capital of the city is decorated by the bright Christmas trees of unimaginable sizes every year bringing a sense of delight not only to young children, but also to adults.One of the most popular places attracting attention of both foreign and local tourists is the Shahdag being Azerbaijan’s first ski resort and it differs from similar facilities in the world for its uniqueness and diversity.Azerbaijan has also another ski complex located in Gabala region – Tufandag, which provides visitors with skiing slopes and cable roads with a total length of 5.8 km.Another bunch of tourists headed to Guba to see the natural beauty of this region covered with deep snow. The number of tourists in this destination during holidays has increased by 50-60 percent.Additionally, travelers can stay in the capital city and explore the famed medieval Old City, hailed as a “must-visit”, which houses the UNESCO-listed Shirvanshah’s Palace, and Maiden Tower. Admire the city’s contemporary buildings such as the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Flame Towers – a trio of skyscrapers covered with LEDs and displaying the mesmerizing movement of a flame. Moldovan artists expo due in Baku http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/166983.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:43:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAn exhibition of Moldovan artists Ion and Julia Carchelan will open in Art Tower Gallery on November 22.The exposition title "Moldova in Flower Poetry" is co-organized by the Embassy of Moldova in Azerbaijan, Arts Council Azerbaijan, the State Historical and Architectural Reserve Icherisheher and with the support of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Moldovan Culture Ministry and Arts Council Moldova, Trend Life reported.The exhibition opens at  19:00. Admission is free.Carchelan began his formal arts education in childhood, at the Children’s Art School in Nisporeni, Moldova. He toured Europe to supplement his academic training with direct observation of the work of painters.Most of his inspiration comes from the rural scenes around him in Moldova. The objective subjects of artist's watercolors are the people, places and things that he sees around him — harvest scenes, distant churches, farm yards, the ordinary activies of daily life in rural Moldova.Carchelan`s daughter, Julia followed her father's steps. She studied at the Nisporeni Art School, the College of Fine Arts in Chisinau, and completed her studies of theory and art history at the George Enescu University of Art in Romania.In her paintings, Julia Carchelan  mostly depicts beautiful ladies, city landscapes and  loving couples.Art works of Ion and Julia Karchelan are exhibited in various galleries in U.S., Romania, France, Italy, Austria, Russia and China. OSCE official: Only way to resolve Karabakh conflict – to return to negotiation table http://www.today.az/news/politics/166995.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:31:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovThe only way to resolve the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the return of the sides to the negotiation table in good faith, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger told Interfax on November 20.“The OSCE provides a forum for dialogue and supports the sides in working towards a lasting peace. For this, there needs to be a genuine political will and commitment from the sides,” he said.He further welcomed the meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Geneva on October 16, held under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. Greminger noted that this meeting was the first direct talks at this level in more than a year.“In particular, I welcome that the presidents agreed to take measures to intensify the negotiation process and to take additional steps to reduce tensions on the contact line,” he said.The Secretary General also noted that is absolutely essential for the sides to adhere strictly to the ceasefire regime established in 1994.Although the ceasefire agreement was signed more than 20 years ago, Armenia still does not comply with it. Not a day passes without ceasefire violations by Armenia’s armed forces in the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border and the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover, the Armenian militaries using heavy machine guns and mortars deliberately aim at Azerbaijan settlements near the frontline in order to hurt civilians living there.Greminger noted that the Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs, remains the only accepted format by the sides.“It has the full confidence of all OSCE participating states. The Minsk Group co-chairs and the chairperson-in-office through his personal representative are continuously in direct contact with the sides in efforts to ease tensions and promote negotiations,” he said.Azerbaijan has long ago stated it is ready to settle the conflict through direct negotiations with Armenia with mediation of the Minsk Group. However, the Armenian side is not interested in these talks, therefore it constantly tries to make up reasons to avoid a constructive dialogue and preserve the unacceptable status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh, thus indefinitely delaying the settlement of the conflict.Greminger further added that the monitoring exercises conducted regularly by the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, remain the only sustainable confidence-building measure in the military sphere. Russian FM on possibility of expanding OSCE MG format http://www.today.az/news/politics/166994.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:28:00 +0400 By  TrendProposals regarding possible expansion of the OSCE Minsk Group (MG) format can be used as ‘spoilers’, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in Baku on November 20.“I haven’t heard about any proposals to expand the format,” Lavrov said. “In this situation, as in many other conflict situations, proposals for something new can be intentionally or unintentionally used as a ‘spoiler’ for what is being done in an established format which proved acceptability for both parties.”The Russian foreign minister noted that a complete set of steps and measures required to move the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from a dead point are on the negotiating table.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Russia launches oil supply to Uzbekistan in test mode http://www.today.az/news/regions/166981.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:26:00 +0400 By  TrendRussia has launched oil supplies in test mode to Uzbekistan, where it is planned to launch a new refinery with a capacity of 5 million tons together with Gazprom in three years, reports Kommersant.However, to increase supplies it is required to expand the capacity of oil pipelines through Kazakhstan, but the issue of financing is still unclear, according to the agency.Russia's Transneft has launched pumping oil in the direction of Uzbekistan through Kazakhstan via the Omsk-Pavlodar-Shymkent pipeline on Friday. Further, the raw materials are planned to be transported by rail. According to the approved schedule, the volumes will amount to 30,000 tons per month, but may be increased to 2,000 tons per day (that is, about 60,000 tons per month) on demand.Previously, Uzbekneftegaz announced that, it is planned to upgrade the pumping to 1 million tons in 2018, but Transneft explained that the technical capacity for pumping in this direction is about 0.5 million tons, since the rest of the pipeline through Kazakhstan is occupied by volumes of Rosneft in the direction of China (10 million tons per year).To provide raw materials to its refineries with a total capacity of about 11 million tons, Uzbekistan imports oil, as its own production is not enough for the country. Due to a shortage of raw materials, refineries do not work at full capacity. To ensure the full capacity, Uzbekistan is interested in increasing volumes of oil imports.But, the supply is limited by the capacity of the pipe from Russia to Kazakhstan, which needs to be expanded from the current 10 million tons to at least 18 million tons. In this case, supplies can be increased up to 3 million tons in the direction of Uzbekistan, and 2 million tons in the direction of Kyrgyzstan, which seeks to refine at Uzbek refineries. Another 3 million tons can be added to Rosneft's supplies to China from 2018.However, still the sources of financing expansion of the pipe in Kazakhstan are unknown. In addition, since 2022, Uzbekistan will require additional volumes of oil to load a new refinery in the Djizak region with a capacity of up to 5 million tons per year. Now Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan plan to build a main pipeline Chimkent-Djizak by 2021, while Kazakhstan is going to supply 2 million tons of oil per year.However, the Russian Energy Ministry does not expect a sharp increase in oil supplies to Uzbekistan in 2018. Forthcoming period will be full of even more serious tests for Turkey - Erdogan http://www.today.az/news/regions/166980.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:08:00 +0400 By  TrendIt is not difficult to imagine that the forthcoming period will be full of even more serious tests for Turkey, the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, the Turkish media reported on November 20.Erdogan noted that what happened during the NATO exercises held in Norway was directed not only against his personality, but also against Turkey as a whole.“Given this, Turkey is prepared for anything,” he said.On Nov. 18, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called Erdogan to apologize for the case during the alliance’s exercises held in Norway.Earlier, Erdogan said that Turkey withdrew its servicemen participating in NATO exercises in Norway.The reason is that photos of Turkey’s incumbent president, as well as first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk were placed as conditional enemy images on the shooting range as part of the military exercises.Erdogan added that such behavior does not correspond to the spirit of cooperation and alliance between Turkey and NATO.The Turkish president said that around 40 Turkish servicemen were to participate in the exercises. Prices in real estate market rise http://www.today.az/news/business/166988.html Business Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:59:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Sara IsrafilbayovaDespite recent fluctuations in the monetary market, the real estate market remains the most profitable investment tool in Azerbaijan.Prices for real estate demonstrate stable rise, despite unpredictable developments in economy.   The prices in Baku’s real estate market increased by 0.46 percent in October 2017, Nusret Ibrahimov, director general of the MBA Group consulting company, real estate expert told Trend.The expert stressed that last month's growth was demonstrated by land markets, as well as rental of housing and commercial facilities.Prices on the land market increased by 1.61 percent in the reporting period, by 6.06 percent on the rental market and by 4.63 percent on the commercial property rental market, according to Ibrahimov.“Prices in the primary housing market declined by 0.41 percent in the month, on the secondary housing market by 0.75 percent, and on the market of commercial properties by 4.88 percent,” the expert stressed.The general director noted that since the beginning of the year prices in the market have decreased by 9.16 percent.In general, decline in prices has slowed, and land markets and rental housing have increased since the beginning of the year by 4.71 and 16.22 percent, respectively. The remaining segments of the market, as noted by Ibrahimov, showed a decline.“The prices in the primary and secondary housing market decreased from the beginning of the year by 10.46 percent and 4.31 percent respectively, on the market of commercial properties by 19.01 percent, and in the market of their rent by 15.38 percent,” he said.The expert went on to say that the growth of prices in October is seasonal, adding that following certain decrease in summer, the market becomes active in autumn.Prices in the real estate market of Baku decreased by 31.53 percent in 2016.Today, the share of the construction sector in Azerbaijan’s GDP amounts to about 10 percent.The government plans to achieve a GDP growth by 249 million manats ($146.45 million) until 2020, through the implementation of measures envisaged in the Strategic Road Map for the development of housing provision at a reasonable price.   Kazakhstan strengthens measures for protection in Caspian Sea http://www.today.az/news/regions/166979.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:41:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaThe Transport Committee of the Kazakh Ministry for Investment and Development announced the strengthening of measures aimed at protecting security in the Caspian Sea."Currently, more than 300 vessels are floating in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea under the flag of the country. As many as 12 vessels are involved in international transportation, while others support operations in the development of oil fields. In addition, dozens of vessels from other Caspian states come to Kazakhstan's ports daily. The intensity of the operation of vessels in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea, the volumes of oil and fuel transported cause a potential risk of water pollution. In order to prevent emergency, the Ministry has begun work to expand the legal and regulatory framework for the protection of the marine environment," the ministry said.It is planned to ratify the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage of 2001 and the Protocol of 1992 on the Amendment of the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969, according to the statement.Currently, the law provides for the liability of the ship-owner for damage only from oil pollution transported as cargo. However, bunker fuel is no less a threat. Ratification of the Convention will establish the responsibility of the ship-owners in case of pollution of the sea with such fuel. In addition, there will be a requirement for compulsory insurance of pollution risk and a compensation mechanism for persons who have suffered damage from spillage of bunker fuel. Currently, 75 countries are parties to the Convention.Ratification of the Protocol will allow updating the liability regime of the ship-owner for damage from oil pollution during transportation by tankers. A similar regime operates in 133 states. It is also planned to increase the amount of liability insurance for the ship-owner from $20 to $126 million. The amount of compensation for damage from oil pollution will be differentiated depending on the ship's displacement. The scope of civil liability will be extended to the exclusive economic zone.In parallel with the ratification of these documents, the Committee is working on amending the national legislation on transport issues. In particular, the law "On Merchant Shipping" provides for the competence of the Ministry for Investment and Development regarding the approval of the rules for the prevention of pollution from ships.In 2017, measures to protect ships and port infrastructure from terrorist threats were strengthened. Thus, there are requirements for the necessity of regular assessment of port security. In addition, it is now necessary to have a special plan for prompt response in the event of an attack in every port and on every ship. Brussels to host int’l forum on separatism threats to peace, security http://www.today.az/news/politics/166977.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:22:00 +0400 By  TrendAn international forum on “Threats to international peace and security posed by separatism” will be held in Brussels on November 20 with the organizational support of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora of Azerbaijan and the Congress of European Azerbaijanis in Belgium.The event will be attended by Azerbaijani president’s Assistant for Public and Political Issues Ali Hasanov, representatives of the Azerbaijani embassy in Belgium, Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora Nazim Ibrahimov, heads of Azerbaijan’s diaspora organizations in Europe, as well as many international experts, political figures, former presidents, prime ministers and chairpersons of parliament.Regional and global violations of the territorial integrity of countries, ways of resolving the conflicts and separatist tendencies resulting from separatism, will be discussed at the event.The major panel discussion will be dedicated to the topic of separatism in Europe.Meanwhile, it is planned to hold a specific panel discussion dedicated to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Baku hosts 4th National Forum of Azerbaijani Children http://www.today.az/news/society/166976.html Society Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:19:00 +0400 By  TrendThe 4th National Forum of Azerbaijani Children has kicked off in Baku co-organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, State Committee for Family, Woman and Children Problems and UNICEF Office in Azerbaijan.The forum is attended by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Ahmadov, Deputy Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament Bahar Muradova, Chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Woman and Children Problems Hijran Huseynova, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Afshan Khan, Turkey`s Deputy Minister of Family and Social Policies Mehmet Karabay, Bulgaria`s Deputy Chairman of the State Agency for Child Protection Valentin Dimitrov.A total of 380 children aged between 6-18 from all towns and districts of Azerbaijan participate in the forum.Ali Ahmadov read out President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev`s congratulatory letter to the participants of the forum. Pomegranate Orchard movie named best in Turkey http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/166978.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:04:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaAzerbaijan’s "Pomegranate Orchard" movie by Ilgar Najaf was successfully screened in Turkey."Pomegranate Orchard" won "Best film" award the 7th Malatya International Film Festival, held on November 9-16.The film was presented to the audience  by actors, Honored Artist of Azerbaijan Gurban Ismayilov and Ilaha Hasanova,Trend Life reported."Pomegranate Orchard" features a story about an old man, who lives along with his grandson and daughter-in-law in the decrepit house amidst of the huge pomegranate garden. Sudden comeback of his wayward son has changed a gentle rhythm of their peaceful existence. Forgotten bitter memories have come back and even more, new challenges are in store for them.Scriptwriters are Asif Rustamov, Ilgar Najafov and Roelof Jan Minneboo (The Netherlands). Operator-director is Aykhan Salar (Germany), animation director is Rafig Nasirov, executive producer Akif Aliyev, and producer Mushfig Hatamov.The cast includes Gurban Ismayilov, Anar Hasanov, Samimi Farkhadov and Hasan Agayev.The world premiere of the movie was held within the “East of the West” competition of the Czech Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.Notably, the movie is also included in the long list of applicants for the Oscar 2017 in the nomination "The best film in a foreign language".By the way, movie's scriptwriters Ilgar Najaf, Asif Rustamov and Roelof Jan Minneboo (The Netherlands) received the "Best Screenplay" prize at the 24th "Listopad" International Film Festival in Minsk.With participation of international and national guests, Malatya International Film Festival carried out a unique cinema festivity in Eastern Turkey with its international competition, thematic sections, premiers, special screenings and cinema courses.Every year in November Festival brings together the audience with the most qualified productions throughout the world and also, besides the competition excitement it has been a full cinema week with many events for five years. MIFF has hosted more than 2000 cinema proffessional from Turkey and abroad so far. The festival features and national short films competitions, has included the national features competition to its festival programme in order to provide moral and material support to the cinema sector. Azerbaijani, Russian FMs sign joint document in Baku http://www.today.az/news/politics/166975.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:50:00 +0400 By  TrendForeign ministers of Azerbaijan and Russia, Elmar Mammadyarov and Sergey Lavrov, have signed a joint document on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations in Baku. Russian FM talks prospects for Azerbaijan’s joining Eurasian Economic Community http://www.today.az/news/business/166973.html Business Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:38:00 +0400 By  TrendRussia would welcome the joining of Azerbaijan to the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC), said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressing a meeting at the ADA University in Baku on November 20.The foreign minister noted that the Eurasian Economic Community is an open integration union and new countries' joining it is always welcomed.The possibility of Tajikistan’s joining EAEC is currently being considered, he said.The EAEC is an international economic association functioning from January 1, 2015. Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia are the members of the EAEC. Azerbaijan's top official raises Nagorno-Karabakh issue at prestigious event in Brussels http://www.today.az/news/politics/166987.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:29:00 +0400 By  TrendAn international forum on “The Threats of Separatism to International Peace and Security” was held in Belgium’s Brussels on November 20 with the organizational support of the Azerbaijani State Committee for Work with the Diaspora and the Congress of European Azerbaijanis.The event was attended by Azerbaijani President’s Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov, representatives of the Azerbaijani embassy in Belgium, Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora Nazim Ibrahimov, heads of Azerbaijan’s diaspora organizations in Europe, as well as many international experts, political figures, former presidents, prime ministers and chairpersons of parliament.Addressing the event, Hasanov said that the forum is dedicated to a very topical issue that concerns the modern world.It is very important to hold discussions to find a way to solve the crisis caused by dangerous trends such as international terrorism and ethnic separatism, he noted.“We all are concerned with the difficulties in addressing refugee and migrant problems, human trafficking and smuggling, and threats to political and economic stability, transportation and energy security,” said Hasanov.“Observations show that ethnic separatism and its negative manifestations have a special place among these threats.”The top official noted that the strengthening of tendencies of ethnic separatism in the modern world is one of the important factors that negatively affect the ensuring of regional and international security, mankind’s living in peace and tranquility.“After the end of the Cold War, a new wave of ethnic separatism tendencies emerged in the former Soviet Union. Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan, Abkhazia and Ossetia conflict in Georgia and Transnistrian conflict in Moldova have become a source of potential threats to the region’s stability. These conflicts lead to gross violations of international legal principles, and emerging of serious threats to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states,” he said.Hasanov emphasized that the resolute fight against ethnic separatism by such authoritative international organizations as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe is one of important issues today. Otherwise, ethnic separatism, as a negative trend, can turn a large part of the world into an arena of interethnic conflicts, he added.Unfortunately, currently, the “double standards” policy in the system of international relations hinders the resolution and principled fight against ethnic separatism, said Hasanov.In some cases, leading international organizations are indifferent to the issue of whether all the states of the world follow the legal norms, which include the elimination of ethnic separatism, the effective methods of fighting and a mechanism for punishing criminals, he added.This casts shadow on the objectivity of organizations such as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe, Hasanov noted, adding that therefore, those leading international organizations should abandon the double standards and increase their efforts to resolve ethnic conflicts within international legal norms.He added that religious, racial and national intolerance and destructive separatism force people to experience massive refugee and migrant life.“It should be noted that Azerbaijan, which has been subjected to the policy of ethnic cleansing and occupation of Armenia, understands very well the difficulties existing in this sphere. In 1918, when Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence, it faced Armenian separatism. During the former Soviet Union, the separatist actions of Armenians against Azerbaijan switched from an active phase to a phase of simmering conflict. However, after the collapse of the USSR, Armenia began to pursue an ethnic separatism and aggression policy against Azerbaijan, by making groundless territorial claims,” said Hasanov.“Armenian armed forces committed genocide against the Azerbaijani population of Khojaly city in February 1992. As a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, formed on the basis of ethnic separatism and territorial claims of Armenians, 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory is under occupation. The activity of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh regime created by the Armenian separatists in the Azerbaijani territory with Armenia’s support means the gross violation of international law. Unfortunately, the organizations that claim to fulfill their missions to ensure the international legal principles, including the United Nations, as well as leading countries of the world continue to act as mere observers with regard to this issue,” added the top official.According to Azerbaijan, it is inadmissible to establish a state within the territory of a state, defined by international law, and to use national, ethnic fragmentation to achieve this goal, said Hasanov.Azerbaijan urges the world community to take practical steps and to avoid Armenia’s aggression policy, by warning of the threats that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may pose in the region, he added.The Azerbaijani top official noted with regret that unresolved issues, such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, hinder the development of Azerbaijan’s high-level partnership with the European Union.Regional and global violations of the territorial integrity of countries, ways of resolving the conflicts and separatist tendencies caused by separatism were also discussed at the event. Lavrov: Difficulties in Russia-US relations don’t affect co-op on Karabakh conflict solution http://www.today.az/news/politics/166972.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:26:00 +0400 By  TrendDespite the fact that there are difficulties in relations between Russia and the United States, this does not affect the cooperation in the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressing a meeting at the ADA University in Baku on November 20.He noted that Russia, the United States and France have a common position on this issue.The foreign minister expressed hope that the Geneva meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia will positively affect the process of the conflict’s settlement. Armenia long passed ‘red line’, says Azerbaijani MP http://www.today.az/news/podcasting/166970.html Podcasting Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:13:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Rashid ShirinovRecent events in Armenia in connection with the restriction of students’ right to defer the military service have caused serious discontent in the country's society. Hundreds of students were taking to the streets every day, a group of them has even went on hunger strike."Where once Armenia tried to hide serious problems in the society, now it is more difficult to do it," Azerbaijani MP Aydin Mirzazade told Trend, commenting on these events.He believes that the main problem in Armenia is the population decline, its outflow from the country. Armenia's official statistics say that 14,300 people left the country during the past year, and in the last five years the number of permanent residents has decreased by 302,400. In addition, this year is showing the lowest birth rate in the last five years.“Armenia has occupied part of Azerbaijan’s territory, and therefore it needs to keep a military contingent on these lands. Today Armenia faces serious problems with the replenishment of the ranks of this military contingent, and Armenia sees conscription of students for military service as the last way out of the situation," Mirzazade said, adding that this decision has led to unrest in the Armenian society.The MP also commented on the recent decision of the Armenian Parliament to exempt imports of Russia's military products from Value Added Tax (VAT). He said Armenia has militaristic tendencies in its economic policy.“In general, countries abolish VAT to strengthen the economy, improve the social status of the population, prevent the increase in prices for necessary products, but Armenia abolishes VAT for the purchase of military equipment, Mirzazade said. "It is obvious that Armenia is interested in preserving the military contingent in the occupied territory of Azerbaijan, not in the economy."The MP added that this is an indicator that Armenia has long passed the ‘red line’, the country is rolling into the abyss and is heading for even more serious problems. "I believe that Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan should have led it to such a situation as a result,” he concluded. Iranian exports to China up http://www.today.az/news/regions/166969.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:00:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Kamila AliyevaIran and China have long enjoyed high level of economic relations with China being dependent on its oil imports from Iran and the latter being interested in foreign investment which such fast developing-economy as China could offer.Following the lifting of nuclear related sanctions, Iran started to ramp up its oil production, and, therefore, the relationship between the two states could grow even further. Iran's exports to China has reached a stand of $13.88 billion in the first three quarters of the current year showing a 27.5 percent increase compared to the same period last year.A total of $27 billion worth of goods were exchanged between the two countries during the period, ISNA reported.Oil took the lion's share ($8.74 billion) of Iran's exports to China, which imports 633,000 barrels of crude from Iran on a daily basis.Meanwhile, Iran's non-oil exports during the nine months registered a 28.1 percent rise in tonnage and 27.8 percent increase in value.China heavily relies on oil imports from Iran. The country was a top consumer of Iranian oil even during the three years of international sanctions that targeted Iran’s nuclear program. Chinese companies were increasingly active in Iran, whose oil and gas sector requires investment capital and technology. The two countries enjoy high level of economic, trade and energy ties. China previously invested in a number of major oil projects, including the development of huge oil fields.In July, state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation took a 30 percent stake in a project to develop Iranian South Pars – the largest natural gas field in the world.Beijing also signed a $3 billion deal to upgrade Iran’s oil refineries in January. Moreover, China’s EXIM bank financed some 26 projects in Iran so far, providing around $8.5 billion in loans. In addition, China Export and Credit Insurance Corp, or Sinosure, also signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran in May to help Chinese companies invest in Iranian projects. Lavrov: Diplomacy can help move Karabakh conflict settlement from dead point http://www.today.az/news/politics/166985.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:54:00 +0400 By  TrendDiplomacy can help move the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from a dead point, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a joint press conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in Baku on November 20.“We show common positions on international platforms with regard to the inadmissibility of attempts to violate, ignore the principle of equal rights of states. Of course, we touched upon the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Nobody is interested in the conflict,” said Lavrov.“We need to search for solutions. As co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, we will continue to seek for mutually acceptable peaceful solutions, taking into account the hints that emerged during the recent meeting of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Moscow,” added the foreign minister.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Registering drones online to become possible in Azerbaijan http://www.today.az/news/society/166968.html Society Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:44:00 +0400 By  TrendThe State Civil Aviation Administration of Azerbaijan will be open for receiving applications and documents for online registration and issuance of permits for using drones in the country.The corresponding changes have been made to the list of e-government services by the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan.At the same time, in accordance with the decision, the state administration will no longer receive applications and documents online for issuing permits for carrying out flights from Azerbaijan and to Azerbaijan.Earlier, specialists of the state administration and Azerbaijan Airlines CJSC developed a project “Rules for use of civil unmanned aerial vehicles.”The project contains requirements for the management of civil unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as safety and operation standards and conditions. Azerbaijan FM: All ideas on Karabakh conflict settlement on table http://www.today.az/news/politics/166982.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:27:00 +0400 By  TrendAll ideas on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are on the negotiations table, said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Baku on November 20.“The status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable. Azerbaijan demands compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” noted Mammadyarov.He said it is necessary to find ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.Speaking about the negotiations with Lavrov, Mammadyarov noted that, first of all, the parties discussed the role of Russia as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.“I informed the Russian foreign minister about the position of Azerbaijan and the results of the recent discussions in Moscow with the co-chairs. I held substantive talks with the co-chairs. We discussed specific issues to which we need to find solutions,” noted the Azerbaijani foreign minister.“I informed Lavrov before his Yerevan trip that there are options for solutions, which can help move this matter from current situation,” added Mammadyarov.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Azerbaijani screened at Cottbus Film Festival http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/166966.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:22:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaA movie by Azerbaijani filmmakers "Pomegranate Orchard" has been demonstrated at Cottbus Film Festival in Germany.This was stated by cinema expert , Samaya Askarova, who became a member of the jury festival's "Short feature films" contest, Trend Life reported.At the festival, "Pomegranate Orchard" was presented to spectators  by scriptwriter Asif Rustamov and operator-director is Aykhan Salar. The movie aroused great interest among viewers and filmmakers.A roundtable was held within the framework of the festival, in which Azerbaijan was represented by the producer of the Cinemazadeh film company, Samaya Askarova.She informed foreign filmmakers and festival organizers about the film industry in Azerbaijan."Pomegranate Orchard" features a story about an old man, who lives along with his grandson and daughter-in-law in the decrepit house amidst of the huge pomegranate garden. Sudden comeback of his wayward son has changed a gentle rhythm of their peaceful existence. Forgotten bitter memories have come back and even more, new challenges are in store for them.Scriptwriters are Asif Rustamov, Ilgar Najafov and Roelof Jan Minneboo (The Netherlands). Operator-director is Aykhan Salar (Germany), animation director is Rafig Nasirov, executive producer Akif Aliyev, producer Mushfig Hatamov,The cast  includes Gurban Ismayilov, Anar Hasanov, Samimi Farkhadov and Hasan Agayev.The world premiere of the movie was held within the “East of the West” competition of the Czech Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.Notably, the movie is also included in the long list of applicants for the Oscar 2017 in the nomination "The best film in a foreign language".The Cottbus Film Festival has been held annually since its establishment in 1991.  This year, the festival took place on November 7-12.The film industry platform “Connecting Cottbus” plays an important role in bringing together filmmakers, producers and potential financiers. Film Festival is a hallmark as a consumer and industry meeting alike.More than 100 films from 42 countries were presented at Cottbus Film Festival this year.The event was attended by 600 international cinema experts and more than 21,000 spectators. AsstrA to expand int'l cargo transportation through Turkey http://www.today.az/news/regions/166967.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:15:00 +0400 By  TrendOn September 25, 2017, the Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs, and Communications granted AsstrA Lojistic ve Ta??mac?l?q Organizasyonu L.S – the Turkish subsidiary of AsstrA-Associated AG – an R2 international transport license.With the R2 license, AsstrA's Turkish subsidiary may serve Turkish clients and contract Turkish partners without involving third party agents. Additionally, our clients may now make payments in the lira, Turkey's official currency.The new license provides an opportunity to reach more clients across Asia and also will help strengthen partnerships with existing Turkish clients. Payments in Turkish lira will facilitate attractive international cargo delivery terms with a wider set of transport partners in this region.AsstrA Associated Traffic AG Company has thus provided one more example of offering clients optimal logistic solutions for organizing international cargo delivery on popular routes. “It’s important for us to be in communication with our clients and to respond to their inquiries and meet their requirements effectively. Getting the R2 license is confirmation of our focus on clients. Moving closer to our partners has been a step in a right direction,” comments Elena Firsova, head of the AsstrA subsidiary in Istanbul.The R2 license marks AsstrA's growing presence in Turkey, the crossroads of international trade routes and the bridge between East and West, Europe and Asia. The strategic location of AsstrA’s Turkish office offers our clients access to multiple markets with populations totaling 1.6 billion people and a combined GDP of $27 trillion. The volume of external trade exceeds $8 trillion, which is half of overall global trade. These statistics confirm the fact that international cargo transportation is in high demand in this region. Iran's supreme leader arrives in quake-hit region to assess situation http://www.today.az/news/regions/166965.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:09:00 +0400 By  TrendIranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has visited the western province of Kermanshah to express sympathy with the quake-hit people, following the last week’s devastating earthquake.The 7.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Kermanshah Province, western Iran, on October  12 2017, has claimed about 500 lives and more injured.Addressing a gathering of people in Sarpolzahab country in the province on Monday morning, he expressed deep sorrow over the catastrophic earthquake and thanked the nation as well as officials for delivering humanitarian aid to the region.However, the leader added that he was not satisfied with the level of measures taken by the officials of the country in the region, local media outlets reported.“The officials in various spheres made efforts [to help the people] and if it was not for those efforts more problems would occur. However, I am not satisfied,” he told the gathering. Lavrov: Russia, Azerbaijan – strategic partners http://www.today.az/news/politics/166971.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:57:00 +0400 By  TrendRussia and Azerbaijan are strategic partners, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressing a meeting at the ADA University in Baku.“This year is special for our relations,” said the foreign minister, adding that 25 years ago, Russia and Azerbaijan established diplomatic relations.“A new stage of relations has begun. Over the past time, we have succeeded not only in preserving, but also in multiplying the traditions of friendship and good neighborliness, and in forming a multi-branch legal base,” noted Lavrov.This year, Azerbaijan and Russia mark the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations. Russia is one of the main economic and trade partners of Azerbaijan. More than 170 documents have been signed between the two countries, including about 50 documents in economy.Russian investments in the Azerbaijani economy exceeded $3.7 billion over the period of the two countries' cooperation. Entrepreneurs from Azerbaijan invested more than $1 billion in Russia’s economy.According to Azerbaijan’s Customs Committee, trade turnover with Russia amounted to almost $1.66 billion in January-October 2017, which accounts for 10.35 percent of the total trade of Azerbaijan with other countries. The Azerbaijan-Russia trade turnover rose by almost 8 percent during the year. Music lovers to celebrate birthday of national composer http://www.today.az/news/entertainment/166964.html Arts & Entertainment Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:45:00 +0400 By AzernewsBy Laman IsmayilovaA concert dedicated to the 60th anniversary of composer Azad Zahid will be held at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall on November 29.The event is co-organized by TV channel "M?d?niyy?t" (Culture), Azerbaijani radio and the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall, Trend Life reported.Honored actress, laureate of international competitions Gulnaz Ismayilova, laureate of international competitions, pianist Saida Tagizade and others will take part in the concert programThe singers will be accompanied by the Niyazi Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of the artistic director and chief conductor, Honored Artist of the Arts, Nazim Hajialibayov.At the evening, the Jahangir Jahangirov's will be conducted by choir's artistic director Shahla Alakparova.The concert starts at 19:00.Tickets can be acquired in the ticket offices in Baku.Media partners of the event are Trend.az, Day.az, Milli.az, Azernews.az Electric GT names first team for 2018 season http://www.today.az/news/sports/166963.html Sports Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:38:00 +0400 By  Azertac The Electric GT Championship has revealed the first team to commit to its inaugural season in 2018, according to motorsport.com.SPV Racing, a merger of two teams from Sweden and Spain, will field a two-car entry in the planned Tesla-based championship.The current LMP3 team is due to take delivery of its first Tesla Model S EGT P100D later this year, with the start of the first Electric GT season pushed back from late November to mid-2018 as it has awaited official FIA approval.Electric GT announced the SPV Racing entry as a “multi-year” commitment to the series, the first for a production electric vehicle, with Spanish duo Alvaro Fontes and Javier Martinez named as “development drivers”.SPV Racing was formed through a partnership between Spirit Racing, owned by Lars GV Lindberg, and Raul Garcia’s SPV Motorsport concern.It is racing in the European Le Mans Series, with the aim of making its Le Mans 24 Hours debut in 2019.Electric GT CEO Mark Gemmell described the announcement of the first team as a “significant step forward” for the series, which has already tempted the likes of Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi and ex-Formula 1 driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen to sample the car. Iran-Poland oil trade mutually significant http://www.today.az/news/regions/166961.html World news Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:27:00 +0400 By  TrendA recent agreement between Iran and Poland on oil export to the European country is significant to both countries, as well as to Europe in general, oil expert Narsi Ghorban believes.Iranian crude oil will soon be making its way to Poland as reduced flows of sour crudes into Europe are prompting some refiners to look outside the region, shipping and trading sources said Tuesday.PKN Orlen has bought a cargo of Iranian crude for November 24-25 loading dates, sources said. The Suezmax Delta Poseidon has been placed on subjects on a Kharg Island to Gdansk voyage at Worldscale 49, according to shipping fixture reports.Ghorban, an oil market expert told Trend that such deals with European companies are highly significant for Iran since it is an importer of European goods and services."If Iran does not sell them oil or other energy carriers, then its trade balance with them will become negative," he said.Under a series of US dollar sanctions, Iran will need monetary resources in other denominations to pay for its imported goods, the euro being the most potent candidate, he said.Ghorban added that oil imports from Iran will also be significant for Poland or any other European country for they will be able to diversify their energy intakes.Poland is heavily reliant on Russian Urals crude but the country's two refiners are slowly beginning to diversify their crude supplies.Russian exports from the Primorsk oil terminal, where the bulk of the Urals program usually loads, have been down sharply this month due to scheduled maintenance.Sources said this along with reduced flows of Kurdish crude into Europe due to tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraq, are increasing spot demand for sour crudes from the Middle East into Europe.The last time Poland purchased Iranian crude was earlier this year, when the Vilamoura tanker discharged Iranian oil in mid-January.In July 2016, Grupa Lotos bought spot cargoes of Iranian light crude from Iran's National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC).PKN also occasionally buys spot cargoes from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Norway. 26 years pass since Armenia downed Azerbaijani helicopter, killing scores http://www.today.az/news/politics/166960.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:13:00 +0400 By  TrendTwenty-six years pass since the Azerbaijani MI-8 military helicopter was shot down by the Armenian security forces near the Garakend village of Azerbaijan’s Khojavand District on November 20, 1991.A total of 22 people in the helicopter, including high-ranking Azerbaijani, Russian and Kazakh officials, journalists and MPs, were killed as a result.Azerbaijan’s State Secretary Tofig Ismayilov, State Prosecutor General Ismat Gayibov, State Adviser and former Interior Minister Mahammad Asadov, MPs Vagif Jafarov, Vali Mammadov, Deputy Prime Minister Zulfi Hajiyev, Department Head at the Office of the Azerbaijani President, journalist Osman Mirzayev, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan Sanlal Serikov, Azerbaijani TV journalist Ali Mustafayev and others were killed as the helicopter was downed by the Armenian forces. Brussels to host int’l forum on separatism threats to peace, security http://www.today.az/news/politics/166974.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:12:00 +0400 By  TrendAn international forum on “Threats to international peace and security posed by separatism” will be held in Brussels on November 20 with the organizational support of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora of Azerbaijan and the Congress of European Azerbaijanis in Belgium.The event will be attended by Azerbaijani president’s Assistant for Public and Political Issues Ali Hasanov, representatives of the Azerbaijani embassy in Belgium, Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora Nazim Ibrahimov, heads of Azerbaijan’s diaspora organizations in Europe, as well as many international experts, political figures, former presidents, prime ministers and chairpersons of parliament.Regional and global violations of the territorial integrity of countries, ways of resolving the conflicts and separatist tendencies resulting from separatism, will be discussed at the event.The major panel discussion will be dedicated to the topic of separatism in Europe.Meanwhile, it is planned to hold a specific panel discussion dedicated to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia 128 times breaks ceasefire with Azerbaijan in 24 hours http://www.today.az/news/politics/166959.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0400 By  TrendOver the past 24 hours, Armenia’s armed forces have 128 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on November 20.Armenians were using large-caliber machine guns.The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. Currency rates for November 20 http://www.today.az/news/business/166958.html Business Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:41:00 +0400 By  TrendThe official exchange rate of US dollar and euro to Azerbaijani manat for November 20 was set at 1.7002 manats and 1.9941 manats, respectively.Below are the rates of Azerbaijani manat against world currencies and precious metals, according to the data from the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.Currencies and precious metalsNov. 20, 20171 US dollar1 USD1.70021 euro1 EUR1.99411 Australian dollar1 AUD1.28451 Argentine peso1 ARS0.0973100 Belarusian rubles100 BYR0.84961 Brazilian real1 BRL0.5221 UAE dirham1 AED0.46291 South African rand1 ZAR0.1211100 South Korean won100 KRW0.15451 Czech koruna1 CZK0.0781 Chilean peso1 CLP0.27131 Chinese yuan1 CNY0.25621 Danish krone1 DKK0.2681 Georgian lari1 GEL0.6281 Hong Kong dollar1 HKD0.21761 Indian rupee1 INR0.02611 British pound1 GBP2.244100 Indonesian rupiah100 IDR0.0126100 Iranian rials100 IRR0.00431 Swedish krona1 SEK0.20151 Swiss franc1 CHF1.71891 Israeli shekel1 ILS0.48371 Canadian dollar1 CAD1.32941 Kuwaiti dinar1 KWD5.6271 Kazakh tenge1 KZT0.00511 Kyrgyz som1 KGS0.0244100 Lebanese pounds100 LBP0.11271 Malaysian ringgit1 MYR0.4091 Mexican peso1 MXP0.08981 Moldovan leu1 MDL0.09681 Egyptian pound1 EGP0.09631 Norwegian krone1 NOK0.2057100 Uzbek soums100 UZS0.02111 Polish zloty1 PLN0.47131 Russian ruble1 RUB0.02871 Singapore dollar1 SGD1.25271 Saudi riyal1 SAR0.45341 SDR (IMF Special Drawing Rights)1 SDR2.39891 Turkish lira1 TRY0.43951 Taiwan dollar1 TWD0.05651 Tajik somoni1 TJS0.19271 New Turkmen manat1 TMM0.48581 Ukrainian hryvnia1 UAH0.0642100 Japanese yen100 JPY1.51761 New Zealand dollar1 NZD1.1592Gold (1 ounce)1 XAU2183.6519Silver (1 ounce)1 XAG29.2349Platinum (1 ounce)1 XPT1593.0874Palladium (1 ounce)1 XPD1695.0994 France supports closer ties between Azerbaijan, EU - Ambassador Bouchez http://www.today.az/news/politics/166955.html Politics Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:25:00 +0400 By  TrendTrend’s interview with Ambassador of France to Azerbaijan Aurelia BouchezQuestion: How do you assess the current state of the Azerbaijan-France relations following election of Emanuel Macron as the French Republic's President?Answer: The relations between France and Azerbaijan are strong and have evolved significantly in recent years. The political dialogue is of regular nature and at the highest state level, regular meetings are held between the Presidents of our countries, between the ministers. Given the role of France as the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, regular visits by Ambassador Stephane Visconti to the Caucasus may serve as an example.In addition to such a confident and open political dialogue in important international and regional issues, countering terror threats, economic relations, cultural and academic cooperation, cooperation with French local authorities are among the priorities and we actively cooperate with our Azerbaijani partners in these directions. Our goal is to work for peace, prosperity and progress.I would also like to note that France is supporting the closer ties between Azerbaijan and the European Union. In this regard, the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Brussels Nov. 24 is very important.I am convinced that continuation of the economic reforms initiated by President Ilham Aliyev will serve to further stimulate the participation of investments and foreign capital in the non-oil sector, particularly in agriculture, food, environment and transportation sectors. French companies have already signed important agreements in these sectors.Naturally, we also consider important to work towards respect for the human values that are native to the French people as well as the Azerbaijani people. I am also glad that 2018 gives us the opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.Q.: Azerbaijan holds an excellent geographic position between the East and the West. How do you assess this and does this geographic position play a role in development of bilateral relations between the two countries?A.: Azerbaijan plays a key role in the Southern Gas Corridor and East-West energy projects, supported by France and a number of French companies (Total, Engie). However, we are also very interested in Azerbaijan's commitment to regional transport activities.Baku has ambitions to become a key regional hub for international trade and transit in East-West and North-South directions.The official opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in Baku with participation of President Ilham Aliyev, First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his spouse, Kazakh Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev, Georgian Prime Minister Georgi Kvirikashvili, Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov, and Tajik and Turkmen delegations is an important step in Baku's turning into a regional and international center.France's Alstom provided the BTK railway with locomotives and it is likely that the first of these locomotives will be supplied in December 2017.Q.: Recently, there have been remarkable developments in the humanitarian cooperation between the two countries. What efforts are you exerting in this regard?A.: The bilateral partnership in education and culture is of great importance and is of high quality. It helps to create a new generation of highly-skilled, multilingual Azerbaijani graduates.As you know, on Sept. 15-16, Secretary of State for European and Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne paid an official visit to Baku to open a new building of the French-Azerbaijan University (UFAZ) with the participation of Education Minister Mikail Jabbarov. The founding of this university was officially announced by the Presidents of Azerbaijan and France in May 2014 and it was established thanks to the partnership between UNISTRA and Baku Oil and Industry University. Thus, September 2017 became a new milestone for the French-Azerbaijani University (UFAZ), well-renovated buildings welcomed a new generation of students. Chemistry, Geophysics, Informatics and Oil Industry are taught through the excellent cooperation between Strasbourg University, Renn University, and the Oil and Industry University.The bilateral parliamentary dialogue has a wonderful future. On Nov. 2-4, Pierre Alain Raphan, a parliamentarian with "La République En Marche!" party, elected from Essonne, who is also the new chairman of the France-Azerbaijan Friendship Group at the National Assembly, paid an official visit to Baku upon the invitation of the Government of Azerbaijan.Mr. Raphan, accompanied by Azerbaijani Ambassador to France Rahman Mustafayev, was received by Azerbaijan's President, First Vice-President, Speaker of the Milli Majlis and Foreign Minister. Mr. Raphan also visited the French Lyceum in Baku and the French-Azerbaijani University and emphasized the excellence of our cooperation in the field of education. Mr. Raphan also met with Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov, who is very closely involved in the development of culture and sports.I would like to note that the partnership between France and Azerbaijan in the field of culture is developing both in Baku and in the regions. This is the result of the activities of the French Institute in Azerbaijan (IFA), whose mission is to develop the French language and organize events between Azerbaijan and France and conduct cultural exchanges.It is enough to remember three events that have been greatly appreciated by the public in Baku: the documentary "Thomas Pesquet, l'envoyé spatial" (The space envoy Thomas Pesquet), which was screened at the IMAGINE Euro Tolerance Festival 2017, organized by the Delegation of the European Union and the EU Member States' Embassies in Azerbaijan, a concert of French accordionist Richard Galliano and Yalchin Adigozalov accompanied by the Baku Symphony Orchestra, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between France and Azerbaijan and attended by Azerbaijani Culture Minister Abulfaz Garayev, and screening of the "Lumière!", a film by the Cannes Film Festival General Delegate Thierry Frémaux dedicated to creation of cinematography, at the 8th European Film Festival in Baku.