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Azerbaijan

Yearbook 1999

Azerbaijan. According to Countryaah official website, President Gejdar Alijev's single government continued to subdue the opposition. In February, former Prime Minister Surat Guseinov was sentenced to life imprisonment for a number of crimes, including attempt to overthrow Alijev in 1994. Guseinov denied the charges.

1999 Azerbaijan

In June, unrest erupted in the Armenian enclave Nagorno-Karabach in A. Two Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and several injured in firefighting with the Armenian military. Nagorno-Karabakh's leadership, supported by Armenia, demands independence, while Azerbaijan can imagine autonomy for the enclave within Azerbaijan.

Despite the clashes during the year, apparently successful negotiations were held on Nagorno-Karabach's future status. Under the influence of mediation from the United States, President Gejdar Alijev and his Armenian colleague Robert Kotjarjan met on several occasions. But the peace process slowed dramatically in October when Armenia's Prime Minister and seven other leading politicians were assassinated in the Armenian Parliament. It was speculated that the assailants wanted to prevent a compromise on the Armenian enclave. In Azerbaijan, the opposition criticized the negotiations with Armenia.

In November, Azerbaijan, together with Armenia, proposed a security pact in the southern Caucasus comprising Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, the Russian Federation and the United States. The proposal involved a historic rethink, since Azerbaijan and Turkey have traditionally been at enmity with Armenia.

During the year, the Azerbaijan state oil and gas company Socar signed new contracts with three US companies for the development of potential oil fields in the Caspian Sea. In July it was announced that a new large deposit of natural gas was found in the Caspian Sea in a field owned by a consortium with, among other things, Norwegian Statoil and Socar.

After years of discussions, an international agreement was reached in November on new oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea via Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to the port city of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. It is hoped that the oil pipeline will be completed in 2004, but economic analysts questioned whether the oil in the Caspian Sea is sufficient for the project to be profitable.

In December, local elections were held, which were criticized by both the Council of Europe and the domestic opposition observers. These reported on irregularities that could affect the outcome of the election.

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