Azerbaijan. By New Year, police arrested six people
accused of conspiring with a banned militant Islamic group.
According to the authorities, the arrested had prepared
attacks on, among other things. US Embassy in the capital of
Azerbaijan Baku. A few weeks later, President George W. Bush
announced that the United States would lift its sanctions on
Azerbaijan. The measure was justified by the US-led fight
against terrorism, which was supported by Azerbaijan
President Gejdar Alijev. US sanctions against Azerbaijan had
been in force for ten years because of Azerbaijan's conflict
with Armenia over the Armenian breaker climax
Countryaah website, President Aliyev visited Moscow in January, which led to
a softening of strained relations with Russia as well. Among
other things, Azerbaijan agreed that the Russian military
leases a radar station in northern Azerbaijan for another
ten years. The settlement was condemned by Azerbaijan's ally
Turkey, who feared a rapprochement between Azerbaijan and
In May, Pope John Paul II visited Muslim Azerbaijan and
then called for an end to all religious wars.
In August, a referendum was held on a draft
constitutional amendment. According to critics, the proposal
would pave the way for President Aliyev's son to succeed his
father and, moreover, make the election system more
favorable to the regime. The authorities claimed that 97%
voted in favor of the proposals, but opposition leaders
reported widespread electoral fraud.
Government critics were arrested by police on several
occasions during the year, including after demonstrations in
the city of Nardaran that were designated as a haven for
Islamic radicalism. However, the residents of Nardaran said
they protested against high unemployment and poor living
In October, members of the opposition party Musavat were
arrested and the Democratic Party headquarters were stormed
by police. The intensified conflict with Aliyev's regime
appeared to be one of the previously divided opposition,
which demanded the resignation of the president during large
demonstrations. Alijev was criticized, among other things.
for their attempts to resolve the negotiations around
Nagorno-Karabakh with negotiations. Several opposition
politicians advocated a new war against Armenia.
During the autumn, work started on a more than 175 km
long oil pipeline, which will go from Baku through Georgia
and Turkey to the port city of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean.
At the same time, Azerbaijan and Russia agreed on the
delicate border crossing of the oil-rich Caspian Sea.