AZERI MILITARY SPENDING TO GROW - DEFENCE MINISTER
Matanat Alverdiyeva, ANS.

ANS TV, Baku
31 May 06

[Presenter] Azerbaijan's military budget has doubled in 2006 in
comparison with previous years and this tendency will continue. Our
people could have made more achievements, but the Armenian-Azerbaijani
conflict is the main obstacle to this. Armenia has piled up a huge
amount of military hardware and munitions on the territories under
occupation, Azerbaijani Defence Minister Safar Abiyev said at today's
meeting of the Council of CIS Defence Ministers in Baku.

[Correspondent over video of the meeting] Azerbaijani Defence Minister
Safar Abiyev, who opened the meeting of the Council of CIS Defence
Ministers, welcomed the participants. He said that Azerbaijan's
armed forces are developing in parallel with the country's economic
indicators. The minister said that the military budget has doubled
in 2006 in comparison with previous years and this tendency will
continue. Our people could have made more achievements, but the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is one of the main obstacles to this.

A huge amount of uncontrolled military hardware and munitions
have been piled up on the Azerbaijani territories under Armenian
occupation. Terrorists are training there. Abiyev said that illegal
trade in components of weapons of mass destruction is carried out on
the uncontrolled territories. Drugs are being trafficked into other
areas of the world. This creates a risk of explosions in the South
Caucasus and this risk is growing, end quote.

The Azerbaijani defence minister also said that today's meeting
coincided with the active search for safe ways for our countries.

Abiyev expressed his confidence that the meeting of the Council
of CIS Defence Ministers will serve to strengthen our countries'
security and bolster mutual understanding between Defence Ministries.

We should say that participants in the meeting will discuss
military and technical cooperation within the framework of the CIS,
the upgrading of weapons, the conduct of joint exercises, the fight
against terrorism and other issues. Moreover, the main subject of
discussion at the meeting will be the Nagornyy Karabakh and other
conflicts in CIS countries.

The Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik,
Ukrainian and Uzbek defence ministers and high-profile delegates are
attending the meeting. A joint communique is expected to be signed
at the end of the meeting. Since the organizer of the meeting is the
Council of CIS Defence Ministers, Baku has notified the council that
Armenian delegates are personae non grata in Azerbaijan. Therefore,
no invitation was sent to Yerevan to attend the meeting.

[Passage omitted: Armenian Defence Ministry spokesman's reaction;
Georgia also refused to attend the meeting]