Azeri president becoming nominal leader - former pro-government editor

Azadliq, Baku
4 Sep 04

There have recently been reports that Karabakh's fate is in danger. The
fact that the Azerbaijani government is not giving any information
about the peace talks and the activists of the Karabakh Liberation
Organization [KLO] have been illegally arrested shows that these
reports are serious. Mahal Ismayiloglu, former editor-in-chief of the
[state-run] newspaper Xalq Qazeti, is also concerned that the recent
happenings might be preparations for a defeatist agreement on Karabakh.

[Ismayiloglu] The great powers might be trying to ensure that
the Karabakh conflict is settled and a peace agreement is signed
so they are exerting pressure on Azerbaijan to accept their
conditions. [President] Ilham Aliyev's next visit to France
can be related to the Karabakh issue as well. The Key West talks
[Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents' talks in the USA in 2001] are
back on the agenda again with only minor changes and Ilham Aliyev
is being pressurized. The punishment of the KLO members is also
connected with this.

[Correspondent] How would you assess the conviction of the KLO members?

[Ismayiloglu] I have doubts about the national identity of Famil
Nasibov, the judge who tried and convicted the KLO members. What
is the nationality of the judge who sentenced those struggling with
Azerbaijan's long-time pain? Does he have the right to live in this
country at all?

[Correspondent] What do you think about Ilham Aliyev's attitude
towards this arrest?

[Ismayiloglu] He said that he allegedly had no idea about this. But it
was quite obvious that the trial was a farce and had been ordered. If
the head of state has no idea about this, then who was behind the
order? Why did the court issue a ruling that is against its will
and why did they ignore the spirit and identity of the Azerbaijani
people? Then of which people are you the president? If people who stand
to fight for your land act as mojahedin, maintain the fire that is
about to go out and are punished so severely, of which country are you
the leader? His behaviour resembles that of his father [ex-President
Heydar Aliyev]. If you remember, there used to be pressure on the
media and opposition leaders. After a while, he would say that he
had no information about what was going on. But then he said himself
that he had been watching news bulletins and reading newspapers. If
he had no information, what was he reading? Now Ilham Aliyev is using
the same methods. It seems that Ilham Aliyev has to use his father's
old methods, as he cannot find one himself.

[Passage omitted: Ismayiloglu comments on developments around a
scientific arthritis centre]

[Correspondent] Then why does Ilham Aliyev, as the head of state,
allow these things to happen?

[Ismayiloglu] More and more Aliyev looks like the British queen or the
Norwegian king. I mean they [the British queen or the Norwegian king]
wield power only nominally.