January 14, 2004 - BBC Monitoring Service: Azerbaijan Members of Parliment concerned at US Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Azerbaijan: Peace Corps Azerbaijan : The Peace Corps in Azerbaijan: January 14, 2004 - BBC Monitoring Service: Azerbaijan Members of Parliment concerned at US Peace Corps

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Azerbaijan Members of Parliment concerned at US Peace Corps

Azerbaijan Members of Parliment concerned at US Peace Corps

MPs concerned at US Peace Corps activities in Azerbaijan

BBC Monitoring Central Asia

January 14, 2004

Excerpt from Yadigar Cafarli report by Azerbaijani newspaper Sarq on 14 January headlined "Does the USA want to set up an intelligence service in Azerbaijan"; subheaded "The Peace Corps caused some MPs' anxiety"

The agreement signed with the US government on the Peace Corps programme in Azerbaijan has caused quite a negative reaction of some MPs. According to the programme, US specialists will teach English and computer skills and provide education in different regions of Azerbaijan.

[Passage omitted: details of the programme]

Karim Karimov, an MP from the [ruling] New Azerbaijan Party, protested against the agreement and added that the USA had undertaken just one commitment [to pay for the equipment to be brought to Azerbaijan], whereas Azerbaijan was to take on all the remaining commitments. He said that America had deployed its Peace Corps in several weak countries even during the Soviet times with the aim of having an opportunity to meddle in these countries' internal affairs.

"Why the Peace Corps is coming? We cannot buy a pig in a poke. It is not clear who signed the agreement on the part of Azerbaijan. They are given the powers that American diplomats have. What will these people be doing and where will they be stationed?" Karimov said.

The chairman of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, Ramiz Ahmadov, implicitly said that the US government was setting up an intelligence structure under the guise of the Peace Corps. "If they really want to teach English, let them organize free training courses and make this clear in the agreement. What is the point of setting up the Peace Corps? It [the agreement] does not say what kind of activity the Corps will be engaged in. It will employ foreigners, not Azerbaijanis. They have to be given the status of US citizens. They will not pay customs duties, nor will they undergo screening. That is quite a different kettle of fish.

Let us think it over before we sign it. The USA has long been here. But has it helped us resolve a single problem? Why do we open Azerbaijan's doors to them?" Ahmadov said.

[Passage omitted: other MPs voiced similar opinions]

Speaker Murtuz Alasgarov stressed that the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry had signed the agreement on the Azerbaijani side. He added that the agreement was an important one since the president had submitted it to the parliament.

MP Sattar Safarov called on his colleagues to express their opinions only after they read the agreement carefully and fully understood its essence. "Everyone is making remarks. We can also do so. Of course, people with a different goal might arrive within the framework of the Peace Corps. But you have to prevent this. A total of 142 countries have signed this agreement. But we say no when it comes to Azerbaijan," Safarov said.

After this remark by Safarov, the agreement was put to vote and adopted.

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Story Source: BBC Monitoring Service

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Azerbaijan; Intelligence Issues



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