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Thursday, July 24, 2014
 

1997

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

XI
November 2002
11

Republic of Armenia

Total area: 29,800 sq. km Slightly larger than Maryland Bordering states: Azerbaijan (east) 566 km Nakhichevan (south) 221 km Georgia 164 km Iran 35 km Turkey 268 km Population: 3.6 million 68% urban 110.5 persons/sq. km Ethnic composition: 93.3% Armenian 1.5% Russian 1.7% Kurdish 3.5% Assyrian, Greek, other

Leadership: Robert Kocharian, President; Andranik Markarian, Prime Minister; Vardan Oskanian, Foreign Minister; Armen Khachatrian, Parliamentary Chairman.

Independence: Armenia established its independence in September 1991.

CIS membership status: Armenia joined the CIS in March 1992 and CIS Defense Treaty in May 1992.

Constitution: A constitution was adopted by national referendum in July 1995.

Elections: Parliamentary elections were held in May 1999. A two-round presidential election was held in February and March 2003. The next election, for a new parliament, will be held in May 2003.

Diplomatic representation: The U.S. representative to Armenia is Ambassador John Ordway. The Armenian representative to the United States is Ambassador Arman Kirakossian. The Armenian representative to the United Nations is Ambassador Movses Abelian.


1 October: An Armenian governmental delegation led by Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian participates in the latest session of the Armenia-European Union (EU) Coordinating Council. The Brussels meeting ends with a series of new agreements for the creation of new mechanisms for broader EU engagement and political consultation. Foreign Minister Oskanian briefs EU officials on the current status of Armenia's dialogue with Azerbaijan and the state of the mediation effort over the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. Oskanian also meets with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patton.

1 October: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) releases the second and thirds tranches of a $26 million poverty reduction loan package. Although the loan package was initially suspended in late 2001 after the Kocharian government failed to meet a promised level of tax collection, IMF officials explain that the Armenian economy has posted rapid growth and low inflation, and adding that tax revenues have increased by 14 percent in the first six months of the year, over the same level for 2001.

3-4 October: In a meeting with officials of the Council of Europe, President Robert Kocharian pledges that Armenia will uphold its obligation to abolish the death penalty unconditionally and completely by June 2003. A large number of Parliamentarians, including Deputy Parliamentary Chairman Tigran Torosian, reject this promise, however, adding that they will fight to maintain a legal exception to the ban on capital punishment in order to execute the five gunmen standing trial for the murder of several senior leaders during the October 1999 attack on Parliament.

3-4 October: Speaking at a Yerevan press conference, former National Security department chief Eduard Simoniants offers a detailed overview of the so-called Paris Principles which serves as the basis of negotiations directed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). According to Simoniants, the Paris principles were agreed upon by both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents during their March 2001 meeting brokered by French President Jacques Chirac. Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian strongly refutes Simoniants' version, stating that the details are wildly inaccurate.

4 October: On the final visit of a regional tour that included meetings in Azerbaijan and Georgia, French Foreign Ministry Secretary Renaud Muselier meets in Yerevan with senior Armenian government officials. Discussions were mainly on bilateral relations and the French role in the mediation effort seeking a negotiated resolution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

6 October: President Kocharian holds a ninety-minute meeting with Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliyev during the summit meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Moldova. President Kocharian notes that the talks were useful and states that there is a sincere desire to find a solution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. The meeting is the latest in a series of private sessions between the two leaders. The next meeting is set to coincide for the November meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Prague.

8-9 October: Prime Minister Andranik Markarian announces that the Republican Party of Armenia, which he leads, will officially support incumbent President Kocharian in his reelection bid in the February 2003 contest. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) is also holding talks with several leading political parties in an effort to ensure that the approaching local, Parliamentary and Presidential elections are open and democratic.

10 October: President Kocharian meets with visiting Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Yerevan and discusses plans to expand bilateral economic, political, and military relations. The two leaders sign four new agreements on bilateral cooperation, including one protocol allowing Armenian military officers to attend Ukrainian military academies. The level of Armenian trade with Ukraine rose to $38.5 million last year, and is estimated to increase by almost 30 percent for this year.

12-15 October: Accompanied by his wife, former Russian President Boris Yeltsin arrives in Yerevan for a six-day visit to Armenia. On October 15th, Yeltsin meets with former President Levon Ter Petrosian after touring a Russian border guard post along the Armenian border with Turkey. Although the meeting with Ter Petrosian fuels speculation over the former President's intentions to return to politics, the former Russian President adds that the meeting should not be misconstrued as an endorsement of Ter Petrosian. Seeking to end the issue, Yeltsin officially endorses incumbent President Kocharian two days later.

15 October: President Kocharian meets with senior government Ministers and regional officials to instruct them to refrain from any assistance to political candidates or parties prior to the October 20th local elections. The President is seeking to ensure that the local elections are free and fair and conducted in an open manner without any negative reflection on his government.

15 October: Representatives of sixteen political opposition parties reach agreement on a common platform to guide the sole candidate that they are hoping to put forth to run against the President in the February 2003 elections. The 22-point document promises to introduce rapid and serious economic improvement and issues a general foreign policy recommendation calling for the deepening of the allied relationship with Russia while maintaining Armenia's integration into the European structures.

16 October: President Kocharian and senior officials meet with visiting Russian Parliamentarian Nikolai Ryzhkov, the co-chairman of the Russian Parliament's committee overseeing cooperation with the Armenian Parliament. Armenian Trade and Economic Development Minister Garen Chshmaritian expresses appreciation for the close relationship with the Russian government and reports that Russia is Armenia's largest trading partner, with an increase in bilateral trade to $56.6 million so far this year.

20-22 October: With overall voter turnout only estimated at 46 percent, the Republican Party of Armenia wins a landslide victory in the country's local elections, securing 30 of the 37 mayors of larger towns and cities. The pro-government Law-Based State party won in four towns and 48 villages. The three Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) candidates for town mayors lose their races, but the party wins a number of smaller towns and villages. The former ruling Armenian National Movement (ANM) joins the National Democratic Union and the Communist Party in denouncing the authorities for influencing and disrupting the local election.

22 October: Independent journalist Mark Grigorian is wounded in a grenade attack by an unknown assailant on a Yerevan street. The attack on Grigorian is under investigation by the Interior Ministry, but police are hindered by a lack of witnesses and limited evidence. Grigorian, a popular journalist, is the co-director of the Caucasus Media Institute.

25 October: Thousands of Yerevan residents attend a special ceremony marking the third anniversary of the attack on the Parliament and the subsequent assassination of several senior political figures.

30-31 October: The Armenian Parliament votes to approve the 2003 state budget, although the implementation of the budget is contingent on meeting a 13 percent increase in tax collection. The 2003 budget comprises expenditures of 334 billion drams ($580 million) and projects revenues at only 287 billion drams. The budget deficit would be 2.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but only if the government meets its target for tax revenue. The budget forecasts a 7.2 percent rate of growth in GDP and an annual inflation rate of below 3%.

31 October: Roughly 4,600 copies of the Aravot daily newspaper, the entire print run of the paper, is completely bought up by an unknown buyer before the newspapers can even be delivered to newsstands. The copies were purchased while they were still en route from the state-run printing facility to the state-adMinistered distribution system Haymamul. This act is linked to an investigatory article in the issue detailing a case of extortion and corruption by close associates of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.

Republic of Georgia

Total area: 69,700 sq. km Slightly larger than S. Carolina Bordering states: Armenia 164 km Azerbaijan 322 km Russia 723 km Turkey 252 km Population: 5.57 million 56% urban 78 persons/sq. km Ethnic composition: 69% Georgian, 9% Armenian, 6% Russian, 6% Ajarian*, 5% Azerbaijani, 3% Ossetian, 2% Abkhazian. Georgia includes the autonomous republics of Abkhazia and Ajaria and the South Ossetian Autonomous Region. *- The Ajarians are a distinct ethnographic group of Georgians.

Leadership: Eduard Shevardnadze, President; Avtandil Jorbenadze, State Minister; Irakli Menagarishvili, Foreign Minister; Nino Burjanadze, Parliamentary Chairman.

Independence: Georgia established its independence in April 1991.

CIS membership status: The Georgian government joined the CIS in October 1993.

Constitution: A constitution was adopted in August 1995, which reinstated a presidential form of government and provides for a strong executive branch and a unicameral 235-seat parliament. The constitutional status of the regions and republics remains undetermined, stipulating an official clarification of their legal status only after the resolution of all internal conflicts.

Elections: Presidential elections were held in April 2000. Parliamentary elections were held in October 1999.

Diplomatic representation: The U.S. representative to Georgia is Ambassador Richard Miles. The Georgian representative to the United States, as well as to Canada and Mexico, is Ambassador Levan Mikeladze. The Georgian representative to the United Nations is Ambassador Revaz Adamia.


3-4 October: Georgian security officials extradite five of the thirteen Chechen rebels captured in early August crossing the border from Chechnya. The extradition is an attempt to repair relations with Russia. The European Court of Human Rights formally requests that the extradition of the remaining eight Chechens be suspended pending a more thorough investigation of their identity.

6-7 October: Following several weeks of mounting tension over Russian allegations that Georgia was failing to secure the Pankisi Gorge from infiltration by Chechen rebels, President Eduard Shevardnadze meets Russian President Vladimir Putin during the summit meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Chisinau, Moldova. Despite many agreements, an official Russian statement issued from the summit vows to hold the right of unilateral or collective self-defense in the event of a Georgian failure to contain attacks on Russia launched from its territory.

8 October: A group of 50 Kurds stage a demonstration in Tbilisi calling on the Georgian government to end its increasingly close military cooperation with Turkey, expressing fear that any Turkish military presence in the country would threaten the security of the approximately 25,000-strong Kurdish community in Georgia. The Kurds also demand that Georgia drop its bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), charging that NATO member Turkey will use the alliance to exert military control over Georgia.

10-11 October: The Georgian Parliament votes unanimously to adopt a proposed constitutional amendment designating Abkhazia as an autonomous republic within Georgia. Abkhazian Prime Minister Anri Djergenia dismisses the votes, stating that Abkhazia's status as an independent sovereign state is enshrined in the Abkhazian constitution and was endorsed by the Abkhazian population and rejecting any suggestion of negotiations that would return Abkhazia to Georgian control.

12-14 October: In an embarrassing display of Georgia's electricity crisis, the Russian-Georgian 2004 European Championship qualifying soccer match abruptly ends in opening minutes of the second half as the electricity in the stadium goes out for the second time. Reflecting the emotional outrage over the incident, the Interior Ministry announces that it has launched a criminal investigation of the incident.

13-14 October: South Ossetian security forces launch an anti-crime sweep of the region and arrest several dangerous criminals in a bid to preempt an incursion by Georgian interior ministry forces into South Ossetia. South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoyty announces plans to form a professional South Ossetian army, consisting of at least 6,000 contracted soldiers.

14 October: Parliamentarian Boris Kakubava leads some 3,000 Georgians displaced from their homes in Abkhazia in a call for the dissolution of the Georgian Parliament and the resignation of the President for failing to resolve the Abkhazian conflict. They also support the peace plan proposed by Ajarian Parliamentary Chairman Aslan Abashidze that would restore railway and road links between Abkhazia and Tbilisi and initiate economic cooperation as important first steps in the negotiated resolution to the conflict.

22 October: State Minister Avtandil Djorbenadze meets with several ambassadors form member states of the European Union (EU) and requests their assistance in persuading the EU to release its funds allocated to meet the Georgian budget deficit. The EU suspended all aid and assistance to the country until the authorities secure the release of British consultant Peter Shaw who was kidnapped in Tbilisi four months ago.

29 October: Interior Ministry officials report that over 85 police officials have been dismissed in recent months as part of a broad campaign to stem human rights violations and combat corruption within the police force.

Republic of Azerbaijan

Total area:
81,800 sq. km
Slightly smaller than Maine

Bordering states:
Armenia (West) 566 km
Armenia (southwest) 221 km
Georgia 332 km
Iran (south) 432 km
Iran (southwest) 179 km
Russia 284 km
Turkey 9 km

Population:
7.3 million
54% urban
89 persons/sq. km

Ethnic composition: 71% Azerbaijani, 11% Talish, 6% Russian, 4% Lezgi, 3% Daghestani, 3% Kurdish.
The autonomous republic of Nakhichevan (pop. 350,000; 5,500 sq. km) was placed under Azerbaijani administration in 1921.

Leadership: Geidar Aliyev, President; Artur Rasizade, Prime Minister; Vilayet Guliev, Foreign Minister; Murtuz Aleskerov, Parliamentary Chairman; Shamshaddin Khanbabayev, Premier of
Nakhichevan (Azerbaijani exclave).

Independence: Azerbaijan established its independence in August 1991.

CIS membership status: Azerbaijan joined the CIS in September 1993.

Constitution: A new constitution was passed by referendum in November 1995.

Elections: Parliamentary elections were held in November 2000. Presidential elections were held in October 1998. Presidential elections are to be held in October 2003.

Diplomatic representation: The U.S. representative to Azerbaijan is Ambassador Ross Wilson. The Azerbaijani representative to the United States is Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev. The Azerbaijani representative to the United Nations is Yashar Aliyev.


1-2 October: Azerbaijani security forces launch a series of coordinated arrests of several leading political opposition figures in Baku. Two leaders of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan are jailed and six members of the Musavat Party are arrested and questioned by police for several hours. Police also enter and occupy the Baku offices of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan. The leaders of eight of the country's largest political opposition parties issue a joint statement calling for the immediate release of all detainees. The authorities also deny a request by the opposition to hold demonstrations in Baku and other large cities.

2 October: Leaders and supporters of the Union of Baku and Baku Villages stage a demonstration outside the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's Office to demand the release of their jailed leader, Union Chairman Haji Djebrail Alizade. A number of residents of the village of Nardaran were arrested and later released after clashes with police in Nardaran in June 2002. The group is a public organization representing local towns and small villages in the greater Baku municipality.

4-5 October: With estimates ranging widely of between 4,000-10,000 participants, the opposition convenes a public rally in Baku after securing official permission from authorities the previous day. The demonstrators call on Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliyev to resign and demand the annulment of the August 24th national referendum on constitutional amendments. The opposition also criticizes the Aliyev government for widespread corruption and condemns it for failing to resolve the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. Although municipal authorities granted permission for the rally, opposition leaders accuse the government of pressuring university students not to attend the demonstration.

6 October: President Aliyev meets with Armenian President Kocharian during the summit meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Chisinau, Moldova. The Presidents announce that they are satisfied with the discussions during the ninety-minute meeting. The Azerbaijani President expresses his preference for continuing bilateral talks and adds that the dialogue will allow us to discuss various options and move forward.

9-10 October: Defense Minister Safar Abiev issues a decree formally expelling 62 cadets from the Baku Higher Military College on the grounds that the cadets engaged in repeated violations of discipline. Observers see the expulsion as being linked to last month's mass desertion and coordinated protests by the majority of cadets over harsh and unfair treatment. The expelled cadets are assigned to sentry duty along Azerbaijan's border with Nagorno Karabagh. Relatives of the expelled cadets hold a protest rally in front of the Presidential administration building in Baku the next day, demanding to meet with the President.

12 October: Azerbaijani Parliamentary Speaker Murtuz Aleskerov attends a regional meeting with his Armenian, Georgian and Russian counterparts in Tbilisi. The closed meeting is followed with a private meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani speakers, which they characterize as a constructive discussion of the need for common approaches to resolving the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

14 October: Vice President of the Azerbaijani State Oil Company SOCAR, Ilham Aliyev announces that plans to develop the offshore Shah-Deniz oil and natural gas field have been delayed until at least next year. The announcement is liked to the June 2002 revelation by British Petroleum that cost estimates for the development of the field have risen from $2.6 billion to over $3.1 billion. The development of the Shah-Deniz field is integral to the Azerbaijani plan to export natural gas through Georgia to the Turkish market and the delay will result in a significant setback. In the event that development does resume by next year as Aliyev states, the earliest Azerbaijan could begin exporting to Turkey would not be until 2006.

15 October: During a meeting with leading Turkish businessman in Istanbul, President Aliyev states that despite growing pressure in Azerbaijan for a military campaign to retake control of Nagorno Karabagh, he remains committed to a peaceful solution to the conflict. Aliyev adds that the international mediators engaged in seeking a negotiated solution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, citing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in particular, must support Azerbaijan in its just cause over the issue and asserts that Azerbaijan will never accept the loss of Karabagh. The President also dismisses any suggestion of economic cooperation with Armenia prior to the restoration of Azerbaijani territorial integrity and the return of the Azerbaijani refugees to their homes in and around Karabagh.

16 October: Arriving in Baku on a one-day visit, U.S. General Joseph Ralston, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Supreme Allied commander in Europe, meets with President Aliyev, defense Minister Safar Abiev and Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliev. The NATO commander calls on the Azerbaijani leadership to continue the ongoing mediation effort focused on resolving the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, adding that the NATO alliance will not be engaged in the mediation effort. The Azerbaijani President reiterates his desire for an expansion of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO.

16-17 October: A new independent report investigating the events in the village of Nardaran in early June which killed one and left several villagers and policemen injured is released in Baku. The report confirms witness reports that police opened fire on unarmed villagers and found no valid justification or provocation for the police response. Fifteen villagers are still being held in detention after being arrested in a massive raid on the village by security forces. Azerbaijani Human Rights Center Director Eldar Zeynalov states that the report will be translated shortly, with a later release of an English language version to be distributed to international organizations and foreign embassies in Baku.

18 October: Finance Minister Azav Alakbarov reports that the 2003 state budget calls for 680 billion manats ($139 million) for defense spending, an increase of some 12 percent. The defense spending is also to be supplemented by the recent announcement by President Aliyev that the defense ministry will be seeking private donations for military training and operations.

22 October: the Azerbaijani Parliament votes to donate one-quarter of their monthly salaries to a government-established fund to help finance the armed forces. The fund was first formed in August 2002 and has collected some 500 million mantas in donations to date.

22 October: Roughly forty passengers and crew are killed as a ferry sinks in the Caspian Sea en route to Baku. The ferry is owned by the Azerbaijani Caspian Steamship Company (CASPAR) and was reportedly transporting 16 railroad cars of crude oil from Kazakhstan. The sinking leads to a large oil slick some fifteen kilometers wide and eight kilometers long.

21-22 October: During a visit to Baku, the President of the Russian LUKoil group, Vagit Alekperov, announces that the company plans on liquidating all of its projects in Azerbaijani energy in which LUKoil is not the lead operator. LUKoil also announces that is selling its 10 percent stake in the international consortium developing Azerbaijan's offshore Shah-Deniz oil and natural gas field. The consortium, led by British Petroleum, has been seriously hampered by the recent rise in cost estimates for the project. The loss of the Russian firm's investments is a severe blow to the Aliyev government.

26 October: Opposition deputy and leader of the reform wing of the opposition Azerbaijani Popular Front, Ali Kerimov, is dismissed at the last minute form a Parliamentary delegation scheduled to depart the next day for a seminar sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

27 October: A sanctioned rally organized by a number of opposition parties, with between 6,000-8,000 demonstrators, is convened in Baku. The demonstrators demand the resignation of the President and his cabinet and demand that all state resources be mobilized to end the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. The opposition also calls on the United Nations and other international organizations to intercede in Azerbaijani politics to ensure that future elections are free and fair.

Republic of Nagorno Karabagh

Total area:
4,800 sq. km
Slightly smaller than Delaware

Bordering states:
Azerbaijan

Population:
150,000
31 persons/sq. km

Ethnic composition:
95% Armenian
5% Assyrian, Greek,
Kurdish, other

Leadership: Gukasyan, President; Anushevan Danielian, Prime Minister; Ashot Ghulian, Foreign Minister; Oleg Yessayan, Parliamentary Chairman

Independence: The Republic of Nagorno Karabagh was established in September 1991 and declared its independence in January 1992.

CIS membership status: Nagorno Karabagh is not a member of the CIS.

Constitution: The Parliament approved a constitution in June 1992.

Elections: Parliamentary elections were held in June 2000. Presidential elections were held in August 2002.

Diplomatic representation: The Nagorno Karabagh representative to Armenia is Arman Melikian. Hovanes Guevorkian is the representative of Nagorno Karabagh in France. Vardan Barseghian is the representative of the Office of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic in the United States.


9-10 October: Nagorno Karabagh's recently reelected President Arkady Gukasyan approves the list of new Cabinet Ministers proposed by Karabagh Prime Minister Anushevan Danielian. Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian is notably absent from the list, fueling speculation that Gukasyan opposed her reappointment. Other reports suggest a disagreement between the Nagorno Karabagh President and Armenian President Robert Kocharian over the new cabinet. The delayed announcement is suggested to be tied to this dispute and observers contend that the Armenian President, still retaining a powerful influence in Karabagh politics since his term as its President, unsuccessfully sought to pressure Gukasyan to replace Karabagh National Security Department head Bako Sahakian.

11 October: Nagorno Karabagh President Arkady Gukasyan appoints Ashot Ghulian as his new Foreign Minister, replacing the outgoing Naira Melkoumian who was not reappointed. The new Foreign Minister has long been a close associate of the President and leads the pro-government Democratic Artsakh Movement which holds the majority of seats in the Karabagh Parliament. The 37-year old Ghulian served in the Foreign Ministry since 1995 and rose to become Deputy Foreign Minister from December 1998 until last summer. Refuting reports of a rift with the outgoing Foreign Minister, President Gukasyan appoints Melkoumian as a Karabagh Special Presidential adviser and assigns her to Yerevan. Further appointments to Cabinet posts include Zoya Lazarian as Health Minister, Lenston Gulian as Social Security Minister, Robert Hayrapetian as the head of the State Justice Department, and Hakob Ghahramanian as the head of the State Tax Department. The only remaining vacancy is the post of Minister of Industrial Infrastructure and Urban Development, a Ministerial slot that also holds the rank of Deputy Prime Minister.

11 October: Nagorno Karabagh President Arkady Gukasyan meets with a visiting delegation of senior leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) in Stepanakert. The ARF leadership reviews specific plans of assistance for Karabagh's economic and political reforms and discusses the latest stage of negotiations over the Karabagh conflict underway by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

15-19 October: Nagorno Karabagh Parliamentary Chairman Oleg Yessayan visits Canada and holds a series of meetings with the representatives of the Armenian community of Canada and discusses the need to encourage greater participation in the programs of the All-Armenian Fund. Yessayan also reviews the issues connected with the financing of the strategically important North-South highway in Nagorno Karabagh.

16 October: According to a new executive decision issued by President Arkady Gukasyan, a new council on public television will be formed to oversee the privatization of Karabagh's state television facilities. The plan calls for the introduction of a wide array of laws and regulations governing the freedoms of media and broadcasting in Nagorno Karabagh. Under the terms of the new law on public television and radio recently signed by the President, a number of provisions will be enacted ensuring freedom of speech and banning all forms of censorship and prohibiting propaganda. Television and radio will also be closely monitored for excessive violence, racial and ethnic discrimination, pornography, dissemination of state secrets and libel. The law also regulates procedures for operating private television and radio companies in Nagorno Karabagh.

16 October: President Arkady Gukasyan fills his sole remaining Ministerial vacancy, naming Yuri Gazarian as his new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industrial Infrastructure and Urban Development.

17 October: The Nagorno Karabagh cabinet of the recently reelected incumbent President is complete with ten ministries and three departments. Most of the previous government members have been reappointed to their posts, with the Foreign Minister being the leading exception. Former Minister of Culture, Youth Affairs and Sport Armen Sarkisian is appointed to the revised position as Minister of education, culture, sport and youth affairs.

18 October: The British Parliament holds a hearing on the Karabagh conflict and examines the plight of refugees in the region. The House of Lords' hearing, organized on the initiative of Lord Ahmed, an ethnic Pakistani Parliamentarian, consists of testimony from several witnesses representing the Azerbaijani point of view, including Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United Kingdom Rafael Ibrahimov and Azerbaijani non-governmental organization Vatan director Murad Hasanov. The hearing follows a visit to Azerbaijan by several leading members of the House of Lords.

18-19 October: A delegation of military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation n Europe (OSCE) complete another routine tour of the demilitarized border areas between Nagorno Karabagh and Azerbaijan. The OSCE inspectors verify the continued observance of the ceasefire agreement in effect in the region since may 1994.

19 October: The U.S.-based non-profit Armenian Technological Group (ATG) expands its programs in Nagorno Karabagh with plans to purchase a number of new vineyards in Karabagh. The group has been active in promoting development in Karabagh since 1996 and provides local farmers with high quality seeds and operates a breeding nursery for developing new sorts of grapes, and to produce grain for seeds, honey and wines. The ATG group runs a four-hectare vineyard where it cultivates several different types of disease-resistant grape. The latest program implemented by the ATG group in Karabagh is aimed at developing wheat production.

19 October: Nagorno Karabagh President Arkady Gukasyan announces that a new rector will soon be in place to run Karabagh's state University in a meeting with university staff. The President appoints former Education Minister Hamlet Grigorian rector of Artsakh State University.

21 October: Nagorno Karabagh Parliamentary Chairman Oleg Yessayan convenes an executive session of the Parliamentary leadership to review the draft legislative agenda for the coming session. The speaker intends to convene a full session in the coming weeks and begins issuing a number of detailed instructions to the various Karabagh ministries, departments and offices. Yessayan also reports on his recent visit to Canada.
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