Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev cabled the Kremlin on March 13 that he deems it inappropriate to attend the March 19 CIS summit in Moscow. Aliev named three reasons. First, information about Russian intentions to deliver more weapons, including S-300 missiles, to Armenia. Second, Moscow’s unwillingness to investigate the earlier, clandestine arms deliveries worth more than $1 billion to Armenia, and refusal to move the hardware back to Russia. Third, the refusal to extradite Major-General Shahin Musaev, Azerbaijan’s former chief of staff, who was implicated in 1995 and 1996 coup attempts against Aliev and found a haven in Russia. (Turan, Russian agencies, March 13-14)
The Georgian president’s office announced in turn on March 15 that Eduard Shevardnadze deems it dangerous to attend the CIS summit as long as Russia continues "harboring on its territory, particularly in Moscow, terrorist groups involved in the August 1995 and February 1998 assassination attempts against the president." Shevardnadze added, however, that he has not yet made a final decision concerning his attendance. (Radio Tbilisi cited by Russian agencies, March 15) Both presidents made their stand public following sessions of their respective National Security Councils, which in each case recommended that the head of state not go to Moscow for the summit. On the eve of the Baku session, Aliev’s chief foreign policy adviser Vafa Guluzade had publicly blamed the recent assassination attempt against Shevardnadze on "those circles which are determined to ensure that our countries remain fully oriented toward Russia… and which still regard the [South] Caucasus as their rightful preserve." (Panorama (Baku), March 10)
Third-Road Party Launched in Latvia.