As anticipated (see Monitor, January 29) Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev has dismissed Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov from his post. Aliev announced his decision on February 14 while on a visit to Turkey, before making it public in Azerbaijan. On the previous day, a special investigative commission of the Azerbaijani government issued a report directly implicating Hasanov in illegal activities in connection with the construction and misuse of the Europa Hotel in Baku.
Built with a Turkish government credit earmarked for construction of diplomatic missions, the hotel was in fact used mainly as a casino and entertainment center. It was run by a Turkish company closely linked to the criminal underworld in Turkey. Hasanov was found to have secured government guarantees for the credit and to have facilitated the change of destination of the hotel and its handover. Some of his relatives and associates were found to have taken part in the management of the operation.
While in Turkey, Aliev confirmed his recently stated intent to crack down on casinos, night clubs and other forms of entertainment deemed wasteful and "at variance with the people’s moral principles." (Azerbaijan (Baku), February 13; Turan, Assa-Irada, Ankara TV, February 14).