Haidar Aliev was inaugurated yesterday for a second term of five years as president of Azerbaijan. Timed to coincide with Azerbaijan’s independence day (October 18), the inauguration ceremony saw Aliev take the oath of office on both the constitution and the Koran. His address reaffirmed the determination to proceed with Caspian oil development in partnership with Western countries and Turkey. He also called for a “constructive dialogue” with the opposition, which had only the preceding day announced that it will not recognize Aliev as president.
The ceremony’s most striking feature was a rush of top Russian officials to Baku. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, CIS Affairs Minister Boris Pastukhov, Kremlin gray eminence Boris Berezovsky (who doubles as CIS Executive Secretary) and Duma representatives were on hand. All of them warmly congratulated Aliev on his victory and called for Russian-Azerbaijani cooperation in addressing regional problems. In Moscow, President Boris Yeltsin, Duma Chairman Gennady Seleznev, and Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev sent highly publicized congratulatory messages. Also attending, though evidently for different considerations, were the Chechen, Ingush and Dagestani presidents: Aslan Maskhadov, Ruslan Aushev and Magomedali Magomedov (Azerbaijan TV, AzadInform, Turan, October 18). Moscow evidently hopes to capitalize on Western disaffection with the conduct of Azerbaijan’s presidential election. Russian policy makers hope to see Aliev isolated from the West and reduced to making his peace with Moscow.
KYRGYZ CONSTITUTION CHANGED BY REFERENDUM.