Key West Talks
For the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict

Background: Azerbaijan
Date Released:
March 30, 2001
Source: U.S. Department of State

Following is the text of a fact sheet released in conjunction with peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh between Presidents Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Robert Kocharian of Armenia that are scheduled to begin April 3 in Key West, Florida.  

The talks, which are sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will be opened by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The Republic of Azerbaijan declared independence from the Soviet Union on August 30, 1991. Located south of Russia and north of Iran, Azerbaijan is slightly smaller than the state of Maine. Azerbaijan's population of approximately 8 million is homogeneous, with Azerbaijanis comprising about 90 percent. Dagestani Peoples represent 3.2 percent, Russians 2.5 percent, and Armenians 2 percent. The official state language is Azerbaijani. Approximately 93 percent of the population is Muslim. Azerbaijan's literacy rata is about 97 percent. The capital of Azerbaijan is Baku.

The executive branch of the Azerbaijani government consists of the President, his apparat, a Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. Heydar Aliyev has been the President since June 1993. Artur Rasizade is the Prime Minister, Vilayat Guliyev the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Safar Abiyev the Minister of Defense. The legislative branch consists of the 125-member parliament (Milli Majlis) whose members are elected for 5-year terms. The judicial branch, headed by a Constitutional Court, is nominally independent.

The United States and Azerbaijan share close and friendly relations. The U.S. opened an embassy in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, in March 1992. Relations between the two countries are firmly grounded in our shared assessment of the importance of peace, stability and prosperity in the Caucasus region. The FREEDOM Support Act (FSA), enacted in October 1992, has been the cornerstone of U.S. efforts to assist the new independent states of the former Soviet Union during their difficult transition to democracy and a market economy. While section 907 of the FSA prohibits most U.S. government assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan (until it "ceases all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh"), subsequent legislation has allowed USG assistance in key areas including programs that support democracy, humanitarian assistance and non-proliferation. Under the FSA, the U.S. to date has provided approximately $165.92 million in humanitarian and developmental assistance to Azerbaijan, including $32.18 million in FY 2000.

We also have established joint task forces with Azerbaijan on security and economic development issues. The third meeting of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Economic Task Force was held in Azerbaijan in March 2001 and the second meeting of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Bilateral Security Dialogue was held in Washington in October 2000.

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