Azerbaijan International

Autumn 1997 (5.3)
Pages 65-66

Reader's Forum

The following letter was published in the Washington Post on July 19, 1997.

Washington Post-Section 907 - the True Facts
This past Sunday's edition of the Washington Post (July 6) carried a front page story citing the involvement of several former U.S. government officials in an effort to promote improved strategic relations between the United States and Azerbaijan.

The story implies that the sole objective of this illustrious group is to promote opportunities for themselves or the American businesses they represent in the energy rich Caspian region. Except for a passing reference to a report issued by the U.S. State Department earlier this year which outlines in detail the geo-strategic significance of Azerbaijan to the U.S., the article attempts to "pit" American oil interests against the Armenian lobby.

As a representative of one of the companies prominently mentioned (but never contacted) in connection with the story, I would have hoped your writers would have at least taken the time to get the basic story line straight.

At issue is an arcane provision of U.S. law enacted in 1992 and known as Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. This law bars direct U.S. bilateral assistance, including humanitarian aid as well as assistance for democracy building and electoral reform, to Azerbaijan. It was enacted against opposition by the Bush Administration and is currently opposed by the Clinton Administration (along with the list of foreign policy experts included in your story).

Of all the former [15] Soviet republics, only Azerbaijan was singled out for such restrictive treatment. The simple reason was that the Armenian lobby in the U.S. was more active and effective in weaving their story at a time when few elected officials even knew where the Caspian Sea was. Since that time, however, billions of dollars from the U.S. and other foreign investment have flowed into Azerbaijan and other Caspian republics, in part due to the enormous energy resource potential, but also in recognition of the emerging Eurasian Transit Corridor linking Baku to the West.

The enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh (which you describe as overwhelmingly populated by Christian Armenians) does indeed lie within the boundaries of Azerbaijan, and has done so for generations. The United States, the United Nations and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)-all regard Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. Azeris and Armenians used to live together there until the Armenians drove the Azerbaijanis from their homes in an effort to unite the enclave with Armenia. In an effort to install a so-called defensible "buffer" around the region, today, Armenian forces occupy about 20% of Azerbaijan proper. The occupation alone is in violation of international law and, according to international relief organizations and official U.S. government sources, has produced a refugee population in Azerbaijan of between 800,000-1 million (out of a total population of about 7.5 million).

The Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan were a bad idea in 1992 and make even less sense today. They haven't helped promote either stability or peace and, in fact, have hamstrung both the U.S. government and American interests in the region. The American oil companies harbor no ill will for Armenia, in spite of the fact that Prime Minister Kocharian has publicly pledged to prevent our oil from ever getting to market.

We actively support the OSCE Minsk Group peace process (where the U.S. has recently been installed as a co-chair) and firmly believe that peace and political stability will lead to investment and regional cooperation that will ultimately benefit all the people of the Caucasus. Section 907 has been both controversial and counterproductive. If the U.S. is to play a pivotal role in a region historically dominated by Russia and Iran, and be an honest broker of the peace, the restrictions imposed by 907 must be removed.

Frank Verrastro
Pennzoil, Senior Vice President
Washington, DC, July 7, 1997


AI's Web Site-Halfway Around the World
We were very, very glad to discover "Azerbaijan International" on the Internet. It's now 4:30 a.m., and we're dying to get some sleep, however, we think it's worth staying awake to send you this message.

We are a group of young people studying in Istanbul in separate faculties. This is our last year of classes, and we hope to go back home soon.

May God's blessings be on our motherland and with you. Please continue to be our voice and continue your fine work.

Elchin Azimli, Kenan Beshirov, Ilham Ibadov and Teyfur Aliyev
Students in Turkey

Editor's Note: Since January 1997, there have been more than 214, 589 clicks on Azerbaijan International's Web site. Come visit us at <>. Click on Past Issues to view most of the 18 issues that have been published since 1993.

Click on Topics for access to articles about Oil, Baku Diary, Photo Essay, Diplomatic Inter-views, Quotable Quotes, Just for Kids and World Class. There are music samples, too.

The following letter was published in the Calgary Herald, Alberta, Canada, on August 14, 1997.

We Don't Have to Fear Russian Attack
I'm writing in regard to your August 5 article, "Oil Patch Diplomacy: Tapping Caspian Sea oil riches creates a diplomatic nightmare with ethnic rivals and worry over Russian clout."

The article's analysis of the Caspian Sea's oil riches is an unfounded scare tactic. You suggest that "a nightmare looms if the Russians decide that they do not want the vast reserves of the Caspian to slip from their grip and that the Russian Navy could head towards the rigs." Your article, unfoundedly, paints a very gloomy picture of what is, in fact, a great opportunity for Canadian investment.

There are two main reasons that Russia would not contemplate sending their fleets to the rigs. First of all, the geopolitical and military reason is that NATO and/or western allies would protect the alternate energy supply for the western market, as well as the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC) consortium members' interests-Amoco, Exxon, Pennzoil, BP and Statoil to name a few. These allies could counter Russia's threat from their bases in the Black Sea and Turkey-a NATO member.

Secondly, there is an economic reason. LUKoil, Russia's largest oil company, is also a member of the AIOC consortium [and other major consortiums]. Therefore, Russia stands to benefit economically from the development of the Caspian region which is utilizing western technology and financial support to develop these reserves.

Saeed Kangarloo
IPL International Managing Director
Calgary, Alberta

Hemophilia Nightmare in Azerbaijan
I don't know how to start my letter as it's such a depressing and personal topic for me. Memories about the horrors of hemophilia date back to the very first day when a wonderful baby was born into our family, and I became a mother. The child was a boy. I was 22-years-old at the time. It was such a glorious day for me and my husband.

But two days later, the child started feeling bad because of internal bleeding which collected as a large hematoma inside his head. I immediately recognized the condition as hemophilia, a genetic blood disease that had always frightened me since childhood. You see, my brother is a hemophiliac, and I knew what it meant.

The baby's condition worsened despite all the doctors' efforts. My husband and I became extremely frustrated. I cried night and day, praying that all this was a dream and would soon vanish. In the meantime, our child grew sicker each day.

My mother learned about the situation and came to the hospital and advised me: "You know how much I've suffered with your brother. I don't want you to suffer so much. Please, even if they save his life, don't bring him home. Leave him at the hospital. I know this is harsh and cruel and that it's a sin, but I don't want you..." She couldn't finish her words. She broke down and sobbed.

I was horrified and thought I would go crazy. How could I refuse to take home such a wonderful creature who had already brought us such joy and happiness just anticipating his birth. Then the doctors added to our anguish by saying that even if the baby survived, he would have mental problems. I prayed that God would give me strength and patience. I believed that my son would live and be all right. And he did survive. He was so cute and funny that when I looked at him, I forgot about his terrible disease.

But serious problems started when he was three years old. He started bleeding internally in the joints whenever he had the slightest injury or bruise. He had indescribable intense pain; I can't imagine that even grown-ups could have handled it better.

At night, he used to cry himself to sleep, trying to hide his tears from me. But when I found out, he would say things like, "Mommy, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have jumped off the sofa. Sorry, that I'm giving you so much trouble."

He loves holidays so much. Every year he makes big plans to celebrate the New Year, making grand preparations and waiting for Santa Claus. But, unfortunately, nearly every year, things turn upside down. He usually ends up bleeding from his mouth or nose or has terrible pains.

Once he told me: "Mom, I wish aliens would come from outer space and cure me once and for all." Sometimes, he looks through catalogs or magazines and sees photos of children playing like normal kids do, riding bikes and skating, and he tells me how much he wishes he could do those things, too.

When he was seven, I sent him to school so he wouldn't feel so isolated. I didn't want to exaggerate his problem on every level. That's when he had a fight with one of his classmates-defending a little girl who had been hurt by a boy. The fight landed him at home in bed, unable to move for a whole month.

Now he's nine, and I'll continue to do all I can to keep him alive. I pray every day that God will help all the children who are ill. God has created the diseased, as well as the healthy. Maybe this is a chance for healthy people to help the diseased-to show their humanity. I have great faith that such things are true.

Gulnara Huseinova
Member, Hemophiliac Patients Association
of Azerbaijan (HPAA)

Editor: According to the HPAA, there has never been any provision in Azerbaijan, or for that matter, in the entire Soviet Union for producing anti-hemophiliac factor (known as Factor VIII and Factor IX) which enables blood to clot. They say that despite the fact that the USSR invested billions of dollars in the production of arms and weapons, there was never a single attempt made to produce Factor to treat tens of thousands of hemophiliacs.

And now with the severe social and economic problems in Azerbaijan since independence in 1991, the current treatment for hemophiliacs is only through blood transfusions-a nightmare of a problem in itself as there is no serious Blood Center dealing with systematic blood collection. Nor can the quality of blood which is collected be guaranteed as there are no reagents to test for communicable diseases-such as hepatitis, AIDS, syphilis, etc. Nor is there any reliable refrigeration in which to store the blood. To purchase Factor from foreign pharmaceutical companies costs about $1,000 per treatment, a prohibitive sum when most families make less than $50-$100 per month.

As a result, hemophilia has become one of the most burning medical problems in Azerbaijan. There are at least 1,000 hemophiliacs deprived of consistent treatment, 55 percent of which are school-aged children. It becomes extremely difficult to stop both external and internal hemorrhaging, and as a result most hemophiliacs bleed to death. Mortality by hemorrhaging has increased five times since 1993 compared to the previous 20 years (1973-1993).

Contact: Hemophiliac Patients Association of Azerbaijan (HPAA), Tel: (994-12) 96-41-17, 96-01-89 or 68-34-70.

From Azerbaijan International (5.3) Autumn 1997.
© Azerbaijan International 1997. All rights reserved.

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