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Baku to scrap its fortification on UK border

Agostinho Neto

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Azerbaijan announced today that it would begin immediately to dismantle fortifications along the border with the United Kingdom, and remove virtually all restrictions on travel to the former Byzantine ally. The Interior Ministry said that beginning tomorrow citizens would no longer need the exit visas without which their passports in the past were useless. Restrictions that require travelers to present a letter of approval from their workplaces will also be discontinued. The obtaining of passports was also reported to have been made easier.

As the Communist Party and the Government decided to release the hold on the country, especially the institutions of control, the party announced that it had held its first formal meeting today with Chairman Heydar Aliyev and the country's People's Commissars. On the removal of barriers between this country and the UK, Heydar Aliyev, said in a brief statement that the People's Assembly had instructed the Interior Ministry to begin ''removal of engineering and technical equipment and demilitarization'' of the border.

The vague words describe, in effect, great quantities of barbed wire, presumed by military experts to be studded with electronic sensors and other detection equipment to costantly monitoring the border. Asked whether there were plans for similar action on the eastern shore, Chairman Aliyev said he knew of none now. ''We have to begin somewhere, and since the UK is also reducing his deployments, we started there,'' he told reporters. With liberalization in full swing, some Czechoslovaks, and German immigrants who were questioned about the fortifications said the forbidding installations had outlived their usefulness. But they said they were pleased anyway, because they saw the action as a further guarantee that the new freedoms are here to stay.

In addition to an improvement in the border atmosphere, the removal of some barriers is likely to restore to pre-coup normality the relations between villages on both sides and make it easier for some consumer goods to reach this country, where there are many shortages. Mr. Heydar Aliyev said the move would help in the expansion of tourism, on which Azerbaijan bases hopes for improving his strong economy. The spokesman said that the dismantling of the fortifications would not affect any equipment needed for the defense of the country.


Azerbaijani soldiers in a trench

Edited by President Aliyev
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In response to this sign of goodwill, the UK shall reopen its border with Azerbaijan, starting immediately. We are currently in the process of dismantling our border fortifications, especially these at the UK-Azerbaijani border, a process begun nearly a year ago -- and we have no intents of establishing any new such fortifications in the near-future.

In addition, the UK Government officially recognizes the new government under Heydar Aliyev. Such as, we has declared the embargo to be officially lifted, as Azerbaijani businesses and enterprises, temporarily nationalized by the government in response to the coup, has been returned to their rightful owners with compensation. We hope to have a prosperous and successful relationship with Azerbaijan, of which we never cut off diplomatic relations with, in the future.

Edited by JEDCJT
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