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Armenian Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan failed tohear any legal obstacles against amendments to the law on language,Panorama reports.The People’s Assembly held a session on the hearings in the firstreading of the bill and tomorrow they will have a vote. The ministerpresented the changes to the law, followed by critical comments in thegovernment building.

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The official opening ceremony of the Austrian embassy took place inBaku with the presence of Austrian Foreign Minister MichaelSpindelegger, Minister of Economy Rainhold Mitter, Minister ofInformation Technologies Ali Abbasov, Deputy Foreign Minister VagifSadykhov, Milli Majlis deputies, cultural workers and socialrepresentatives, APA reports.

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Heavy rain this week caused flooding in the Javskiy region of South Ossetia, Res reports.58 private residences, road-transport communications and agricultural lands were submerged.South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoyty visited the site twice. He criticized the government, saying that no preventive measures had been taken.

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Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev met a delegation on Wednesday, headed by Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini, AzerTag reports.Aliyev emphasized that the ties between the two countries are developing well.Hosseini presented the Azerbaijani leader with greetings from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He also thanked Aliyev for participating at the 35th annual meeting of the group of the Islamic Development Bank.

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The monitoring commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Councilof Europe (PACE) failed to make a decision on ‘freezing’ talks on theRussian-Georgian issue, with the votes split into two groups, RIANovosti reports, citing the first deputy chairman of the internationalcommittee of the State Duma, Leonid Slutsky.The Russian-Georgian issue has been discussed at almost every sessionof PACE since October 2008, after the military conflict in SouthOssetia.

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Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan signed a decree today dismissing theMinister of Labor and Social Affairs Mkhitar Mnatsakanyan, NewsArmenia reports, citing the presidential press-service.Mnatsakanyan, having held the post since 23rd November 2009 as part ofthe ‘Prosperous Armenia’ party's quota, sent a resignation note. Theparty proposed the candidature of Artur Grigorian, currently head ofthe 8th department of the Control Chamber, to replace Mnatsakanyan.

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The Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have agreed to continue consultations, RIA Novosti reports, citing the press-service of the Armenian National Assembly.Armenia proposed that one representative of the opposition from each country should take part. The Armenian delegation was represented by Armen Rustamyan and David Arutiun, the Azerbaijani delegation by Sabir Gadjiyev and Samed Seidov.

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The Central Bank of Iran has issued the country’s largest banknote,equal to approximately $10. The authorities hope that the populationwill prefer the new banknote to traveler’s checks from local banks.The face value of the note is 2 million Iranian rials, Iran Newsreports.Approximately 150 million of the new banknotes will be issued in thenext three months. The reason for the new denomination is highinflation that dropped from 30% in 2008 to 10% this year.

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The youth forum ‘Caucasus 2020’, organized by the Russian ruling party‘United Russia’ will take place from July 18th to 23rd in Nalchik, RIANovosti reports, citing the press-service of the party’s office.There will be a tent camp in the resort part of Nalchik – Dolinsk, onthe shore of the lake, where over 1000 activists of youth movements,businessmen and athletes will gather.

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The 8th animal husbandry and poultry husbandry exhibition is being held in Tebriz, Iran News reports.Over 100 Iranian companies from East and West Azerbaijan, Tehran, Mazenderan, Yezd, Kazvin, Golestan, Ardebil and Horasan are participating. Countries such as Belgium, Spain, Denmark and Italy are represented at the exhibition.

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Representatives of the Krasnodar Territory drug police and the Abkhaz Interior Ministry held their first meeting in Sochi since signing an inter-agency agreement on cooperation against drug trafficking in June, RIA Novosti reports.The Russian side was represented by the head of the state anti-drug committee, Vyacheslav Ovechkin, and the head of the regional department of drug control, Andrey Vedernikov. Abkhazia was represented by the Deputy Interior Minister of the republic, Ramin Gablaya.

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The prosperity and future of the Balkans is being discussed at thesummit on South-East European cooperation in Istanbul, TRT reports.Besides Turkey, participants in the summit are Albania,Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Greece,Croatia, Moldova and Montenegro. This year Slovenia will join thesummit as the 12th member. Turkey will hand over the chairmanship toMontenegro.

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EU concerned about military incident in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, has made a statement about the incident on the border line between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh on June 18-19, urging the sides in the conflict to respect the peace conditions, News Armenia reports.Ashton urged the sides to avoid using arms and continue efforts aimed at a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. She expressed support for the OSCE Minsk Group and the work of its 3 co-chairs.

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The government of Karachay-Cherkessia approved a new complex program of social-economic development of the republic for 2010-2015. The primary goal is increasing prosperity and providing high living standards for the population, based on forming an auspicious economic-business and social-cultural climate, Interfax reports.

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The government of Georgia has discussed amendments to the law on the structure, powers and work of the Cabinet. The amendments involve changes in the Cabinet, Trend reports.The decision on changes will be clarified in the near future, a session on the issue will be held on Friday. The parliamentary secretary of the government, Georgiy Khuroshvili, said that when they decide on the final version of the law it will be published.

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The Nabucco gas pipeline consortium intends to sign agreements with gas suppliers for the pipeline, including Azerbaijan, by late 2010, managing director of Nabucco Gas Pipeline International Reinhard Mitschek said, Trend reports.He said negotiations with financial institutions to finance this project are underway. The final investment decision on the project is expected to be taken in mid 2011 and construction begun by late 2011.Mitschek said there is enough gas to fill the pipeline, particularly in the Caspian region.

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Russia's military commitment in Abkhazia involves developing a strategy of cooperation with the Black Sea Fleet, the Border Services of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Abkhaz armed forces, Interfax reports.The military exercises are aimed at working out anti-terrorist operations and developments in cooperation between different agencies.The military training will continue until June 25.

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The organizers of the terrorist act in Istanbul, which took lives of four people, have been detained, reports the Turkish newspaper Sabah, citing the news-agency IHA.Four people are suspected of involvement in yesterday's military bus blast.

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The Black Sea and South Caucasus regions have been included in the list of top priority foreign policy spheres of Austria, foreign minister Michael Schpindelegger said at a briefing in Baku, following talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart, ITAR-TASS reports.He also noted that Austria highly values its cooperation with Azerbaijan and expressed interest in expanding economic contacts, including in the energy sphere.Following the talks an agreement on a visa-free regime between the states was signed.

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