Thursday, January 15

Democracy facing tough challenges under the current Azeri government

The following posting contains excerpts from a recent publication by a think tank group affiliated with an independent news agency in Baku.

"During the first five year tenure of President Aliyev, democracy, human rights and the media freedom have suffered a big setback. Despite constitutional norms, Azerbaijan has been dismantling key democratic principles".

The report also states that in contrast to late President Heydar Aliyev, the current President (his son) Ilham Aliyev, has been departing from principles of European values turning the country into "depoliticized, homogenous, one- dimensional society controlled by permanent 'caste of the selected'".

In addition, while Ilham Aliyev, might take the credit for the highest economic growth (in the world: in 2006, Azerbaijan's GDP amounted to 34.5% growth) the country witnessed starting in  2005, it is not his trophy to claim, as the 'seeds' of this 'black fruit' were planted during his fathers' times back in the 90s, when the famous (or infamous) "contract of the century" was signed (1994) between Azerbaijan state oil company and foreign international oil companies (BP, Amoko, Statoil, Lukoil and others).

But not to deviate from the subject, one doesn't need to ponder upon how Democratic Azerbaijan is. Simply check out Freedom House rankings of Azerbaijan (2007), and you will see that this country is nowhere near to a democracy, let alone its values (Azerbaijan ranks 6 in political rights, 5 in civil liberties, non free in status, 6 in national democratic governance and 6.25 in corruption- the scale 1-7: 1 being a good system and  7 being the worst).

And now, with recent constitutional changes regarding the election of the president (according to Azerbaijan constitution an individual running for the presidency could not be elected more than twice- not anymore) and the extension of the presidential term to 7 years, it no longer makes sense to even ask the question of whether Azerbaijan ever be a democracy. It is pointless to talk about democracy and democratic values in a country where the state and its officials don't even know what a democracy means anyway...

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