THE OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN MR. ILHAM ALIYEV
Respected Mr. President!
As the representatives of the nation which was the leader of democratization in the Muslim world and created the first Democratic Republic with the Parliamentary rule, as the heirs of the ideas of freedom and liberal reforms, declared by our enlighteners and founders of the republic, which had a significant influence on the reforms in the region and beyond it, we appeal to you to create all the conditions for Azerbaijan to become a leader in integration in Europe and democratization both in the South Caucasus and beyond it.
Azerbaijan has all the resources to become a leader not only in economy but in the area of liberal political reforms - it has rich human and natural resources, high level of population's education and culture, more than 100 years of history and traditions of democratization, openness to reforms and progress.
A fair distribution of resources and social prosperity is not possible without strong democratic institutions. We appeal to you not to limit your speeches only by stating economic and social objectives, but to make public the specific program on democratization and political reforms, which would promote Azerbaijan's speedy integration in European structures. Democracy building - is a daily and consistent process. Moreover, reforms are usually stalled in the country where the oil development takes place in the absence of the mature democratic institutions.
That's why we appeal to you with the following:
1. To publicize the ideas of political freedom at all levels, as a free person is both a conductor of reforms and the objective and main value of the democratic society. Argument of instability which usually accompanies liberalization is not convincing in this case, as Azerbaijanis have been traditionally peaceful and law abiding.
2. Intensely use the TV - a powerful means of development of the political culture - for free political debates, education of democracy and critical thinking. It has been already 18 years since we re-gained our independence and if the TV played its role in accordance with the requirements of the transition objectives - we would be a different country by now!
3. To release all the journalists and political prisoners - the imprisonment of even one journalist is a shame for the country, which had liberal freedoms already in the early 20th century!
4. To provide independence of courts, as it has been already a century ago.
5. To create all conditions for the functioning of the political parties. The active and real opposition - is a guarantee of the strong and prospering state.
6. To remove all the legal and administrative obstacles to the development of free press, non-governmental organizations and trade unions - the main driving force of the free society.
7. To create all conditions and opportunities - both legal and factual - for each citizen of the country- not a bureaucrat - for free entrepreneurship so that a rich potential of every Azerbaijani citizen would be realized for the benefits of economy and prosperity of the country.
Mister President! The leaders of the first Democratic Azerbaijani Republic as truly popular leaders had always propagated the idea of Europeanness of their people and their readiness for integration in Europe. Today, a century later, the argument, that people with 93% of education level is not ready for democracy and European life style due to their " mentality" - is totally a-logical! The European Union is in the eve of adoption of its Eastern Partnership policy, which would open a unique opportunity to prove our capacity of deeper integration in Europe on the basis of shared values of freedom and pluralism and which we should fully use making reform and democratization a priority area in our relations.
We are convinced, that not the Middle Eastern type of "modernization", but restoration of Azerbaijan democracy and its development will help to realize the best potential of all the citizens of our country, which they had already proved in their history.
It is an ability to create a free society, and not only a talent to maneuver among the regional powers, is the best evidence of the people's high level and its worthy contribution to the world civilization.
1. Leila Alieva - director of the Center for National and İnternational Studies
2. Rahman Badalov - philosophy professor, academician.
3. Ali Abbasov - Department Head of the institute of Philosophy and Law of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan
4. Zafar Guliyev - chief of the analytical department Turan İnformation Agency, independent politologist
5. Novella Jafaroglu - chair of the Association of the protection of Women s Rights after D. Aliyeva
6. Mehman Aliyev - director of the Turan information Agency
7. Hikmet Hajızade - chair, FAR Center
8. Elchin Behbudov - chairman of the Azerbaijan Committee Against Tortures
9. Shahin Hajıyev - Najaf Najafov Foundations, Executive Director
10. Saadet Bananyarlı - chair, Azerbaijan National Group of İnternational Society for Human Rights
11. Saida Gojamanli- chair, Human rights and Rule of Law Defense Bureau.
12. Anar Mammedli - chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center
13. Leyla Yunus - director of the Peace and Democracy İnstitute
14. Vefa Jafarova - chair, "Dalga" Youth Organization
15. Elchin Abdullayev - chair, Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Organization
16. Rafig Tamrazov - chair, Centre of Equal Opportunities
17. Sevil Allahverdiyeva - chair, Center of Women's Problems Research
18. Mirvari Gahramanli - chair, Defense of the rights of the oil-industry workers Committee
19. Avaz Hasanov - chairman of the Society of humanitarian investigations
20. Fikret Jafarov - chairman of the "Sustainable Development Society" Public Union
21. Metanet Muslumgizi - chair, Media Rights Center
22. Elhan Mehdiyev - chairman of the Peace and Conflict Resolution İnstitute
23. Chingiz Sultansoy - independent journalist
24. Malahat Murshudlu - director educational NGO