Aghdam Region

Another region of Azerbaijan seems to have been taken over by Armenians since the early 1990’s that provides historical background into Azerbaijan today. Twenty years ago, July 23, Armenian aggressors took over Aghdam territory including one city and eighty villages. “Armenians destroyed historical monuments, cemeteries, hospitals, libraries, schools, offices and facilities in the occupied territory”, (pp. 4). Along with that, mosques, tombs, health centers, schools and museums were annihilated. That Azerbaijan culture and history is now lost in the mists of that time. The overall damage caused by the Armenians adds up to a whopping 6.179 billion in US dollars. The agricultural damage on the region alone came out to 1.272 billion US dollars and the natural resources have depleted since their occupation. And now, something you can’t put a price on, over 6,000 lives lost during the fighting. The people trapped in these lands are forced to live the lives as refugees as a result of the Armenians ravaging of the region and taking over. They long to return home to their domestic land and just wish for the day where punishment is inflicted on those that were injustice and caused them their pain and torment.

This ongoing fight for land and illegal occupation is a reminder to all of Azerbaijan to fight for justice. As of today, Armenia now takes over twenty percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory(being that internally those occupied territories illegally declare themselves their own, independent territories). It’s clear to see that Armenians are taking over multiple regions of Azerbaijan, they obviously have a strong hold and this issue is not resolving itself. It must be addressed for a more promising future for both peoples.


Armenian Policy Hinders Growth

Since last weeks blog post where I went into the whole background about the Azerbaijani territory being occupied by Armenians, I hope you all have an understanding of what’s been crippling this nation for decades now. This weeks article examines how this relationship between the two affect Azerbaijan. Sara Rajabova examines how Armenian policy hinders Azerbaijan from further development and growth as a nation in the globe. A comment from Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry representative, Elman Abdullayev shared with a news agency how the socio-economic climate in Armenia is aggravating, “This fact is a major reason why Armenian citizens are migrating to other countries”(pp. 3). With high rates of inflation and a large amount of the population migrating from the country, it poses a threat to Armenians state. Inflation analytics found that the first half of 2013 had higher inflation than there was in average wages. Armenian inflation was a 4.1 percent increase, and the average monthly salary was an only 2.1 percent raise. With prices rising at a higher speed than the wages increasing, this has resulted with the standard of living in the country failing and the people becoming poorer.

Additionally, because Armenia continues to keep its hostile policy against Azerbaijan and other neighboring territories, they are confining and isolating themselves and adding on to the detrimental climate they are in. 5 percent of Armenian population have left their country in the past 3 years and has been a growing trend since 2008 with up to 200,000 migrated. If this issue continues, Armenia may not have a strong labor force in the end. Azerbaijan has been persistent in urging Armenia to work some compromise out but it seems economic and regional prosperity is not their goals, just militarism. With the people and nation not in mind, the future Armenia and it’s people will have a demographic crisis and experience socio-economic stagnation.With Armenia ceasing to cooperate, Azerbaijan’s lost territory gives them trouble in constructing routes and utilizing that land for growth and reaching a higher global prosperity.


The Nargorno-Karabakh Conflict

This weeks article addresses a major issue going on for the country of Azerbaijan. After World War I, Russia established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region inside the Republic of Azerbaijan in the 1920’s This region was an ethnic Armenian majority but situated in Azerbaijan territory. In the 1980’s, as the Soviet started losing control, an Azeri and Armenian fued escalated into violence. There is an estimate of 20,00-30,00 deaths for the fight for Armenians to gain control of the region. With the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, the conflict escalated into a war with Karabakh declaring themselves an independent republic, although the de facto isn’t recognized elsewhere. During this time, Armenians fled Azerbaijan, and Azeris fled Karabakh, till this day neither of the two have been able to safely return home.  

As a result of all this fighting, Azeris still hold strong resent from the loss of their land and the Armenians stand strong and keep their ground. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group are brought together in order to find a solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. With ambassadors from France, the US and Russia, they’ve been making much efforts to bring this issue to a resolution. There have been several meetings between the Armenian and Azeri presidents, there have been instances of peaceful protest also and a new constitution for the region since 2006, although Azerbaijan does not acknowledge it legitimate. In 2009, there were high hopes of resolution but then there were numerous cease fire violations that took the conflict steps back.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a very important part of Azerbaijan. It was a very unfortunate war and still is a very unfortunate and disappointing conflict between the two ethnicities but it does provide great insight into Azerbaijan as a country.

The Fight Against Corruption

Internal corruption in Azerbaijan has been an apparent theme throughout much of the articles brought forward on my blog. Todays article, shows us that participater Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan Republic, has taken large steps towards the fight against corruption in his nation. “Global Corruption Barometer 2013” is a report published by Transparency International that addresses global corruption and statistics. Azerbaijan in this report, showed significant progress in this issue. Two statistics showed this, the first, showed that “68% of respondents in Azerbaijan consider the measures taken to combat corruption in the country to be effective” (pp. 3). In comparison to other countries, this percentage was three times higher than the average 22% of other countries. The second analysis that demonstrates Azerbaijan’s progress is that “73% of respondents believe that the level of corruption in the country has not grown” (pp. 4). This is in comparison to the over 50% of respondents around the world that believe that corruption levels have doubled since the last analysis a year ago. This study is a public opinion poll that was taken among people from 107 countries. Objectivity is insured and is promised this is a realistic picture of global state affairs.

The author of this article transitions into what has led the nation into this progress. One important reason being the presidents political will and actions he has taken towards this issue. “Of course, we expect such a successful outcome because they are a real consequence of an integrated and coherent policy on a fight against corruption undertaken by the will and direction of the President of Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev” (pp.4). E-services and e-government have had large roles in the elimination of corruption. The president created ASAN services which enables citizens public services effectively and efficiently. Request are made through this engine and 98% of request are addressed. This service has shown a positive and helpful experience for the people.

British-Azerbaijani Relations Conference

This article is great at exemplifying Azerbaijan’s climb to the top in the globe. London recently held a conference on British-Azerbaijani relations. Dr. Novrus Mammadov, Head of Foreign Relations, started the conference illuminating Azerbaijan’s economic development in the world. “Today, Azerbaijan is a secular, prosperous and hydrocarbons rich country with the high intellectual potential. But, thBe most important among of all is the location of Azerbaijan which is a secular Islamic country situated at the crossroads of East and West, North and South, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Global ongoing processes already demonstrate that Azerbaijan as a country will further increase its importance in the decades to come” (pp.6) a statement from Mammadov. He mentions their GDP growth having tripled, the decline in poverty from 49% to 6%, and unemployment being at a low 5.2%. Mammadov pressure for a cooperation between the two countries, between international security, investors, contracts, trade and education for a prosperous future. He emphasizes that choosing a pathway of integrating and co-operation between the two as very important and strategic. With all this boasting and exemplifying of Azerbaijan accomplishments and ladder climbing it has made over the years, the Head of Foreign Relations does mention that Azerbaijan does still yet have some minor issues, as does every other nation. Even so, they receive criticism and use it to overcome challenges. He concludes with cooperation between the two countries, they would be strong and overcome many threats and hurdles.

This article shows how Azerbaijan is at work building their country, they’re reaching out to countries across the globe, forming allies and building strength. This common theme of finding articles about Azerbaijan’s growth really makes me question how the US perceives Azerbaijan. Yes they are a small country but is it possible for them to be a large threat to us?

The Emergence of Azerbaijan

Larry Greenfield of Huffington Post publishes a story that brings some light to Azerbaijan aside of most stories speaking of corruption and failure for its future. With the war going on between the United States and Afghanistan, allies are very important in these situations. A long standing strategy for America is of course to lower the anti-American environment and of increase likings and build relationships as much cross the globe. Azerbaijan, once again, is brought to light on it’s prime location and environment. Yes, Azerbiajan is definitely growing and rising. Yes, it’s building stronger political, diplomatic and business ties with their upper-hand. They’ve been a country that once was a former Soviet Republic for almost a century. After the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Azerbaijan was one of the first to declare independence form the Soviet Union. They reestablished themselves and built a government including all types of religions. Now, this author declares that Azerbaijan can be seen supporting and encouraging gender equality, modern education, technological and scientific research and advancements. Also, promoting diversity in their culture and art. Since it’s growing and emergence, Azerbaijan has been stepping forward to building close ties with world leaders in business and science. Through its visible progress, Greenfield concludes that this county has been a great model for other countries across the globe. He encourages America to reach out to Azerbaijan and make note of the positive model the country has been. After all of Azerbaijan’s hardships it overcame, it has conquered and emerged into a strong country in todays global politics and economy.

Uproar in Azerbaijan

Shalhla Sultanova gives great insight into how the culture and economy in Azerbaijan work. A book that was published mid-December 2012, has just recently been becoming more and more popular. Unfortunately, not the positive popular, in fact, this is becoming a very dangerous situation for the author, Ekrem Eylisli. Eylisli, a former lawmaker, published a novel which “portrays ethnic Armenians sympathetically” and “ has provoked an uproar in Azerbaijan” (para.1). From many other news articles and readings I have come across from Azerbaijan, I’ve learned that the Azeris and the Armenians do not get along, at all. Ever since a war two decades ago with Armenia, there has been discrimination and violence towards the Armenians settled in Azerbaijan. Eylisli, stated that he was aware of the possibility for uproar over his novel, but found it to be an issue needing to be addressed and brought to light. Eylisli states, “hostility is growing between the two nations. I want to contribute to a peaceful solution” (para. 7). Since the mainstream media has put this novel on blast, many have spoken up about this “issue”. The Parliament discussed this novel and the author and recommended that Eylisli be removed from the country to Armenia and stripped of his citizenship. Authors note that, Eylisli is a great writer, but timing was just not right being that Azeri still feel pain from the fight. Another author stated that it’s “nonsense to promote peace with Armenians” (Para. 13). Through this article I could see how first, the hostility between the two nations still remain, even though the war ended two decades ago. It’s obvious to see that this country is not as progressive as others and stay strong to their traditional beliefs and values. Also, after hearing that the Parliament was even voting to have this guy stripped of his citizenship showed me that there is no freedom for these people. This author wrote a book bringing light to Azeris helping out Armenians, and as a result there are crowds of people at his front door burning his books and portraits and the government wants to remove him from the country. It’s a very unfortunate reaction to this seemingly progressive and optimistic book, I wonder how long will it take for Azerbaijan to start wanting change and more freedom. I wonder if the people are happy with the current state of the country and if the younger, educated people see things the same as their elders.

How to spend it

The Economist shares an article that has wide insight into Azerbaijan’s current situation. Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, can be visited and seen evident how the oil industry has become prominent in the area. The smell of it is in the air and the environment has evolved since the oil windfall began operating back in 2006. The not so popular Soviet city has since then advanced into a flashy city, or should I say, developed? Ever since this cities exploitation of its natural resource, the money gained has invoked an even more autocratic and corrupt political system. Even so, poverty has declined till this day, Azeris have benefited from the rise in incomes, and the wave of revolutions from occupying Arab people have decline. There is an obvious progression for the economy, but the political system has become more… toothless. With this oil revenue and leverage, Azerbaijan has become an intimidating country. For the United States, Azerbaijan’s geography is crucial, it provides a critical transit route to Afghanistan for vital cargo and imports. Europe ultimately needs them for their potential to be a source of gas if need be rather from their usual Russian source. With these advantages and intimidations, it allows Azerbaijan to keep the regime in place, resistant to change. This corruption in the system gives the elite and political beings a means of personal enrichment, and ultimately acts as a powerful tool for political control. “The government could easily turn bribery into taxes” (Economist). Everyone is complicit, no matter rank. The issue with this oil revenues and the corruption is that the government is completely complacent about the future of the country and are thinking short term prosperity. Rather than taking oil revenues and investing in other vital projects that would advance and develop a sustainable country, the elites are becoming more elite while the less fortunate get left behind. These less fortunate will only build resentment and distress towards their government which will then lead to an even larger issue of revolutions and riots. Obviously Azerbaijan has to do some rethinking on the structure of their government or else their future may not be as bright as it could potentially be.

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