Thursday, October 13, 2011
There remained very serious problems facing this new leadership on the domestic front.
Here is how we can summarize some of the problems waiting to be dealt with: keeping the country from separation, saving the country from divisive movements supported from abroad, bringing about national unity and bringing about a shared and official language, in addition to getting rid of the chasm dividing the people of the nation and the leadership, making the various organs of the state functional again, disarming groups that tried to wreak chaos in the country and at the same time ensuring that the state can take back control of arms it should have, bringing about and ensuring a calm and safe life for the people of the country, providing for economic development for the people living under very difficult economic conditions, developing the economic and military potential of the country, bringing about the necessary conditions for the people of the country to display their true strengths, and transitioning into a new system by bringing about the correct reforms.
As for actions needed at the time on the foreign policy front, we could summarize them as such: stopping the ongoing occupation by Armenia, distancing the country from the profile of actions dragging it into a dead end and bringing about a suitable international environment for state-building. Haydar Aliyev had behind him the power of the people to help in solving the country’s problems. It was the will of the people that saw the divisive movements in the nation defeated. But still, the country faced ongoing Armenian attacks and Azeri lands were being occupied one after the other.
An unending war or a cease-fire that leads toward development?
Under domestic and international influences, Azerbaijan chose the option of a cease-fire. The military operations that paralyzed state leadership, psychologically intimidated the people and destroyed financial systems and economic resources came to an end when the cease-fire was announced. In fact, the cease-fire allowed Azerbaijan the opportunity to solve a whole series of problems, while, on Sept. 20, 1994, the “100 year accord” was signed and put into force.
Thus, Azerbaijan invited countries squabbling over cheap raw materials, suitable sales markets, strategic positions and power gains to join it in cooperative ventures. Despite its relatively small land mass and population, Azerbaijan was able to bring together states much larger than itself, but these steps by Azerbaijan were met with serious resistance by forces hostile to it. In October 1994 and March 1995, there were attempts at revolution that were successfully put down by Aliyev’s indisputable political capabilities. And in fact, his successful quashing of these coup attempts also solved another important problem. This problem was that foreign nations and companies would not give any loans to Azerbaijan due to a lack of confidence in its political stability and lack of hope in its future. Beyond that, there weren’t enough funds in the state budget. But after the successful putting down of these coup attempts, foreign investors saw a more hopeful environment in Azerbaijan. And thus began the flow of investment into the country. Of course, the development of a new petrol strategy was important for the formation of a strong state and a better life for the Azeri people.
Foreign policy reconstructed
When Aliyev came to the helm, the foreign policy guiding Azerbaijan was in crisis. Diplomacy was not able, at that point, to carry out its foreign policy responsibilities to either the people or the state. The right international atmosphere had not been created for the country, but when Aliyev arrived, a balanced foreign policy approach became the basic strategy for Azerbaijan on the international arena.
And this new foreign policy approach also became a vehicle for the protection of the state’s national interests. Azerbaijan’s friendly neighbors, trade partners, strategic partners and strategic allies were carefully identified at this time. Steps were taken to see good neighborly relations formed with Iran and Russia, while strategic partnerships were formed with both Georgia and brother nation Turkey.
On the socio-cultural front, Azerbaijan has headed from chaos and anarchy towards natural stability in recent years. It has gone from being a state on the verge of collapse to being a strong state. Reforms have been carried out swiftly and serious steps have been taken to form a strong and modern state. Not only this, but national unity has been brought about and reforms aimed at putting the nation on the road to democratization have been put into action. The principles of a multiparty system have been strengthened. An atmosphere that encourages a variety of political parties has been upheld. Serious steps have been taken to support civil society and a state of law. And, from a political perspective, Azerbaijan has turned into a completely independent state.
On the economic front, traces of socialist agriculture have been eliminated. In fact, Azerbaijan has been transformed into a country that is no longer financially dependent on others. Serious reforms have also been made in the arena of the military. Armed organizations have been disarmed. A strong military capable of protecting the nation from outside threats, as well as regaining lands under occupation, has been put into place. Feelings of nationalism, statehood and patriotism have been strengthened amongst the people of the nation and the country has been prepared for modernization.
Under the leadership of Ilham Aliyev, who followed Haydar Aliyev, Azerbaijan really began to modernize. History shows us that any country may have much in the way of financial means and natural resources, but that only some countries are able to transform these national natural resources into wealth for their people.
When a country is not able to implement new technology and when it is unable to take advantage of people’s labor and efforts, the country falls behind other developed countries and is unable to compete. But when Ilham Aliyev came to power, despite the fact that Azeri lands were under occupation by Armenia and that there were nearly 1 million refugees and forced migrants at hand, the country began to experience very serious developments. This period could be called the period of the “Azeri miracle.” It was at this time that Azerbaijan was transformed from being a country that took out loans from other countries to one that gave out loans and a country that was sending capital beyond its borders.
Though Azerbaijan was overwhelmed by problems in fields such as energy, energy security was finally brought about in its first years of independence. It also began to play an important role in global energy matters. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline were vital for Azerbaijan not only on the economic front but also on the political and strategic fronts, bringing international security and backing to Azeri independence. In fact, these lines changed the entire geopolitical setting of Eurasia. At the same time, the TRASEKA project was implemented and the larger Silk Road activities began. The country also took huge steps in securing clean water for residents of the capital, as water mains was laid out in the whole country.
With the successful completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, Azerbaijan will also be transformed into a critical global transport nation.
Of course, there is no question that the developments mentioned above did not happen all on their own. Alright, so how did Azerbaijan arrive at the current level of development it enjoys? The first things that come to mind are its leaders and direction.
Problems rooted in development
Azerbaijan still has its own share of problems, but these are now problems rooted in the development taking place within it. Some sectors and arenas are not able to keep up with the country’s fast development. But as experience gathered over the past 20 years shows us, the only solution to these problems lies in reforms. Today, Azerbaijan’s greatest problem is the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh, which stem from the actions of the Armenians.
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