2017: the Beginning of the Political and Economic Crisis in Azerbaijan

2017 has hard times in store for Azerbaijan.

Radio Azadliq asked the leaders of Azerbaijan’s opposition parties the following question: “In 2016, did Azerbaijan move forward or take a step back? And what can we expect in the new year?”

“Azerbaijan did not move forward, but took a number of steps back”, believes the chairman of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party, Ali Kerimli. According to him, 2016 was unlike any other previous year. The State missed out on opportunities, lost wealth and human resources.

“2016 was a year of a deepening crisis. There is no such socio – economic crisis in any other country as the one we observe now in Azerbaijan. Many have lost work, inflation has grown and prices have risen, unlike pensions and salaries. I will share one number – in comparison with the previous November, the economy shrunk by 47% in November of 2016. This speaks to the existence of a serious crisis in the country. I believe that this year was rather difficult. The authorities are unable to cope with the social – economic problems of the country and don’t even make much of an effort. Over the course of a year, they were busy not with reforms but with ‘imitations.’ Not one piece of legislation signed this year was aimed at fixing serious and recent problems. Instead, it was aimed at confusing citizens and distracting them. They have put a pillow under the head of the population so that they sleep and do not demand their rights. The authorities have one aim: that no matter what happens, that the citizens will not protest, that they will take everything thrown at them and that they will become accustomed to such conditions.

‘Unfortunately, in 2017, I can’t say we can expect anything good. All the negative processes will continue – the manat will continue to plummet, prices will rise, there will be large scale inflation, work places will go and it will become increasingly more difficult for the population to simply make ends meet. The tension in society will remain and the authorities, as they have done in previous years, will do nothing to see to the effective solution of the major problems. 2017 will be a very difficult year indeed.

“But it’s not only 2016 – it’s the entire period of the Aliyev regime that can not be characterized as a period during which Azerbaijan moved forward”, said the head of Musavat Party, Arif Hajili. “Despite large economic and political opportunities, there is no development in Azerbaijan. Education and healthcare are in a horrible condition, and with every year the number of political prisoners rises. There was no amnesty act signed in honor of Day of Solidarity of All Azerbaijanis.

In 2017, Azerbaijan is entering a deep crisis. For the first time, the budget of the country shrank three times. The economic crisis has reached such a level that economic conditions, including both small and medium businesses, have practically gone out of existence. The financial – credit system is in a wreck. The Azerbaijani authorities have chased the country into a very difficult condition.

2017 will be the epicenter of the political and economic crisis of the country. The discontent of society will rise, the number of protests too. The deepening of the economic crisis will result in more active political activity. In the next few months, waves of protests will rise”, said Hajili.

Salim Haqverdiyev

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