An entire four paragraphs of Article 8 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan describe the person, function and identity of the country’s President. Reading this paragraphs, one might come to the conclusion that the president is the entire existence of the nation; its raison d’être; its who, what, when, where and why.
The president is the embodiment of the unity of the nation, a guarantee of its statehood, and provides for the execution of international agreements and the independence of the judicial branch.
However, this dramatic and over – the – top description of the President of the country can of course not be justified nor fulfilled by one person, and thus, the Constitution provides for the appointment of ‘microscopic authorities’ to municipalities that are allegedly elected by the people and approved of by the president himself.
The President in Azerbaijan is both a team coach and a team captain.
It has been 25 years that this ‘team’ has been playing in the same format and in the same way. Let’s take a look at the results:
- Azerbaijan has been mentioned on numerous occasions as a violator of human rights and democratic principles on the international political scene
- There is no independent judiciary system that is trusted by the people
- Civilians are tortured in police offices and in prisons
- Bribes are the status quo in all things related to the State
- Karabakh is occupied
- The national currency is continuously weakening
- The population is indifferent to the fate of the country –– interest and trust in elections is declining steadily
- The country relies on raw material exports for income and no single, high – tech or competitive product has been produced in the last 25 years
- Science, education and healthcare are doubtlessly recession
- Baku’s population has doubled as a result of migration from the regions
- Regional development programs have unilaterally failed
The duties of the president are very challenging, almost impossible to be fulfilled by one man.
How is it possible to ensure the unity of people under these circumstances?
How can you convince a person who gets a salary of 150 – 200 manat per month or a pension of the same amount that the irresponsible child of a minister – who makes 1500 manat a month – has the right to drive a car which costs 1.5 million dollars, and that all this is in keeping with the Constitution of Azerbaijan?
If those who speak up against bribery and rampant theft are kept in prison on the basis of fabricated crimes; if unscrupulous judges hand down unfair and cruel decisions on orders from above, how can the president convince the people who have the courage to speak and talk their mind that unity with a bunch of thieves is the first condition for the strength and unity of the state?
A friend of mine used to live next to the Academy of Sciences metro station.
During one of our meetings, he once told me, “We live in a such a degenerative society”.
He went on to say that there is an irresponsible man who lives in his courtyard, an engineer by profession. He told me this man “would wake up at lunch time because of poverty” during Soviet times. Now he is executing Ziya Mammadov’s bridge projects, and has become overly rich and spoiled.
He had bought neighboring apartments, built huge balconies and threatened his neighbors who complained about the lack of sunlight.
My friend could not bear it any longer and stopped him in the yard one time, and told him that he thought he was a thief. That man kept silent, because everyone in the neighborhood knows my friend’s slap is enough to bring anyone to their knees.
The “engineer” bought an apartment in a new high rise and said “goodbye” to the house and yard built in the Soviet era.
After a while, the neighbors found out that this person bought a position as the head of executive power of Quba region. This position he bought on the wealth accumulated by building these same bridges.
He built a 2 million dollar castle in Quba, the most picturesque corner of Azerbaijan.
So, one day the news spread that the people of Quba organized a rebellion.
The house of the head of the executive authority of the region was destroyed.
His expensive car was burnt to the ground.
And what did the President do to protect his valuable team member? He sends interior troops to Quba. The protesters were arrested, a court process was held and they were convicted.
Can you say that Quba residents united with the thief officers after all this? Did the nation increase its respect and trust in state? This is one of hundreds, thousands of similar stories that I know of. Do you want to hear another story?
Another friend of mine bought a summer house in Ivanovka village of Ismayilli region.
The house was sold by a molokan family. I asked why the family sold the house. My friend told me that the village was emptying slowly but surely, because the molokans couldn’t stand the idea of living under the weight of heavy corruption on the part of the executive authority of the region.
The extremely small amount paid to them for their agricultural work in the region could not provide for them. So they sold their homes and moved to Russia.
The brother of the head of the executive authority of the region is a minister, which means that the family is firmly entrenched in the ruling political class.
The head of the executive authority of the region had pounced on the resources of the region like a tiger, grabbing and privatizing everything, everywhere.
I wondered to myself, “Will the events in Quba be repeated here?”
One day, news spread that people in Ismayilli rose up and burned down a hotel and expensive cars that belonged to the executive authority office.
What did the President do? The same: he sent interior troops into the region, arrested protesters and Ilgar Mammadov, well, Mammadov he accused of sabotage.
The head of the executive authority left his post without any penalty for crimes committed by him, however, most of the protesters are still in prison, including Ilgar Mammadov. If you have a look at any area and ministry or area of public service, you will see these irreplaceable players of the president’s team.
“AZAL” is in a bad situation and compensates its ineffectiveness from the pockets of its clients.
Agriculture? Rest in peace. It is not possible to give a pill to resurrect the dead to life. There is no real development behind fairy tales about cotton, tobacco, silkworms – this is sheer appropriation of budget money.
It is all about properties of officials and the inner circle of the president. They don’t get their income by efficiently serving the population, but by using their monopolist rights thanks to their control over state machine.
So does this Azerbaijan have a future?
The chance of the Republic of Azerbaijan building a happy and decent future under the current leadership is equal to the chance of Neftchi (football team) becoming a European champion.