Isa Gambar: Ilham Aliyev Has No One to Trust

The February 21 decree appointing First Lady Mehriban Alieyeva to the post of First Vice President has been a major topic of discussion on social media and online news outlets in the past few days. It even caught the attention of foreign media.

Meydan TV asked head of the National Strategic Thinking Center Isa Gambar to clarify the events of the past few days:

– Did Azerbaijan enter a new historical epoch on February 21?

Yes, one of complete and utter disgrace. It is a disgrace not just for the reputation of the country, but for the head of state to create a fake position for his wife through a referendum…? Azerbaijan is a country which has a history of democratic traditions. We are proud and promote it everywhere that 100 years ago the first Muslim republic in the east was established in Azerbaijan. And now, every time we will tell someone this fact, they will tell us, “yes, and 100 years later, your head of state appointed his wife the first vice-president…” This will lead to an increase of tension inside the country and a worsening of Azerbaijan’s reputation on the international level.

– Can we expect any big changes in the country after this decree?

No, I don’t think so. Despite it being a very rude and disrespectful move towards the whole of society, essentially nothing will change. Maybe it will speed up the breakdown of the Aliyev dynasty, but one can’t say anything for sure.

– You touched upon the international reaction to the February 21 decree. Oddly enough, director of Turan News Agency Mehman Aliyev thinks that the West is willing to stand behind this process. How would you evaluate his opinion?

I can’t agree. We’ve seen these kinds of statements before. I remember many people were saying that the referendum was simply a preparation for future reforms, as if Ilham Aliyev had persuaded the West that a shoring up of his security would encourage him to initiate further reforms. I can’t agree with this opinion at all. Moreover, what does it mean for the ‘West’ to be ‘behind’ this process? The West is a rather wide understanding – different states, organizations, people, currents, etc. Maybe a few certain people agreed. Maybe a few big companies agreed. But it is not acceptable to present this event as a product of the consensus of the West.

– And finally, why did he choose his wife to be the first Vice – president? Was there no one else he could trust?

The short answer is: no, Ilham Aliyev has not a single person around him that he can trust.

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