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Center for National and International Studies
Post-conflict situation. The dissatisfaction with Russian peacekeepers is steadily growing among FB community. Most recently it is related to the free passage of the Armenian and Iranian trucks to the Azerbaijani territory without permission of authorities. The reaction varies from the calls to close Lachin corridor until the Nakhichevan– Zangezur corridor is opened to making Russian peacekeepers withdraw from the country. The ex-advisor to the late president Heydar Aliyev, Eldar Namazov in his interview to the APA press agency argued, that when it became clear that after many years of peace talks Armenia does not want to liberate the occupied territories, and even want to capture new ones, Azerbaijan has used its right to defend itself as stipulated by the UN Charter and liberated its lands. However, Azerbaijan out of humanitarian considerations did not conduct military operations on the territories where the Armenians lived in Karabagh. Currently Azerbaijan is involved in post-conflict reconstruction: building roads, airports etc. He commented that Armenia “ softly speaking” did not fulfil all the provisions of the trilateral agreement- such as mutual recognition of the state borders, demarcation and delimitation, and the Nakhichevan corridor, so it forces Azerbaijan to make some steps connected to it. There are also states, which lost their geopolitical influence in the region- first of all Minsk group co-chairmen – US and France. These countries according to him feel their defeat and may create obstacles and even provocations on the way of peaceful solution, and that’s why Azerbaijan tries to undertake some measures in this direction. He considers that Armenia was created on the old Azerbaijani lands as geopolitical project to use it as an instrument of pressure on Azerbaijan and Turkey, and that’s why, he comments, contemporary Armenia is not a state, but a geopolitical project. This fact, he argues, explains why Armenia does not respect state borders, including her own, and she is not ready to recognize Azerbaijani’s sovereignty and state borders. The latter, he asserts, is equal to the waging war. He expresses scepticism about Armenia’s ability to control the Nakhichevan corridor, as she suggests, as since 1992 the country’s state borders were controlled by Russia. He considers this unrealistic and inadequate foreign policy is caused by the fact that Armenians did not have their state for 2 thousand years. Although they are proud of the oldest history of statehood, but it was some time BC and then it was soon lost, and now they have an artificial state on Azerbaijani lands. This all causes the tension on the state borders, he comments. The Osmangizi TV discusses the “Putin’s army” -Wagner mercenaries ‘s activities in Mali and Karabagh, as well as CSTO as the alliance opposing NATO. He supports the closure of the road Gorus-Kafan in response to the unsanctioned passing of the trucks from Iran to Karabagh. He considers that Azerbaijan has used all the methods to regulated this problem – issued warning, and a protest note to Iranian authorities, but when did not see the effect, has shut down the road. He characterized the Russian peacekeepers activities as very negative and considered that the government should take serious steps to prevent provocative actions of Russia. He confirmed that such steps are possible by strengthening the Azerbaijan -Turkish alliance which became the main power center in the region. He said, that there is no need now to sign a document about the status of the peacekeeping forces, as there was a trilateral agreement, and in addition, Azerbaijan has serious claims to their work.The FB community shares news that Turkish president Erdogan at the press-conference dedicated to the Azerbaijan-Armenian relations reported that Pashinian suggested him a meeting and a dialogue via the Georgian prime-minister. He replied that such a dialogue is possible if Pashinian makes some steps in this direction, and expressing hope that such dialogue will remove obstacles in Azerbaijan-Armenian relations.
The diplomat Isfandiyar Vahabzade argued on Osmangizi TV that unless people and the government do not learn to say “ get out of my country!” things will not improve. The FB users share information that at the Turkey’s elections CHP again came as winner in one of the 4 largest cities in Turkey– Izmir.
Russia and CIS. The activists discuss the military ships Astarkhan and Anatly Gujvin sent by Kremlin to the Caspian shores of Azerbaijan. Fuad Gahramanli calls it – despite presenting it as a friendly gesture- “the open military blackmail”. He reminds that it happened right after the Azerbaijan-Turkish maritime exercises. Moscow is very sensitive in regards Turkey’s strengthening role in the region, as of a member of NATO. Russia is also afraid of growing Turkeys influence in Central Asia. However, Azerbaijan military orchestra greeted the Russian military ships playing Turkish military march Mehtar, which was a message of Azerbaijan to Russia of its growing cooperation with Turkey. He considers that compromising to Russia results in its more aggressive policy, so Azerbaijan should sign an agreement with Turkey on military aid in reaction to misbehavior of Russian peacekeepers. The only way, concludes Gahramanli, to prevent growing aggressiveness of Russia is to change the military balance in the region by creation a defense alliance with Turkey. Ali Karimli of PFP argues that Russia has returned to her plans to overthrow Pashinian and bring Kocharian to power. He considers that the most recent anti-Azerbaijani statements of Russian officials are aimed also at strengthening position of pro-Russian forces in Armenia. One should not forget that Kocharian secured with the help of Russia 29 seats in the parliament. However, Pashinian made some steps to neutralize it- the court did not allow Kocharian to fly to Moscow for meetings by the invitation of Putin. Gahramanli considers that the intention of Russia to bring Kocharian to power in Armenia is a bad news for Azerbaijan- in fact it is a declaration of a new war, and not only because Kocharian is to blame for the massacres and bloodshed in Azerbaijan, but also because he promised to “ return” Shusha and Hadrut. He argues that Azerbaijan in response to that should strengthen alliance with Turkey.
The FB community discusses the course and results of the Russia election in Duma ( the parliament) and share the materials showing election falsifications. The Osmangizi TV expert Beydulla Manafov argues that election proved that Putin is afraid of being ousted, and that leadership both won and lost at the same time. The same TV analyses what is the person who is on the Interpol search list, Kosobokov, is doing in Azerbaijan? The Azerbaijan Defense Ministry representative Anar Eyvazov reported that Russia made another provocation against Azerbaijan, spreading fake news. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that as a result of Azerbaijan firing from Shusha, two armed Armenians in Karabagh were killed.
Reaction to AUKUS. The FB community discusses new military-political alliance of Australia, UK and the US. The most negative reaction to it was from Farnce, who lost its maritime ( submarines and military ship) purchase agreement for 60 b. dollars with Australia, who in turn announced a purchase agreement with the US and UK instead. France has called off its ambassadors to both states. The FB users recall that France has left NATO during Charles de Gaulle due “to hegemony of the US”. Natig Jafarli of REAL considers that creation of AUKUS is a big present to the far right forces for the next year elections in France. Jafarli considers that the West has given away the FSU ( except for Baltic republics) under control of Russia. He considers that upcoming Turkic Summit an important platform in this context, which should promote further integration of the Turkic states in the security and economic areas.
Social issues. The FB users continue to discuss the increase of gasoline prices. The Azad Soz platform reports that the refinery in Romania, which belongs to the president Aliyev’s family is selling Azerbaijani people gasoline by inflated price as “ the foreign, imported one”. The leader of Popular Front Party Ali Karimli asserts that Azerbaijan is in the eve of the new social-economic calamity. Azad Soz ( Free Word) platform made a poll among Baku citizens, mainly taxi drivers in regards the gasoline price rise, who described the situation as “ very bad” and that they expect the prices would grow without limits, as “anything is possible in this country”.
Human rights and liberties. Human rights defenders are unhappy with the sentences read to the so called 5th group of the accused in the Ganja case. The Supreme Court only insignificantly ( from 10 to 6 months) reduced the sentences of a few years to Bakram Aliyev, Habib Gurbanov, Mirza Huseynov and Asif Javadov. The human rights defenders are convinced that all of them should be released and assured their continued activities in the direction of restoration of justice. Natig Jafarli of REAL reported that his FB status about integrating Armenians of Karabagh into Azerbaijan was taken out of context and was re-posted by the pro-government site, that collected a lot of insulting comments. Ilgar Mammadov of the same party notes the second case in the history of Europe when the 46.4 article of the European convention on Human Rights can be applied to the country, with possibillty of its expulsion from the Council of Europe. First time, it was in 2017 for non-implementation of the ECHR decision about acquittal of himself, while currently – for Turkey’s treatment of the businessman Osman Kavala. If until 30 th November he is not released- Council of Europe will send Turkey official notification. Although Turkey aquitted him , it re-arrested him immediately on the other accusation. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev observes that the Ministry of Interior reacts to the comments and complaints by the citizens under his critical posts about the Ministry and tries to resolve the problems. Meydan TV reports the leader of the AG party Tural Abbasly based on decision of European Court for Human Rights being paid 4,500 EUR by the Azerbaijani government as compensation for his arrest in 2013. The human rights defender Rufat Safarov lists tortures, which were given to the dozens suspects in the Ter-ter case. He mentions, that parents of the killed during the tortures Elchin Mirzaliyev confirmed there was not a single tooth left in his mouth. Tofig Yagublu of Musavat reported that reflected earlier on most of the media sites information that the colonel-lieutenant of the State Security Service Javanshir Gadirov hired a contract killer to murder 62 year old Saraykhanum Abdulalyeva was later deleted from all sites. The Fb community also shares an information about continuation of the court hearings on the case of Niyameddin Ahmadov – the bodyguard ( on the volunteer basis) of Ali Karimli, leader of PFP, where the court investigation has already concluded. The speech of the prosecutor and legal defender is expected on the 22th of September. They also share the photo and video of the ex-prosecutor and the Ambassador Eldar Hasanov taken out of the court hall lying in the ambulance stretchers due to the heart failure during the court hearing on his case. The FB community decried and was horrified by the murder and burning of the 27 year old transgender woman Nuray and connects it to the homophobic calls of the pro-government blogger Sevinj Huseynova.
Democracy and power-opposition relations. The FB community is extremely concerned with appearing posts reflecting Talysh separatism. Many public leaders commented on or reacted to these posts. They warn society against the provocations which might lead to stirring the new center of ethnic confrontation. Ilham Huseyn, for instance, expresses his worry in regards ethnic division. He comments: “ if there is a pressure on someone because he/she is a Talysh, then I am Talysh., if against someone because he/ she is Lezgi– then I am Lezgi.” If we breath the same air, care about the same things, fight together at the front, carry each other on the shoulders to the last journey- they we are brothers. This banner, this homeland, this state is all our common. That’s why we would not allow those who deliberately stir ethnic confrontation and should not compromise in relations to those forces.” Shamshad Aga , the journalist from the South of Azerbaijan, but based in Baku, comments in details on the document published on FB. He considers that there is no ethnic segregation in the society in Azerbaijan and has never been, so the core of the problem is not in the relations between people and ethnic groups, but in the nature of governance. He argues, that the cultural, legal rights and liberties for all ethnic groups should be provided, and there is a legal base for that in Azerbaijan Constitution, but all steps which might be damaging for the state sovereignty should be prevented. He considers that educational rights are not provided for the cultural minorities, as the hours of school education in Talysh language for instance are reduced. The person’s name “Talysh” is officially prohibited, which is not a correct approach. The statistics also does not reflect a true number of Talysh minority in the country. But he supports listing in census citizens as Azerbaijanis regardless of their ethnic background, considering that the legal rights of every citizen is equally violated because the rule of law has not been provided in the country. The youth leader Ilkin Rustamzade argues that the authorities hit anyone, who has principled position- either by slander, or cyberattack etc. Natig Jafarli comments on Ilham Aliyev ‘s earlier speech during the appointment of the heads of executive power in the regions about necessity of the public control over the government activities, by stressing that the best public control is free and fair elections. It was reported than in 8 months of this year the German government rejected 353 applications of asylum seekers from Azerbaijan. The activists depending on their position vis-à-vis the government, or perspective, assess differently a new wave of deportation of the Azerbaijani asylum seekers from Germany. Ilgar Mammadov of REAL considers it an indication of the “ improved political environment in the country due to the power-opposition dialogue”. Altay Geyushov calls deportation of such a high number of Azerbaijani asylum seekers a tragedy, as people have left the country escaping the absence of opportunities and conditions for survival. He concludes that the lesson learnt is that people should try to build normal system in Azerbaijan itself rather than escape abroad. Tofig Yagublu argues that in foreign countries if some politician wants to discredit his/her rival- shows his/her connection with the president Aliyev and thus almost wins the competition. The academic Altay Geyushov bitterly ridicules the loyalty of the personalities of culture, who receive miniscule financial benefit for the title “people’s artist”, “people’s writer” etc. – 150 manats, while for the grade- lower – an honorary title is 100 manat per month. He ironically comments that for the title of refugee in Germany you get the 400 EUR monthly benefits.
Governance, economy, corruption. The activists disclose the corruption schemes in the country. One of the main ways is via state tenders on construction, which are usually won by the companies owned by the ruling family with the inflated amounts , resulting in misappropriation of billions. The activists announced that starting from the 20th September the TV channels of Germany, France, Switzerland will broadcast the detailed film about Aliyev’s “caviar diplomacy”. They also report that Faig Farmanov, the head of the Service of Electronic Security of the Ministry of Transport, Communication and High Technologies, which was blocking opposition’s sites, was replaced by the new one – Shahin Aliyev. The activist community continues to decry the increase of the gasoline price. Fuad Gahramanli argues that despite being in power for 28 years, governing the oil rich country, with two refineries inherited from the Soviet time and still not being able to start production of the AI-95 benzine is an indication of hypocrisy and hopelessness, as the countries without oil –Turkey, Germany, Japan– have built refineries. The activists and experts discuss the decision of the World Bank to stop issuing Doing Business annual reports, which it has been doing for 17 years, due to the fake data on 4 states- Azerbaijan, China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. Jami Hasanli asks the question how come Azerbaijan got rating 28 of 190 states – despite it does not have an economy, reforms, or business environment and has only corruption? He answers – at the expanse of the very same corruption and bribing the representatives of this organization. The investigative journalist Mehman Huseynov reports enormous corruption in the “ book” business under the patronage of ex-head of presidential administration and current president of National Academy of Sciences Ramiz Mehdiyev. He transferred the budget money “for the publication of the scientific books” to the publishing firm which belongs to his son Teymur Mehdiyev ( and who is the deputy of the Minister of Emergencies). His daughter in law Nigar Mehdiyeva, who is a docto- oncologist, is the owner of the bank BTB. Natig Jafarli of REAL disproved by specific statistics the claims of SOCAR that the country does not import AI-95 benzine from Russia, demonstrating the opposite – that the major flow of this gasoline is imported from Russia. In agriculture, Afghan Mukhtarli reports, the government stopped giving the fertilizers to the farmers due to the new requirement of presenting documents on the land ownership, so thousands of farmers were left without the state support. The journalists observe a trend contradicting the assurances of the president of fight with corruption, as yet another head of executive power accused of corruption was released from prison. The FB users share the information about court hearings of the ex-head of the executive power of Imishli region William Hajiyev, who did not plead guilty. The accused considered that the president was given false information about the discovery of the plastic cards in his office and rejected claims of corruption. The Azadlyq newspaper publishes the letter of a businessman Nazim Beydamirli, who describes in details how he invested hundreds of thousands manat in private clinic and how the authorities have been ripping off and creating obstacles in his activities – this included persecution on the trumped up charges of tax evasion, extorting bribes, artificially raising his “ debts”, pressuring and intimidating him. The pro-government and ruling party MPs celebrate the anniversary of the signed on 20th September 1994 by Heydar Aliyev “ The Contract of the Century”- which according to Siyavush Novruz, laid the foundation for the increasing of the national power, national-economic progress and multilateral relations of the country; opened new perspectives of turning the “black gold” into an intellectual capital of the country. The opposition (Tofig Yagublu) argues in contrary that all these years the income from the enormous oil riches went into the pockets of the president’s family and his cronies and now the oil reserves and production is declining. “While we do not have an opportunity to return the oil resource, we can still return significant part of oil income to people- for that we should – using the expression of the president himself – curse on the grave of the government”. Fuad Gahramanli speculates on the issue of why the government is not “getting full” with corruption and does not stop. He suggests his followers to choose of 5 reasons: they are greedy and thieves, they really need big money, they have psychological problems with money, in the absence of any ideology or moral values they prove their loyalty via corruption, they want to leave a big inheritance to their future generations, who would in fact be ashamed of them.