Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The presidential election in Azerbaijan will be held against the backdrop of great experience in voting. This is a very important political event. People in society should be remembered with their active involvement in the election because the election is a kind of culture. We have always witnessed significant activity of the Azerbaijani people in elections who go to the polling stations and cast their votes.
Eight candidates will compete at the presidential election in Azerbaijan to be held April 11 and supervised by the country’s Central Election Commission. The eight candidates are: Ilham Aliyev, nominated from the New Azerbaijan Party; Gudrat Hasanguliyev, from the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party; Araz Alizade, from the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan; Faraj Guliyev, from the National Revival Movement Party; Razi Nurullayev, from the Frontists Initiative Group; Hafiz Hajiyev, from the Modern Musavat Party; self-nominee Zahid Oruj; and Sardar Mammadov, from the Azerbaijan Democratic Party.
I do not doubt that Azerbaijanis this time will also be active in the presidential election.
Today the Azerbaijani public understands that the forthcoming election will be held on the basis of improved legislation and broader election experience, and the Central Election Commission has gained significant experience.
Web cameras have been installed in 20% of the Azerbaijan’s polling stations, some 1,000 locations, in preparation for the election throughout all parts of the country. Any Internet user can watch the voting process live on the official website of the CEC on Election Day. The 545 international observers have been registered by the CEC of Azerbaijan to monitor the April 11 balloting.
Azerbaijan is the most powerful country in the South Caucasus region. Today it is a reality that no country in Eurasia has closer or warmer ties with Israel than Azerbaijan.
Over the 26-year history of diplomatic relations between the two states, the necessity and viability of a strategic relationship between the Jewish state and the state with the Muslim majority has been proven. Our friendly states indeed act as true and reliable strategic partners. Azerbaijanis and Jews, in fact, cannot not only coexist, but also be real friends who develop and strengthen their relations.
Unlike many cultures, Azerbaijanis have never viewed Jews as foreigners or aliens.
Israelis with roots in Azerbaijan are doing a great deal to foster the economic and even geopolitical cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel. The Jewish people has never experienced any discrimination, harassment, insults, pogroms or any antisemitic actions in Azerbaijan. Every Jew who has ever visited Azerbaijan can confirm that the Jews living here can in all freedom visit a synagogue without going through a police cordon and walk around the city in distinctive clothing without fear of harassment, while doing so today in developed countries of the West can be dangerous.
AS AN Israeli citizen, I can proudly say that the leadership of Azerbaijan shows a great degree of respect and attention to its Jewish community, which is an integral part of the contemporary Azerbaijani society. Under the patronage of President Ilham Aliyev, two synagogues and the largest Jewish educational center in the South Caucasus have been built.
An independent policy based on national interests is the cornerstone of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. Aliyev’s foreign policy strategy is based on an accurate understanding of diplomacy and a balanced approach. An independent foreign policy primarily rests on the aspiration to forge equal relations with all countries. Azerbaijan does not tolerate the language of pressure. Cooperation with foreign partners is based solely on reciprocity.
Because of the balanced multi-vector diplomacy of Aliyev, Azerbaijan today has its own take on the international political arena and is considered to be of the greatest importance in geography, economics and defense in the Caucasus region. It is indisputable fact that Aliyev’s foreign policy is very clear and predictable.
Today, Azerbaijan is a steadfast partner in the arena of energy security area and plays a significant role in ensuring the energy security of European countries. A significant portion of the oil consumed by Israel (an estimated 65%) is imported from Azerbaijan or by way of Azerbaijan through the Baku-Tbilsi- Ceyhan oil export pipeline.
Azerbaijan also serves as the linchpin for energy diversity for European and Western markets. Azerbaijan is not only the major energy and transport hub in the region, but a major producer of oil and natural gas, presenting Europe with a non-Russian, non- OPEC and non-Iranian energy alternative.
Azerbaijani pipelines, like the Baku-Tbilsi- Ceyhan oil pipeline (the largest in the world after America’s Alaskan pipeline) pumps oil from the Caspian Sea through Georgia to the Mediterranean Sea, terminating in the Turkish port city of Ceyhan.
With oil prices staying relatively low, Azerbaijan’s economy is being transformed into a value-creating economy. Large-scale reforms aim to diversify this economy, lessen the country’s dependence on oil and gas revenues and further improve non-oil sectors and the country’s export capacity for those sectors.
Unfortunately, there are organizations, and countries that ignore the fact that Azerbaijan has chosen the path of development, and joined the progressive and peacekeeping missions.
Armenia is one of the few countries that is not interested in the development of peace and stability in the South Caucasus and around the world. Because of its isolation in the South Caucasus region, and because of its occupation of Azerbaijani lands, Armenia was left out of major geopolitical and economic projects relating to gas and oil resources from the Caspian Sea, and has now lost the chance to join a major regional transportation project. Moreover, ignoring all international norms, Armenia’s regime continues to keep historical lands of Azerbaijan under occupation. Armenia is being left out of all Azerbaijan-initiated regional and international projects. The world’s progressive circles should closely follow this fact and take appropriate measures in this regard.
I believe that the April 11 election in Azerbaijan will begin a new era in the history of the state, bringing with it new reforms and greater achievements. Azerbaijan is currently experiencing an important stage of development, and its presidential election will be held on highest level of confidence and transparency. The country is doing its utmost to avoid any defects in the implementation of its laws. Free and independent elections are an important of that in a democratic society and the constitution of Azerbaijan provides all citizens the democratic right to vote.
The writer is a political analyst.