ArmInfo. The head of the Department of Conflict and Migration of the Institute of Peace and Democracy (Netherlands), political scientist Arif Yunusov comments on recent domestic political changes in Azerbaijan. He indicates the connection between the strengthening of Mehriban Aliyeva’s factor, with the strengthening of the pro-Russian vector in the foreign policy of Azerbaijan, as well as the possible consequences for the Karabakh settlement process.
One of the Russian media entitled Mehriban Aliyeva’s recent visit to Russia as follows: the queen of Transcaucasia paid a state visit to Moscow. ”It is noteworthy that the queen’s visit lasted 6 days, during which she met with the entire highest political leadership of the Russian Federation. Can this visit be considered as the first claim of the first vice president for the full power in Azerbaijan, and does this mean that “Pashayev” Azerbaijan will be pro-Russian, and not, for example, pro-Turkish?
Of course, this visit was not determined by the decision of Vladimir Putin to award Mehriban Aliyeva. This is a smoke screen. Certainly, during the visit all the details of the transit of power in Azerbaijan were discussed. It is even possible that we will be officially informed on the change of power on New Year's Eve, as was already the case with Putin in 2000. At the same time, this visit really clearly testifies to the impending change of foreign policy guidelines. The Pashayev family never hid their pro-Russian views and therefore Azerbaijan will begin to drift towards Russia. I believe that during the meeting with Putin, there was also a discussion about the possibility of Azerbaijan joining the EAEU, as well as the resolution of the Karabakh conflict based on the "Lavrov’s plan".
Is the visit of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to Baku on December 2-3 a response to the visit of the first lady - the first vice-president of Azerbaijan to Moscow? What, in your opinion, can Moscow and Baku agree on today, and to which red line can they agree on Karabakh?
Yes, Lavrov’s visit to Baku is a response to Mehriban Aliyeva’s visit to Moscow and the continuation of the issues discussed there, including the Karabakh issue. I think that now the details of Lavrov’s plan will be discussed, as a result of which the Armenians will have to return 5 districts to Azerbaijan in stages, and Russian troops will be deployed into the region under the guise of peacekeeping. And that's all. Baku will present the return of these areas as a huge victory, and the population will be convinced that after this the return of Karabakh to Azerbaijan will follow. And all this, of course, will be presented as Mehriban Aliyeva’s personal victory.
The ruling New Azerbaijan Party’s justification on the decision to hold early elections seems rather sparing and unconvincing. And what was Ilham Aliyev guided by when making such a decision, in your opinion?
Of course, the decision was not made by the ruling party, it was simply formally presented on behalf of the party. After all, there were not even serious discussions in the ruling party on this topic, many party members were even taken by surprise and did not really know what was happening, and therefore preferred to wait. On the other hand, the decision was not made spontaneously or by Ilham Aliyev alone, this is the result of the struggle with his father’s team, which has been ongoing almost from the very beginning of his tenure. At the same time, his wife’s ambitions constantly grew during the struggle. Especially when the second term of the presidency of Ilham Aliyev came to an end and the couple decided to play the Russian version with Putin and Medvedev. But they failed then. Gradually, however, Mehriban Aliyeva was able to take up in this fight with the old team of Heydar Aliyev. In the spring of this year, the first, albeit unofficial, information about serious health problems of Ilham Aliyev appeared. And in August there was a serious crisis in general and Ilham Aliyev disappeared from view for two weeks, then various rumors spread in the country, including rumors of his death. And most importantly, there was, and there is no guarantee, that there will be no new health crisis for Ilham Aliyev. To a certain extent, the situation with Heydar Aliyev was repeated, when he suffered a crisis in May 2003, then he was treated for a long time, but unsuccessful and then the authorities also had to urgently make a decision on the transit of power, or rather, maintaining power in the hands of the family. And now we have a similar situation. Yes, doctors managed to get Ilham Aliyev out of the crisis, he has recently even been speaking and going to certain events, but apparently his health condition is not so good, since the ruling family decided to speed up the development of the situation and not postpone the transit of power for next year.
Why does Aliyev need to transfer power to Mehriban Aliyeva? If this is castling, following the example of Putin-Medvedev-Putin, then it seems meaningless, since according to the Constitution, Aliyev can rule until his death. Is the dissolution of parliament a continuation of the logic of the recent series of resignations of senior government officials from Heydar Aliyev's environment? In your opinion, what role does Mehriban Aliyeva play in particular and the Pashayev clan in general in all these processes?
Yes, according to the Constitution, Ilham Aliyev can rule as much as he wants. But you can’t argue with health. On the other hand, it is not just castling, as it happened in Russia. In our case, we are talking about maintaining power in the hands of the family with the prospect of passing it on to his son, Heydar. In fact, it is about maintaining in power the de facto monarchist dynasty. Of course, Mehriban Aliyeva plays a rather serious role in all of this. She is very ambitious and longed for power. But the old team of Heydar Aliyev stood in the way, who did not perceive her as part of their team, because she was not a native of Nakhchevan and Armenia, i.e. was a stranger to the old team. And it was she who set the tone in the struggle with the old team, not Ilham Aliyev, it was she who largely determined the contours of this struggle, it was her family, the Pashayevs clan that as a result of this struggle received the property of the losers from the old team (Heydar Aliyev’s brother Jalal Aliyev and others). Today, it is the Pashayev family that is the richest in the country, it is the Pashayev family that controls the main levers of the economy, it is they who have the most funds in offshore zones. And today we see the fruits of this struggle by Mehriban Aliyeva and her clan. The main political figures confronting Pashayev family, and first of all, the head of the presidential administration, Ramiz Mehdiyev, are a thing of the past. And now there is a process of "cleansing" the political field in the country from those still remaining in various positions from the old team. Especially there are many of them in parliament, and that is why the question arose of dissolving the old parliament. She needs a parliament, which will not hinder her.
Commentary by MP Milli Majlis Aflatun Amashov, one of the few who decided to somehow comment on the dissolution, boiled down to the fact that New Azerbaijan decided to "adequately respond to the reforms implemented by Ilham Aliyev." What reforms did he mean, and what is the parliaments' role in them in general?
This is a favorite phrase of representatives of the Azerbaijani authorities. They perceive any resignations or appointments of officials as not just reforms, but almost a revolution, or, as they like to say recently, following the example of the Iranian Shah - the “white revolution". In fact, we just witness replacement of one team in power with another, some odious officials and people with others. Reforms, and even more the revolution, presuppose a change, and a cardinal one, of a way of life and much more. And in our case, none of this should be expected. Yes, instead of some officials, new ones will come, younger, not provincial and more educated, some with knowledge of English. But does this mean that reforms will begin in Azerbaijan? Of course, not. Everything will be the same as yesterday and the day before. Corruption will remain, robbery of the budget, and violations of human rights, etc.. All this will be just presented in a more elegant packaging.
The next parliamentary elections were scheduled in Azerbaijan only next year. Is Aliyev trying by dissolving the parliament and holding early elections, say until the new year, to deprive the opposition of time and, accordingly, of the opportunity to organize itself and come forward as a united front?
Yes, there is such a fear. But the fear is not so much about the traditional opposition, but about the activity of the former members of the ruling team. After all, they have not just lost or will lose these or those posts. It is also about the fact that they will lose their business and many other material things. The traditional opposition does not have the finances that those in power have. If the decision to dissolve the parliament is not made, it can not be excluded that Mehriban Aliyeva would have problems in the old parliament. In our recent history, there have already been cases when an outwardly loyal parliament, became the main danger to the authorities as soon as the situation changed. Therefore, they need to insure themselves that is why they needed to dissolve the old parliament and call elections to form a new one consisting of loyal people, including those from the traditional opposition. In Aliyev's Azerbaijan elections have always been held, and continue to be held under the strict control of the authorities. And in the end, only those whom the ruling family wants to see there will enter the parliament.