Elkhan Alasgarov: "Referendum was successful"
Today Azerbaijan is holding a referendum on amendments and additions to the Constitution of the republic. Vestnik Kavkaza discussed the necessity of updating the Constitution of the country and the impact of amendments on the life of Azerbaijan with a PhD, head of the expert council of Baku Network, Elkhan Alasgarov.
- Are these amendments popular among the population, and what does society think about this referendum?
- If we talk about the background, the preparation for this referendum was carried out in a generally calm environment. The opposition, as always, held protests, but they gathered several hundred people, which shows that overall the population is positive about this referendum. And this process was confirmed today. The active participation of the population is a manifestation of their attitude towards this referendum. Society has accepted it, and the referendum was successful. In other words, the mandate for holding this referendum was given, and it received a positive response from the population.
- Did you vote? Which of the amendments is the most important? Which will change the future of the country, will make it better?
- I, as a person who worked in government institutions for a long time, am obviously interested in the introduction of a vice-presidency. I think that this measure is aimed at strengthening the reformation of the state, the creation of structures and positions, which will increase the efficiency of the state system of Azerbaijan. For me, those are the most important points that I would like to mention.
- Regarding the change of age requirements, what do you think – will the rejuvenation of the parliament be able to help the more dynamic development of the country?
- Absolutely. The age requirement does not imply that every deputy will be 18-years-old. This is evidence of the rejuvenation process taking place in the state. It should play a positive role. You know that the Azerbaijani government has adopted a state program on the education of Azerbaijanis abroad, we have a huge number of educational programs, and I think that lowering the age requirements paves the way for a new generation, a new format of leaders, who will lead Azerbaijan in the future. I think it's a positive thing.
- What do you think about the informational coverage by the West? What, in your opinion, caused such criticism?
- The West is already accustomed to criticize us on any occasion. We are periodically confronted by Freedom House, during their press conferences they sometimes accuse Azerbaijan of all sins. You know, it somehow influenced public opinion in Azerbaijan in the early stages, but right now we are just tired of it. There is also the OSCE, there is a well-known case, when the OSCE Baku office was closed. This organization often made decisions on Azerbaijan so fast and in such a biased way that people already had doubts about the sincerity of these decisions. No one is sure whether they are actually made to help Azerbaijan, or just to resolve their short-term political interests. As for the referendum, I can tell you about the reaction of observers: in particular, I heard the observers from the Netherlands and other countries that it was held with the active participation of the population in an open and democratic atmosphere. The most important thing for us is what happens here. We have already got used to the fact that some assessments are critical.
- Will the results of this referendum and the amendments somehow affect Russian-Azerbaijani relations?
- Basically, the recent dynamic of Russian-Azerbaijani relations is very active. And there is a positive response to this in our and Russian societies. Of course, Azerbaijan is a peace-loving country, which wants to establish friendly relations with its northern neighbor. I think that a strong, reformed, mobile Azerbaijan is in the interests of Russia. It is beneficial for Russia to have a strong friendly country near, especially one which, according to the statements of political leaders of our countries, is a strategic partner.