Azerbaijan: 25 years of independence
25 years ago, on October 18th 1991, the Supreme Council of the Azerbaijan Republic adopted a Constitutional Act about the State Independence. For the first time it happened in 1918, when the first in the Muslim world democratic republic was created here. But in 1991, Azerbaijan was not the first (thirteenth) among Soviet republics, which declared about its independence. The experts, speaking with correspondents of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that over the past quarter-century Azerbaijan was able to achieve significant progress in virtually all areas - economic, political, social and cultural fields. To date, 85% of the GDP of the South Caucasus is Azerbaijan's GDP. Baku hosts many international events in the field of culture and sports. All the experts mentioned the Eurovision contest, the First European Games, the Baku International Humanitarian Forum and the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Speaking about the Russian-Azerbaijani relations, the observers noted the establishment of close contacts between leaders of the two countries. For example, Ilham Aliyev's role in the normalization of the Russian-Turkish relations; Vladimir Putin's role in the Karabakh conflict settlement, as well as the fact that Baku did not support sanctions against Russia. Among the current economic priorities is the joint work on the implementation of the North - South transport corridor, which was intensified after the Rouhani - Aliyev - Putin summit in Baku.
A political analyst, Candidate of Historical Sciences Oleg Kuznetsov, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, said that "if we compare Azerbaijan with other post-Soviet territories of the South Caucasus, it is worth noting that the bulk of the working population of Georgia and Armenia is outside the home countries. At the same time, only a third of the working population left Azerbaijan. This shows that Azerbaijan is a self-sufficient state. In this sense, Azerbaijan is positively different from other countries in the region."
According to Kuznetsov, "over the past quarter-century, Azerbaijan has turned from a Soviet republic into a full, independent and sovereign state, which was able to build its political, economic and social model, different from those existing in other countries of the former Soviet Union. Such motivating prerequisites as rich natural and human resources, moral and psychological qualities of the population have become a stimulus, which allowed Azerbaijan to be transformed from an ordinary Soviet republic into a developed state." Meanwhile, the expert believes that "like other extractive countries, Azerbaijan is experiencing significant economic difficulties associated with a global crisis, but it has no effect on its vitality. Regular hosting of major international events, which require significant investment, shows that the current political and economic model is viable and meets the challenges of the time."
A member of the Public Chamber, a political scientist, the director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, told Vestnik Kavkaza that "Azerbaijan has achieved outstanding success over 25 years of its independence. The most important thing is a sustainable growth in living standards and the economy. In addition, the oil and gas industry of the republic has been greatly developed, a system of oil and gas transportation to different countries, including European ones, was built. A stable and very strong political system, which allows to make right economic decisions, was established. A strong army, which is capable to implement tasks on the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the adjacent regions, was also formed, which was proved during the four-day war in April."
In addition, according to Markov, "over the past 25 years, Azerbaijan has created a well-developed, effective system of bilateral relations with other countries. At the same time we see that Azerbaijan's position on the international stage has improved, the tourist flow has increased dramatically. The republic holds a wealth of such activities as the Baku Humanitarian Forum, the World Congress of MGIMO graduates. The next year, Baku will hold the Islamic Games. In many respects it is a merit of Mehriban Aliyeva and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation."
A political scientist and MP of the Azerbaijani Majlis, Rasim Musabekov, told Vestnik Kavkaza that "independence is always a good thing, it is a rate of the nation's maturity, which is able to call itself a state. Despite the war imposed by Armenia, Azerbaijan was able to make a significant progress in its development over 25 years of its independent life. The majority of the union republics stepped back in demographic and economic terms. While Azerbaijan has gone far ahead. Now Azerbaijan is one of the most successful republics in the post-Soviet space, along with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. It is the precise evidence of what Azerbaijan has achieved during 25 years of its independence."
Azerbaijani political scientist Rovshan Ibragimov, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, expressed the view that "over these 25 years, Azerbaijan has passed the longer way of development than in the previous 25 years under the Soviet rule. During the first years there was an unstable policy, but by 1995, the country has managed to achieve political and economic stability. As a result, today Azerbaijan has become a regional leader, a country to be reckoned with."
Ibragimov reminded that the republic has implemented several energy and transport projects in the macro-region from Eastern Europe to Central Asia, while attempts to build a similar infrastructure, bypassing Azerbaijan, have not been brought to fruition.
"In the international arena, Azerbaijan has become a force that plays an important role in determining the course of regional and global politics. It is no coincidence that Azerbaijan was elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Azerbaijan honorably served its term in the Security Council and continues its active participation in the international life," the expert noted.
According to him, the same can be said of Baku, which became the center of a number of global projects, a platform of dialogue between civilizations and cultures, the venue for major cultural and sporting events. "In general, the project of independent Azerbaijan was more than successful."