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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 7,124 6,090 5,600 102
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 810 710 650 146
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 325 - (28/01/08)

Aliyev congratulates Saakashvili
The victory of Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia is a major event for Ilham Aliyev. The two presidents have much in common, although they are also very different in many ways. Aliyev hastened to congratulate the victor of the January 5 election. 

They aspire to align their countries with the West. They want to join NATO and ultimately the EU. As inhabitants of the Caucasus, this is quite feasible. 

That puts both of them, however, at loggerheads with Russia. Actually, Russia has more immediate reasons to be dissatisfied with them – they are playing host to pipelines that are taking Central Asian energy to the West, skirting Russian ones. They are no longer subservient to Muscovy, their fate in times of yore.

But a prime condition of joining the West is to hold proper elections. The opposition claims that the Georgian election was rigged. It came after all after demonstrations of 100,000 against the regime in November last. 

Now for Azerbaijan
The ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) has started preparation work on the threshold of the presidential election in Azerbaijan. This is scheduled for 15 October 2008. NAP stated predictably that the party would nominate the candidature for the presidential post of the current president. 

The Azadlig bloc, which unites opposition parties Popular Front, Liberal, Citizen and Development, stated that the bloc would boycott the upcoming election if no changes were made in the composition of election commissions. 

According to Gurbanli, the ruling party implemented an analysis of previous errors made during the previous elections held in the country. “NAR will implement preparations to the election campaign in compliance with the election program. The key factor which can provide a successful election campaign at the upcoming presidential election is the existence of respect and power of the party’s candidate among Azerbaijani voters,” Gurbanli said. One of the main directions of the party is to hold a meeting on the threshold of the election where the candidature from the party officially is to be approved. 

NAP was founded in the Azeri enclave of Nakhchivan in 1992. The All-Nation Leader, late ex-President Heydar Aliyev was the first Chairman of the Party. President Ilham Aliyev, his son is the present Chairman of the Party, which has been ruling for 14 years.

A vibrant economy- and how!
The reason for the continuity of the Aliyev clan in Azerbaijan is the extraordinary buoyancy of its economy. It is growing at a phenomenal rate of over 30% per annum, due of course to oil. There is a lot of leeway for a government presiding over such a bonanza.

Incomes are always statistically upwards, at least for the majority, although is a statistical outcome. In fact there is not a lot of trickle-down to the population at large and unemployment has been widespread since the end of communism.

The one and a half million displaced Nagorno Karabakh refugees are faring badly; but they have no obvious means of redress. Nevertheless, the dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh remains the number one geopolitical priority for the country.

Nothing is likely to be decided here until the next Armenian presidential election later this year. The incumbent, Robert Kocharian, a former warlord and president of the enclave, is a hard-liner. But then so is his successor likely to be.

Presidential elections in the Caucasus, nevertheless, now mightily matter, progress of a sort towards democracy – and anon perhaps the West.

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