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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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)

Books on Azerbaijan


Update No: 364 - (28/04/11)

Azerbaijan is a major energy supplier to Europe and a transit route for US troops in Afghanistan.

Human rights groups say this has cushioned the country against Western critics of its record on democracy.

Protests quelled
But it has not prevented domestic opponents of its dictatorial regime making their views known. Inspired by what is going on elsewhere in the Muslim world, notably the Middle East, they have been demonstrating in Baku, the capital.

Protests over the past several weeks have, nevertheless, been given short shrift by authorities in the mainly Muslim country of nine million people, with more than 100 detained in April and March. Flyers were scattered on the ground calling on hard-line leader Aliyev to resign and for an "End to Dictatorship." An opposition spokesman said several hundred had been arrested in various parts of Baku.

Aliyev junior a multi-millionaire in Dubai
Azerbaijan is ruled by a dynasty, hailing curiously from an Azeri enclave between Iran and Armenia, Nakichevan, not Azerbaijan proper. It, the dynasty, not the enclave, began under Heydar Aliyev, who ruled for thirteen years as the Soviet satrap and then until 2003 as president of an independent country. He then made way for his son, Ilham, who achieved a 76% victory in the elections of that year.

The latter clearly intends to rule indefinitely, having abolished presidential term limits in 2008, when he won a handsome 89% victory; albeit the opposition refused to participate, denouncing the elections as a 'farce.'

But he is of course aware that he is mortal. He is grooming his own 11-year-old son to succeed him eventually. So that Aliyev junior shall not be wanting in the interim, nine luxury mansions in Dubai worth millions of pounds have been bought in his name. The waterfront properties on the exclusive Palm Jumeirah development have been registered with Dubai’s Land Department under the name of Heydar Aliyev, the schoolboy son of President Aliyev, with the same name as grandpapa.

The Washington Post newspaper reported that they were bought in a two-week shopping spree last year for about $44 million (£29 million) — 10,000 times the average annual salary in Azerbaijan. The President’s daughters, Leyla and Arzu, also appeared as the owners of Dubai properties, bringing the total value of the children’s alleged property portfolio to $75 million.

The President’s official salary in Azerbaijan is about $228,000 a year. It is of course not his only source of income. Azerbaijan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Azerbaijan is booming thanks to oil revenues of $7 billion last year alone, but most of its eight million people endure harsh poverty, and up to a million are refugees from the frozen conflict with Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The US State Department condemned “pervasive corruption” in a report last year that also criticised the regime’s human rights abuses.

Dubai may have lost its shine in the age of the credit crunch, but the villas on the Palm still claim a host of famous owners. If young Heydar loses his football over the fence, he may find it returned by David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or Simon Cowell. Reports of the alleged purchases shine a light on allegations of corruption in the former Soviet republic, which is swimming in revenues from vast oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea.

The Aliyevs certainly bought their seaside homes at the right time. A self-styled Eighth Wonder of the Word, the Palm Jumeirah was supposed to cement Dubai’s reputation as the new playground for the rich and famous.

From their peak in mid-2008, however, property values across Dubai have plummeted. By early last year, top-end villas on the Palm were selling for about £2.7 million each, half their peak value, as the emirate’s real estate market collapsed and panicked investors bailed out.

The wrong sort of Aliyev
'Aliyev' is a common name in Azerbaijan. The well-known clergyman there, the head of the Centre of Religious Researches, Haj Ilham Aliyev, has been arrested.

The clergyman has condemned the anti-Islamic policy pursued by an official Azeri delegation during a recent conference. The Azerbaijani Aliyev noted during the interview with “” news web-site that the clergyman would never refuse to struggle and the issue of hijab would always be on agenda.

Opening up to Iran and Turkey
The Azeri regime is canny for all that. It goes in for merciless repression at home; but more emollient behaviour abroad.

On April 17 a two-day Azerbaijan-Iran-Turkey trilateral forum was held, which was attended by the foreign ministers of the three countries, concluded in Urmia, West Azerbaijan Province. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi held separate talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov on the sidelines of the meeting.

Salehi and Mammadyarov stated that providing customs facilities, increasing the volume of trade between Iran and Azerbaijan, and expanding cooperation in various areas must be put on the agenda.

The three countries involved certainly need to co-operate anew.

They have many gripes against each other. They are best addressed through diplomatic channels at this point – i.e. by foreign ministers. The big moment will come when the very presidents of the same, all republics, are agreed in a communal statement - by presidents, not just foreign ministers. But that will take time.



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