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AZERBAIJAN


  
  

 

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: 355 - (25/07/10)

A troubled country- if it is even that
There is a very tense situation developing in Azerbaijan, ahead of a vital election to parliament in November. The country is paying lip-service to democracy - and perhaps even to liberal democracy. It is a very dangerous thing to do.

At the moment it is in the grip of a liberal kleptocracy, ghastly gangsters galore.

The supreme irony is that these people want to be loved. They rip the people off; and they want to be admired for doing so. One must remember that in the former communist world, everybody was taught that capitalism was about ripping people off, surplus-value, etc. The nouveaux riche in Azerbaijan are comprehensively doing that.

It is all to be very democratic, henceforth. Well, we shall see.
The crunch cometh

A new opposition bloc will be created in Azerbaijan, chairman of the Citizens and Development Party, Ali Aliyev, said. "Soon it is expected to announce the staff of our electoral bloc. After determining the staff of the bloc, we can specify a list of candidates. The public will know about policy related to elections, and the Citizens and Development Party and the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan", Aliyev said.

The parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan are scheduled for the 7th November this year. Previous legislative elections were held in November 2005. Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan are held by the majority system in 125 electoral constituencies.

Aliyev voiced his opinion on the collapse of Azadliq bloc and a decrease in activity of his party. "We ourselves have made a break to change the agenda." We do not want to discuss what happened within the Azadliq bloc. At the moment we are working on forms of participation in the parliamentary elections. Candidates within the party are determined. The list is prepared. One of the main problems is to answer the question who will participate in the electoral bloc", Aliyev said.
Azadliq is represented by the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, the Liberal Party, and the Citizens and Development Party.

Liberalism at bay
Serious challenges to media freedom remain in Azerbaijan, including the imprisonment of journalists. On July 6th, imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev was convicted on criminal charges of drug possession and sentenced to 2 and a half years' imprisonment.

The representative on media freedom for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe characterized the drug charges on which Mr. Fatullayev was convicted as "highly improbable." The U.S., EU, Norway, and others have expressed their concerns about the ruling. Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and other NGOs have called the Fatullayev conviction on July 6th the latest attempt by the government to silence his reporting, which has been critical of the government.

Eynulla Fatullayev is already serving an 8 and a half year prison sentence on charges of terrorism, defamation, incitement to racial hatred, and tax evasion -- all charges which the European Court of Human Rights acquitted him of earlier this year. The court further ruled that Mr. Fatullayev's 2007 trial violated his rights to free expression, that he had been unfairly tried and that there was "no justification for the imposition of a prison sentence."

As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, Azerbaijan is bound to comply with the rulings of the European Court. If it fails to comply, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe can impose a range of penalties.

Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights said that "anyone imprisoned because of views or opinions expressed, including Eynulla Fatullayev ... should be released immediately." Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, also has called for his release, and the United States has supported such calls, most recently in a July 7 statement issued by the Department of State.

The United States government urges all governments, including the Government of Azerbaijan, to fully respect press freedoms, including the right to investigate and freely publish via both traditional and new internet-based media. As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted in Baku during her recent visit, "when members of civil society are respected and allowed to work free of intimidation, democracies flourish and societies prosper."

 

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