HURRIYET DAILY NEWS: Azerbaijan after Heydar Aliyev
If the founding president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, were alive today, he would be 94 years old.
Heydar Aliyev transformed Azerbaijan, which had been experiencing a period of deterioration, division and civil strife, into a country that is stable, peaceful and well-accepted by the world. In a very short time period, he produced important successes during his 10 years of governance.
He established the Azerbaijan Army, the most powerful army in the Caucasus region. He made an independent Azerbaijan accepted around the world from America to Russia and Iran to France. He increased the effectiveness of Azerbaijan in the world by making Azerbaijan a member of important international organizations in the democratic bloc.
Heydar Aliyev adopted the Latin alphabet, which created integration with the Turkish and Western world. Heydar Aliyev helped ensure the natural resources of Azerbaijan could be presented to world markets.
In this context, on Sept. 24, 1994, he clinched the deal for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline, which was called the “Agreement of the Century.” With the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Heydar not only strengthened the Turkish-Azerbaijani brotherhood, but also introduced Azerbaijan’s natural resources, Caspian energy resources, to the whole world and attracted the interest of Western states to Azerbaijan.
President Ilham Aliyev, who took over the mantle from Heydar Aliyev, raised the national income per capita of Azerbaijan from $850 to $10,033 in 14 years. Ilham Aliyev and his colleagues also lowered the unemployment and poverty rate to less than 5 percent. They transformed Azerbaijan from a country that was invested in, to a country that makes its own investments. They also initiated projects for Şahdeniz, the South Caucasus Pipeline, TANAP and TAP, all of which have allowed Azerbaijan to have a say in the world.
They helped bringing the attention of the world to Azerbaijan with Eurovision, then the European Olympics, Formula 1 races and the Islamic Games.
Ilham Aliyev and his colleagues have undertaken great development activities in Azerbaijan in cities such as Baku, Gence, Nakhichevan and Sheki. Contemporary and modern urbanism was created by combining the civilizational line from history with exceptional beauty. They realized a concept of urbanism in harmony with the history and Azerbaijan. If we need to give somebody her due, the contribution of first lady Mehriban Aliyeva is immense.
The Azerbaijani government, which has succeeded in paving the way for both domestic and international firms to engage in privatization, continues to grow without being affected by the conflicts and crises experienced in the Middle East, Europe and Ukraine.
Despite the negativities in the world, the Azerbaijani government is overcoming problems that stem from low oil prices with investments made in non-oil fields such as the development of industry with its economic and social measures, the opening of agricultural fields and an increase in production.
In other words, Ilham Aliyev and his friends have literally protected the inheritance from Heydar Aliyev, realizing the contemporary Azerbaijan that Heydar Aliyev dreamed of.
Dr. Akkan Suver is the president of the Marmara Group Foundation.