Address by the chairman of the party Razi Nurullayev to the party members
Significant economic reforms are underway in Azerbaijan. But despite the fact that reforms are carried out in a wide rang, the results are still very poor. Social status, low wages, lack of jobs give rise to serious unrest. The only reason is that the social reforms are not supported by political ones.
Let me give you an example. In September, the Fraser Canadian Institute, together with researchers from more than 100 countries, based on indicators such as the size of government structures; protection of property rights and independence of the court; degree of rigor of financial policy; free trade internationally; regulation of lending, the labor market and business has published a list of economically free countries.
In the top 10 of economic freedom, Georgia ranked 7th, while Azerbaijan ranked 106th. Armenia ranked 29th, Turkey – 86th, Russia – 87th, Iran – 130th. Georgians are filled with pride, we Azerbaijanis also want to feel the same way.
It’s impossible to achieve a tangible result without serious reforms. Awarding a person represented in power with another position, removing someone from office and setting another in his place is not a reform.
We consider political reforms to be crucial and propose the following:
First, political power must create conditions for the opposition to be represented in the government. Discussions on social, political and foreign issues between the government and the opposition are necessary. I consider acceptable to hand over 3-4 ministries to the opposition, including the holding of early Parliamentary elections. The new Parliament should help in carrying out social, economic and political reforms in the country. It is necessary to end the hegemony in the Parliament of one political party, to put an end to its serving the interests of certain layers of officials. If Parliament does not become the people’s voice coming from the rostrum, the development of the country in the context of comprehensive pluralism is entirely out of the question.
Secondly, people whose names are voiced as political prisoners, but do not represent a danger to society, should be released; in extreme cases, their freedom can be limited to house arrest. The fact that Azerbaijan is regularly inclined as a country where there are many political prisoners seriously impedes investment in Azerbaijan and blocks tourist flows from democratic countries.
I would like to add that the presence of political problems in the country, the restriction of freedoms, and the fact that the authorities do not hide their unconventional attitude towards the opposition have a negative effect on our citizens going to other states. Due honor is not given to an Azerbaijani passport.
I do not agree with the statement that the relationship between Azerbaijan and Europe is at a high level. There is an energy agreement between Azerbaijan and Europe and everything goes well in this direction. But there is a serious stagnation in the economic, social and political areas. As we know, Azerbaijan refused to sign the Association Agreement in the framework of the Eastern Partnership with the European Union and instead offered to sign a bilateral agreement on strategic partnership. There is still no progress in this area. As a result of this agreement, citizens of Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia can enter the EU countries without visas. They began to feel part of the civilized world, European markets are already open to them, they can already find work there.
What is happening in Azerbaijan? Unfortunately, our citizens camp out in front of the embassies of the European Union and other countries of the Western world and expect help from them. Our business cannot be free to develop, to sell its products. The access to cheap loans impeded. There is one reason: Azerbaijan does not want an agreement with the European Union on the conditions put forward by them.
Because, in that case, all political and economic freedoms must be ensured in the country, Azerbaijan should become a member of the World Trade Organization. Only by becoming a WTO member can Azerbaijan benefit from the advantages offered by the European Union’s the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Zone (DCFTA), which opens up the enormous economic opportunities within the agreement. The government does not do this, because membership in the WTO naturally leads to the elimination of monopolies and the creation of a free economic environment. This means that the selected people will not be able to earn millions, they will not be able to dictate their conditions to the market. This means that the free economic relations that are being formed will contribute both to the improvement of the political environment and the emergence of a truly free middle business class, so to speak, the national bourgeoisie.
On the other hand, Azerbaijan and Russia have weak economic and political ties, too. Our citizens cannot work normally in Russia either, it’s just as difficult for them to freely and inexpensively export their goods to the markets of Russia. Azerbaijan has chosen the path of maintaining the same distance both with the West and with Russia. We can use neither the opportunities of Europe nor the capabilities of Russia. We are expelled from Europe and Russia. Many of our citizens work there secretly and illegally, they are treated like slaves.
As for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, no fundamental changes can be expected in the near future. A radical turn will occur when, at the level of the heads of the Minsk Group countries – the USA, France, and Russia – pressure will be put on Armenia. If Armenia does not want to return even several regions around Nagorno-Karabakh, negotiations are a waste of time. Azerbaijan can achieve a turn in this direction only by using the political and international forces of fraternal and friendly countries. It is possible to achieve progress through direct communication of the leaders of friendly and fraternal countries with the heads of the countries in the Minsk Group and bringing the Nagorno-Karabakh problem to the international agenda. As long as the noise around this conflict has not gone beyond the region, and there have been no contacts at the level of the heads of state of not only the members of the Minsk Group, but also fraternal and friendly countries, there will be no noticeable progress in resolving the conflict.
Group meeting of PFPA, 31 October 2018