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Ilham Aliyev

Ilham Aliyev
Ilham Aliyev par Claude Truong-Ngoc juin 2014.jpg
4th President of Azerbaijan
Assumed office
31 October 2003
Prime Minister Artur Rasizade
Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva
Preceded by Heydar Aliyev
7th Prime Minister of Azerbaijan
In office
4 August 2003 – 4 November 2003
President Heydar Aliyev
Preceded by Artur Rasizade
Succeeded by Artur Rasizade
Leader of the New Azerbaijan Party
Assumed office
31 October 2003
Preceded by Heydar Aliyev
Personal details
Born İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev
(1961-12-24) 24 December 1961 (age 55)
Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, Soviet Union
Political party New Azerbaijan Party
Spouse(s) Mehriban Pashayeva (1983–present)
Children Leyla
Arzu
Heydar
Alma mater Moscow State Institute of International Relations
Signature

Ilham Aliyev (Azerbaijani: İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev; born 24 December 1961, Baku) is the fourth and current President of Azerbaijan, in office since 2003. He also functions as the Chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party and the head of the National Olympic Committee.

Early life

Aliyev was born on December 24, 1961, in Baku. He went to a secondary school in Baku between 1967-1977.[1] In 1977, Aliyev entered the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-MSIIR) and in 1982 continued his education as a postgraduate.[2] In 1985 he received a PhD degree in history.[2] From 1985 to 1990 Aliyev lectured at MSUIR.[2] From 1991 to 1994, he led a group of private industrial-commercial enterprises.[3]

In 1994-2003, he was the vice-president, and later the first vice-president of the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). He had been actively involved in the implementation of Heydar Aliyev’s oil strategy.[3] He is an author of numerous research works on geopolitical aspects of oil strategy of sovereign Azerbaijan. He holds a degree of doctor of political sciences.[3][4]

Since 1997, Mr. Ilham Aliyev is the President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan. For his contribution to the development of sports and Olympic movement, Mr. Aliyev was awarded the highest order of International Olympic Committee and “Grand Cordon” Order of Merit of International Military Sport Council.[3][4]

Personal life

Ilham Aliyev married Mehriban Pashayeva in Baku on 22 December 1983. They have three children: Leyla, Arzu and Heydar and five grandchildren. Apart from his native Azerbaijani, he is fluent in English, French, Russian and Turkish.[2] Ilham Aliyev is the son of Heydar Aliyev, who was President of Azerbaijan from 1993 to 2003. His wife Mehriban Aliyeva is appointed the First Vice President of Azerbaijan.[5]

Political career

Early years

In May or June 1994, Ilham Aliyev was appointed as vice-president of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). He participated as one of the key figures during the negotiations between the Azerbaijani government and Western oil companies during the conclusion of new contracts now known as the "Contract of the Century". In 1995, Aliyev was elected to the Parliament of Republic of Azerbaijan; later he became president of the National Olympic Committee (still incumbent).

From 2001 to 2003, Aliyev was elected head of Azerbaijani delegation to Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE).[3][6] Following that, in January 2003, he was elected Deputy-Chairman and bureau member of PACE.[3][7] In April 2004, Mr. Aliyev was awarded with a medal and diploma of honorable member of PACE for his active participation in PACE events and commitment to European values.[3][8] In August 2003, two months prior to the presidential elections, he was appointed as Prime Minister.[9]

2003 election

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is greeted by Ilham Aliyev, August 2004

The official results of the October 15, 2003, elections gave victory to Ilham Aliyev, who earned 76.84% of the votes.[10]

2008 election

Ilham Aliyev was re-elected in 2008 with 87% of the polls. A total of seven candidates filed to run in the election who had to collect 40,000 voter signatures.[11] According to the report of the Election Observation Delegation from the European Parliament the elections took place with no reported unrest and few minor electoral violations. The report also highlights numerous reforms to the Electoral Code in accordance with OSCE and Council of Europe requirements and standards, which include inking of voters, more transparency of voter lists, and the prohibition of government interference in the election process.[12]

During the 2008 presidential elections, PACE observers included a large group of frankly pro-Azerbaijani MPs. The variant of the statement on elections, prepared by the head of the group of observers Andreas Herkel, containing critical remarks, faced the rejection of the pro-Azerbaijani group consisting of Michael Hancock, Eduard Lintner and Paul Ville. Herkel was forced to declare his resignation if criticism did not go into the statement. During the referendum, which lifted the limits on the number of presidential terms for Ilham Aliyev, four PACE deputies – Eduard Litner, Paul Ville, Khaki Keskin and Pedro Agramunt evaluated the referendum as the progress of democracy.[13] In a constitutional referendum in 2009, term limits for the presidency were abolished. The opposition claimed this to be a violation of the Azerbaijani constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.[14] European Commission said the step "signalled a serious setback".[15]

2013 election

Ilham Aliyev with his first lady during the Moscow Victory Day Parade, 9 May 2015

In the 2013 presidential elections, held on 9 October, Aliyev won with 85 percent of the vote, thus securing a third five-year term.[16] Election observation delegations of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and European Parliament made a joint statement that they have observed a free, fair and transparent electoral process, with the electoral procedures carried out in a professional way and they had not witnessed any evidence of intimidation against voters nor seen any signs of campaign material close to polling stations.[17] A day before voting began, Central Election Commission made testing on its new smartphone application which caused some confusion regarding the results of the election. Later on Central Election Commission said the results were those of the 2008 election, yet the candidates listed were from the 2013 ballot.[18] Aliyev's main rivals in the election were Jamil Hasanli and Igbal Agazade. In 2013, Amnesty International called on western leaders to present position on jailed activist which was officially charged with tax evasion and illegal business activity.[19] Ilham Aliyev has been criticized for his illiberal rule[20][21] and sometimes Azerbaijan was perceived as one of corrupt states in Europe by analysts and political commentators.[22][23][24][25]

Observers from the OSCE / ODIHR, led by Tana de Zulueta, spoke of restrictions on freedom of speech during elections, while representatives of the European Parliament headed by Pino Arlacchi confirmed free and fair elections.[26] The European Parliament and PACE issued a joint statement in which they highly appraised the elections. A group of observers from the US House of Representatives also acknowledged fair elections.[27]

Varying estimates of the elections led to a scandal. On October 11, the representative of the European Union, Catherine Ashton and European Commissioner Stefan Fule, ignored the assessment of the European Parliament, including in its statement the results of the ODIHR.[28] The Commission on Foreign Relations of the EU discussed the report of Arlacchi. During the discussion, representatives of the “green” condemned the report and said that it discredited the European Parliament. The head of the Socialists’ faction in the EU said that the PACE report cannot be considered reliable at all. It later emerged that a number of EU representatives traveled to Azerbaijan unofficially and on the dime of Azerbaijani organizations, which was regarded by the “European Voice” as “stupidity or corruption”, these trips were labeled “electoral tourism”.[29]

The US State Department in its turn discredited the observers from the House of Representatives, describing the elections as not meeting international standards, and expressing solidarity with the ODIHR's assessment.[30]

TI's well known report the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) indicates 69% of respondents consider that the government’s efforts are effective in the fight against corruption and 71% of respondents agree that an ordinary person can make a difference in the fight against corruption in Azerbaijan.[31][32] Aliyev's government officially alleged that CPI does not reflect carried out anti-corruption measures in the country, such as CPI is composed of sources which are based on expert views.[33] However, government officials claimed to support results of GCB, considering its results are based on survey of citizens.[34]

According to Transparency International’s Azerbaijan scores just 30 on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, indicating a serious problem with corruption. On 8 August 2017, Transparency Azerbaijan announced that it had scaled back its operations in the capital city of Baku, because the government would not approve an extension of the funding as it comes from outside the country. According to Transparency International "The blanket ban on foreign grants has brought the country’s civil society to a halt and has dealt a devastating blow to civic initiatives across the board".[35]

ASAN Service, which was established with Presidential Decree in 2012,[36] is internationally recognized for its role in elimination of corruption in public services[37][38] and received United Nation’s award on public service delivery.[39] ASAN Service is currently researched and applied by world countries[40] Such as France signed memorandum with Azerbaijan in order to apply practice of ASAN Service (mobile service system) in France[41] In addition, during a meeting with Pakistanian delegation, Pakistani side expressed the integration of ASAN Service model into their government service fields as well. Based on concept of "ASAN service" experience, the Government of Afghanistan has established "Asan Khedmat" public service center, which functions under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance.[42][43][44]"ASAN service" is currently researched and applied by foreign countries, including Albania, Italy, Estonia, Republic of Macedonia, Indonesia and others.[45]

Party affiliations and foreign relations

Aliyev and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, D.C., 30 March 2016

In 2001, he was elected to the post of first deputy chair of the ruling party New Azerbaijan Party at the Second Congress of the Party. At the third Congress of the New Azerbaijan Party held on March 26, 2005, President Aliyev and the first deputy of the Party was unanimously elected to the post of chairman of the Party. The fourth and fifth congresses of the party held in 2008 and 2013 unanimously supported his nomination for the next presidential term.[46]

During 12–15 March 2017, President Aliyev made official visit to France[47][48] and met with executive officials of international companies SUEZ, DCNS, CIFAL, Space Systems in the Airbus Defence and Space Division.[49][50][51][52][53] President Aliyev in his meeting with French entrepreneurs stated that illegal activities of some companies in Nagorno-Karabakh is unacceptable and violates international and national laws.[54][55][56] Following his visit, Aliyev met with President of French Republic in the Elysee Palace.[57][58][59] French President Francois Hollande made a press statement that status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not the right option and he hopes that there can be a resumption of negotiations[60] and he urged other co-chairs of the Minsk Group, the United States and Russia, to contribute to this process[61]

Before the start of a trilateral meeting. With President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev (centre), President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (left) and President of Russia Vladimir Putin

Following the initiative of President Aliyev,[62][63] for the first time[64] the trilateral summit between Russian, Iranian and Azerbaijani leaders was held for purpose of fighting against terrorism, transnational organized crime, arms smuggling and drug trafficking in the region.[65][66][67][68][69] Presidents of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia through trilaterally signed declaration pledged to develop the strategic transnational project, the International North-South Transport Corridor, which would run from India all the way to St. Petersburg in Russia, providing a faster and cheaper alternative to existing sea routes.[63][70][71][72][73] Such trilateral high-level meeting was also organized between the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.[74] It is planned to organize another trialateral meeting between leaders of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia.[75]

Azerbaijan's balanced foreign policy and regional importance has allowed top military officers of USA and Russia, Joseph Dunford-the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Valery Gerasimov- Chief of General Staff to meet in Baku on cooperation.[76][77]

Foreign Policy

Relations with United Nations

Ilham Aliyev visited UN Headquarters several times: to attend and address the general debates of the 59th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2004[78][79]; the 65th session in September 2010[80];[81] and the 72nd session in September 2017[82]. During the presidency of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan was elected as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council from the group of Eastern European states on October 24, 2011 for the term of 2012-2013. [83] On 4th of May 2012, UN Security Council held a high-level meeting on strengthening international collaboration in the implementation of counter-terrorism obligations led by Ilham Aliyev[84][85] [86]. During his visits to USA, the president Ilham Aliyev met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on 24th September 2004,[78] on 4th May 2012 with Ban Ki Moon[87], and on 20th of September 2017 with Antonio Guterres in New York[82]. Since the presidency of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has also developed mutual relations with specialized agencies and bodies of United Nations. The country was elected a member of ECOSOC for the term of 2003-2005[88], 2017-2019[89], and UN Human Rights Council for the period of 2006-2009[88]. President Ilham Aliyev approved Country Programme Action Plan for 2005-2009 between Azerbaijan and UNICEF signed on December 29, 2005.[90]

Relations with European Union

Ilham Aliyev has been expanding the cooperation with the European Union (EU) since his presidency. A year after Mr. Aliyev became President, in 2004, Azerbaijan as a southern Caucasus country has been a part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) of the EU[91].Two years later, in 2006, Ilham Aliyev on behalf of Azerbaijan, and Matti Vanhanen, former President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, former President of the Commission, on behalf of the EU signed the Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Partnership[92]. In 2009 when the EU launched the initiative, Azerbaijan has been included in the Eastern Partnership Policy[93]. After two years, in 2011, Ilham Aliyev and José Manuel Barroso, Former President of the European Commission, concluded the Joint Declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor.[94]

Ilham Aliyev affirmed the significance of the Joint Declaration in the field of energy cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan during its visit to Brussels in 2013 with the following words: “Of course, energy cooperation is one of the most important components of our relations. I am glad that after the signing, together with President Barroso, of the Declaration on strategic cooperation in the energy sector in Baku at the beginning of 2011, we are currently seeing its practical results. This declaration has played a major role in the implementation of the gas corridor.”[95]

On 6 February 2017, Mr. Aliyev visited Brussels, the capital of the EU, for the bilateral and multilateral meetings. He paid official visits to High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, with the President of the European Council, Commission President, and the Commissioner for Energy Union[96]. After the visit of President Aliyev, on 7 February 2017, the process of negotiations for new bilateral agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU has been launched.[97]

Relations with Russia

Ilham Aliyev repeatedly characterized Azerbaijan-Russia relations as strategic partnership[98][99][100]. On 6 February 2004, Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, signed the Moscow Declaration, which stated principles of relations between Azerbaijan and Russia.[101] On 11 August 2004, President Aliyev adopted an Order to held “Year of Russia in Azerbaijan” in 2006 following the decision of Russia to held “Year of Azerbaijan in Russia” in 2005[102]. In February 16, 2005, Ilham Aliyev paid a working visit to Moscow and participated in the ceremony of opening the Year of Azerbaijan in Russia. [103]. Four months later, in June 14-15, 2005 – Ilham Aliyev again visited Russia and met with Russian president Vladimir Putin within the framework of ninth international economic forum[104]. On 29 June 2006, Ilham Aliyev and Dmitry Medvedev, former President of the Russian Federation, concluded a joint statement on the Caspian Sea[105].

Meeting of President Ilham Aliyev with President Vladimir Putin

In November 1, 2017 another meeting took place between Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin in Tehran, the capital of Iran[106]. Ilham Aliyev appraised the relations between two countries with the following words while meeting with Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia and Chairman of People's Assembly of Dagestan: “While reviewing the agenda of our bilateral relations at another meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, we found out that there is no a single issue that would need solution…Of course, today Russia and Azerbaijan demonstrate high-level good-neighborly, partnership and reliable friendly relations.”[107].

Ilham Aliyev has built relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church. In 24 April, 2010, President Aliyev was awarded with the Order of Glory and Honour, a highest decoration of the Russian Orthodox Church, following the Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh 1st class in the past.[108] [109] By the Order of Ilham Aliyev Patriarch Kirill was granted with the “Sharaf” (Honor) medal of Azerbaijan in 2010.[110]

Relations with United States

President Ilham Aliyev meeting President Donald Trump during the reception hosted by U.S. President in New York

Ilham Aliyev has sought to expand relations with the US. In this context, he made his first official visit to Washington at the invitation of late US President George Bush Jr on April 25-28, 2006. During the meeting, he discussed issues of oil and gas industry, regional and global energy security, transportation, etc. with his American counterpart.[111] [112].

On September 24, 2010, Ilham Aliyev met the 44th US President Barack Obama in New York when he visited the US for the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly[113] Ilham Aliyev's next official visit to the USA has been made within the framework of Nuclear Security Summit at the invitation of Barack Obama on March 31 – April 1 2016 [114][115][116]. Ilham Aliyev held a bilateral meeting with former Vice President Joe Biden. The parties had discussions on counterterrorism and cooperation in various fields. Joe Biden emphasized the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor to strengthen energy security of Europe. [117]

On September 20, 2017, Ilham Aliyev met US President Donald Trump at the reception hosted by latter in the framework of the 72th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. [118]

In his letter to the President Ilham Aliyev on the opening of 24th annual International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference in Baku, Donald Trump mentioned that US is strongly committed to Southern Gas Corridor which ensures energy security of Europe and appreciates Azerbaijan’s important role in supporting this global energy security.[119]

Relations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

President Ilham Aliyev (left) meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (right) in Brussels

Ilham Aliyev has extended Azerbaijan's collaboration with NATO, as the country joined the Individual Partnership Action Plan in 2004, which allows the systematisation of bilateral partnerships as well as the coordination of cooperation on any issue of mutual interest. Azerbaijan has completed NATO-Azerbaijan Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) documents for the first (2005-2007), second (2008-2010) and the third (2012-2013) period[120]. Ilham Aliyev introduced Azerbaijan’s first IPAP to NATO in Brussels on May 19, 2014.[121] Ilham Aliyev visited Paris in May 2006 and attended the spring session of NATO Parliament Assembly. In 2016, November 8 he met Secretary-General of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels.[122] Ilham Aliyev has visited Brussels several times; he met with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer bilaterally on April 29 before the meeting of North Atlantic Council.[123] During his visit to Brussels in February 2012, Ilham Aliyev was welcomed by Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO Headquarters and they discussed the possible future enhancement of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO.[124] In 2014, again the President Aliyev met with NATO Secretary General and participated in the meeting of North Atlantic Council as part of his working visit to Brussels.[125] As the President of the country contributing to the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan, Ilham Aliyev participated at the meetings during NATO Summit in Chicago in 2012 and NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014[126][127]. Ilham Aliyev took part in the session on Afghanistan at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July, 2016.[128][129] On 23 November, 2017, President Ilham Aliyev met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. They discussed the partnership between NATO and Azerbaijan and regional security in the South Caucasus. The Secretary General also appreciated Azerbaijan’s contribution to NATO-led “Resolute Support” mission in Afghanistan [130][131]

Relations with Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) 

Ilham Aliyev repeatedly stated that relations with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are among the priorities for Azerbaijan in foreign policy.[132] [133][134] During his presidency, Aliyev met with the Secretary General of OIC for the first time within the framework of the third extraordinary summit of IOC in Mecca city, in 2005[135] In 2006, 2009, 2012, 2013, President Aliyev received the Secretary General of OIC in Baku, Azerbaijan[136] [137][138][139]. Accordingly, on 6 April 2015, he visited to the OIC Headquarter in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and met with Secretary General of the OIC[140] [141]. Ilham Aliyev received President of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation in 2006 and 2007 in Baku[142] [143]. Furthermore, in September 3, 2006, he participated in the ceremony of Inauguration of permanent headquarters of the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for dialogue and Cooperation in Istanbul, Turkey[144] [145].

Following the decision of the fifth Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers to declare Baku as Capital of Islamic Culture for 2009, on 27 August 2008, Ilham Aliyev adopted an Order on the Preparation of the International event named “Baku-Capital of Islamic Culture[146] [147]. He signed an Order to establish Organising Committee regarding the decision of the sixth Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers to designate Nakhchivan city as Capital of Islamic Culture for 2018[148][149]. On 26-27 April 2017, OIC conference on the Role of media in the development of tolerance and mutual understanding was held under the auspices of President Ilham Aliyev in pursuance of the Baku declaration which was adopted by OIC Foreign Ministers at 33rd session.[150][151]

Domestic policy

Cultural policy

Intercultural dialogue was one of priority areas of cultural policy of President Aliyev. In 2008, President Aliyev launched the “Baku Process” initiative for promotion of intercultural dialogue at the Conference of Ministers responsible for Culture under the theme of “Intercultural dialogue as a basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighboring regions.”[152] While delivering a speech at the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (23 September 2010, New York) President Aliyev announced his intention to organize World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue.[153] His initiative was supported by international organizations such as UNESCO, UN Alliance of Civilizations, World Tourism Organization, Council of Europe, North-South Center of the Council of Europe, ISESCO etc.[154][155][156] Starting from 2011, four high level World Forums on Intercultural Dialogue has been held in Baku until 2017[157] Ilham Aliyev by signing a respective decree approved “Conception of Culture of Azerbaijan Republic” on 14 February, 2014[158]. Three months later on 15 May 2014, he signed the Decree on the Formation of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism[159] He also by Presidential decree of 11 January 2016 declared the year 2016 as “the Year of Multiculturalism” in Azerbaijan.[160] Ilham Aliyev characterized the tolerance and multiculturalism as a state policy and lifestyle in Azerbaijan.[161] Under his leadership Azerbaijan hosted seventh Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) under the theme “Living Together in Inclusive Societies, A Challenge and A Goal” on April 25-27, 2016[162]

Science policy

In May 5, 2004, President Ilham Aliyev signed an Order to establish “Azerbaijan National Encyclopedia” Science Center[163]. Almost four years later, on 10 April 2008, he approved the Decree to constitute the State Commission on Reforms in Science[164]. In October 21, 2009, Ilham Aliyev signed another Order on Establishment of the Science Development Foundation under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.[165] Almost four months later, on 19 February 2010, President Ilham Aliyev approved the Charter of the Science Development Foundation.[166][167] [168]. In January 14, 2016, Ilham Aliyev by his Decree established the National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.[169] He also established Ganja Branch of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences in December 19, 2012.[170] In November 8, 2016, President Aliyev approved an Order to create High-Tech Park of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences[171] [172].

Humanitarian policy

Under the instruction of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan sent humanitarian aid to Palestine, Nepal, Djibouti in April 10, 2017, and to Rohingya refugees in September 8, 2017[173][174][175][176]. On 27 February 2012, Vlade Divac, Chairman of Olympic Committee of Serbia and the founder of “Foundation Ana and Vlade Divac,” decorated Ilham Aliyev with the international award of a “True friend of the Balkans” also provision of humanitarian aid and policies among others.[177] Ilham Aliyev co-founded Baku International Humanitarian Forum along with Vladimir Putin. He together with other high-ranked officials of states and international organizations participated in the opening ceremonies and delivered speeches in the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth Baku International Humanitarian Forums held in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 respectively.[178][179][180][181][182]. He appreciated the role of the event in the Baku International Humanitarian Forum with the following words: “...humanitarian events send a message to the world that progressive representatives of the world should consolidate their efforts even more closely... The deepening of international humanitarian cooperation can prevent the negative and enhance positive trends to some extent.”[183]

Youth Policy

In October 19, 2006, President Ilham  Aliyev initated and signed  the Order on education  of  Azerbaijani youth  in  foreign countries, in which he tasked state bodies to draft respective State Program.[184] Accordingly, on 16 April 2007, he by his Decree adopted the  State  program on  the study  of Azerbaijani  youth  in foreign countries for the years of 2007-2015[185]. In February  9, 2007, Ilham Aliyev  signed an Order  to declare the year of 2007 “Year  of youth” in Azerbaijan.[186] In  2007, Azerbaijan  hosted the event “Youth  for the  alliance  of civilizations” International  conference co-organized, at the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation, by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, United Nations Development Program, the Council of Europe and ISESCO.[187] In December 19, 2011,  Ilham Aliyev signed  the Decree on the establishment  of the Youth Foundation  under the  President of the Republic of  Azerbaijan which intends to provide support to youth initiatives[188]. In September  15, 2017,  Ilham  Aliyev signed the  Order  on adoption of “Azerbaijani  youth 2017-2025”  State  program.[189]

Economic policy

Due to economic policies of Ilham Aliyev, GDP of Azerbaijan between the years of 2003-2016 increased more than 5 times as in 2003, when President Aliyev took office, GDP of Azerbaijan amounted to 7.276 Billion USD and was 37.848 Billion USD in 2016 according to World Bank data.[190][191] In 2007, March 6 Ilham Aliyev signed the Decree on the Establishment of Special Economic Zones in Azerbaijan.[192] On 20 April 2016, Ilham Aliyev signed a Decree to establish the Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communication[193] [194]. In November 6, 2017, he passed another Decree to establish “Azerbaijan Industrial Corporation” Open Joint-Stock Company[195].Ilham Aliyev participated in the World Economic Forum Annual Meetings held in Davos- Klosters, Switzerland in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.[196] [197] [198] [199] [200] Ilham Aliyev defines the diversification of exports as one of priority direction in the future of national economy[201]

National Development Concept "Azerbaijan 2020: Vision to the future"

“Azerbaijan 2020: Vision to the future” national economic development concept is considered one of major strategic initiatives of Ilham Aliyev for further development of the country. The respective Decree on preparation of this concept was signed by him on November 29, 2011, and the concept itself was adopted on December 29, 2012 by his another Decree[202] [203]. The concept provides measures and actions for development of various fields of economy and increase in public welfare by the year of 2020[204][205]. In its messages for Azerbaijan's voluntary Report on implementation of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals the concept of “Azerbaijan 2020: vision to the future” formulated by Ilham Aliyev was described as a strategy which reflects the longer-term national aspirations, opportunuties for investors and the key challenges on the way towards those goals.[206] The similar approach was noted in ther report prepared for World Economic Forum 2015 and published in the Foreign Affairs magazine[207]. The specialised economic magazine "The Business Year" assessed the outcomes of the concept initiated by Ilham Aliyev as a wise designed strategy which planned to secure national economic interests of Azerbaijan[208]

Strategic road maps for National Economy

President Ilham Aliyev signed a Decree endorsing “Strategic road maps for the National Economy and main economic sectors” on December 6, 2016[209][210]. On January 16, 2017, Ilham Aliyev met with Dominic Barton, the global managing partner of McKinsey&Company, which undertook the preparation of the strategic road maps, within the World Economic Forum in Davos.[211].

Public Administration Reforms 

Ilham Aliyev during his public statements regularly stressed that governance and anticorruption reforms are the priority of the state policy and for this purpose his government take administrative steps and institutional measures. [212][213][214][215] Since his presidency in 2003, Ilham Aliyev has adopted 5 anti-corruption policy, public administration reforms documents for the following years: 2004-2006 (State Programme on Fight Against Corruption)[216], 2007-2011(National Strategy on Strengthening Transparency and Fight Against Corruption)[217], 2012-2015 (National Action Plans on Fight Against Corruption and Promotion of Open Government)[218] and 2016-2018 (National Action Plan on Promotion of Open Government)[219]. On 3 March 2004, Ilham Aliyev signed decree to enforce Law on Fight against Corruption, established specialised Anti-Corruption Directorate under General Prosecutor Office and within the same decree instructed drafting the statute of another entity Commission on Combating Corruption to be specialised in prevention of Corruption[220]. Consequently on 1 June 2005, Ilham Aliyev signed decree to enforce the Law adopting the noted Statute.[221] In order to strengthen carried out measures in the field of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing, Ilham Aliyev adopted National Action Plan (2017 – 2019) on Anti-Money Laundering and Fight against Financing of Terrorism on 18th November 2016[222].    

Energy and transport policy

Ilham Aliyev repeatedly stressed the importance of the development of Southern Gas Corridor and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway at meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers, in his public statements and expressed the commitment of Azerbaijan to these projects.[223] [224] [225] [226] In June 2012 inter-governmental agreement on TANAP project was signed by Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan[227] TANAP project was launched in 17 March 2015, by President Aliyev, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in Kars[228]TAP and TANAP projects, being the integral parts of Southern Gas Corridor, are supported by Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council which was agreed by President Aliyev and Vice President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič in November 2014[229] In January 2013, in Baku, Ilham Aliyev together with President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso signed a Joint Declaration on delivery of Azerbaijan gas to Europe.[230] Ilham Aliyev took part in official opening ceremony of Baku–Tbilisi–Kars (BTK) on October 30, 2017.[231][232]

International Sporting Events

Ilham Aliyev is the president of National Olympic Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic since 1997.[233]. During his presidency of National Olympic Committee, Azerbaijan hosted some international sports events such as 1st European Games,[234] 4th Islamic Solidarity Games[235] and 42nd Chess Olympiad[236]

On September 8, 2015 Ilham Aliyev signed an order to set up the organizing committee for IV Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku 2017,[237] following the decision of General Assembly Meeting of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation in 2013[238] The Games continued from 12 to 22 May 2017, and all members of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federations participated in it.[239]

On 17 January 2013, President Aliyev signed an order to establish an Organizing Committee of the First European Games[240] following the decision of the European Olympic Committee to grant this event to Baku in its 41st General Assembly held on 7-8 December 2012 in Rome[241]. The European Games was held with participation of almost 6,000 athletes from 50 countries competing in 20 sports from 12 to 28 June 2015.[242][243]

On 14 February 2013, Ilham Aliyev signed an order to establish an Organizing Committee of the 42nd Chess Olympiad,[244] following the decision of 83rd FIDE Congress to organize the Olympiad in Azerbaijan.[245] The Games continued from 1 to 16 September 2016 in Baku Crystal Hall with the participation 1587 competitors representing 175 countries in open, 138 nations in women’s event[246][247].

Criticism

Assertions of corruption

Ilham Aliyev is accused of corruption and suppression of freedom of expression. In 2012, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) called Ilham Aliyev the corruptor of the year. According to the OCCRP, “there are a lot of ‘well-documented evidences’ which prove that for many years “the Aliyev’s family systematically seized shares in the most profitable businesses: banks, construction and telecommunications companies, gold mining and other deposits” [248][249].

After the publication, OCCRP and United States government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have received many letters from Azerbaijan, expressing support of ordinary citizens towards president Aliyev. The OCCRP interpreted this as “a coordinated attempt to overwhelm us with a significant number of electronic messages, most of them were very similar and, apparently, they follow one or two different templates.”[250]

According to “The Washington Post”, in 2011 the young son of Mehriban - Heydar - became the owner of 9 luxurious villas in Dubai. The villas were bought for about 44 million dollars. President’s daughters – Leila and Arzu also have a property in Dubai, registered in their name. The aggregate value of the property owned by Aliyev's children is estimated at $ 75 million.[251]

According to the results of the investigation carried out by the journalists of the Azeri office of the United States government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Leila and Arzu apparently control the “Azerfon” – Azerbaijani cellular communication company.[252]

Another publication claims that the Aliyev’s family controls the construction company “Azenco”, which receives multimillion-dollar contracts financed from the state budget, in particular, for the construction of the “Crystal Hall” concert hall, where in 2012 the Eurovision contest was held, the construction of square of Flag, etc.[253][254] [255]

Due to the journalistic investigation, it was also revealed that Ilham Aliyev and his family, together with other people from his closest circle, secretly own a very large number of companies.[256][257]

The investigation of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has showed that the Aliyev family (Ilham and Mehriban Aliyevs, and their daughters: Leila and Arzu) owns at least four offshore companies directly connected with Hassan Gozal – the owner of Construction company that has orders in Azerbaijan for 4.5 billion dollars. ICIJ notes that family members never declared Aliyevs’ offshore companies, Ilham and Mehriban Aliyevs had no legal right to open offshore companies, and when these companies were opened, measures were taken to conceal the real owners. When registering the companies, Aliyev's daughters indicated property worth about $6 million.[258] [259] The Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan did not answer questions about the availability of information on offshore companies in the declarations of Ilham and Mehriban Aliyevs. The Azeri press secretary Azer Gasimov told BBC-Azerbaijan that he does not see anything unusual in the fact that the names of members of the presidential family are mentioned in business activities: “Each of them, like any citizen of Azerbaijan, has the right to be engaged in business. Both – age and other criterias allow them to do this in accordance with the law.”[260]

In 2012, CNBC filmed the film “Filthy Rich” about corruption in the oil-ruling families, including the Aliyev family.[261]

As OCCRP noted, the investigation of Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova has showed that the Aliyev family, through a chain of companies manages assets worth $3 billion in the largest Azerbaijani banks, and that this is only a part of the financial empire.[262]

Investigation of Swedish television showed that offshore companies controlled by Aliyevs received from “TeliaSonera”, the Swedish telecommunications company, a factual bribe in the form of shares of “Azercell” cellular operator in the amount of 600-700 million dollars (due to the estimate of 2005), which was purchased for only 6.5 million dollars[263][264][265].

In a resolution of September 10, 2015, the European Parliament called on the EU authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of allegations of corruption against Ilham Aliyev and his family members.[266]

Economic policies

Another allegations relate to his economic policies as some analists and politicians claimed that falling of oil prices and related economic turmoil in global markets indicated that Ilham Aliyev’s economic policies resulted the Azerbaijan economy to depend on oil, and gas. They asserted that the governmet failed to manage the economic crisis well, and Aliyev’s policy does not promise to solve the challenges in the economy[267][268][269]. Critics also did not welcome borrowing of assets from international financial institutions as a remedy for soltution. Ilham Aliyev and his office was accused for devaluation of Azerbaijan currency. However following developments and recent ecnomic figures indicate that implemented reforms and applied policies were timely and effective in terms of decreasing the negative impact of falling oil prices[270].

Controversies

Ramil Safarov repatriation

In 2012, Aliyev convinced the government of Hungary to transfer convicted murderer Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan to complete the rest of his prison term. While attending a NATO-sponsored English-language course in Hungary, Safarov had murdered an Armenian lieutenant who was also taking the course, Gurgen Margaryan, while Margaryan was asleep. Safarov admitted that he committed the crime and surrendered himself to the police. Safarov has justified the act based on Armenian atrocities and oppression against Azerbaijan during 1988-94 conflict over the Naghorno Karabakh between the two countries.[271][272] Safarov had been tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in Hungary. However, after being extradited to Azerbaijan, Safarov received a hero's welcome. According to Azerbaijani authorities, Safarov was pardoned in accordance with Article 12 of the convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Person.[273][better source needed] He was promoted to the rank of major, and given an apartment and over eight years of back pay, covering the time he had spent in jail.

Statements about Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh

Shortly after thousands of Azerbaijani people gathered to commemorate massacre carried out by Armenians 20 years earlier, President Aliyev posted in his official website: “Our main enemies are Armenians of the world and the hypocritical and corrupt politicians that they control”.[274][275] However, according to the same sources of citation, it is the Armenian leadership who are the real targets of President Aliyev's criticism.[276] During his speech Ilham Aliyev noted:

"I once said that the Armenian people should not be afraid of us, they should be afraid of their own leadership."[277]

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict needs to be solved within the principles of international law and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan according to the statement made by President Ilham Aliyev .In 2008, Aliyev declared that “Nagorno Karabakh will not be independent; the position is backed by international mediators as well; Armenia has to accept the reality" and that "in 1918, Yerevan was granted to the Armenians. It was a great mistake. The khanate of Iravan was the Azeri territory, the Armenians were guests there."[278] President Ilham Aliyev stated, the occupation of the territory of the sovereign State with its internationally recognized boundaries – our territorial integrity is recognized by the United Nation and has been left out of due attention of the international community.[279] All these facts are the ever seen injustice.[279] No project can be carried out in the Armenian occupied Azerbaijani territories without the consent and participation of Azerbaijan.[280]

On 20 September 2017, at the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly, President Aliyev reminded unexecuted UN Security Council Resolutions regarding Nagorno-Karabakh: “In 1993, United Nations Security Council adopted 4 resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territory of Azerbaijan. Armenia for 24 years ignores UN Security Council resolutions and unfortunately is not punished for that. In some cases, UN Security Council resolutions are implemented within days. In our case it’s 24 years that resolutions are not implemented. This is a double standards approach. This approach is unacceptable.” He reiterated the significance of international law for the resolution of conflict: “Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved on the basis of international law, relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be completely restored.”[281]

Public image

  • On 21 November 2009, Aliyev was included in the book 500 Most Influential Muslims of World.[282][283]
  • Business Year company named President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev "The World`s Person of the Year 2015".[284][unreliable source?]
  • In 2012, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project called Ilham Aliyev the corruptor of the year.
  • In 2013, 12 November President Aliyev received the State Medal of Honor of Turkey from Turkish President[285]
  • In 2013, VIOAS (Voice of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea) magazine declared President Ilham Aliyev as ‘Man of the Year.’[286]

Honours and medals

National honours and medals

Foreign honours

International organizations
  •  CIS Medal For Distinction in Protection of CIS State Borders and Badge for Strengthening of Border Cooperation (2008).[291]
Others

Honorary degrees

The mark ° shows honours mention on his official website[297]

See also

References

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External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Artur Rasizade
Prime Minister of Azerbaijan
2003
Succeeded by
Artur Rasizade
Preceded by
Heydar Aliyev
President of Azerbaijan
2003–present
Incumbent