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Ilham Aliyev

Ilham Aliyev
Azerbaijani President Aliyev Participate in a Meeting With Secretary Kerry and Other Global Leaders on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in Vienna (26452164084).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
Alma mater Moscow State Institute of International Relations

Ilham Aliyev (Azerbaijani: İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev; born 24 December 1961) 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]

Election observation delegation of European Parliament in its report concluded that elections were largely carried out smoothly and conducted in a peaceful manner, furthermore in its joint press release Ambassador Boris Frlec, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission noted that there were notable improvements in the conduct of this election, but additional efforts were necessary[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]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] Ilham Aliyev has been criticized for his illiberal rule[19][20] and sometimes Azerbaijan was perceived as one of corrupt states in Europe by analysts and political commentators.[21][22][23][24]

According to Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI),[25][26] Azerbaijan achieved its best position in that year since its inclusion in the report in 2000. Thus, in 2015, Azerbaijan was ranked 119th out of 168 countries compared to 2001 when it was ranked 87th out of 90 countries.[25] Azerbaijan’s score in 2016 CPI went up by one point from the previous year.[27][28]

TI's another 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.[29][30] 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.[31] However, government officials claimed to support results of GCB, considering its results are based on survey of citizens.[32]

ASAN Service, which was established with Presidential Decree on 2012,[33] is internationally recognized for its role in elimination of corruption in public services[34][35] and received United Nation’s award on public service delivery.[36] ASAN Service is currently researched and applied by world countries[37] Such as France signed memorandum with Azerbaijan in order to apply practice of ASAN Service (mobile service system) in France[38] 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.[39][40][41]"ASAN service" is currently researched and applied by foreign countries, including Albania, Italy, Estonia, Republic of Macedonia, Indonesia and others.[42]

Party affiliations and foreign relations

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

On March 26, 2005, Aliyev was officially elected as the ruling New Azerbaijan Party chairman. In April 2006, President Aliyev made a state visit to Washington, D.C. It was a remarkably successful trip, at least for the image of the country. Speaking at a public forum sponsored by the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Aliyev discussed oil, economic development, and democracy with an audience of reporters and others. The visit was followed by another meeting which was hold privately with then-president George Washington Bush Jr. which he described as very interesting.

Following that, 44th President of US, Barack Obama invited President Aliyev to attend 4th Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. in March 2016.[43][44][45] During visit, President Aliyev was received by Vice President Biden and they discussed cooperation on security issues, including counterterrorism, and the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor to boosting European energy security[46]

Furthermore, President of the USA, Donald J. Trump sent three congratulation letters on several occasions;[47][48][49] in his first letter he quoted that "Azerbaijan is a valued partner of the United States. Together, we are working to enhance global security through our joint counter-terrorism efforts".[50][47] Donald J. Trump in his second letter[48] concerning the opening of 24th annual International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference in Baku[51][52] mentioned that US is strongly committed to Southern Gas Corridor[48] which ensures energy security of Europe[46] and appreciates Azerbaijan’s important role in supporting this global energy security.[53][54][55][56]

Aliyev with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, 23 January 2012

During 12–15 March 2017, President Aliyev made official visit to France[57][58] and met with executive officials of international companies SUEZ, DCNS, CIFAL, Space Systems in the Airbus Defence and Space Division.[59][60][61][62][63] 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.[64][65][66] Following his visit, Aliyev met with President of French Republic in the Elysee Palace.[67][68][69] French President Francois Hollande made a press statement that status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is unacceptable[70][71] and he urged other co-chairs of the Minsk Group, the United States and Russia, to contribute to this process[72]

Following the initiative of President Aliyev,[73][74] for the first time[75] 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.[76][77][78][79][80] 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.[74][81][82][83][84] Such trilateral high-level meeting was also organized between the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.[85] It is planned to organize another trialateral meeting between leaders of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia.[86]

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.[87][88]


Allegations of corruption

Some non-governmental organizations and journalists based on their investigations make constant allegations that Ilham Aliyev is engaged in corruption related activity which is not confirmed by any domestic or international judicial or quas-judicial body. 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” [89][90].

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.”[91]

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.[92][93] [94]

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.[95] [96] 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.”[97]

In 2012, CNBC filmed the film “Filthy Rich” about corruption in the oil-ruling families, including the Aliyev family.[98]

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.[99]

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.[100]

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 opression against Azerbaijan during 1988-94 conflict over the Naghorno Karabakh between the two countries.[101][102] 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.[103] 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”.[104][105] However, according to the same sources of citation, it is the Armenian leadership who are the real targets of President Aliyev's criticism.[106] 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."[107]

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."[108] 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.[109] All these facts are the ever seen injustice.[109] No project can be carried out in the Armenian occupied Azerbaijani territories without the consent and participation of Azerbaijan.[110]

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.”[111]

Public image

  • On 21 November 2009, Aliyev was included in the book 500 Most Influential Muslims of World.[112][113]
  • Business Year company named President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev "The World`s Person of the Year 2015".[114][unreliable source?]
  • On 12 November 2013 President Aliyev received the State Medal of Honor of Turkey from Turkish President[115] 
  • In 2012, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project called Ilham Aliyev the corruptor of the year.

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).[120]

Honorary degrees

The mark ° shows honours mention on his official website[126]

See also


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External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Artur Rasizade
Prime Minister of Azerbaijan
Succeeded by
Artur Rasizade
Preceded by
Heydar Aliyev
President of Azerbaijan