Azerbaijan: A rising country, ‘shining’ over grief, mourning Aliyev renewing the state, transforming the system, rejuvenating parliament Mihriban Aliyeva: launching close dialogue with opposition, becoming a symbol, bearer of change Election in Azerbaijan: Search for ‘national solidarity,’ struggle for ‘joint ideology’ - İBRAHIM KARAGÜL

Azerbaijan: A rising country, ‘shining’ over grief, mourning Aliyev renewing the state, transforming the system, rejuvenating parliament Mihriban Aliyeva: launching close dialogue with opposition, becoming a symbol, bearer of change Election in Azerbaijan: Search for ‘national solidarity,’ struggle for ‘joint ideology’

I had long been planning to write about Azerbaijan, its geopolitical position, the challenges it encountered and the opportunities it possesses.

I have been wanting to share my notes on what it means for this beautiful country by the coast of the Caspian to build a strong state, to exist in a difficult region, the success story of building welfare and power, and how Azerbaijan achieved all this.

My aim was to witness the existence of a shining country in its region and the world.

Turkey, Azerbaijan: Similar challenges, similar difficulties, same fight

However, Turkey’s and the Middle East’s heated agenda have not given much of an opportunity for this until now. This is because while Turkey has been fighting for the global showdowns, it is also facing incomprehensible regional attacks, and we are fighting against this storm nonstop.

Then, I realized that Azerbaijan and Turkey cannot be thought independent of one another. There are such similarities that the two countries cannot be perceived separately no matter what. All analyses, perspectives, past and future plans overlap.

The advantages and challenges the region presents them, the internal and surrounding struggles, the determined positions taken aimed at building welfare and power are very similar.

Perceiving Turkey and Azerbaijan together, strengthening the two countries’ solidarity, “defending Azerbaijan as we defend Turkey, loving it as we love Turkey” becomes a principle of “homeland-oriented thinking.”

Aliyev renewing the state, transforming the system, rejuvenating parliament

Azerbaijan is holding parliamentary elections on Sunday. President İlham Aliyev abolished parliament on Dec. 5, 2019, and decided to hold snap elections. Why did he do this? Are these elections just one of the many elections for Azerbaijan? Or are “new and exciting” things about to take place in this country?

The elections are being held at a time Aliyev is making a top-to-bottom renewal in the state administration, replacing and transforming corrupted structures and staff, bringing young and well-educated individuals to important positions, launching a structural change and activating a systemic transformation in Azerbaijan’s state organization.

Intense interest from women, youth. Expansion of social participation.

There is intense interest in parliamentary elections as a result. The number of candidates is huge, and most importantly, the number of women candidates has increased while youth interest is at a record high. There are now 1,324 candidates competing for 125 seats. As many as 299 of them are women. A significant portion of candidates consists of young individuals and those who are going into politics for the first time.

The New Azerbaijan Party led by Aliyev, which held the most seats in parliament, winning 75 of 125 seats in the previous election, presented 123 candidates in the elections, 75 of them are young candidates who had never before run in elections.

It appears that President Aliyev is both renewing the state system, restructuring it, and forming a vast area of interest in participation in the parliament elections. He is leading a major change.

An area of ‘national solidarity,’ a joint ideal, a permanent mark

He is opening the state, from parliament to bureaucracy, to the participation of vast segments of the society and encouraging them to do so. Aliyev is building a field of national solidarity, which aims to take Azerbaijan to the next level, to an upper league, to turn it into a more contributive and stronger country.

I guess the second major steps after Azerbaijan’s founding are being taken. The era in which many countries, many factions, numerous influence circles dragged Azerbaijan into endless political debates to weaken it internally, plunder its resources and make it prone to interventions is closing.

Aliyev is strengthening the state’s central power domain, reinforcing defense shields, forming an Azerbaijan initiative in the region and globally and, most importantly, he is spreading the construction of this central power through broad social segments and turning it into a “joint ideal.”

Mihriban Aliyeva: Close dialogues with opposition, being symbol, bearer of change

Azerbaijan, which is already in a central position with its global-scale energy projects, is continuing these firm and long-standing steps in efforts to move the state and country to the next level. It appears that this is not only an investment in the elections but also preparation for what’s to come later on.

Aliyev’s wife, Mihriban Aliyeva, who has been a deputy and vice president since 2005, has been the key name, carrier of this new era with soft discourses, messages and practices.

Mihriban Aliyeva approaches the opposition wing with a soft political language, establishing dialogue in the same manner. Her interest is not limited to the New Azerbaijan Party alone. She displays affinity with all political groups in Azerbaijan and is working towards drawing them into this area of change to form a field of solidarity.

For example, she is getting late Ebulfeyz Elçibey’s home restored, supporting his son, undertaking Elçibey’s wife’s funeral ceremony, running to the aid of ailing and needy opposition members, and she even sends some to Turkey for treatment.

A country rising, ‘shining’ over grief, mourning

A star country is rising over a history overflowing with mourning and grief. We are watching the great struggle of a wounded country as a big part of it was kept under invasion.

Of course, ideologies, political identities, opposition pursuits and projects are extremely important. They are the obligatory elements of democracy. However, in this age of global turbulence, we learned that what is most important is to protect and strengthen the “center.”

When the central power domain becomes weaker, opposition and ideologies also each turn into operational elements and consume that state from within. This is so common in our region; Turkey’s struggle has taught us a great deal in this area.

We will be proud

Azerbaijan is the strongest it has ever been “as a state.” It appears that in the not so distant future it is going to turn in to an enviable power. We are witnessing a renewal, a change, a search for solidarity much beyond parliamentary elections.

We are going to watch a country in the Caucasus, along the Caspian coast become a star – and we will be proud.

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