Monday, June 17, 2013
My crude analysis
Elections are most often than not won on the popular votes. So, this 2013 Azerbaijani presidential election coming up in October, it will once more be a test of how popular the current president, Mr. Ilham Aliyev is with 4 million eligible voters out of the 9 million Azerbaijanis. Suffice it to say that in 2008, Iham Aliyev won by a landslide, collecting over 87% of the popular vote. However, a lot has happened since then, internally and globally, that would directly or indirectly affect this election. For instance, just look at Turkey. Who would have predicted that a protest that started with a handful of protesters could grow to thousands and it is still persistent despite Erdogan’s tough handling of the issue.
This 2013 election is predicted to be a different ball game compared to the previous. If the report is true that the new opposition coalition, the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF), backed by Azerbaijanis based in Russia who felt disenfranchised with this government, would nominate Oscar-winning Rustam Ibragimbekov as its presidential candidate.
Personally, I don’t think Ilham Aliyev should be scared of a good competition. Although there is no scientific poll to back it up, but I think he still remains very popular. In recent years, the Aliyev government has been able to empower a large constituency which is the youth and his policy has gradually built a middle class full of young entrepreneurs. Considering that he has already locked up for himself the population of voters above 40 years old, because by default they have sympathy and respect for what his father Heydar Alyev represents to the whole country, I want to then prematurely call the election for Ilham Aliyev. But who knows… it’s still very early.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
In line with the global consultations on the post 2015 and the SDGs, last week, I participated in 2 sessions that were held in the hinterlands of Azerbaijan organized by the International Organization for Migration, with its partners –the office of the residence coordinator, UN office Azerbaijan, the UN Department of Public Information, Azerbaijan office, and the International Eurasia Press Fund. In total, 6 Azerbaijani regions -Berda, Agdam, Agjebedi, Terter, Yevlax, and Goranboy were covered in the process.
The theme for this consultation was centered on Migration and Human Trafficking. There are obvious issues on human trafficking, particularly in the regions in focus. Therefore, IOM in the interest of engaging citizens at all levels particular taking the discussion to where it matters most, as well as colleting vital information, it was important to take the sessions outside Baku.
The sessions were held in regions of Azerbaijan of Berda, and Terter. Over 80 participants took part in both sessions combined. Representatives from 3 regions, Berda, Agjebedi, and Yevlax came together in Berda; while Terter, Agdam, and Granboy converged in Terter. All the regional executive authorities sent top local representatives to participate in the dialogue. Also, the offices dealing with security, law and legal matters, education, youths and sports were all represented.
Ms. Irada Ahmedova from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office informed the participants about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided an important motivational force and measuring rod for the progress in reducing poverty and in increasing access to basic health, education, water, and other essential services by the target date of 2015. Many countries, including Azerbaijan, are on track to achieve a significant number of the goals which have been transforming the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people. The UN is working with governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry on with an ambitious post-2015 development agenda. Azerbaijan is one of the 87 countries, which launched the post-2015 national consultations. “The consultation process will be aligned with Azerbaijan: Vision 2020 national strategy. The ideas and recommendations generated throughout the consultations, suggesting a post-2015 development framework, with both local and global dimensions, will feed into UN report due by the end of June”, she said.
The meeting in Berda and Terter lasted a combined time of 5 hours and was facilitated by the Officer in Charge of IOM, Mr. Serhan Atropak. During the dialogue, Mr. Atropak took the participants through the state of global trends in migration, the role of Azerbaijan government in the process, and the contributions of migrant workers in the development of Azerbaijan society. In other to get a better understanding of the process, participants in the meeting were providing answers to 9 specific questions concerning migrations.
The chairman of International Eurasia Press Fund who was also at the meeting had this to say: “IEPF is proud to be a partner with the IOM and UN agencies in this process of consultations and it feels good taking the process to the rural areas of Azerbaijan. The outcome today has shown that the Azerbaijani government is open to dialogues and that local authorities are willing to join in the process of developing better national policies. I hope IEPF with its partner can continue to facilitate meeting of this kind.”
Ms. Envera Selimovic, representative of the DPI office, Azerbaijan expressed satisfaction in the outcome of the meeting. “It was a good meeting judging from the outcome of the meeting. I will definitely want to see several of these kinds of high level segments taken to the other regions of Azerbaijan. The next meeting at this level can be broadened to cover a broader issue at regional levels like gender, youths, and equal development”.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Lack of proper education is the cause of youth unemployment!
Lack of adequate education is the cause of early marriage, drug abuse, and unhealthy lifestyle!
These are the statement I hear from rural youths of Azerbaijan on an assessment tour of 7 regions of Azerbaijan covered within UNICEF and International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) implemented project. It is a fact that early marriage still happen in Azerbaijan. It is also a fact that drug abuse is prevalent among young people residing in Yevlax, Agdam and Berda. All these conclusions are based on 2012 assessment carried out by young people in their various communities.
Azerbaijan Youth Advocate Program (AYAP) was launched in the war affected regions of Azerbaijan and other surrounding regions. Young people were trained as leaders and subsequently equipped with knowledge on the various challenges that they have identified, based on the 2012 assessment, challenges that they face in the communities and society at large. These young leaders have engaged other youths through various forms and forums in order to disseminate the information and basic knowledge and device an appropriate way of channeling their challenges to decision makers.
So, it was refreshing to once more hear young Azerbaijanis stating unequivocally that until the problem with education system is addressed, rural youths will always face challenges. Young people proffered that teachers be given enough improved incentives; government should build better and well equipped schools; also high education should be made affordable and assessable for young people residing in the regions.
Obviously, as the main coordinator for the UNICEF / IEPF project, I totally share the sentiments of these young rural leaders.
Update: Someone is listening... Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev today has signed a decree appointing USA trained Mikail Jabbarov as the new Education Minister of Azerbaijan.