Generational change expected as Azerbaijan heads to the polls

This weekend Azerbaijan goes to the polls to elect the country's new parliament. Voters get to cast their choice between 1324 candidates - 299 of them women - coming from 19 political parties, in snap elections that are widely perceived in the country itself and beyond as marking a major generational “leap forward” from the post-Soviet political infrastructure and policies to a new and more progressive modern future as a major economic and political player in the modern world.

Much of this positivity stems from the initiatives and reforms carried through by President Ilham Aliyev, who following his re-election in 2018, has increasingly concentrated his efforts on reforming state structures and policies, and his First Lady and Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva. The country's emerging politicians are younger, western educated, and progressive.

Our growing economic power should first of all be aimed at improving the well-being of the people, and we are doing this… Today, Azerbaijan is one of a handful of countries in the world pursuing an absolutely independent policy,

President Ilham Aliyev

This comes against a backdrop of a thriving economy, positive social change, and Azerbaijan's increasing engagement in the global community. All achievements that have taken place despite the constant threat and drain on resources attendant with the so-called “frozen conflict” in Nargorno-Karabakh where since 1988 hostile neighbour Armenia has claimed the territory as its own in a conflict that has cost, at a conservative estimate, around 20,000 lives and displaced more than one million civilians.

In the EU Azerbaijan is becoming increasingly perceived as a a reliable and responsible partner, not least in the energy sector, where the country has the potential to become a major LNG supplier, as the bloc seeks urgently to diversify its sources of supplier amid concerns over security of supply.

Speaking in Baku on February 7th, President Aliyev said “I am sure that the gigantic infrastructure project, the Southern Gas Corridor with a length of 3,500 kilometres and connecting several countries, will be fully commissioned this year”.

Azerbaijan, an energy rich nation which holds 35 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves as of 2017, ranking 25th in the world, could supply as much as 15% of the EU’s annual LNG requirements. The country also holds 7,000,000,000 barrels of proven oil reserves.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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