Azerbaijan. The political repression of the opposition continued during the year. The authorities closed a mosque in Baku in March, where the imam was an open critic of President Ilham Alijev.
Following a lengthy trial, in October seven leading opposition politicians were sentenced to imprisonment for involvement in the violent riots following the 2003 presidential elections. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Azerbaijan is 10,139,188 people in 2020. The OSCE expressed concern over the severe penalties.
The riots in 2003 targeted the regime, which was accused of electoral fraud when Ilham Aliyev was proclaimed superior victor in the presidential election. According to a report released in 2004 by Human Rights Watch, the regime, in connection with the election, conducted mass arrests devoted to stifling the opposition and the media.
In May, President Aliyev warned that his country was ready to go back to war with Armenia. The statement came on the tenth anniversary of the ceasefire between the two countries that closed in 1994, when Azerbaijan had lost the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Aliyev said he was trying to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict, but said his army was prepared to “liberate” the area. Despite negotiations in September between the presidents of the two countries, the peace process seemed to stand still.
In its conclusion, in October 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Committee called on the Azerbadjan authorities to suspend their “suppression of public associations and ensure that they can operate freely without risk of abuse against their legitimate activities”. According to abbreviationfinder, AZ stands for Azerbaijan in text.
Azerbadjan was further pressured in the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh when the outbreak republic in February 2017 conducted a referendum on a constitutional amendment. 90% of the votes cast supported the change, which meant that the area changed its name to the Republic of Artsakh. Azerbadjan condemned the vote and issued arrest warrants against the members of the European Parliament who had participated as election observers. OSCE who is the official mediator in the conflict stated that the voting result would not change the status of the area. Other countries condemned the vote. The de-facto republic remained internationally unrecognized.
In March 2017, President Aliyev conducted a state visit to France. met with a number of large French companies. He took the opportunity to criticize a number of companies for having activities in Nagorno-Karabakh, which according to. he was in violation of international law. France was interested in orders for Azerbadjan, and President Holande declared at a press conference afterwards that the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh is “unacceptable”. He urged the US and Russia to participate in resolving the conflict. In his address to the UN General Assembly in September, Aliyev criticized that the four UN Security Council resolutions of 1993 on unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces had not yet been implemented.
Demography and economic geography. – State of Trans caucasia. The country is the largest in the Caucasus region, both by population (9,514,887 residents in 2014, according to an estimate by UNDESA, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and by extension (86,600 km2). From 1989 to 2007, the migratory balance was negative; since 2008, immigration compensates for emigration (in 2013, with 2300 more residents). In recent years, the Azerbaijani ethnicity has exceeded 91.5% of the residents, mainly due to the return of Azeris from surrounding countries (attracted by the employment prospects) and the progressive emigration of Russians and Armenians, also due to the conflict over the control of Nagorno- Karabah province (Dağliq Qarabağ) between 1992 and 1994, with clashes and tensions that last until today. The Armenian and Russian components both decreased from 5.6% in 1989 to 1.5% recorded in 2009, when only 119,300 Armenians were registered. There are also other minorities – both ethnic and religious – of Lezghi (2%; concentrated in the North, Sunnis), Jews, Turks, Tatars, Avars, Ukrainians, all in sharp decline in the last ten years. Among the Azeris, the majority follow the Shiite Islamic religion (as in a few other states: Irān, ῾Irāq and Baḥrein), within the framework of a secular republican regime. Adherence to the Shiite confession, together with literature and many traditions in everyday life, derives from a long history of relations with Persian culture.
Economic and social indicators
Even today a large part of the Azerbaijan in cities it is constantly growing. In the large urban centers, and especially around the capital, Baku (2,122,000 residents), On the Caspian Sea, an intense industrial activity has grown up linked to the extraction and marketing of hydrocarbons (which supply 95% of exports). Oil extraction nearly tripled between 2004 and 2013: from 15,549 to 43,457 thousand tons; gas has increased more than seven times, from 4995 thousand m3 in 2004, to 29,245 in 2013. Most of the extractions are carried out in the Caspian Sea, arousing fears for the state of the environment. Furthermore, the geographical position of the Azerbaijan (between the oil basins of the Caspian and the large consumers north of the Mediterranean) guarantees this country an important role in the tracing and construction of oil and gas pipelines, with consequent diplomatic repercussions.
From a geopolitical point of view, the Azerbaijan appears very active in the region, with strong commonalities of purpose with Turkey (with which the Azerbaijan shares a very short border of 17 km through the exclave of Nahichevan, east of Mount Ararat), with the members of the Council for cooperation between Turkish-speaking countries and GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova); in addition, it has entered into agreements on the extraction of hydrocarbons with Russia.