BAKU: Daily questions US diplomat’s optimism on “fundamental changes

Daily questions US diplomat’s optimism on “fundamental changes” in Azerbaijan

Yeni Musavat, Baku
7 Jun 04

Text of Qosqay report by Azerbaijani newspaper Yeni Musavat on 7 June
entitled “Fundamental changes?”, subheaded “Seven months ago the West
returned Azerbaijan from threshold of these changes”

Speaking at a conference entitled “With Women towards Victory”,
the deputy US ambassador for political issues, Nancy McEldowney,
voiced an intriguing opinion. She said Azerbaijan was in the run-up
to fundamental changes and called on women to play a more active role
in public life. While mentioning fundamental changes, the diplomat
meant oil revenues (will there be revenues? – author), a peaceful
resolution to the Karabakh conflict, democratic elections and a
guarantee of freedom of speech.

Undoubtedly, these are fine words. We regret that what the experienced
diplomat mentioned as fundamental changes cannot simply be implemented
in Azerbaijan.

This process has been going on in Georgia. [Georgian President]
Mikheil Saakashvili has won democratic polls and is implementing the
democratic changes mentioned by Mrs McEldowney. The country’s budget
revenue has grown, important steps are being taken almost every day
towards building civil society. Finally, territorial conflicts, like
the long-drawn-out Karabakh conflict, are being resolved peacefully
as mentioned by the diplomat.

Following the West’s erroneous stance towards the last [presidential]
elections, Azerbaijan was halted on the threshold of radical
changes. To be more precise, voters’ hopes were betrayed, those
who showed the will were again returned to the Aliyev clan’s
enslavement. Everybody was in favour of changes and we regret that
this was impossible.

What changes have taken place since Ilham Aliyev stepped into
his father’s shoes (on 31 October 2003)? We have no intention of
mentioning them. There is no need for a guide if the mountain can be
seen. Budget money is being spent sporadically, corruption is rife,
freedom of assembly is suppressed.

We should not also forget that women, who are invited to play an active
role in public life, come across tremendous deprivations. Are women,
who sell their bodies for a loaf of bread, not a hostage to Aliyev’s
10-year-old policy?

Now the country’s population understand that nothing will change for
the better unless the dynastic regime disappears from Azerbaijan. Or
the other way round, without a radical power change.