NKR: Next President – Ali Kerimli?


Azat Artsakh – Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR)
21 Feb 05

The question headlining this article will be answered in the course of
time. However, if we follow attentively the home political developments
in Baku, we shall notice an important circumstance: the West seems to
have decided to rely on the leader of the political party Popular
Front of Azerbaijan (Popular Front of Azerbaijan – `reformers’) Ali
Kerimli. Butcan he an Azerbaijani Saakashvili or Yushchenko? We have
doubts in this reference which we will share with the reader later.
And now let us try to see why Ali Kerimli appeals to Western
political scientists and technologists. Compared with the leaders of
the other leading oppositionist parties the indisputable advantage of
Ali Kerimli is his pragmatism and consideration of new actualities.
These very characteristic features became the reason why after the
death of the leader of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan Abulfaz
Elchibey his first assistant Ali Kerimli divided the political party
into two separate parties one of which was called Popular Front of
Azerbaijan (`reformers’) the other Popular Front of Azerbaijan (`
classics’). The `classics’ were headed by anti-Armenian, supporter of
the line of Abulfaz Elchibey Mirmahmud Fataev. He is known to us the
people of Karabakhby the fact that he advised his fellow countrymen to
cut the ears of those representatives of Nagorni Karabakh (in
particular, the chairman of the NK committee of `Helsinki Undertaking
92′) who will decide to visit Azerbaijan. Ali Kerimli became the
leader of the `reformers’ getting rid ofthe politically blunt who
appeared in the camp of the `classics’. It is clear that this
circumstance could not but be commended by the western countries
accreditedin Baku, first of all the embassies of the USA, Great
Britain, France, Germany and Turkey. The other advantage of Ali
Kerimli is his attempt to bring together the right-wing radical
nationalist oppositionist forces in his struggle againstthe Aliev
regime: the musavatists of Isa Ghambar, `democrats’ of ex-speaker
Rasul Guliev, the National Independence Party till recently led by not
unknown Etibar Mamedov, the `grey wolves’ of Iskender Hamidov and
other influential political parties. In this direction Ali Kerimli was
especially active in autumn of 2003, on the eve of the latest
presidential election in Azerbaijan. However, his presumptuous false
supporters (particularly Isa Ghambar) did not allow the unification of
anti-Aliev forces. As a result Ilham Aliev who won the election
defeated the supporters of Gambar who were on the verge of raising
protest the next day. After such a blow the musavatists, as well as
all the left-wing and right-wing forces have been unable to recover.
That the efforts of Ali Kerimli to unify the Azerbaijani opposition
were approved by the West is asserted by the fact that the official
representatives of embassies of many leading countries in Azerbaijan
participated in the June 1 plenary meeting of the Popular Front of
Azerbaijan (`reformers’). It is also important that Ali Kerimli is
supported by such western authoritative organizations as the National
Democratic Institute (USA), the International Institute of Republicans
(USA) Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Germany), etc. Meanwhile, new
elections await the citizens of Azerbaijan, this time to the
parliament, which will take place in autumn. Ali Kerimli, as it could
be expected, is again actively seeking to bring together the
opposition. `Overcoming the stress the society underwent after the
presidential election in 2003 after long reflections I came to the
conclusion that an essential stimulus is needed to get out of the
current situation,’ shared his thoughts Ali Kerimli. `Such a stimulus
can become the new unification and cooperation of the Azerbaijani
opposition on a healthy basis. If we manage to form an alliance of all
those forces which want to see changes and reforms in the country, it
will first of all strengthen people’s belief in themselves and belief
in the prospect of changes.’ `The unification of forces,’ Kerimli went
on, `will also guarantee that after the parliamentary election people
will defend their votes if needed.’ Pay attention to the last phrase
`people will defend their votes’. Doesn’t it smell like the events in
Georgia and Ukraine in Azerbaijan? Quite possible. Also it is not
excluded that the West already works with the leader of the Popular
Front of Azerbaijan (`reformers’) in this direction. The evidence to
this is the recent visit of Ali Kerimli to a number of European
countries (Norway, Sweden and France), as well as the USA. Whatis
more, in this country he met with not secondary politicians. Thus, in
France he even met with the foreign minister, discussed the public and
political situation in Azerbaijan. In this reference it is significant
to mention thewords of the foreign minister that the international
organizations should start discussions with the Azerbaijani government
for creating a democratic atmosphere on the eve of the parliamentary
election. The other high officials he met with also spoke about the
vital interest of the West in conducting free and fair parliamentary
elections in Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, the leader of the `reformist’
popular front is mustering courage day by day. `Despite 2003 when we
behaved quite properly, this year we shall be tougher,’ stated Kerimli
in his interview to one of the popular newspapers of Baku. `We will
appealto the society to give a peculiar punishment to the leader who
will hinder unification. I believe in unification. We cannot make the
same mistake twice. We will not allow 2003 to repeat.’ Behind these
words it should be understood that Ali Kerimli’s intention is to stand
for elections with a unified candidate in each of the 124
constituencies. The election to Mili Mejlis (the parliament) of
Azerbaijan will be conducted by the majority system because election
by party tickets is forbidden by the authorities in this country.

Thus, in the upcoming parliamentary elections Ali Kerimli will rely on
the West and the unification of the opposition. Because there is no
doubt that the authorities will falsify the election results by all
means. Ali Kerimli also hopes that the unification of the opposition
backed by the West may cause the people to protest and not only
achieve the reconsideration of the election results but also demand
Ilham Aliev’s resignation. The same happened in Georgia once. However,
let us come back to the question set forth above: will Ali Kerimli
become an Azerbaijani Saakashvili or Yushchenko? Such a scenario seems
more than problematic to us. The thing is that Ali Kerimli has already
been in the government. It was during the governance of the popular
front which discredited itself. At the age of 27 he was appointed
state secretary of Azerbaijan by Abulfaz Elchibey. His fast move into
big politics is also interesting. In the summer of 1991 when the
national liberation movement of Karabakh had already underwent the
massacres of Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad (Ganja) and other
places in Azerbaijan, when the military action `Koltso’ of violent
displacement of Armenians from Karabakh implemented together by the
forces of the USSR Ministry of Home Affairs andthe Azerbaijani omon,
the special militia forces, was gathering momentum, Ali Amirhusein
oghli Kerimov, not yet `Kerimli’, was just graduating from the
department of law of Azerbaijani State University after Kirov at the
age of25. He intruded into politics through establishing the
non-official youth organization ` Yurd’ (`Fatherland’) which became a
peculiar `komsomol’ for the movement of ` popular front’. Thus, Ali
Kerimli came to power at the expense of the blood of innocent people,
unlike Saakashvili or Yushchenko. Second, we do not think that the
Azerbaijani opposition will agree to such a union in which Ali Kerimli
will order everybody. By the way, this was stated by the leader of
`Musavat’ Isa Gambar who advised the local journalists not to hurry in
making conclusions on the unification of oppositionist forces. Third,
the Azerbaijani authorities will do their best to prevent
unification. The Azerbaijani mentality which has got used to honouring
power will allow Ilham Aliev, as formerly allowed his father, to
achieve his aim. Thus, today already various coalitions are emerging
in Azerbaijan as mushrooms after rain which will hardly ally with Ali
Kerimli. Among these are the alliance `Solidarity and Confidence’ and
the union of the political parties `Civil Solidarity’, `Adalat’
(`Justice’), and ` Svoboda’ (`Freedom’). Undoubtedly, in the period
before the election the top government of Azerbaijan directly
encourages establishment of as many political alliances as
possible. Probably, the National Independence Party will play its
traditional game. The pro-Russian democrats together with their allies
from the `Vahdat’ and Islamic parties also will hardly resort
toalliance with the radical nationalist opposition. There is no need
even to speak about the communists. And fourth, the West itself may
refuse to support Ali Kerimli at a crucial moment because of his
militarist moods for the question of Karabakh. The West is for the
peaceful settlement of the Karabakh problem through compromise. It is
true that these days Ali Kerimli seeks to speak less about Karabakh
and more about democratization of Azerbaijan. However, this does not
mean that after coming to power he will deny his words. This
circumstance is, indeed,taken into account by the West. Therefore,
getting close with Ali Kerimli, at the same time the West will not
forget about Ilham Aliev who may in the future,on the whole, come to
the liking of the Europeans and Americans because they are aware that
the notions of `democracy’ and `Azerbaijan’ will hardly be compatible
in the near future.


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