The president’s frank declarations have surprised and shocked the public
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has surprised the public by declaring that Azerbaijan should “remain a traditional country and will not integrate into Europe, which is in a crisis, oppresses Islam and does not distinguish between a man and a woman.”
Aliyev delivered the comments during a speech delivered in honour of the centenary of Baku State University.
Baku State University was established in 1919, during the time of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). The anniversary event was held on November 26.
During his speech, President Aliyev spoke about how important it is to retain one’s independence and to protect one’s traditional values and ‘defend Azerbaijan from malevolent forces.’
What else did Ilham Aliyev say?
About external assistance and foreign loans
“Today, sometimes we hear from some external circles that, they say, we want to help Azerbaijan, we want to see Azerbaijan as a developed country. All this is a lie. I say this absolutely sincerely. …
At a time when the treasury was empty, we applied for loans, but no one gave them to us. Okay, if you love Azerbaijan so much, then why didn’t you help us at that time?! Why didn’t they help the country when it was in a difficult situation? Today, people wanting to give us a loan are lined up. But we do not take. We give loans ourselves.
Our external public debt is 17 percent of gross domestic product. According to this indicator, we occupy the ninth place in the world. Now, tomorrow, we can get any amount – at least $10 billion. But we do not take, I do not allow it. We are reducing debt again.
Therefore, when someone says that he wants good for Azerbaijan, do not believe it. Let the youth not believe [this]. No one will ever love us more than ourselves”, Aliyev said.
Aliyev’s mention of the country’s being in a ‘difficult time’ is a reference to the beginning of the 1990s, when Azerbaijan became an independent state after the collapse of the USSR and was embroiled in war with Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh.
At that time the country had several leaders until Heydar Aliyev, the father of Ilham Aliyev, became president.
On the ruling party and the opposition
“The vast majority of the population does not see an alternative to us [the ruling party], and who can be such an alternative? Even their patrons have already turned their backs. We know this for certain.
Now in this audience I can even share with you, the Azerbaijani people, some operational data. Today, anti-Azerbaijani circles, foreign circles are already openly saying that we do not have a traditional opposition, there are some corrupt groups, the song of which has already been sung, you can’t hope for them.
Therefore, financial security was reduced for them, so they are rushing around. The main target should be youth.
They have chosen young people as the main target, they want to confuse them, poison their minds, raise them against the people, the Motherland, and traditional values. It doesn’t work and it won’t work. Because the Azerbaijani youth is patriotic, they love the Motherland, are attached to it.”
On integration into Europe
On the issue of integration into Europe, Ilham Aliyev went over the topic of personnel changes.
Many of the leading posts in the country are held by very elderly people, who have had their positions for decades, and no one is in a hurry to send them to retire. In the extreme case, they are transferred to another position. For this, the media and society criticize the government.
The president explains this as a tradition:
“We are building a state based on traditional values, one of which is respect for elders. We must defend this, and let the youth hear me.
Some countries are currently not paying attention to this. They do not distinguish between men and women. But we live and must live in a traditional society. We must respect women, must shield and protect them. …
There is gender equality, we recognize that. But we cannot live outside traditional thinking, and let the younger generation also know this. And elders must be respected for their age. …
And then we are advised to integrate. I once asked when Europe was still in the grip of an economic crisis, and said: where should we integrate into the crisis?
Where do we integrate into the society of those who say ‘Stop Islam?’
Where to integrate into the society of those who do not see the difference between men and women?
I do not want to go deep. We will by no means integrate there.”
“Recall the year 2003. There was an attempted coup in Azerbaijan after the presidential election. It’s no secret that I won a clear victory in the presidential election, because people voted for the policy of Heydar Aliyev. Riots were set up.
In 2005, Azerbaijan has already been pointed out as the next place in the series of those revolutions. T-shirts with the inscription ‘Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan’ were issued. That is, we were to become the fourth, and others after us.
We stopped this plague, this disease, this evil. Now the whole world sees that these revolutions have brought only misfortune to those countries, today they are face to face with their problems, the unrest is not ceasing there.
Because these poisonous seeds of revolution were sown there.”
Reaction of the public
Many in society were shocked not so much by the president’s position itself, but by the frankness with which he voiced these opinions.
“This was the most absurd and chaotic speech he has voiced so far. One clearly felt a kind of helplessness.”
“The president of a country in which there are many prisoners of conscience who ended up in jail for their religious beliefs, including ‘prisoners of prayer’, does not like Europe saying ‘Stop Islam.’ By the way, in Europe you can take a photo with your passport in a hijab, but in Azerbaijan you can’t.”
“What a horror. He is dragging us 100 years back.”
“Come on … Do you not know our president? Don’t pay [him] any attention.”
Although there were some that were full of praise for the president.
“Every citizen of Azerbaijan should appreciate the current government. Because stability prevails in our country, there is no terrorism, people are calmly engaged in their own business. Radical personalities with their untruthful, biased, slanderous thoughts and statements support anti-Azerbaijani forces, among which the Armenian lobby occupies a special place. But the misinformation spread by these forces will not be able to influence the people, because the people have chosen their leader.”
And some, against the backdrop of these attacks towards the West, brought up the words that Aliyev said about Russian President Vladimir Putin the same day.
Accepting a delegation led by the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Valery Gerasimov, Aliyev called Putin “the president of the leading country in the world” and “the President, who is number one among the politicians of the world.”