What's going on in Nakhichevan? Baku discusses possible abolition of autonomy
What’s going on in Nakhichevan
The Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic exclave of Azerbaijan is restless. Recently some high-ranking officials have been arrested and republican state bodies have been abolished. According to some, it will hardly be possible to avoid the dismissal of the head of Nakhichevan, who has been leading the autonomous republic for 27 years. What is behind these events? Baku is discussing a possible abolition of autonomy.
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Earlier this week there were arrests in the customs committee of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. The customs committee of the autonomous republic was abolished and turned into a department of the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan. A new head of this department from Baku has already been appointed.
Shortly before this, a similar scenario was seen in the state security service of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. Arrests were made, and the service itself was turned into the department of the State Security Service of Azerbaijan.
Loss of autonomy?
According to many experts, Baku wants to abolish the autonomy of Nakhichevan and subordinate it directly to the country’s capital. But it’s not so easy.
According to the constitution of Azerbaijan, the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic is actually a state within the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Abolishing autonomy would require changes to the constitution, which would require a referendum, political commentator Agshin Karimov says:
“A referendum is inevitable, but uncertainty in the agenda of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia is postponing this process.”
Karimov believes that the autonomy of Nakhichevan will be abolished.
“Reforms are being prepared that require changes in the basic law of the country. In addition to the abolition of the autonomy of Nakhichevan, this is a matter of reforming the administrative division of Azerbaijan, increasing the number of deputies of the Milli Majlis. Other issues may be submitted to the plebiscite,” Karimov added.
Autonomy on subsidies
During a meeting in Baku with the head of Nakhichevan Vasif Talibov, President Ilham Aliyev announced interesting figures. Aliyev noted that only 22% of the budget of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic consists of local profits, the Azeri edition of Radio Liberty reports.
The President, in a conversation with Talybov, stressed that in the coming years the share of local profits in the budget of the Autonomous Republic would increase. Talybov promised an increase in this indicator.
But in recent years, although the profitable part of the Nakhichevan budget has grown, the volume of subsidies from Baku has grown in parallel. Only the country’s budget for 2023 provides for a reduction in subsidies aimed at autonomy.
Who is Vasif Talybov?
61-year-old Vasif Talibov was known as one of the closest people to Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan and the father of current President Ilham Aliyev.
During the years of Heydar Aliyev’s leadership in Nakhichevan (1991-1993), Talybov was the chief assistant to the chairman of the Supreme Majlis of the autonomous republic.
From 1995 to this day he has been the Chairman of the Parliament of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic.
“To be continued”
Structural changes are taking place in Nakhichevan, Fazail Agamali, a member of the parliamentary committee on legal policy and state structure, said in an interview with Turan:
“These steps can be regarded as part of the structural reforms being carried out by the country’s president.”
The MP noted that various ministries, committees, and departments in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic are being reorganized as part of the executive power of Azerbaijan. “To be continued,” he added.
“The Republic remained out of sight”
Judging by what is happening, Baku has decided to limit the de facto independence of Nakhichevan, political commentator Shahin Jafarli argues:
“If I may say so, Nakhichevan will be transformed from a republic with a broad framework of independence that is not completely subordinate to the Azerbaijani state to a position of closer subordination.”
According to Jafarli, with a high degree of probability it may be assumed that soon the head of the republic, Vasif Talybov, will somehow be removed from his post:
“The fact that he did not take part in the events on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the ruling party in Baku actually indicates his fall in the eyes of Baku, and work is underway to remove him.”
Jafarli stated that in recent years, Nakhichevan has seemed to remain out of sight and not taken part in events held by the central authorities of the country:
“After the second Karabakh war, we saw a completely different profile of a politician in the face of Ilham Aliyev. A leader speaking with nationalistic slogans, who solved the Karabakh problem, who speaks about the problems of South Azerbaijan. Aliyev shows himself to the world as the leader of all Azerbaijanis, who stands above the internal political struggle. And Nakhichevan, as it were, remained on the outskirts of this policy.”
“Nakhichevan seemed like a khanate in Azerbaijan”
According to Jafarli, it is for this reason that many people look at Nakhichevan as a khanate:
“This idea is not without foundation. Vasif Talybov built a khanate there. He issued decisions without coordinating them with Baku, without particularly going into whether the central authorities would allow this. An atmosphere has been created there that is fundamentally different from other regions of Azerbaijan. Apparently, now Ilham Aliyev has decided to put an end to this and link Nakhichevan with Baku with closer ties.”
Nakhichevan itself is silent
So far, the leadership of Nakhichevan has not reacted in any way to the events taking place there. Radio Liberty journalists failed to obtain comment.