Reverberations, Not a Revolution
Last week, I wrote that an Egypt-style protest is not in the making here in Azerbaijan. There may be some unrest and some curious activity. Certainly, there are both superficial and deeper commonalities between the two nations, but the power structures here are not conducive to any sort of opposition rallying support enough to go protest in front of the Milli Məclis (Parliament) or the President’s residence. That’s not to say there won’t be some more subtle effects on both the people and the government here.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to interpret this move by the President as an appeal to Azerbaijanis by a leader trying to appease his detractors:
The country’s leader clarified the purpose of increasing campaign against bribery and corruption.
He claimed that Azerbaijan needs to combat bribery and corruption more seriously.
“There is sufficient legal basis for that, and relevant orders and decrees have been signed. We must eliminate these negative facts in Azerbaijan. To this end, we all – both authorities and citizens – have to beat at one point,” he stressed.
“…Once again I want to say that, first of all, there is political will, economic and political independence and there is wonderful and talented people. Work in Azerbaijan should be conducted at the level of most developed countries of the world. We’ve approached to it, and in many cases have approached to the maximum. But much remains to be done. All work in this country – the economy, social policy, and all other issues – should be at the modern level. People should live in peace, and principles of social justice should gain a foothold,” President Aliyev said.
Frustration over bribery is at a constant, low-level simmer in Azerbaijan. Everyone here knows it’s a problem; but, everyone here also takes it as a given, a fact of life, that you have to pay a little more on top to get things done. Because of that, it makes for a great issue through which to appease citizens to head off an Egypt-like situation. My taxi driver brought this up yesterday when I asked him about the situation in Egypt, and while he expressed optimism for the Egyptians, he was skeptical about this push to stop harassing citizens for bribes. He was glad that the campaign is getting attention, but less sure of the potential results. That riots such as those in Egypt won’t happen here I’m fairly certain; that the President’s statements will help solve the bribery issues is less clear.