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Abulfez Elchibey. Photo: turandanseslenis.blogspot.com
Abulfez Elchibey. Photo: turandanseslenis.blogspot.com

Abulfaz Elchibey's brief presidency (1992-1993) did not bring stability. Elchibey was elected president of Azerbaijan in June 1992. His government was faced with the daunting task of governing a newly independent country which found itself at war and experienced economic collapse. The Popular Front attempted to conduct a range of reforms, including some economic liberalization in line with the IMF's recommendations and adopting some legislation guaranteeing a broad range of cultural rights to minorities. The government conducted negotiations with Western oil companies with a view of attracting the sorely needed foreign investment to the oil sector. As Elchibey wrote later, "According to the drafts of the contracts with U.S., British, Norwegian and Turkish oil companies nearly $10 billion to the coun­try's industry was to be brought into the country."[1]

It is conceivable that such reforms, with time, could have brought positive results. Yet time was a scarce resource, and security problems trumped economic concerns. As Carnegie expert Marina Ottaway described it in 2003,

"…a strong popular mandate, which Elchibey had initially possessed, [was] not a sufficient basis on which to build a democratic state


[1] Abulfaz Elchibey, "Independence: A Second Attempt", December 1993.

[3] Martina Ottaway, p. 56.

[4] Thomas de Waal, The Caucasus: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 121.

[5] Nazrin Mehdiyeva, "Azerbaijan and Its Foreign Policy Dilemma", Asian Affairs, Vol. XXXIV, November 2003, p. 274.

[6] Jacob M. Landau and Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, Politics of Language the Ex-Soviet Muslim States, Hurst, 2001, p. 151.

[7] Nazrin Mehdiyeva, "Azerbaijan and Its Foreign Policy Dilemma", Asian Affairs, Vol. XXXIV, November 2003, p. 271.

[8] Mehdiyeva, p. 274.

[9] Interview with Abulfaz Elchibey, "Will Be a Free Man", Uncaptive Minds, Winter-Spring 1996-1997, p. 113.

[10] Nazrin Mehdiyeva, "Azerbaijan and Its Foreign Policy Dilemma" (Asian Affairs, vol. XXXIV, no. III, November 2003), p. 271.

[11] Nazrin Mehdiyeva, Azerbaijan and Its Foreign Policy Dilemma, Asian Affairs, Vol. XXXIV, November 2003, p. 277.

[12] Hendrik Fenz, "The Limits of Democratization in Postauthoritarian States: The Case of Azerbaijan" (OSCE Yearbook 2004: Baden-Baden, Nomos), p. 169.

[13] Nakhichevan is an autonomous republic of Azerbaijan physically separated from the rest of the country by Armenian Zangezur region, and bordering also on Iran and Turkey. Although it is under Azeri sovereignty, it has a great deal of autonomy and is governed by its own elected parliament. Since the 1960s, the Nakhichevan political elite has governed Azerbaijan (Heydar Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan (1993

March 2011

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