President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has appointed his wife as first vice president of the country. Mehriban Aliyeva has already been introduced to the Security Council. At the meeting of the Security Council on February 21, the first lady of Azerbaijan said she is ready to assume the post entrusted to her and to justify the confidence of the president and the people of Azerbaijan by implementing the tasks and commitments set to her. Noteworthy that under the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the first vice president assumes the powers of the president if the latter fails to implement his duties. Such amendments to the Constitution were made after the nation-wide referendum held in the country on September 26, 2016.
Political analyst Tofiq Abbasov and Head of Atlas analytical center Elkhan Shainogli briefed EADaily on the above appointment.
Why did the president appoint no one but Mehriban Aliyeva as vice president of Azerbaijan?
Tofiq Abbasov: I think President Ilham Aliyev made a timely decision within his powers. At last year’s referendum, voters approved the alterations and amendments to the Constitution by majority of votes and introduction of the vice president’s post was welcomed by majority of voters. As a Milli Majlis member, the head of Heydar Aliyev Fund, Mehriban Aliyeva has manifested herself as an experienced politician and manager. She occupies responsible public positions and elective offices.
Newly-appointed first vice president is a creative woman full of energy, which speaks of her high performance activity in many areas. She made really important legislative initiatives, undertakings in the political and social building, gave solutions to cultural, humanitarians problems, promoting links with the external world.
She has contributed to successful implementation of programs to expand the frameworks of the dialogue of civilizations. Therefore, she has a sustainable reputation of a global-scale leader. It is for reason that she is a UN Goodwill Ambassador. I think all her services to the Motherland and the society are behind her appointment to the new position, which is honorable and responsible at the same time.
Elkhan Shainogli: Appointment of the first lady to the post of the first vice president was an anticipated step. President Ilham Aliyev chose Mehriban Aliyeva for that post considering her approval rating. As head of Heydar Aliyev Center, she has been engaged in public activity for a long time already, helping vulnerable citizens and holding various cultural and humanitarian events. On the other hand, Mehriban Aliyeva is known abroad too. Ilham Aliyev could appoint as vice president only the one who he trusts at full. Unfortunately, interests inside the government are different. If the president appointed anyone from the conflicting sides, it would spark larger discrepancies in future. Meantime, Mehriban ALiyeva’s vice presidency will be admissible to all power structures.
How will Azerbaijani public respond to that appointment?
T.A.: The Azerbaijani public has no reasons to doubt in the expediency of the new appointment. Mehriban Aliyeva has always been open for cooperation with the people. The residents of Khazar district of the capital city that elected her as a Milli Majlis member can prove this. She has always been available for voters. Typically, their instructions were implemented timely. She visits the areas where the people gave her their vote of confidence very often and for a long time.
Having multifaceted commitments, many of which she assumed voluntarily, during the recent years, Mehriban Aliyeva has demonstrated a surprising functional efficiency, a high ability to set large-scale tasks and find algorithms for their solution. Besides tasks on the political agenda, she successfully implemented tasks in the social, cultural and humanitarian fields.
The breakthroughs made in various fiends showed her reliable competency and creativity.
Thanks to her initiatives, Azerbaijan has successfully operated medical centers and preventive treatment centers for diabetes, thalassemia, oncology, and other patients. She successfully implements a comprehensive recreation therapy for children. The effect of that therapy has surprised the most authoritative specialists in the field.
E.Sh.: I think the biggest part of the public will accept that appointment. Mehriban ALiyeva’s approval rating is high. However, this appointment will not be welcome by some people who will insist that the incumbent leadership of the country seeks to prolong the family power.
Don’t you anticipate any negative response by U.S. and EU to this appointment? They have always blamed Azerbaijan for democratic problems.
T.A.: Azerbaijan builds sovereign democracy like many other countries do. This means that we seek and find our own development path. Mehriban Aliyeva, as an experienced politician engaged in the state national and institutional building is one of the pillars of Azerbaijan’s democracy, the supporter of progressive ideas and modernization. During the recent years, she has supported the Azerbaijani authorities and executive bodies manifesting herself as a true partner of the authorities who has no high status or post.
The response of the foreign circles to the given appointment will become a litmus paper to define how impartial and sincere the United States, Europe and their organizations are towards Azerbaijan. No matter how the foreign countries will respond, we have no reasons to stop or look back to others. We must believe in ourselves, our government and must mobilize our resources to settle our historical tasks.
E.Sh.: They in the West know Mehriban Aliyeva and I am not sure that the U.S. or EU will respond negatively. Quite the contrary, well aware of Mehriban ALiyeva’s capacities, they will try to speed up political and economic reforms in Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, Aliyeva’s appointment will meet critics in both Azerbaijan and in the West. It’s normal.
Will that appointment mean new prospects of political career of Mehriban Aliyeva? Will that help her take the president’s position?
T.A.: I suppose Mehriban ALiyeva and everyone who are glad to see her achievements now think what creative resources will help her justify the trust of the president and the Azerbaijani people on her new position.
She has a high rating of creativity. Along with this, not only the Khazar region residents but also many others gave a vote of confidence to her. She has helped many of them to overcome social problems, diseases, and other hardships. She has greatly contributed to Azerbaijan’s achievements in the field of sports. The people like her never think of posts, personal glory. They care for how to serve their religion and goodness.
E.Sh.: The new position will make Mehriban Aliyeva become a political figure. Perhaps, as the first vice president, she will be responsible for specific sectors of economy, reforms, and foreign policy. She will be travelling to various countries and holding talks on behalf of Azerbaijan. I think by appointing Mehriban Aliyeva as the first vice president, the president answered the major question: who will be the next president of Azerbaijan?
By Anar Huseynov for EADaily