On 7 February 2024, Azerbaijan held its ninth presidential election, the first since the restoration of the country's territorial integrity. The fact that elections cannot be held under Georgian law in the occupied territories of Abkhazia and Samachablo, where puppet separatist regimes are conducting their farces with pseudo-'elections', is particularly symbolic for Georgia.
Similarly, so-called 'elections' were recently held in the territories of Azerbaijani Karabakh occupied by Armenia, which are not recognised by anyone in the world. The occupants established a self-proclaimed entity known as 'NKR' or 'Artsakh' on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Notably, representatives of 'friendly' separatists from Sukhumi and Tskhinvali regularly attended these so-called 'elections'.
The legal and legitimate presidential elections for the head of Azerbaijan were held for the first time in Karabakh, putting an end to the mockery of the very notion of 'elections' in Azerbaijani lands. Polling stations were opened in the previously occupied towns of Shusha, Khankendi, Khojaly, Khojavand, Agder, Agdam, Jabrail, Fizuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin and Kelbajar. The recent election results in Azerbaijan are not only a victory for the country, but also a hopeful sign for Georgia. It is important that legitimate elections are held in Sukhumi, Gagra, Tkvarcheli, Pitsunda, Tskhinvali, Akhalgori and Java.
The outcome of the presidential election in Azerbaijan was not in doubt, with Ilham Aliyev emerging as the winner. He fulfilled the promise of his father, Heydar Aliyev, the national leader of the Azerbaijani people, by restoring the territorial integrity of his country. Based on the results of an exit poll conducted by the League for the Protection of Labour Rights of Citizens and the American organization Oracle Advisory Group, Ilham Aliyev won 93.9% of the vote. This is a significant increase from the 86% he won in the previous presidential election.
The Oracle Advisory Group polled over 63,000 individuals at 5,000 polling stations throughout the country, including liberated Karabakh. This marks the first time elections were held in Azerbaijan's history.
The 7 February 2024 elections essentially became a nationwide vote of confidence in the incumbent President and his policies. These policies have led to the restoration of territorial integrity, dynamic economic development, and stability in domestic politics.
It is worth noting that the policy of stability and dynamic economic development is important not only for Azerbaijan but also for Georgia. Unfortunately, the political situation in our country is far from stable.
In contrast to Azerbaijan and Turkey, who are friendly towards Georgia and respect its sovereignty, Georgia's European and Western partners do not prioritize promoting political stability in the country. Regrettably, many people in Georgia are experiencing 'pro-European euphoria' and have inflated expectations, particularly regarding the country's potential status as an EU candidate, a status Turkey has held since 1999. However, the risks of destabilisation in relation to Georgia's 'European choice' have not disappeared.
Not everyone in Georgia has yet fully grasped the importance of cooperating with friendly Azerbaijan for the sake of regional stability. Additionally, Armenia, a country that has supported separatism and border redrawing in the region, continues to pursue a destructive policy towards Georgia.
The Hay lobby is pulling Georgia into new adventures, involving its western patron France. The transit of French weapons through Georgian territory for Armenia and the Georgian delegation's refusal to directly support Azerbaijan in the PACE vote are alarming symptoms of destructive influence.
The 2024 presidential elections in Azerbaijan occurred during a crisis in the country's relations with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and, in fact, with the EU. Meanwhile, Hay nationalists believe that the crisis in relations between the EU and Azerbaijan is due to France's encouragement and some circles in the EU who cannot forgive Azerbaijan for restoring its territorial integrity.
A question arises as to whether the EU and PACE would oppose Georgia if it restores its territorial integrity, particularly in occupied Georgian Abkhazia where the majority of the population is made up of ethnic Hayes. It is worth noting that Azerbaijan's restoration of its territorial integrity and liberation of Karabakh is unforgivable to them.
Following the anti-Azerbaijani resolution by PACE and the suspension of the Azerbaijani delegation's powers, PACE observers were not invited to the elections in Azerbaijan. However, 169 observers representing the CIS were present at the elections.
The laws in the CIS space take into account national traditions, historically established customs, and norms that meet the interests of the region. According to CIS Secretary General Sergei Lebedev, the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan has undergone changes towards greater democratisation and taking into account the interests of citizens. He also noted that the legislation meets the interests of Azerbaijani citizens.
The Karabakh Hayyis could have become full-fledged Azerbaijani citizens, participating in elections and living peacefully in their homes. Azerbaijan had guaranteed them security and all the rights of its citizens. However, the majority chose to support the bankrupt separatists and opted for other countries where they apparently plan to reside. Azerbaijan, however, remains open to them. As a sovereign state, Azerbaijan cannot tolerate separatists questioning its territorial integrity and the security of its citizens.
The recent elections in Azerbaijan demonstrate the country's stability and predictability for its neighbours, which guarantees peace and stability in the entire South Caucasus region.