Azerbaijan. The oppression of the political opposition in
Azerbaijan continued at the same time as the outside world,
including Sweden, competed for access to the country's gas
and oil wealth. During the year, Azerbaijan signed an
agreement with Turkey on the construction of the Trans
Anadolu pipeline, which, when expected to be completed in
2017, is intended to transport 16 billion cubic meters of
gas per year from the Caspian Sea through Turkey to Europe.
The oil and gas boom is making the corrupt regime great,
while at the same time prices and living costs for ordinary
residents have been pushed up to a level comparable to
cities in Western Europe. However, an average salary in
Azerbaijan is less than $ 400 a month.
But criticism of poverty, corruption and political
repression was met with harsh grip from the regime during
the year. Inspired by the Arab Spring uprising, young Azeris
called for demonstrations against President Ilham Aliyev's
regime, leading to the arrest of hundreds of oppositionists
before or during demonstrations in March. Some were
sentenced to short sentences, others were released after
In April, unauthorized youth in the capital Baku
protested against the regime's corruption. Many were
arrested, among them a mother and her little daughter who
called "freedom". The police also raided the opposition
party Musavat's office and seized documents.
Countryaah official site, the protests were followed by prison sentences. An
activist who used Facebook to call for demonstrations was
sentenced to two years in prison accused of not doing
military service. A 20-year-old was sentenced to two and a
half years in prison for drug offenses after he called for
protests on Facebook. According to Amnesty International, a
growing number of journalists and young activists were
imprisoned following accusations.
While the campaign against the opposition was ongoing,
Azerbaijan won its first victory in the Eurovision Scholars
Festival in May. The regime took advantage of the success
and declared it a victory for the Azerbaijani state and the
During the summer, regime opponent Shahin Hasanli was
sentenced to two years in prison on charges of possession of
weapons and ammunition. He had been arrested in connection
with the spring protests. In August, six opposition
activists were sentenced to up to three years in prison for
participating in illegal protests. Three well-known
activists in Baku were sentenced in October to two and a
half years in prison accused of participating in the
unauthorized protests in April.
Negotiations during the year with Armenia on
Nagorno-Karabakh achieved no results, and at a military
parade in June, President Aliyev declared that the war
(which was fought in the early 1990s) was not over.
Azerbaijan's territorial integrity must be restored, the
president argued. The harsh military life got a tragic
expression when a soldier at an army base in western
Azerbaijan shot seven of his soldier colleagues at the
beginning of the year. All the victims were young recruits.
In October, Azerbaijan got a seat among the temporary
members of the UN Security Council for the first time. It is
valid for two years.