Azerbaijan Announces Another Surge in Military Spending

BAKU (RFE/RL)–In a move that threatens to ignite a new war in the volatile South Caucasus, Azerbaijan has announced plans for another drastic increase in defense spending, which has already skyrocketed over the past decade.

The Azerbaijani government’s defense budget for next year, submitted to parliament on Tuesday, calls for $3.1 billion in expenditures. News reports from Baku quoted Azerbaijani Finance Minister Samir Sharifov as saying that this represents an almost 90 percent rise from this year’s spending level.

“Defense spending in 2011 will account for 19.7 percent compared with 10.7 percent in 2010, so the share of defense spending in the budget will almost double,” Sharifov said, according to AFP news agency.

This contradicted Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s statements on the subject made earlier this year. Addressing Azerbaijani troops in June, Aliyev said that Baku’s military spending will total $2.15 billion this year.

“A goal was set forth several years ago for Azerbaijan’s military expenses to be above all of Armenia’s spending,” he said. “This goal has already been fulfilled.”

Armenia’s state budget for 2010 is projected at $2.6 billion. The Armenian government plans to spend a total of $2.8 billion next year. About $400 million of the sum is to be allocated to the Armenian military.

The Azerbaijani defense budget was supposed to have passed the $2 billion mark in 2008. Aliyev publicly ordered his government to ensure that in April 2008.

Over the past decade, Azerbaijan has boosted defense spending at least tenfold as part of a military build-up financed from the country’s soaring oil and gas revenues. Baku hopes that it will eventually force the Armenians to make serious concessions in the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Aliyev regularly threatens to win back Karabakh and the liberated districts surrounding it by force. According to his finance minister, about $1.4 billion of the planned 2011 spending will be used to modernize the Azerbaijani military through the purchase of up-to-date equipment and weaponry.

Armenian leaders have downplayed the widening gap between the defense budgets of the two South Caucasus arch-foes. “We counter this with the quality and combat-readiness of our armed forces,” Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian told journalists last week.

Armenia is also capitalizing on its military alliance with Russia, which enables it to acquire Russian-made weapons at cut-down prices or free of charge. A new Russian-Armenian defense agreement signed in August commits Moscow to supplying Yerevan with “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware.”


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  1. Manvel said:

    Even though Aliev has been singing the same song for years. I feel as though the Azeris are ready to dance with Artsakh and Armenia one more time. The military disparity is starting to concern me with this major surge in their budget. I still believe in our ability as a race to withstand this threat from Azerbaijan. But we must counter their increases in budget with true economic growth within Armenia. Enough corruption, enough bull from our leaders. Its time to make permanent changes.

    • vartan said:

      How about someone hit his pipeline by mistake, oooooppppsss there goes the budget
      the west have invested so much that they will kill aliev themselves if he start problem

  2. Hagop said:

    Most wars are lost when the opponent is underestimated! I think it’s haigh time we should take the surge in Azerbiajan’s military spending more seriously. The telethon in November is one chance for the diaspora to show it’s might and willingness to support Armenia.

    • Zareh said:

      I agree. It is wrong to dismiss Azeri war rhetoric as “for internal consumption” only. Open military threats are done on a daily basis and for the whole world to hear, therefore, it is a) threat to take seriously b) use these declarations against Azerbaijan in the war of propaganda.

      Israel did not take Anwar Sadat seriously when he came to power after Abdel Nasr. After each speech the president of Egypt finished with the phrase “Next year in Jerusalem”. Granted, he said that starting in 1970, but we all know how he succeeded in 1973 to defeat the Israeli armies in the Sinai peninsula. The so-called “impenetrable” gigantic fortifications called the Bar-Lev line was rendered useless by the Egyptian army.

      Lessons to learn.

      • Vartan said:

        And who won the 1973 war at the end??
        the powerful and modern american army was defeated in vietnam, the brithish army was defeated by the colonials, lesson has thought that it is not what you have in your hands but what its in your heart.

  3. eddy said:

    Don´t worry! We should be buy more weapon but the best would be to “borrow” the needed weapon from Azerbaijani itself, as soon as they are needed, as it was in 1990´s the case beside this we are a nation of generals!

    Our bigest ememy is the corruption( abuse of authority and lack of trust in judicial system and so on.. we better first try to “cure” this problem !

  4. Stephen said:

    I totaly Agree with Eddy, in regards corruption , and the mafioso who terorise the public and get away with it

    this element should be eradicated first, then we start thinking of defending the motherland ………………

  5. Mike said:

    I want to know what Samir Sharifov is getting from this venture. You know he doesn’t move a finger without the promise of a kickback. Corruption is rampant in his office. And he will get in bed with any player who will fill his pockets with gold!