WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–In a speech delivered on the House floor on Thursday–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) called the attention of his House colleagues to the rampant corruption and political manipulations of the rule of law by Azerbaijan’s Aliyev regime.
Representative Pallone described the recent changes in Azerbaijan’s law–placing President Heydar Aliyev’s son–and hand picked successor–Ilham–in direct line for presidential succession in Azerbaijan. "It is clear that the Aliyev family is on its way to establishing the first dynastic regime in the Former Soviet Union," said Pallone. He went on to call attention to a case recently unsealed in the state of New York that unearthed evidence that Heydar and Ilham Aliyev "stole over $100 million in a form of vouchers that were designed to give the purchaser disproportionate influence over the privatization process [of the oil industry in Azerbaijan].
In light of these facts–Representative Pallone took exception to a recent Bush Administration letter congratulating the appointment of Ilham Aliyev to the post of Prime Minister in Azerbaijan. "This is clearly not in the interest of democracy that the President has touted lately in regards to the Middle East–said Pallone. "How can this Administration have separate distinctions about what is democracy and what is not? Those countries that have significant resources that are sent to Western markets are allowed to be less democratic than those that don’t."
The consolidation of a hereditary monarchy has been the subject of sharp criticism in the international press. The Washington Post–in an August 25–2003 editorial titled "An Unending Succession," described Azerbaijan as "an authoritarian regime preparing to become the first hereditary fiefdom among post-Soviet republics."
The Economist–in an August 9–2003 editorial titled "Kim Jong-Ilham," noted that–"in a world where blatant nepotism is a disappearing skill–Heydar Aliyev–now 80–is keeping old traditions alive."
The New York Times–in an August 25–2003 editorial–"Dynastic Regimes," noted that–"such successions promise short-term continuity–but the damage they do to democratic institutions creates long-term instability."