Gerald Robbins: “Heydar Aliyev years stabilized the nation"

Baku, December 13, AZERTAC 

Gerald Robbins, Senior Fellow at Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), gave an exclusive commentary to Washington Bureau of AZERTAC on the occasion of 11th anniversary of death of National Leader of Azerbaijan Heyday Aliyev. Mr. Robbins served as Freedom House’s Program Director for Azerbaijan in 1995 when he was assigned to regional office in Baku, shortly after Javadov brothers attempted their coup.

“The nation was on the verge of complete chaos, reeling from Nagorno-Karabakh's aftermath. The general sentiment among the proverbial "man on the street" questioned the nation's independence, wondering whether the Soviet Union's demise had been a huge mistake,” noted Robbins on the second most recent security threat to the statehood. The other non-Karabakh related threats were the separatists movements in northern and southern districts of Azerbaijan in 1993.

Underlining the role of the returning leader, Robbins said that “Heydar Aliyev years stabilized the nation. I may not have agreed with many of his policies but readily acknowledge a markedly changed attitude among the citizenry during my stay. The general state of anxiety and uncertainty changed, a national consciousness was established. This was a significant accomplishment, considering the geopolitical environment Azerbaijan faces.”

“In many respects,” Robbins continued, “Heydar Aliyev's legacy resembles Kemal Ataturk's. Both figures guided their nations through turbulent periods, displaying adept statesmanship and administration. Their governance wasn't egalitarian, but should be viewed in the prevailing environments which confronted the post -Soviet and Ottoman Empires. Political and economic survival were each man's primary goals; reforms became a secondary concern. Enacting the latter is a prerogative for successive leadership, be it Azerbaijan or other former Soviet states.”

Yusif Babanli

Special Correspondent

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