Aliyev Must be Pandering for Votes…

by Asher Kohn on 1/6/2010 · 2 comments

…because he just decreed that the Azeri people’s debt to the state owned gas company is kaput.
Wait, did I say “decreed”? I guess this isn’t a vote thing after all. It’s just Caucasus economics.

Aliyev looks great to his people (and his parliament). He gets to be a father of the people just like his dad. And considering that all he really did was creatively title a tax break, its a pretty solid PR win. Eternal Remont says as much in less words.

It’s nice to see that Azerbaijan, for all of the freedom-of-press issues and single-track-economy issues at least ostensibly has Azeri folks’ interests in mind. Even though I enjoyed my time in Azerbaijan myself, every time I think of the country now I think of Carpetblogger, who is hardly an Aliyev mouthpiece. But as much as Azerbaijan has gotten ragged on pretty often in the past, it is an actual country with an actual economy. It is far more like the countries to the west of it than it is to the ones on the other side of the Caspian, I would wager. It even has a national book! Written by one of the more fascinating men I’ve read about (Lev Nussinbaum has a better reason to hate Communism than you do: Stalin slept with his mom).

So there is something definitively there to get punditized. Aliyev’s annulling of Azeri debt probably has investors in Azeri industry (read: BP) disgruntled, and it looks more like real governance than anything else going on between the Black and the Caspian. So there’s something that could be responsibly discussed, which beats things like “zOMG! Circassians are a threat to Russia and thus must be looked at like Chechens or maybe like Ossetians or was it more like Georgians!”

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This post was written by...

– author of 33 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Asher is currently in law school at Washington University in Saint Louis. He is studying natural resource law in Central Asia and its intersection with different theories of jurisprudence. Besides, Asher has written for The Los Angeles Times, Run of Play, İstanbul Altı, and Istanbul Eats. He has worked with the Natural Resource Law Center and the International Crisis Group, where he studied legal and political traction over a variety of issues.

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Alex Visotzky January 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Color me cynical, but I wouldn’t necessarily say Aliyev has his people’s interest in mind. Just trying to defuse some tension, I’d reckon.

What makes you think that Azerbaijan is far more like the countries to the west of it than its buddies to the east? Let’s turn this comment thread into a rockin’ debate.

AJK January 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm

“People’s interest” seems awfully related to “defuse tension” in my mind. I mean, the actual psychology behind Aliyev’s move is beyond me. But it seems less like a political move for a particular crony than it is to actually help Azeris.

As for why I say it’s more West than East? Well, blanket statements based on anecdotal experience, mostly. I suppose it’s at least more Caucasus than Central Asian, and is treated as such by Russians, Iranians, and Turks. And the new city of Baku is glass skyscraper’ed and international-style’d to hell, and the fin-de-siecle city is the same concept 100 years back. And before then, it’s a little slice of Persia. Once you get out of Baku, though, it’s all mountains, volcanoes, and dinosaur footprints.

The urban planning aspects, and a lot of the religious and cultural aspects, are very Caucasian or otherwise imported in exchange for gas exports. I’m, of course, interested in hearing any other sides.

And because I’m rambling, a bottle of Kartveli wine to be poured out for our fallen blogger at Carpetblogger. She got me into the game, unbeknownst to her.

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