Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 28 /Trend E.Kosolapova/
Azerbaijan has made great progress towards democracy, Chief of the Political Analysis and Information Provision Department of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Elnur Aslanov said, the website of Turkish Today's Zaman newspaper reported.
Aslanov noted that recent public polls have shown that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is supported by 80 percent of the population, which indicates that the current President is likely to win at the presidential elections next month, for the third time.
Aslanov said that political reforms are being conducted in Azerbaijan in parallel with economic development, while oil revenues turned Azerbaijan from an impoverished nation in the early 1990s into one of the region's powerhouses.
The establishment and strengthening of democratic processes and institutions is the responsibility of the Azerbaijani government and very important steps have been taken this sphere, Aslanov said.
He spoke about an independent media and said that unhindered Internet access provides a "very wide" platform for any political force in the country to present its programs to the electorate.
According to Aslanov a number of bloggers, political parties, media outlets, Internet TV channels and radio stations is an evidence of the step-by-step progress of democracy in Azerbaijan.
A better democracy is when a new intellectual generation emerges with a new vision for the future, the head of Presidential Administration Department said.
He also underscored that over 15,000 Azerbaijani students are studying abroad, which means the creation of a new "intellectual class" that will provide fertile ground for Azerbaijan's economic and political development in the future.
Aslanov also said that the number of people below the poverty line has fallen significantly, from 50 to 6 percent, in the past 10 years, while the state budget expanded tenfold, reaching nearly $30 billion.
Azerbaijan's military budget at the moment is bigger than the entire budget of Armenia, Aslanov said.
Azerbaijan's current economy accounts for nearly 80 percent of the economy of the entire South Caucasus, which is a clear evidence of Azerbaijan's development, the head of Presidential Administration Department said.
He went on to note that the look of the capital Baku, as well as those of other provinces, is swiftly changing, while the government has created more than a million jobs.
In particular, financial support that the government allocates for the youth increased by a striking 100 times in the past 10 years, he added.
Regarding the country's political opposition, Aslanov said that there is a lack of concrete initiatives for the improvement of society among today's opposition leaders.
The official underscored that in particular their suggestions that foreign investments made with state oil money should be brought back to Azerbaijan and distributed to the public say that they "have no idea about inflation or the appropriate management of finance."
Aslanov assured that measures to ensure full democratic conditions for the elections are underway. He added that although the idea of "perfect" elections is a bit utopian, even in leading advanced democracies, Azerbaijan will take necessary steps and measures to ensure that the will of the people is expressed in genuine, free and fair elections.
He reminded that Azerbaijan is among the countries that provide energy security for Europe and is a key transit country for the planned 2014 pullout of NATO troops and military hardware from Afghanistan.
Aslanov added that Azerbaijan is rapidly becoming a country that shapes the region's future.
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