Azerbaijan, Baku, 16 April / Trend corr G. Jabiyev/ Ali Ahmadov, Deputy Chairman and Executive Secretary of the governing New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), interview with Trend :
Question: Over 3 months of the year, in which the presidential elections will take place, have already passed. How is the governing party preparing for the elections?
Answer: All current activities of the NAP are regarding preparations for the elections. We commenced preparation for the presidential elections at the end of 2007 and have already achieved the important stage of that. The elections will be held in mid October and we still have much time. But there is a logic which lays in the basis of NAP's activities - it will be easier to achieve the goal if comprehensive preparation is done. Right now, we are studying the electors, choosing most successful tactics for implementation of our election program. There are several conditions which can provide success at the elections. The first of them is candidate. NAP has no problem with this. The success of the NAP Chairman, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, rejoices us. The Azerbaijani citizens highly appreciate his activities. Thus, Ilham Aliyev has good chance of support from most part of Azerbaijani citizens. As to human resources, before the presidential elections the number of NAP members will amount to 450,000. We believe that this figure will be definitely achieved. NAP does not have any problem in terms of organization as well. The party is mobilizing all its powerful resources to make the elections successful. We are completely ready for the election campaign. We will hold such an election campaign that no other party will be able to do the same.
Question: Can the opposition create a platform alternative to the platform of NAP?
Answer: If we try to describe the political life of Azerbaijan, we will have to admit that ideological domination of NAP is still underway. It is not because of our will, but because of the weakness of ideas which our opponents can present to the public. In the previous elections we did not find the opposition presenting any fruitful and rational program, rather only criticizing the Government. We should admit that the only weaponopponents used against us during all the election campaigns was criticism. Now another question that arises is - does that criticism have any logical grounds? In several cases they tried to criticize us by misrepresenting the reality, omitting the work carried out. They saw the boundary for their election platforms only in that and had no other rational approach. They did not present good program either in the field of foreign, regional or domestic policy, not even in the social and economic policy. The same situation we are witnessing during the election campaign of the presidential elections of 2008. We, unlike the opposition, always present concrete program and tasks for the elections. The public defined which proposals we will pursue in the next stage. I think that the opposition should not consist only of criticism; through it is one of its tasks. Opposition mainly consists of determination and presentation of alternative strategy or program. Criticism is not opposition. No other party can approve itself only through criticism. The opposition did not present successful policy different from the one pursued by the authorities. Therefore, the Azerbaijani public does not believe in seriousness of the opposition. The public has enough grounds for that. Due to all aforementioned causes the opposition does not have electorate, supporters. The only ones on whom the opposition can rest is dissatisfied people. It is but natural that every society has some number of unsatisfied people. In the past, unemployment was very wide-scale problem in Azerbaijan. That could increase the number of the people supporting the opposition. But now, the unemployment problem has almost been resolved. That means that the number of people who are dissatisfied due to unemployment has reduced. As a result, the number of those who could support the opposition has also dropped. The people whom the opposition would consider to be its electorate are not like the same now. Dissatisfied people cannot be electorate of any party. Today the person is dissatisfied, but tomorrow, when his problem gets settled, he is satisfied. Nothing confirms that the opposition will present a program alternative to ours at the presidential elections and it does not seem to appear. During the elections, the public will again make sure that there are no productive people whom the opposition can nominate.
Question: The opposition says that that the country has grounds to hold protest demonstrations. Musavat which will take part in the elections has decided to hold a rally next month. What are your views about it?
Answer: If the Opposition had power to hold such demonstration, it would have done it. The fact that the opposition has not been holding large or small demonstrations, since 2005 parliament and 2003 presidential elections, attributes to the unwillingness of people to join these demonstrations. However, Opposition attributes it to the fact that the government bodies do not provide conditions for such demonstrations. But the main reason is that people showed reluctance to join these opposition demonstrations. Very few people have attended these demonstrations recently. At present, the Opposition is holding talks on demonstrations. In other words, they are not making steps in this regard as they are well-aware of the reality. They do not have enough supporters to stage a demonstration; therefore they are finding various excuses for not holding it.
Question: One of the issues that the Opposition is displeased about, is the election legislation. Will the changes likely be made into the composition of election commissions taking into consideration the already developed amendments and changes to the Election Code?
Answer: The opposition parties are advancing a very strange logic- the government must provide conditions for them to take part in the elections. They are also likely to say that the government should provide conditions for them to win elections. It means that the government should create conditions for the victory of opposition. Is it YAP's obligation? Is the rival is required to provide such conditions for the victory of the opposite side? Such a logic by the Opposition shows that they do not take these issues as serious. If the opposition had gained the confidence of the people, there would be no need for providing conditions for them to take part in the elections. Did the ruling circles provide conditions for YAP for coming to power in 1993? Did National Front or Musavat provide such conditions? Did they welcome us with open arms? Did they create conditions for us to stage a demonstration? As to the concrete election legislation, it is a different aspect of opposition's logic. The legislation is for all parties taking part in the elections, there are no separate norm for YAP and no separate norm for the opposition. These norms concern all the political forces. The key goal of the opposition is to change the results of the elections in its favour by creating favourable conditions for themselves in the election commissions. It is undemocratic approach. I would like to mention one more fact. In 1992, presidential elections were held in Azerbaijan and one more presidential elections in 1993. Both elections were held with the same composition of election commissions. Today Opposition supports the commissions as they provided conditions for them to win 1992 presidential elections. But they consider 1993 elections to be unfair as it ended with the victory of Heydar Aliyev. How can one of the elections be fair and the other unfair when both of them were based on the same legislation? It means opposition accepts only that outcome of election which suits them. The sensation around the changes to the composition of election commissions aims at violating the course of elections. The current commissions have a rational format. The commissions include opposition, government and independent forces. In 2000, the commissions were formed on equal basis, the thing opposition demands now. As the opposition did not send its representatives to the Central Election Commission, the election commissions could not began work. As a result, there was a danger that the situation in the elections can be paralyzed. Opposition insists on equality only to take advantage of it to violate the course of elections. Neither YAP, nor opposition and independent representatives can paralyze the work of election commissions at present. There is not any serious reason to change the composition of election commissions. Not commissions, but voters determine the destiny of elections. The history has showed that those who attempted to win elections by means of commissions and ignored the people, failed as is the case of Azerbaijani opposition.
The correspondent can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org