Rob Sobhani: Upcoming election to maintain stable, prosperous, independent Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 28
The election in Azerbaijan is very important due to global instability as well as a major slowdown in world economic growth, CEO of the US Caspian Group Holdings Rob Sobhani told secki-2015.az website.
"Azerbaijan needs to elect representatives to the Milli Majlis (parliament) who can work closely with President Ilham Aliyev in tackling these very difficult challenges," he said.
Sobhani went on to add that a united Azerbaijan that speaks with one voice to the outside world is very important at this time in history.
He said equally important is that those who will represent the people of Azerbaijan in the Milli Majlis must also understand economics and know how the global financial system impacts on the economy of Azerbaijan.
"The average GDP growth of Azerbaijan was very impressive 12% during many years but it has now slowed down to 3% - 4%. During these slow economic times, President Aliyev needs the cooperation of the Milli Majlis to enact laws that will protect Azerbaijan's economy such as maintaining job creation," Sobhani said.
"This means supporting foreign investments but making sure that every dollar or euro invested in Azerbaijan's economy also creates jobs for the local communities. Most importantly, diversification of the economic base is important," he said.
Sobhani believes Baku cannot be the only engine of economic growth, thus members of the Milli Majles from other regions need to work with President Aliyev to attract foreign investment into their districts.
"Thank God today Azerbaijan is a stable, prosperous, independent and dynamic country" Sobhani said. "This is the situation today and the elections to the Milli Majlis need to ensure that this continues. The focus should be on job creation, economic diversification and foreign investment."
When asked about the Azerbaijan-US relations after new Azerbaijani parliament is elected, Sobhani said he doesn't expect any changes.
"Washington is too busy and focused on different crises around the world like China's adventurism in the East, Russia's more robust foreign policy in places like Ukraine and Syria, and of course the instability we are seeing in the Middle East," he explained. "President Obama is now focused on these challenges and also on building his legacy both domestically and internationally."
At the same time Sobhani believes the issue of climate change could bring the US-Azerbaijan relations closer.
"If Azerbaijan engaged more deliberately on issues of climate change, it will get the immediate attention of Washington," he said. "For example, very few people in the U.S. know about First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva's tree planting campaign as a means to tackle climate change. Climate change is a passion of President Obama."
"To the extent that U.S. officials are made aware of tree planting efforts or Azerbaijan's production of solar panels in Sumgait under the supervision of Azerenerji, it will help relations," Sobhani said.
Speaking about the negativity towards Azerbaijan's upcoming election, Sobhani said unfortunately there isn't much that can be done about the unfair press coverage.
"Some members of the Western media like scandals and sensational stories," he said. "They prefer negative stories to positive ones. For example, they do not write about how under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev Azerbaijan has reduced poverty to 5%. This is an amazing story that does not get told. Or you do not see stories about how compared to other countries in the West where the debt to GDP ratio is over 80% whereas in Azerbaijan it is around 15%."
This is a success story about how Azerbaijan manages its economy and does not go into debt," Sobhani said. "By not allowing the debt-to-GDP ratio to rise, President Aliyev is protecting the future generations of Azerbaijan. He is protecting the children of Azerbaijan by giving them an economy that is not saddles with debt. The leaders of Europe and America cannot say this and their journalists do not report this."
Azerbaijan will hold parliamentary election Nov.1, with participation of 769 candidates.
As many as 465 observers from 36 international structures have been accredited in the Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan for observing the parliamentary election. In total, the missions representing 53 countries will observe the election.