Azerbaijan: Economy decline and Russian military support

Vugar Bayramov, Center for Economic and Social Development

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In April Azerbaijan introduced new decision-making institutions meant to transfer some of the presidential functions. On foreign issues the attention was caught by the new batch of Russian military equipment delivered to the country, while at same time Russia provided the grounds for the diplomatic talks.

Domestic Policy: Reforming political decision-making institutions

On 25 April, the Parliament adopted amendments to the law “On Civil Service”. The changes are designed to create the legal basis and work-environment for the vice-presidents in Azerbaijan.

This move signals about the on-going reforms regarding political decision-making institutions in the country. With the creation of the vice-presidency institution, part of the presidential responsibilities is transferred to a vice-president. This will lead to change in political landscape of the country.

Although the first Azerbaijani vise-president was appointed by the president Aliyev a couple of months earlier, not waiting for the required law to be passed. The post was given to the president’s wife and the Member of the Parliament Mehriban Aliyeva

Economy: Restrictions by financial market supervisory authority

The Financial Market Supervisory Authority of the Republic of Azerbaijan imposed restrictions on the bank accounts of individual businesses and corporations for the cash operations. Now the named institutions are allowed to cash or withdraw only limited amount of money from their bank accounts. The withdrawal of the bigger sums and other operations should be done through the bank transfers. The decision created obstacles for business to operate in the country.

The action aims to increase the accountability and transparency of business operations in Azerbaijan. The government strives to advance the amount of the non-cash operations, promote the bank transfers, and hence to acquire full information on the business activity in the country.

Trying to preserve its influence in the region Russia has been selling military equipment to both Azerbaijan and Armenia

Meanwhile the country experienced a decrease in GDP in the first quarter of 2017. The State Statistic Committee of Azerbaijan announced 0.9% decrease, whereas independent calculations indicated 1.2% decrease in comparison to the same period of 2016. At the same time the oil GDP declined by 6.6%. Nevertheless, the non-oil sector of the country is rising and enlarging. The share of non-oil GDP boosts up to 2.4%. The non-oil sector was announced to keep its status as “the engine of the national economy”.

Following the economic crisis in Azerbaijan, which was triggered by the prolonged slump in oil prices in the world market, the government of Azerbaijan endeavors the share of the non-oil economy. The recent figures demonstrate the success in this direction, although also reveal the overall decline in the economy itself.

Foreign Policy: New batch of Russian military equipment

In the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, trying to preserve its influence in the region Russia has been selling military equipment to both Azerbaijan and Armenia, that is an alarming sign for local and international expert community. The military in Azerbaijan received a new batch of military equipment from Russia. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan released a video demonstrating arrival of the armored vehicles BTR-82A to Baku by sea. Russian instructors will provide training for the armored vehicle personnel.

The news was released a few days prior to the meeting of he Azerbaijani and Armenian Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Moscow . The continuation of the army equipment selling to the war parties, while providing platform for the diplomatic talks in Moscow, is a controversial move by Russia.