"Many of us remember the situation
regarding Azerbaijan's statehood in 1988. However, for some reason,
we hardly remember the condition of the society, or to be more
precise, of the self-governed civil society of that time. As
a matter of fact, all spheres of human life were controlled and
governed by the State, or rather, the Communist Party. The Party
went so far as to advise an individual whom to marry and even
established traditions for wedding parties and mourning ceremonies.
"Personal liberty and responsibility, self-government and
public control of the government - all factors which make up
the basis of a democratic state - were non-existent. Nor did
there even exist the notion of the possibility of, and the necessity
for, these factors.
"People gave to 'Big Brother' the right to shape their destinies.
This 'Brother' made all the decisions for us and possessed our
freedoms. Built in accordance with these principles, Soviet society
was destined to lose in its competition with the West - with
its freedom, personal initiative and diversity of opinions. And
thus, it happened.
In addition, people did not accept as their own the existing
power that governed them from the outside. It was alien to them.
In the long run, the result was deeply-rooted local corruption,
conformity and low morale. Even under favorable conditions, it
would have been impossible to obliterate these problems in one
or two years, and it is only natural that our society today still
suffers these maladies.
"Thus, the Armenian aggression (which for some time had
only been ideological) took us by surprise. It became clear that
we had neither the state nor a civil society capable of protecting
the country and resisting the aggression."
Azerbaijan's first elected President Abulfaz Elchibey,
reflecting on his Presidency between June 1992 to June 1993 while
in self-imposed exile in Nakhchivan in December 1993. Elchibey,
62, died of cancer on August 22, 2000. He is buried in Baku's
"Alley of the Honored Ones" (Fakhri Khiyabani).
From Azerbaijan International (8.3) Autumn 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.
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