Azerbaijan International

Autumn 2000 (8.3)
Page 14

Early Years of Independence

"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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