Azerbaijan: Important political events inf 2023
  1. 27.01.2023 -  An armed attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy in Iran; an employee of the embassy's security service was killed, and two others were injured.
  2. 23.04.2023 -  In order to prevent illegal transportation of manpower, ammunition, mines and other military equipment from Armenia to illegal Armenian armed formations in Karabakh, as well as in response to the unilateral establishment by Yerevan of a checkpoint at the entrance to the Lachyn-Khankendi road, the State Border Service of Azerbaijan also established a checkpoint on the conditional border with Armenia at 12.00.
  3. 28.05.2023 -  President Ilham Aliyev appealed to the Karabakh Armenians with a demand to dissolve separatist structures and obey the laws of Azerbaijan. If this requirement is met, officials of illegal entities can count on amnesty.
  4. 30.06.2023 -  French Ambassador to Baku Anne Boillon was summoned to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, where she was protested in connection with anti-Azerbaijani statements distributed on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron.
  5. 19.09.2023 -  The Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched a one-day anti-terrorist operation in Karabakh, which ended with the full restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty and the self-dissolution of the separatist regime.
  6. 27.09.2023 -  Employees of the State Security Service of Azerbaijan detained three former presidents of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic – Arkady Ghukasyan, Bako Sahakyan and Araik Aratyunyan.
  7. 20.11.2023 -  Arrests of a group of activists and journalists belonging to the investigative media group “Abzas Media” began.
  8. 24.11.2023 -  A Summit of the heads of state and government of the participating countries of the UN Special Program for the Economies of Central Asian Countries - SPECA – was held in Baku.
  9. 07.12.2023 -  President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has scheduled early presidential elections for February 7, 2024.
  10. 26.12.2023 -  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Azerbaijan has declared two employees of the French Embassy in Baku persona non grata

 

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Throughout 2023, Azerbaijan was at the epicenter of a number of events inextricably linked to the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the strengthening of public expectations for transformative reforms designed to change the country's governance system.

Since the beginning of the year, Azerbaijan has steadily pursued a policy of consolidation in the territories liberated from occupation, strengthening its control over vital communication routes leading to the Armenian-populated Karabakh region. The closure of the Lachin corridor by eco-activists in December 2022 was later reinforced by the presence of the Azerbaijani armed forces, which further increased control over this important corridor connecting Armenia with Karabakh. The negotiation process stemming from the agreements between President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Prague on October 6, 2922, revolved around a peace treaty, the demarcation of the border and the opening of transport communications.

Despite statements about the progress of negotiations in Brussels, Washington and Moscow, the expected signing a peace treaty did not take place. Accusations rained down between the parties, and Baku, in response to ultimatums on the rejection of separatism by Armenians, launched an anti-terrorist operation on September 19. This operation marked the end of the separatist regime and prompted the Armenians to voluntarily leave Karabakh. By the end of the year, the negotiation process went into a latent state, without any noticeable progress, even against the background of the "meeting on the feet" of Aliyev and Pashinyan at the CIS summit in St. Petersburg. Armenian society, still struggling with the consequences of the 2020 war and the loss of Karabakh, has shown little willingness to make peace with Azerbaijan.

In Azerbaijani society, expectations of reforms were fueled by the victorious results of the 2020 war and the recognition by the government of the need to reform the management system. Throughout the year, public discourse was filled with expectations of a referendum, early parliamentary elections and subsequent initiatives. However, President Aliyev anticipated these expectations, stressing the need to extend his seven-year rule as soon as possible. This decision was apparently dictated by potential complications if constitutional amendments, early parliamentary elections would have preceded the presidential elections in 2025. The implementation of reforms and parliamentary elections after the presidential elections within the framework of the seven-year rule of Ilham Aliyev offers the government a smooth path.

In accordance with established practice, the government has taken measures to suppress civic activism and limit the opportunities of the opposition during important events such as elections and referendums. This  resulted   in series of arrests of civil society activists and escalated into those associated with the “Abzas Media” investigative media group after the anti-terrorist operation in Karabakh.

On the foreign policy front, President Aliyev adhered to a balanced approach to Russia, America and Europe, focusing on economically significant international projects and regional security. At the same time, he reacted aggressively to alleged anti-Azerbaijani attacks from external partners, which led to the closure of the embassy in Iran, in response to Tehran's hostile policy and the expulsion of French diplomats due to Paris' pro-Armenian position. In the diplomatic struggle, Azerbaijan strategically used its energy resources to contribute to the security of Europe in the face of anti-Russian sanctions caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

The year is coming to   an end, public expectations grew, fueled by the expectation of the announced early presidential elections, which were perceived as a harbinger of upcoming changes in 2024. The complex interplay of geopolitical dynamics and internal reforms has set the stage for the upcoming pivotal year.

 

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