Democratization for Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani citizens rejected the Soviet past to elect a new
national government led by President Abulfaz Elchibey. Despite facing a
debilitating war over Nagorno-Karabakh, the parliament instituted some
of the most sweeping reforms among post-Soviet countries. In 1994,
the Soviet-era leader Haidar Aliyev, backed by Russia, overthrew the
government and instituted a harsh dictatorship, which survives to this
day as a family dynasty under Aliyev's son, Ilham.
IDEE began programs
to support the return of democracy to Azerbaijan starting in 1995. IDEE
helped establish a Center for Pluralism —
Foundation — and supported its publications, training, and
and civil society
development programs. Over ten years, the Inam Foundation published
100 titles in its democracy and civil society series; organized more
50 training seminars; published an Azeri-language version of theCenters
for Pluralism Newsletter; published a successor
Sektor starting in 2002; and carried out numerous
other progrms to foster citizen and electoral participation. In
IDEE, with the help of Inam, provided ongoing support to the civic
programs of numerous pro-democracy NGOs, including the D. Aliyeva
for the Protection of Women's Rights, the Azerbaijan National
Foundation, the Center for Political Research
the Institute of Peace and Democracy, and
Center for Democratic Elections, among several other organizations.
also became CfP Partners and, along with Inam,
participated in CfP Network meetings and various cross-border programs.
with Inam, also conducted a support grant program from 1998-2002 that
material and technical assistance to more than 50 NGOs and civil
projects and independent media. Through these programs, IDEE offered
the possibility for a wide range of initiatives to emerge and, in many
cases, to survive
the ongoing attack of the Aliyev government and to continue their
struggle for democracy.
One of the main
cross-border programs organized by IDEE was the Women
in the Caucasus Program, from 1999-2002, which fostered greater
participation in community life among women and promoted conflict
resolution and reconciliation
through in-country and cross-border forums led by women NGO leaders
of the region's three countries. The D. Aliyeva Society was the
partner for this program in Azerbaijan.
From 1998 to 2002, IDEE supported
broad civic campaigns encouraging voter participation and the
development of democratic political parties. These civic campaigns
allowed independent NGOs to organize education campaigns, voter
monitoring, and public service advertisements. In October 2003, IDEE
supported the SOS '03 Election League
and, with the support of IREX and the State Department, coordinated an Observer Mission
to the Azerbaijan Elections that included 188 observers from
Central and Eastern Europe and formed part of the OSCE/ODIHR
IDEE's team, however, organized as a separate mission within the
framework of the
OSCE, and publicly disagreed with the OSCE Mission's judgement
that elections had improved, reporting widespread electoral fraud and
unfair practicies in a votum separatum.
ongoing relationships with its partners on the ground and regularly
and items on Azerbaijan
on its home page that highlight the situation
of human rights, media rights, and other democracy-related issues,
from the Inam Foundation, the Institute for Reporter Freedom and
the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Azerbaijan, and other
organizations. Several appeals have been sent to the more than 50
in the Centers for Pluralism Network.
IDEE supported broad civic
campaigns encouraging voter participation
in 1999, 2002, and 2003,
including this poster designed and distributed
by the Inam Center for Pluralism.
For more information on these programs,
Eric Chenoweth or Irena Lasota at [email protected].
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