Can the joint discussions of the opposition give rise to new political processes?

A closed meeting with the participation of a group of leaders of opposition parties, political figures and representatives of civil society was held at the headquarters of the Musavat Party.

The meeting participants discussed the socio-political situation in the country and ways out of it. Despite the discussions were closed, a joint statement was published following the general results of the meeting. It becomes clear from the document that the forum participants reached an agreement on functional cooperation on the construction of a legal state, a democratic society in Azerbaijan, the liberation of Karabakh from occupation and the fight against an authoritarian regime.                  

Is the meeting format adequate to the entire socio-political spectrum of society?

In countries with an anti-democratic regime, the system of socio-political relations is not based on law, which causes uncertainty within the socio-political spectrum. In our country, the apparatus of violent governance, based on the corporate interests of the authorities, has achieved significant “successes” in this direction. Because of these factors, the system of socio-political relations in the country is fragile, and the socio-political spectrum is fragmented and uncertain.

It is difficult to develop a tradition of a multi-party political system in a society deprived of free media, political pluralism and democratic elections . Due to these negative factors, it is impossible to conduct a classical classification of power-opposition in our country. Voters are virtually deprived of the opportunity to fix the opposition and the country’s authorities. That is why in the country there are many socio-political organizations and individuals claiming the title of “opposition”. However, one can point to several structures that perform the functions of a real opposition, capable of mobilizing disgruntled people, and uniting protests. At the same time, similar problems exist with regard to the existence of an independent civil society.

There are very few organizations and individuals that play a role in giving direction to socio-political views, in forming the political consciousness of society and enhancing the organization of the population. Their functional cooperation and tactical interaction, basically, can be useful unless for themselves. However, one cannot but recognize their positive impact on society. The format chosen for the meeting included real opposition and an independent civil society with rare exceptions.

Can this meeting deserve the attention of authorities and international organizations?

The situation in the country remains complicated and controversial. The discontent and protests of the population plagued by social, political and legal problems are growing. Instead of fundamental economic and political reforms, the authorities tighten violence in response to the psychological pressure from society. Some changes in the ruling team will not change the essence of power.

The aggressive approach of the authorities to the opposition was expressed in the their reaction to the attempt of the National Council to hold a rally on October 19, 2019, in accordance with Article 49 of the Constitution (Freedom of Assembly). The local and international public sharply condemned the unlawful and extremely harsh actions of the authorities against participants in a peaceful protest. The “round table”, which took place after the initial indiscriminate reaction of a certain socio-political stratum of society against the illegal actions of the authorities, can be considered a positive step.

Due to the repressive policies of the authorities, Azerbaijan is considered a non-free country throughout the world. The moral legitimacy of power is undermined in society and in the international arena. Negative image of an aggressor, trampling on human rights and freedoms, suppressing free media, intolerant of freedom of expression, has been formed. The authorities have effectively abolished the right of citizens to freedom of assembly, just as if a state of emergency were declared in the country.

Under such circumstances, any joint discussions between representatives of the opposition and civil society can cause interest, contribute to international support for the need for fundamental reforms, and democratization of society. It can also provide the authorities with a new chance to make positive changes in their policies and engage in real dialogue with the opposition.

Can such discussions gain public support?

The vast majority admits that there is a need for radical changes in the country, and they have become inevitable. Tensions, anger, and resentment intensify in society. Although, at first  sight, the refusal of the authorities to take timely measures on radical reforms today does not pose a threat to them, it is possible that in the future it can create serious difficulties.

It is unrealistic to expect currently an active support by the politically mature representatives of society, or any new association or functional cooperation of the opposition; one should not expect that the opposition would lead passive population to mass activity. Society does not believe that the unity of the opposition will be reliable, consistent, and sustainable. The bleak fate of numerous opposition associations has developed in society a persistent distrust of the opposition.

In many cases, “unions” instead of strengthening the opposition led to its weakening. Societies that have long been influenced by authoritarian regimes tend to consolidate around a single leader and organization that can take responsibility. The day when the majority realizes and accepts this psychological truth, is rapidly approaching.

The unity of society around a successful format will depend on the socio-political soundness of the processes. At this stage, the great opportunities provided by social networks should be used more effectively. To engage citizens in virtual discussions, increase their activity and degree of organization, it is necessary to intensify propaganda work. In the meantime, it is noticeable that the discontented part of the people does not fully support political processes.

It is possible that the growing tension in the country will gradually lead the authorities to new political actions. They must take into account that dissatisfaction and tension, as well as increasing tendency to protests is growing in the  country. The main responsibility for ensuring the control and a peaceful course of this process lies with the authorities. The power should refrained from aggressive actions,  and should reconsider the possibility of dialogue with the real opposition and representatives of civil society.

The meeting participants discussed the socio-political situation in the country and ways out of it. Despite the discussions were closed, a joint statement was published following the general results of the meeting. It becomes clear from the document that the forum participants reached an agreement on functional cooperation on the construction of a legal state, a democratic society in Azerbaijan, the liberation of Karabakh from occupation and the fight against an authoritarian regime.                  

Is the meeting format adequate to the entire socio-political spectrum of society?

In countries with an anti-democratic regime, the system of socio-political relations is not based on law, which causes uncertainty within the socio-political spectrum. In our country, the apparatus of violent governance, based on the corporate interests of the authorities, has achieved significant “successes” in this direction. Because of these factors, the system of socio-political relations in the country is fragile, and the socio-political spectrum is fragmented and uncertain.

It is difficult to develop a tradition of a multi-party political system in a society deprived of free media, political pluralism and democratic elections . Due to these negative factors, it is impossible to conduct a classical classification of power-opposition in our country. Voters are virtually deprived of the opportunity to fix the opposition and the country’s authorities. That is why in the country there are many socio-political organizations and individuals claiming the title of “opposition”. However, one can point to several structures that perform the functions of a real opposition, capable of mobilizing disgruntled people, and uniting protests. At the same time, similar problems exist with regard to the existence of an independent civil society.

There are very few organizations and individuals that play a role in giving direction to socio-political views, in forming the political consciousness of society and enhancing the organization of the population. Their functional cooperation and tactical interaction, basically, can be useful unless for themselves. However, one cannot but recognize their positive impact on society. The format chosen for the meeting included real opposition and an independent civil society with rare exceptions.

Can this meeting deserve the attention of authorities and international organizations?

The situation in the country remains complicated and controversial. The discontent and protests of the population plagued by social, political and legal problems are growing. Instead of fundamental economic and political reforms, the authorities tighten violence in response to the psychological pressure from society. Some changes in the ruling team will not change the essence of power.

The aggressive approach of the authorities to the opposition was expressed in the their reaction to the attempt of the National Council to hold a rally on October 19, 2019, in accordance with Article 49 of the Constitution (Freedom of Assembly). The local and international public sharply condemned the unlawful and extremely harsh actions of the authorities against participants in a peaceful protest. The “round table”, which took place after the initial indiscriminate reaction of a certain socio-political stratum of society against the illegal actions of the authorities, can be considered a positive step.

Due to the repressive policies of the authorities, Azerbaijan is considered a non-free country throughout the world. The moral legitimacy of power is undermined in society and in the international arena. Negative image of an aggressor, trampling on human rights and freedoms, suppressing free media, intolerant of freedom of expression, has been formed. The authorities have effectively abolished the right of citizens to freedom of assembly, just as if a state of emergency were declared in the country.

Under such circumstances, any joint discussions between representatives of the opposition and civil society can cause interest, contribute to international support for the need for fundamental reforms, and democratization of society. It can also provide the authorities with a new chance to make positive changes in their policies and engage in real dialogue with the opposition.

Can such discussions gain public support?

The vast majority admits that there is a need for radical changes in the country, and they have become inevitable. Tensions, anger, and resentment intensify in society. Although, at first  sight, the refusal of the authorities to take timely measures on radical reforms today does not pose a threat to them, it is possible that in the future it can create serious difficulties.

It is unrealistic to expect currently an active support by the politically mature representatives of society, or any new association or functional cooperation of the opposition; one should not expect that the opposition would lead passive population to mass activity. Society does not believe that the unity of the opposition will be reliable, consistent, and sustainable. The bleak fate of numerous opposition associations has developed in society a persistent distrust of the opposition.

In many cases, “unions” instead of strengthening the opposition led to its weakening. Societies that have long been influenced by authoritarian regimes tend to consolidate around a single leader and organization that can take responsibility. The day when the majority realizes and accepts this psychological truth, is rapidly approaching.

The unity of society around a successful format will depend on the socio-political soundness of the processes. At this stage, the great opportunities provided by social networks should be used more effectively. To engage citizens in virtual discussions, increase their activity and degree of organization, it is necessary to intensify propaganda work. In the meantime, it is noticeable that the discontented part of the people does not fully support political processes.

It is possible that the growing tension in the country will gradually lead the authorities to new political actions. They must take into account that dissatisfaction and tension, as well as increasing tendency to protests is growing in the  country. The main responsibility for ensuring the control and a peaceful course of this process lies with the authorities. The power should refrained from aggressive actions,  and should reconsider the possibility of dialogue with the real opposition and representatives of civil society.