Azerbaijan. At the beginning of the year, several
casualties were claimed in fighting between Armenian and
Azerbaijani forces in the Armenian outbreak republic of
Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev
explained that his regime was prepared to take the area back
In March, a 16-year economic conflict was resolved when
Azerbaijan agreed to pay large debts to Turkmenistan for old
gas supplies. According to
Countryaah reports, the settlement was considered to remove an
obstacle to the planned Transcaspic gas pipeline from
Turkmenistan via Azerbaijan to Central Europe.
Figures during the year showed that Azerbaijan's economy
grew by a record high of 25.4 percent in 2007. Growth came
primarily from the oil industry, while it was minus figures
in agriculture that employ close to 40 percent of the
population. Rural health care was substandard while large
parts of Azerbaijan's energy income went to road
construction and military purposes.
Azerbaijan's new oil wealth has made the regime less
susceptible to pressure based on democratization, according
to human rights groups. "If anyone wants to stain
Azerbaijan's perfect image, we will fight those forces,"
President Aliyev explained in his annual speech to the Baku
Harassment against government-critical media continued. A
journalist was beaten by security officers while working on
an article about corruption. A man alleged to be the
journalist's former gay lover was sentenced for the act in
what human rights groups saw as slander and attempts to
blacken the reporter in the public eye.
The war between neighboring Russia and Georgia in August
caused a temporary halt in Azerbaijan's oil exports via
Georgia. The public in Azerbaijan supported Georgia in the
war, but the Azerbaijani regime kept a low profile so as not
to provoke Russia.
In October, President Ilham Aliyev was re-elected with
88.37 percent of the vote, according to the official
election results. None of the other six candidates were
reported to have received more than 3 percent of the vote.
But the elections were not conducted in accordance with
democratic principles, the European Security and Cooperation
Organization (OSCE) explained.