The rapid economic growth has led to a gradual raising of the standard of living for the majority of residents, but the social gaps are large. While a small click has accumulated great wealth, many people still find it very difficult.
At independence, about a third of the population was estimated to live below the poverty line. Thanks to oil revenues, the share has dropped to around five percent.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Azerbaijan, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
The roughly 600,000 internal refugees from the war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s are among the more vulnerable residents, especially those living in smaller cities or large communities created for them. Inter-refugees are isolated and at risk of becoming unemployed and end up in poverty as rural jobs are scarce and there is a shortage of vacant agricultural land. There has been something better for those who have gone to the capital Baku, where the supply of opportunities is greater.
The social insurance system guarantees everyone an income corresponding to the minimum subsistence level, as well as pensions, sickness and maternity benefits and more, but the compensation is low. The minimum wage has been increased in recent years, but since the prices have also been raised, in many cases it is not enough to cover even the most necessary. Financial assistance from friends, as well as relatives abroad is necessary for many.
A general health insurance system, which began to develop in 2014, will come into full force as of 2020. This is based on the fact that primary care and emergency care are free for the individual, covered by the national treasury, while specialist care must be paid for through compulsory supplementary insurance. But the standard of healthcare remains deficient. The salaries of doctors and nurses are low, leading to the risk of corruption and bribery.
The great clamor that prevailed after the collapse of the Soviet Union laid the foundation for growing crime. It is partly about financial crimes and partly about increased activities of armed criminal groups. Azerbaijan has, among other things, become a major exporter of opium, hashish and marijuana to the Russian market.
Women rarely sit on top posts and are not seen in public life in the same way as men. Because of religious and cultural traditions, girls in rural areas sometimes quit school early.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 19 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 84.4 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 92.5 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 6.7 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: $ 268 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 17 percent (2018)
Long punishment for Islamists
Twelve members of the Islamist group The movement for Muslim unity is sentenced to between 12 and 15 years in prison. The twelve are convicted of, among other things, terrorism and attempts to seize power, but say they have admitted crimes after torture. The government has accused the Movement of Muslim unity to want to replace secular government with a state based on Islamic law, Sharia (see also January 2017).
The EU promises support to countries in the east
Representatives of the EU and six former Soviet republics meet in Brussels. The EU promises deeper cooperation with Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The EU does not place a view on membership of the Union, on the other hand, help fight corruption, strengthen the rule of law and modernize the countries’ economy.
Agreement on transport corridor
Azerbaijan is one of five countries agreed to establish a transport corridor between Europe and Afghanistan. Istanbul forms the western end of the corridor. Counted from the west are the countries of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The settlement applies, inter alia, to customs rules for road, rail and ferry across the Caspian Sea.
Swedish award to journalist İsmayılova
The burgeoning reporter Xədicə İsmayılova is one of four people who are awarded the Swedish Right Livelihood Award (“the Alternative Nobel Prize”). She receives one million Swedish kronor for her work to expose corruption at the highest level in Azerbaijani society. Among other things, she was involved in revealing Telia Sonera’s bribes in the purchase of a part of the Azerbaijan telecom company Azercell. She was sentenced in September 2015 to prison for 7.5 years for corruption but was released in May 2016 after having the sentence converted to 3.5 years conditionally.
Nine years in prison for journalist
The regime-critical journalist Elçin İsmayıllı is sentenced to nine years in prison for extortion. He is accused of trying to force money from a senior official at the Ministry of Culture. İsmayıllı, a member of the opposition party People’s Front, has made himself known for critical scrutiny by the local political leaders in his home region.
“Gülenist” conditionally released
People’s party politician Faiq Əmirli, who was sentenced to three years in prison and three months in July for links to the Turkish güleni movement, is released after his sentence has been converted to conditional sentence by a higher court.
The elite is accused of bribery
An investigation by a network of obscure journalists and published in several European newspapers claims that the ruling elite in Azerbaijan in the years 2012–2014 spent € 2.5 billion to bribe European politicians, lobbyists, journalists and businessmen, among others. Some of the money should also have been used to buy luxury goods since they were “washed clean” through transactions through European companies, including Danske Bank’s branch in Estonia. One result of the bribery must have been that the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in 2013 voted against a report criticizing Azerbaijan’s lack of respect for human rights. Danske Bank admits that it has not been used sufficiently to ensure that it is not used for money laundering.
The last free news agency closes
Turan, the country’s only independent news agency, decides to close the business. This is a result of the company’s bank accounts being blocked and its CEO and owner Mehman Əliyev arrested by police for alleged tax violations. The organizations Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch condemn the government’s intervention against Turan as a blow to the last free media in Azerbaijan.
Addition to independent medium
Tax police do the house search in the independent news agency Turan’s premises and freeze the company’s bank accounts. According to the authorities, Turan owes the state the equivalent of approximately SEK 170,000 in non-tax for the years 2014-2016, a charge which the news agency rejects. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch says accusations of tax violations are a common way for the Azerbaijani authorities to silence critical media. The tour is one of the few media in Azerbaijan that does not convey the government’s views.
Faiq Əmirli, a senior leader in the opposition People’s Front, is sentenced to three years and three months in prison for links to Fethullah Gülen, the exiled Turkish religious leader accused by the Turkish state of being behind the coup attempt in July 2016. julimirli is sentenced a section that is about encouragement to spread hatred in society.
Artillery attack near burst state
Azerbaijan artillery goes to attack Armenian positions near the state of Nagorno-Karabakh, says Baku Defense Ministry. The offensive occurs two days after an Azerbaijani woman and her two-year-old grandchild were shot to death near the front line.
Opposition politicians are arrested
Gözəl Bayramlı, Deputy Chairman of the opposition party People’s Front, is arrested on his way into the country from Georgia. $ 12,000 that she has not declared is found in her bag, the statement from the border authority reads the day after.
Struggles at breakaway republic
Several Azerbaijani soldiers are killed in fighting on the Nagorno-Karabakh frontline. The information is confirmed by the Azerbaijan and Armenian defense ministries, as well as by the leadership of the rebels in the outbreak state. On the other hand, the information goes as usual about who started the fighting.
The president’s wife becomes vice president
President Aliyev appoints his wife Mehriban Aliyeva as first vice president. Since 2005, she has been a Member of the Government Party in Parliament and chair of the influential Heydar Aliyev Foundation. “She is professional, well-educated, experienced, principled and generous,” the president justifies the appointment. “This throws Azerbaijan back to the medieval feudal empire,” says opposition leader İsa Qəmbər of the Müsavat Party.
Referendum in the breakaway republic
In the Armenian-speaking Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, a referendum is being held on the transition from a semi-presidential system to a pure presidential regime. The result has no immediate practical significance for relations with the Government of Azerbaijan, but the referendum is nonetheless condemned in both Baku and by fellow countries France, Russia and the United States.
Hard prison sentences
The Vice Chairman of the People’s Front, Fuad Qahramanli, is sentenced to ten years in prison. He is accused of spreading religious hatred and stirring up unrest in connection with protests against the regime in December 2015. At the same time, 17 members of the Muslim Consensus Movement are jailed for between ten and 20 years for terrorism and attempts to overthrow the regime. Four activists and two police officers were killed in the clashes that broke out when police raided the organization’s office in a village north of Baku.