Forgotten World (167): Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan gained its independence in 1991 as a result of the break-up of the former Soviet Union. It is an oil-rich state and in 1994 signed an oil contract worth $7.4bn with a Western consortium. Since then Western companies have invested millions in the development of the country’s oil and gas reserves. Caspian oil is now flowing through a pipeline running from Baku through Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, providing western countries with ready access to a vast new source of supply. However, the economy as a whole has not benefited as much as it might have done and living standards among the 8 million Azerbaijanis are low.
As the Soviet Union collapsed, the predominantly Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region stated their intention to secede from Azerbaijan. War broke out. Backed by troops and resources from Armenia proper, the Armenians of Karabakh took control of the region and surrounding territory. In 1994 a ceasefire was signed. About one-seventh of Azerbaijan’s territory remains occupied, while 800,000 refugees and internally displaced persons are scattered around the country.

One Comment

  • Nick

    Azerbaijani poet, journalist and satirist Sakit Mirza Zakhidov was sentenced on 4 October 2006 to three years in prison on drugs charges that are widely considered to be trumped up. According to the organisation English PEN (mightier than the sword), it is believed that Zakhidov may actually be being held for his dissident writings, in which he regularly criticised and lampooned the government.
    His brother, newspaper editor Ganimat Zakhidov, is also in jail on charges that are widely believed to be trumped up.
    See The Zakhidov Brothers for more details.


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