By Aisha Jabbarova
Azerbaijanis today mark the 98th birthday anniversary of the national leader, former president Heydar Aliyev.
Heydar Aliyev is known as the father of modern Azerbaijan and the architect of the country’s current foreign and domestic policy.
He served as Azerbaijan’s president between 1993 and 2003, leading the war-torn post-Soviet country to become the most prosperous nation in the South Caucasus. During his tenure, Aliyev carried out a number of important economic, social and political reforms that put Azerbaijan on track to becoming a strategically-important country and the region’s energy hub.
Aliyev is also credited for forming the modern Azerbaijani nationhood through his cultural reforms. He was able to unite Azerbaijanis around the concept of statehood following years of political turmoil that Aliyev inherited from the previous administrations.
Heydar Aliyev is undoubtedly, the most famous Azerbaijani politician in the modern history of Azerbaijan.
He was a member of Soviet Politburo and in 1982 and was appointed the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, the highest position ever reached by an Azerbaijani in the Soviet Union
Aliyev also served as the First Secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party between 1969 and 1982.
He resigned from the Communist party of the Soviet Union in 1991 following Moscow’s crackdown in Baku that killed hundreds of civilians in January 1990.
Heydar Aliyev was elected as the leader of New Azerbaijan Party at its constituent congress organized in Nakhchivan on November 21, 1992. Later he was elected Chairman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan (June 15, 1993) and Azerbaijan’s third president as a result of nationwide voting (October 3, 1993). He was reelected on October 11, 1998 garnering 77 percent of the votes.
The reforms carried out during his tenure include the abolishment of the capital punishment, establishment of the institute of the Human Rights Ombudsman, introduction of amnesty and pardon mechanisms, privatization of state property, constitutional reforms, among others.
He is also credited for introducing a balanced foreign policy that ensured Azerbaijan’s good bilateral ties with other countries and the deepening of cooperation with international organizations. Under Heydar Aliyev’s tenure, Azerbaijan developed relations with the UN, NATO, the EU, Council of Europe.
Aliyev also developed Azerbaijan’s oil strategy. Under his leadership, Azerbaijan and the consortium of 11 oil companies from 6 countries signed a Production Sharing Agreement on September 20, 1994, known as the Contract of the Century.