Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 205

In his first statements on returning to Baku from internal exile, former president Abulfaz Elchibey ranked "Karabakh, refugees, and consolidation of the opposition" as Azerbaijan’s first and foremost problems. Regarding Karabakh, Elchibey called for a "military-political solution;" rejected the OSCE mediators’ stage-by-stage settlement plan, recently accepted by the Azerbaijani government; and would offer only "cultural autonomy" to Armenians in an Azerbaijani-administered Karabakh. Elchibey further called for "changes in the country’s oil policy," rejecting what he termed "the formula of trading oil [concessions] in return for Karabakh." And he pledged to stand up for the rights of Azeris in northern Iran, whose number he put at 30 million — a vast overestimate.

Elchibey also confirmed his plan to run for president in the upcoming elections –"provided they are democratic"–as the candidate of the Popular Front and of the Democratic Congress, a coalition built around the Popular Front and the Musavat Party. Elchibey is the chairman of both the PF and the DC. He credited the government for allowing him to return to Baku "in a dignified way" and to prepare his political comeback. And he made a limited offer to "work with the authorities toward establishing civil consensus: Without that we will not defeat the external enemies." (Turan, October 31; International agencies, November 1)

The Popular Front government came to power in the spring of 1992, and Elchibey was president from June 1992 to 1993. His and the PF’s policy at that time emphasized independence from Russia, economic nationalism, military victory in the Karabakh conflict, pan-Turkism, and irredentism in "southern Azerbaijan" — the northern province of Iran inhabited compactly by Azeris. The first of those goals — independence from Moscow — was ultimately put at severe risk by the PF’s other goals. The PF government collapsed amid defeat in Karabakh and internal rebellion, and Elchibey vacated the presidency in June 1993, making way for Haidar Aliev. The former president spent the intervening period in his native village of Keleki in Nakhichevan under police supervision. First deputy chairman Ali Kerimov, an Elchibey loyalist, has led the PF during this time and forged alliances with other opposition groups under Elchibey’s nominal leadership.

Kazakhstan’s Most Politicized Labor Unrest Continues.