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Azerbaijan Remembers Iconic Leader Heydar Aliyev

Heydar Aliyev, the third president of Azerbaijan, who is credited with turning the fortunes of the Caucasus country after a tumultuous period, was remembered on Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of his passing. Ceremonies were held in the country, as well as Türkiye, its major ally, to commemorate the late leader.

In Baku, President Ilham Aliyev paid tribute to his father by his grave, laying a wreath. Crowds followed him as they left flowers at the grave in memory of the architect of modern Azerbaijan. The Turkish ambassador in Baku, Cahit Bağcı, was among the visitors. In Istanbul, people gathered at a park in Sarıyer named after the Azerbaijani leader for a commemoration event. Diplomats from the Azerbaijani mission in Türkiye and Azerbaijani citizens living in Türkiye were among those attending the ceremony.

Dubbed “national leader,” Heydar Aliyev came to power in 1993, at a time of risk of civil war and amid fallout from the First Karabakh War, as well as an economic crisis. A former KGB official, Aliyev served in key posts in the Soviet Union. A native of Nakhchivan, he started his career in this Azerbaijani exclave. For decades, he served as first secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan under the Soviet Union, before being appointed as first deputy premier of the USSR. In 1990, he returned to Azerbaijan after falling out with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Aliyev made his foray into Azerbaijan’s political scene and founded the New Azerbaijan Party currently in power, in 1992. He was elected as chairperson of the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan in 1993 and won presidential elections months later.

Amid the ongoing Karabakh war and the invasion of Azerbaijani territories by neighboring Armenia, Aliyev took up reinforcing the army. The modernized army of Azerbaijan staved off Armenian attacks before the two sides signed a cease-fire protocol in 1994. The president’s diplomatic maneuvers also helped him to end an internal conflict and ushered in an age of stability in the country.

Aliyev also paved the way for Azerbaijan’s unprecedented economic development by signing a deal with 11 companies from seven countries for the development and production of Azeri, Chirag and Gunashli fields, the largest oil reserves of the country. He was also behind the landmark abolition of the death penalty in the country.

He raised Azerbaijan’s international standing by establishing good relations, particularly with Turkic countries, as well as Russia, the United States and European countries.

He was reelected in 1998, but withdrew from the 2003 presidential race, citing health reasons. In 2003, he died in the United States where he was undergoing treatment after suffering from congestive health failure.

Source : Dailysabah