The Republic of Azerbaijan is part of the Eastern Partnership, which is an initiative that enables closer political, economic and cultural relations among the EU, its member states and 6 eastern European partners. Azerbaijan belonged to the Russian Empire until World War I, during which period the Empire was dissolved. In 1918, Azerbaijan declared independence and established itself as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. This first Muslim republic in the world only existed for two years, from 1918 to 1920, before the Soviet Army invaded Azerbaijan, which subsequently became part of the Soviet Union. Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijan re-established its independence. However, despite a cease re in place since 1994, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the predominantly ethnic Armenian Nagorno- Karabakh region, which declared itself independent from Azerbaijan in 1991.
The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan states that it is a presidential republic with three branches of power – the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The president exercises overwhelming authority over the three branches, which demonstrates that the Azerbaijan system is a strongly centralized presidential one. In fact, although Azerbaijan’s system of governance can be considered three-tiered nominally, the local and municipal tiers are just an extension of the top tier, in which is the president is afforded the greatest authority.
A highly centralised government
The local tier of government, which is composed of Local Executive Authorities (LEA), can only be considered as such nominally, as they do not have independence and simply implement the decisions of the central government. A legal basis for this lack of decentralisation can be found in Article 124 of the Constitution, which stipulates that “heads of executive power bodies carry out executive power locally; heads of executive power bodies are appointed to their posts and dismissed by the President of the Azerbaijan Republic; the limits of authority of local executive power bodies are determined by the President of the Azerbaijan Republic”.
This lack of decentralisation can also be found in the municipal tier, as the implementation of their competences is controlled by the LEA, who are legally inclined to carry out the orders of the president of Azerbaijan, as mentioned in Article 124 of the Constitution. This same clause allows the President to define the limits of competences of the LEAs, meaning that the setting of boundaries and limits of municipal powers is subject to presidential discretion.
The European Charter on Local Self-Government
The overwhelming power of the president may seem to be limited by Articles 142-145 of the Constitution and the European Charter on Local Self-Government. Articles 142-145 of the Constitution define the key principles of local self-government including those related to municipalities and their competences. In addition, the European Charter on Local Self- Government, which was ratified by Azerbaijan in 2002, requires Azerbaijan to guarantee autonomy and exclusivity of powers to the municipalities. Nonetheless, despite the authority vested in Articles 142-145 of the Constitution and the European Charter on Local Self- Government, these clauses are not reflected in the Law on the Status of Municipalities, as municipalities cannot decide on local issues.
The Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic
There have been no substantial public administration reforms over the the past 25 years since Azerbaijan has gained its independence; neither municipalities nor LEA possess independence in decision-making. The only subnational authority that has self-governing powers is the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, which is a landlocked exclave of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
According to Chapter VIII of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the status of Nakhichevan is that of an autonomous state, which can define its own constitution and laws, within the framework of the Azerbaijani constitution and laws. It stipulates that “legislative power in Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic is implemented by ‘Ali Majlis’ (legislature) of Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic; executive power is implemented by the Cabinet of Ministers of Nakhichevan, and judicial power by the law courts of Nakhichevan”.
The Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic has its own competences. According to Article 138 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Nakhichevan Ali Majlis is competent concerning the following: “elections to Ali Majlis of Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, taxes, routes of economic development of Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, social maintenance, protection of environment, tourism, and protection of health, science, and culture”. In addition, according to Article 144, the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic has the right to establish its own taxes.
by Susannah Go
The Report on the state of Regionalisation in Europe.
More than 40 experts contributed to this work, by delivering detailed reports about the state of regionalisation and multilevel governance in chosen European countries. The study covers 41 countries, and each country report is based on a similar structure, thereby allowing a comparative approach among all studied countries.
- The first part of the report gives the political impetus from the main European stakeholders
- The second part of this report entails a summarised version of the country reports. The objective is to provide interested readers with a short overview of the main features of regionalisation in various European countries. The complete versions of the country reports are available on the AER website, under LINK
- The third part provides a thematic approach based on the main findings delivered by the country reports and the current state of regionalisation in Europe. The trends and outlooks lead to open questions on the future of the regions in the European landscape, and more broadly on the role of subnational authorities in the shaping of the continent.
- The fourth part gives the floor to the actual regional decision-makers in Europe, across a series of interviews and statements by Presidents, Vice-Presidents and elected representatives of the European regions.
Over the next months, we will be focusing on a different European country’s approach to regionalisation. During these months, look out for #RoR2017 on Twitterand/or Facebook and follow us at @europeanregions.
Strong European regions are a pathway to a stronger Europe.