The structural formation of Azerbaijan’s political system was completed by the adoption of the new Constitution on 12 November 1995. According to the Article 23 of Constitution, the state symbols of the Azerbaijan Republic are the flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem. The state power in Azerbaijan is limited only by law for internal issues, but for international affairs is additionally limited by the provisions of international agreements.
The government of Azerbaijan is based on the separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The legislative power is held by the unicameral National Assembly and the Supreme National Assembly in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Parliamentary elections are held every five years, on the first Sunday of November. The Yeni Azerbaijan Party, and independents loyal to the ruling government, currently hold almost all of the Parliament’s 125 seats. During the 2010 Parliamentary election, the opposition parties, Musavat and Azerbaijani Popular Front Party, failed to win a single seat. European observers found numerous irregularities in the run up to the election and on election day.
The executive power is held by the President, who is elected for a 5-year term by direct elections. The president is authorized to form the Cabinet, an inferior executive body, subordinated to him. The Cabinet of Azerbaijan consists primarily of the Prime Minister, his Deputies and Ministers. The president does not have the right to dissolve the National Assembly, but he has the right to veto its decisions. To override the presidential veto, the parliament must have a majority of 95 votes. The judicial power is vested in the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and the Economic Court. The President nominates the judges in these courts.
The Security Council is the deliberative body under the president, and he organizes it according to the Constitution. It was established on 10 April 1997. The administrative department is not a part of the president’s office but manages the financial, technical and pecuniary activities of both the president and his office.
Although Azerbaijan has held several elections since regaining its independence and it has many of the formal institutions of democracy, it remains classified as “not free” (on border with “partly free”) in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2009 survey.
The short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with six countries, sending diplomatic representatives to Germany and Finland.The process of international recognition of Azerbaijan’s independence from the collapsing Soviet Union lasted roughly one year. The most recent country to recognize Azerbaijan was Bahrain, on November 6, 1996. Full diplomatic relations, including mutual exchanges of missions, were first established with Turkey, Pakistan, the United States, Iran and Israel. Azerbaijan has placed a particular emphasis on its “Special Relationship” with Turkey.
Azerbaijan has diplomatic relations with 158 countries so far and holds membership in 38 international organizations. It holds observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement and World Trade Organization and is a correspondent at the International Telecommunication Union. On 9 May 2006 Azerbaijan was elected to membership in the newly established Human Rights Council by the United Nations General Assembly. The term of office began on 19 June 2006.
Foreign policy priorities of Azerbaijan include: first of all, the restoration of its territorial integrity; elimination of the consequences of the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other regions of Azerbaijan; integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structure; contribution to international security; cooperation with international organizations; regional cooperation and bilateral relations; strengthening of defense capability; promotion of security by domestic policy means; strengthening of democracy; preservation of the ethnic and religious tolerance; scientific, educational and cultural policy and preservation of moral values; economic and social development; enhancing internal and border security; migration, energy and transportation security policy.
The Azerbaijani Government, in late 2007, stated that the long-standing dispute over the Armenian-occupied territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is almost certain to spark a new war if it remains unresolved. The Government is in the process of increasing its military budget. Furthermore, economic sanctions by Turkey to the west and by Azerbaijan itself to the east have combined to greatly erode Armenia’s economy, leading to steep increases in prices for basic commodities and a great decline in the Armenian state revenues.
Azerbaijan is an active member of international coalitions fighting international terrorism. The country is contributing to peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Azerbaijan is an active member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. It also maintains good relations with the European Union and could potentially one day apply for membership.
Azerbaijan is divided into 10 economic regions; 66 rayons (rayonlar, singular rayon) and 77 cities (şəhərlər, singular şəhər) of which 11 are under the direct authority of the republic. Moreover, Azerbaijan includes the Autonomous Republic (muxtar respublika) of Nakhchivan. The President of Azerbaijan appoints the governors of these units, while the government of Nakhchivan is elected and approved by the parliament of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.