The popularity of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has been boosted in the wake of renewed tension in the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh and other territories occupied by Armenia. In an opinion survey conducted by respected American polling firm Arthur J. Finkelstein and Associates, more than 96% of respondents said they “trust in the President of Azerbaijan,” rating the job done by him as either excellent or good.
An equal amount of respondents said “the country’s leadership protects Azerbaijan against Armenian aggressors” and judged the effectiveness of the Azerbaijani military response as either excellent or good.
“Azerbaijanis strongly support their President in the fight for the return of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding provinces,” said George Birnbaum, Executive Director of Arthur J. Finkelstein and Associates. “It remains a highly emotive issue that many observers and the media in the West fail to understand,” he added. “Azerbaijanis want political and economic stability, they want to be kept safe from terror, but most importantly, they want their territory back.”
Birnbaum noted that the level of patriotism among the Azerbaijani people has increased dramatically in the wake of renewed fighting in the region. “When asked what is the most important issue facing the country versus the most important issue facing their families, the number one response by an enormous margin for both was Nagorno-Karabakh,” Birnbaum said.
However, interestingly, despite numerous resolutions calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops, including from the United Nations, EU Parliament, OSCE and most recently the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the majority of Azerbaijanis believe that the international community supports Armenia on this issue.
“Clearly, international law is on the side of Azerbaijan,” Birnbaum said. “But given that no progress has been made by the mediators of the OSCE Minsk Group consisting of the U.S., Russia and France over more than two decades, Azerbaijanis seemingly have lost faith in the will of the international community to solve this crisis.”
The long-simmering hostilities that escalated a month ago may have contributed to a pessimistic outlook by Azerbaijanis, with 70% saying that a full-scale war with Armenia will erupt within the next five years. A whopping 97% would be “willing to use all options, including using the military, in order to protect the country against Armenian occupation.” Only a quarter of respondents believe there will be a genuine peace.
The survey was conducted among 1,200 voting-age citizens between April 23-29, 2016 in Azerbaijan and has a margin of error +/- 2.8%.
Arthur J. Finkelstein has previously conducted pre-election and exit polls for presidential and parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.