“Electronic democracy is ensured at the highest level possible in Azerbaijan”

Elnur Aslanov

Senior Presidential Administration official, Elnur Aslanov told AzerTaj news Agency that Azerbaijan does not interfere with the freedom of internet users and that 70% of the population was now on-line.

The government in Azerbaijan has provided all opportunities for citizens to have a free access to information. There is a free internet in the country. There are thousands of free bloggers on an internet space of Azerbaijan. There are tens of online radios, online TVs, hundreds of e-newspapers and e-magazines. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are extremely popular among the population. Social networks have become an integral part of our lives. It has also become a space of political discussions and exchange of view. Internet has already become a part of daily lives of people in Azerbaijan. The state is the first providing a free internet access for every citizen.

Electronic democracy is ensured at the highest level possible in Azerbaijan and the country, as in a number of countries, takes no measures to limit the internet. Already 70% of country’s population is internet users and this figure grows even more every passing year. Azerbaijani President has instructed to provide broadband internet in remote areas and now the government takes measures at a faster pace to ensure easier access to internet for citizens.

If we draw analogies, we can see that Azerbaijan has lower internet tariffs than any other state in the region. The average price of broadband internet made up 2.5% of average monthly income of population by 2012 which means that the target of the World Telecommunication Union to make this figure less than 5% by 2015 has already been reached.

What I want to emphasize is that the policies pursued by the President are aimed at developing ICT as much as possible. As a result, the ongoing trend of lowering internet tariffs will make internet accessible for more and more people. For an instance, prices on per 1 Mbit/s. of internet dropped about 1,200 times over the last 10 years. Besides, it eliminated internet dependence of the country on transit countries.

The fact that the market of internet services in Azerbaijan grew four times over the last five years shows this field is a priority for the state. We can have a clear picture of it once we take into account the fact that 2013 was announced the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan, University of Information Technologies was founded to produce qualified workers, internet infrastructure was modernized at a fast pace and there was constant enlargements in network of fiber-optic cable.

Today Azerbaijan has positioned itself as a center of internet in the region. It is no coincidence that Baku has hosted VII Internet Governance Forum.

Azerbaijani government sees internet not only as a space of an exchange of information, but also as an opportunity to ensure open and transparent activities of the government and involve citizens with administration processes. The project of e-government, platforms created on the Facebook page of Mr. President for state agencies to answer the questions of citizens periodically and forming a system of turnover of e-documents in the country serves exactly this mission. The growing usage of e-documents in the service field is another proof that a citizen of Azerbaijan stands at the center of all the measures taken.

This will has a decisive role in growing number of ASAN xidmət offices nationwide which broadly uses online opportunities and that the President shows himself as an example to ensure citizens benefit from e-services too a greater degree.

Unfortunately, some organizations noted for close relations with Armenian lobbying organizations try to harm the image of the country disseminating slander based on unrealistic and fake figures. Such organizations which just fulfill an order are unable to distort the reality. Their activities are exposed through obvious facts and will be exposed further.

The internet and election transparency

Already candidates for president and their campaigning teams conduct a large campaign through social networking websites. Even posts made by individuals on Facebook and Twitter are published on pages of newspapers. This shows how internet is free in Azerbaijan.

At the same time, the fact that webcams have been installed in about 1,000 polling stations and there is a free access for everybody to get familiar with the process of elections whether they are at home or abroad is a online control over transparent elections and striking example of open society and internet transparency in Azerbaijan.

(Reproduced from News.az)