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Human rights abuses are widely reported to have worsened in Azerbaijan, particularly in the run up to the 2013 presidential election, won by the incumbent Ilham Aliyev by a very wide margin. Freedoms of expression and of assembly are heavily curtailed. Conflicting reports from election monitors have caused controversy.

Corruption continues to be highlighted by many NGOs as a serious problem in the country, which is rich in oil and gas. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan’s stability, its friendly strategic relations with the West and distance from Iran, and particularly its large hydrocarbon reserves and strong economic relations with UK companies, make it a valuable ally for many.

There are still major concerns, however, about the possibility of renewed violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, occupied by Armenia since 1992. The dispute remains one of the dominant domestic political issues and Azerbaijan has been spending large sums on re-arming.


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