Progressive model of Azerbaijan in migration management vis-a-vis helplessness of Europe before migrant problem

Twenty five years ago – on December 18, 1990 International “Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families” was adopted by the UN General Assembly. Since 2000 the date is celebrated as International Migrants Day. AZERTAG presents article of chief of the State Migration Service, Firudin Nabiyev regarding this date, as well as on migration problems of the modern world. 

Migration and migrant issues are among the most urgent topics of the modern world which entails broad debates. As known, migrant is a person migrating within the country or from one country to another for permanent or temporary residence depending on the purpose. Migrants are of two categories: foreigners and stateless persons who comply with the rules on enter toand exit from, stay and residence in the country and other rules arising from this, in accordance with the legislation of the country of destination wherehe/she migrates to, are legal migrants; but those who do not comply with at least one of those requirements are considered as illegal migrants.

According to Article 74.1 of the Migration Code, unless otherwise is envisaged by the Law and the international agreements which the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party to, foreigners and stateless persons enjoy equally all of the rights as the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan while staying in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Moreover, according to Article 76.1 of the Code unless otherwise is envisaged by the Law and international agreements that the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party to, during their stay in the Republic of Azerbaijan foreigners and stateless persons should fulfill same obligations as the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan. However, according to Article 76.2 of the Migration Code, realization of rights and freedoms of foreigners and stateless persons should not contradict to the national interests of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Foreigners and stateless persons should not violate requirements of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, laws and other legislative acts of the Republic of Azerbaijan, should respect traditions and customs of the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Of course, in a globalizing world there is no possibility of existence of a state consisting of only one ethnic composition, which is characteristic feature of the XIX century. Therefore, states should be able to consider different ethnic, religious and cultural compositions. In this regard, some states in the modern world are interested in attracting qualified specialists and their migration to their countries for using intellectual and labor potentials. Besides, prevention of negative impacts of irregular migration processes is a serious factor, as well. However, undoubtedly respect to human and civil rights and freedoms, rule of law and humanism principle should be fundamental anyway.

Migration problem has become the main topic of discussion for both leading political circles and mass media of the European Union since the second half of 2015. Because, ongoing war and violence in some world countries- in Middle East including Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen increased illegal migrant flow from this region to Europe and Europeans call migrants as an extra burden imposed on their shoulders. Imagine, those who made peacefully living people to protest against the government under the guise of democracy and promised them better future now prevent millions of people seeking shelter in Europe for happy future with iron and concrete barbed wires, police violence, even with inhumane acts.

As you remember a lorry full of migrants, including even an infant, was found on the roadside in Austria, with locked doors. Fortunately, they were rescued last moment. But what to do? Children who drowned in the sea and corps of which hit the shore of Bodrum, could not be saved. Their photos became the top news of world media. Some people watch these events as a spectator or view them as media business. However, efforts and statements of Europe, which has not taken real and concrete steps in the direction of eliminating the miserable situation, has no results. It could not be otherwise. Because, although the Western world is consistently debating for solving this problem and looking for solution, firstly there are reasonable grounds for failure in achieving effective results. The main reason of problems in Europe stems from former acts committed by the West in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, in a word in the Middle East. In such a case, those who have created the conflict centers and ignited it, should share bitter consequences, as well. Those who have provided the opposition forces with political, financial and armed support and trained them, in order to realize revolutions under the name of “Arab spring” in those countries, are obliged now to accept migrants from those countries. The ISIS terrorist group which has risen up in Syria and Iraq has not emerged accidentally. These groups are the bitter consequences of calling uncontrolled armed groups as the revolutionists and freedom fighters by the West. Secondly, adequate migration policy should be implemented for flexible and thoughtful solution of migration problems. Moreover, this policy had to be established much earlier, not today, that is in a period when the whole world faces migration problems.

Already, confrontation and wars ongoing in many hot spots of the world have become wide-scale and steady. But instead of increasing budget incomes, improving social welfare of the people, the local governments are obliged to fight in order to ensure domestic stability.When intervention was made in Libya and Syria usual lifestyle of local people in Africa was breachedtheir national values and cultures it had to be taken into account that one day they will be obliged to leave homelands for European countries. On the other hand, though the laws adopted in European countries considering equal rights and high living conditions for people irrespective of race and religion, some countries selectively approach towards migrants in terms of religion. In fact, discrimination against migrants proves that political elite and circles in Europe apply double standards. In this case it may be asked: Why those who speak for rights, tolerance, equality, exaggerate incidents in various countries and usethem as a means of pressure for own political purposes at OSCE’s conferences remain silent and do not respond to dual approach?

Today there are up to 30 conflict centers in total in different parts of the world and root causes of the majority are economic inequality, exploitation policy, large imperialism trends.The solution of the situation is respect to multicultural, tolerant values, lifestyle, customs of countries and peoples, as well as establishing equal relations with them.

I would like to mention that while European Union was facing one of the biggest problems in its history in terms of migrant crisis – visit of Director General of the International Organization for Migration William Lacy Swing to our country on 2-3 September of the current year could not remain out of attention. Flexible and effective migration policy stands behind admiration ofMr. William Swing who highly appreciated activity of migration service in our country during the meeting with President Ilham Aliyev.

William Lacy Swing said to the head of our state: "I express my admiration for the truly successful work carried out in the country under your leadership and I congratulate you on this occasion. Migration services are rendered at a very high level in Azerbaijan and Mr. President, achieving success in this area definitely would not have been possible without your support. In my opinion, the work carried out in your country in migration area may be a very good example for migration management in general."

The opinion that was specially emphasized by the President Ilham Aliyev at that meeting confirms that migration issues are always at the center of government attention:“A few years ago when the State Migration Service was established as an independent body in Azerbaijan, migration issues were not in the world as today. But having forecast future development processes, we built an effective body that reflects migration management and regulation principles so that migrants feel themselves more comfortable in Azerbaijan and so that these issues are addressed in compliance with domestic procedures.”

Appropriate geopolitical location of Azerbaijan, political stability, dynamic development, democracy, broad international cooperation, as well as favorable conditions created for foreign and domestic investments as a result of purposeful policy directed towards development of oil and non-oil sector considerably increased the amount of investments. It has made our country attractive for migrants and foreign investors. Transformation of our country into country of transit and destination from country of origin as logical result of intensification of migration processes and of the above mentioned has created need to take additional measures in the direction of intensifying state control over migration processes. It was exactly main goal of establishing SMS in 2007.

The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev set important tasks before relevant state agencies for the purpose of intensifying control in the sphere of migration processes management, analysis,regulation and forecast of statistics in this regard and directing migration policy towards political and economic interests of the country: 

·         Alignment of national law in this field to international practice;

·        Facilitation of existing administrative procedures;

·        Improvement of the customer satisfaction, as well as foreigners and stateless persons;

·        Integration to “E-government” portal, etc.

It should be taken into account that it is a demand arising from humanist essence of Azerbaijani state along with provision of successful migration management. The urgent conditions such as management of migration processes in accordance with international legal norms and keeping control over democratic situation stand behind stability in Azerbaijan in this field in the background of Europe’s weakness in front of migrant problem.

Currently 85 percent of world economy and 80 percent of global trade is shared among countries of G20 which is considered as one of the significant international forums. From this point of view G20 countries have a great influence on global processes. The invitation of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to the “G20” Summit in Antalya as a special guest, his participation and speech in all conferences and meetings of the summit have a great importance for Azerbaijan. These historicachievements of Azerbaijan show that President Ilham Aliyev continues the farsighted strategic line set by Great Leader Heydar Aliyev skillfully harmonizing it with strict demands of the world and time. The result is obvious. Rapid socio-economic growth observed in the Republic of Azerbaijan, measures taken in the field of protection of rights and freedoms of migrants, political stability, as well as geopolitical position of our country has increased the number of people who migrate to Azerbaijan from different parts of the world. Today activity of 8 regional migration departments has been provided by the Service in order to expand services rendered to foreigners and stateless persons in all regions of the country and to ensure their satisfaction.

It should be noted that 10 from 11 e-services rendered by the SMS are connected to “E-government” portal.In 2015 Public Council was established under the State Migration Service in order to increase activity of society in migration processes of the country, to deepen interaction with non-governmental organizations in this field.Public participation is widely applied in the field of migration and public hearings are held by involving representatives of civil societyon issues of public importance via the Council.

Today complete control over the date of entry of every foreigner or stateless person to the country, their residence and work place, as well as date of exit from the country is conducted via Unified Migration Information System (UMIS) of State Migration Service.

Measures are taken by State Migration Service in order to harmonize national legislation to international documents taking into consideration the importance of citizenship right which is one of the main human rights, as well as in compliance with the international documents on elimination of statelessness cases that the Republic of Azerbaijan acceded. Moreover, the Republic of Azerbaijan has joined the UNHCR campaign “To end statelessness in 10 years” with the purpose of improving awareness in the field of fightagainst statelessness, as well as enhancing cooperationon eliminating problems while determining the legal status of these people, including efficient protection of their rights. Relevant measures are being taken by the Service across all the regions of the country in order to eradicate statelessness in a short period of time.As a result of taken measures 1033 stateless persons have been admitted to our country’s citizenship in accordance with relevant Orders of the President of Azerbaijan. Furthermore, during this period affiliation of more than 32 thousand persons to the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been recognized and they were provided with identity documents of the citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan by relevant state authorities. 

A numberof “Open Door Day’s” – civil forums, awareness events were organized by the State Migration Service for the public and media representatives in districts which falls within the scope of Regional Migration Departments of the Service in accordance with “National Action Plan for promotion of Open Government in 2012-2015”. The purpose is to ensure satisfaction of both citizens of Azerbaijan and foreigners and stateless persons, directly answer their questions and solve their problems.

The relevant measures are successfully being taken towards issuing work permits by the State Migration Service to foreigners engaging in paid labor activity in Azerbaijan, protecting the rights of legal labor migrants, taking relevant measures against those which function illegally. Because one of the duties set before State Migration Service by President Ilham Aliyev is: “We must further strengthen our migration policy and create a very strong system. Each foreign citizen coming to our country must be registered. None illegal person must work here.We have to know at any time where the foreigner is and what is he/she doing”.

In migration legislation of Azerbaijan issuanceof residence and work permits to foreigners have been sufficiently facilitated. Previous legislation did not allow extension of permits for temporary residence, as well as work permits for engaging in paid labor activity more than 4 times, however this limitation has been removed in accordance with the Migration Code which entered into force on August 1, 2013. Moreover, taking into account development pace of our country, the provision on granting temporary residence permits up to 3 years to the persons investing at least 500 000 manats in the economy of the country is one of the novelties in the current legislation.

Migration process is an integral part of the globalizing world. Innovations carried out in Azerbaijan in the field of migration in a short period of time are appreciated by the public, international organizations, as well as foreigners and stateless persons who visiting our republic. Measures taken on migration in our country are shown as an example. We are trying to justify this confidence.


Firudin Nabiyev

Chief of the State Migration Service

of the Republic of Azerbaijan,

II rank state migration service counselor


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